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Game of the Year

The best game of the year was played yesterday by Fabiano Caruana. I am not adding any computer lines, just let sink.

Time for another focus

Over the last year I covered a lot of games by the german child prodigy Vincent Keymer, but I think we can safely forget about him. On an international level the kid is clearly going nowhere.

Firouza on the other hand is a rising superstar who will challenge Carlsen very soon. I am not judging this by result, but by his games. Just look at this: Both sides end up with outside passed pawns, except the white one is a bit more outside. That’s it!

These positions are won:

This is position is a draw:

Oh boy…

The tournament has just started, but for the kids it’s already a rollercoaster of emotions.

Firouzja blew an advantage against Duda, beat Artemiev like a child and lost to So’s two bishops. Shit happens, but he is still +1.
Extremely lucky on the other hand was Keymer who basically did the Houdini twice in order to stay at -1, which should have been -3.

After such a game every coach in the world will tell his kids to never resign. You can’t save a game by resignation after all. On the other hand, how many years of your life are you wasting defending lost positions in the hope for one such terrible blunder?

Child prodigies

This year in Wijk aan Zee two youngers steal the show, at least for me. Who cares about Carlsen and Caruana if you can watch Firouzja and Keymer battle it out? Let’s start with Keymer.

So what was the issue? He plays variations that are supposed to be good in theory, but he has no clue how to handle them in practice. He is weak tactically, but his positional play is even worse. I don’t want to be in Leko’s shoes, because he has to prepare a penalty without goalkeeper for the kid in order to score a full point.

In the meantime Firouzja’s opponent mixes up the move-order.

Carlsen on the Tarrasch

Every year Carlsen prepares a surprise for the Rapid&Blitz World Championship. This year it’s the Tarrasch. Apparently he argues that playing the Panow-Attack a tempo down is sufficient for equality. The plan looks pretty simple: Protect the pawn on c6 with Bd7 and hammer away on the kingside with h5. Very alphazeroish.

But was it really a surprise? The amazing Mr. Dubov has played it four times in 2019, twice at the FIDE Grand Prix!

Update: Apparently I was somewhat behind on this development, because L’Ami even made a video course on it. Sorry, can’t follow everything. The pure Tarrasch hasn’t been in my scope of interest.

And here is the last word on this variation (for now):

Lc0 on the Caro Kann

That is what Leela considers to be best against the Caro Kann.

The funny thing is that they don’t even bother to play classical chess anymore. Playing for 6 hours is probably too much effort.

More on Match Strategy

An interesting case occured at the Jerusalem Grand Prix: Karjakin started with black in the first game and advanced to the next round by simply drawing everything.

Apparently both players decided to skip the classical games and go straight for the tie-break.

Now it becomes more interesting. Two rapid games 25+10:

It’s getting hotter. Two rapid games 10+10:

It’s hot. Two blitz games 5+3:

It’s boiling! Armageddon!!

The rules say “If the score is tied, then there is an Armageddon game”, but they don’t say if there is a coinflip or something to decide who can choose the colors. In the live coverage Miro talked about the drawing of lots, so there was a random event. That tells us that Karjakin got flat out lucky and converted his advantage.

Kramnik on no-castling-chess

Apparently Kramnik – after he retired from chess – came back with the intention to spoil my project. In an article on he proposed to eliminate castling from the rules of the game and argues that this would make forced draws less likely or even impossible.

I must protest against this subversive way of thinking! Chess is neither about talent nor creativity over the board. Chess is the equivalent of life! You study hard, you work hard, you pass the test and you achieve exactly the same as everyone else. Chess is all about equality and engines are the tool to create social justice! You study forced draws, you memorize your analysis, you make the draw and everyone is happy. Nobody is better, nobody is worse, nobody is superior, nobody is inferior. There are no gender differences, there is no racism, it is just white pieces vs. black pieces. Ok, black starts a tempo down and must fight for equality, but at least the players will switch colors afterwards. We are living in an age where people study hard and work their asses off all day long to get absolutely nothing. Chess should not provide a loophole to break out of the hamster wheel. This clown world deserves clown grandmasters with Elo 3800 openings and 1900 playing strength.

I even go a step further: If the engine shows 0.00 players should be allowed to claim a theoretical draw to end the game right there!


Ok, let’s get more serious. It would be interesting to make a study of openings that immediately become unplayable for black without castling, or where castling is the only way to keep an advantage for white. Kramniks preferred treatment of the Qc2-Nimzo would be illegal all of a sudden. How good is the Rauzer Sicilian if white cannot castle long anymore? Would the Four-Pawns-Attack refute the KID? The Marshall Attack in the Ruy Lopez would be gone because white can’t castle at move 5. Engines would find something.

Tournament of Peace

Very peaceful indeed!