Friday 25 November 2011

Magnus Carlsen wins the Tal Memorial on tie-break

The final round of the Tal Memorial tournament in Moscow saw Magnus Carlsen catch the leader Levon Aronian and take the tournament on tie-break (having played more Black games).

Magnus Carlsen defeated Hikaru Nakamura with Black and condemned the American to last place in the table. Hikaru really needed to get a better opening (it's the only way to survive a close encounter of the Carlsen kind) but soon found himself on the back foot. Carlsen won a pawn and then gradually applied more and more pressure. It eventually came down to an opposite-coloured bishop endgame - notoriously drawn in general but this one had certain nuances which made it more than usually problematic for the defending side.

Carlsen's technical handling of the endgame was immaculate, although he disdained a few brutal finishes towards the end for a more positional approach. Games between Carlsen and Nakamura are starting to resemble the old-time tennis rivalry of Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors. In both cases the cool Scandinavian gradually established a hoodoo over the brash American player. But Hikaru gets an early chance for revenge as the two will meet again in London in little more than a week's time!

The other decisive game saw Peter Svidler defeat Russian colleague Vladimir Kramnik. The former world champion played rather too combatively and his position unravelled in the run-up to the time control. Like Nakamura and Vishy Anand (who drew all nine games!), he will be hoping show better form in London or it might turn out to be a second instalment of the 'Magnus and Levon Show'...

1-2 Carlsen, Aronian 5½/9 (Carlsen placed first on tie-break), 3-5 Karjakin, Nepomniachtchi, Ivanchuk 5, 6-7 Anand, Svidler 4½, 8-9 Kramnik, Gelfand 3½, 10 Nakamura 3.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Women's World Chess Championship, Tirana (ALB), 14-30 November 2011

Women's world chess champion Hou Yifan, 17, of China completed the successful defence of her title this afternoon when she drew the eighth game of the best of ten match against challenger Humpy Koneru, 24, of India. This made the score 5½-2½ so there was no need to play the remaining two games. Hou Yifan won three games to her opponent's zero, with five draws.

Humpy Koneru, needing three straight wins to force the match into a rapidplay tie-break, had the advantage of the white pieces. She emerged from the opening with a slight edge but then tried to force the issue with an f-pawn advance and only succeeded in worsening her game. It came down to a double rook endgame where White was significantly worse and had no realistic chances of trying for a win. Black was content to accept a draw offer as it was sufficient to win the match.

Official website:

Photo by Anastasiya Karlovich and Anna Burtasova with kind permission of FIDE

Tal Memorial Tournament, Moscow, Round 8

Round 8 of the Tal Memorial Tournament in Moscow, 24 November, saw Levon Aronian of Armenia win the only decisive game and take over the sole lead on 5/8, with one round remaining.

Levon Aronian beats Peter Svidler to lead the tournament.

Aronian, world number three, defeated Russian champion Peter Svidler in what looked like a fairly sedate game at first but gradually got more complicated. Eventually Aronian was able to play a piece for two pawns sacrifice which led down a long, forcing line to a position where his queen dominated the position and led to the win of a third pawn. Svidler fought hard but passed pawns on both sides of the board proved fatal to his chances. One round remains, with Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Karjakin and Nepomniachtchi poised half a point behind Aronian. Last round pairings affecting first place are Nepomniachtchi (4½) - Aronian (5), Nakamura (3) - Carlsen (4½), Karjakin (4½) - Ivanchuk (4½).

Official website:

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Women's World Chess Championship, Game 7

Game seven of the Women's World Chess Championship match, held in Tirana, Albania, saw another win for Hou Yifan of China against Humpy Koneru of India. The reigning champion has now won three games without reply from her challenger and needs just one draw from the three remaining games to retain her title. By contrast, Humpy Koneru needs three successive wins to force a rapidplay play-off.

The Indian challenger, probably anxious to get back into the match with so few games remaining, played the overambitious 27...h5 which both players later concluded was an error. She compounded the error by surrendering a pawn and further weakening the kingside. Hou Yifan soon won a second pawn and showed admirable technique and a cool head to convert the endgame. After the game Humpy Koneru admitted that she was "out of form".

Official website:

Photo by Anastasiya Karlovich and Anna Burtasova with kind permission of FIDE

Monday 21 November 2011

Women's World Chess Championship, Tirana (ALB), 14-30 November 2011

photos by Anastasiya Karlovich and Anna Burtasova with kind permission of FIDE

The sixth game of the Women's World Championship, in Tirana, Albania, was very exciting this afternoon. The holder, Hou Yifan of China, came under pressure in the opening as Humpy Koneru of India sacrificed a pawn for the attack. However, though she soon regained her pawn, it was by no means easy for the challenger to exploit the resultant position despite the presence of two bishops on her side of the board. Suddenly the Chinese player's two rooks were calling the tune and, in time trouble, she found a huge tactic to win the game. Later it was learnt that the Chinese player had been hospitalised with stomach cramps the night before. Not a bad performance, considering!

