Medvedev, Ilyumzhinov congratulate Karpov

12th World Chess Champion turns 60

Karpov Valjevo

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev congratulated to the chess legend Anatoly Karpov his 60-year birthday.

In his telegram the President said: “Millions of people in our country and beyond know you as an outstanding chess player. Thanks to the talent and dedication you have won the prestigious title of the world champion and countless international tournaments. Today you devote a lot of effort and time to the promotion of chess and to the training of young sportsmen, by opening chess schools in the Russian cities. Wishing You prosperity and continued success.”

Anatoly Karpov was born on May 23, 1951 in Zlatoust, Chelyabinsk region. Karpov will celebrate his birthday in St. Petersburg and in Italy.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov also sent an appropriate letter:

Dear Anatoly Yevgenyevich!

Today you are celebrating your 60th anniversary. On this wonderful day the leadership of FIDE sincerely and heartily congratulates you and wishes you success in your work and in the realization of sports and social programmes aimed at the development and promotion of professional and amateur chess.

Anna Zatonskih Wins 4th U.S. Women’s Championship

U.S. Chess Championships report by FM Mike Klein

SL logo

After two weeks of almost non-stop playing, IM Anna Zatonskih needed a few more hours to win the 2011 U.S. Women’s Championship. She won her first rapid game as Black on Thursday against WFM Tatev Abrahamyan. Zatonskih seemed to be able to cruise to the title, but in the next round she spoiled a better position and lost. The two had to play a deciding Armageddon match that Zatonskih drew to give her the title. She had draw odds by virtue of playing Black and with less time.

“I don’t have enough energy to celebrate,” Zatonskih said. She slid down into a chair in relief.

The final game saw Zatonskih aim for an opposite-colored bishop endgame. Her control of the light squares stifled any chances for Abrahamyan to advance any pawns to make progress. After admitting that progress was impossible, a reluctant Abrahmyan looked up and signaled that she would concede the draw. Zatonskih immediately agreed, which gave her a fourth championship in six years.

Prior to the game’s commencement, Zatonskih entered a secret bid of 19 minutes, 55 seconds. When Abrahamyan’s bid of 24 minutes, 28 seconds was revealed, it meant that Zatonskih’s lower time would give her a time handicap but the advantage of only needing a draw to win. Abrahamyan started with 45 minutes but took the White pieces. She chose to repeat her opening from the first rapid game.

In that first game, Abrahamyan sacrificed an exchange early but got good pressure. Zatonskih gave the material back and entered an endgame with an extra pawn but without an obvious breakthrough. On her 58th move with only seconds left for both women, Abrahamyan slid her king out of check to the left, allowing Zatonskih’s bishop to attack from behind. Abrahamyan resigned a few moves later.

In their second rapid game, Zatonskih needed only a draw as White to avoid an Armageddon match and with the title outright. Instead, she squandered her space advantage and entered an endgame, this time down a pawn. Abrahamyan eventually found shelter for her king and promoted a pawn to a second queen, which she sacrificed for a forced checkmate. The match then stood at 1-1, requiring the Armageddon match.

Anna Zatonskih square

Anna Zatonskih

Including the tiebreak and playoff matches, Zatonskih played 19 games of chess over a two-week period. This marks her fourth U.S. Women’s Championship title and second since 2009 when the U.S. Women’s Championship was first hosted in St. Louis.

Official website / Round 1 report / Round 2 report / Round 3 report / Round 4 report / Videos

Round 5 report / Round 6 report / Round 7 report / Tiebreaks

Semifinals game 1 / Semifinals game 2 / Semifinal tiebreaks / Finals game 1 / Finals game 2

Games with computer analysis

Interview with the 2011 U.S. Women’s Champion

Luke McShane – Henrik Danielsen (video)

Analysis of the final round match from Reykjavik

In a very instructive video, GM Henrik Danielsen self-analyses his game from the last round of Reykjavik open against Luke McShane. “It is very important to learn from your own mistakes,” comments GM Danielsen, while commenting on the opening, middle game strategy, and the endgame tricks and tactics.

GM Danielsen pays special attention to the mistakes, categorizing them into inaccuracies, mistakes, and blunders.

The video is in 4 parts, each focusing on different moment of the game and looking at examples from Karpov and other strong Grandmasters who have played the line.

