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Month: June 2015

Putting Things on Pause

For the second time in less than a year, the “main office” of Campfire Chess will be moving to a new location. Fortunately I get to continue enjoying the beautiful climate and hospitality of San Antonio. Until we are re-settled safely, Campfire Chess will be on a temporary hiatus. See you all very soon!

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Wrapping Up Norway Chess 2015

I set out to make Norway Chess 2015 the first tournament where I produced a daily tournament report and summary of games, but trying to do so with family visiting from out of town was probably a bad idea. I wrote seven tournament reports and published six of them because there was not enough time to balance family and blogging. And now Norway Chess is over and GM Veselin Topalov is the clear winner with a quick (18 move) draw against GM Vishwanatha Anand and earning 6.5/9 points in the overall tournament.

Much of the chess world had already pegged Topalov to win the tournament, so his victory was not as much of a surprise as was Magnus Carlsen’s loss to GM Jon Ludwig Hammer! I can imagine that commentators and enthusiasts will be analyzing the 34-move Carlsen vs. Hammer game for some time, especially considering the shock factor associated with the win. GM Hammer is the lowest rated player in the Norway Chess tournament and Carlsen is the current World Chess Champion. I am sure that Hammer is going home today with a big smile on his face knowing that he defeated the World Chess Champion in the last round of one of the strongest tournaments out there.

If the final standings of Norway Chess 2015 are any indication of how the Grand Chess Tour is going to go then I think we can all sit back and get ready for a year filled with exciting and mind-blowing chess! Replay all of the games from Norway Chess 2015 below.

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Carlsen and Nakamura Draw in Round 6

Round 6 of Norway Chess 2015 is roaring along with the eyes of chess fans looking in two directions: 1) at Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura’s game to see if Carlsen can squeeze out another win, and 2) at Veselin Topalov’s commanding 5.5/6 lead. Round 6 earned Topalov another win against Alexander Grischuk. Grischuk’s recent performances have brought him below the 2800 ELO mark to 2781 and another loss in this tournament (1 of 3) did not help his cause.

Topalov is the man to beat in Norway Chess 2015.

On the Carlsen front, the World Champion played a somewhat interesting game against Nakamura in which the position looked won at several times, but the competition eventually gave way to a draw. Nakamura is a master of tactical positions and that expertise shined through in holding off to get the draw against Carlsen. The 95 move game between the World Champion and his potential challenger was exhausting to watch, so I can only imagine how exhausting it was to play. In fact, I was able to run some errands, take a nap, and spend some time with the kiddos before the draw was made on move 95. Here’s the full game:

Magnus Carlsen is still looking for his mojo.

Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, and Jon Ludwig Hammer have almost completely disappeared from headlines and online tournament reports as each of them sit with Carlsen near the bottom of the cross table. Only time will tell if any of them can stage a comeback in the second half of the tournament and earn one of the top-three spots. Check out all of the games here:

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Rounding Up Norway Chess Round 5!

If fortune tellers could predict the end of the world from the wins and losses of Magnus Carlsen, then they can put away their crystal balls and stop wearing signs that say The End Is Here because Carlsen earned his first win in Norway Chess 2015 today against GM Alexander Grischuk. The two players chose the Najdorf variation of the Sicilian Defense with 6.g3, which led to an excitingly devastating endgame in which Carlsen viciously pushed his opponent into the h8 corner:

Credit: ChessBase

The standings at the halfway point in the tournament are very exciting and definitely a surprise. Veselin Topalov is clearly in the lead with 4.5/5 at the end of Round 5 following his victory over Jon Ludvig Hammer. Hammer has contributed a number of wins to other players and sits at the bottom of the cross table with 1.0/5 with two draws.

Play through all of the games from Round 5 below:

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Support the Dayton Chess Festival!

The following is a communication from the Dayton Chess Club‘s Board of Directors and the President of the Ohio Chess Association. The Dayton Chess Club is organizing the first ever Dayton Chess Festival and is in need of financial support to make the event a reality. Dayton, Ohio is my hometown and I join them in imploring the chess community to reach out and help a city bring the wonder of chess to its citizens through this amazing tournament and festival in honor of our game! If after reading this letter you would like to make a donation to support the chess festival, please give online at www.daytonchessfestival.com or mail a check to the Dayton Chess Club (18 West 5th St, Dayton OH 45402).


