Topic 1 - Coming Soon to Shakmaty Bereolos. It looks like I still have a good backlog of material to analyze (a couple of Corus rook Endings, more on Bereolos-Nilsson, among others), so I probably won't do much in depth for Linares. I'll just kick back and enjoy the chess at the Spanish site Canal21. The tournament got off to a bang with two decisive results in the first round (Kasparov 1-0 Shirov and Khalifman 0-1 Kramnik). The second round saw 3 draws. Khalifman 1/2 Kasparov was probably very important for El Khalif. Starting 0-2 with white among these sharks could have been a disaster. Shirov pushed Leko for a long time in a pawn-up rook ending. I would point out that game as especially worthwhile to study.
Topic 2- Adams vs. Deep Junior. I don't read the newsgroups much these days, but apparently there has been a controversy raging over the conclusion to this match. As I pointed out on 2/22/00 the details of what happened were very sketchy. Now, thanks to The Week in Chess we have Michael Adams' view of what happened.
Topic 3 - Greater Knoxville Spring Open. I managed to win this tournament with 3.5/4, but not without some struggles. I'll probably look at the end of my drawn game with Jason Knight (4 pawns vs. knight with queens and rooks), which was by far my most interesting game. The tournament had a great turnout and made money. There was a problem with new pairing software, WinTD. It cited the rule on color alternation incorrectly giving the higher rated player his due color rather than the higher ranked. I've posted my question about the existance of a USCF "certification" process for these programs on rec.games.chess.misc. It's a bit troubling that these programs, which have been on the scene for some time, still seem to be plagued by bugs. So far my post hasn't gotten any responses, I'll summarize any answers I do get.
Topic 4 - Website suggestion. I recently discovered Alex Yermolinsky's web page. I guess he was pretty active with it in 1998, and is now trying to post regularly to it again. I've always found Yermo's writings in Chess Life and New in Chess to be quite entertaining. Check it out for the outspoken views of one of the top US grandmasters.
Tomorrow is the start of the annual Linares supertournament. This tournament in a small town in Spain has traditionally been the barometer of the world's chess elite. This year should be no exception. The top 5 players in the world (Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand, Shirov, and Leko) all accepted their invitations. Number 6 Morozevich declined, but in his place is the FIDE champion, Khalifman. Play will consist of a double round robin.
Here are my Fantasy Chess picks. The six player format with six picks for fantasy chess makes for some interesting shuffles. I took Kasparov as a bonus player since I think he will again win the tournament. I would venture to say that he will be one of the bonus picks of most players. For my second bonus pick, I made what could be a suprising choice of Shirov. Linares has always been good to Alexei and I think he can repeat some of his past success, although it would not suprise me if Leko, Kramnik or Anand finishes second. I think for most people Khalifman will be the pick to finish last. He is much lower rated than the other competitors and still hasn't sent me an autograph. The only question is to pick him as the lose with White or lose with Black player. In Las Vegas he had a tremedous result with White (+10 = 5 if memory serves) so I picked him as my lose with Black player. Vladimir Kramnik is always tough with White so I took him as my win with White player. Kramnik and Leko are both extremely solid players who don't lose alot (of course none of these guys does). Therefore, I didn't want to pick Leko as the lose with White player, so I made him the win with Black. That leaves Vishy Anand for the final pick, lose with White. Seems sort of odd, but he did lose with White to Kasparov at last year's Linares. I think the majority of people will have the same picks as I do, except with Shirov and Anand switched. In any case, the next 11 days should prove exciting.
Fashioned after Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom" here is my short take on the best case and worse case for each player. At the end of the tournament, I'll rate how each player fared.
Kasparov: BC: Wins with a big plus score. 2900 on the horizon? WC: Does not win, could spur interest in next match.
Kramnik: BC: Finally adds Linares to his trophy collection. WC: Can always count Dortmund trophies again.
Anand: BC: Wins tournament, generates huge interest in rematch for title with Kasparov. WC: Minus score, match with Kasparov looking cloudy.
