Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2012 Anand v Gelfand Tie breaks World Chess Championship

First four rapid games 25 minutes with 10 second increment each. I got up very early here (3:45 am) and caught the end of the first game. GM Peter Svidler is the expert commentor on the English language video coverage. (Kramnick on the Russian)

The first rapid game is an exciting semi-Slav with Gelfand as white managing to stave off Anands attack, and then Anand staving off Gelfand, by exchanging down to a drawn rook and pawn endgame.

Second Game:
The second rapid game follows the novelty in the Bb5 Sicilian, that Anand introducded in game 12, but becomes much sharper. Anand seems to be in his preparation till Gelfand's 15th move, with which Gelfand sacs a pawn. Anand declines the obvious pawn and snatches up another, which applies more pressure. By move 20, Gelfand finds a way to develop his pieces and achieve counterplay, but his time is short. As his time grows shorter Gelfand forces exchanges that lead to an endgame he should be able to draw. Gelfand plays very well, but makes a mistake when playing on the increment, and Anand gets a won rook and pawn position.

Third Game:
The third rapid game is critical for Gelfand. It is his last rapid game as white. If he does not win, it will be very difficult for him to win as black in the fourth rapid game. Anand choses a very solid Schallopp Slav, but allows conversion to an exciting double edged game, where white has an initiative on the queenside, and black has an initiative on the kingside. If this was not a rapid game, I would give the edge to Gelfand to achieve an endgame with an modest advantage. Houdini sees a combination for Gelfand on move 23 that all the Grandmasters miss.
(hidden text: 23.Nxe4 fxe4 24.fxg5 e5 25.Qd2 exd4 26.Qxd4 Qg7 27.Rdb1 Qh7 28.Rb3 Qf7 29.h4 and white holds the blockade and his kingside pawns give him a great advantage. Nxe4 continues to be a combination starter for the next few moves. The key is the continual threat of the skewer on the h2 b8 diagonal. Svidler comments that Nxe4 is such a move outside the ideas of the position, that it is very hard to see.)
Gelfand chooses a line that gives him an extra pawn and continual pressure, but loses the thread and lets Anand  get counterplay. Gelfand ends up playing on the increment again. Anand saves the game by entering a scary looking endgame (Gelfand R+2P vs Anand R), but he proceeds to demonstrates is a technical draw.

Fourth Game:
Surprising to me, Anand starts the fourth game with 1.e4. I was expecting 1.d4 and an exchange Slav or Gelfand having to use a King's Indian or other uncomfortable opening for Gelfand. They enter a slightly different 3.Bb5 Sicilian as Gelfand plays 2...d6 rather than 2...Nc6. Anand plays a line with an early e5 thrust that looks very exciting, but I expect leads to many exchanges, and by move 12 we have a queenless middle game, but by move 20 Anand has castled long by hand and Gelfand has begun a queenside pawn storm, with his king safely tucked away on f7. Gelfand does not find a breakthrough on the queenside, and begins kingside expansion. He is looking to find some way to open lines for his bishops.
If Gelfand can exchange the rooks, and get his bishops on b1-h7 and c1-h6 diagonals, Anand's king will be pinned to the queenside. Interesting play occurs with Gelfand getting aggressive with his king, while Anand gains control of the e-file. Gelfand slowly falls behind on time. Anand forces exchanges and eventually a draw.

Congratulations to Anand who retains his world championship title.

Monday, May 28, 2012

2012 Anand v Gelfand round 12 World Chess Championship

It's the last regular game. Anand plays a Bb5 Sicilian and surprises with a rare sixth move.

Former World Champion GM Kramnick commenting suggests playing the tiebreaker games before the regular games to make for fewer quick draws. I do not think that this would help. Prior WCC matches have had quick draws even though the champion retained the title if the match was drawn. Also, he suggests

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc5 3.Bb5 e6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.d3 Ne7 6.b3

Gelfand takes about 20 minutes to think through the position. 6...d6 7.e5 Ng6 Anand gambits a pawn with 8.h4 Nxe5 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.Nd2
Gelfand starts another long think. Kramnick suggests 10...Qd4 to hinder white's development, because white wants to maintain the options of long castling and developing the bishop to b2. Gelfand chooses to give the pawn back with 10...c4 and Anand must begin to think. Each of the three ways of retaking the pawn have long term implications.

My first impression is to favor the knight capture, because its a nice post for the knight and the pawns remain undoubled, but black can disturb this knight with Ba6, or the knight may be needed elsewhere.

Taking with the d-pawn removes the restraint of black's e-pawns, but makes a queenside pawn mass that can be dangerous in the long term, but this pawn mass can be created anyway if black challenges a Nc4 with Ba6.

