Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last post of 2011

I hope 2011 has been a good year of chess for you. I'm sure Alexander Morozevich will be happy with his year. He reappeared earlier this year to win the Higher League of the Russian Champs, finished second in Biel just half a point behind Carlsen, came second in the Russian Championship just half a point behind Svidler, won the category 19 Governor's Cup in Russia and should reappear in the top 10 in the World in tomorrow's FIDE rating list. He is currently playing in Reggio Emilia where he won his first 2 games to take a lead in the tournament. Among these was a textbook attack against a king in the centre against Anish Giri

Morozevich as black senses an attack against a centralised king, but must open lines of attack. 22..e5! 23.fxe5 fxe5 24.Rg5 pinning the e-pawn

and after lines are open the attacker shouldn't be afraid to sacrifice. 24..exd4! 25.Rxa5 Rhe8 26.Bg2 dxe3
and the final picture is an exposed king with black's major pieces all aiming at it.

Since those first 2 wins, Morozevich has drawn with Nakamura and lost to Ivanchuk, this final game I've only briefly looked at but it appears to be a very complicated Spanish where Ivanchuk won 2 pieces for a rook and pawn and created dangerous threats around Morozevich's king. Morozevich was unable to defend, and Ivanchuk takes the lead in the tournament equally with Nakamura.

The San Sebastian Centenary tournament in Donostia has a great new format where players play 2 games against the same opponent with different colours simultaneously! The tournamnet is a knock out, where losing players can join a swiss tournament that is running alongside. Players joining the swiss are put on the same points as the leader in that tournament. All in all, it is a refreshing change from the usual events of swiss or round robin, and the games are not FIDE rated so no one is playing to defend or gain points. While there have been some upsets, I think it's a bit rich to claim a victory by a 2600+GM is much of an upset. The field is very strong with the top 5 players:

Gashimov 2757
Mamedyarov 2733
Ponomariov 2723
Moiseenko 2715
Bacrot 2714

All these players got through their first round simuls and we are now at the last 16 stage, so we're soon going to get some 2700-2700 clashes!

At Hastings the preliminaries are over and the tournament is settling into a rhythm. There are all GM clashes and each game is important in this 9-round swiss. Only 2 players are on a perfect 3/3. Istracescu of Romania and Howell of England will meet in round 4 at the top of the table. 2697 rated Wang Yue was held to a draw in the third round by Indian GM Sengupta Deep, but Wang heads a group of 8 players on 2.5 just half a point behind the 2 leaders. In this group are 2 interesting players. Sam Franklin is 17, close to 2200 and playing well above it here. He has just beaten one GM in Glenn Flear and has to face another now. That  GM is none other than the ginger Simon Williams, champion of the Dutch Defence and an all out aggressive styled player.

Like Morozevich, David Howell also knows how to attack a king in the centre. Here is his first round game against FM Ryan Griffiths from Ireland. Howell as white makes it as difficult as possible for black's king to find safety. When he eventually castles, he castles into an attack. 16. g4 Nfd4 17. Qe4+ Be6 18. Be3 f5 [18..O-O loses material to 19.Bxd4 Nxd4 20.Rxd4 Bxd4 21.Qxd4] 19. gxf5 gxf5 20. Qg2 Qd7 [20..O-O defends the Bg7, but also pins it, so it isn't defending d4] 21. Nf4

O-O-O [Finally black feels he can hide his king away, but..] 22. Bxd4! [Wins material] Nxd4 [22..Bxd4 23.Nxe6 Qxe6 24.Qxc6+] 23. Qa8+ Kc7 24. Qxa7+ Kc8 25. Qxb6 1-0

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