As the Dayton Chess Festival draws near (a little over a month away) we have fully turned our energies to our fund raising drive…we are currently short and we are asking for your support.

I’m a member of the Dayton Chess Club’s Board of Directors; we are a good group…we are a strong team of professionals.

We are the committee that’s organizing the upcoming International Chess Event in Dayton.

  1. Dayton Chess Festival 7-Day (July 27 – August 2)
  2. Dayton Masters IM/GM Norm Tournament (July 27 – July 31)
  3. FIDE Futurity tournament(s) to run parallel (July 27 – July 31)
  4. Aviator Open Weekend Tournament FIDE/USCF (July 31 – Aug. 2)

The Dayton Chess Festival & Tournaments will be held every year. July 2015 is the 1st One…The Historic Kickoff:

  • Games broadcast live on Chess.com
  • Games broadcast live to spectators & website….thanks to Kelly Bloomfield.
  • The world is paying attention to our newest 14-year old GM-elect Jeff Xiong. Clear 1st Place 2015 Chicago Open (7 out of 9 games) Jeff Xiong is playing in the Dayton Masters.
TUNE IN
  • We begin the Dayton Masters with an Opening Ceremony Monday, July 27 at 11:00am
  • And we close the tournament with a Closing Ceremony Friday, July 31 at 5:00pm
  • We want dignitaries present (which means media will be present) we are going after:

Our total expenses is $12,000, so far we raised $5,200.

Some Brief Q & A

Our tremendous event has expenses: Grandmaster’s appearance fees, FIDE Arbitrator, Street Permits, Hotel Expenses, Marketing, Prize Fund, etc…

Who is managing the money, the budget: The DCC Board, we are a strong team of professionals. DCC Board members are listed on the website.

Why give a donation? Why support our efforts? A Dayton Chess Club Membership for starters….but wait, there’s more!! (see comments below)

Next year’s budget and fund raising follows a different plan. We need help on this “first one.” We need a successful launch. This is truly a significant moment. History is watching us and taking notes. We are asking the chess community to stand with us, make a donation and help make our 1st Dayton Chess Festival a true success.

Please Give online at www.daytonchessfestival.com or mail a check to the Dayton Chess Club (18 West 5th St, Dayton OH 45402).

Your name will be posted on the website under “Current Sponsors”…..or you can give Anonymously (as a few have done)

To be clear…this is a fund raising drive. We are driving toward $12,000. I will send out a follow up email reporting on our progress. Both donors and donation amounts are listed on the websitewww.daytonchessfestival.com. By adding up all the total donations, you can see where we stand. Please visit the website often to see who gave and to do the math. Tell a friend….help create a buzz. We are $7,000 short. Will the chess community come together and play a strong move? Believe and Give. Our “fund raising committee” will be contacting many of you, to help you “believe and give”….please be kind to us.

Dayton Masters IM/GM FIDE Norm Tournament Players

  • 2550 – GM Vladimir Georgiev – Macedonia
  • 2539 – GM Georgi Margvelashvili – Georgia
  • 2496 – GM Dejan Bojkov – Bulgaria
  • 2497 – GM-elect Jeff Xiong – United States.
  • 2480 – GM Nikola Mitkov – Macedonia
  • 2426 – FM Ruifeng Li – United States
  • 2449 – IM John Bartholomew – United States
  • 2370 – IM Calvin Blocker – United States (Ohio)
  • 2365 – IM Farai Mandizha – Zimbabwe
  • 2318 – FM Carl Boor – United States (Ohio)

Here is the story. FIDE IM/GM Norm Tournaments are usually held outside the US. These tournaments are in high demand, so players travel abroad for the opportunity to play and participate. These hungry and highly talented chess players are seeking “coveted” FIDE ratings and “life changing” IM/GM Norms. We have two home-grown Ohio masters looking to grab IM/GM Norms at the Dayton Masters Tournament. International Master Calvin Blocker is looking for his first GM Norm. FIDE Master Carl Boor is looking to gain either an IM or GM Norm. Did you hear? We have the winner of the 2015 Chicago Open in the line up…..14 year old GM-elect Jeff Xiong (currently TX….but Ohio alumni). This tournament will put Dayton and Ohio Chess on the International Chess Map. Ohio is already becoming a hot bed for chess. We are organizing an International FIDE Chess Event that will cultivate and grow talented chess players for years to come. All of this….in Dayton and in Ohio and in the USA. It’s all major.

What is a Norm…..IM Norm or GM Norm? A norm is a performance benchmark earned from playing in a FIDE tournament against other FIDE titled players. An IM/GM Norm is given by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) depending on how well a player performs in the tournament.

World Chess Federation (FIDE) – Examples of 3 FIDE Titles (awarded for Life) To be awarded the title of (FM) FIDE Master….your FIDE rating must be above 2300 To be awarded the title of (IM) International Master…a (FM) Fide Master needs 3 IM Norms (performances). To be awarded the title of (GM) Grandmaster…an (IM) International Master needs 3 GM Norms (performances) and a FIDE rating over 2500

Why give a donation? Why support our efforts? Donate $100 and receive “one year” DCC membership or donate $50 for 1/2 year DCC Membership. Ask for membership along with your donation. Chess players are making us proud and emotional, they are freely giving. And we will honor their belief in us.

The FIDE Futurity Tournaments gives chess players the opportunity to become FIDE rated or to gain “coveted” FIDE ratings. Ohio is making a move to have the most FIDE rated players….shh.

The Aviator Open is the concluding weekend tournament….a true open section, like the US Open, that means open to all. So you might face a beast, like a GM, in the first round….yes, this is a benefit of giving!!

Much like the WORLD OPEN, chess players have a new summer traveling destination. The Dayton Chess Festival, a yearly tradition “where chess players bang…and enjoying chess.” The Chess Community comes to play, scrap and participate…..witness history first hand, watch GM games live and in person. This whole show is a fiasco for the chess players. Who else can truly appreciate an International Master? Or a Chess Festival? When was the last time you’ve been to a chess festival?

Appreciate the beauty of the IM/GM games from the comforts of work (or home) on our website and at Chess.com. Brush up on your English, it needs a little help.

With your donation, all the chess players will “see and recognize” that you are helping to birth a prestigious International Chess Event, along with cultivating Ohio Chess and supporting a fun and beautiful experience for the chess players. Smiles.

2016 Budget and Fund Raising

Dayton Chess Festival will be 501-C3 non-profit status, next year. (we have a strong lawyer on the DCC Board) 501-C3 non-profit status, allows for donations to be tax write-offs.

We are specifically going after Corporate Sponsors (think NASCAR)

Crowd funding, Kick Starter. It’s hip, it’s new….it works!!

We have a full year of planning, compared to 1/2 year of planning in 2015. More time.

Next year, we have a powerful story, the Chess Community rallied, came together and made sure the 1st Dayton Chess Festival was well funded and a big time success.

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Anand Defeats Carlsen in Round 4

I cannot imagine that anyone saw this coming! After finishing Norway Chess Round 3 with an unconvincing draw against Anish Giri, today’s game against Vishwanatha Anand was nothing short of disastrous. Anand probably wishes that this kind of win had appeared in the November 2014 World Chess Championship in Sochi. Magnus Carlsen’s loss against Anand today gives him 3 losses, 1 draw and makes him .5/4 for the tournament.

I am sure that some analysts are wondering what is happening to Magnus Carlsen and maybe even considering that he might have reached his peak playing ability. However, I think that by looking at the context of Magnus’ losses and the fact that the way he is playing right now is highly inconsistent with his usual classical style that most of it can be attributed to life distractions and the chaotic nature of chess. Magnus has a great amount of demands from chess fans, sponsors, and I am sure that his family puts some form of pressure on him to continue winning tournaments. Eventually, the increasing layers of expectations begin to get out of control and can weigh down the lightest of chess amateurs up to the highest in the professional world. Some have speculated that Bobby Fischer might have cracked under all the pressure of being #1 in the world. However, I think it is more likely that the world needs to take a break from searching for a reason to condemn Magnus for any misstep in his game and give him the rest from the demands that we place on him. As of the end of today’s round, the current standings look like this:

Credit: ChessBase

Check out all of the games from Round 4 below:

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An Apology and Missed Chances in Norway Round 3

