Friday, December 31, 2010

Live Blitz #12

The last live blitz of 2010.....fittingly two French Defences.

Last blitz game of 2010

Last game of chess in 2010 which I won more or less on knowledge from the Flexible French by Moskalenko.

While looking at some games in this line, I analysed some variations and stumbled on this pretty mate which is in the flash file but deserves a diagram of it's own.

Position after 21.Ng3-h1#

Reggio Emilia, 4th round being played today

Not too much has been going on in the chess world over the holidays. The strongest tournament right now is Reggio Emilia which used to be a really strong tournament back in the days, one of the top tournaments actually. It seems they are trying to bring it back and this year it is super strong. Almost as strong as the absolute strongest tournaments. In any case the field is interesting and diverse.

Other tournaments going on right now are the traditional New Year's Tournaments i.e. Hastings and Rilton.

So back to Reggio Emilia. After 3 rounds, Paco Vallejo is leading with 2,5 out of 3. The most surprising in the first two rounds though was Nigel Short going 2/2 against Gashimov and Morozevich which is a nice comeback after his disastrous London Chess Classic.

Against Gashimov he had to defend against an attack:

Which he managed to do, winning 23 moves later from this position. I have no clue what was going on but probably black's attack was unsound although he did have some practical compensation.

In the 2nd round against Morozevich he was completely lost on the white side of a Classical French:

Morozevich played here: 29....d4? which let Nigel back into the game. Instead he could have won rather easily with 29...Nf4+ 30.Kf1 Qg6

And there is simply no way to defend. For instance 31.Ne3 hitting the rook and defending g2 then simply 31...Rf8 and threat of ...d4 is very strong and white will lose material quickly. So Nigel got back into the game and found a nice overloading move here 36.Rh8-b8

Black suddenly falls apart. The queen can't keep an eye on both the f5 rook and the d3 knight after this move and taking on b8 leads to a quick mate. So Morozevich had to give up a piece and lost after having a close to completely won position.

Right now the 4th round is being played and my eye is on Short vs Vallejo:

In another classical French, black just played the interesting exchange sacrifice 18...fxe5 (19.Ng5 wins exchange). I like black in this position and will be interesting to see what happens. So far this is a good advertisment for the French if black wins here since Morozevich was also doing great in this line vs Nigel before not finding the correct path.

I also have an eye on Ivanchuk-Movsesian as Ivanchuk is handling the white side of a Close Sicilian Reversed which I play a lot with white!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Smothered mate

Got this position in an online blitz game. My opponent actually wasn't a complete patzer as his position would indicate...he just clumsily allowed d4-d5-d6 with tempos in the opening (hitting Nc6 and then Be7) and it spiralled pretty quickly out of control for him. Anyway I got to deliver a smothered mate in a slightly different form than it usually appears (The standard Nf7-h6, Qg8+ and Nf7#)

1.Ng6+ Kh7 2.Nxf8++ Kh8 3.Qh7 Nxh7 4.Ng6#

Patterns at work

Do you think knowing the following mating pattern:

Would help you find the win in the following position:

See if you can before I post the answer in the comments!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The most obvious doppelganger ever!

GM Hicham Hamdouchi from Morocco

GM Viswanathan Anand, World Champion from India

Endgame mate

Mates in the endgame are often amusing and also instructive. Here white came up with a nice mating net:

1.Rh3+! Bxh3 2.gxh3 Rhc8 3.Rg2+ Kh3 4.Kf2!

It's always very aesthetic when material is sacrificed and then followed up with a quiet move. After these calm king move, black has no defence against the threat of Rg3++ followed by Rh3#

It should be noted that 2...Rb5 is a better defensive try but on the other hand instead of being immediately mated black loses material after 3.Rg8+ picking up the h8 rook.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The curious case of Alexandru Crisan

Recently I was reminded of this hilarious case when browsing through an old issue of New In Chess Magazine (98/1). In this issue, Grandmaster Michal Krasenkow wrote:

....On the other hand, some of the names present in the list just bewilder. First of all, we see a  new top player with an amazing 2635 rating Alexandru Crisan. One can hardly find any games of this guy in databases since 1989 (has rating of 1.1.1990 was 2235).
I have taken the trouble to look at his recent results (thanks to the Internet rating database). These are near-100% scores in some Romanian tournaments one has never heard about
Remarkably this guy had falsified tournament reports to propel himself to 33rd (!!!) in the world with  a 2635 rating and that he did without:

  • Playing any games of note the last 10 years against the top 10 players in the country.
  • Participating in the top group of the National Championship
  • Representing his federation in any Chess Olympiad.
  • Hardly any games in the accessible databases played by Mr. Crisan, or otherwise published.
  • Any result coming from any official or well-established tournament in Romania or other places in the world.
Initially the attention of this matter was brought to FIDE via the Romanian Chess Federation. It pointed out that it had detected irregularities concerning some tournament rating reports. Among other things, the arbiter that was said to be in charged denied having signed these reports....including the eerie "Troeful Sfinx" tournament in 1997 (gimme a break!).