Click here for all episodes by GM Henrik Danielsen

Luke McShane – Henrik Danielsen (part 1 – opening)

Luke McShane – Henrik Danielsen (part 2 – opening and middle game possibilities)

Luke McShane – Henrik Danielsen (part 3 – position after f6)

Luke McShane – Henrik Danielsen (part 4 – the solid lines)

Levon Aronian starts preparing for Candidates Matches 2011

Aronian to meet Grischuk in the first match

Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian, currently one of the 3 players above 2800 rating, has started active preparation for the Candidate Matches 2011. According to information of Armchess.am, Aronian began his main trainings in Tsakhkadzor. Among the coaches of the 2800 player are GMs Gabriel Sargissian, Arman Pashikian, Hrant Melkumyan, Ashot Nadanian, Chinese GM Wang Hao. After Aeroflot Chess 2011 they will be joined by GM Sergei Movsesian. The training will last the whole month of February.

The first opponent of Aronian for the Candidates Matches 2011 is Alexander Grischuk. The Russian player has just completed his participation at Tata Steel Chess. He entered the matches after the refusal of Magnus Carlsen to participate in the World Championship 2012 cycle.

The winner of the match Aronian – Grischuk will meet the winner of Vladimir Kramnik – Teimour Radjabov.

All pairings for the Candidates Matches here.

The winner of the Candidates Matches will play World Chess Championship match against Viswanathan Anand in 2012.

Aronian – Grischuk

Video from the recent World Blitz Championship in Moscow.

Happy Birthday Mequinho!

The legendary Brazilian Grandmaster turns 59

The football, as we know it nowadays, was invented in England, in 1848. However, its mastery hasn’t taken too long to spread all over the world and, nowadays, there are good players either in Europe or in the other continents, especially in South America.

With chess, though, the situation was not alike: invented in the East, the history of this fascinating sport of the boards shows a dominance of European and Asian countries, especially in the Era of the geniuses from USSR, from Alexander Alekhine to Boris Spassky.

Remarkable names of chess from the Western side are just a few, compared to the others. Between them, we could mention Paul Morphy (USA), José Raul Capablanca (CUB) and Bobby Fischer (USA). There is also a name which, curiously, comes from a country where the main sport is football: Henrique Costa Mecking (born 23rd January 1952), the Brazilian genius better known as Mequinho.

This week Henrique Mecking was interviewed for the Rádio Xadrez’s podcast – a Brazilian blog with interviews, among them one with WGM Natalia Pogonina – and told a little bit about his career and his future plans.

Mecking 1

Veja magazine 1973

Pelé of the chessboards

South-American, the first youngest International Master in history (at 15, in 1967) and a strong player in the 1970′s, Mecking has never been a world champion, but has had such a good performance that he occupied the third place in FIDE world rankings – only behind the world champion and the vice world champion at the time, Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi, respectively.

He was so popular that, in his country, he was compared to Pelé (in soccer) and Emerson Fittipaldi (in the F1). Also, he had his face on the covers of many magazines and newspapers, like Veja magazine, one of the most popular in Brazil. His reputation was such that his name turned into song lyrics, composed by the rock singer Raul Seixas and the writer Paulo Coelho. He even had the governor’s support at the time, who always met him after his triumphs in the tournaments.

Mecking won the Interzonal Tournament twice, earning the seats in the World Championship cycle, in Petropolis 1973 (Brazil) and Manilla 1976 (Philippines), ahead of names such are Boris Spassky, Vassily Smyslov, Efim Geller, Lajos Portisch, Lev Polugaevsky, Vlastimil Hort and David Bronstein.

His matches against Soviet players excited the world so much, that even after 30 years have passed, on an opportunity to meet him in Netherlands 2009, players of the caliber of Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR), Levon Aronian (ARM) and David Navara (CZE) commented on his famous matches against Korchnoi (Augusta 1974) and Polugaevsky (Luzern 1977). “I grew up studying his games”, Ivanchuk said at that time.

The Next Fischer

When Mecking was at his peak, Bobby Fischer had already quit and some had even said that Mequinho was the “next Fischer”. Against the North-American he played twice: a draw, when he was only an International Master, and a loss. They were supposed to play a match, in Argentina, but negotiations failed and the encounter never happened. “I went to the hotel where Fischer was every day, but, I can’t explain why, we never finished the negotiations for the match to take place”, Mecking once said.

Mecking 3

During the interview with Rádio Xadrez

The defeat for the disease

At the beginning of Rio de Janeiro’s Interzonal in 1979, in which Mecking had high hopes for the third straight victory in Interzonals, he followed medical advice and left the tournament after the 2nd round. It was then that, like Fischer, Mecking suddenly disappeared, succumbing to a mysterious disease called myasthenia gravis – which affects the nervous system and muscles.

