2021 World Championship Match, Game 3

 With Nepomniachtchi having achieved little from his Anti-Marshall line in Game 1 , it seemed likely that he would make a small change for Game 3. And so it proved, with his choosing 8.a4 rather than 8.h3, and the game moving into slower lines featuring the knight manoeuvring for which the closed Lopez is noted. And, it seems, the experiment was reasonably successful - he appeared to get a slight edge from the opening, and had he made a different choice at move 21, he may have retained it, although the resulting position was still quite tricky to exploit. As it was, the line he actually chose allowed Carlsen to simplify into a level ending, and the match remains tightly poised at 1½-1½ heading into the first rest day.

2021 World Championship Match, Game 2

 Game 2 of the match, and Nepomniachtchi, not wanting to take undue risks at this stage, elected not to play his favoured Grünfeld Defence. Instead, he went for the rather more sedate 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5, and the game quickly reached an Open Catalan. Despite this opening's reputation, this was another interesting game which followed the pattern of the first in some respects: Carlsen sacrificed material (first a pawn, then the exchange) for long-term positional compensation, which Nepomniachtchi had to defend carefully to bring home the half-point.

2021 World Championship Match, Game 1

 With the qualification for the 2022 World Championship match in full swing, it might have been easy to overlook that the match scheduled for 2020 hadn't actually yet been played. But now it has finally started, as Ian Nepomniachtchi becomes the fourth person to try to defeat Magnus Carlsen in a world championship match. While the 73-point rating gap in Carlsen's favour suggests that he is the strong favourite - 538 's calculations give him something like a 5/6 chance of winning the match outright - Nepomniachtchi is a much improved player over the past few years, and can take heart from the fact that he is one of the few active players with a plus score against Carlsen. The first game was a rather cautious affair, although quite interesting for those of us who like subtle endgame battles. Carlsen sacrificed a pawn early on for nagging endgame pressure, and a lesser player than Nepomniachtchi could easily have crumbled; instead, he managed to hold on for a draw. If the re

Pets mean prizes

 It has been an eventful week. My sister's moving abroad, and I have now taken custody of her cat and rabbits. This being the internet, I am now constitutionally obliged to post a picture of the cat in question, so here he is: Myszu     I also played some games at the local chess club; it was a night in which I managed to get in one standardplay and four rapidplay games, and won them all, taking me to 4/4 in the club championship (total scheduled games: 11) and 11/11 in the rapidplay (total scheduled games: 20). Three of these games were against Jon Munsey, who was already a member of the club when I joined back in 2002; the other two were against Jevon Whitby, who has just joined this season, and seems to be a decent player.  

Great Players: Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa

Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa There are two competing claims to the title of Staunton 's successor as the best player in the world, and their levels of fame are surprisingly different. The general chess public's knowledge of Adolf Anderssen deservedly ranks him very highly; he won the first international tournament, and two of his games always make the collections of classics. This article's subject, though,  Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa (1818-1899) is a somewhat more obscure figure. Like so many of the great players of the 19th century, his ability to play in tournaments was curtailed by the needs of his career - in this case, in the Prussian diplomatic service - but his results in match play between 1843 and 1853 - which included two match victories over Anderssen and one over Staunton - show that he was capable of holding his own against the best players of his era. His playing style was very much of its time - a ferocious attacker with a keen tactical eye

There are some openings I really shouldn't play

 I have just come back from a week visiting my sister in Exeter, which was a nice refreshing break. And thus I did not play any games at the chess club last week. However, I played plenty the previous week - one standardplay and three rapidplay - and those are the subject of this piece. The three rapidplay games I won without much incident, as I rather savagely dispatched my opponents' somewhat dubious opening ideas. However, the standardplay game that started the evening off was another matter. This game featured the Symmetrical English, 1.c4 c5. There is much that suits me about this opening; it leads to double-edged games where there can be play on all sides of the board. However, what it also leads to, and this is where it continues to trip me up, is surprisingly trappy and tactical positions very early on. And this is what happened this time; I played an otherwise positionally-indicated move that should have lost a piece, and had my opponent spotted it, I'd have been in f

2021 Grand Swiss, Round 11

 A hard-fought final round eventually produced nothing much in the way of changes in the finishing order, as the top thirteen boards were all drawn. This meant that Alireza Firouzja finished the tournament as outright winner , and qualified for the Candidates. Joining him in the Candidates is 2018 challenger Fabiano Caruana, who finished ahead of Grigoriy Oparin on tie-break. Oparin will have to be satisfied with a place in the Grand Prix, where he will be joined by five of the thirteen players who finished equal fourth: Yangyi Yu of China, Vincent Keymer of Germany, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, Alexandr Predke of Russia and Alexei Shirov of Spain.