May 31, 2010

Sveshnikov 201: Mainline 9.Nd5

The Sveshnikov is one of very few openings that I'm willing to play with either color. One author has tagged the opening The Easiest Sicilian, principally because the theory is relatively narrow, say, compared to the Najdorf.  The Sveshnikov makes up for its lack of breadth, however, by running deep in its theory.  The novelty in this game comes on move 26, and that's not unusal for the Sveshnikov.  Here, White dominates the center of the board, and that, among other things, allows White to save a tempo by keeping his King in the center.  Black's only play is based on the outside passed a pawn, which is too slow.

Walters,Gary (2343) - Mauro,Lucio (2355)

WCCC33PR04 ICCF, 20.04.2009 [Stockfish 1.7.1 JA 64bit (40m)]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 (6.Ndf5 is the only interesting alternative.) d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 0–0 12.Nc2 Bg5 13.a4 bxa4 14.Rxa4 a5

A position reached in countless games, and it likely appears at least 2,000 times in your largest games database. Now White has a major and a minor option. The minor option is 15.Bb5.

(See, e.g., Kasparov,Garry (2812) - Van Wely,Loek (2636) [B33] Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee (2), 17.01.1999 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 0–0 12.Nc2 Bg5 13.a4 bxa4 14.Rxa4 a5 15.Bb5 Bb7 16.Nce3 Bxe3 17.Nxe3 Ne7 18.0–0 Rb8 19.Qd3 Qb6 20.Bc4 Bc6 21.Ra2 Rfd8 22.b3 Qc5 23.Rfa1 Ra8 24.h4 h6 25.h5 Bb7 26.Rd1 Bc6 27.Rda1 Bb7 28.Bd5 Bxd5 29.exd5 Rdc8 30.b4 Qxc3 31.Qxc3 Rxc3 32.Rxa5 Rb8 33.Ra7 Kf8 34.Rd7 Nc8 35.Rd8+ Ke7 36.Rg8 Rxb4 37.Ra8 Kd7 38.Rxg7 Rc1+ 39.Kh2 Rf4 40.Ng4 Ne7 41.Ra7+ Ke8 42.g3 Rf5 43.Rh7 1–0)

Black’s more common response to 15.Bb5 (other than Van Wely’s 15...Bb7) is 15...Ne7.

(See, e.g., Shirov,Alexei (2723) - Van Wely,Loek (2668) [B33] Amber-rapid 12th Monte Carlo (11), 27.03.2003 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 Bg5 12.Nc2 0–0 13.a4 bxa4 14.Rxa4 a5 15.Bb5 Ne7 16.Nxe7+ Bxe7 17.Ne3 Rb8 18.Qe2 Qb6 19.c4 Be6 20.0–0 Qd4 21.Qc2 Bd8 22.Rd1 Qc5 23.Qd2 Bc7 24.Ra3 Rfd8 25.Rd3 g6 26.Nf5 Bxf5 27.exf5 d5 28.Qg5 d4 29.Rh3 e4 30.Qh6 Qxf5 31.Qxh7+ Kf8 32.Rf3 exf3 33.Qh8+ Ke7 34.Re1+ Qe6 35.Qh4+ f6 36.Qh7+ Kd6 37.c5+ Kxc5 38.Qxc7+ Kxb5 39.Rxe6 d3 40.Qc6+ Kb4 41.Re4+ Kb3 42.Qc3+ Ka2 43.Qa3+ 1–0)

Much more often played than 15.Bb5, however, is the move in the game, the major option. 15.Bc4 Now the common move, as in the game, is Rb8 15...Kh8 will usually transpose back to the main line after 16.O-O Rb8) 16.b3 (16.Ra2 is to be seriously considered. While the Rook is less actively posted at a2, there are variations ahead where the Rook slides along the 2nd rank to the Kingside. 16...Kh8 The King needs to get out of the Bishop’s line of sight and free the f pawn.

