Hey readers! Just wanted to point out this great interview with Hikaru Nakamura posted over at Chess.com. Nakamura talks about a variety of topics, from his recent sponsorship deal with Red Bull to the Candidates Tournament and much more. Definitely worth checking out!
With March coming to an end, it's time to take a look at what's been added to the site in recent weeks. Here's a look at a few articles that were posted during the last month:
- A recap of the recent 2014 Candidates Tournament, won by Viswanathan Anand.
- Four more "Top Five" lists for decades of the past: the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.
- Two quick tips for beginners, covering the importance of being efficient and explaining what it means to "trade pieces."
As always, let me know if there's something you'd like to see on the site in April!
In the end, there wasn't even any drama. Viswanathan Anand sealed his victory in the Candidates Tournament with a round to spare - and to be honest, had virtually assured himself of the crown a few rounds prior to that - cementing a rematch with Magnus Carlsen later this year. In the end, Anand took first place (with 8.5 points on three wins and no losses) by a full point over Sergey Karjakin, who scored a marathon win over Levon Aronian on the final day. With all of the other games ending in draws, that sent Aronian tumbling down the tight field into a tie for 6th with Peter Svidler at a disappointing 6.5 points.
Casual fans may bemoan this result, fearing that Carlsen will easily handle Anand for a second time in November. But remember that Anand won't have any pressure on him this time around, and that he appears to be playing at a higher level than he was last year. It's certainly possible that Carlsen could easily defeat the former champion again, and he'll go into the match as the favorite almost no matter what happens between now and the match. But I wouldn't put past Anand to make it a much better match this time around.
For a full roundup on the Candidates Tournament, check out this ChessBase report on the final round!
Heading into the 2014 Candidates Tournament, few observers gave Viswanathan Anand much of a chance to win. Sure, he wasn't discounted entirely, but most figured that it would be Levon Aronian or Vladimir Kramnik (or maybe Topalov, perhaps Karjakin...) who would ultimately emerge as the next challenger to Magnus Carlsen. But with just five rounds left to play, Anand now has an imposing lead on the field, meaning we could be headed for a rematch of last year's title clash.
Anand has been in good position throughout the tournament, but the 9th round truly put him in a commanding position. Not only did Anand dispatch of Veselin Topalov to push him to the bottom of the standings, but losses by Aronian and Kramnik changed what had been a tight three-way race into a clear advantage for the Indian. Anand is now up a full point on Aronian, and you can effectively make that a 1.25 point lead, as he has the head-to-head tiebreak against Aronian should they finish equal. He's also up 1.5 points on Kramnik, Karjakin, and Mamedyarov.
That's a big advantage for Anand...but not yet a decisive one, as there's still plenty of chess to be played. In fact, there's probably nobody in the tournament -- even including Topalov, who is 2.5 points behind the leader -- who will be quite ready to give up at this point. If any player were to run the table and finish 5/5 (an enormous challenge to say the least), they'd still have a shot at winning the tournament -- and at least five players can realistically feel like they could win this thing if events broke just a little bit in their favor.
There's still a long way to go, but it's now Anand's tournament to lose. For a full report on round nine, check out this report by ChessBase.
In last year's Candidates Tournament, the leaders (Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik) pulled away from the field relatively early, turning the tournament into an apparent two-man race. It seems unlikely that this will be the case in 2014, as after five rounds, the competition is about as close as it can be between four competitors. Following a draw with Dmitry Andreikin, Viswanathan Anand still stands alone in first place with a 3.5/5 score. But right behind him are three players with 3/5 scores. They include favorites Levon Aronian and Kramink, along with Peter Svidler, who scored a neat win over Veselin Topalov in the 5th round to join the chase group. Topalov had an early advantage from his preparation, but Svidler was able to turn the tables later and score an important victory. As in previous years, it seems as though Svidler -- overlooked in recent years as a part of the world elite -- will be right in the hunt and remain a factor in determining who becomes the challenger to Carlsen later this year.
For more details on the 5th round, check out this ChessBase report. The players will be back in action tomorrow, then enjoy a rest day on Thursday.
Viswanathan Anand fully intends to seriously contend for the World Chess Championship this year. If there was any lingering doubt about that, it should be gone now that Anand has scored a second win in the first three rounds of the Candidates Tournament, defeating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov from the Black side of a Slav. That took Anand up to 2.5/3, giving him the sole lead early in the competition. It was a one-sided affair in which Anand took full advantage of Mamedyarov's weakened kingside, eventually taking home the point in just 31 moves.
That gives Anand a half-point lead over one of the favorites, Vladimir Kramnik, as well as Peter Svidler, who always seems to be a factor in these Candidates events. Not far behind is the other favorite, Levon Aronian, who -- along with Veselin Topalov -- sits at 1.5 points early on. After his loss, Mamedyarov sits alone in last with just 0.5 points, and he'll have to improve his performance if he doesn't want to repeat the performance of countryman Teimour Radjabov last year and finish in 8th. For a full report on round 3, check out this report from ChessBase!
Heading into the 2014 Candidates Tournament, there were certainly favorites that were expected to contend for the right to challenge for the World Championship later this year. Levon Aronian is the world's #2 player, trailing only World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Vladimir Kramnik could easily have been the challenger last year, if only his tiebreaks hadn't been slightly worse than Carlsen's. Veselin Topalov is still the world #4, and has always proven dangerous in World Championship events. Sergey Karjakin may not have the rating or the previous success of those three, but has been pegged as the dark horse by many experts.
Overlooked in most discussion is the fact that Viswanathan Anand is only months removed from being World Champion himself, and he's still a force to be reckoned with. He proved that in round one by not only being the only player to score a win, but by doing it again Aronian -- the tournament favorite, if there is one. After a Ruy Lopez where Anand got a clear (if small) advantage with the white pieces, he proceeded to outplay his Armenian opponent to take the full point.
With the other three games ending in draws, that leaves Anand in clear first, and Aronian in clear last. Of course, that's after just one round: there are 13 more to go, meaning nothing has even come close to being decided in this important event. I'll have more updates after each round, but one thing's for sure -- expect some surprises, because every player in this field is capable of winning at any time, and nobody is good enough to coast to the World Championship.
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!