Round Two Isle of Aman

Today in round two Aman had the tough pairing against Super GM Arkadij Naiditsch.

It looked like Aman would hold in a queen and pawn ending until he allowed Naiditsch to advance his deadly passed h pawn to h7 by playing 83…b4 instead of continuing the series of checks.

This gives Aman .5 out of two to start.  While that doesn’t technically put a norm out of reach, it does mean that he’s got his work cut out for him.

Here is the game.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Aman and the Hunt for the Final Norm

Yesterday Canadian IM and noted ChessBrah Aman Hambleton began the hunt for what would be his final GM norm.

I will be posting all of his games here for anyone who is interested in following his chances.

In round one he didn’t get much out of a Reti sideline and Black’s marauding knights allowed his to easily equalize.  Material was th

The Turnaround Begins

Thursday I played a rated training game against NM Rithwik Mathur.  I had agreed to play the White side of a line that he was wanting to test.

I found a few moves I was particularly proud of, especially 20.c4 and I also made things harder than they needed to be (sacking the exchange back instead of finding 40.R3e4) but overall I felt like the game was fairly well played on my part.

I do think that Rithwik missed two winning ideas.  One was 52…a2 which I saw at the board, and the other was 53…Rg2 which was pointed out by NM Bill Williams after the game.

Either way, I think that this game represents the first game in what will hopefully be a turnaround for me.

Here’s the game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Is This The Chess World Cup or Game of Thrones?

This was the question posed by chess.com user franknstein earlier today, and I have to say it’s a good question.

Granted, with a knockout format it’s practically a certainty that big names will fall to not as big names, but usually those things happen a bit here and a bit there.

In round two we saw players such as Wojtaszek, Harikrisha, Anand, and Karjakin fall.  Then today in the second day of the third round three more legends were eliminated as Nakamura, Kramnik, and Carlsen were put away.

It was like watching the Red Wedding all over again.

Tomorrow there are more elite players who will have to emerge victorious in their tiebreaks to avoid the same fate.  Included in that group are MVL, Grischuk, Aronian, Caruana, Ding, and Giri.

Speaking of Giri, he seemed to have the Three Eyed Raven protecting him today as he was dead lost against Sethuraman.  However, the Indian used so much time seeking to land the killing blow that he wound up mired so deeply in time pressure that Giri was able to complicate things long enough and then finally escape with a draw.

So today Giri is most likely wearing his nickname of Draw Master with pride.  Here is the game.

Stay tuned for the tiebreak’s tomorrow where there are certain to be more heads rolling.

Also, big shout out to the Chess Brahs for providing their free streaming coverage each day.  You can watch Yasser Seirawan and Aman Hambleton provide insightful commentary and analysis for the entire broadcast each day, usually with Eric Hansen lurking around somewhere and providing social media commentary.

Watch them here.  In fact, you should watch them any time they are streaming.  Not only will you learn something, you’ll be entertained as well.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

An Instructive Position

I was looking at the game Petrosian – Olafsson from the first round of the Candidates Tournament in 1959.

This position was reached with White to move:

My first instinct was to put the knight on d2.  After all, who wants to put a piece on the bank rank intentionally when they don’t have to.

But then I looked at this position much closer.  I asked myself why I would want to put the knight on d2 other than “it’s not the bank rank.”

Superficially it looks like the e4 pawn is being pressured, but there’s nothing to that in truth since White can’t bring enough pressure for that to mean anything.

So then I asked myself what future does the knight have on d2 and what future would it have on e1?

On e1 the knight can easily go to c2-e3 and play a role.  On d2…not much.

What makes the position so interesting to me is understanding that even just a month or two ago if I had this position in a game I would have instantly put the knight on d2.

I’m hopeful that this is a sign that my positional play is in fact improving in the manner I’d like it to.