17.Nce3 White more often castles in this position, but there is no absolute need for White to remove the King from the center. White rather plans to play down the h file, and while this game is not decided there, the threats are ever present. Note that White will not castle in this game.) g6 (Black has played 17...Bxe3, but the idea is dubious and has scored poorly. Black should keep the Bishop pair. 18.h4 Bxh4 results in a highly dynamic position. Both Rybka and Stockfish need a substantial amount of time to turn the evaluation away from Black’s advantage and back to balanced.

19.g3 Bg5 White has sac’d a pawn to open the h file. Black has the Bishop pair, but has common Svesh weaknesses in a backward d pawn and weak a pawn. White’s structure is not remarkably better, but the Rook staring down the h file is a constant bother and the Knights are well posted.
20.Ra2 Thematic. White will return the Rook to play along the 2nd rank. 20...Bxe3 White was threatening to take over the game with 21.f4

21.Nxe3 Be6 Obvious and good. 22.Rd2 I think this is objectively best. This game is still in well-known territory, but is unclear. 22...Qe7 23.Rxd6 Still nothing that hasn’t been seen before.

23...Nd4 The Knight cuts off the White Rook, but obviously White had to be prepared for this. 24.Rd5 Nc6 The Rook is off limits. White will recapture with the Knight gaining a tempo on the Queen with the Black Knight still hanging. 25.Rd3 Bxc4 26.bxc4N And we finally arrive at a new position. Previously, the play had been 26.Nxc4 Qb7 27.Qd2 Nb4 28.Re3 Rfd8 29.Qe2 Nc6 30.Nd2 Qd7 31.g4 a4 32.Reh3 h5 33.Qe3 Qxg4 34.Rh4 Qg2 35.R4h2 Qg4 36.Rh4 Qg2 37.Rxh5+ Kg7 38.Rh7+ Kf6 39.R1h3 Qg1+ 40.Ke2 Rb7 Huschenbeth,N (2318)-Aulich,M (1996)/Kelheim 2007/CBM 122 Extra/1–0, but 26.Nxc4 offered little opportunity in my view to play for a win in CC. The point of bxc4 is that while the doubled c pawns are ugly, White is dominating the center of the board. There’s little time for Black to get the a pawn moving in a genuinely threatening manner. 26...Rfd8 27.Rd5 Kg8 28.Kf1 Rb2 29.Kg2 Qg5 [29...h5 30.Qc1 Rdb8 31.c5] 30.Qf3 h5 31.c5 Kg7 32.Nc4 Rb3 33.Rhd1 Re8 [33...Rf8!?] 34.Rd7+- Re7 35.Rxe7 Qxe7 36.Ne3 Rb8 [36...Rb5 37.Nd5 Qd7 38.Qf6+ Kg8 39.Qg5+-] 37.Rd6 Rc8 38.Qd1 Nb8 39.Qd5 a4

[39...h4 40.gxh4 a4 41.Ng4 Qxh4 42.Qxe5+ Kf8 43.Qf4+-] 40.Nc4 h4 [40...Rc7 41.Nxe5 a3 42.Nxf7 Qxf7 43.Qd4+ Kh7 44.Rd8+-] 41.Nxe5 a3 [41...Re8 42.c6 Rc8 43.gxh4+-] 42.Ng4 a2 43.Qd4+ [43.Qxa2?! Qxe4+ 44.f3 Qe1 45.gxh4 Rxc5±] 43...Kh7 44.Nf6+ Kh6 45.Qd2+ [45.Qd2+ Kg7 46.Qxa2+-] 1–0

May 30, 2010

Championship of China: Cochrane Gambit

The below game is from the Chinese Championship.  If you play the Russian Game as Black, you must be prepared for the Cochrane Gambit.  The sacrifice is not as speculative as it appears and White often gets full compensation for the piece, as in this game.  Black plays the relatively rare 5...c6 and White plays a nice novelty, 7.f4.

May 27, 2010

U.S. Championship: Nimzo-Indian Classical

Hess is just fine on the black side of this Nimzo-Indian after Krush's novelty of 13.f5.  He's even in command of the game after14.Qe7.  From there, however, Krush manages a slow buildup until Hess collapses at 33.Qxf5. 