The score is now 4-2 in favour of Hou Yifan, who also won game three. There are four games left and Humpy Koneru must win at least two of them to force a tie-break.

Official Website:

Monday 14 November 2011

CHESS Magazine, November 2011


CHESS Magazine - November 2011

UK's most popular CHESS Magazine

Magazine, 60 pages
UK's most popular CHESS Magazine - established 1935! All the regular features of the UK's best-selling CHESS magazine plus more!
  • Sao Paulo / Bilbao Grand Slam - The intercontinental super-tournament saw Ivanchuk dominate in Brazil, but then Magnus Carlsen took over in Spain.
  • Sadler Wins in Oslo - Matthew Sadler is on a roll! First, Barcelona, and now Oslo. He annotates his best game while Yochanan Afek covers the action
  • London Classic Preview - We ask the pundits what they expect to happen next month
  • Interview: Nigel Short - Carl Portman caught up with the English super-GM in Shropshire
  • Kasparov - Short Blitz Match - Garry and Nigel re-enacted their 1993 title match at a faster time control in Belgium. It came down to a nail-biting finish...
  • European Club Cup, Slovenia - Irish IM Sam Collins was on the spot in Slovenia where Europe’s top club sides (and some more modest ones) slugged it out.
  • Memorable Mishaps - Steve Giddins recalls funny things on the way to the tournament
Plus more!

Click here to download a PDF with an extract from the magazine.

Friday 11 November 2011

Mickey Adams Commits Chuckicide

STOP PRESS... Mickey Adams has committed Chuckicide in the final round of the European Team Championship in Greece, 11 November 2011... this means England currently lead Ukraine 1½-½ with two games still in play.

Michael Adams (left) 1-0 Vassily Ivanchuk

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Rachel Reeves vs Stephen Moss, House of Commons, 18 Oct 2011

Today at the House of Commons, Rachel Reeves MP was challenged to a couple of games of 10-minute blitz chess by Guardian journalist Stephen Moss. Rachel and Stephen are both competition players with chess grades not too dissimilar from each other, though Rachel has not played actively for a few years. She was a bit rusty and lost the first game to Stephen. But, as you can see below, she brought in a special adviser to help her with the second game...

Garry Kasparov advises Rachel Reeves, who faces Stephen Moss.
To the left of picture you can see scribe GM Jonathan Speelman,
who kindly noted down the moves for us.
(photo copyright 2011 John Saunders)

The moves of game one...

The second game has notes by GM Jonathan Speelman, to whom I am very grateful for keying in the games.

October 2011 CHESS Magazine


CHESS Magazine - October 2011 - £3.95 - click here to buy online

UK's most popular CHESS Magazine

Magazine, 60 pages
UK's most popular CHESS Magazine - established 1935! All the regular features of the UK's best-selling CHESS magazine plus more!
  • FIDE World Cup, Khanty-Mansiysk - Chess in the Wild West East!This year’s World Cup was as entertaining as it was strong, and proved an audio-visual feast for spectators as Peter Svidler triumphed. Enjoy our in-depth coverage!
  • Sants for the Memories! - ‘Born-again’ English GM Matthew Sadler annotates his exciting last-round game from Sants against Jan Smeets. Revealing!
  • Russian Super-Final - ‘Svidler on the hoof’ again! Richard Palliser annotates
  • A Tale of Two Tournaments - GM Keith Arkell annotates games from Coulsdon and Paignton
  • Starry, Starry Knights - GM Stuart Conquest at large... he loses a laptop but, after a bit of digging, uncovers a 19th century chess legend
  • The Mating Game - James Essinger is writing a novel - on love, friendship and chess!
  • Chess in the 1960s - Our look-back takes us to Bled 1961, which was all about Mischa and Bobby... but Bisguier also played some great chess there
  • Overseas News / Home News - A round-up of what’s been happening near and far. English teenager Callum Kilpatrick annotates a win against a GM
Plus more!

Download a pdf file with the extract from this magazine.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Dutch for Chessplayers

Ever wondered how to pronounce 'Euwe'? Or 'Scheveningen'? Or 'Wijk aan Zee'?

Wonder no longer - there is a website which gives guidance on the pronunciation of some chess-related Dutch names and terms...

Very useful - though I'm not sure I can replicate some of those sounds myself.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

August CHESS Magazine

The August CHESS Magazine is out now. Buy it here.

