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GM Axel Smith

April 6th, 2016 24 comments

Congratulations to Axel Smith of Sweden on gaining the Grandmaster title. FIDE confirmed on Monday that the title would be awarded. Axel has been highly successful in helping other players to improve, and it’s good to see his methods also worked on himself.

The Quality Chess connection to Axel is of course that he wrote the award-winning Pump Up Your Rating. We have always enjoyed working with Axel, and readers certainly appreciated his efforts, so it would be a wise guess that Axel will write more books for Quality Chess.

Categories: Authors in Action, Prizes Tags:

Touch move at the Candidates

March 18th, 2016 39 comments

In case you did not see it. In a rook ending yesterday, Nakamura touched the king and seemed to act as if it was correcting the piece. In the video you can see the change of posture. I do not want to criticise him; it is hard to deal with your dream dying in a millisecond and these guys are under a lot of pressure. It took him 2-3 seconds to recompose himself and play on, just as Aronian jumped in very quickly calling it touched move. Aronian had no bad words about his opponent after the game, which says a lot. Our brain works in loops of 3 seconds, where we deal with the inputs just recieved; Nakamura did not get to the end of such a loop before he instinctively wished he had just corrected the piece. With my experience it shows nothing about his moral fibre at all.

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Gibraltar 2016 – Authors in Action

February 5th, 2016 2 comments

GM Gawain Jones had a great result at the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters, which finished yesterday. Gawain scored 7.5/10, in a tie for 3rd, half a point behind Nakamura and Vachier-Lagrave. Gawain’s final-round game was with Black against Yu Yangyi, a 2747-rated 1.e4 player. Fortunately, Gawain has a Dragon repertoire he can trust.

I will give that game below, but another QC author at Gib was IM Marc Esserman, who played his favourite 1.e4 against both Nigel Short and Vishy Anand. Short played the French and lost, while Anand’s 1…c5 was of course met by 2.d4, but after 2…cxd4 3.c3 Anand avoided any Mayhem in the Morra with 3…Nf6, and drew. Great results for Marc, but I was looking forward to a Nd5 piece sac (they’re everywhere in the Morra).

On the topic of QC repertoires, Victor’s Mikhalevski’s recommended line in The Open Spanish remains popular at the highest level, with the likes of Mamedyarov, Giri, So, and Wei Yi playing it with solid results. Ding Liren even used it to draw against Magnus Carlsen at the recent Wijk aan Zee event, though he did need to hold rook versus rook-and-bishop. It may lack the glamour of the Dragon or Morra, but the Open Spanish is a great choice if you want to keep out elite opposition.

 

White: Yu Yangyi (2747) Black: Gawain Jones (2625)
Gibraltar Masters (10.5) 04.02.2016

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6
Showing his faith in the Dragon.

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Working on the second Gelfand book

December 4th, 2015 15 comments

Boris and I joked to each other about when people would pick up on the fact that we would write more than one book together, something that became very clear to me the moment he presented the material he wanted to go over in the first session we did together.

It happened already on the day that the Forward Chess book was released. There is a comment in the book that refers to “a later volume”. Someone asked me on Facebook if this meant that there would be more books. It does. For a start, we are working on Dynamic Decision Making in Chess. We have talked about the structure of the book and have already recorded Boris’s part of a few games. I am especially keen on the notes to game six in his match in 2011 in Kazan against Alexander Grischuk. At least I am trying to be, because I am currently writing them down!

You may be wondering – does this lead to a delay in Thinking Inside the Box? I have to confess that it will. I am working on many projects; helping out a bit here and there. It fits well with my private circumstances at the moment. I need to build up the energy for tackling this big, big project I have in my head and my notes…

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Who will win the London Classic?

November 30th, 2015 1 comment

Last week’s poll “What’s the matter with Magnus?” ended in a narrow win for “Lack of Motivation” but “Nothing – it’s variance” seemed in the lead for most of the week. Clearly, opinions vary on this question.

Poll-Magnus

This week, big time chess returns to the UK, with the London Classic kicking off on Friday. So an obvious question: Who will win the 2015 London Classic?

Maybe Magnus will show his true power? There are ten stars to chose from, and no weak links in this all-play-all. Note the names are listed with their pairing number: 1-5 will get five Whites, while 6-10 will get only four, just in case that affects your deliberations.

1. Veselin Topalov
2. Alexander Grischuk
3. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
4. Fabiano Caruana
5. Viswanathan Anand
6. Michael Adams
7. Levon Aronian
8. Magnus Carlsen
9. Hikaru Nakamura
10. Anish Giri

There are plenty of other interesting competitions in London in addition to the Classic, in particular the lavishly-funded British Knockout Chess Championship. My pick of the first-round clashes would be Scottish Number 1 Jonathan Rowson against Quality Chess author Gawain Jones.