Shirov: BC: First or second, reasserts "moral obligation" of Kasparov to face him in a match. WC: Minus score, back to being a "talented amateur"
Leko: BC: Top 3 finish, potential match with Kasparov? WC: A step back after a sharp rise
Khalifman: BC: Any result besides last. Legitimacy to FIDE title with plus score. WC: FIDE KO was just a lottery anyway.
The Winter 2000 issue of the Tennessee Chess News reported the results of the Nashville City Championship. Congratulations to Todd Andrews for topping the field with a 4-1 score. I think it would be in the best interest of chess if someone sponsored a high stakes match between the Nashville and Knoxville champions 8-).
Unfortunately, there was no tournament report with the games, so we'll have to ask any readers who were present to explain these two last round games: Andrews-Kapley 1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nh3 1/2-1/2 . A regular marathon compared to Pennig-Mongin 1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 1/2-1/2 The only player these results make sense for is Andrews, who wrapped up clear first with the draw. I don't understand the motivations of the other players. If Kapley won he would have tied for first with Andrews and Nilsson. Pennig would have joined that group with a win as well. Even with Andrews and Kapley drawing, Pennig could have tied for second with a win over Mongin, who appeared to be off form (his only other point was a forfeit win against the 6th player, Pullen). Can anyone explain this lack of fighting chess to me?
The "first online supertournament" is history. Congratulations to Dutch GM Jeron Piket for scoring the upset win over Garry Kasparov in the finals. Piket also posted upsets against Seirawan, Morozevich, and Svidler to reach the finals.
The tournament was not without glitches however. It seems like connection problems in the first round were solved over the phone without difficulties. However, in the quarter-finals the computer program Deep Junior lost connection with a winning position in the first game against Michael Adams. The reporting I have seen hasn't been very clear about what happened next. Apparently, Deep Junior's ISP in Israel was completely down and they couldn't reconnect. After some delay either Adams offered a draw in game 1 or the directors ruled it a draw. I saw a posting on kasparovchess.com saying that Game 2 would be played the next day. This never came about and Deep Junior was forfeited. (Keep in mind further rescheduling would be complicated by the fact that Adams was concurrently playing an over the board match with Seirawan in the Bahamas [won by Adams 5-3].) I wonder if things would have been different if it was a human who was having ISP problems. Part of the reason given for giving Adams the forfeit win was that it was unfair that the human had to be kept waiting. I agree, but it is suprising that a tournament that was the brainchild of Garry Kasparov had this sort of problem since he has said in the past that very clear rules are needed when man plays machine.
The finals also had technical problems with the clocks. There was heavy lag so that both players thought the other player was taking a long think. The game was finally aborted and the finals rescheduled the next day. Fortunately, neither player had other commitments. I applaud the organizers on their ground breaking approach and wish them better luck with this format in the future.
It was another poor showing in a knockout tournament for the American players. Seirawan, de Firmian, and Gulko were all ousted in the first round. I'm a bit suprised that Americans seem to be doing poorly in the 2-game match format. I would think that the "weekend warriors" who often need to play for a win with either color would excel in the KO system.
I've have a couple of loose ends to tie up from the Land of the Sky tournament. First, I've posted my game against GM Goldin with annotations in the GM games section. I also took a reader's suggestion and reversed the chronological order of that section (thanks Gillian 8-). Finally, Justin Daniels seems to have found a clear win in my game against Nilsson (see 2/7/00). Carrying on after my parenthetical suggestion of 26.Qxh6 Black is pretty much forced to play 26...Nxh7 (26...gxh6? 27.Rf7 +-). Then, Justin suggests 27.Ref1. This removes the uncomfortable pin along the e-file allowing the White knight to join the king hunt. The main line is now 27...Kg8 (27...gxh6? 28.Rf8#) 28.Rg6 Qc7 29.Ng3 Nf8 30.Rg4 Ne6 (30...Bc8 31.Rxf8+ +-) 31.Nh5 and Black cannot defend both g7 and f6. Seems brutal and direct. Anyone see any holes?
