The final Melody Amber tournament finished a few days ago, and Aronian ended up in clear first. Not a huge surprise, I guess, as Aronian is both extremely strong and extremely tricky, which makes him all the more difficult to bring down in rapid chess.
One interesting result was that only 3 players finished above 50% in the combined standings! They would happen to be the only 2800+ players at the moment, in opposite order of rating: Aronian, Carlsen, and then Anand in 3rd. That seems really surprising to me in a 12-player double-round robin.
One amazing opening idea was seen in the rapid game between GMs Topalov and Nakamura:
(FEN: r1b1kb1r/1p1nqppp/p3p3/1B1pP3/3B1P2/1RN5/P1PQ2PP/4K2R w Kkq – 0 14)
Topalov played 14.Ba4, as an improvement on a 2008 game between his regular second, GM Ivan Cheparinov, and his occasional second, GM Francisco Vallejo. In that game, Cheparinov gave up the bishop directly with 14.0-0, but in the line with 14…axb5 15.Nxb5 Qd8 16.Qc3 Qa5 17.Nc7+ Kd8 18.Nxa8 Qxa8 19.f5, Black has the amazing resource 19…b6!, preparing to put a bishop on c5 and defend.
With some free time this weekend, I was looking at the list of live games on the TWIC site and noticed this gem from the Bundesliga. It’s a game between GM Chuchelov (2565) and GM Shirov (2749). Of course Shirov is the favorite in such a matchup, but this game was still very impressive I thought.
2rq1rk1/pb1n1ppp/1ppbpn2/3p4/2PP4/1PN1PN2/PBQ1BPPP/3R1RK1 b - - 0 11)
This is a topical position from the Anti-Meran variations of the Semi-Slav. In fact, I’m pretty sure I had this position a few times over my Fellowship years. Unlike Shirov, though, I was hesitant to open the center up with my queen still on d8 and so I think I would play 11…Qe7 here.
The Melody Amber rapid/blindfold tournament is underway in Monaco, and it’s a pretty stacked field: 11 of the top 15 in the world, plus Anish Giri (no scrub himself), are playing. So far Aronian has proved to be the most slippery player, escaping from worse/lost positions in all 4 of his games to score 3.5 points!
As I tuned into the event yesterday, I saw Kramnik played 38…Bf5 to reach the position in the diagram below:
4rnk1/pp2r1p1/q4p1p/P2p1b2/2pPP3/2P2PB1/2B2QPP/RR5K w - - 0 39)
The move made some sense – Black has to do something about White’s slowly advancing center, and …Bf5 forces a decision with the e-pawn. I didn’t have much time to think about what was going on when Grischuk played 39.exf5!!.
But wait, didn’t Kramnik stop that with the threat of …Re2?
I played in Cappelle la Grande in both 2009 and 2010, but I missed it this year. However, I did catch a few games from the TWIC daily game replayer, though, and a few caught my eye.
The first is from a game between GMs Aleksander Delchev and Davit Jojua from the last round. Jojua may have taken a few too many liberties with his development in the opening, and in the following position, he had just played 15…Qb6-b7 (after 13…Qd8-a5 and 14…Qa5-b6!):
r3kb1r/1q3ppp/p1n2n2/3ppPB1/Pp6/1N1B4/1PP1QPPP/R4RK1 w kq - 0 16)
Black’s center is both impressive and rickety, but there isn’t an obvious blow to strike against the pawns. At the same time, if Black ever manages to develop properly, the pawns might cease to be a weakness.
So how should White proceed? I’ve known Delchev for a few years now and while chess “understanding” is a tough thing to pin down, this is one example that he seems to have it.
This is almost 3 weeks old now, but while I meant to write something at the time, it slipped my mind and I only got around to it now. An unfortunate side effect of not being the Unemployed Fellow any more …
There was a great article in the NY Times about one of the chess fixture’s in the Bay Area: Michael Aigner. Take a look here for the full article.
I’ve managed to win some interesting games in our last couple encounters, but almost a decade ago, he beat me rather easily with 1.f4. At the time, I think this was his first win over an IM, but luckily for me, his win over GM Yermolinsky is the one that made the NY Times. =)
The first interesting moment in the game was after he had played 8.Qd1-e2, reaching the position below:
rnbq1rk1/p3ppbp/1p3np1/2pp4/3P1P2/2PBPN2/PP1NQ1PP/R1B1K2R b KQ - 0 8)
I played 8…a5 here, which seems to be an inaccuracy to me now. When facing the Stonewall setup, it’s normally a good idea to try and exchange the bishop not hampered by his own pawns, but there are a few points against …a5 here.