Somehow the Romanian federation was completely changed and all of a sudden they supported Crisan in this matter (really?

Anyway the chessworld suspected something was up as evidenced by the letter from GM Krasenkow in NIC. It was decided that Mr. Crisan was to verify his rating by performing in 3 tournaments selected by FIDE.

Now we come to the funny part as if this isn't hilarious enough already. Crisan did indeed compete in one of those tournaments, the Vidmar Memorial in 2001, held in Slovenia. His result was disastrous 0.5 out of 9.....somehow he managed a draw against Mikhailchisin (who drew all his games!!). The games played were of such low quality that his rating was impossible. His games were even evaluated by GM Azmaiparashvili who said after reviewing them
"For me if I am asked how Mr. Crisan reached his rating of 2600, it is clear to me that it was done in an illegal way."
Lets have a look at one position from the Vidmar Memorial. Our hero Mr. Crisan is black here:

GM Mohr had not managed to outplay Crisan. After all he was 2235 back in 1990 so he should manage at least some draws on that strength. Winning attempts have been exhausted more or less so Mohr played:


Crisan replied


 Now any chess player with elementary knowledge knows the opposition. 57...Rxe3 58.Kxe3 Ke5 is a remarkably easy draw that our hero doesn't go for! Still the position is a dead drawn rook ending with no complications. Black just has to know the Philidor position but our hero somehow managed to lose this ending!! For this I have to give Ra5 a question mark even though it shouldn't change the result.

The follwing I got from here:

Incredibly, Crisan then bounced back by winning two tournaments in Yugoslavia!!

Last month at Tekija and Kladovo, Crisan won two events by drawing most games in a handful of moves and defeating a few compliant opponents. 
Crisan's victims were all competent players who had fallen on hard times since Yugoslavia's meltdown in the 1990s. 
One of Crisan's victims, likeable IM Branko Maksimovic, was at least able to keep his sense of humour as he prostituted his chess skills for a few dollars, as can be seen by the following game. 

The conclusion of the commitee looking into this was:

The committee hereby recommends to the FIDE Qualification Commission, that:
1) Mr. Alexandru Crisan’s rating be revoked and he shall no longer be listed in the rating list, with the exception of the results obtained in the Vidmar Memorial.
2) Mr. Alexandru Crisan’s titles of International Grandmaster (GM) and International Master (IM) be revoked.
This is signed by Makropoulous and Kutin and contains the analysis by Azmaiparashvili of Mr. Crisan's playing strength.

Despite this if you look up Alexandru Crisan on the FIDE website you get:

Alexandru Crisan, GRANDMASTER!! with a rating of 2588  (2635 minus his great result in Vidmar Memorial 2001!!)

See for yourself:

I said it was a curious case (perhaps as Crisan almost sounds like Kirsan someone is pulling strings??)!!

A lecture by Anand

Just had a look. ChessVibes recorded a lecture by Anand recently. It's nothing super special but always interesting to see what such strong players are thinking. In terms of practicality I would say the second video is better as it contains some helpful insights into a "type of ending"

Part 1:

Part 2:


Friday, December 24, 2010

Chinese....ermm......Women's World Championship

WGM Ruan and GM Hou Yifan have been battling it out for the title in recent days. Today they have tiebreaks for the title in form of rapid games. As I write this it's 0,5-1,5 for Yifan but Ruan already came back in classical chess so we'll see if she can do it again. The final 3 out of 4 girls where from China with the 4th player in the semifinals being Koneru so we had no Russians in the semi-finals which is a bit surprising.

Anyway congratulations to whoever wins. I haven't been watching closely but from a safe distance ;-)

Some Chinese to learn in honor of these girls:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Funny checkmate in one

Got this position with black on My opponent is an IM, rated 2467 on PlayChess and 2382 in FIDE rating. This is obviously a French Defence and this time a Black Queen Blues variation. My opponent played a very rare queenside castle in this line and now after my move 21...Nd8 he found:


A quite hilarious mistake and of course the rare positioning of the white king in this line meant that this otherwise standard move is now met with:


Live Blitz #11 - 3 games

US Chess League, Game of the year!