Topalov Criticizes Anand

The full interview is at Chessdom, but the gist of it is that Anand shouldn't be proud of receiving help from Kasparov, as Kasparov humiliated Anand for many years. This last point isn't self evident to me, and really needs some explanation.

Topalov has also stated that Anand has failed to put together a team to advance the game, something for which he is responsible as World Champion. Unsaid, but evident, is that Topalov, through Danailov, feels that he has put together such a team. All in all, it's a rather typical Topalov interview, but in fairness, Topalov gives Anand kudos for being a complete chess player, one who's won the WC in all formats and is also one of the world's best speed and blindfold players.

USCF Special Election 2010: Vote!

If you're a USCF member, in the next week to ten days you should receive your ballot for the 2010 Special Election. Three persons are running for two seats. I am one of them. More important than voting for me is that you vote. While it's generally true that voting rights should be exercised, here there's a specific reason to exercise your vote. The USCF adopted one member, one vote (OMOV) a number of years ago. This procedure gives USCF's members the right to elect the Executive Board. It's my belief that the USCF will be a stronger organization to the extent that its members have the right to vote, and they take some modest amount of time to inform that vote. Please know that OMOV is not universally popular, and many feel that the USCF is better off with state delegates making the Executive Board selctions. I don't agree. USCF governance decisions do impact the game of chess in this country and the USCF's members should have a say in those decisions. You may not feel governance decisions at the board when playing a game, but the choices matter. They may affect the forms of chess that are offered to you, the quantity of quality of the competitions available to you, the information you receive (such as on the website and in the magazine), and perhaps even the number of players registering in your tournaments. Critical to the game in the U.S. is a healthy national organization that is capable of promoting the game in creative and sound ways. You can impact that organization by selecting its leaders. I firmly believe that the EB should be selected by the members, and you have that right at present. Please help protect that right by voting.

If you want to know more about me, read this blog. If you want to cut straight to the election chase, hit any of the blue labels anywhere in this blog that say "election," including the one at the end of this post.

May 25, 2010

U.S. Championship: French Burn Variation

Hess plays a good game. Review 5...Nbd7, the secondary move in the variation, being played about half as often as 5...Be7. The ending is not looking easy to convert until the very nice move 31.c5.

May 23, 2010

U.S. Championship: Winawer French

9.h4 has brought White good statistics, but it's edgy, and not likely objectively best. As such it's vulnerable to home analysis. We may know soon whether that's what happened here. Nakamura succeeds in creating a dynamic position quickly, but in doing so gives away the White advantage by move 12. Interestingly, both players are serious French players.

The novelty in the game is 19.Re1. It's most certainly not prepared and probably won't enter into theory. By the time Nakamura plays 23.Rh2??, he's already on the ropes.

U.S. Championship: Bogo-Indian

Want to play the Nizmo, but don't want to chase the theory of the related Queen's Indian? The Bogo-Indian remains an option. Shabalov's novelty is 10.c5, and this is after the dubious but sometimes played 8.Be3. White has the better of the opening after the usual 8.e3, and there should be no reason to go looking for virgin ground quite so early in these lines. Of course, it could be that Shabalov was surprised by the Bogo.

May 22, 2010

U.S. Championship: Semi-Slav--Yet another way to avoid the Meran

Kraai avoids the Meran with 6.Bd2; it's not a new move but seldom played. Bhat responds with the novelty 6...g6, which doesn't appear to be worth repeating. The usual move is 6...Bd6. Despite a dubious opening novelty, Black carries on and holds his own until 20...d4?. The game's worth a look for those who play the Semi-Slav.

May 17, 2010

U.S. Championship: Chigorin Defense!

You have to love the Chigorin. Black's play is usually on a wire, but if you have the intincts for it (and you've done a mass of prep), it's got to be a hoot. Here Stripunsky scores with it against Gurevich. Interested? See The Chigorin Defense by Morozevich, who's also the opening's leading proponent. The book is uneven, but there's nothing more modern available at present. As always, you can get the daily game scores for all major tournaments at TWIC, including the U.S. Championship.

U.S. Championship: a6 Slav

Ben more than holds his own in an a6 Slav. In fact, after move 26, he's probably turned the game around, but it goes downhill thereafter through a series of inaccuacies. What went wrong?

May 15, 2010

U.S. Championship: Day 1

Go to the USCF's website for the games and an update, but as always, go to TWIC to download game scores.

The surprise of the round was Krush's victory over Kaidanov.

Ray held is own in his game with Kamsky until 30...Red8. Black would have been okay after 30...e4. 31.b4 would still coming after 30...e4, but Black would have a Rook on the first rank that could swing over to defend the b pawn.

Sveshnikov 101: 9.Nd5 (positional line)...11...Rb8

The interesting moves in this game are first 11...Rb8, which largely defines the line of the Sveshnikov played here, and then 21.Nb4, the novelty in the game. All the moves prior to Nb4 are well known theory. Ragozenko, in The Sveshnikov Reloaded, looks at 21.Rab1, 21.Qg3, 21.c4, and 21.Rad1!?. The position appears equal after 21.Rab1,c4 or Rad1. 21.Qg3 deserves a closer look, but appears speculative. At bottom, 21.Nb4 seems playable, but a little counterintuitive. The Knight is positioned well at d5 and it's doing work there. It's not going to be easy to dislodge, certainly not without giving up the light-squared Bishop, and likely at the price of establishing a very powerful pawn at d5. There's no real threat to the rook on b2, which now at least visually seems hemmed in. In short, 21.Nb4 is not likely a good try in this position. (White probably doesn't lose the game, however, until 23.Rxd3?)

May 14, 2010

U.S. Championship: ChessBase Warmup

ChessBase has a good intro to the US Championship posted.  Take a look here

The participants are:
The defending U.S. Champion - GM Hikaru Nakamura
The winner of the 2009 U.S. Senior Open Championship - GM Larry Christiansen
The winner of the 2009 U.S. Junior Championship - GM Ray Robson
The top five qualifiers from the 2009 U.S. Open Championship - GM Alex Lenderman, GMs Sergey Kudrin, Alex Yermolinsky, Dmitry Gurevich, and Jesse Kraai
The winner of the 2010 ICC State Champion of Champions - IM Levon Altounian

GM Gata Kamsky
GM Alexander Onischuk
GM Varuzhan Akobian
GM Yury Shulman
GM Jaan Ehlvest
GM Alexander Shabalov
GM Gregory Kaidanov
GM Robert Hess
GM Melikset Khachiyan
GM Joel Benjamin
GM Ben Finegold
GM Alexander Stripunsky
GM Vinay Bhat
IM Sam Shankland
IM Irina Krush

If you're a USCF member, you can still form a fantasy team at the USCF website here.  The cutoff is today (May 14) @ 3 pm EST.

May 11, 2010

World Championship: ANAND!

Switching to a QGD, Anand undoubtedly went for the solid draw.  As one of the best speed players in history, he had to like his chances in the faster time controls.  Perhaps Topalov felt the same way.  He took unnecessary chances and Anand made him pay.  We're left with an admirable World Champion who's showed remarkable longevity and is the right Champion to pass the mantle to Carlsen. 

May 10, 2010

FIDE Presidential Election: Hmm

You say you haven't given a thought about the upcoming FIDE presidential elections?  You think Karpov and Ilyumzhinov are both poor choices?  Whatever your view of the importance of the election, allow yourself a moment to be entertained by some loosely related happenings.  See this article at ChessVibes; you can follow up with your favorite search engine if you're inclined.

May 9, 2010

World Championship: Anand Conserves Energy With Last White (Anand 5 1/2 : Topalov 5 1/2)

Round 11 saw an English Four Knights.  The game was well played and ended in a draw following some risk taking in the endgame by Anand.  Topalov must now play to win with his last White (or enter into the WC tiebreak system with greatly reduced time controls, where Anand almost surely has an advantage).  I'm going out on a limb and predicting 1.e4, with Topalov having prepared deeply for the Petroff.  Will Anand play into it? 

World Championship: Back to Gruenfeld in Round 10 (Anand 5 : Topalov 5)

Anand goes back to the Gruenfeld and the game enters into rare variations after 10...b6 and 11.Qd2.  Topalov undoubtedly sought to take the game onto less trodden ground.  11.Qd2 maintains tension in the position, as pressure increases onTopalov to win one more game.  Anand releases the tension in the game with the novelty 13...cxd4, and the game drifts to a draw.


May 7, 2010

World Championship: Missed Opportunities in Round 9 (Anand 4 1/2 : Toaplov 4 1/2)

Let's hope that Anand doesn't rue this day.  The World Champion misses his way more than once.  The moves meriting review are 18.Nh3 (TN) and 63.Kg3??  It's worth attempting to calculate the win. 

May 6, 2010

World Championship: Topalov Back in the Match After Round 8 (Anand 4 : Topalov 4)

Don't blame the Slav, which does just fine again.  The novelty is 18.a5 (prepared?) and Anand plays slightly inaccurately almost immediately.  18...Bb4, Rybka's choice, is likely right as it better frees Black's position and temporarily ties the Rook to the a-file.  If 19.Ra4, then the Bishop can be played to e7, but now with the Rook misplaced.  In short, the Slav is holding up beautifully.  Will Anand abandon it in game 10? 

May 4, 2010

Kaplan: "I hope we will perform a revolution in chess"

Where's the game of chess going in the future? Pay attention to Kaplan, FIDE Chief Executive Officer, Development. He's got big plans. See ChessBase for details. Think it's pie in the sky? Not so fast.  The game is going to suffer or enjoy change in the foreseeable future.  Don't presume it's downhill from here, even if Kaplan doesn't get it entirely right.

World Championship: Bogo Exchange Sac in Round 7 (Anand 4 : Topalov 3)

My database shows 9...b5 as a novelty, but apparenly Ivanchuk has played it previously. In any event, Anand bites on the exchange and Topalov has more than enough compensation. The game ends in a draw, but the line deserves a deeper look.

World Championship: Topalov Tames the Open Catalan in Round 6 (Anand 3 1/2 : Topalov 2 1/2)

So the novelty in this game is 10.Bg5, although I note that the move has actually been played at least once before by Raetsky. I took a look in Wojo's Weapons, Hilton's and Ippolito's new book, and unsurprisingly they don't cover the move (at least not that I found). That book focuses very much on the Catalan. They give 9.O-O O-O, and then refer to 10.b4!? as one of the "great mysteries" of the line. Please note this isn't criticism; it's hardly the aim of the book to go to the depth one would expect of Super GMs battling for the WC. In the end, it doesn't appear that 10.Bg5 is particularly ground breaking.

May 3, 2010

World Championship: Slav Holds Again in Round 5 (Anand 3 : Topalov 2)

Compare White's 16th below to that of White's 16th in Round 3.

Looking forward to Round 8 (Anand has White in both Rounds 6 and 7), who, if either player, will abandon the Slav debate? If Anand won't, Topalov should. He hasn't generated the types of positions in which he's best.

May 2, 2010

World Championship: Anand Drops Hammer in Round 4 (Anand 2 1/2 : Topalov 1 1/2)

A game that should thorougly alarm the Topalov camp. Like what you see in the Catalan? Looking to make a shift in your repertoire? See Wojo's Weapons: Winning With White Volume 1 by Hilton and Ippolito.

World Championship: The Match Settles Down in Round 3 (Anand 1 1/2 : Topalov 1 1/2)

The players land in a less than volatile variation of the Slav proper. The novelty is Anand's 14...Rg8, but the move is known in this line (just not so early in the position). Topalov's invocation of the Sofia Rule does inject a bit of drama into all the games.