SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
I have been pretty busy the past few days and have neglected this blog to some extent. I hope to change that starting tomorrow! Between my work as trainer of several talented youngsters for the upcoming World Championships in Brazil later next month and with my preparation for the upcoming tournament in Barcelona (MAGISTRAL DE AJEDREZ CIUTAT DE BARCELONA -CASINO DE BARCELONA 2011) Link to website I have managed just a couple of hours of sleep this weekend!
Finally, however, this evening I have found some free time. But first, before showing some snapshots of some recent games, I want to state for the record: I do NOT have an account on Facebook, and I have no idea who has used my name to create an account in my name (Link). Just the other day someone pointed out to me that I ‘have’ a Facebook account (!) and it is about me.
I have never given anyone permission to do this. It is NOT my Facebook account. Please do not take what ever is written there seriously. Should the warped individual behind this hoax start to post inappropriately on Facebook then I will take legal action.
NOW, for some chess!
The first half of the Grand Slam has finished (results below) and now the show moves to Bilbao and will continue on the 5th. Only Nakamura has not lost a game so far, and only the Spanish superstar Vallejo has not drawn a game so far (!). The official world champion Anand continues to disappoint his fans playing a level of chess that does not do justice to his official title. No doubt the second half will see an improvement!
Vallejo has played some enterprising chess in each game, but one finds oneself asking if such an uncompromising ‘poker-style’ of play is not just plain suicide at this level of play. Not that he is outclassed in the Grand Slam, but from my perspective Paco does not seem to realize that he is giving draw-odds to his opponents. That is, it is Vallejo who assumes all of the risks and shows that he is not interested in a half point. All his opponents have to do is sit back and wait for him to crack…witness Nakamura’s effort today:
It is only 13 moves and already Nakamura has an inferior position. Quite simply, he has misplayed the opening! Black need only play 13…exd4 and if 14.ed4 d5! White appears to have nothing better than the lame 15.c5, which leaves him with poorly placed bishops and little co-ordination amongst his other pieces. Black need not play for …b6 (not that it is such a bad idea!) but might instead double on the e-file and see what Nakamura will do to avoid seeing his position deteriorate.
Probably Vallejo did not have the frame of mind necessary to give the American a lesson in positional chess on this day, for in the next phase of the game the Spaniard seemed to tempt fate by provoking his opponent into a tactical melee. He did not encounter much co-operation….
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 20th MOVE:
Already Nakamura has stablilized his position and has created some hopes of counterplay with h5-g6. Probably the position is about equal or maybe even a tiny bit better for the American. In anycase, Black should try something simple like 20…Rb4 and double on the b-line, later hoping to get in a4 for free. The position is difficult to play, and even more difficult to evaluate.
HOWEVER, Paco lost his nerves and played the ‘blitz-like’ 20…a4?! 21.Nxa4 Bxc4?! and found himself having to hope for a miracle. Black is just plain lost! Some of the commentators tried to paint the game as a sort of sacrifice that somehow went wrong, but infact this is just nonsense. Perhaps Nakamura did not play the most precise moves later in the game, but surely you do not need to play perfect chess when 3rd rate moves are good enought to win…
(NOTE: this is in no way intended to slight Paco Vallejo, for whom I have the highest respect as a player and as a person. No doubt the first half of the Grand Slam has not been very kind to the Spanish star, but he can still surprise everyone in the second half and climb up the tournament table!)
IVANCHUK BEATS HIMSELF!
”Beat Ivanchuk today, now anything is possible in Bilbao! Not a great game by any means, but I could not care less about that right now.” Carlsen’s tweet soon after the round.
Ivanchuk has been impressive so far in this year’s Grand Slam, atleast until today’s game. But things simply did not go his way, right from the opening it seems. Carlsen avoided Ivanchuk’s preparation and played the French Defence, which the Norwegian star almost never plays in a serious game! Infact, Carlsen played very originally in the opening:
Here instead of the customary exchange on d4, Black played the hyper-modern 9…b6!? (which GM-author Moskalenko advocated about in a very similar position in his book ”The Flexible French”). After 10.g3 Kh8!? 11.h4 f6! a position very difficult to evaluate had arisen.
The next phase of the game took a number of surprising tactical turns and by the 21st move the game seemed to be heading towards a draw. In the position below Ivanchuk should simply take the c-pawn with atleast an even position. INSTEAD, the Ukranian genius lost control (22. b3?! Re8 23.Bf2 Be4!) and soon found himself struggling . Probably when short of time White made the decisive mistake and Carlsen won his first game of the tournament!
It is hard to believe that such a great player as Ivanchuk could mis-play such a simple position!
The team from St.Petersburg won this Club Cup. There were a lot of famous players taking part and we witnessed a lot of great chess also! The game between Grischuk (W) and Shirov (B) was an instructive fight that the reader would do well to re-play several times. It is not often that Shirov’s tactical expertise in this sharp line of the Spanish is contained and where he is forced to defend accurately, only to lose a very delicate Rook and pawn ending…
It has always amazed me how an opening which one has played all of one’s adult life (here the super-sharp Bc5 line in the Spanish) seems to just look inferior when you play it against a great player who is at the top of his game! Grischuk is the player of the moment (arguably, I admit) and he did not seem to need many good moves to make Black’s position simply look awkward:
21.Nf3! (Black was piling up the pressure on the e-file and seemed to be doing well…) Now Black can not play 21…Bxf3 because of 22.Qf2! with a clear edge. Shirov soon found himself on the defensive…
HOW TO BEAT SVIDLER’S GRUNFELD
HOW TO BEAT SVIDLER’S GRUNFELD
The Armenian star Sargissian is a lot stronger than most would give him credit for, but when one comes from a country with such phenomenal players such as the late Tigran Petrosian, Vaganian, Akopian and Aronian–just to name those that come to mind right now–it is perfectly understandable.
In this game Sargissian plays the relatively tame fianchetto line against Svidler’s pet grunfeld; White played the experimental 5.Qa4!?, a highly unusual idea first championed (in similar positions) by Portisch in the 1970’s…
Svidler never seemed to find his speed and by the 15th move the passivity of his position began to become noticeable. The Armenian handed the World Cup winner (and 2011-Russian Champion) his first defeat in several months! A really nice effort that makes it look so easy….