I must apologize to my readers for not updating this blog over the weekend…I was away playing in an unusual,but strong, rapid-tournament in Moraleja, Spain. The time control was 55 minutes (plus 5-seconds per move) for the entire game; the games do not count for elo.
But atleast I was able to follow the Carlsen vs Anand WCC match being held in Sochi. Much more on that later. Today I celebrate my 60th birthday. Woke up just as I normally do, not sure what to expect. Everything still working…just a bit slower than before as they say, but in, essence, I don’t feel any different. Should I be worried? Perhaps growing older and reaching certain milestones is not what it is cracked up to be (thankyou God!). But I will certainly keep my readers abreast with anything unusual that might come up!
Juan Belem, one of my many Brazilian readers and blog-colleagues, was the first to notice that I turned 60 and he sent me the following mate in four to solve:
Normally I stay away from this kind of study as White can win anyway that he pleases, mate can not really be avoided for very long–White’s advantage is so large. However, it is a bit challenging to find the mate in 4: the ”natural” 1.P-Queens+ QxQ 2.BxQ! Ng3 3.Bxh6 (threatening 4.mate with Rf8) 3…Nf5! when Black is able to survive to move 5!
It took a few moments to find the ”art” in the above challenge: 1.Rg4!! (threatening 2.Bd4!) 1…QxR+ 2.Ka3!! Qg7 (what else? White is threatening 3.P-Queens+ and 4.Bd4 mate) 3.Bd4!! and mate next move by a Queen promotion.
VERY PRETTY! Thankyou, Juarez, for sharing this with me! I owe you a coffee!
PAUL KERES’ WIDOW DIES AT AGE 97!
24-04-1917 to 31-10-2014
Maria Keres died on the 31st of October at age 97. I had previously written about Maria, as well as Paul’s brother,Harald, who at age 98 was still going strong when he suddenly died! I am still trying to discover the secret of longevity, and can not but MARVEL at the wonder of nature that allows some to live to their 90’s or beyond in excellent health and with their minds so youthful. If only we could all be so lucky…
IN TODAY’S NEWS!
No, this is not a photo from a funeral(!), though it may look like it was! I found this shot on the frontpage of today’s BBC online service. Neither gentleman could politically afford to show any sympathy, given not just the recent disputes between China and Japan over territorial matters, but also given the mutual historical hatred and animosity that will never be completely forgiven, let alone forgotten.
CARLSEN FIRST TO OPEN SCORE!
While Vishy was not the only one to show some nervousness at the beginning of the match, Carlsen was infact able to exploit this key psychological factor by winning the second game when Anand defended poorly against Carlsen’s kingside initiative:
Position after Carlsen’s 18th move (18.Nf5). I don’t want to make any comments on the moves up to this point of the game other than that both players will no doubt lose some sleep looking for improvements. (A task, I suspect, that will be easier for Anand!)
Carlsen now has a kingside initiative, something that we often see in the Spanish Opening. Black must be very accurate in the defence. Normally Black can allow the Knight to lodge on f5, or the Queen on h5, but rarely can Black allow both!
For this reason, it is necessary to challenge either the Knight (by exchanging it with 18…BxN) or the Queen (18…Qf7).
The Bishop exchange leaves Black with an uncomfortable position: 18…BxN 19.PxB! Rd7 20.Rg3 Rad8 21.Bh6!? Kh8 22.Qg4. Black, even if he withstands the pressure on the Kingside, will look forward to a future where his Knight will be clearly inferior to White’s Bishop. Especially, Black’s Queenside pawns are weakened and easy to attack.
That leaves 18…Qf7!?, a move universally suggested after the game. While there is no doubt it is Black’s best practical chance, after 19.Qe2 there is still some poison in the game that probably Anand did not like; for example 19…Be6!? 20.Rg3 Ng6 21.Bh6!? and if instead 19…Kh8 (taking the sting out of a future Bh6) then Carlsen can fight for advantage on the other side of the board by challenging the d-file (20.Rd3 or 20.Rd1) and the coming Be3 will likely lead to more concessions by Black.
So it turns out that neither of the two moves (18…BxN; 18…Qf7) is problem free. One move suggested by the American star Nakamura is worthy of consideration, namely 18…Ne6!?. One to take a close look at in analysis.
In chess, making a choice between two evils–that is, playing the least bad move–is never easy and certainly never fun– but it has to be done. If the least bad move is then not enough to save the game in the long run, then one can only blame one’s previous play! At this early point in the match, it seems, Anand was not yet mentally prepared to make this tough decision, and so he chose to ‘ignore’ the coming clouds over his King position:
Threatening, amongst other things, Qg4 and advancing the h-pawn. In some variations the move Bh6 is also worth consideration, for example, if 20…Rd7 21.Bh6! is strong.
In general, when White has 4 pieces attacking (Bc1,Nf5,Rg3,Qh5) in this kind of position, it is already too late for satisfactory solutions. White’s h-pawn is also a nasty addition to Black’s problems!
Carlsen, master of psychological play? Keeping Vishy under pressure both on the board and off!
In the game continuation, lacking a really decent move, Anand tried to simplify with 20…BxN 21.PxB Nf4 22.BxN PxB but after 23.Rc3! and soon Rc4 Carlsen’s Rooks came into play and soon completely dominated the game. Anand was without play and strategically lost. A later blunder ended his suffering…Kasparov even suggested that it was a ‘blunder’ to call Anand’s blunder a blunder!
Enjoy your victory, Magnus! Game three is back to the grind…!
CONGRATS TO WGM DANA REIZNIECE-OZOLA!
WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola , a Latvia-born chess champion, is today the Minister of Economics of Latvia! Born in 1981, Dana turned to politics as a career after winning the Latvian Championship at least four times, and having represented Latvia at the Olympiad on numerous occassions. Dana had also won the European-under 18 championship. The 33-year old had a peak rating of 2355. She is a member of the Union of Greens and Farmers political party. Here is her TWITTER.
I was asked several weeks ago to serve on the Commission of Chess Journalists (CCJ). I am honored, and will do my best to justify the confidence in me. It will not be easy to fill the void created when Michael Khodarkovsky and Beatriz Marinello decided to step down as councillors. They both did great work!