Showing posts from October, 2021

2021 Grand Swiss, Round 4

 Alireza Firoujza's 100% record was broken in round 4, as Yangyi Yu held him to a draw. Perhaps suprisingly, though, he remained the sole leader, as every player who started the round on 2½ points also drew. This enabled those players who started the day on 2 points to move within half a point of the lead, and five players - Vachier-Lagrave, Tari, Petrosyan, Sevian and Shirov - managed to do so. As a consequence, round 5 will see the two Frenchmen face off against each other in a keenly-anticipated encounter. At the other end of the table, there is no longer anyone on a 0% score either - the only player on 0/3, Aydin Suleymanli, managed a draw against Budisavljevic.

2021 Grand Swiss, Round 3

Round 3 was definitely Alireza Firouzja's day. Not only did he win, to become sole leader on 3 out of 3, but he extended his lead over the rest of the top seeds as he did so - Yangyi Yu of China is the only player in the rest of the top 30 to have even made it to 2½; he and Firouzja will play in round 4. The top two seeds, Caruana and Aronian, both drew their round 3 games in contrasting ways. Caruana will have been frustrated that he didn't manage to bring home the full point against Saric in a game he was surely winning, whereas Aronian had a very tough defensive task against Demchenko, and needed to draw heavily on his technique to hold a pawn-down rook ending. At the other end of the table, the tournament's only non-GM, IM Fy Antenaina Rakotomaharo of Madagascar, picked up his first points of the tournament with a draw against Georgiev.

2021 Grand Swiss, Round 2

 When two-thirds of your players are within 50 rating points of the tournament's median rating, and eleven-twelfths are within 100 points of it, there is a likelihood of a high draw rate. This was the case for the FIDE Grand Swiss, and the results so far bear it out. After two rounds, only three if its 108 players are on 2, and only ten on 0. That third seed Alireza Firouzja (France) is one of the three leaders is no surprise, but the other two, Alexandr Predke (Russia) and Ivan Saric (Croatia) are less well-known; Saric is up there courtesy of a second-round win against Kirill Alekseenko, who made his name by coming third in the 2019 event , which got him a wildcard for the Candidates. Going into round 2, Jorden van Foreest (Netherlands) was on a highly impressive run, having drawn in all eleven games of the 2019 event as well as his opening game here, but this finally ended when he lost to Robert Hovhannisyan (Armenia).

2021 Grand Swiss, Round 1

 There is currently a lockdown going on in Latvia, but the FIDE Grand Swiss in Riga is going ahead anyway. Whether or not it should be is a matter of considerable discussion , and it is unsurprising that several big names are absent. Among them are the quintet who don't need to qualify for the next Candidates - Carlsen, Duda, Karjakin, Nepomniachtchi and Radjabov. Another notable absentee is Hikaru Nakamura, who made a public announcement that he felt it unwise to play in those conditions. Be that as it may, it is still a very strong tournament, with 13 players rated 2700 or over, and 91 rated 2600 or over. Among them are two former World Championship challengers: Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand.  

4NCL Hull Masters, 20-24 October 2021

 The trend of 10-player all-play-alls with title norm possibilities is not showing any signs of slowing down, and the latest one was in Hull , under the auspices of the 4NCL . The norm targets for this one were 7 for a GM norm (or 6½ for the tournament's bottom seed, Shreyas Royal), and 5 for an IM norm. Tricky, but doable, and going into the final day, two players, Maciej Czopor and Conor Murphy, both had the chance to get GM norms, needing as they did 2/2. This was not to be, as both lost in round 8, but they nevertheless both achieved IM norms. Not that this is relevant for Murphy, who already has all his norms and has already applied for the IM title, but Czopor will certainly appreciate it. Title Name Rating Federation 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total 1 FM Czopor Maciej 2411 Poland * 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 6

