We’re just a few weeks away from the start of the 2021 U.S. Open and US Chess has announced that legendary World Champion GM Anatoly Karpov will be in attendance on August 4th for a lecture, Q & A session, and book signing. Here is the official release info from the US Chess Federation:
Mr. Karpov will deliver a lecture, to be followed by a question-and-answer period. Then, Mr. Karpov will appear at a book signing in the US Open bookstore. He’ll be joined there by a former World Junior Champion, GM Maxim Dlugy! This special event is happening thanks to the combined generosity of the New Jersey State Chess Federation, Chess Max Academy, and US Chess Sales. US Chess thanks all of these partners for helping to provide our attendees with this great visit!
According to US Chess, the Crowne Plaza, which is hosting the event, is almost out of rooms but the federation has secured local hotels at the same discount rate. For details, visit the official website for the 2021 US Open.
After struggling a bit in the early rounds, Magnus Carlsen has emerged victorious in the FTX Crypto Cup online tournament. Overall, it was an exciting tournament to follow with many twists and turns. The initial round was filled with close scores and a large number of ties among the players. This eventually whittled down to four players who faced each other over the last two days for a share of the tournament prize. Wesley So battled it out against Magnus in a series of rapid events which ended in a tie between the players. This prompted a blitz playoff that was filled with some interesting and nail biting moments.
Throughout the past couple of days it was apparent that Magnus was struggling with a lack of motivation or from an illness that kept his performance below what we’ve come to expect from the world champion. He even went as far as to mention that he felt like shit during a postgame interview with Chess24 yesterday, which contributed to some of his mistakes on the board. In any case, Carlsen took the crown for this event and took home a $60,000 chunk of the prize fund and 0.6 bitcoin (about $22,000 as of this posting).
For an exceptional analysis of the games in the final matchups, check out this video from Gotham Chess:
Carlsen and many of the familiar GMs on this circuit will reunite on June 26th for the 2021 Grand Prix.
Looking for a way to boost your opening repertoire?
Maybe you’re a 1. e4 player looking to spice things up with a 1. d4 changeup. Well, Grandmaster Boris Avrukh has just launched a new resource that can help to satiate that craving. Boris has been coaching chess for 15 years and has written numerous books on chess openings. Yours truly had the privilege of getting demolished against him in a simul a few years ago.
His new website Ask Avrukh focuses primarily on his unique opening system with downloadable files suited to individual user abilities. These are universal examples of his opening lessons sorted by experience level, but he also offers opportunities for users to purchase customized files for the more advanced player.
In addition to the website, which is filled with valuable opening resources, Boris has also established a new YouTube Channel and regularly updates his Facebook page. I highly recommend that you “check out” Ask Avrukh! It is worth your time!
Another US Chess Championship has come and gone with GM Hikaru Nakamura claiming his 5th national championship title! There was a last minute push by former champion GM Fabiano Caruana, but he was unable to hold off a draw with GM Sam Shankland. Going into the tournament final, Nakamura and Caruana were tied with Leinier Dominguez for first place, but Nakamura was able to pound out a fine win to reclaim the title.
I was impressed with Nakamura’s performance considering that he also streamed regularly on his Twitch channel during the competition!
Just two days prior, 17-year old Jennifer Yu improved over her 2018 6.5/11 result to claim the title of 2019 US Women’s Chess Champion. Yu’s play was as solid as anything we’ve ever seen from her; solidifying her place among the great modern female chess players.
Congratulations to both players for a job well done! Read more on the official press releases (Nakamura)(Yu) on the official US Chess website.
GM Fabiano Caruana, who is currently ranked #3 in the world, won the 2018 Candidates Tournament in Berlin against GM Alexander Grischuk in the 14th round. Caruana held the lead for most of the tournament but found himself fighting back against victories by GMs Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Fortunately, the young American held off and emerged victorious in the final round. Caruana will go on to face GM Magnus Carlsen in November in London for the World Chess Championship title.
2018 Candidates Tournament Games
For your reference, this is the first time that an American has played in the World Chess Championship since Bobby Fischer beat Petrosian in 1971.
Known as The Anna Rudolf Method, this course challenges players to let go of old ways of thinking about chess improvement and look to five things that typically hold people back from advancing to 1600 ELO and beyond. Over 15 hours, Anna covers blunders, missed opportunities, missing the strongest plan, underestimating your opponent’s strategy, and fear/complacency.
Many chess fans will recognize the lovely Anna Rudolf as Miss Strategy on chess24, and she brings much of her talent for teaching others to this powerful new set. Yours truly just picked up a copy and will most likely provide a full review once I am well into it.
