Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a Good Friday for Chess

Well, it all happened yesterday and no mistake. The London Candidates which has already surpassed my expectations for excitement brought up some new drama. Having gone to bed before the action started, I awoke this morning to a draw for Carlsen, a loss for Aronian and a win for Kramnik. These 3 players are really bringing this event alive and one of them must surely be the winner. Carlsen retains his half point lead, but now it is ex-World Champion Kramnik in second. He has leapfrogged over Aronian who is a further half point back with just 3 rounds to go. As I said in the last post, Carlsen holds his destiny in his own hands, especially as he has white in 2 of his 3 remaining games. If Carlsen can avoid losing, then it is hard to see anyone overtaking him. And a lot will depend on the momentous clash between Aronian and Kramnik later today. It will definitely be a battle of nerves in the final 3 rounds, and alas for my tipping, it looks as if Aronian's nervous energy is shot away. After over pressing against Boris Gelfand a couple of days ago, he self destructed against Peter Svidler by throwing his g and b-pawn's 2 squares down the board on consecutive moves creating serious weaknesses which were easily exploited by Svidler.

But the game that interested me most was the Grischuk-Carlsen clash. This is mainly because Grischuk chose a line of the Grunfeld that I had a look at a while back, the Zaitsev variation. It's a funny system that gets right into black's face, which, to be honest, is what black attempts to do to white when playing the Grunfeld.

The move 5.h4 (or 4.h4 without the moves 4.Nf3 Bg7) is the very aggressive idea of Alexander Zaitsev, and it appeals to the likes of me (coffeehouse hacker) because of the simplistic concept behind the move. Essentially, white is getting ready to directly attack black's king side. Typical themes involve sacrificing the c-pawn, shuffling the king to f1 or g1 for safety, trying to dominate the dark squares on the king side but playing across the entire board. It is a nightmarishly difficult system to play, but fun nevertheless. To add to the appeal, the present favourite of top GM's amongst coffeehouse hackers such as myself, Alexander Morozevich, played this system twice in Beijing towards the end of last year against Anish Giri (the blitz game is especially fun!).

On the domestic front, Doeberl started with a bang. Yesterday, the first round went pretty much according to plan, but the second round was a carnage as the seeds fell one after another: 2680ish Loek van Wely came a cropper to 2400ish Stephen Solomon; Luke Li Zuhao defeated GM Adam Horvath, Justin Tan defeated GM Attila Czebe, and IM Moulton Ly was beaten by FM Domagoj Dragicevic. Not only that, but GM Varga, GM Laxman, IM Palit Somak and IM Brown were held to draws by Tingtie Lei, FM Dusan Stojic, Anton Smirnov and John Nemeth respectively.

There were further upsets on the lower boards as well. Today the Premier sees another 2 rounds after which we should have some idea of the lie of the land. And also the 'Major' (under 2000) and 'Minor" (under 1600) tournaments start giving an even more local flavour to the Easter chess festival.

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