It seemed the end, his disease was incurable and he withdrew from the chess board to fight for life. Even the doctors did not believe in his cure, but he managed do recover, attributing his healing to the faith, which led him to convert himself to the Catholic religion. Over the next 12 years, he left chess aside, majored in theology and Catholic philosophy and practiced his faith fervently.

When everyone thought his chess career was over, in a surprising move, he announced his return. He played matches against Grandmasters Predrag Nikolic and Yasser Seirawan, which he lost by a score of 3.5 to 2.5 – 5 draws and one defeat – and also against the strongest players in Brazil nowadays, GM Giovanni Vescovi (one victory, two defeats and three draws) and GM Alexander Fier (1 win, 1 loss and 2 draws), and played several other tournaments. He had a difficult and slow comeback, as might be expected of any athlete after more than 10 years of inactivity.

The return to the elite

After his return in 1991, he has represented Brazil in two Chess Olympiads (2002 and 2004), won the 2nd Festival of Lodi, Italy (2006), was Brazilian champion of blitz chess on the Internet (2008) and played the popular Corus Tournament in Holland (2009) – in this occasion, he won his match with the Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran, who had 2711-ELO at the time. He also participated in other international competitions in Romania and Argentina (2001), where he drew one more time against his former rival Viktor Korchnoi, and with the top-GMs Nigel Short (ENG) and Judit Polgar (HUN).

Still, he hardly plays as much he could, missing the events like the Chess Olympiad and the Brazilian Championship, of which he has only two titles, won the only two times he played. The Brazilian top-winner, GM Giovanni Vescovi, for example, holds seven titles.

Mequinho used to play on the Internet Chess Club (ICC), with the nickname Lorenzo – the name of a Catholic saint, of whom he is a devotee – being the top-ranked for more than 10 times. Mecking, however, avoided commenting on this subject.

Mecking 2

Mecking at the Memorial Antonio Rocha 2011

For one of the most experienced chess players from Brazil and six-time national champion, GM Gilberto Milos Jr, Mecking is the best player of the late Brazilian history. When he was interviewed by Rádio Xadrez, Milos said: “He plays the endings very well, I cannot say for what reason. He plays well not due to his coming from another generation, but due to a natural quality he possesses, as today [GM Levon] Aronian is the best endings player in the World, and represents the young generation”.

Today, with an obsessive belief in the case and facing the disbelief of the majority, Mecking says he will return to the top of the world, where today are Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Vishy Anand and Veselin Topalov, to name a few. Mecking bets that his return to the top elite of the chess world will be “a gift from God” and divides his time between praying and chess studying, to achieve the ultimate goal. He also promotes lectures and simultaneous exhibitions, of which he is proud to be undefeated for over 30 years.

From 13 to 25 January 2011, Mequinho will have a new chance to show that his faith is right: he will take part in the very strong Memorial Antonio Rocha 2011, in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil, which will have the participation of GMs Giovanni Vescovi and Rafael Leitão, from Brazil, in addition to the GMs Sandro Mareco (ARG), Diego Flores (ARG), Andres Rodriguez (URU), Oswaldo Zambrana (BOL) and other good players, totaling 14 participants. We shall wait and see if there really will be a miracle.

Article written by Tiago Santos and translated by Leandro Salles. Read the interview with Henrique Mecking

Tata Steel Chess first challenge for Anand this year

2011 starts with the ex Corus Wijk Aan Zee

Anand square

Report by PTI

World Champion Viswanathan Anand of India is all set to take on a tough star—studded field in the 73rd edition of Tata Steel chess tournament that gets underway here.

World number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway starts as the top seed in a field that boasts of a 2740 average rating hitting category 20 according to FIDE’s ELO charts.

Formerly known as the Corus chess tournament, the tournament from this year will be named after Indian Steel giants Tatas following the takeover of Corus by them.

Anand will have his task cut out in the 14—players round robin tournament.

The World Champion will look forward to regain the number one ranking for which he needs to better Carlsen and third seed Levon Aronian of Armenia who recently became the fifth player in history to join the 2800 rating club.

Vladimir Kramnik is the other big name in the fray, besides Alexander Grischuk of Russia and former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine.

Young guns like Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier—Lagrave and Russian champion Ian Nepomniachtchi will also be eying some of the top stars, while the cynosure of all eyes will be young talent Anish Giri who will take on a world class field.

Brought up in Japan and Russia, Anish Giri is of Nepalese origin. Just a couple of years back his father got a job in Holland and since then there has been no looking back.