Here is the entire game.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

I Stand With Anton – Reflections on the Disaster in Tbilisi

For anyone who hasn’t heard, yesterday in Tbilisi Canadian GM Anton Kovalyov quit the World Cup in protest.

So what happened?  Well, ostensibly GM Kovalyov showed up at the playing hall and an arbiter informed him that he would not be allowed to wear shorts as it was against the dress code.

There are two main problems that I have with this.  The first is that Anton says that he checked at the last World Cup to make sure that shorts were OK and was told that they are.

The second is that he wore the same shorts to the first two rounds and there were no issues at that time.  And it’s not like he flew unnoticed under the radar here…this is the guy who took out five time World Champion Vishy Anand in round two.

I say “ostensibly the issue” since the real issue appears to run much deeper.  I’ll let Anton tell that story in the statement which he released a few hours after the incident.

“I wanted to wait a little till I calm down, but I’m tired of seeing lies everywhere. So here’s what happened:

The issue were not the shorts but how I was treated. I came to the game and was approached by the arbiter asking me to change (first time). I told him that I don’t have pants with me, and then I noticed that I was playing black instead of white, which came as a surprise for me and asked him to check that. He and the other arbiters checked and confirmed to me that I’m playing with black, we talked a little and everything was fine. Then came Zurab, he was very agressive, yelling at me and using the racial slur “gypsy” to insult me, apart from mentioning several times that I will be punished by FIDE. I told him that I had asked before at the previous world cup if what I was wearing was OK and I was told by somebody from the organization that yes. Zurab, in a prepotent way, said he doesn’t care, he’s the organizer now. At this point I was really angry but tried not to do anything stupid, and asked him why he was so rude to me, and he said because I’m a gypsy.

So imagine this, the round is about to start, I’m being bullied by the organizer of the tournament, being assured that I will be punished by FIDE, yelled at and racially insulted. What would you do in my situation? I think many people would have punched this person in the face or at least insulted him. I decided to leave.

Worth pointing out, I didn’t take any pants with me because I gained some weight and they were to tight. If the organization of the tournament would have warned me sooner I would have taken a cab to the mall and bought pants, without any problems whatsoever, but instead I was treated like garbage. I was too stressed out by the way I was treated and the threats of being punished by FIDE no matter what I do, so I choose to leave before I do anything stupid.

Another point worth pointing out, Zurab never asked me to go and change, the conversation consisted of threats, insults, and agressive behavior from Zurab. He was clearly provoking me.

I will not appeal anything. I am disgusted by this type of people. I don’t want the money. I’m coming back home.”

This paints a much darker picture than the initial speculation.

Of course, when you are dealing with someone like Azmai in the chess world you shouldn’t be surprised at that.

Here are two reactions regarding that angle.  The first was WGM Tatev Abrahamyan’s reaction on Twitter.

Later, when Azmai “clarified” that he wasn’t being racist by calling Anton a gypsy, but rather that he meant tramp as in “dressed like a tramp” Tatev had this to say.

Another pundit who was rightfully critical of Azmai’s behavior is IM Greg Shahade, who sent this tweet linking to his blog post where he spared no criticism.

So what should the average chess fan make of all this?  My thoughts run as follows…

First, I think that dress codes at top events make perfect sense.  After all, we all talk/dream/hope for the day when chess attracts numerous big dollar sponsors.  There’s a reason why athletes have dress codes for how they need to show up looking when they get to the venue.  With so much money on the line the league insists on projecting a certain image so as not to chase off sponsors and potential sponsors.

It may not make the most sense in the world to talk about having a dress code at your average weekender, but this is an official event which is part of the world championship cycle, so come on guys, let’s look the part.

However, if you are going to have a dress code then it needs to be enforced evenly and consistently.  It’s improper to allow a player to wear shorts in the first two rounds, then suddenly take issue on day seven of the event.

If the decision is made that something needs to be said, then it should not be said at the beginning of a round (possibly with the exception of the beginning of the first day) but rather should be addressed after the offending player’s game has concluded.