Only one topic this week, Garry Kasparov's new chess site, Kasparov Chess. After a few technical glitches during the first week, this site has been up and running smoothly. There is a tremendous amount of content on their pages although you might need to dig to find some of it. That design is really my only quibble. They have articles on all phases of the game targeted on different levels from beginner to master. There is also plenty of away from the board content about politics, etc. They seem to be continously adding content and there also is an online playing area for registered users (free registration). I've registered, but not tried the online playing yet. I rank their tournament coverage as one of the best already. Lots of annotated games, usually by a grandmaster. One of the best features for tournaments that Kasparov competes in is his "Express Commentary" of his games the same day as they are played.
Kasparov Chess has also undertaken a major project right away with their Inaugural Grand Prix. This is an online tournament with 15 GMs and the computer world champion playing a knockout format of 2 game matches with a game in 1 hour format. This is certainly not the first online tournament, but is surely the strongest. Players were selected from all over the globe to give this tournament a very international flavor. Games can be followed live with various commentators. Very similar to coverage of events on ICC, except there is no lag in relaying the moves since everything is wired right in.
So far the field has pretty much stuck to form. The only upset has been Piket's victory over Morozevich in overtime. The participation of computer champion Deep Junior is especially interesting. It wiped out Illescas in the first round and faces England's Michael Adams in the quarterfinals. The winner of that match will face Kasparov in the semi-finals (Svidler-Piket is the other semi). I'm a little torn as to who to root for in the Adams-Deep Junior match. I like Adams' style as a player and generally always root for human in the man vs. machine match-up. But, like many others I'm sure, it would be intriguing to see Kasparov face the beast. He hasn't played any computers in public since melting down against Deep Blue a couple of years ago. There are a lot of questions surrounding this matchup: Will he play his normal game or resort to the "anti-computer" strategy he used against Deep Blue? Is it the death of chess if he loses 2-0? If he wins convincingly will it be dismissed as not being Deep Blue? Will we see the printouts? The world waits.
Since I've been busy and haven't posted any content the past week, I'll present a blitz game from the Knoxville Chess Club blitz tournament last Wednesday. Some people consider it bad form to analyze blitz games, but I've never really understood why. If you can learn something or derive some enjoyment from a game, then I don't see the problem with posting and/or analyzing it. Anyway, it seems that this particular taboo isn't so strict anymore with the rise of blitz games on the Internet. Heck, if Alexander Morozevich, one of the top 10 players in the world, can annotate blitz games from ICC in the pages of New In Chess, I don't see why I shouldn't. I enjoyed the combination in this game where I was White against US Postal Champion David Burris. 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.d5 Nd4 6.Be3 c5 7.Nge2 Qb6 The try 7...Nxe2?! led to a quick White victory in Donaldson-Bereolos 1988 Midwest Masters Invitational 8.Nxd4 cxd4 9.Na4 Qa5+ 10.Bd2 Qc7 11.c5 dxc5 It's probably safer to decline this offer with 11...Nf6 as in Bereolos-Dery-Chaffin 1998 US Amateur Team Championship South 12.Rc1 b6 13.b4 Bd7 14.bxc5 b5 15.c6!? 15.Nb2 is probably good for a secure edge for White, but I was already starting to have visions of the final combo 15...bxa4 16.Qxa4 Rb8 Black had to try moving the Bishop when White has alot of play with Ba5 and c7 17.Ba5 Qd6 18.cxd7+ Qxd7 19.Bb5! Rxb5 20.Qxb5! 1-0 Black is helpless against Rc8.
Topic 1: Digital Clock Repair. If you're having problems with your digital clock, I recommend Jack Geibig in Knoxville. My Siatek had a problem that it didn't like to shut off (it usually waited for a tournament game to be in progress to shut off or start flickering). Jack took care of the problem (bad soldering) and it has worked fine since. Rates negotiable.
Topic 2: Tripod. It looks like everything on Tripod is back up and running now. They said there was some sort of hardware failure with their ISP on Sunday. Most sites were back up yesterday except those starting with "b", "p", or "s". Conspiracy theorists take note. If I had chosen pbereolos, peterbereolos, or shakmatybereolos I would have still been out of luck. Hopefully my traffic, which had seemed to be picking up before the outage, will keep growing.
