World Cup and Botvinnik Memorial

Hello everyone. I’m off to Rome shortly, via Windsor to stay with the very hospitable Manuel + Brigitta before Manuel drives me to Heathrow for a very early flight. It should be an interesting tournament; with the new September rating list I’m actually top seed (alphabetically as Khenkin is also 2624) but with ten of us 2577 and above it promises to be very tough.

Sue and I have been off on holiday for the past week. First of all we went up and spent a couple of days at my grandma’s in the Lancashire countryside and then we headed off to Caernarfon and Conwy in Wales. Sue will write an update on our holiday soon. I’ve actually had almost a month without playing a proper game but hopefully won’t be too rusty.

Meanwhile lots of high quality chess events are on at the moment. In Siberia (where we played the Olympiad last October) 128 players are battling it out in the World Cup. With so many games to watch it’s quite a spectacle. However the tournament is a knockout and with the mini-matches consisting of just two games, luck is a decisive factor.

At the time of writing the players are just finishing the first game of the third round. Already they have been whittled down to 32 players with a lot of top players having already become casualties. In round two we lost our only English player, Mickey Adams, who went down in the rapid playoff to Dane Peter Heine Nielsen. Other upsets include the Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Spaniards Alexey Shirov and Paco Vallejo.

I have to confess that while on holiday I didn’t really follow the action and so can’t highlight interesting games from the first couple of rounds but already round three is fun to watch. I advise you to check out Grischuk-Morozevich for a fascinating encounter between two highly creative super strong Russians. The top seeds in the tournament, Sergey Karjakin and Vassily Ivanchuk, both lost their first game in round three and so have a lot of work to do to advance, especially Ivanchuk who now has to win to order with black. Karjakin’s vanquisher was the strongest female player of all time, Judit Polgar who seems to be back to her aggressive best after taking some time off looking after her two young children.

While that circus is on, the top four players in the world are playing a rapid tournament in Moscow in memory of former World Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik. Of course rapid games aren’t to such a high level as their long play games but without precious FIDE rating points at stake the players are usually more creative. Poor Magnus Carlsen, world number one, has been on the receiving end of a battering losing both his games today against Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik. In the first, the Armenian played an interesting exchange sacrifice that might not have been fully sound at slow play but created enough problems in rapid, and followed it up with an aesthetically pleasing second exchange sac. Against the Russian, Magnus tried an offbeat and rather dubious opening (1.Nf3 b5?!) to try and unbalance the struggle. I’ve actually played this once myself and know the difficulties Black can get into as a result of delaying his development. Here Kramnik rather rolled over the young Norwegian. Vishy Anand currently leads the tournament after defeating Aronian.

###pgn###[Event “?”] [Site “?”] [Date “2011.09.03”] [Round “?”] [White “GM_Carlsen”] [Black “GM_Aronian”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “A36”] [WhiteElo “2823”] [BlackElo “2807”] [PlyCount “170”] [EventDate “2011.??.??”] [TimeControl “1500+10”] 1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 c5 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 Nc6 5. a3 d6 6. Rb1 a5 7. e3 e5 8. Nge2 Nge7 9. O-O O-O 10. d3 Rb8 11. Bd2 Be6 12. Nd5 b5 13. cxb5 Rxb5 14. Qa4 Qb8 15. Nc7 Qxc7 16. Qxb5 Rb8 17. Qa4 Bb3 18. Qh4 Bc2 19. Qc4 Bb3 20. Qc1 Qb6 21. Re1 d5 22. Nc3 Rd8 23. e4 d4 24. Nd5 Nxd5 25. exd5 Rxd5 26. Bh6 Bf6 27. Bxd5 Bxd5 28. Qd1 Be7 29. h4 Qb7 30. Kh2 f6 31. Qe2 Nd8 32. Bd2 Bf3 33. Qf1 a4 34. Qh3 h5 35. Ba5 Nf7 36. Qe6 Bd5 37. Qh3 Qb5 38. Bc7 Qxd3 39. g4 Qd2 40. Kg1 Be6 41. Qg2 hxg4 42. Rbc1 Kg7 43. Bb6 c4 44. Qc6 g3 45. fxg3 Bh3 46. Qf3 Qxb2 47. Ba7 Qb3 48. Qxb3 cxb3 49. Bxd4 Bxa3 50. Ra1 Bb4 51. Reb1 exd4 52. Rxa4 Bc5 53. Ra5 Bb6 54. Rb5 Bc7 55. R5xb3 Be5 56. Kf2 Nd6 57. Kf3 Be6 58. Ra3 Bd5+ 59. Ke2 Nb5 60. Ra5 Nc3+ 61. Kf2 d3 62. Rxd5 Nxd5 63. Rb7+ Bc7 64. Kf3 Kh6 65. Rb3 Bxg3 66. Rxd3 Nf4 67. Rd8 Nh5 68. Kg4 f5+ 69. Kh3 Be5 70. Ra8 Bf6 71. Ra6 Kg7 72. Ra7+ Kf8 73. Rb7 Be7 74. Ra7 Kf7 75. Ra6 Nf6 76. Kg3 Ne4+ 77. Kh3 Bc5 78. Rc6 Bd6 79. Ra6 Kg7 80. Ra8 Be5 81. Ra7+ Kh6 82. Rb7 Nf6 83. Re7 Ng4 84. Ra7 Bf6 85. Rf7 Kh5 {Black wins} 0-1%%%pgn%%%

###pgn###[Event “?”] [Site “?”] [Date “2011.09.03”] [Round “?”] [White “GM_Kramnik”] [Black “GM_Carlsen”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “A04”] [WhiteElo “2791”] [BlackElo “2823”] [PlyCount “55”] [EventDate “2011.??.??”] [TimeControl “1500+10”] 1. Nf3 b5 2. e4 Bb7 3. Bxb5 Bxe4 4. O-O Nf6 5. d4 e6 6. c4 Be7 7. Nc3 Bb7 8. d5 O-O 9. Bf4 Na6 10. Re1 Qc8 11. Nd4 Bb4 12. Bg5 Ne8 13. Re3 c6 14. Bxa6 Bxa6 15. Qh5 f6 16. Rh3 fxg5 17. Qxh7+ Kf7 18. Qh5+ Kg8 19. Qh7+ Kf7 20. Ne4 Bxc4 21. Qh5+ Ke7 22. Qxg5+ Kf7 23. Qh5+ Ke7 24. Qg5+ Kf7 25. dxe6+ dxe6 26. Nf3 Kg8 27. Qh4 Rxf3 28. Qh7+ {White wins} 1-0%%%pgn%%%

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