Taking with the b-pawn may keep black's bishops restrained, but definitely removes the option of long castling.

11.Nxc4 Ba6 12.Qf3 Qd5 13.Qxd5 cxd5 14.Nxe5 f6 

Anand is a pawn up, but Gelfand's problems are solved. Black will have a strong center and be able to use his bishop pair.  Gelfand will seize the initative, and Anand must find places for his pieces. 15.Nf3 e5 16.O-O Kf7 17.c4 Be7 18.Be3 Bb7 19.cxd5 Bxd5 20.Rfc1 a5 21.Bc5 Rhd8 22.Bxe7 [½ - ½]

Anand offers a draw and Gelfand accepts. Kramnick is a bit shocked. He thinks there is quite a bit of play left in this position. I suspect that Anand thinks he will have a big advantage in the playoff, and Gelfand does not see a path to a win with the two bishops gone.

Wednesday, Rapid games if even then blitz if even then an Armageddon game to decide things. The playoff will start 3 hours earlier, which is the middle of the night for me.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

2012 Anand v Gelfand round 11 World Chess Championship

Anand choses the Nimzo Indian again, like game 9, but a difference on move 8 with ...Bd7. Gelfand has a long think here. In game 9, Anand put this bishop on the long diagonal h1-a8 by fianchetto ...b6 and ...Bb7. Peter Svidler comments that Gelfand is taking too much time trying to find a reason for this divergence. It is not a new move according to my database, but the common response is drawish. I would guess that Gelfand had prepared something against the line Anand played in game 9 and is trying to figure out if it still works.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bd4 4.e3 O-O 6.Nf3 c5 7.O-O dxc4 8.Bxc4 Bd7

Shortly after the commentary goes to break and after taking 40 minutes, Gelfand decides on 9.a3 Ba5 10.Qe2 Bc6 11.Rd1 Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nbd7 13.Bd3 Qa5 14.c4 cxd4 15.exd4 Qh5 16.Bf4 Rac8 17.Ne5 Qxe2 18.Bxe2 Nxe5 19.Bxe5 Rfd8 20.a4

Anand settles down for a bit of a think here. He has a large time advantage. If he can greatly complicate things, it will put a lot of pressure on Gelfand. Svidler thinks that Ne4 is a promising try, which Anand plays 20...Ne4 Gelfand finds a move that Svidler did not consider 21.Rd3 f6 22.Bf4 Be8 23.Rb3 Rxd4 24.Be3 Rd7 [½ - ½]

The match is even and the last regular game on Monday May 28 with Anand playing white. There is a tie break possible on Wednesday if they draw Monday. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

2012 Anand v Gelfand round 10 World Chess Championship

I got up late. They had been playing a half hour, and the coverage was in the first break, move 11. A very strange looking Sicilian. Gelfand as black has a lot of space and Anand as white looks cramped.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.b3 e5 6.Nxe5 Qe7 7.Bb2 d6 8.Nc4 d5 9.Ne3 d4 10.Nc4 Qxe4+ 11.Qe2 Qxe2 12.Kxe2 Be6 13.d3 Gelfand takes a long think, so maybe I should, too.

What follows is my thinking, and I am sure the commentors will have more insightful things to say.

Gelfand has space and the two bishops, but a compromised queenside pawn structure. He is black's normal tempo behind in development. I think bringing his king to the queenside to help shore up the pawns, contest the e-file, and try to find a good place for my knight and lines for my bishops. Perhaps, Bd5 and Bc7 to attack white's kingside.

Anand has a good outpost for his knight on c4, but his bishop has little scope. His king looks exposed, but with queens off the board, it will be fine. With black having the two bishops, it is too early to make the king a fighting  piece. Try to control the e-file and bring pressure on the c5-pawn. The f2-pawn wants to remain at home to deny black the e3 square. Black has only one outstanding weakness, and there is only one open file. I am not sure where a second weakness can be created.

I can easily see an exchange of pieces and rooks leading to a draw.