Topic 3: Land of the Sky (from 2/7/00). A little more on this tournament. GM Alexander Stripunsky was the outright winner with 4.5 out of 5. His only draw was versus Stephen Muhammed (The Senior Master formerly known as Booth). Quite impressive was his last round win over top rated GM Alexander Goldin. Over 200 players participated with 4 GMs (Stripunsky, Goldin, Shabalov, and A. Ivanov) and 1 IM (Sevillano) in the field. It was refreshing to see fighting chess on the top 2 boards in the last round when the GMs squared off (Stripunsky 1-0 Goldin and Ivanov 0-1 Shabalov)(of course who am I to talk about fighting chess after a 10 move draw 8-). The tournament was well run as usual. There was an analysis room where IM Jonathan Schroer analyzed the top games and other games from the audience. For the final rounds, the top boards were broadcast on ICC. There was also local news coverage by television and the press. I may have gotten on TV since they filmed part of my 4th round game.
Topic 4: Housekeeping. I've archived January 2000 at the bottom. I'm also trying some new software for the diagrams. Hopefully, this will fix some of the problems that some Netscape users have experienced in viewing the diagrams, let me know. This site is now a member of the Chess Web-ring, a bunch of chess sites linked together. Follow the links near the bottom to check out some of the other sites. I found the diagram stuff on one of those pages. The direct link into Remarq's rec.games.chess.misc area seems to be broke, so I won't use that link for awhile.
It looks like this site is back up and running after some sort of hiccup at tripod. Guess I need to look for a mirror site.
I played in the annual Land of the Sky tournament in Ashville, NC this past weekend. My score was so-so: 2 wins, 2 draws, and a loss to GM Goldin. I'll get the Goldin game up on the GMs section later this week. The two draws were interesting for different reasons. In the last round, I had White against Matthew Noble. A win would probably get me a small prize. Here's how the game went 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 Na6!? I wasn't really familiar with this move instead of the more usual 6...e6 and didn't get the point until a few moves later. 7.f3 White probably should switch back to the plan with 7.e3 7...Nd7 8.Nxc4 e5 9.e4 White has alot of options here, but they're all kind of murky. 9...exd4 10.Qxd4 10.Ne2 is probably better, but Black has no problems. 10...Nb4 Here, my opponent offered me a draw. After about 10 minutes thought, I accepted. 1/2-1/2 It was pretty disappointing to only draw in 10 moves with White, but my position is already uncomfortable. White's King is going to have to live (and maybe die) in the center for a long time. After the game, we checked some books on the Slav, which gave Black a clear advantage. I checked my database when I got home and the results were +0 =1 -5, so at least my judgement was correct. I had intended 11.Qd1 Be6 and then didn't see anything great for White. 12.Be3 Nc5 looks to be crashing into d3 or taking the bishop pair while White's king is still stuck in the center. 12.Be2 was the move played in the one drawn game in the database, but instead of 12...Nc5 which let White castle, Black could also try 12...Bxc4 13.Bxc4 Bc5. At least White would have the bishop pair here, but the knight on b4 is still pretty strong.
The other draw was in the 3rd round against Martin Nilsson. The following position arose after 23...Ng5
White is two pawns down, but it seems that there should be something here with all the pieces eyeing the Black King while Ra8 and Bb7 are passive spectators. I went for the spectacular 24.Bxg7+ Kxg7 25.Qg6+ Kh8 26.Qxh6 but after 26...Bf8 (26...Nxh7 27.Rf7 +-) I could find nothing better than perpetual check after 27.Rxf8+ Rxf8 28.Bd3+ Kg8 29.Qg6+ 1/2-1/2. A very interesting try from the diagram is 24.Qg6. Apparently this is Fritz' recommendation, which I looked at later with Jerry Wheeler. At first, this looks crushing since the only move to save off immediate disaster is 24...Bf6 which White can simply take with 25.Rxf6, so White just wins a piece, game over, right? No, Black can play the calm 25...Re7 guarding g7 and White still has the wayward Bishop on h7. Our analysis seemed to indicate that it was probably best to try a line like 26.Rd6 (26.Qxh6!!?) Qc7 27.bxc3 Nxh7 28.Qxh6 Kg8 29.Rg6 when eventually the pressure should catch up to Black. I'd be interested to hear what other analysts think
I travelled with Doug Hyatt and Bob Kline. Doug had a disappointing tournament, ending a string of good results. This was Bob's first tournament and he finished a respectable 3rd among the unrateds.
