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Month: August 2015

Sinquefield Cup Round 3 Recap

Round 3 of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup saw the tournament developing in a completely different style than last year’s Caruana blowout. After 3 rounds in Saint Louis, Veselin Topalov remains in the lead with 2.5/3 points, but Magnus Carlsen is on a close trail with 2/3 points going into round 4. Topalov played a Canal-Sokolsky attack, which is a Nimzovich-Rossolimo variation.

The variation worked out well for Topalov, who has proven a force to be reckoned with in this year’s tournament. 2nd place is a 3-way tie between Carlsen, Giri, and Aronian each with 2 points. Carlsen played the English against Vachier-Lagrave and managed to edge out the French Grandmaster to continue his exceptional performance rebounding from a tragic time control mixup earlier this year in Norway Chess 2015.

Standings After Round 4

Rank Name Score Rating
1 Topalov 3.0/4 2816
2 Aronian 3.0/4 2765
3 Giri 2.5/4 2793
4 Carlsen 2.5/4 2853
5 Vachier-Lagrave 2.0/4 2731
6 Nakamura 2.0/4 2814
7 So 1.5/4 2779
8 Grischuk 1.5/4 2771
9 Anand 1.0/4 2816
10 Caruana 1.0/4 2808


2015 Sinquefield Cup Round 3 Games Collection

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Sinquefield Cup Round 2 Recap

The 2nd round of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup is complete and it is almost possible to feel the air being sucked out of the tournament room in Saint Louis from anywhere in the country. Veselin Topalov won a scorching victory against Hikaru Nakamura this evening to go 2-0 in the tournament. The two grandmasters battled it out over the board in a Ruy-Lopez Berlin Defence 3…Nf6 where Topalov held a slight advantage throughout the game before Nakamura succumbed to the pressure with 57…Rd4+.

Topalov’s win brings him to within 25 points of World Champion Magnus Carlsen for #1 on the FIDE leaderboard. Speaking of the champ, Carlsen edged out another victory against Fabiano Caruana to go 2-0 in the tournament. Caruana was unable to obtain compensation after Carlsen’s brilliant 39…Rb2! This time last year, Caruana was beginning his now-famous rampage through his opponents in the tournament, but the beauty of chess is showing us that nothing is a sure thing, even in the professional world.

White Result Black
1 GM Topalov V. (1) 2816 1-0 GM Nakamura H. (1) 2814
2 GM Vachier-Lagr. (1) 2731 ½-½ GM Aronian L. (1) 2765
3 GM Giri Anish (1) 2793 ½-½ GM So Wesley (0) 2779
4 GM Caruana F. (0) 2808 0-1 GM Carlsen M. (0) 2853
5 GM Grischuk A. (0) 2771 1-0 GM Anand V. (0) 2816

After two rounds, Veselin Topalov has sole lead in the tournament with Vachier-Lagrave, Aronian, and Giri coming in close second.

Rank Name Score Rating
1 Topalov 2/2 2816
2 Vachier-Lagrave 1.5/2 2731
3 Aronian 1.5/2 2765
4 Giri 1.5/2 2793
5 Carlsen 1/2 2853
6 Nakamura 1/2 2814
7 Grischuk 1/2 2771
8 So 1.5/1.5 2779
9 Anand 0/2 2816
10 Caruana 0/2 2808

The pairings for tomorrow’s round are as follows:

White Result Black
1 GM So Wesley (0) 2779 – – GM Grischuk A. (0) 2771
2 GM Aronian L. (0) 2765 – – GM Giri Anish (0) 2793
3 GM Carlsen M. (0) 2853 – – GM Vachier-Lagr (0) 2731
4 GM Nakamura H. (0) 2814 – – GM Caruana F. (0) 2808
5 GM Anand V. (0) 2816 – – GM Topalov V. (0) 2816

All Sinquefield Cup Round 2 Games

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Sinquefield Cup Round 1 Recap

The first round of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup is finished with each game concluding decisively. Magnus Carlsen and Veselin Topalov played a rather snoozy game that the World Champion later referred to as chicken chess. It seemed at times like Carlsen was playing as though he was not familiar with the opening. In the end Carlsen was unable to obtain sufficient compensation for his play and fell in the first round to Topalov.

Fabiano Caruana, who was last year’s tournament champion, was among the first players to fall in the first round. Caruana was unable to solve an exciting game against Levon Aronian. This was the game that I spent most of the day watching because I was curious to see how Caruana was going to approach this year’s tournament play. When it became apparent that he would be unable to convert a win against Aronian, WGM Jennifer Shahade remarked that Caruana, although lost, was poised to go out in a blaze of glory.


Fighting Spirit Throughout

While the Carlsen-Topalov game was a nice sleeper, it was clear that the participants came to Saint Louis this year with a strong will to fight in their hearts. Round 02 starts tomorrow at 1300 EST at the Saint Louis Chess Club and will be broadcast on multiple mediums across the web.

White Result Black
1 GM Carlsen M. (0) 2853 0-1 GM Topalov V. (0) 2816
2 GM Nakamura H. (0) 2814 1-0 GM Anand V. (0) 2816
3 GM Aronian L. (0) 2765 1-0 GM Caruana F. (0) 2808
4 GM Giri Anish (0) 2793 1-0 GM Grischuk A. (0) 2771
5 GM So Wesley (0) 2779 0-1 GM Vachier-Lagr (0) 2731


2015 Sinquefield Cup – Round 02 Pairings

White Result Black
1 GM Grischuk A. (0) 2771 — — GM Anand V. (0) 2816
2 GM Topalov V. (1) 2816 — — GM Nakamura H. (1) 2814
3 GM Caruana F. (0) 2808 — — GM Carlsen M. (0) 2853
4 GM Vachier-Lagr. (1) 2731 — — GM Aronian L. (1) 2765
5 GM Giri A. (1) 2793 — — GM So Wesley (0) 2779


2015 Sinquefield Cup – Round 01 Games Collection

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Campfire Stories #5

I am very excited that the Sinquefield Cup is in full swing at this very moment! It is one of my favorite tournaments throughout the year! Unfortunately, my own chess games have taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent weeks. This accounts for my lack of blogging activity as I have largely returned to the books and to working on tactics puzzles to help me solve some of the problems I have been having. As you will see in the game below, I have struggled to maintain adherence to basic chess principles when faced with tough decisions over the board. This is something that takes time and practice. To help myself understand these difficulties a little better, I annotated the following game move-by-move to analyze what went wrong and what could have gone right.

As you can see, there were many opportunities during the game for me to successfully convert sacrifices into gains but I was just not able to think that fast on my feet. Much of it has to do with mental exhaustion and distraction I have felt lately due to some work stress. Now that much of that is subsiding and I have spent some time in the books, I am hoping that things will start to return to the positive for me in my chess.

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2015 Sinquefield Cup Starts Today

Updated 1945 EST w/Round 1 Pairings – Click here to view.

The players have arrived in Saint Louis for the start of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup! Although it looks like rain has put a damper on some of the outside activities, the autograph session at 1200L was scheduled to proceed regardless of the weather. Round 1 will start tomorrow at 1300L with the following players participating:

Rank Title Name Country Rating
1 GM Carlsen Magnus NOR 2853
6 GM Anand Viswanathan IND 2816
4 GM Topalov Veselin BUL 2816
3 GM Nakamura Hikaru USA 2814
2 GM Caruana Fabiano USA 2808
7 GM Giri Anish NED 2793
10 GM So Wesley USA 2779
5 GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2771
9 GM Aronian Levon ARM 2765
8 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2731

There are several ways to tune in to the action including following the games on PlayChess.com, Chess24, and Chessbomb.

Round 1 Pairings

Pair Title White ELO Title Black ELO
1 GM Giri, Anish 2793 GM Grischuk, Alexander 2771
2 GM So, Wesley 2779 GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2731
3 GM Aronian, Levon 2765 GM Caruana, Fabiano 2808
4 GM Carlsen, Magnus 2853 GM Topalov, Veselin 2816
5 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 2814 GM Anand, Viswanathan 2816
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Campfire Stories #4

Next weekend marks the beginning of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis! As you might recall, last year’s event was dominated by Fabiano Caruana in his 7-game winning streak that crushed his opponents, including World Champion Magnus Carlsen. This year’s event brings some changes to the playing field that should add some interesting dynamics to the competition.