Norway Chess 2015 continued today by delivering more roundhouse kicks to the face to World Champion Magnus Carlsen while it also gave us our first sense of who is in contention for the top spot in the tournament. Of course, with is devastating 0-2 start in the tournament, all eyes were on Carlsen’s game against GM Anish Giri. I have family visiting this week from out of town, so I did not get the opportunity to sit down and follow much of the tournament throughout the day. When I checked in on the Carlsen-Giri game, this was the position:


After 15…Rc7

It was hard to discern Giri’s exact strategy against Carlsen from this move, and it was about that time when my family’s plane landed and I had to shut the tournament off. Carlsen and Giri went on to play a grueling 76 move battle in which Carlsen squandered a clearly winning position to end up with a hard-fought draw from Giri. On the positive side for the champion, this ends his losing streak in the tournament, but the .5 points he received for the draw may not do much for his confidence. Here’s the full game:

I was very excited to look back on the game between Caruana and Nakamura since both of them have demonstrated their potential to rise the the pinnacle of professional chess in the last few years. This was one of those matches where I felt that it was hard to really pick a side. Nakamura is a blitz expert who plays regularly on Chess.com while Caruana is an exceptional player with a powerful presence in prestigious tournaments around the world. Either way, a loss for one of them in this match is a loss for all of us. Yet, Nakamura claimed victory in a beautiful and decisive 56 move game with the white pieces. Some of Nakamura’s moves just out of the opening lines were reminiscent of blitz and speed chess, which are designed to put pressure on one’s opponent early in the game, but Caruana equalized the position nicely. In the end, it was Nakamura’s deadly passed pawn and Rook combination that sealed the deal for the American Chess Champion.

The remaining games were drawn.

An Apology from the Tournament Director

Earlier today, Norway Chess director Jøran Aulin-Jansson issued an official apology to Magnus Carlsen and the other players on behalf of the Grand Chess Tour and the Norway Chess Chief arbiter. The apology focused on the problems with sharing critical information about the revised time controls that cost Magnus Carlsen his loss in the first round. Here is a complete transcript of the notice:

On behalf of the Grand Chess Tour and the Chief arbiter, as well as personally, I would like to apologize to the players for the insufficient information with regards to the time control. Allthough [sic] the information was on the www.grandchesstour.com and was also announced prior to the first round, we learned that several players, during the first round, were not aware of the new and unconventional time control. This fact tells us that our work providing the information leaves room for improvement. For this, we are truly sorry, and especially towards Magnus Carlsen who lost his first game due to not being aware of the time control.

Round 4 begins tomorrow at 1600 local time in an ancient medieval monastery! In the meantime, play through all of the games from Round 3 below:

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Carlsen 0-2 in Norway Chess Round 2

Professional and amateur chess players lose games all of the time. Unless you are the World Chess Champion, then most people tend to not notice or make a big deal enough to blog about those losses. Magnus Carlsen is the current world champion of professional chess and is 0-2 in Norway Chess 2015. The first loss was stunning on its own, but the loss today to GM Fabiano Caruana continues the shock and awe among the chess faithful.

Credit: ChessBase

On a positive note, Carlsen did adhere to the appropriate time controls in this round and his game with Caruana was the only game played today that was not drawn. At one point, Nakamura looked bored at his board (ouch…grammar) against Topalov in a drawn position:

The rest of the games were drawn as well, which puts Carlsen in the tragic position of last place in the tournament. There is still a lot of chess to be played in this tournament, but Carlsen is the only player that has put up goose eggs on the board in the first two rounds. Since it will already take a significant act of concentration and willpower on Carlsen’s part, another loss could doom his chances at winning this prestigious tournament. A significant loss in Norway Chess would probably only serve to embolden the likes of Caruana and Nakamura who remain close behind to challenge him for the World Chess Championship in 2016. Play through all of the games from Round 3:

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Time Controls Shock Norway Chess Round 1

There is a fantastic scene at the end of Star Trek Generations where Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Commander William Riker are walking through the destroyed bridge of the Enterprise. At one point, Commander Riker tells Captain Picard that he is going to miss the ship because “she went before her time.” Picard then proceeds to give one of the best speeches in science fiction film when he replies:

Someone once told me that time is a predator that stalks us all our lives, but I like to think of time as a companion who goes with us on the journey. It reminds us to cherish every moment because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.

