This month, my interests turned to chess history, and the new content reflects that. If you're interested in chess as it was played a century or more ago, you may love these new articles:
- New profiles on Frank Marshall and Aron Nimzowitsch.
- A look at the famous St. Petersburg 1914 chess tournament, as well as a hub page for information on famous chess tournaments throughout history.
- A few historical chess lists: the top players of the 19th century, the top players of the decade from 1900-1909, and a list of great players who are not as famous as they should be.
As always, let me know if there's anything you'd like to see on the site next month!
There's an app for everything these days. There was actually a very helpful app for iOS and Android during the last World Chess Championship match: it updated users live during each of the games, and allowed us to go back and replay past games with some basic (but useful) annotations. I loved having it for my students, as it gave me an easy way to show them games quickly during our lessons.
Now, there's an app for the World Champion himself. Magnus Carlsen has launched an app for iOS phones that allows users to play against computers program to play like Carlsen at various ages. Fair warning, though: Carlsen was a grandmaster even at age 13, so most of us will have to play against him as a toddler (or not too long after) to have a chance.
Happy New Year! Here's what you may have missed that's been added to the site during January:
- A summary of the 2014 Tata Steel Chess Tournament.
- A short review of Vassily Ivanchuk: 100 Selected Games.
- A look at how to watch chess online.
- Quick tips on "playing the board" and developing your pieces with purpose.
- Just in time for the Winter Olympics, a guide to the sport they call Chess on Ice! (It's curling, if you weren't sure.)
- A profile of Slovenian Grandmaster Anna Muzychuk.
As always, let me know if there's something you'd like to see in February!
Levon Aronian lost his final game at the 2014 Tata Steel to Loek van Wely, but it hardly mattered. Aronian was on fire for the previous two weeks, winning six games and coasting to victory, having clinched the tournament title with a round to spare. Ultimately, Aronian still secured a great 8/11 score and won the tournament by 1.5 points over Anish Giri and Sergey Karjakin. It was an emphatic victory for the Armenian, who put a wide gulf between himself and the rest of the elite chess players on the ratings list. Sure, Magnus Carlsen is still the clear #1 at 2872, but Aronian is now the undisputed #2, having pushed his rating up to around 2825. With nobody else over 2790, it seems likely that Carlsen and Aronian will be the top two players in the world for some time to come.
When it comes to Wijk aan Zee, the B group (known as the Challengers section this year) is also worthy of attention. This year, the title went to GM Ivan Saric, who will earn an entry into the A tournament next year as a result of his 10/13 score. Perhaps just as notable was the result of veteran Jan Timman, who scored an impressive second place with 8.5 points.
Next up on the elite chess calender, there are two major events starting this week: the popular Gibraltar Open and the Zurich Chess Challenge, which will see Carlsen back in action for the first time since the World Championship.
Here's a fun clip that's been floating around the internet: World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen playing a friendly blitz game against noted rich fellow Bill Gates. It only took Carlsen nine moves and 79 seconds to beat Gates, but that doesn't make watching the clip any less fun. Here's a link!
Vugar Gashimov was one of Azerbaijan's top young chess talents: a regular on their Olympiad teams over the past decade, and at one point, ranked as high as 6th in the world rankings. Sadly, Gashimov was also battling a brain tumor, and while receiving treatment for that ailment this week, he died overnight on January 10-11. He was ust 27 years old. The chess world reacted uniformly with sadness at the news, and while he had not been particularly active as of late, many top players have shared memories of playing with Vugar in recent years.
Since I do not know enough about Gashimov to write about his life, I'll instead link you to this ChessBase report, which includes information about Vugar, his chess career, and his personal life, including pictures and games.
Happy New Year! Whether your resolutions for 2014 include chess-related goals or not, I hope we all have a happy and healthy 12 months ahead of us. Here's what you might have missed on the site over the last month:
- Three new player profiles: two on young stars Richard Rapport and Ding Liren, and another on the curious Borislov Ivanov, who many suspect of cheating.
- A few articles of interest to those who like computer chess, including a profile of the Houdini engine, a look at the TCEC tournament, and a review of the Chess Openings Wizard software.
- A hub page that includes a game-by-game summary of the 2013 World Chess Championship, and which will include more links to detailed game summaries in the months to come.
Look for more new content in January, and leave a comment if there's something in particular you'd like to see next month!
Maurice Ashley has been involved in some exciting chess projects before, but never one that promised the kind of money that the Millionaire Chess Open is advertising. The tournament, planned for October 9-13 at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, is promising a guaranteed $1 million in prizes over a number of different sections, including $100,000 for the winner in the Open section. That's a massive prize pool for an open chess tournament, and the rules do guarantee that someone will walk away with the full first prize: the format has seven rounds of Swiss system play (plus tiebreaker games if necessary) determining four semifinalists who will then play mini-matches to determine the winner and other top positions in each section. Lower sections offer as much as $40,000 for the winners, who will go through the same Swiss plus playoffs format.
So, how will they raise enough money to pay all of these massive prizes? Well, the early entry fee -- available only if you sign up by July 31 -- is a cool $1,000. Don't expect any breaks if you're a Grandmaster, as the website says everyone will have to pay to play in this event. And if there aren't at least 1,500 entries by March 31, the organizers reserve the right to cancel the tournament (though I'd have to imagine they'd only cancel if they fell far short of that mark).
It's certainly an interesting concept, one that feels somewhere between a typical chess open and a high-stakes poker tournament. The big question is: how many people will want to put up $1,000 or more to play? Those top prizes are enticing, but in lower sections, players may have to finish in the top six to actually turn a profit -- many offer $1,000 as a prize for 7th-20th, and $600 for 21st-50th, not enough to cover your entry and/or expenses. Then, again, many players may be willing to shell out the cash in order to add a once-in-a-lifetime tournament to a Vegas vacation. There's also the question of how many GMs will be willing to pay an entry fee to play in a major tournament: it's a great deal if you think you can win it, but if a few 2700+ players bite, that doesn't leave much room for your "average" 2500-2600 Grandmaster to feel like they have much of a shot at the big prizes.
Regardless, it's great to see something this audacious attempted in the chess world, and I'm curious to see just how many people will sign up to participate. Would you be interested in paying $1,000 to play in a tournament of this magnitude?
A Happy Thanksgiving to those in the United States, as well as those celebrating the holiday elsewhere! Here's a look at the new content you might have missed while you were celebrating with family and friends:
- I've added guides to a number of elite tournaments, including the Aeroflot Open, the Gibraltar Chess Festival, the Zurich Chess Challenge, and the new format for the 2013 London Chess Classic.
- A look forward at five young chess players you might want to keep your eye on in 2014.
- Have you ever wanted to take part in a fantasy chess league? Yes, they do exist!
Expect some more content that recaps the recent World Chess Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand over the next couple of weeks. As always, let me know if there's something special you'd like to see on the site in December!
Congratulations to Magnus Carlsen, the new World Chess Champion. While today's game did get a bit wild at times, Carlsen was never worse than even, and actually had winning chances throughout much of the game. He missed a shot at a winning edge around move 30, then repeatedly passed up opportunities to seek a draw through repetition of moves to continue pressing whatever advantage he might have. In the end, Carlsen went into a very long forced line where he sacrificed a knight and allowed both players to promote a pawn to a queen, resulting in an endgame where Carlsen had a queen and three pawns against Anand's queen and knight. That was clearly a draw, but it became doubtless when Carlsen forced a trade of queens, and official after all of the material came off the board.
In the post-game press conference, Anand pointed to Game 5 as the obvious turning point of the match (though Carlsen, understandably, said that he started to feel good after he nearly won Game 4), and congratulated his opponent on winning the match. Carlsen called Anand one of the greatest players of all time, and said that he was both honored to have played him and happy to have gotten the best of his esteemed opponent. Anand, of course, will be back next year in the next Candidates Tournament, as he earns an automatic bid. He may not go into that event as the favorite, but nobody would be shocked if he were able to win it and earn a rematch again the new champion.
I'll have a longer post reflecting on the match and what it means for both players either later today or over the weekend. For now, here's the final game of the match, which was ultimately won by Carlsen by the score of 6.5-3.5.
White: Magnus Carlsen
Black: Viswanathan Anand
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. d4 cxd4 5. Qxd4 a6 6. Bxd7+ Bxd77. c4 Nf6 8. Bg5 e6 9. Nc3 Be7 10. O-O Bc6 11. Qd3 O-O 12. Nd4 Rc8 13. b3 Qc7 14. Nxc6 Qxc6 15. Rac1 h6 16. Be3 Nd7 17. Bd4 Rfd8 18. h3 Qc7 19. Rfd1 Qa5 20. Qd2 Kf8 21. Qb2 Kg8 22. a4 Qh5 23. Ne2 Bf6 24. Rc3 Bxd4 25. Rxd4 Qe5 26. Qd2 Nf6 27. Re3 Rd7 28. a5 Qg5 29. e5 Ne8 30. exd6 Rc6 31. f4 Qd8 32. Red3 Rcxd6 33. Rxd6 Rxd6 34. Rxd6 Qxd6 35. Qxd6 Nxd6 36. Kf2 Kf8 37. Ke3 Ke7 38. Kd4 Kd7 39. Kc5 Kc7 40. Nc3 Nf5 41. Ne4 Ne3 42. g3 f5 43. Nd6 g5 44. Ne8+ Kd7 45. Nf6+ Ke7 46. Ng8+ Kf8 47. Nxh6 gxf4 48. gxf4 Kg7 49. Nxf5+ exf5 50. Kb6 Ng2 51. Kxb7 Nxf4 52. Kxa6 Ne6 53. Kb6 f4 54. a6 f3 55. a7 f2 56. a8=Q f1=Q 57. Qd5 Qe1 58. Qd6 Qe3+ 59. Ka6 Nc5+ 60. Kb5 Nxb3 61. Qc7+ Kh6 62. Qb6+ Qxb6+ 63. Kxb6 Kh5 64. h4 Kxh4 65. c5 Nxc5 ½-½