Some Fun Photos Over The Years

Here are some fun photos from the past couple of years.

This on was from a late night party at the St. Louis Chess Club after the final round of the Sinquefield Cup 2016.  GM Priyadharshan Kannappan was playing blitz with MVL.

In 2017 it was no longer necessary to wait until the club closed at night to cut loose.  This is at one of the chess houses the club owns and was taken after the final night of the 2017 US Championships.  Don’t worry, Mesgen isn’t drinking all of those drinks by himself!

Later that year, after the end of Sinquefield Cup 2017 Naka and Eric Hansen were playing some blitz.  Here Aronian has just come and asked Eric to move so that he could get in on the action.

One of the more impressive things I’ve seen.  Here Hikaru is playing Robert Hess at 1-5 time odds (Hikaru has one minute to Hess’s five).  Also after Sinquefield 2017.  They played until around 5:00 in the morning.  I left around 4:00 and heard from Hikaru the next day that after all was said and done they finished on an even score!

Eric Hansen had to catch a flight for Spain early that morning, but stayed all night to watch this, giving himself just enough time to get to the airport.  He later said that watching this inspired him and has made him play faster in OTB blitz games.

The night before the final round of the 2018 US Championships.  Former lineman for the Baltimore Ravens and current PhD candidate at MIT John Urschel is getting an informal lesson from IM Eric Rosen.

More Hansen and Naka blitz.  This is the next night after the Championships are over.  Eric really likes to play Hikaru even though he knows that he’s mostly just “food” in these situations.  He is playing on his knees because he just really wants to play.  After a few games like this we found him a chair.

Funny story, if you look to the left of Eric’s glass you’ll see a xiangqi piece.  Two black pawns were missing so Yasser grabbed a couple of pieces out of the xiangqi set.  What makes it really funny is that later than night we learned that there were ten spare sets in one of the closets!

I am so grateful to the chess world for allowing me to have some of these experiences.

I’ve made so many friends and had a lot of fun over the years.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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The World Championship is Boring!

I have heard this argument from numerous chess fans over the years.  The current format of the world championship is “boring” because “everyone knows” that the players will just “play for draws.”

These discussions always devolve into some sort of “How can the players be made to play more interesting chess?” discussions.

Simultaneously with that there are discussions about women’s chess.  How “everyone knows” that “those games just aren’t as good” etc.

Ten days ago the Women’s world championship began in Shanghai.  I felt like I was one of maybe 1% of chess fans who knew this match was taking place or cared about it.

Then I see my friend Sabina tweet this.

And she’s absolutely right.  Because truth be told, the handful of discussions I have seen about this match have mostly been “box score” style tweets/posts/etc. pointing out the results of the most recent game.

Sadly, some of the discussions I have seen have focused solely on the ratings of the players, with one person saying that “This match is getting exactly the attention you would expect in a contest between the 399th and 732nd ranked players in the world.”

Here’s the problem with all of this…

First, this is a world championship.  Therefore, by definition it matters.

Next, if someone is going to complain that the World Championship match between Carlsen and Karjakin was boring because there were too many draws then perhaps they should open their eyes and look at this match.  In the seven games completed so far there have been two draws.  Two.

(above graphic from www.theweekinchess.com)

The quality of the games has been good.

Game One saw a long attempt at pressing an ending that fizzled out into a draw.

Game Two seen Ju sac a pawn for great initiative that she smashes through and converts.  I suspect that the pgn file for this game is wrong since 56…Rc1+ wins easily.  It’s hard to believe that Ju missed this and that Tan would then miss the draw after 57.Rxd1.

In Game Three Ju took a 2-0 lead in the match with an absolute crush.  Tan played 14…g5 which seems quite silly with the king in the center and no real way to bring pressure on White’s kingside.

Down two games, the World Champion strikes back.  After a relatively unambitious opening (some sort of Torre/Colle thing…don’t ask me, I’m not an openings expert!) Tan gets a little pressure building on the kingside when Ju overextends herself.  Tan first cracks open the kingside and then finishes the game off with a beautiful queen sac.

In the last game to the played in Shanghai (the match is split with the first five games in Shanghai and the final five in Chongqing) the champion decides to again attempt an unambitious opening (this time the Bishop’s Opening) but the challenger again moves her lead out to two points at 3-1 by first building up a strong center and then showing some excellent technique in converting it.

In the first game in Chongqing the champion again brings home the full point, this time in a 125 move marathon.  Pay attention to the beautiful idea with 26…c4.  I like how Tan gets rid of her own potential backwards c pawn target in a way that forces Ju to either cripple her own structure to “win” the pawn which she will likely lose back eventually and then be faced with a dangerous looking queenside majority or to play as she did and simply give back the pawn immediately.

Now Tan has left Ju without a target and at the same time forced her to air out her king a little bit.

After then winning a pawn and getting rooks off the board Tan shows why she’s a champion by patiently converting a queen ending.

Game Seven was a draw that never really got off the ground too much.  I would imagine the players were exhausted after the Game Six battle.

So there you have it.  A match which has been anything but boring that seems likely to conclude in a quite exciting finish!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

Dominguez to the USA?

Somewhere around a year or so ago I heard that top Cuban GM Leinier Dominguez was going to switch federations to the USA.

While I was hearing this from a very reliable source it seemed to be rather surreal.  After all, So had just switched to the USA a couple of years earlier  and Caruana had just come home a while after that.

Could we really be on the verge of landing another super GM?

As was pointed out to me, however “You’ll notice he’s not playing in any FIDE events.”  I realized that was true.

Part of switching federations is a two year absence from competing in FIDE events.  So no World Cup, Olympiad, Grand Prix, etc.

As I had been asked not to say anything I have been sitting on this news for some time.  However, just the other day Emil Sutovsky mentioned this in a post on Jacob Aagaard’s Facebook page.