British Women's Championship, 14-17 October 2021

 This year's British Championship festival had a number of events other than the main championship, and one of them was the British Women's Championship . This is normally awarded within the British Championship itself, but this year it was a stand-alone event. The pre-tournament favourites were two former champions, IM Harriet Hunt (who won the title four times between 1995 and 1999) and GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (who won it four times between 2003 and 2007). But they clearly weren't going to have it all their own way, as third seed Katarzyna Toma beat both of them in successive rounds to be the sole leader after round 3. Had she gone on to convert a winning position against Varney in round 5, Toma would now no doubt be the champion. But a loss on time in that game meant that there were three joint leaders after that point, and whoever of Toma, Varney and Hunt made the most of their two final games would probably win the event.  And Hunt was the won who rose to the challe

On playing for pretty patterns

 One of the features of Barnstaple Chess Club is that it's a small club (currently 14 active members) with a wide range of ability, and thus a fair proportion of its internal games are mismatches. As I tend to be on the right side of those mismatches, I can't really complain, but it does result in the odd game which is effectively over within the first ten moves or so. I won two of those last night, against a somewhat variable opponent - Rob Kelso can play very well on his day, and had just won a nice pawn ending against Graham Jones before playing me. When I end up in one of those games, I often end up giving myself other challenges, such as seeing whether I can win in aesthetically pleasing ways. Well, I managed it in both these games; the second involved a queen sacrifice to bring about Anastasia's Mate, while the first involved what problemists would term a "switchback"; winning by moving a piece back where it's just come from.

2021 British Championship, Round 9

 Going into the last round, there were two joint leaders, Pert and Ledger, on 6, and two just behind, Harvey and Hebden, on 5½. Pert was playing Harvey, whereas the other two were downfloating to lower-placed opposition. This meant that any one of the following five scenarios could have arisen: Sole winner on 7: If one of Pert and Ledger had won and the other hadn't. Two-way tie on 7: If both Pert and Ledger had won. Sole winner on 6½: If Pert had lost or drawn, Ledger had lost, and Hebden had not won. Two-way tie on 6½: If Pert had lost or drawn, and either Ledger had drawn and Hebden had not won, or Ledger had lost and Hebden had won. Three-way tie on 6½: If Pert had lost or drawn, Ledger had drawn and Hebden had won. Had any of the tie scenarios arisen, there would have been a rapidplay playoff to determine the overall champion, but as it was, there was no need. Harvey-Pert and Arkell-Hebden were draws, with Olson beating Ledger, resulting in a sole victory for Pert, who thereby

2021 British Championship, Round 8

Crunch time at the top of this very competitive tournament, and we now have two joint leaders going into the last round. One is top seed Nick Pert, who won quickly against McPhillips, and the other is Andrew Ledger, who got his second GM scalp of the tournament by beating Gormally. The board 2 game between Hebden and Harvey went on for 117 moves, but neither of them could get the victory that would have them join the top scoregroup. The other big news of the day was that Svetlana Sucikova's draw with Arkell got her to a live rating of 2200. As she already has all three of the necessary norms (and, indeed, will get another provided her round 9 game against Gormally takes place), this will mean she can claim the WIM title. Congratulations to her. Board No. Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Name Rtg No. 1 8 IM Ledger Andrew   J 2329 5 1 - 0 5 GM Gormally Daniel   W

My chess imagination is returning

To some extent, I use games at the local club for much the same purposes as I use games on the internet - trying out new ideas to see what sticks, gauging the way that I'm playing overall, and trying to find out just how well I think I'll play when I return to high-level events. And from the way I played on Thursday, I'm getting cautiously optimistic. Not just because I won all three of my games, but because I was seeing tactical ideas, which has been a weakness of mine over the past few years, and I was willing to consider unusual moves. It may be some time yet, but I'll be returning to the big time.