The UK's most popular and comprehensive chess Magazine, established 1935. All the regular features plus the following ... 
  • King’s Tournament, Medias - As in 2010, Magnus Carlsen wins... but Sergey Karjakin was right alongside!
  • Interview: Boris Gelfand - Part 2 of Boris Gelfand’s exclusive interview with John Saunders
  • World Open, Philadelphia - English and American stars Mickey Adams and Gata Kamsky clash in an Armageddon finale
  • Commonwealth Championship, South Africa - Nigel Short narrowly failed to keep up with the Jones boy! New Commonwealth champion Gawain Jones annotates his best game.
  • County Championship Finals - Steve Giddins reports on a rare success for Surrey against Kent
  • Judit Polgar - The best-ever woman player talks candidly to Lars Grahn
  • Perfect Preparation - Part 2 of Eddie Dearing’s advice on how to prepare for a game
  • Bobby Fischer Comes to London - A look at Nigel Short’s simultaneous display from the film premiere
Plus all the usual features and more besides

To order a copy of the August 2011 CHESS Magazine, click here

Saturday 13 August 2011

New Chess Blogs

I've added a few more chess blogs to the list on the side panel.

FM Steve Giddins is, like me, a former editor of BCM and he has restarted his chess blog, here:

Steve Giddins' Chess Blog

GM Gawain Jones is one of England's top GMs and he has a blog here:

Gawain Jones' Chess Blog

'Full English Breakfast' is not so much a blog as a series of podcasts by GM Stephen Gordon and IM Lawrence Trent and can be found here:

Full English Breakfast

'GingerGM' is GM Simon Williams' chess blog and shop, featuring his popular videos and other other merchandise as well as blog articles.


Monday 25 July 2011

2011 British Chess Championship

This year's British Chess Championships are being held in Sheffield. There is a very impressive line-up, headed by GMs Mickey Adams, Nigel Short, David Howell, Gawain Jones, Nick Pert and Stephen Gordon, and assisted by some generous sponsorship from Darwin Strategic Ltd.

The official website is

Live Commentary by IM Andrew Martin:

Matthew Webb's Chess Blog:

Other useful links: The English Chess Forum * The Week in Chess * Live Games * Results *

I'll try to add other links to various blogs, etc, as they become available

Friday 22 July 2011

Kasimdzhanov's Not Wearing Any Draws

Kasim wants chess to 'go commando'

Former FIDE Champion Rustam Kasimdzanov has sent an open letter to the World Chess Federation with a revolutionary idea: to abolish the draw in chess altogether. 

“This way the expectations of the crowd will never be deceived. There will always be a winner, there will always be blood. (…) It will be good for our sport. Not just sponsors and attention and prizes. It will be essentially good for our game.”

Read the full story on ChessVibes here

And, yes, the only real reason I've blogged it is to be able to use the headline at the top of the blog...

... oh, go on, then. His idea is that, if a longplay game is drawn, it is replayed immediately at ever decreasing time limits, with colours reversed, say, 20 minutes each for the first one, then 10 minutes each, etc, etc, until a game is decisive. That is counted as the score of the game (1-0, 0-1 but not ½-½) and - perhaps most controversially - counted for rating purposes.

All kinds of snags occur, of course. For one thing, it wouldn't work for league or weekend chess as there is no spare time to fit in a series of replays. It might work for a top-level tournament with a limited number of competitors, by way of an exhibition or experimental event (like the Melody Amber tournament) but I can't see it catching on. Many players would be reluctant to put their longplay ratings on the line.

Besides which, what is wrong with a good, honest draw? But the good news is that it is not being proposed by another person from that neck of the woods with a name beginning with K - Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.  Then chess would be in real trouble. His ideas have a bad habit of turning into implemented decisions in a twinkling of an eye and with minimum of thought. Nobody much is likely to take any notice of a second-tier world champion who won his title in a discredited Libyan event shorn of a host of big-name players and which effectively excluded Israeli competitors. Thank heavens, you may well say. And so would I.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

July CHESS Magazine

The July CHESS Magazine is now out, edited by me. You can download a sample PDF, buy a copy or take out a subscription by clicking here. In its 60 full-colour ages, there is a huge variety of articles for players of all standards.

For me personally, the big event of the month was conducting a full-length interview with Israeli super-GM Boris Gelfand. The interview was so long that it became necessary to split it into three sections: one section comprised Boris's comments on the recent World Championship Candidates' Matches, which are included in the coverage of the competition, with the more general elements of the interview divided into two more sections, with part one in July and part two in August. Boris was the most generous and courteous of interlocutors, and interviewing him was one of the most pleasurable experiences of my 12-year career as a chess commentator. Boris must be just about the perfect role model for anyone with serious aspirations for a professional career as a player.