This year for the 2010 season I was given the honor of being GOTY judge again. I was GOTY judge in 2008 and thought I did an ok job. I felt most of my choices were close to the general consensus and the eventual GOTY was also my choice.

This year I think it is going to be a lot more even and for instance even though the game that has been presented as 19th got three 20th place votes (including mine) it also got a 2nd place vote! I don't think anybody will agree with my choice for #1 and looking at some picks by non judges (by Greg Shahade and others) it's clear that everybody will see things differently and so I am pretty excited to see how my rankings will stack up vs the offical rankings.

Anyway check out for the countdown to the game of the year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ICC Tactic to beat a GM

Got this position in the 5-minute pool with black against GM Legko who is the very strong Oleg Korneev. I played a ...Nf6 against the Tarrasch variation of the French and found a slightly non-standard tactic for this line.


A good move but only second best, 17...Nxg2!! probably does the job slightly better ;-)


18.Kh1 Rxf3 -+

18...Rxf3 19.Bh6 Bf4! 20.Bxf4 Qxf4 21.Rcd1 Raf8

And here my position is so overwhelming that even I couldn't blow this despite some decent efforts.....0-1 and a good scalp ;-)

The Wonderful Winawer

Just got my hands on a copy of this book. First impression I like it a lot! When I got his other book, "The Flexible French" I had almost given up on playing the French for reasons I can't even remember. But after reading his book I just got really passionate again about the French and got many great ideas in some lines where I needed a little juice. I hope this new book helps me plug some holes. I have been playing mostly 6...Qa5 the Black Queen Blues in the Winawer, but maybe I'll play some old stuff again after looking at this book. Also I need some fresh ideas in some annoying sidelines. Moskalenko sure writes with soul as Korchnoi says in the Foreword!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Nice simplifcation pattern

Had white here in this position against an IM on ICC.

It woud be easy to wrong here with 30.Qxa6? and all of a sudden black is better after 30...Qd2! Instead I found a forced way to get a winning endgame.
30.Qxd8! Bxd8 31.Nc6 Bb6 32.cxb5 axb5 33.Bxf6 gxf6 34.a4!

It is clear now that the a-pawn just can't be stopped as the knight controls all the black squares along the way to queening. And the black king is too far away to push the knight away from it's strong post!

Some help......mate?

My opponent with black was kind enough in his attempt to flag me to play 53...f6??

I pre-moved 54.f4+ exf4 55. exf4# and was still searching for my next pre-move when I realized the game was over!! A funny little helpmate!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

GM scalp, thanks to Marin once again ;-)

I more or less try to follow the Marin books when playing with the white pieces. At the moment I go for Closed Sicilian Reversed instead of the lines recommended by Marin. I also need to study more the c4 e5 lines from book one. I am however getting better and better with every week in the Symmetrical English. When I first started playing the English follow "Strategical Opening Repertoire" I alway had trouble when they played completely symmetrical and  had to go for the early d4 lines like in the following game. I finally studied it some after getting the Marin books and in this game against a strong opponent in the ICC 3-minute pool I managed to put together a good game following Marin's theory and get the nice result!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tactics from Malakhov-Grischuk, Russian Superfinal

This position occured in Malakhov-Grischuk in the 7th round of the Russian Superfinal. Malakhov just played 39.Bh4 which is a surprising blunder in an equal position. At the moment white has an extra pawn but black can regain the pawn on h6 at his leisure so material is effectivly equal. Can you find the sequence that won black a pawn and eventually the game? Remember what Nunn said about lose piece, they usually drop of....but in this case the looseness of some white pieces was used to win a pawn!

Tactic from a live blitz game

Played some live blitz games with friends last night while sipping on a few and having a good time. In one of the games I found a nice way to take advantage of the weak back rank after white played Bg3-h2 on his last move!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A good win in the Black Queen Blues on ICC

This 6...Qa5 move, the so called "Black Queen Blues" as dubbed by Moskalenko has more or less become my main weapon in the Winawer. It's a nice variation, usually ending up in nice blocked French type positions. Here I use it again GM Julio Becerra and get a good win in the 3-minute pool on ICC.

Marin vs the Slav

I want to discuss the Anti-Slav line chosen by Marin in his repertoire books. The position below is the main branching point.

This is after 1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 of course there are several other move orders to reach this position. White could start with 1.Nf3 and McShane for instance reached this afte 1.g3!

Black has a choice here:

4...dxc4 5.0-0 is the gambit line which I have yet to discuss
4...Bf5 is the Barcza variation

And here I will discuss 4...Bg4

A funny thing has happened  here. I have played 2 online blitz games in the last 2 days that both went:

5.Ne5 Bf5 6.cxd5 Nxd5??

