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Monday, August 30, 2010

Knight endgame

() vs. ()
- -

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday's rook endgame, key idea

"Chess teaches you to control the initial excitement you feel when you see something that looks good and it trains you to think objectively when you're in trouble." - Stanley Kubrick

Sébastien - Wilfried
Black to play, a pawn down. How to draw ?
(not very difficult)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hammer's unlucky day

Arctic Securities Chess Stars began today in Norway, with Carlsen, Anand, Polgar and Hammer. Hammer was the unlucky player of the day (he missed a draw and 2 wins!). I commented his 3 games below. Don't miss Carlsen's incredible mistake against him.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The good choice

White is on the attack. How to proceed now ?
Allocated time: < 1 min.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another black disaster in Spain

() vs. ()
- -

It's interesting to see that Graf won another game in the same 24 moves in 1998 with this variation (but 8.d5).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Miniaturized master

() vs. ()
- -

Who said only beginners let their poor king alone with all dark squares weakened ? :-)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Comments on French championship players

Here are my small comments on each player of the 2010 edition:

1. Laurent Fressinet 8
A big year for this 29y-old player. Among French top 3 for years he earned his first French champion title and crossed the 2700 Elo threshold for the first time. Currently 2717 and among world top 30, this nice guy is currently at his top.

2. Romain Edouard 8
Last year was great for Romain, from 2562 to 2620, being 19y-old. It's more difficult this year, but with this fantastic 2nd place he is back. He won 21 Elo points in this tournament. He has a very strong will to win and works with a very good coach.

3. Etienne Bacrot 7
It's not necessary to introduce him! 6 times French champion, youngest GM in the world at his time (he was 14). He failed to win the title this year but he is not very far from his best Elo ever reached and has strengthened his play with more agressive lines.

4. Christian Bauer 6
A very interesting player, always fighting and playing entertaining chess. I must say I have 100% against this player (but ok it's only on 1 game and a simultaneous one :-)).

5-6. Vladislav Tkachiev 5,5
The 2009 champion was totally out of form in this tournament. He was not lucky too. He will be in the French Olympiad team. He can obviously play very good games.

5-6. Iossid Dorfman 5,5
A very wellknown and experienced trainer (Kasparov, Bacrot, among others) but nowadays a disappointing player. As he already did, this year his made 11 draws in 11 games, some of them very quickly. It's a pity because when he wants to attack he can play fantastic chess.

7. Emmanuel Bricard 5
I like this player. He is always playing very strange openings, home-prepared, very interesting. He is very strong in closed positions and is able to outplay strong grandmasters. He played a very good tournament this year because he was last seed!

8. Andrei Sokolov 4,5
Former n°3 in the world, world championship challenger in the 80', very experienced trainer and very solid player (he can probably draw with white against almost every player in the world). He had a disappointing tournament this year.

9. Hicham Hamdouchi 4,5
Former African champion and first to cross 2600, he lives in France for years and played his first French tournament last year. He had a very good start this year but had a very difficult tournament then, being sometimes unlucky (Edouard, Fressinet).

10. Aliaksei Charnushevich 4
A very solid player, playing for Besançon for years. Fressinet and Bacrot had a hard time to finally beat him with white.

11. Jean-Mard Degraeve 4
An experienced and agressive player. He played some fantastic attacking games. Sometimes he goes too far with his openings, but it's very interesting for spectators. This year he was totally out of form too.

12. Matthieu Cornette 4
One of the French hopes, though he is 25 now. He was a very tactical player (and can still play amazing combinations) but decided to play more solid openings now (a little like me, ha ha). I played 2 times against him, scoring +1 -1. In this tournament his play was quite good but he was unlucky in several endgames.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Funny hold-up

- -

It's not about commenting this game, "?" marks speak for themselves, it's about the third tag of this message.
Of course if it's a serious game you can't fight with a bishop against a queen. Well after it's all about level of the players and time control. I already saw masters playing a serious game a piece down for almost nothing (against another master) and save the game. Because chess is more complex than "I'm a pawn up" or "I'm a piece up" or even "I'm a queen up". King's safety, pieces activity, passed pawns, clock, and a lot of other small things, combined with a Fischer-like will to win, can sometime turn material into insignificant wood!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Unusual endgame challenge

Queen against bishop+pawn on the 7th rank.
How should black proceed to win quickly ?
(or he will have to struggle with the 50 moves rule!)
Time allocated : 10 min.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fast calculation

Black to play. How many seconds to find the mate ?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

French championships outcome

Exciting finish in the 2010 French championship!
In round 10 Edouard catched up Fressinet with a spectacular win against defending champion Tkachiev whereas Bacrot could only draw with black against Hamdouchi and Fressinet quickly with white against Dorfman.

Standing before last round :
1-2. Edouard, Fressinet 7,5
3. Bacrot 6,5
4. Bauer 5,5

Last round encounters :
Sokolov,A (2596) - Edouard,R (2620)
Bacrot,E (2720) - Fressinet,L (2697)
R11 Live (Friday)
(If 2 or 3 players finish equal first, there will be rapid/blitz tie-breaks on Saturday)

In the Women championship, Almira Skripchenko (2458) is champion one round before the end with 7/9.

[Update : Edouard and Fressinet both drew last round with good preparation. In the rapid tie-breaks, Fressinet won 1,5-0,5 and gets his first French champion title.
And guess what: Fressinet and Skripchenko are husband and wife!]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Endgame improvement

() vs. ()

Do you see where Bacrot could have improved and won ?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Andreikin - Stupak WJun 24 moves game

Here is a game played in the 11th round by the new Junior World champion.

() vs. ()

Monday, August 16, 2010

World Junior Championships

World Junior Championships, i.e. under 20, boys and girls, are taking place in Chotowa, Poland. These are very long tournaments played in 13 rounds.

In the boys tournament, the Russian Dmitry Andreikin (2650) was leading for many rounds but in round 12 he decided to make a quick draw with white against his fellow countryman Matlakov (2603). Thus he was joined at 9,5/12 by another Russian, Sanan Sjugirov (2610), who nicely won an endgame of opposite-colored bishops against Swedish IM Blomqvist.
So, the last round of this Monday will be deciding. Both are black but Andreikin has a difficult game against Norwegian Hammer (2636) whereas Sjugirov faces 17y-old UAE player Salem (2469, but doing well so far).
Round 13 live

In the girls tournament, the story is very similar. Slovenian Anna Muzychuk (2527), ranked 8th woman in the world, was leading since round 5, logically collecting an impressive 10/11. But in round 12 she was defeated by 17y-old Peruvian Deysi Cori (2403) and saw the Russian Olga Girya (2373) catching her up.
They both play theorically weaker opponent in the last round. If Muzychuk wins she will probably become world champion.
Round 13 live

Andreikin drew and Sjugirov struggled to draw in a breathtaking finish. Polish Swiercz takes 3rd place.
Muzychuk won easily and Girya was happy to draw a losing endgame. 16y-old Indian girl Rout Padmini drew with Cori and finishes 3rd.]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chess tactic

NN - Sarno,S
Black to play. Do you have this pattern in your mind ?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Howell-Gelfand video

This game was played in the first round of the NH tournament (Rising stars vs Experience) in Amsterdam.
Mig Greengard made some interesting comments on the round 1.
Here is the official website, with the same design than the Amber one, and as usual with a very good following of the tournament : very nice presentation of the players, videos, round reports, live games, and so on.

P.S. Let me know if my English is too poor!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chess is above all, a fight

As Emanuel Lasker said. He said that too :
Chess is a conflict, not between 2 intelligences, but between 2 wills.

() vs. ()

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Endgame trick

() vs. ()

Black has a difficult endgame. What is the safest way to draw ?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Very tactical game yesterday in Mongolia :
() vs. ()


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rook endgame

How should Black proceed ?
In this case what will be the result of the endgame ?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Jonny Hector

This fantastic Swedish Grandmaster was born in... 1964 ! He learned chess at 14 and progressed fairly quickly. He is one of the most agressive players and often plays unusual and sharp openings.

Last week he played in the Politiken Cup tournament, finishing equal 5th with 7,5/10 (losing against Meier and Ganguly).
Here are some openings he played in this tournament :

7.O-O!? like a Milner-Barry

5...d5 against this English

A good old Evans

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Munguntuul - Koneru

Very good game from the Mongolian player today against top seed Humpy Koneru :

Friday, August 6, 2010

British chess championships

Convincing victory of Michael Adams with 9,5/11 (+8 =3), 2757 performance.
It's "just half-a-point short of the record set by former champion Julian Hodgson back in 1992".

Short, McShane and Howell did not play.

Michael Adams
British champion 2010

Jovanka Houska
British women champion 2010

Photos © Ray Morris-Hill

Official website

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Unsound sacrifice for Maia

Former World Champion (1978-1991) Maia Chiburdanidze was playing top seed Koneru (2nd woman to cross 2600 Elo in the history) with black.

In this position she tried a clever exchange sacrifice : 17...Rxe4 18.Qxe4 Re8, with the idea Q moves somewhere then Rxe2 and then Qxf4. Do you see why it doesn't work ?

ZHAO Xue in Women GP

After 5 rounds she is leading the event with Stefanova.

Homework of the day : try to point out the blunders of her opponents in these 5 games.

Games of the event in PGN

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fargere wins Dutch Open

Very convincing performance from Francois Fargere in the Dutch Open after 7 rounds with 6,5. Round 7 he won this important game with black, with a nice use of the e4 square :-)

He faced strong GM Edwin L'Ami in round 8 and drew in 19 moves.
In round 9 he drew with black though his opponent sacrificed pawns and built a strong attack. At the end he was probably winning but strangely decided to secure a draw (whereas tables 2 and 3 quickly drew).

So he won the event with 7,5/9, 1 full point clear of the rest of the field, with 2729 performance and +29 Elo points. Congratulations !
Now Fargere only has to improve his extra-chess behavior. It would be really good for organizers and for chess in general.

Final results

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chess tactic

Black to play.
(not so easy, not so hard)

Monday, August 2, 2010

ZHU Chen - ZHAO Xue

This game was played in the 3rd round of 5th FIDE women's Grand Prix. It was a crazy game with mistakes from both sides. Mistakes are common but here they were really big.

Former Women World Champion sacrificed her Queen with 27.Qxc6?? and black answered with 27...Rg6??. During the press conference both players admitted they totally forgot that black could have taken the Queen not being mated ! Both are Grand Master, how is that possible ?
Well, 2 moves before white sacrificed a whole Rook in g7, having probably already planned to sacrifice the Queen after. I guess black could not imagine that such a player could give a Rook followed by a Queen for free. However every chess player should know that you must never trust your opponent, even if he is very strong :-)

Then the (end)game was interesting because white ended with B+N+p against Q.
Finally after a long battle, the classic endgame Queen against pawn in 7th appeared on the board. Cases of c and f pawns are the most interesting, like here.
As pointed out by commentators, including Susan Polgar here, black missed a somehow basic draw at move 64.
That's not very good for a former Women World Champion but ok, she had to be tired with the game and obviously it wasn't her day. I'm not sure she can regret anything because she could have resign at move 27 :-)

Mistakes are part of the game.


Location : Cannes, France.

3 GM on first 3 places, Sengupta, Sanchez and top seed Sumets.
French under 16 hope Jules Moussard made his 3rd IM norm and gets the title ! And 2nd IM norm for another u16 hope, Christophe Sochacki.
This comes after third u16 French hope Maxime Lagarde 2nd IM norm in Creon yesterday.

Cannes final standing


Location : Pamplona, Spain.

Strong closed tournament with an average rating of 2637.
It was the small come back of Russian genius Alexander Morozevich, because his last rated game was played in January. Unfortunately for him (and for chess fans), though beginning with 2,5/3 he had a very difficult tournament, scoring only 4/9 while being top seed, losing some 15,5 points in the process.

Co-winners of the tournament with 6,5/9 (+4 =5) are Polish Radoslaw Wojtaszek, one of Anand's seconds, and French Laurent Fressinet (former Kramnik's second !), who is now rated over the 2700 mark for the first time.
( will probably be updated soon)

Results and games