Also, I don’t think that any valid excuse can be given to not having said something to Kovalyov on either of his two rest days.  Why not inform him then so that he can do something in a way that won’t interfere with his play at all?

Although I have not met him personally, from everything I have heard about him he’s a stand up guy.  I don’t think that he would find the request unreasonable if it were made in a sensible way.

That brings us to Azmai.  There’s nothing I can say that Greg didn’t say better in his blog post, but I would like to point out that a discussion I often take place in is the discussion of how to attract sponsors to chess.

The sorts of ideas that always seem to be kicked around have to do with formats and time controls.

Fine, but isn’t any discussion of time controls, etc. rendered moot automatically when an official like Azmai is involved?  Again, as mentioned above, sports leagues require certain images to be projected so as to not drive off sponsors.  Yet with chess the league is FIDE, and Azmai is a high ranking FIDE official.

What self-respecting Fortune 500 level company is going to put themselves in a position to deal with a guy like that?

So with all of this in mind, my conclusion here is that I stand with Anton.  I think that he made the correct decision to not play after the way he was treated, and I hope others see it that was as well.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

 

 

Shocker in Tbilisi

Today World Champion Magnus Carlsen found himself on the wrong end of a stunning upset in the first game of the third round of the 2017 World Cup.

Facing Chinese Super GM Bu Xiangzhi Magnus played an unambitious line with White that transposed into a Two Knights.  As has often been the case with the Norwegian he was clearly looking to just get a level middlegame position from which to outplay his opponent.

After White’s 15th move this position appeared on the board:

Here Bu found the excellent shot 15…Bxh3, which soon led to a sharp position.

From there he capitalized on a few inaccuracies from the World Champion and built up an overwhelming attack.

Magnus did himself no favors by winding up in very deep time trouble, and was not able to fend off Bu.

Here is the game:

As a result of this game, Magnus will find himself in a must win situation tomorrow with the Black pieces.

While winning on demand is tough enough, doing so with the Black pieces is a mush more Sisyphean task.  And yet…if there is anyone who can perform such a Herculean task it’s the World Champ.

Bu has long been my favorite of the Chinese GM’s, but he’s never cracked into the truly elite levels of 2750+, so while Magnus has his work cut out for him it’s certainly not impossible for him to pull this off.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Artemiev to the Third Round!

Yesterday in Tbilisi, long time favorite of this blog, Vladislav Artemiev, took out Teimur Radjabov in the rapid playoff for round two to advance in the World Cup.

In the first rapid game he put on a clinic in demonstrating how to play with a space advantage.

In the second game, Artemiev was easily winning when he agreed a draw.  A decision which makes perfect sense as it allowed him to advance.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Stayin Alive

This morning Naka sent this tweet.

Clearly he was in good spirits as he prepared to battle Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista in the round two playoff in the FIDE World Cup, currently taking place in Tbilisi, Georgia.

In the first game Hikaru got a nice enduring edge which he converted nicely although he did miss a shot in this position:

Here 21.Bxh6 is crushing.

In the second game the Cuban returned the favor by missing a shot of his own.

33.a5 creates threats which force concessions from Black due to the threat of cxb5 which would create a passed pawn.  There is a lot to be learned by analyzing this position in depth.

However, after 33.Rf3 the game was level and Hikaru was able to hold rather easily.

This draw secured entry into the third round and a matchup with Russian Super GM Fedoseev.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Room for Improvement

My last two tournaments have not been great.  I’ve managed to lose three games to improving juniors.

This has had the effect of dropping my rating around 40 points.  While I’m not that upset about the rating since ratings fluctuate, I am incredibly annoyed with the way I have played as I have thrown away promising positions quite often during this streak.

Yesterday I played a game which I hope is the start of a turnaround, although I still missed a huge opportunity and was lucky to get a second chance.

Here is the game.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott