FIDE World Cup

This is a knockout-event, so forced draws are unlikely to occur. The situation only comes up when a weaker player has the white pieces in the first game, but then the higher rated player is likely to play something offbeat, and it comes up when someone wins the first game with black, but then again his opponent will usually try to muddy the water in a must win situation.

This is the only game that was already known from start to finish:

Note: Andreikin got eliminated after 6 rapid games.

Garry and Harry

When Kasparov pushed Harry the h-pawn against Aronjan in the Qc2-Nimzo it came as a surprise, but since then he has repeated it twice, scoring 75%. So what is the big idea behind it and does the put Kramnik’s pet line under pressure?

The big idea behind pushing Harry is to develop the rook which is usually out of play in this structure for a long time. If white manages to create enough threats to force the exchange of queens, then his king is rather safe in the center and his two bishops should tell in the long run. Anand demonstrated the engine-equalizer, so black is ok. Nevertheless, Garry’s concept should be good enough for a freeroll.

On a sidenote: Kasparov did pretty well on the last day. My feeling is that age wasn’t the biggest factor in his performance, it was the fear of damaging his legacy. Once he got past that, he started producing positive results again.

Can’t blame Kasparov for lack of creativity

In the first game Garry comes up with a strange novelty in a well known standard position. Pushing Harry almost feels like a pass-move, yet after some natural moves Aronjan ended up in a clearly worse position. What happened then is typical for the whole tournament, Garry loses to some miraculous escape.

In the second game Garry sacrifices a lot of material to create fire on the board. Navara resisted the temptation to go for an attack with g6 and h5, like in Tal-Koblencs, Riga 1957. Instead he just gave back the material to create a static position. Once again all the creativity didn’t pay off for Garry.

Last but not least, this sort of half-joke should also be mentioned.

Si tacuisse…

Things aren’t going as planned for Kasparov. He keeps getting good positions, but his hands are shaking. He thought he would mate Navara but blundered a simple tactic and he allowed his king to be cut from the 5th rank by Caruana.

Gazza 4.0

Kasparov is back! What is his approach? His approach is to play it safe. In the first game we saw the Qc2-Nimzo, where black has easy equality. In the second game he chose the Grünfeld, which is at least an invitation to a forced draw and in the third game he played strip-chess and took everything off.

Berlin Endgame

While it may have looked like a brilliant concept by MVL in the Berlin, it was actually a novelty by Karjakin that led to this forced draw in the endgame where white has to be precise in order to hold.

Recent Draws in the Italian with a4

This shows how fast modern theory develops. Two days later they all come up with the same antidote: b7-b5! This works after white has castled, because taking twice on b5 can be answered with Bxf2+.

Recent wins in the Italian with a4

This line causes trouble for black, because neither the Berlin nor the Marshall Attack work against it. Note: After 13. Bc2, it’s pretty much a Ruy Lopez with a black bishop on a7 and the queenside restricted.

Hou is on first

This game is somewhat typical, because Moro is the favorite and supposed to play for a win. Hou plays a sideline, which seems to provide him with the opportunity, but things didn’t work out in the end. The piece sacrifice is actually the move with the highest engine evaluation, but the whole concept looks dubious to me. Black can defend with the same amount of pieces that white can attack with and I don’t see him grabbing two more pawns in order to restore material equality. Well, at least he managed to grab one.

Update: She also beat big guns like Navara and Bacrot to win the tournament. Nice!

No more soft playing

Play it safe!