Anish got his Grandmaster title in the same tournament in 2009 and won the ‘B’ group in 2010 to qualify for the premier event this year.

Anand had a decent result and ordinarily he was a co—winner in the London Classic last month as he had the same score as Carlsen. However, with the soccer—like scoring system in place there, Anand could not match Carlsen’s score even though both had effectively scored 4.5 points each.

Carlsen, who had won four games, drawn one and lost two got 13 points while Anand, with two wins and five draws got 11 points.

Here, the Classical points system will be in place again, which means that a person winning more games does not get any real advantage. In fact, Carlsen will be under pressure as despite his ability to win many games, he is also prone to losing some.

The 13—rounds will be played under Classical time control of 40 moves in 100 minutes followed by 20 moves in 50 minutes and 15 minutes for the remaining game. There will be a 30 seconds increment from move one.

Like always, there will be other Grandmaster groups as well. In the strong ‘B’ group Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly will be the lone Indian challenge while in the ‘C’ group Tania Sachdev will make her debut in Wijk Aan Zee, a hamlet known for a long tradition of chess tournaments of highest standards.

Participants Group “A”: Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 2814); Viswanathan Anand (Ind, 2810); Levon Aronian (Arm, 2805); GM Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 2784); Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 2773); Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2751); Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr, 2744); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 2733); Wang Hao (Chn, 2731); Alexei Shirov (Esp, 2722); Maxime Vachier—Lagrave (Fra, 2715); Anish Giri (Ned, 2686); Jan Smeets (Ned, 2662); Erwin l’Ami (Ned, 2628).

Original article

Wijk Aan Zee 2011 becomes Tata Steel

International media one day before the start of Tata Steel Wijk Aan Zee

Aronian

Levon Aronian participation rises interest in Armenia

Armenia’s Levon Aronian will participate in the traditional Corus Chess Tournament in Wijk Aan Zee due January 14-30. Starting this year the competition is renamed to Tata Steel Chess.

Tata Steel Group A consists of GM Magnus Carlsen (NOR 2814), GM Viswanathan Anand (IND 2810), GM Levon Aronian (ARM 2805), GM Vladimir Kramnik (RUS 2784), GM Alexander Grischuk (RUS 2773), GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA 2751), GM Ruslan Ponomariov (UKR 2744), GM Wang Hao (CHN 2731), GM Alexey Shirov (ESP 2722), GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA 2721), GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS 2715), GM Anish Giri (NED 2686), GM Jan Smeets (NED 2662), GM Erwin l’Ami (NED 2628).

Original article

Ian Nepomniachtchi square

Ian Nepomniachtchi is the pride of Briansk

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, participant in the Tata Steel A group, is the pride of the Briansk region is Russia. The region will be closely following the performance of the young GM, especially in comparison to the other two Russian participants in group A – Vladimir Kramnik and Alexander Grischuk.

Original article

Corus Chess 2011 is
Tata Steel /
Tata Steel 2011 /
Tata Steel B 2011 /
Tata Steel C 2011

wesley so

Wesley So in Tata Steel again

Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So will return to 64-square board action as the much-awaited Tata Steel Chess, formerly known as “Corus International Chess”, gets underway January 14 to 31 at the De Moriaan Community Centre in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands.

“I hope to earn ELO rating points,” said So, world’s junior rank No. 3 with an ELO FIDE rating of 2673, about The Netherlands chess tournament.

So, ranked No. 64 chess player in the world, according to the January 1 (World Chess Federation) FIDE quarterly ratings, will compete in the much-stronger category-17 Group B where the average rating is ELO 2657.

“I know most of the players in Group B. They are all good and talented,” added So, who topped Group C two years ago with a 13-round total of 9.5 points on 7 wins, 5 draws and 1 loss.

Long-time chess patron Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr., main backer of So, also the president and chairman of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines said he is very confident that his ward will perform well in this tough annual event.

So is seeded 7th this year in the 14-player field where GM David Navara (CZE/2722), GM Laurant Fressinet (FRA/2718), GM Radek Wojtaszek (POL/2711) are the top participants.

Original article / Full preview of Tata Steel B

Anish Giri in Tata Steel

Chess Grandmaster Anish Giri (16 years) played Sunday in Ede a simul against 33 strong players from the region. No game was lost, and only two ended in a draw. Those two draws were held by two young players from Veenendaal: Joost Offringa and Stefan Bekker.

Giri, from St. Petersburg, lives in the Netherlands, and is already among the best masters of the world. He will play in Wijk aan Zee Chess Tournament at Tata Steel, formerly Hoogovens Corus, against the world’s best chess Carlsen, Anand and Kramnik.