Through 8 rounds at Wijk aan Zee the adage "All rook endings are drawn" held true. In round 9, Kasparov finally broke the spell against Timman. The following position arose after 26...cxd4
A superficial glance might lead one to believe the game is even. There are weak pawns on a7 and e5, Black has a passed d-pawn with his rook well placed behind it, White will soon have a passed a-pawn, but his rook will be in front of it. However, there are several factors that give White a big advantage. Most important is King position. White's King will soon move to d3 blockading Black's d-pawn and simultaneously keeping the Black rook out of e2. Black's King will remain passively guarding his own pawns. White also has an advantage in pawn structure. The d4 pawn could turn out to be as much a weakness as a strength, while the overextended g-pawn can give White entry to the kingside. Finally, White's rook is more active. The rule of thumb is that rooks belong behind passed pawns, but here, after White's king blockades the d-pawn, the Black rook is busy doing defensive duty. Black could try to activate his rook along the e-file, but Kd3 will be taking away the square the Black rook would like to get to (e2). Let's see how Kasparov converts these advantages to the full point. 27.Rxa7 capturing a pawn while bringing the rook to the 7th to pressure Blacks' pawns now if 27...Rxe5 28.Rxc7+ and Black has problems no matter where his King moves. If he chooses to guard his pawn with 28...Ke6 then 29.Kd3 keeps the Black rook out of e2 while if 28...Kd6 hitting the rook 29.Rxf7 guards the f2 pawn. Therefore, Timman guards his c-pawn. 27...Kd7 28.Kd3 Rxe5 29.Ra4! Not 29.Kxd4 Re2 when the Black rook is a monster on the 2nd rank. 29...c5 30.b4! Well played by Kasparov, Black can only choose between bad lines. 30...cxb4 31.Rxb4 and the d-pawn is fatally weak, Black's kingside is loose and white can guard the a-pawn from the side (this is not as preferable as being behind the pawn, but much better than being in front). This is another good position to test your technique against a computer program. If Black doesn't take on b4 then White has the pleasant choice of reaching this same ending by playing bxc5 or going for the quick kill with b5 when his passed pawns are rolling and Black's are blockaded. 30...Ke6 Black goes down quickly after this move. It was better to try for some activity with the pawn sacrifice 30...Rf5 31.f3 g4 32.fxg4 Rf2 getting the rook to the 2nd. After 33.bxc5 Rxg2 Kasparov suggests 34.h3 when White should win because of the weaknesses in Black's kingside. Still, I think Timman should have tried this since active play is usually the only hope to draw inferior endgames. 31.Ra6+ again 31.bxc5 Rxc5 32.Rxd4 is winning, but Kasparov prefers the quicker kill. 31...Kf5 other moves lose a pawn without compensation to 32.Ra5 and 33.Rxc5 since Black cannot go into a king and pawn ending with 33...Rxc5 because of White's outside passed a-pawn. 32.b5 The White pawn speeds towards the queening square while Blacks pawns are stuck. 32...Rd5 other rook moves would also be met by 33.Rc6 and Black is getting nowhere. 33.Rc6 c4+ 34.Kxc4 Again, 34.Rxc4 Rxb5 would win, but he would have a long technical phase while the text is straightforward. 34...d3 fails tactically, but 34...Rd7 35.Kd3 +- or 34...Ke4 35.f3+ Ke5 36.b6 d3 37.b7 Rd8 38.Rc8 +-. 35.Kxd5 d2 36.g4+ 1-0 After 36...Kf4 or 36...Kxg4 White stops the pawn with 37.Rc4+ and 38.Rd4
Based on comments of some of my non-chess playing friends that there is too much analysis and not enough that they can understand, I've decided to make Tuesdays be my "editorial" day. I'll try to discuss events and happenings in the chess world as well as respond to feedback I've gotten about this site.
