Tomorrow I'm off on holiday, and won't be thinking about chess for about 3 weeks. This blog will be turning into a travelogue following a roadtrip that I will be undertaking with my wife Caroline around the Western states of the USA. But here is one last post to do with chess before going.
First let's talk about me. I've dropped out of the tournament scene this year, and I'm happy to say that I'm playing in a small event soon after I get back from holiday. The Melbourne Chess Club is running a one day event for groups of 4 players. These quads will be rated in the Australian list, but not in the FIDE list. The games are played at a 60 + 20 time limit (or near to that) and the entry fee covers the cost of rating the games, so there are no prizes. I'm happy with that, as I'd just like to play, though my preparation is going to be wholly psychological, and nothing to do with chess. Hopefully I will feel invigorated after my holiday, so even if my chess is a bit rusty, a positive frame of mind will make up for it. At least that's the plan!
But I wouldn't be immodest enough to tip myself to win this small event. In fact, looking at the growing list of players, I'll be happy with any points at all. But I've learned that tipping is no easy thing. My recent choice of Levon Aronian to take out the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis went spectacularly wrong. Aronian only finished 3rd out of 4 players, and the tournament was won convincingly by World Championship challenger and World number 1, Magnus Carlsen. In the last round, Aronian needed to win against Carlsen to catch him, but offered a draw which was all Magnus needed for first. But in true fighting spirit, Carlsen turned down the draw offer and went on to win the game and the tournament. After this performance, he must surely be considered a favourite to become the next World Champion in November.
My one tip that is coming good is in the Women's World Championship where Yifan Hou is leading Anna Ushenina by 3-1. To be honest, this wasn't too surprising. I think more people were surprised by Ushenina's victory in the World Championship last year, and certainly by Hou's exit. Although this match has a way to go yet, am hopeful that I have one tip right this time round. As for the Junior World Championship, I wonder whether Wesley So knew I'd tipped him, as the Philippine star is not participating even though his name was on the start list prior to the tournament commencing. The top seeds are now Yangyi Yu and defending champion, Alexander Ipatov. While I'm not going to tip anyone now, I hope that Polish IM J Duda, and Swedish GM Nils Grandelius have good tournaments. Both have started well and are near the top boards as the tournament approaches a third of the way through. In the girls event I'll stick with Goryachkina. She is a great risk taker, and I thought she'd overdone it in the first round (perhaps her opponent had some chance for an advantage with 17.Nc4), but she continually fought for the initiative and won the game. Aleksandra Garyachkina has started with a perfect 3/3 though there's a long way to go.
Finally, I'd like to wish Australian Grand Master David Smerdon a happy Birthday for tomorrow, as I probably won't get the chance tomorrow. Besides being a strong player, David is a great commentator for ICC and would surely have had a great showing in the top English speaking Chess commentator poll recently run by ACP President Emil Sutovsky. Unfortunately, David was overlooked in the starting line up, and the poll was headed by English IM Lawrence Trent. I think Aussies need to campaign to see David get his name on that list and take the coveted position as Best English Language Chess Commentator!