Original article

Humpy, Harika ambitious in 2011

Top Indian women players about the plans for this year

Chess queens Dronavalli Harika and Koneru Humpy may not have had a great year in 2010 as they failed to bag gold in the tournaments but the new year is enough motivation to start afresh. Harika had to settle for bronze in the Asian Games at Guangzhou. World No.2 Humpy too crashed out of the World Women’s chess championship in the semifinal stage. Her ELO rating too took a dip as Humpy, rated 2614 in January last, ended the year on 2607. Humpy is keen to turn her ratings around in 2011.

“Frankly speaking, the last year had not been a good one for me. I started off well finishing second in Gibraltar. Thereafter, I participated in the Nalchik Women’s Grand Prix where I was fifth, followed by the Women’s World Blitz Chess Championship in Moscow in September,” said Humpy.

“Winning bronze in the Asian Games individual event was great but I am disappointed about having missed a medal in the team event,” said the 19-year-old Dronavalli Harika, adding, “In the Women’s World Championship too, I missed the semifinal berth after losing in the tie-breaker round.” The International Master also gained two norms after a stupendous show at International open tournaments in Reykjavik (Iceland) and Greece.

Read the full article

Nalchik GP Humpy Koneru 1

Koneru Humpy

Harika Dronavalli

Dronavalli Harika

Parimarjan Negi – My aim is much higher for next year

Negi aims to break into 2650 on FIDE rating – The Times of India

Parimanjan Negi

After ending an otherwise disappointing year on a high by winning the National Chess Championship in his third attempt, India’s youngest Arjuna Awardee Parimarjan Negi now aims to break into the 2650 bracket on the FIDE rating list next year.

The 17-year-old Delhi boy went through a rough patch this year, losing titles in Dubai, Poland and at the Commonwealth Championships after being in the lead, but with the national title triumph, Negi became the first Indian qualifier for next year’s World Cup, to be held at Khanty Mansisyk in Russia.

Currently ranked around 2620 in the FIDE rating, Negi not only won his maiden national title, which had been eluding him since 2007, but also became the first player from the city to clinch the top honour.

“Finding form after a rather disappointing 2010, it obviously feels nice. I was playing better towards the end (of the year) and that helped me win my first national title. This win is satisfying given the fact that I lost titles at major international events throughout the year.”

“But my aim is much higher for next year. First of all I want to break into the 2650 bracket on the rating list and then look forward to the World Junior Championship and World Cup at the end,” Negi said in an interview.

Read more: Negi aims to break into 2650 on FIDE rating – The Times of India

Ian Nepomniachtchi is Russian Chess Champion

After the exciting Armageddon finale versus Sergey Karjakin

The 63rd Russian Superfinal Championship was played from 11th to 22nd December at the Central Chess Club in Moscow. 12 players competed in the round robin tournament, with the 2009 champion Alexander Grischuk being the top seed.

Sergey Karjakin, playing in his first Russian championship after becoming the citizen, and European champion Ian Nepomniachtchi, both being born in 1990, dictated the tempo throughout the tournament.

Karjakin entered the final round with a half point advantage ahead of Nepomniachtchi, but he lost with black pieces to Vladimir Malakhov, and all other games being drawn, the two youngsters shared the first place with 7.0 points each.

According to the regulations, a rapid tiebreak match was to determinate the single winner and a new champion. After both rapid games were drawn, an Armageddon game was set. Karjakin played white and needed a victory, while Nepomniachtchi had the draw odds.

It started bad for Nepomniachtchi, already in the opening he forfeited an exchange and his position looked completely lost. But he defended persistently and later found a cute combination to transform into a K+R vs K+B endgame, without pawns. As a real sportsmen, Karjakin didn’t try to flag his opponent and agreed to a draw, thus handing the title to Nepomniachtchi.

Ian Nepomniachtchi 4

Ian Nepomniachtchi

sergey-karjakin

Sergey Karjakin

Final standings:

1-2. Sergey Karjakin 2760 and Ian Nepomniachtchi 2720 – 7.0

3-4. Alexander Grischuk 2771 and Peter Svidler 2722 – 6.5

5-6. Nikita Vitiugov 2709 and Vladimir Malakhov 2712 – 5.5

7-10. Evgeny Tomashevsky 2699, Igor Kurnosov 2676, Vladimir Potkin 2646 and Dmitry Jakovenko 2726 – 5.0

11-12. Vadim Zvjaginsev 2676 and Denis Khismatullin 2659 – 4.0

Official website