This should be much easier for me than doing analysis, since that takes alot of time and effort to come up with good quality; especially on games that I wasn't personally involved in, as can be seen from my coverage of the Corus tournament (although I'll still finish before Chess Life prints a single game from it). I chose Tuesdays since that should not interfere with weekend tournaments and also happens to be the day of the week that my page has been getting the fewest hits.
Topic 1: North Tennessee Regional Open (from 1/17/00). I've spoken with one of the people involved with the organization of this tournament about my critical remarks on this page. This dialog seems to have been very positive and I think the organization of this tournament is receptive to ideas for improvement. I'd also like to point out that my report on the tournament did not call out any of the good things about this tournament such as the providing of boards and pieces, well-lit and spacious playing area, and timeliness in starting the rounds. My biggest gripes about prizes and pairings seem to be getting consideration. This is a refreshing change from alot of organizers I've come across who either ignore what the players say or listen and then don't do anything in response. There needs to be a good relationship between organizers and players or the status of chess in this country will never improve.
Topic 2: The Deep Blue Saga (from 1/11/00). The Week in Chess was the main source of this story. Kasparov's manager Owen Williams responded to Feng-hsiung Hsu's open letter. Basically, the Kasparov side of the story is that Feng Hsu is not Deep Blue (and still hasn't shown Kasparov the printouts 8-). He may have the custom chip, but still needs software to go with it, and then needs to establish the program as a serious contender. Any talk of Kasparov ducking "Deep Blue" is absurd. I don't really see anything attractive for Kasparov or potential sponsors in Hsu's proposal. If Hsu built this machine and it turned out to be much weaker than anticipated, the match would be a public relations disaster. I think any challenger to Kasparov (human or computer) needs to have proper credentials. My opinion is that the only ones with reasonable claims to challenge Kasparov are Alexi Shirov (winner of the WCC challenger match) and Alexander Khalifman (the FIDE champion). Anand has a weaker claim (although it still looks like this is who Kasparov will play) by being 2nd on the FIDE rating list. My true wish is for some sort of system to be set up to generate challengers, as was done in the past by FIDE. The situation now is too much like the old days when the champion owned the title and could defend it when and against whom he felt like.
Topic 3: The Corus tournament. Most of you probably know that this tournament has concluded and that Garry Kasparov reaffirmed that he is still "The Boss" of the chess world. Many might look on his performance here (6 wins, 7 draws) as somewhat disappointing and could also point to his games against Piket, Adams, Short, and perhaps Polgar as ones he should have lost. I think this just shows how spoiled we all are by Kasparov's tour de force in 1999. The facts are that he was undefeated, 1.5 points clear of his nearest rivals, and he gained rating points despite already being almost 100 rating points clear of the rest of the field.
As for the rest of the field, I don't think there were any big surprises. Peter Leko continues to show that he belongs in with the elite. I now see the chess pyramid as Kasparov on top with Anand, Kramnik, Shirov, and Leko as the contenders. Morozevich was solid, it looks like he'll be one of the "usual suspects" for awhile. He still needs to do something besides lose against Kasparov before I'll consider him part of the contenders group. Piket started strong, but gradually drifted back to the middle of the pack. Judit Polgar continues to struggle, but because of her unique status as the only woman in the top 100, I don't think she'll lack invitations. Lputian rallied after a slow start, but I'm afraid it's back to the open circuit for him. My Fantasy Chess entry faded near the end. I'll use the excuse that my players on the color selections (win with White, lose with Black, etc.) ended up having less of the color I picked them for than other players, thus I had less opportunities to score points. Sounds good to me, but I won't have this excuse for the next big tournament in Linares starting at the end of this month since it is a double round robin.
Topic 4: Knights on the rim (from 11/27/99). I took a little bit of ribbing for losing to the opening 1.d4 Na6 against IM Alex Wohl. After receiving the February 2000 Chess Life today, I'd also like to welcome GM Alex Yermolinsky, the Yermonator, to the "1.d4 Na6...0-1" club.
January 2000 Archive
December 1999 Archive
November 1999 Archive
October 1999 Archive