Magnus Carlsen returns to challenge opponents in Saint Louis
  • Magnus Carlsen (ELO 2863)
  • Fabiano Caruana (ELO 2802)
  • Hikaru Nakamura (ELO 2798)
  • Veselin Topalov (ELO 2798)
  • Alexander Grischuk (ELO 2794)
  • Viswanathan Anand (ELO 2791)
  • Anish Giri (ELO 2790)
  • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (ELO 2762)
  • Levon Aronian (ELO 2770)
  • Wesley So (ELO 2778)

It is very exciting that for the first time in history, the United States will have 3 players from the FIDE Top 10 represented! If you are in the Saint Louis area from August 22 to September 4, I highly encourage you to stop by the World Chess Hall of Fame and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to catch some of the greatest chess players of our time battling it out in what has become a highly prestigious American tournament. In the meantime, take a moment to enjoy the games from the 2014 Sinquefield Cup and relive the exciting battles before the players arrive in Saint Louis!

In addition to the festivities of the Sinquefield Cup, the American premier of Pawn Sacrifice will take place at the Chase Park Plaza in Saint Louis on September 3rd with a private VIP party featuring the players immediately following the film’s premier. For details, check out the official event page.

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Help the Max Euwe Center

Earlier this week, Chessbase co-founder Frederic Friedel appealed to his chess news audience to lend support for the Max Euwe Center in Amsterdam. The center was founded shortly after his death in 1981 and has since grown from a small museum and collection of books to an enormous collection of chess sets, books, and memorabilia from tournaments throughout history. As with any program that promotes cultural influences like chess, the museum has long relied on the financial contributions of private and corporate donors along with a subsidy from the city of Amsterdam. Although the article does not explain why it is happening, it appears that Amsterdam has chosen to stop providing the Max Euwe Center with the subsidy, which would put its future in doubt.

Max Euwe is known for being the only amateur chess player to ever win the World Championship. He defeated Alexander Alekhine in 1935, but only held the title for 2 years before the title was recaptured by Alekhine in 1937.

This kind of thing happens in the United States almost on a daily basis. Programs and organizations that promote culture and history through subsidies from local and national governments are seeing those subsidies slowly stripped away through budget cuts and poor financial planning. The niche nature of chess makes maintaining a museum like the Max Euwe Center a challenge in itself and without the proper support from a wealthy proprietor or government subsidy these kinds of places simply cannot exist. In the event that the Max Euwe Center cannot find the appropriate funding and ceases to exist, it is likely that the museum’s inventory will go to private collectors like the World Chess Hall of Fame and others around the world. This would ensure that the items stored in the museum are well kept, but limiting the material access to the public would be a loss for the chess world.

How You Can Help

Corporate Sponsors: Contact Eddy Sibbing, manager of the Max Euwe Center or call +31-20-625-7017.

Private Donations: Donate to IBAN: NL91 INGB 0005 4016 70 Stichting Max Euwe Center in Amsterdam. When donating to the center, indicate New Donor MEC plus your name and address.

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Campfire Stories #3

This has been an incredible whirlwind of a week! Unfortunately, very little of the week involved chess because I was promoted this week and spend much of my time preparing for the ceremony honoring the event. However, I did manage to keep up occasionally with the Biel Chess Festival in Switzerland where GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won in elegant style against GM Richard Rapport.

Over the past few weeks I have stopped playing regular blitz on Chess.com and focused more on 15 minute standard games with 10-second increments. The results of these games have been much more fulfilling than the countless blitz games that I lost miserably or won through time troubles or fundamental mistakes by my opponents. In addition to focusing more on my standard time control chess, I have also been working on some projects to create a fully Mac chess experience. As I have written about numerous times in the past, finding good chess software for the OS X platform can be a daunting task. One such project is a distributable OS X edition of the Tarrasch Chess GUI.

Tarrasch Chess GUI running on OS X

This simple little program has been popular with Windows users for years and has been ported by other OS X and Linux users, according to the site’s development blog. My goal is to create a distributable package for OS X where users can download the file from Campfire Chess or other websites without having to go through the tedious process of installing a wine skinner, finding appropriate themes and settings, and hoping that everything works OK. I hope to have it available for download in the coming weeks.

Your Greed Will Find You

The following game was played with standard 15|10 time controls on Chess.com in July. My opponent was rated about 100 points lower than me, but it was quite a struggle between the two of us. I chose Your Greed Will Find You as the headline for this game commentary because the endgame demonstrates the peril of always wanting to capture a piece that appears unguarded.

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