Gawain Jones | September 03, 2011 22:04

World Cup and Botvinnik Memorial

Hello everyone. I’m off to Rome shortly, via Windsor to stay with the very hospitable Manuel + Brigitta before Manuel drives me to Heathrow for a very early flight. It should be an interesting tournament; with the new September rating list I’m actually top seed (alphabetically as Khenkin is also 2624) but with ten of us 2577 and above it promises to be very tough.

Sue and I have been off on holiday for the past week. First of all we went up and spent a couple of days at my grandma’s in the Lancashire countryside and then we headed off to Caernarfon and Conwy in Wales. Sue will write an update on our holiday soon. I’ve actually had almost a month without playing a proper game but hopefully won’t be too rusty.

Meanwhile lots of high quality chess events are on at the moment. In Siberia (where we played the Olympiad last October) 128 players are battling it out in the World Cup. With so many games to watch it’s quite a spectacle. However the tournament is a knockout and with the mini-matches consisting of just two games, luck is a decisive factor.

At the time of writing the players are just finishing the first game of the third round. Already they have been whittled down to 32 players with a lot of top players having already become casualties. In round two we lost our only English player, Mickey Adams, who went down in the rapid playoff to Dane Peter Heine Nielsen. Other upsets include the Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Spaniards Alexey Shirov and Paco Vallejo.

I have to confess that while on holiday I didn’t really follow the action and so can’t highlight interesting games from the first couple of rounds but already round three is fun to watch. I advise you to check out Grischuk-Morozevich for a fascinating encounter between two highly creative super strong Russians. The top seeds in the tournament, Sergey Karjakin and Vassily Ivanchuk, both lost their first game in round three and so have a lot of work to do to advance, especially Ivanchuk who now has to win to order with black. Karjakin’s vanquisher was the strongest female player of all time, Judit Polgar who seems to be back to her aggressive best after taking some time off looking after her two young children.

While that circus is on, the top four players in the world are playing a rapid tournament in Moscow in memory of former World Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik. Of course rapid games aren’t to such a high level as their long play games but without precious FIDE rating points at stake the players are usually more creative. Poor Magnus Carlsen, world number one, has been on the receiving end of a battering losing both his games today against Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik. In the first, the Armenian played an interesting exchange sacrifice that might not have been fully sound at slow play but created enough problems in rapid, and followed it up with an aesthetically pleasing second exchange sac. Against the Russian, Magnus tried an offbeat and rather dubious opening (1.Nf3 b5?!) to try and unbalance the struggle. I’ve actually played this once myself and know the difficulties Black can get into as a result of delaying his development. Here Kramnik rather rolled over the young Norwegian. Vishy Anand currently leads the tournament after defeating Aronian.

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Author: Gawain Jones

Gawain Jones is an English chess player and grandmaster.

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