Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lots of chess action, but none live!

Unfortunately with the time zone differences between the UK and Australia I am not able to follow the Candidates tournament live. I'm still ardently following the event, just after the fact. And that loses some of it's immediacy and tension. I love watching live games, seeing the action unfold, and trying to guess the moves and ideas that the players are coming up with. Then perhaps comparing how my ideas and moves match up to their own. It's actually a good way of improving your thinking, as when you propose a move that isn't played, you try to justify it and then if you finally admit your move was worse than the played move, it teaches you how you should be thinking and playing.

It is doubly unfortunate for me and Aussies who can't follow the action live, because there has been plenty of action and drama. I'm sure there is still some action and drama to come, especially as the field is relatively close still. The top 5 players are separated by 1.5 points and with 5 rounds still to go, any of them could still finish first. Of course, Magnus Carlsen must now be the favourite to take outright first, though he is only half a point ahead of Aronian and a point clear of Kramnik. Boris Gelfand has surprised everyone by coming out of the first half of the tournament in poor form, to score 2 wins in excellent fashion at the start of the second half. It is probably too much to ask for Gelfand to maintain that momentum, but he will be fully pumped for his next game against Carlsen who has been hanging on rather than moving forward for the past couple of rounds. While he's out of contention, I was happy to see Ivanchuk win a game. I don't like to see any player without a win in a tournament, and I've been in that position myself a few times pretty deep into events so I know how it feels.

What was triply unfortunate for me was that the live action that I was looking forward to at the Melbourne Chess Club was switched off last night. So I'll have to wait to see those games as well! And to make matters worse, it looked a fascinating round (a lot of byes, but I guess the Jewish Pesach required that quite a few players couldn't attend). I would have eagerly followed FM Wallis-IM West on board 1. Neither of these players give any quarter and both would have been out for a win. The game ended in a draw which leaves Guy still first. Ari Dale could have caught him with a win, but he could also only draw with FM Dragicevic. Justin Tan won his game to move within a point of West. The top places are:

6. West
5.5 Dale
5. Wallis, Dragicevic, Tan
4.5. Pyke, Beaumont, Hacche

The winner will come from this group of players, though Guy West controls his own destiny. The postponed games Drew (3.5)-Stojic (4) and Dizdarevic (3.5)-Michaille (4) will also place players into these groups.

So no live action from London or the MCC. So I'll have to regurgitate what I've been telling my advanced kids today. While it's a good idea to play to your own strengths, I think you should vary your style depending on the strength of your opponent. It makes sense, if your playing someone who you believe to be weaker than yourself, to play a safe game and to take no risks. The chances are that the longer the game goes, the more likely it is that the weaker player will blunder, so a stronger player wants those games to go a long time. Conversely, if you're playing someone you believe to be much stronger than you, it makes more sense to try something risky, and bring the game into a tactical mess where your stronger opponent is as likely to blunder as you. Remember, the longer the game the more chance you will blunder, so keep the game short and try to blast your opponent away. If it fails, then at least you will have some tactical ideas to look at, and you will have saved yourself the horror of being slowly ground down over a long time.

To make this point I found a game played in the recent Rejkyavik Open where a 1900 player smashes a 2473 rated IM with the Muzio Gambit. I found this game with some pretty extensive motes from Michael Yip's excellent Budapest Chess News. Just the game is good, but if you want the notes, you can go to the site and download the files for free. Check it out, and watch the fun :)

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