13...Nf6 14.Nbd2 O-O-O 15.Rhe1 Be7 16.Kf1 Rhe8 17.Ba3 Nd5 to block the Ba3 with Nb4 18.Ne4 Nb4 19.Re2 Bxc4 20.bxc4 f5 21.Bxb4 cxb4 22.Nd2 Bd6 23.Rxe8 Rxe8 Nb3 c5 25.a3 [½ - ½]

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2012 WCC Anand v Gelfand round 9

Anand pulls out the Nimzo! Gelfand ends up with an isolani, which indicates a dynamic game ahead. The first commercial break comes at a time that Svidler is winding down in his commentary, and he has plenty to say when the break is over. Anand is taking a lot of time in the opening. Gelfand may have played a line in the Nimzo that Anand was not expecting. Gelfand gets a material advantage, but Anand built a fortress. Instructive game on how to defend.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 c5 7.O-O dxc4 8.Bxc4 cxd4 9.exd4 b6 10.Bg5 Bb7 11.Qe2 Nbd7 12.Rac1 Rc8 13.Bd3 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Qc7 15.c4 Bxf3 Svidler thinks that this move was likely a mistake, that Bxf3 is a move for another position. 16.Qxf3 Rfe8

Rfe8 is a novelty according to the live display (presumably Houdini Aquarium). It is not clear to me how Gelfand can improve his position after Rfd1, but Anand has trouble. If the pawns were locked, the knights can combine to attack a single square, but the pawns are mobile. The bishops might be rearranged to provoke weaknesses in Anand's position. Anand needs to find some way to provoke a weakness in Gelfand's position, to get one of those hanging pawns to advance, so they can be blockaded.

17.Rfd1 h6 18.Bh4 Qd6 19.c5 bxc5 20.dxc5 Ah, now I see Gelfand can make a passed pawn.

20...Rxc5 Anand decides to eliminate the pawn at the cost of his queen for a rook and bishop.

21.Bh7+ Kxh7 22.Rxd6 Rxc1+ 23.Rd1 Rec8

If Anand can convert his pressure into an exchange of a-pawns it will be very difficult for Gelfand to win. A queen is more than a pawn better than a rook and knight in general, but if Anand's can keep his pieces active it is likely to be a draw.

24.h3 Ne5 25.Qe2 Ng6

Now it looks like Anand is trying to build a fortress after an exchange of rooks. Svidler thinks Anand does not have enough time for the clear draw fortress of  Kg7, Rd5, Pa5, Ph5

27.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 28.Kh2 Rc7 28.Qb2 Kg7 29.a4 Ne7 

Anand is headed toward another fortress with the knight on d5. Will Gelfand push his kingside pawns forward find a way to break in? But first get the a-pawn as far as it can go. 31.a5 Nd5 32.a6 Kh7

The commentary is reduced to talking about chairs, but for us non-masters Anand is showing us how to build a fortress and modify it to prevent winning chances. He has to keep his rook on the 7th and protected while preventing Gelfand from creating a passed h-pawn

33.Qd4 f5 34.f4 Gelfand cannot allow Anand to play f4 34...Rd7 prepares for the knight coming to f6 35.Kg3 Kg6 36.Qh8 Nf6 

The first transformation. The rook still controls the 7th. It is protected by the knight, and the knight controls checking and infiltration squares. Anand's h-pawn will advance to h5 to set up for the exchange on g4. 37.Qb8 h5 38.Kh4 Kh6 39.Qb2 Kg6 40.Qc3 Ne4 Time control is reached and Gelfand takes a long think (40 mins). 41.Qc8 Nf6 42.Qb8 Re7 Gelfand places his queen on what he thinks is the optimal square,
and then comes 43.g4 hxg4 44.hxg4 fxg4 45.Qe5 Is it zugswang?

No, Anand finds a move to preserve the fortress 45...Ng8 controls the squares around his King, defends the rook on the 7th, and the King can defend the knight if threatened. White regains the g-pawn, but there is nothing left. 46.Qg5+ Kh7 47.Qxg4 f6 48.Qg2 Kh8 49.Qe4 Kg7 [1/2-1/2]

Monday, May 21, 2012

2012 WCC Anand v Gelfand round 8

I slept in and missed the game! I look forward to the replay of the coverage. It was over quickly and Anand won to even the match score. It looks like Gelfand miscalculated in the opening and got his queen trapped after move 16.

I looked at the game via The Week in Chess. I added a few comments after watching the replay.

1.d4 Nf2 2.c4 g6 Anand prepared for another Gruenfeld with 3.f3 and Gelfand surprises with a Benoni 3...c5. I think this may be a good idea regardless of the result, as it is rare for white to have a pawn on f3 in the Benoni. 4.d5

Here Gelfand played the natural 4...d6, but perhaps it would have been better to go all out with a Benko-ish 4...b4. The pawn on f3 is definitely out of place there.

5.e4 Bg7 6.Ne2 O-O They are transposing into a Samish Kings Indian. 7.Nec3 Nh5 

The normal plan is a Benoni like ...e6 ...exd5 and pressure on the e-file with queenside expansion. Also, there are tactics with ...Nh5 and ...Qh4+. Gelfand is up to something different, a quick f5 I think, but I do not understand this move, because ...e6 and ...exd5 have not been played.

8.Bg5 puts a stop to a lot of the tactics for a moment. 8...Bf6 looks very strange. Black's dark square bishop is needed for the queenside expansion, and supports the kingside tactics. The pin of the e-pawn is very annoying, but at least kick the bishop once with ...h6, or go ahead with ...f5. This opens the e-file, but at the cost of losing the long diagonal bishop and leaving white with a pawn on c4, which impedes queenside play. 9.Bxf6 exf6 10.Qd2 f5 11.exf5 Bxf5

Anand has an exposed King, and his pieces are a bit in each other's way, but Gelfand's pieces are scattered, and he has lost the important dark-square bishop. 12.g4 This fork does not win a piece as Gelfand's bishop has a desperado move, but first a zwischenzug (I love that word) 12.Re8+ 13.Kd1 It is safer to move the king away from the open file, off the dark squares, and not self pin a blocking piece on e2. 13...Bxb1 14.Rxb1 Qf6? Uh-oh, Gelfand sees a way to win the exchange, but when one sticks one's pieces into the enemy position, you should make sure that there is a path out (Especially, the queen) The commentators also miss what Gelfand missed. They spend a great deal of time discussing other moves for Anand. 15.gxh5 Qxf3+ 16.Kc2 Qxh1 

Anand quickly plays 17.Qf2! 1-0 Gelfand resigns in the face of the threat of 18.Bd3

Houdini finds a way out with the very difficult to see 17...Nc6 which forces 18.dxc6 Qxc6, as any other  move allows 18...Nd4+ and black will emerge with a material advantage. Unfortunately, even if Gelfand saw this, he would have been in a difficult place. Black will have difficulty bringing the heavy pieces against white's exposed king. White has very good places for his pieces. Actually black's king is more exposed as the dark square holes at f6, g7, and h6 provide entries for white's knight and queen. In this position white has the initiative and a choice of quite a few good moves, but black can play on.

This is why "Absorb Surprises" is part of my move method. After such a blow as 17.Qf2, I want to take time to clear my mind, calm the emotions, and only then take a fresh look at the position. There are no queen or rook moves that save the queen, so one must also look at moves of the Nb8. I think a player of Gelfand's ability would have found 17...Nc6 if he took the time. He may have decided that there just was not enough play for black.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

2012 US Womens Championships Playoff

Ack, I missed the first game, after posting yesterday that it started an hour earlier, I forgot. Krush played a Pirc by transposition and beat Zatonskih.

Game two:
In game two Zatonskih must win as black to move on to the armageddon game. Zatonskih plays the triangle against Krush's Queens Gambit. Krush chooses to make it a semi-Slav rather than a QGD or Cambridge Springs, by playing 5.e3

Zatonskih plays actively. Pushes e6-e5-e4 and develops a dangerous kingside initiative. I think Krush took a needed tempo to play 18.d5, but definitely did not have time for 19.Qc2. Zatonskih misses the win of a rook(23...Qxf1) by playing 23...Bxc2, but is still better. Krush gives up the exchange to keep the pawn structure, but black is still better and Krush has no time. Ouch, Zatonskih gets low on time, and blunders away the game. The pressure in a high stakes rapid game is unimaginable.

Irina Krush is the 2012 US Women's Champion.

Tie breaks are difficult. I hope they split the prize money.

I like the joke told during the break: My friend and I were playing chess. He said, "Lets make this interesting". I agreed, and we played tennis.

2012 WCC Anand v Gelfand round 7

I notice that the link to the video archive is not very easy to see. This is one you will want to watch.

GM Leko has lots of interesting comments in the coverage of the opening after the first break. No art history lecture during the interesting phase today! Ack, I spoke to soon, but the game did not get too far along and there is plenty of life left in the positon when Leko's resumes his commentary. When Leko starts to run out of commentary, they go to commercial break and drag Karpov away from the Russian language broadcast. This game is definitely the second most interesting of the match so far. This game should spring Anand into action and we should see more dynamic games to come.

Gelfand diverges again on move 6, this time with c5. This is a promising move for us spectators. The pawn structure is unlikely to be balanced. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 a6 6.c5 
Gelfand has released the tension very early, but has made the activation of black's Bc8 very difficult. Generally, black would want to attack the pawn chain at the base to release that bishop, but it is difficult to get enough force together to make the e5 break. Anand choses to go after the head of the pawn chain first.

6...Nbd7 7.Qc2 b6 8.cxb6 Nxb6 9.Bd2 c5 10.Rc1 cxd4 11.exd4 Bd6 12 Bg5 O-O 13.Bd3 h6 14.Bh4 Bb7 
This position is going to be about control of they central squares on the e and c files. In particular, the e5 square. If Gelfand can place and maintain a knight on e5, he will have a lasting advantage, which will keep the Bb7 bad and enable a kingside initiative. A permanent knight outpost on c5 would be almost as good. It would tend to dominate black's light square bishop and support the advance of the queenside pawn majority. The pawn structure is long term good for white, because of the queenside pawn majority.

If Anand can break with e5 at a good time, he will be able to solve the problem of the Bb7 and transform the pawn structure in a way that balances white's queenside majority with central control.

15.O-O Qb8. Leko has a nice explaintion of why Gelfand should not play 16.Bxf6; however, Houdini likes this move. I think Anand would be able to hold the kingside attack that Houdini favors, and the resulting pawn structure would in the long term be good for black, because it will enable him to control the central squares.


Just after Gelfand makes this move, they go to a commercial break, and we get our art history lesson. This is very inappropriately timed. They need to have a better director, that can time the commercials properly. It would have been better to go to commercial early. The art history lessons need to be broken up into shorter segments, also.

Gelfand's repositioning of this bishop makes me question 13...h6. I wonder if this move only pushed the bishop where it wanted to go.

16...Rc8 17.Qe2 Bxg3 18.hxg3 Qd6 19.Rc2 Nbd7 20.Rfc1 Rab8

A pass move perhaps? Anand is asking Gelfand if he has a way to improve his position. Leko points out that 20...Rab8 has a subtle point, it discourages Na4, but Gelfand plays it anyway.


And they break to commercial, but Leko was running out of commentary. When they return Karpov joins them. Leko and Karpov both think 21.a3 to prepare b4 and Na4-c5 would have been better.

This is a key position. In retrospect, it is clear that Anand must play precisely here.

21...Ne4 Karpov and Leko were expecting ...Rxc2 22.Rxc2 Bc6 where Anand's Rb8 puts pressure on the b2 pawn.

Anand's move offers a pawn, but Gelfand declines as this would free up black's game. What he chooses leads to a permanent advantage.

22.Rxc8+ Bxc8 23.Qc2 g5 Surprise! I think Anand thinks he is in more trouble than I see. I expect he is right. He clearly looks uncomfortable with his position.

24.Qc7 Qxc7 25.Rxc7 With the queens off, it is hard to see how Anand generates counterplay. The Bc8 is horrible and the Rc7 is incredibly strong. Gelfand's knights should spring into action.

25...f6 26.Bxe4 dxe4 27.Nd2 f5 28.Nc4 Nf6 29.Nc5 Nd5 30.Ra7 Nb4 

31.Ne5 Nc2 32.Nc6 Rxb2 33.Rc7 Rb1+ 34.Kh2 e3 35.Rxc8+ Kh7 36.Rc7+ Kh8 37.Ne5 e2 38.Nxe6 1-0

Saturday, May 19, 2012

2012 US Championships May 19

Today is the last regular round of the 2012 US Championships.

Nakamura is playing a little weird against Seirawan, but he is still playing quickly. I would guess he wants to avoid theory and Seirawan's preparation to just play chess. Nakamura's 18.b4 looks ugly, but solves the problem posed by Seirawan trying to post a knight on c5. Can Nakamura close the c-file by posting a knight on c6? Yes he can, and continue to cause more problems for Seirawan, who uses up way to much time finding his way. While playing on fumes, Seirawan is unable to answer all the questions that Nakamura posed.

Kamsky is a half point behind Nakamura and is facing Hess with black. Kamsky stifles Hess's queenside play and then expands on the kingside. After Nakamura-Seirawan is over, Kamsky looks to have an advantage in a rook and pawn endgame.

Shulman chooses the King's Indian Defense against Onischuk in their battle for third place. Shulman prizes open the center and lots of pieces trade off into a drawn rook endgame.

Stripunsky plays a Sicilian Kan against Robson, but he fianchettos his king's bishop? I don't know the Kan at all, but it seems strange to me. Robson manages to clog up the long diagonal with pawns and get pressure down the f-file.

Kaidanov faces Akobian's NimzoIndian. Akobian makes an aggressive but hard to see exchange sacrifice that gave him a strong initiative that pans out.

To me it seems Ramirez takes an unusual path versus Lenederman's Caro-Kann. Ramirez tries to use his king too early and has to give up a piece to save it.

Nakamura is 2012 US champion


Krush and Zatonskih are tied after their draw last round.