We've also got a great game annotated exclusively for us by globe-trotting super-GM Nigel Short from his tournament victory in Angola; coverage of the Nakamura-Ponomariov and Robson-Finegold matches in Saint Louis, with annotations by Richard Palliser; world champion Vishy Anand beating Alexei Shirov in Leon; articles by Lorin D'Costa, Yochanan Afek, Norman Stephenson, Nick Ivell, Adam Raoof, Sean Marsh, Rene Mayer; and of course all the regular features, such as GM Daniel King's How Good is Your Chess?, my look-back through the back pages of the magazine, Find The Winning Continuation and news round-ups.

Monday 13 June 2011

Ilyumzhinov Plays Chess With Gaddafi

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov shakes hands with Gaddafi on 12 June 2011

Not for the first time, FIDE (World Chess Federation) President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov causes chessplayers worldwide to cringe with embarrassment as he meets Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya on 12 June 2011. 

There is no point in going into further detail here as the world media has already got its teeth into the story. In my view, the most complete report of yesterday's events and their background appears on the excellent 'Chess in Translation' website. A few observations: the general media now routinely refers to Ilyumzhinov as the 'Russian eccentric', linking the above story to the FIDE president's much-publicised account of his meeting with extra-terrestrials a few years ago and perhaps adding that he visited Saddam Hussain not long before the Iraq war. Of course it has been argued that Ilyumzhinov is far worse than 'eccentric' but this description is damaging enough from the point of view of competitive chess.

So, was this a public relations disaster from Ilyumzhinov's point of view with regard to his hopes of being elected FIDE president in three years' time? I'm guessing, probably not. FIDE works in much the same way as the world football federation FIFA, whose notorious president Sepp Blatter can get away with all manner of idiotic nonsense without it affecting his electability. A lot of international sports federation are what one might term DINOs - "democratic in name only". The heads of these organisations don't have to worry too much about the sensibilities of the people who are involved in the activity at grass roots level as it is all too easy for the voting members at national federation level to be bribed or corralled in some manner.

I suppose it can be argued that this doesn't matter quite so much in the world of football, where the sponsorship and TV money continues to roll in despite the grubby internal politics, but it is hugely damaging to chess since it is much harder to attract sponsorship from Western European or North American sources with the Russian eccentric at the helm. As a result, major chess events will continue to be held in obscure or dubious parts of the world where Ilyumzhinov is more able to strike up a relationship with other politicos whose dubious modus operandi resembles his own. Here's just one example.

The report which I've linked to above reports that Ilyumzhinov is planning an international chess tournament in Tripoli, starting 1 October. You've heard of Chess Boxing, now Ilyumzhinov brings us Chess Bombing: international chess with the added frisson of being blown to smithereens during play. And can you imagine the scene in Tripoli as those chess grandmasters brave or foolhardy enough to take part arrive to see a large banner reading "Welcome, Hostages!"?

Incidentally, any general media people reading this blog should not confuse 'chess bombing' with 'Armageddon chess', which sounds similar but is actually a chess aberration of an entirely different (but thankfully non-violent) kind. And a chess tournament played in the epicentre of war-torn Libya would be nothing new for battle-hardened grandmasters as they have been called upon to play major events in war zones several times during the Ilyumzhinov presidency. Even Garry Kasparov was obliged to dodge a few bullets from time to time during his career as world champion. Who says it doesn't take courage to play chess?

Later: Another interesting link reveals that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov actually has a 'Planet Kirsan' named after him. It's more of an asteroid, I imagine, and lies between Jupiter and Mars. "So that if anything happens, I tell everyone, I’ll have somewhere to run." (He has a sense of humour of sorts). Maybe he is trying to interest Gaddafi in a time share.

Friday 11 February 2011

Chess Magazine at War

The latest CHESS is out now. If you go to this link at The Week in Chess, you can get a taster of what's in the magazine, including a free download of my complete 'Chess Magazine at War' article. It is about chess in the UK during the Second World War and more specifically gives some insight into how the then editor of CHESS magazine, BH (Baruch) Wood, coped with the task of running a magazine during that terrible time.

BH (Baruch, "Barry") Wood, founder of CHESS magazine

As someone who has edited both the UK's leading chess periodicals, I know only too well how tough the job of editing a chess magazine can be, but I can only guess at how difficult it must have been for BHW at that extraordinary time. And yet he continued to turn out regular monthly issues whilst doing war work, touring the country to give simuls and also bringing up a young family. Oh, and defend a major legal case, and squabble with the national chess federation (yes, some things never change). Amazing guy, Baruch Wood - I take my hat off to the man. Anyway, do have a read of my article - I really enjoyed researching it and hope some of this enthusiasm comes through in the writing.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival

The Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival is now underway and once again I'm working there as webmaster and report writer. It's an amazingly strong tournament, with players like Vassily Ivanchuk, Michael Adams, Paco Vallejo Pons and Nigel Short in the line-up.