Perhaps time can be a companion that guides us on the pathways of life, but for a chess player trying to score a victory in a tournament, time controls tend to be much more predatory. This was the case today with GM Magnus Carlsen, who was unaware of the established time control and lost on time in a position that was clearly won for his pieces.

Magnus Carlsen (2798) – Veselin Topalov (2876)
Norway Chess 2015 (Round 1) | After 60…Kf7.

Carlsen’s play was as strong as always, but his late arrival to the playing hall caused him to miss the crucial information from the tournament arbiter about the time controls. Carlsen believed that he had an extra 15 minutes on move 60, but lost the game when his clock flagged. This tragic end for the World Champion’s Round 1 is a memorable start to the incredibly strong tournament. Other wins include Anish Giri against Alexander Grischuk, Hikaru Nakamura with an easy victory over Jon Ludvig Hammer, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave over Levon Aronian, and a draw between Vishwanatha Anand and Fabiano Caruana.


Standings After Round 01
Source: ChessBase


Nakamura’s game was the only one I had time to follow live, and looking at the PGN results I think that it is one of the more interesting games. He wasted no time creating a highly complex position and forcing Hammer into a corner. The pressure in that game was intense, and even when it looked as though Nakamura held a compromised position, victory was all but certain to the very end. Play through all of the games from Round 1 below:

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Norway Chess 2015 Begins Today



Update on June 15 @ 2200 EST
GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave wins the Norway Chess 2015 Blitz Tournament.
Click the campfire icon to view the update.


The greatest chess players in the world have gathered in Scandic Stavanger Forus, Norway for the 2015 Norway ‘No-Logo’ Chess Supertournament. In just a few short years, this tournament has emerged as one of the premier playing events for the world’s best players and this year it takes the stage as part of the recently announced Chess Grand Tour. The Grand Tour itself is a collection of tournaments designed to increase the prestige and attention to international chess in traditionally low-interest arenas like the United States. Each of the tournaments in the Grand Tour represent the best of what international chess has to offer, with Norway Chess 2015 leading the way. As of 0700 EST in the United States, the blitz pairings for the tournament are available 2015 Norway Chess official website.

Blitz Pairings for Norway Chess 2015
Pair Country Name Rating Country Name Rating
1 Norway GM Jon Hammer 2665 Armenia GM Levon Aronian 2776
2 Netherlands GM Anish Giri 2776 Norway GM Magnus Carlsen 2876
3 United States GM Hikaru Nakamura 2799 Bulgaria GM Veselin Topalov 2803
4 Russia GM Alexander Grischuk 2780 India GM Vishy Anand 2804
5 France GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2754 India GM Fabiano Caruana 2803

The 2014 Norway Chess tournament was won by GM Sergey Karjakin from Russia with 6/10 points, World Champion Magnus Carlsen coming in a close second with 5.5/10 points. Karjakin is not participating in this year’s event, which means that Magnus Carlsen and GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana looking to give him a run for his money. Nakamura and Caruana are believed by many chess commentators to be Carlsen’s biggest challenge to the World Championship title. One thing is for sure, the international chess community is in for an exciting tournament!

Follow all of the games with live commentary and engine analysis on chess websites across the web:

  • Chess.com – follow the games in the live chess arena.
  • PlayChess.com – with commentary and analysis from ChessBase.
  • ChessBomb – with chatroom options and live engine commentary.
  • Chessdom – with live commentary and 3-engine analysis.
  • Chess24.com – with live commentary and engine analysis.

Update on June 15 @ 2200 EST

The blitz section of the Norway Chess 2015 tournament has ended with GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave claiming the top spot with 6.5 points. GM Hikaru Nakamura, who is a well-known blitz expert, finished the blitz tournament in close second with 6 points. The final standings of the blitz tournament are:

  1. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – 6.5 pts
  2. GM Hikaru Nakamura – 6 pts
  3. GM Magnus Carlsen – 5.5 pts
  4. GM Anish Giri – 5.5 pts
  5. GM Vishwanathan Anand – 5.5 pts
  6. GM Levon Aronian – 5 pts
  7. GM Alexander Grischuk – 4 pts
  8. GM Veselin Topalov – 3 pts
  9. GM Fabiano Caruana – 2.5 pts
  10. GM Jon Ludvig Hammer – 1.5 pts
View all of the blitz games from Norway Chess 2015:

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