2021 British Championship, Round 7

 Both round 7 games involving the leaders were drawn, McPhillips-Hebden going all the way to a tablebase ending, so Hebden, Ledger and Pert all remain in the lead on 5/7. They were joined by Harvey (who beat Olson) and Gormally (who beat Finn); McPhillips is the only player half a point behind them. Lower down the tournament, the shocks just keep on coming. Eggleston, Bradbury and Webb all lost with white to lower-rated opposition in the shape of Sucikova, Starley and Latypova respectively - and for all three, that was their last action in the tournament. Webb had arranged his withdrawal a few rounds earlier, presumably thanks to some prior commitment, but Bradbury and Eggleston made their minds up on the day, no doubt feeling that playing on when in this bad form would not be a pleasant experience. Also withdrawing from the tournament, but in this case planned from the start, were Olga Latypova and Freddie Gordon, who will spend the weekend playing in the Terafinal of the UK Chess Cha

We apologise for the inconvenience

 For some reason, the annotated games on this blog appear not to be working. I shall try to figure out what's going on.

2021 British Championship, Round 6

 Andrew Ledger remained in the lead after his round 6 draw with Marcus Harvey, but two other players came up to join him: Mark Hebden, who beat Eggleston, and Nick Pert, who beat Arkell. They have 4½/6, with four players right behind on 4: McPhillips, Olson, Harvey and Gormally. With three rounds to go, all seven still have a decent chance of winning the title. The bottom half of the tournament continued to be hard-fought, with plenty of decisive games, including two big giant-killings: Peter Finn continued his excellent form, beating Bradbury, while Olga Latypova picked up her first win of the tournament against Willison. Board No. Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Name Rtg No. 1 3 FM Harvey Marcus R 2465 3½ ½ - ½ 4 IM Ledger Andrew J 2329 8 2 9 FM Olson Hamish 2273 3½ ½ - ½ 3½ GM Gormally Daniel W

2021 British Championship, Round 5

 Mark Hebden's position as sole leader in the British Championship didn't last long; he lost to Andrew Ledger, who is himself now the sole leader on 4/5. There is a large chasing pack right behind on 3½: as well as Hebden himself, there are Gormally and Pert (who drew with each other), Harvey (who drew with McPhillips), Olson (who beat Bradbury) and Eggleston (who beat Webb). With four rounds left, it's still plausible that anyone from this group could win. Decisive games were, in general, the order of the day in this round, with Gormally-Pert and McPhillips-Harvey the only drawn ones; in general, the higher-rated player won, with two exceptions: Ledger-Hebden and Willison-Stubbs. The latter was one of those bizarre games where a clearly winning player overlooked the threat of mate in one. Board No. Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Name Rtg No. 1 8 IM Ledger Andrew   J 2329 3

2021 British Championship, Round 4

One of the unfortunate events that sometimes plagues tournaments has arisen, and the event has had its first withdrawals. One, that of Amirabbas Mehrafarin, was known about before the round 4 pairings were made (and is probably not surprising with his being on 0/3 and having blown promising positions in the previous two rounds). The other is of Phil Brooks, whose result this round flitted from "lost by default to Starley" to "half-point bye" to "lost by default to Starley". I suspect what this means is that Brooks felt ill, asked to take the round off, but then later decided he was too ill to carry on playing. If so, I hope he recovers soon. Moving onto the games that actually were played, the tournament now has its first outright leader: Mark Hebden moved onto 3½/4 with a convincing win against Bradbury. For a while it looked like Andrew Ledger might join him, but he failed to convert a good-looking position against Eggleston and had to settle for a draw

2021 British Championship, Round 3

 The top-board clash between Gormally and Hebden petered out to a 19-move draw, giving the players on 1½ a chance to join them in the lead, and all three pairings in that scoregroup produced someone who did so. On board 2, Marcus Harvey beat Keith Arkell after the latter got tangled up in the opening and had to give up a pawn to get any counterplay. On board 3, Neil Bradbury ruthlessly exploited a space advantage against Joe McPhillips. And on board 4, Andrew Ledger had a slight positional edge all the way through against Peter Finn, and made things more and more difficult for his opponent as the game went on. There is a sizeable chasing pack as well, as all four games in the 1/2 scoregroup were also decisive. Wins for Nick Pert, David Eggleston and Hamish Olson against lower-rated opposition were no surprise, but the fourth one was the shock of the tournament so far, as 10-year-old Freddie Gordon beat Laurence Webb, rated more than 600 points above him. Board No.