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What is the point?

They arrange a 4-game-match between Grischuk (2761) und Yu (2753) with a price guarantee of 20.000 USD for the winner and 10.000 USD for the loser, fly Grischuk all the way to China, and then we see draws like this one:

If both players want to go to the tie-break anyways, why not simply start with it? You could even skip the rest day.

Nice try

What to do when you are facing a Drawmeister? Kramnik took a risk and deviated, but in the end there was no escape. That’s the reason why Carlsen plays sidelines and gives his opponent something like 0.20 pawn-units for free in order to get a live position.

Don’t bet on chess

When a Drawmeister meets a guy, who seems to believe that playing for a win against opponents of similar strength is pointless, everyone would expect a short game. It was a short game, but a decisive one.

I don’t know what happened to Svidler and I certainly can neither explain the sequence of bishop moves from f5 to e6 to d7 before trading it off anyways nor the reason behind putting pawns on g6 and e6. When Svidler lost without a fight in the past, it was usually against Kramnik, here it came as a total surprise.

Work-Life Balance

When you are +2 after 3 rounds, it’s time to take a few days off.

Geneva FIDE Grand Prix

After three rounds Radjabov has already won two games, which is surprising. Svidler on the other hand has already offered two draws after 20 moves, which reminds me of chopping the pot in Poker.

Grand Chess Tour Recap

Can’t expect much from rapid and blitz events, but at least we got something. If you hate decisive results, this isn’t your format.

Integrity, rivalry or both

Today we not only saw an incredibly well prepared novelty, we also saw a fight. It would have been so easy for the americans to pull off a page out of the old russian playbook and make Naka win the tournament. Instead they played it out and Naka came up short. If you assign money value to opening novelities, then Caruana spend quite a lot of cash in order to crush Naka’s dreams.

Evaluating Space and Time

This one is a tough pill to swallow for Big Vlad, because he didn’t make any big mistakes. When we count the material after move 36, then black is a pawn up. If we switch on the engine though, then black is a pawn down. This means that the white king on c5 is basically worth two pawns and it got there more or less by force. At that moment it wasn’t just a case of evaluating space and time anymore, white simply has an extra piece on the queenside. So what does this come down to? It looks like black lost too much time along the way.

The Champ goes down again

Another masterpiece in the Italian by Kramnik. Same story: Magnus could have defended, but he missed an only move.

By the way, I predict Naka to win the tournament. Two rounds to go and two fellow countrymen to play, reminds me of the good old days.

The Champ got knocked out in the 4th Round

So far there was nothing to write about on the Tournament in Norway, simply because the guys were playing actual chess. No forced-draw-comedy like in the past, where grown up men compared their computer analysis. Maybe it makes a difference that the usual targets Topalov, Hammer and Van Wely are missing. Anyways, the great Magnus took one to the chin last night and this has to be mentioned.

What happened? Aronjan comes up with a novelty on move 10, but since Stockfish ranks it first in the list of candidates, MC was definitely aware of it. Bc2 doesn’t even threaten anything, it’s just the move with the highest evaluation in the position. MC answers with Rd8 which Stockfish gives 6th on the list, so one could assume that Aronjan didn’t bother much with this choice in his preparation, yet he comes up with a brilliant exchange sacrifice, that the engine ignores completely. The resulting position is highly complex, but filling pages with pointless engine analysis is not the subject of this article. What followed in the game was just insane: MC allowed Aronjan to sac on h7, leading to a long forced sequence ending with unbalanced material. This could have been a miracle escape, but he missed an only move and that was it. In the end the lefthander beat the guy with Asperger symptoms, so at least that is somewhat normal.

The interesting question for the average non-genius like you and me is: How can one calculate the tactical sequence starting with 17. Bxh7 ending 12 moves later, netting four pawns for the piece? Well, you either can play blindfold or you can’t. If you can’t play blindfold your brain creates something like a hashtable where the actual position of the pieces gets stored. You kinda “know” where the pieces are, but it’s very tough to connect the pieces with their abilities, at least that is how it works for me. If you can play blindfold like these guys on the other hand, you can simply “see” a crystal clear picture of the diagram. That makes it much easier to find the best move, because it’s always a one-move-problem. While finding the best positional move is still difficult, forced sequences are a piece of cake.

What else do we take home from this game? It was certainly the clash of titans, that everyone was hoping for. Lev presents a very different type of challenge to MC than Wesley does. While So has a purely pragmatic approach, Aronjan is trying to show his class.