Zatonskih has white against Abrahamyan. Abrahamyan is a very agressive player, so it is likely to be a decisive game. Abrahamyan gets her queenside pawns scattered and allows Zatonskih to control the c-file the only open one.

Krush is black against Baginskaite, so winning will be a challenge. Krush delays Nf6 but otherwise is playing a King's Indian Defense and Baginskaite chooses the fianchetto variation, but takes advantage of the delayed Nf6 to play Nbd2. Baginskaite loses a pawn and does not seem to get enough compensation. Krush holds the pawn, and slowly improves her position.

Foisor pulls out the Tromponsky against Zenyuk. Opposite side castling and excitement ensues.

Goletiani chooses the Sicilian Kan versus Kats.

Ni plays a King's Indian Defense rather than her normal Benko against Malekhina who goes into the mainline with which she is familiar on the black side. Melekhina engineers a queen exchange, which should tilt this game in her favor.

Playoff tomorrow between Krush and Zatonskih starts 1pm EDT

Friday, May 18, 2012

2012 US Championships May 18

The ladies have the day off. I could use a day off, ;) I am busy writing the chess camp I am giving this summer. I have also started a monograph on the Kings Indian Attack. I intend it to provide the next step beyond what Seirawan talks about in Winning Chess Openings.

Anyway, I am finding my eyes glazing over a bit watching the games, but it's not because they are boring.

Next to last round and Kamsky has white against Nakamura and is a half point ahead. Nakamura picking the Najdorf Sicilian hoping for fireworks. Kamsky plays positionally, but may have walked into Nakamura's preparation. Before move 18, Kamsky is down to 30 mins on the clock. Nakamura has used a bit more than 15 mins. Kamsky managed to plant a piece on d5, but is otherwise tied up. Kamsky gives up the exchange, but  gets activity and a permanent knight on d5. This was a very exciting, to and fro game, but Kamsky did not find a way through if there is one.

On their heels (1.5 points behind Kamsky), Onischuk needing a win accepts Akobian's Queen's gambit. It looked like it might get very interesting after Akobian's 11.Re1 pins the Be7, but Onischuk escapes with a bunch of exchanges into a very uninteresting position. I thought at the GM level the QGA is drawish.

Shulman plays the English against Robson. It looks like Robson thinks he set a trap with 13...b6, but will it pan out? Shulman bites with 14.Nxc5 and there are lots of Zwischenzug and Desperado moves. Shulman ends up an exchange, but it a bit tied up. Interesting game.

Lenderman as white transposes from an English into a Catalan against Hess. It looks like a good game for me to study on how not to play the Catalan, as Hess seems to equalize easily.

Stripunsky chose closed versus Ramirez's Sicilian. Ramirez struck quickly on the queenside, but it looks like Stripunksy weathered the initial storm and has a nice kingside attack starting with 19.f5. Ramirez is not out of it either, he counter attacks, on the kingside! Lots of fun in this game.

Seirawan tries an English against Kaidanov and lots of exchanges lead to an early draw.

2012 WCC Anand v Gelfand round 6

Gelfand diverged from previous games with 6.Qc2. Anand gambits a pawn with 9...O-O. Gelfand returns the pawn almost immediately to unwind his queenside, and we are left with another symmetric pawn game with many pieces exchanged. Before move 20 there is a little tension in that the darksquare bishops are pointing at the opposing kingside, but they are also covering entry points for the heavy pieces. I expect things will peter out again.

draw after move 29.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

2012 US Championships May 17


Nakamura gets a very nice position against Lenderman with an exchange variation QGD Ragozin where both castled queenside. Nakamura is gaining space all over the board. Will Lenderman find a way to slip through? It looks to me like Kasparov has been good for Nakamura. Later in the game, Lenderman seems to get Nakamura blocked up and tied down to defending his e-pawn with a rook stack on the half open e-file.

Seirawan seemed to have walked into Kamsky's preparation and was only able to escape by sacrificing his queen for a knight and rook to stop Kamsky's attack. Kamsky looks good with Sierawan's King feeling a bit of a breeze. Kamsky hoovers up Seirawan's queenside pawns and its 1-0

Akobian does much better with his Caro-Kann against Robson's Panov-Botvinnik than Kats does against Krush. Akobian gets a nice domination of the center, control of the open e-file and a powerful bishop on the open a1-h8 diagonal, while stopping Robson's queenside majority.

Stripunsky's Slav defense came under lots of pressure by Hess and Stripunsky blundered in a position where there were lots of things to track.

Onischuk-Kaidanov had a very symmetric QGD, but it did not turn into a boring game. Onischuk sacrificed the exchange in the endgame for a passed pawn. Will he be able to push that a-pawn home?

Ramirez did not find something totally wild this round, and his game against Shulman seems to be settling into an equal game and quiet position. Maybe they are training for the world championship.

Lots of commentary on the ubiquitous nature of the move g2-g4 in this championship (or g5 for black)

tomorrow Kamsky v Nakamura

Women's Championship

All of today's games were strongly contested and went on for a long time. Lots of endgames to look at.

Goletiani managed a Benoni in reverse with an early b4 against Zatonskih. This could be a critical game for both as Krush should do well against Kats today and Baginskaite Saturday.

Krush-Kats transposed from a symmetrical English into a Panov-Botvinnik Caro-Kann. The game seemed to be settling into a drawish game, but Kats blunders and loses the exchange.

Abrahamyan-Melekhina played a much more interesting Sveshnikov Sicilian than Anand-Gelfand did in the morning. Abrahamyan seems to have escaped Melekhina's kingside attack with a trade of queens and ends up a pawn ahead. Long grind after that with Abrahamyan slowly gaining ground.

Ni chose an interesting line against Foisor's Slav defense that left her king in the center, but seems to control space on all three sides of the board to keep her king safe. If she can trade pieces and keep the pawns, will her space lead to an endgame win?

Zenyuk sacs a pawn against Baginskaite but gets a lonely passed a-pawn. Zenyuk never gets the a-pawn moving and Baginskaite gets her kingside pawn majority rolling down the board.

tomorrow the ladies have off.

2012 WCC Anand v Gelfand round 5

Anand mixed things up a bit with 1.e4 and Gelfand chose a Sveshnikov Sicilian(B33).

The live coverage had a long break right when the game got interesting.

Anand emerged from the opening with a slight advantage due to the long term weakness of black's d6 pawn, but the pawn structure is even and there are opposite colored bishops. If the heavy pieces trade down, it will be another draw.

The commentators did not seem to hopeful when they came back from the break.

And a draw was agreed after 27.Qxa2

2012 US Championships May 16

Championship round 8

Nakamura had another interesting game. It looked good for Stripunsky several times, but Nakamura kept finding resources. I particularly liked Nakamura's precise rook and king placement at the end.

Ramirez led Akobian into wild territory with an unusual benoni.

Lenderman blunted Kamsky's kingside pawnstorm attack by trading pieces, but ended up in a lost endgame, anyway.

Women round 7

The important game Zatonskih-Krush was a draw.

Goletani used the Botvinnik system to overcome Abrahamyan's KID. This is an important game for me to understand, as the Botvinnik system seems to be a favorite weapon of titled players against lower rated opponents that favor kingside fianchettos.

Foisor slowly strangled Melekhina with a Saemisch variation of the KID.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2012 US Championships May 15

Several games with fireworks today.

Ramirez v Kaidanov was very exciting with Kaidanov giving up all the pawns in front of his king to get a counter attack on Ramirez's king. Threats piled high met with counter threats and a shocking ending. A really fun game.

Lenderman went for broke against Seirawan and almost did, but managed to find a path to a draw.

Nakamura and Shulman in a tense struggle which went into an interesting endgame.

And as usual the Ladies games were exciting.

2012 WCC Anand v Gelfand round 4

Game 4 was another 5...a6 Slav like game 2. Anand diverged from game 2 with 12...exd4

After Anand's 21....Rxd5, the position had a symmetric pawn structure with Gelfand having the two bishop and a slight initiative.

After a series of exchanges in the 20s the game settled into a fairly dry equal endgame with Anand's 29...b6. Even if Gelfand manages to exchange rooks and gain a BvN endgame with pawns on both sides of the board, Anand should have no problem putting most of his pawns on dark squares and centralizing his king.

Game was drawn after move 34. Not very interesting.

Monday, May 14, 2012

2012 WCC Anand v Gelfand round 3

The third game started out promising. Another Grunfeld, but Anand chose a different line than the first game.  1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd55.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 O-O 8.Qd2 e5 9.d5 c6 10.h4 cxd5 11.exd5 N8d7 12.h5 Nf6 13.hxg6 fxg6 14.O-O-O Bd7 15.Kb1 Rc8 16.Ka1

Gelfand offered a gambit with 16...e4, but Anand avoided taking it until he could make a bunch of exchanges and enter an endgame. 17.Bd4 Na4 18.Nge2 Qa5 19.Nxe4 Qxd2 20.Nxf6+ Rxf6 21.Rxd2 Rf5 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 23.d6. Here after his move 23.d6, Anand has an extra pawn, but his pieces are horribly placed, and he has difficulty finding squares for his minor pieces. It seems to me that white will have to relinquish his advanced d-pawn in order to unravel his pieces.

Instead of releasing the bind on white to gain the d6-pawn with 23...Nb6, Gelfand increased the pressure on Anand with 23...Rfc5 and 24...a5. Gelfand is trying to prevent white from playing Nc3 or b3. This leaves Anand's light square bishop on f1, but it does not have any good squares. Developing this bishop is a common problem in positions where white plays f3 to bolster the e4 and g4 squares. This can tend to trap the rook on h1 as well, except when black has a kingside fianchetto, and the h-pawn yearns to throw itself on the spiky structure of the opponents pawns. In this position, Anand can bring the Rh1 into the game by advancing up the h-file, and Anand does this with 25.Rh4.

Gelfand fairly quickly occupies the 2-rank with 25...Rc2. The b2 pawn is threatened and Anand plays 26.b3, which seems forced, and now black must move the Na4, but white's Ne2 now has no support on c3. After 26...Nb2 27.Rb1 Nd3 28.Nd4 Gelfand looked uncomfortable. Perhaps he thought to play ...Nb4, but saw that it did not work. 28...Rd2 29.Bxd3 Rxd3 and Anand has solved his problem with what to do with his bishop, and found a good square for his knight, as it dominates black's Bd7 and controls the entry square c2.

And the fireworks end with 30.Re1 Rd2 31.Kb1 Bf5+ 32.Nxf5 gxf5 33.Re7+ and we arrive at a rook ending with Anand holding an advantage, but one that may be difficult in converting to a win.

33...Kg6 34.Rc7 Re8 35.Rh1 Ree2 36.d7 Rb2+ 37.Kc1 Rxa2 1/2-1/2

A much more exciting game than the first two.

Update: It appears that Anand might have continued the game with 34.d7, but the lines after 34...Rcc2 35.Rc4 Rb2+ 36.Kc1 Rxa2 37.Rc8 Rf2 are very complicated and risky.

after 37...Rf2
With Anand short on time, it was hard to see that 35...Rxc4 was forced. (The idea refuting black's attack is to force the black King on the h4-d8 diagonal, so white can queen with check and then either trade the queen or both rooks for a black rook to stop the checkmate threats.) After 36.bxc4 h5 white has an advantage, and it would be fairly easy to get to time control.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

2012 US Championships are on

Ack, I've missed that the US championships are going on right now, too. They are almost half over.

Life gets in the way of chess, darn it.

official site
live coverage

Finegold and J.Shahade are commenting.

And chess is getting in the way of my chess training, too.

WCC will take the mornings and the USCC the afternoon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

2012 WCC Anand v Gelfand round 2

Another quick draw, which arose from a Slav defense. One more ply was played than round one, as the draw was agreed after white's 25th move. Gelfand has offered both draws with a very minor advantage in dry positions.

Though there has not been a lot of excitement in these first two games, I am uncomfortable with any match anti-draw rules. In a round robin tournament, counting wins as 3 points and draws for 1 seems a good idea to me. Fischer's idea of first to win 6 games looks good on the surface, but lead to an interminable match between Karpov and Kasparov in 1984 which was terminated without a result.

Game 3 is on Monday. I wonder if Anand has another surprise prepared for his 2nd time as white.

Friday, May 11, 2012

2012 WCC Anand v Gelfand round 1

Anand got white for the first game which was a rather quick draw in 24 moves in a Grunfeld exchange.

The final position looks pretty equal. By my database, Anand introduced a new move with 12.O-O in a rare variation that heretofore had been good for black. After a few natural moves, Gelfand may have kicked Anand out of his preparation with 14...Ra7. When I got online (late) the game was in move 19, and Anand was thinking heavily.

I got on in time to caught part of the commentary between Short and Karjakin from the official site. The broadcast is now in the archives on that site

I want to get on earlier tomorrow.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Update and small endgame lesson

I have been busy lately. I am preparing a week long chess camp for this summer (3 hours per day for 5 days). I have been thinking about this topic for over a year and gathering notes, but organizing the topic and creating the materials is acting like a full time job. I expect to be done by the end of May.

Tactics, Tactics, Tactics is the working title.

I am also working out lesson plans for the Kings Indian Attack. The idea is to present the material needed for a beginning tournament player to use the opening. I hope both more basic explanation than a Starting Out book, but also broader. Several of the local scholastic players have been using a Barcza setup for white, and I thought  at least a pamphlet on the KIA would be a good idea.

Endgame lesson materials derived from Nunn's Understanding Chess Endgames