SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
There was a lot of action in today’s round, maybe even too much! A lot of players got blown away in firey fashion. Maybe fatigue is beginning to kick in, maybe the players are getting homesick, maybe it is the tension accumulating day after day. There is one more round (Sunday) and then another Olympiad will become history. The Ukraine is very close to winning the gold medal.
Before continuing, congratulations to Canadian Thomas Roussel-Roozmon
for playing a great Olympiad up to now and achieving the final norm necessary for getting the ‘GM’ title! I remember first seeing Thomas at the 2001 Zonal in Montreal: he was just a kid, but with a sparkle in his eyes. It is good to see that he stuck with it and has set a great example for others to follow!
Currently the Canadian team is ranked 41st, but in a huge tie. On Sunday their opponents will be Montenegro (currently ranked 40th), a tough little team that should never be under estimated. Canada will probably have to win in order to avoid getting its lowest finish in the new millenium, as we can see from the chart below.
Up to now the Canadian team has been performing reasonably, but without any real success. Ofcourse, the tie with Bulgaria was an excellent result, and the win by Bluvshtein over Topalov will be something everyone will remember for a long time (including Topalov!). And we should not forget Thomas’ GM norm. However, we have to place all this in the proper context: the chess world is evolving, and Canadian chess is not making much forward progress.
CANADA’S STATS SINCE THE YEAR 2000
There is one point that I feel I should clarify. My detractors inside the CFC leadership have deliberately mis-represented and taken out of context an earlier blog entry where I wrote that the CFC had sent a 3rd rate team to participate this year in Khanty Mansiysk. My remark–contrary to what these gentlemen insinuated– was in no way intended as a slight to the fine individuals who have taken the time and made the sacrifice to represent Canada, without any financial gain.
My remark was directed specifically towards recent CFC policy , and was only meant to emphasize the resounding failure / dis-interest of the CFC in making a truly sincere effort to encourage and convince its best players to represent Canada in the world’s most prestigious team championship. The current Canadian Champion (Jean Hebert)–who automatically qualifies for the team– was not even asked for an explanation why he turned down his invitation to play. Edward Porper, who in 2009 tied for first in the Canadian Open, was not even given the opportunity to decline (he was not invited !).
As we can see from the list of Canada’s top FIDE rated players (below; top 13 active players), just 1 of the top 4 players is participating. I can not remember in recent history when the Canadian team had only 1 player with the GM title beside his name.
It must be made clear that each player who turned down his invitation had his own reasons for doing so, (GM Charbonneau had committments, for example), but at the same time it is necessary to point out that the CFC deliberately places a low priority on its Olympiad representation, so much so that it has torn away much of the pride and honour that has normally been associated with representing Canada.
Coupled with recent disgraces that we label the ‘Canadian Closed Championship’, it is no surprise that many of Canada’s top players are voting with their feet. And I will not even go into the sordid details (today) why I refuse to play on the team (and have not done so for the previous 3 Olympiads); nor will I get into why the top rated player resident in Canada (Anton Kovalyov) refuses to touch the CFC with a 10-foot pole.
Suffice to say that rather than look for a scapegoat for its failures, the CFC should take a good look at itself in the mirror. Much of the gains made by Canada’s elite players in the 1980’s and 1990’s have been eroded by a mixture of internal politics, neglect and a change of priorities. Today elite chess in Canada is without dignity, has lost most of its respect and I see very little hope for change in the near future.
OVERALL TEAM CLASSIFICATION
(First 60 places)
NOW FOR SOME OF TODAY’S CHESS!
AN INCREDIBLE MOVE!
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 24th MOVE:
White has an obvious advantage with Black’s King stuck in the centre, but still, you would not think that Black should be punished so brutally! Can you guess White’s move?
Ouch!! The White Queen pounces on the Rook like a giant tarantula! Black can not take the Queen because of mate on f8, and at the same if Black tries to defend the Rook by 25…Rg8, White delivers mate in 3 beginning with the brutal 26.QxRch! (In the game Black made a couple of token moves and resigned on move 27.)
SHIROV ON THE ATTACK!
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 28th MOVE:
A typical Shirov mess! Black is struggling to coordinate his awkwardly placed pieces, but the genius from Riga is relentless…here Shirov finds a spectacular way to break into Black’s defences.
The idea is simple enough, but what is so surprising about this attack is that it actually works!
The most precise continuation
30…Kd8 (30…Kf8 is answered the same way) 31.Qxg6 Qf7 (what else?) 32.Bg5ch! BxB 33.Qxg5ch
Black is defenceless. Shirov won on the 44th move.
WHEN GETTING OUT OF BED IS A MISTAKE…
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 18th MOVE:
It has been a less than sterling olympiad for the Norwegian superstar! This is his 3rd defeat already, and it was VERY PAINFUL! Something has already gone wrong with Black’s opening, but Black can still put up a stiff fight with the natural 18…hxg5. Instead, Carlsen makes what appears to be a horrible oversight:
The losing move! Could it be that the world’s number one player overlooked the next obvious move?
Ofcourse! White now wins 2 pieces for a Rook, but more importantly: he gets a completely crushing position! Carlsen tried to mix it up, but his the young Kalmykian GM did not fall for anything:
19…Bxh2ch!? (desperation) 20. Kh1! Nxf6 21.Qxe6ch Kb8 22. gxf6
With moves like Ne5 and Rf1 quickly coming in, and with a powerful passed f-pawn, the rest is trivial for Sjugirov. You will have to check the moves in the pgn viewer, but Carlsen resigned at move 25 in the position given below!
CARLSEN THROWS IN THE TOWEL
MORE WILL BE ADDED IN THE COMING HOURS
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS