Friday, September 28, 2007

The Finer Points of the World Chess Championship

Here is how the cycle will work through 2009:

The Winner of the World Chess Championship 2007 in Mexico ("MEXWinner") is crowned the current champion. The winner of The World Cup 2007, November 23 to December 16 the city of Khanty-Mansyisk, Russia, ("CUP2007Winner") plays Topalov in a "Challenger's Match". We will call the winner of this match the "CMWinner".

If MEXWinner is NOT Kramnik:
Kramnik plays MEXWinner in World Chess Championship match in 2008, known as "WCWinner". This satisfies the rematch clause for the former champion. In 2009, WCWinner plays CMWinner for the World Chess Championship of 2009.

If MEXWinner IS Kramnik:
Topalov plays Kramnik in a World Chess Championship match for 2008 ("WCWinner"). In 2009, CUP2007Winner plays WCWinner for the 2009 World Chess Championship.

Subsequently, the challenger for the world championship will be determined in a match between the winner of the FIDE World Cup and the new Grand Prix series.

Source: ChessBase

WCC2007: Round 12 - Kramnik Awakens

"Only he, who penetrates into the depth of the game, can express his personality in it."

-- Vladimir Kramnik

Round 12 at the WCC2007 saw no less than 3 of 4 games decided. Vladimir Kramnik, whom apparently reads this blog and my semi-scathing remarks on his 13-mover in round 11, found his cajones for round 12 and defeated Leko in a Closed Catalan. Unfortunately for the champ, Gelfand defeated Aronian via the Semi-Slav, to maintain his 1-point lead over Kramnik for 2nd place. Morozevich defeated Grischuk with an English Four Knights, and Svidler - Anand ended in a draw out of an Anti-Marshall Closed Ruy Lopez.

Mathematically, Gelfand (-1 off the lead) and Kramnik (-1.5 off the lead) are still in the hunt should Anand somehow lose both his remaining games. Today will see a defining game between Gelfand and Kramnik that will most likely decide 2nd place. Grischuk - Anand will probably be a flacid draw - Anand not willing to further risk anything for the Championship. Hopefully the other two contests will live up to the hype of the event!

Chessbase Express Report

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Components of Positional Evaluation

Our Goal is to try and answer these questions:
"how to acquire a firm knowledge of the basics of chess strategy: How a position's evaluation is developed and what are its components"

The actual answers are simple enough:

"White is better."
"Position is unclear."
"Black has a slight advantage."
"The Position is equal."
etc., etc.

These are all evaluations of a chess position. Each one of these assessments carries with it both short-term and long-term components. Examples of short-term components (components you need to address each move) are the placement of pieces, of pawns, and the construction of a reasonable plan ("I want to mate my opponent" is an example of an unreasonable plan). Examples of long-term components are open/closed positional decisions, queen-trades, material, do you trade into an endgame, where to place your king, exchange sacrifices, when and where to attack your opponent, to name several.

Strategic considerations also come into play such as minority attacks, isolated queen-pawns, open files, weak/strong squares, color complexes, initiative, dynamism, etc., many of the things we outlined when talking about 'classic' strategic theory vs. 'modern' strategic theory.

All these components, taken collectively, allow one to arrive at an evaluation of the position.

But *how* do you evaluate a chess position? I'd love to hear from you and how you evaluate positions at the board. Please also post your rating category.

Source: Chess Cafe

WCC 2007

After a rest day on Wednesday, September 27th, the eight contestants enter into the final leg of the World Chess Championships for 2007. The final three games are to be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with tiebreaks on Sunday if necessary. It would be of great surprise if Sunday is necessary to decide anything, as Vishwanathan Anand leads the tournament with a score of 7.5/11, a full 1.5 points ahead of Boris Gelfand with three rounds to play. Short of a total collapse by Anand, or 3-0 finale by Gelfand, we will be crowning a new World Chess Champion come Sunday evening.
Being a vocal Kramnik fan (I was smitten during his match against Leko for reasons still unknown to me), I can only express disappointment over his 35-minute, 13-move draw Tuesday against Alexander Grischuk. Given the circumstances of the standings Tuesday, a quick draw was the furthest thing that should have been from Kramnik's mind, even at the risk of 'insulting' a fellow countrymen. Grischuk, having just lost to Levon Aronian the round before, cannot be faulted for offering the draw. However, Kramnik, defending World Champion, must be scolded for accepting the offer. The position was hardly 'dead', with weaknesses in White's queenside with isolated doubled pawns and bishops of the same color, there was certainly something to play for, given the current standings. This is another example of contestants not giving it their all in the public arena of competition. It's very unfortunate to witness such weak-willed play from one of the top players in the world - and current reigning World Champion.
Kramnik will now need to prove something to us all and capture second place outright over the final three rounds. Anything less makes even a bigger mockery of the current W.C.C. cycle and puts no arguments to rest whatsoever. It will be hard to justify - regardless of contracts and FIDE obligations to the contrary - having Kramnik play Anand next year in a match for the W.C.C., even as much as I'd like to see it happen (it will). This was the glaring fault of having a tournament to determine the World Champion - with the current champion participating - instead of having it be the final test for a challenger to take Kramnik on in a match. But, business as usual for FIDE - live and don't learn - appears to be the creed.

The Tsar’s Opponent

The Tsar’s Opponent
Garry Kasparov takes aim at the power of Vladimir Putin

by David Remnick
On a recent summer evening, the greatest player in the history of chess, Garry Kasparov, wrapped up an exhausting series of meetings devoted to the defeat of the Kremlin regime. After days of debate, a motley pride of unlikely revolutionaries – bearded politicos, earnest academics, and multigrained environmentalists – collected their cigarettes and left Kasparov’s apartment, divided and worn out. Little had been accomplished. Crumpled drafts of fevered proclamations lay scattered on the kitchen table. Puffy-eyed and unsmiling, Kasparov grunted a curt farewell to his comrades and went off to make yet another urgent telephone call.
Kasparov is forty-four. He was the world chess champion for fifteen years. Until his retirement, two years ago, his dominance was unprecedented. Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Fischer – none came close. Chess has outsized meaning in Russia, and Kasparov at home was a cross between the greatest of athletes and a revered intellectual. Now he has volunteered for grim and, very likely, futile duty. As the most conspicuous leader of Drugaya Rossiya (the Other Russia), an umbrella group of liberals, neo-Bolsheviks, and just about anyone else wishing to speak ill of Vladimir Putin.

Full Story

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Recent Game

Black to move

Here Black played 55...Rxa2?? 56.Qf8+! Kd7 57.Qf7+ Kd8 58.Bb6+ 1-0. Black could have prolonged the game with the simple 55...Qg4+ but it seems that White's bishop pair will eventually succeed.