Reading between the lines

Sometimes games are interesting not because of what has been played, but because of what hasn’t been played. In this brand new Dragon-encounter the frenchman with two names, chose a move-order against Naka that avoids both, the Chinese Dragon and the Topalov Variation. That wouldn’t be anything special if it had not come at a price. White can’t go for the the official refutation of the Dragon 12. Kb1 anymore. What does MVL tell us? Either the Chinese Dragon or the Topalov Variation is safe to play (or both)!

Grand Prix for Depressnyak

Some people believe that blitz is the true test of talent. If that is the case, then the following game proves that Grischuk is very talented. First he comes up with a positional piece sacrifice and then he finds a very unique mating pattern. This was one of these jaw-dropping moments. WOW! Imagine how MVL must have felt after this hit.

After the match someone mentioned that this was all known up to 13. Bxe7. If this is true, it could have been preparation, because Grischuk simply plays like an engine from there. The whole line is a forced draw if black finds 17…Rd7, which also suits his freeroll-style.

Another line bites the dust

The Nakamura-Variation of the Classical French is the playground for computer based Drawmeisters. The evaluation 0.00 is just too tempting, even if the position looks as ugly as this one. The risk of playing such lines is that you can make your first own move in a lost position and that is exactly what happened here.


Today a french Drawmeister shows how to deal with a former world championship candidate. Well done 🙂

Clash of Titans

Congratulations for winning the tournament.

Here we go again

I assume that everyone remembers Hou Yifan getting paired with one female player after the other in Gibraltar. Well, guess what happened in the Isle of Man Tournament so far! In the first round she was paired with Alexandra Kosteniuk and in the second her opponent was Elisabeth Pähtz. That’s some weird coincidence, isn’t it? The chances that the tournament software doesn’t contain a hidden bias, or that someone isn’t trying to rub it in, are very small.

Update: 3rd round – third female opponent! Come on, WTF is that?
Update: 4th round – fourth female opponent 😉
Update: 5th round – no pairing! Apparently she took a bye.
Update: 6th round – finally a male opponent (Elo 2481)!

Let’s not forget that Hou Yifan (ranked 75th in the world) gets lots of recognition and many invitations, that higher ranked men don’t get, because women are supposed to be equal to men in chess playing strength. In other words, she profits a lot from theoretical equality. Since she gets paired with equal opponents, she shouldn’t be upset.

P.S.: Here is a report on the previous incident. It shows that there is a way to create such pairings while staying within the boundaries of the system, hence the perfect crime so to speak.


The following tie-breaker was very strange. MVL played the game like he was in a must win situation, when it was the other way around. He created fire on the board and got burned. On the other hand, this was the last chance for Aronian to qualify, so he should thank his opponent for his valiant effort.


Source: Youtube

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.

Play it safe!