I obviously just played 7.e4 winning a piece!

The opponent on ICC somehow lasted over 40 moves and he tried to get counterplay with 7...f6 8.Nc4 Nb4 9.exf5 Nd3+ 10.Kf1 Qd4 which is probably the best black can do and hope for a miracle. The other guy, over 2400 on PlayChess went 7...Nb4 8.exf6 f6?? 9.Qh5 and resigned!!

Other than that I am mostly meeting 5...Bh5/Bf5 and only today for the first time I got 5...Be6 played against me.

Play after Bf5/Bh5 is often very similar. We go cxd5 and Nc3 and after e4 we give a check on a4 and it's slightly tricky for black. More games later!

Chess Tactics Training #1

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nice scalp in 3-minute pool

I managed a nice win in the 3-minute pool yesterday. My opponent is a Brazilian GM, Andre Diamant, Brazilian Champion in 2008.

After his weird opening, we get a Dutch type of position and I quickly get the upper hand.

Exciting round today in the Russian Superfinal

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Everything that's wrong with online chess

Played this game on ICC in 3-minute pool vs Buffon(GM). Says he is from Italy. This is on move 47. I have 19 seconds left vs 1:28 after some tough defence and realize I can't win this and offer a draw. He declines.

On move 56 I win the pawn....I have 11 seconds left:

If he thought he had chances because of the pawn I offer a draw again....only to by flagged on move 100 by his brilliant back and forth moves.

I played Rd7-d5 about 30 times in that span...but he threw in some checks....

Is this chess anymore? I asked him after the game "What is this?" .....bad idea by the way, I have a very short fuse and this only ended up in getting me more angry which was obviously his intention with answers like "You crying ?" ...."still crying" "cry cry cry" "go on"  and sure enough he is gonna be the one "complaining" and I'll receive a stupid letter from ICC Complain....SERIOUSLY?

Flagging is sometimes part of the game but I think everbody with 15% decency is not gonna flag such an endgame....whatever happened to showing your opponent some respect?


The position Ratedoro references. Tiviakov with black was flagged in this position. He can even lose all his pawns and his bishop and it's still drawn....pathetic!

Elementary tactics

This position occured in one of my blitz games yesterday. Should be elementary but all the same neat. I'll place the answer in comments.

White to move.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

McShane - Adams, another game in Marin territory

We are getting lots of English openings in this tournament. McShane actually started with 1.g3 but soon we transpose to an English and we get a line from Chapter 8 of English Opening 2 by Marin. Unfortunately we soon left lines discussed by Marin. The early h3 deviated a bit (Nc3 first more normal). We almost reach line B11 on page 140. But with the difference that after 11 moves, Adams had his bishop on b6 instead of on d6 as in B11.

My feeling was that it was white who to fight for the draw (although not hard) so improvements are needed early in this game. Overall this is a very solid line for black and white has to be farily well prepared to press black in this line. That being said, white as always is very solid here.

Replay the game here:

Carlsen playing the English!

Is the English Opening gonna be his main weapon in England? Well he has used it in his first two rounds of the London Chess Classics.

In the 2nd round vs Adams:

GM_Carlsen (2802) - GM_Adams (2723) [A29]
2nd London Chess Classic 2010 London, England (2), 09.12.2010
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 Bc5 5.Bg2 d6 6.0–0 0–0 7.d3 a6 8.a3 Ba7 9.b4  

Here Adams played 9...Be6 but Marin considers ...Bf5 and ...Bg4 to be the main moves. He says "9...Be6 exposes the bishop to the knight jump Nf3-g5. There has only been on egame with this move between reasonably strong palyers 10. Bb2 Ne7 11.Ng5 Bc8 12.e3 h6 13. Nf3 we are back into the normal paths, since Black has played ...h6"

Carlsen however went for Nd2, Rb1, a4, b5 a build up on the queenside and a slow strategic struggle typical of the English was the order of the day. Carlsen managed to outplay his opponent after some inaccuracies by Adams.

Full game here in replayer:

In the 4th round against Nakamura he again played 1.c4. Nakamura answered with 1...f5. I personally like playing the Closed Sicilian Reversed with white against KID and Leningrad setups but in the Marin books he goes for the Botvinnik system (d3/e4/Nge2 etc). Carlsen instead went for another type of English setup, with e3/Nge2 and another quiet buildup. In the end black was left with typical weak pawns on b- and d- file and Carlsen managed another win.

The game here (All 4th round games):

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Spoiled for chess!

Too much going on!

London Chess Classic of to an interesting start, who the hell is gonna win?