So with the cat finding the entrance to the bag I suppose it’s time to say something.

What an exciting time this is for American chess.  If Dominguez is actually transferring and is able to complete his transfer in time then presumably the US could have five 2700 players on our Olympiad squad!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

 

Zviad is My Spirit Animal

For the last several days I haven’t posted.  That’s because I’ve been in St. Louis at the US Championships.

At one of the late night parties at the chess house I met Zviad Izoria, and let me tell you, he’s one of the funniest guys I’ve met in the chess world!  I was actually able to hang out with him on two separate nights and had an absolute blast both times.

A couple of classics from him:

“_____, if you’re mad, don’t hit ____, hit me.  Or better yet, hit Chris!”

Then, later that evening when he was leaving he said to me “It was a good day at the office, neither of us got punched!”

Meanwhile he made quite the sensation on the board as well.  He scored two wins in the event, one against Hikaru Nakamura, and one against newly minted world championship challenger Fabiano Caruana.

His win over Fabi came with the black bits in round four.  They were in a level endgame when Caruana blundered.  Zviad then converted with precision.

Three rounds later in his game against Hikaru he technically won on time as Naka flagged, but he had a won position over the board already.

So it looks like he had some good days at the office at the board as well!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

OMG Ding Liren!

I’m almost done with the main project I have been working on which has taken up so much of my time.

So in the next few days you can expect me to be back to training and posting on a much more regular basis.

I have some nice stuff to post, including what’s probably the best endgame I’ve ever played in my life – certainly in terms of devising a plan and using tactical means to pull it off.

In the meantime, if you haven’t heard about this, you will soon.  Ding Liren set the chess world on fire yesterday with his brilliant win in the Chinese League over Bai Jinshi.

Here’s video analysis of the game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Rounds 5-8 Isle of Aman

Sorry for the lack of updates here recently, but between Thursday playing and directing, Friday family stuff, and yesterday finishing an article for American Chess Magazine I wasn’t able to keep up as well as I would have liked to.

Round five saw Aman paired against Armenian GM Gabriel Sargissian.  Aman needed a win to realistically keep his hopes alive, but unfortunately the noted endgame player Sargissian ground him down in a more or less equal ending.

In round six Aman had Black vs. English IM David Eggleston.  Aman played his third different response to 1.e4 in this tournament, this time essaying the Sicilian Kan.

Once he secured a passed c pawn that was running to daylight Eggleston resigned.

Round Eight once again had Hambo paired against a tough GM, this time the Peruvian legend Julio Granda-Zuniga.

Long time readers of mine will know that I often cover Julio’s games since he was the first GM I ever met, way back in 1992 in my hometown in Midland, TX when he played in a small local event of ours since he was in town seeing a family friend.

After a maneuvering game in the Old Indian Aman unfortunately stepped in to a tactical shot and was soon put away by the Peruvian.

Right now Aman is playing his final round game against American IM Kostya Kavutskiy, which I will post later once the games are published.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Hambo the Hobo Manages the 1-0

Today in Round Five of the Isle of Man chess tournament Aman managed to win a nice grinding game.

The above photo was shared on the chessbrahTV Twitter account, so it would appear to be one of the lads poking fun at Hambo.  It also happens to be hilarious!

Aman quickly gained a protected passed pawn, but it didn’t seem likely that he would ever be able to get it moved.  A clinic on maneuvering then ensued as the pieces were shuffled until Hambleton was able to sac on e5 on his 98th move!  From that point on it was a fairly one sided affair.

Tomorrow Aman is matched up against Armenian Gabriel Sargissian, who suffered a defeat at the hands of Hikaru Nakamura today and will likely be out for a little revenge.

This will be a good test for Aman who needs pairings like that for the rest of the tournament.

Here is the game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Round Four Karavade-Hambleton 1/2-1/2

In playing through this game earlier, one thing that struck me the most is that so many casual fans seem to complain that chess is nothing but draws.

On pretty much any active chess forum you’ll see posts decrying that “draw death” is upon us.  If you dig in to those threads you’ll see a pattern emerge where there are always a handful (typically a rather small handful) of folks who try to explain that not all draws are created equal.

There is quite a difference between the peaceful handshake on move 15 while still in theory because no one felt like taking any risks and a fighting draw that is played out until there is nothing left to attempt.

This game certainly qualifies as the latter.

Early on Aman sacks an exchange on his fourteenth move for full comp in the form of shattering White’s structure while gaining a beautiful outpost on f5 for his knight.

Then on move 30 White returns the exchange to fix his structural deficiencies and going up a pawn.  However, there are bishops of opposite color, and once the heavies are off the board Aman is easily able to hold the draw in spite of losing a second pawn.

Here is the game:

While there is no actual way to tell what score would be needed for a norm in any kind of open event such as this, it’s a good bet that the fewest amount of points Aman would need in his final five games would be 4.5, which would leave him on a score of 6.5/9.

Assuming his pairings get progressively stronger as he wins that still gives him a shot.

Of course the pairings may not work out and so he could score the 4.5 and it might not be enough.

Time will tell.  Let’s hope that great form takes hold and we all get to find out.

Tomorrow Hambo faces untitled Indian player V. Pranav with the White bits.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Victory at the Isle of Aman!

Today in the third round at the chess.com Isle of Man Masters Hambo managed to get into the victory column with a nice win over legendary American author IM John Watson.

Playing in a style that would make Lev Aronian proud Aman got something going on the kingside with h4-h5 and soon Watson gave up his queen for a rook, bishop, and two pawns.  However, the tender squares around his king soon saw Watson forced to give up a rook so he resigned.

Here is the game:

Tomorrow Aman is matched up against Indian IM Eesha Karavade, about whom I know nothing.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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