Nigel Short unfortunately had to withdraw from the Knockout; his replacement, GM Nick Pert, mentioned that even if he was knocked out in the first round, the £2500 he would win would still be his biggest ever chess prize.

The Knockout games start at 10.30 am on Tuesday.

Categories: Authors in Action, Polls Tags:

“Study-like”

November 17th, 2015 2 comments

I played a couple of games of chess last weekend in the first rounds of the 4ncl in Birmingham. This is newsworthy because, before this, my most recent competitive game was the final round of last season’s 4ncl, six months ago. My inactivity is due, in part, to being busy with work, including nearing a finish to a Playing 1.e4 book.

Through bad luck of the draw, my opponent on Saturday was IM Sam Collins of Ireland. I say bad luck, because when I make a 600-mile round trip from Glasgow to Birmingham, I would rather play someone I haven’t played before, not an old friend. I will just show the end of the game, though analysing the earlier parts of the rook ending could fill a book.

John Shaw – Sam Collins

4ncl 14.11.2015

50.Ra8
A small crowd had gathered as this was one of the last games to finish. I later learned one of the spectators thought I had put my rook en prise to the black pawn. Which way are the pawns going?

50…Rc2
A sneaky try to block the a-file using a check on c6 first.
The simple approach allows White to draw by a tempo. For example: 50…Kb3 51.h6 Kb2 52.h7 a1Q 53.Rxa1 Kxa1 54.Kg7 b5 55.g5 b4 56.g6 b3 57.h8Q Rxh8 58.Kxh8 b2 59.g7 b1Q Not a check. 60.g8Q=

51.Rxa2
This felt like an only move, and is the most practical choice, but allowing the black pawn to queen would also draw, as my tandem get close enough to prevent Black making progress.

51.g5 Rc6+ 52.Kh7 Ra6 53.Rxa6 bxa6 54.g6 a1Q 55.g7= (55.h6=) 55…Qb1+ 56.Kh6! Qc1+ 57.Kh7 Qc2+ 58.Kh6 Qd2+ 59.Kh7 Qd3+ 60.Kh6 Qe3+ 61.Kh7 Qe4+ 62.Kh6 Qf4+ 63.Kh7 Qf5+ 64.Kh6 Qf6+ 65.Kh7 A set-up to remember: Black cannot win. 65…Qf7 66.h6 (Even 66.Kh6 works. 66…Qg8 67.Kg6 Kc5 68.h6=) 66…Kc5 67.Kh8 Qf6 68.Kh7=

Or similarly: 51.h6=

51…Rxa2 52.h6 Kc5

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Categories: Authors in Action, Fun Games Tags:

The World Cup – A competition

September 7th, 2015 9 comments

This is a temporary post. We were talking about the upcoming World Cup and got a bit excited to be honest. So we decided to have a little competition. We are working on the questions at the moment. They will be available Tuesday morning at some point. The deadline for entry will be 1 hour before the start of the first round on Friday.

Look out for more details here tomorrow.

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What to rely on

April 15th, 2015 7 comments

In the recent 4NCL I had the honour of playing first board for Wood Green with Black in two games. As I am entirely out of shape and blunder in more or less every rare game I play, my goal was to make draws, eliminate their best players and hope that the team would win on the other boards. This all went to plan and I gladly donated 1-2 rating points to the well-being of the team. Besides, I hope I will be allowed three white games in the final weekend!

My game on the Saturday was quite interesting at one moment, just after I blundered (always happens!) and I had to decide how best to deal with the defence. I think my considerations at the board were quite interesting and worth a minor discussion.

James Cobb – Jacob Aagaard

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 d5 4.e3 e6 5.b3 Bd6 6.Bb2 Nbd7 7.d4 0–0 8.Be2 Re8 9.0–0 Qe7 10.Qc2 dxc4 11.Bxc4
11.bxc4 e5 12.Nh4 Nf8 13.Nf5 Bxf5 14.Qxf5 exd4 15.exd4 Ne6 looks OK for Black. During the game I was slightly less sure, but I was going to play this way and that is what counts.

11…h6 12.Ne4 Nxe4 13.Qxe4 e5 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Nxe5 Bxe5 16.Qxe5 Qxe5 17.Bxe5 Rxe5 18.Rfd1 Kf8 19.Rd8+ Re8 20.Rad1 a5 21.a4 Rb8 22.R8d4 b5 23.axb5 cxb5 24.Bd5 Rd8 25.Kf1 Ke7

This is my blunder. I really had no clue that this was coming. As usual when this happens, I smiled. Life has lots of surprises for us; not all will be positive.

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