Women's World Ch, 16 players left.....

And today the Russian Superfinal round 1?

I guess this is what they would call "sweeps week" in the US?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The triple double!

A basketball triple-double

A busty triple-double

A McShane triple-double!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

McShane vs Carlsen

McShane played the English against Magnus Carlsen. Magnus chose the ...Nh6 line which is not as well known but still an interesting alternative. Magnus played the novelty 9...Ne5 which is not necessarily bad but at mortal level this feels like a very comfortable position for white. McShane said about the position that white wants to keep some initiative on the queenside because if black gets developed he should stand well.

I would like to add that the ...Nh6 line was well known to me because the retired Icelandic GM Jon L Arnason used to play this line and I had looked at it when preparing for a game against him in the Icelandic Team Blitz Championship. He had good results with this line in his playing days. The key stuff to know here (which I had analysed and known about before the Marin book) is to play d4 like McShane did and know about the c5 idea as in Andersson-Van der Wiel. Also ...Nh6 a move earlier can be met with h4!? as white hasn't castled. These ideas (other than h4!?) can be seen in the notes below, as is my game against GM Jon L Arnason in this line.

GM Jon Arnason recently turned 50 and a blitz tournament to honor him will be held next sunday!

Marin covers this line. ...Ne5 isn't mentioned but ...Nxd4 and ...Bd7 are covered. Also the early Nh6 (a move before Magnus played it) is given a ?! and answered with 6.h4!

Both Marin and Strategical Opening Repertoire quote a game by Botvinnik in this line against Gligoric.

It would be interesting to know if McShane booked up using the Marin books!?!?

Also I am very happy for McShane. I used to be teammates with McShane in the Icelandic league and he has visited Iceland many times as well for tournaments. He couldn't be a nicer guy, one of the most polite and sincere chess players I've met. I am also 100% positive he would be much much higher rated had he not spent so much time on his academic studies. On the other hand I think doing that is a very healthy choice so not at all criticising him for that!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Analysis from Adams-Howell

20.Nf7!! +-

On Chess.FM, GM Yasser Seirawan called this move a "Hootsie Tootsie!"

London Chess Classic underway!

They've started! Will be exciting to follow this tournament in the next coming days. Also there is an open tournament as well and I know of at least one Icelandic player playing there so I will keep an eye on that.

McShane-Carlsen: Is a symmetrial English in a line that I play so I am keeping an eye on that one.

Adams-Howell: Howell played a rare line in the Berlin with ...Be7 instead of ...Nxe4 and ended up with a weird knight on b7.

Anand-Nakamura: They are playing a Berlin....Anand has played ...e6 and Nakamura probably needs to defend accurately.

Short-Kramnik: Short playing an original line and so we have an original position. No idea what's going on in this one!

Follow the games on:

Official Homepage:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Calculation smalculation


This position I got in a league game in 2005 against my friend and great guy Robert Lagerman. We've had some interesting games in the past and this one was also in that category. Robert has more or less played Benko his whole career but shied away from it against me, often opting for the Benoni because of and early Nc3 line that I used  to be good at and scored some convincing wins in. So we could say he surprised me in this game by returning to "beaten paths"!?

Anyway in this position I made a pretty good calculation. White should play 1.Nxb4!
Now black's only attempt is 1...Re8 trying to trap the queen as 1...cxb4 2.Ng5 followed by Ne4 keeps two healthy extra pawns and black should go down more or less without a fight. Here I have the great move 2.a5!!

Black must recapture with the rook. The queen has no squares that doesn't lead to exchanges or the loss of the d6 pawn so 2...Rxa5 3.Nc6! Rxe7 4.Bxa5 Qb5 5.Nxe7+ Kf8

Last moves have been fairly forcing and now I had calculated that 6.Bd8 should keep the extra piece. But the computer finds the brutal 6.b4!! which wins. 6...Kxe7 7.bxc5 Qxa5 8.Rxb7+ followed by Ng5 and black stands horribly. 6...Qd7 there doesn't seem to be an escape for the bishop but...7.Nc6! now if 7...Bxc6 then 8.Bxf6 and then I take the bishop on c6. 7...Nxd5 8.Na5

Next move I get the bishop out of dodge! It is true white retains better chances but not as simple as I thought. Anyway it would have been fun if I had played this and maybe I would have found b4!! but in any case I would never have lost here and probably won. So going back to the original position....

I was so excited when I saw all this and I would save my bishop with tactical means that I played 1.a5?? mixing up the move order (1.Nxb4 remember!) and got hit with 1....Nbxd5! and black got a better ending and I suffered and lost in 50-60 moves ;-(