Thursday, July 12, 2018

Summer Chess Season

It feels a bit funny talking about the summer chess season as I'm sitting in the middle of  an Australian winter. But I've become used to being on the periphery of the chess world. Australian chess has improved hugely since I've arrived inasmuch as there are more higher quality tournaments around the country, and the general quality of chess at the top level has risen. When I first arrived in 2005, Australia was ranked about 60th in the FIDE countries list, while now we sit in 44th position. This has been  achieved by a talented group of youngish players, as Australia's top 10 has only 2 players born before 1990. We are all hoping that our team can put in a good performance at the upcoming Olympiad in September.

The Olympiad will come after what appears to be a great summer season. I'll be posting more games from classic books, and analysis of events here in Victoria, but I'll also be following some international events as their are some that really excite me.

- The 2018 US Junior Championships start in a few hours and both the boys and girls tournaments will be great with plenty of fighting chess.

- Dortmund and Biel are the traditional summer festivals in Europe, and both tournaments have top 10 players and some talented lower rated players (not much lower rated!). I have to admit that I've been left a bit cold by the the elite chess series of tournaments we've had, as the same players keep coming up against each other. It is good to see some new faces challenging the elite.

- Danzhou might just be the most exciting tournament of the summer, especially for us in Australia as the time zone means that we'll be able to see quite a bit live. A stunning young field led by 24 year old Yu Yangyi, the current number 14 in the World while the new, 20 year old, Polish number 1, Duda coming up against 19 year old Chinese sensation Wei Yi. Even the oldest player in the field, Bu Xiangzhi, is interesting as he is the man who knocked World Champion, Magnus Carlsen out of the World Cup last year!

- The British Chess Championship is a tournament I always follow as I knew many players involved. Sadly, I personally know more players in the over 50 tournament than the Championship nowadays, so I'll be watching the results of some of the other events at the tournament. This year the Championship is being held in Hull which is where I went to university, so it has even more meaning to me.

- Sinquefield Cup dominates the second half of August, and it has absolute elite fields competing in sections for blitz, rapid and classical chess time controls. It will be probably the last chance to see a Carlsen-Caruana clash before their World Championship clash. While this is the most elite event of the summer, it isn't the most exciting for me. Saying that, I'll be following it much like many chess fans throughout the world.

It's great to follow elite tournaments, and easier to do so than ever before with websites such as chess24, chess bomb, TWIC, etc. Of course, watching isn't a substitute for playing, but analysing the games of others is an impsrtant skill to learn, and trying to analyse games in progress is a great exercise, like a 'guess the move' type of thing, but in real time.

You'll probably be hearing some more about these events on this blog over the next couple of months!

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