Grandmaster William “Bill” Lombardy passed away from an apparent heart attack on Friday at a friend’s home in California. He made waves in the professional chess world for his 11-0 ravaging of his opponents in the 1957 World Junior Championship, but he is best-known for being Bobby Fischer’s second during the 1972 match in Reykjavik against Boris Spassky. Prior to that match, Lombardy spent part of his career as a Catholic Priest. Eventually, he became disillusioned with the Catholic Church because of its views of celebacy and decided to leave the priesthood. He spent most of his life in New York City where he was evicted from his home and spent time in rehabilitation from an assault.
He was portrayed in the movie Pawn Sacrifice by Peter Sarsgaard. A thorough reflection on his life and achievements is available on ChessBase. Some of his tournament games are also available on ChessBase or ChessGames.com.
Halloween is right around the corner so I thought it would be a good time to dig into some of the darker and more mysterious mythology that haunts our game. Perhaps no other story has confused or amused chess players and fans more than the story of the notorious Claude Bloodgood.
Robbery, Murder, and Life Behind Bars
Claude Frizzel Bloodgood, whose name alone conjures images of the great villains from classic horror films, was convicted of burglary in the 1960s and served his prison time in Delaware. Shortly after being released, he murdered his mother, Margaret Bloodgood, in 1969 and was subsequently sentenced to death in 1970.
Not content to sit behind bars and wait on his execution, Claude stayed active playing chess and appealing his sentence along with several attempts to get released from custody altogether.
Unsuccessfully filed two petitions for habeas corpus alleging that his death sentence was prejudiced by the fact that he was a repeat offender.
Unsuccessfully argued that he was not provided a defense attorney during his trial as required by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright.
Unsuccessfully argued to state and prison officials that he had been born in 1924 in an apparent attempt to be released due to his age.
As if things were not strange enough, Claude also claimed to have been a Nazi spy. Curious since he would have been around the age of 10 years old at the time of World War II if his claims of being born in 1924 were true (they were not).
Prison Chess and Ratings Manipulation
I think that few people would argue against the idea that Claude was a good chess player, but his claimed rating and the mythology surrounding his chess career are remain a topic of considerable debate and scorn. He organized countless prison tournaments during his life, most of which were filled with new US Chess Federation members that were dominated by the seasoned Bloodgood.
This has led to accusations of ratings manipulation due to Bloodgood’s control and influence over the closed group of participants in his prison tournaments. In a sense, it is the same as walking down the street and getting every person I met to sign up for a US Chess membership just so I could beat the ones with little to no chess knowledge. Although they would have no rating or a low provisional rating, I would still see an increase in my own rating. Curiously, fragments of his games are scattered across the web with Chessgames.com offering the only collection that appears to have some coherence to it.
In addition to spending much of his jail time reading about and playing chess, Bloodgood also took the time to write chess books and work on his own opening, most notably his book on The Tactical Grob. More of a curiosity than a solid opening, The Grob has been the subject of much debate throughout the years and is available in several formats including free downloads across the internet (including Campfire Chess) and a print version available on Amazon.com.
Claude Bloodgood is one of those characters that adds to the colorful mythology that often surrounds chess and its players. Eccentricity has been a hallmark of chess personalities for centuries from enigmatic kings playing chess during the destruction of their fortresses to Paul Morphy’s final days and descent into madness and on to the famous disappearance and return of Bobby Fischer following his famous 1972 match. Claude Bloodgood might be one of the biggest con artists in chess history after Wolfgang von Kempelen and his famous Turk chess automaton. Or, it might be that he really was a good chess player and not as much of a con artist as many believe he was. We may never know.
The Simpsons is in its 28th season (premiered in 1989) and despite being written off by passing social fads like Family Guy has remained a staple of American culture for longer than many of its fans have been alive. Throughout its run, the show has hosted countless cultural crossovers including KISS, President Donald Trump, and many other celebrities that have brought the show a consistently refreshing take on the state of the world. This past Sunday, the show put chess at its center for the first time in its long history with an episode dedicated to exploring a complex and relatively unknown part of Homer Simpson’s backstory. To help him through the challenges of that backstory was the Norwegian World Champion himself: Magnus Carlsen!
I will not spoil the entire episode in case you have not seen it, but suffice to say that it is worth taking the time to watch! There are the usual missteps like chess boards being set up incorrectly, but there is also a great deal of attention to detail in the episode such as real-life positions on the boards and enough club-level chess talk to please even the most discriminating chess geek!
Moe’s Tavern taken by chess fever! (Image Credit: Fox)
For me, one of the best moments of the night came from the image above where Moe’s Tavern became the social hub dedicated to watching the episode’s final match. The creators truly captured the atmosphere of chess fans following the game in a way that was funny yet reverent in a way that only The Simpsons could achieve. If you have not seen the episode, you might qualify to watch it here depending on your cable provider.
Chessdom and Susan Polgar have posted a series of responses from the tournament organizers that explain in clear terms that Karjakin’s withdrawal from the tournament is disrespectful:
Karjakin has a signed contract with us and it does not state that he can withdraw from the tournament if he qualifies for the World Championship in November, states Jøran Aulin-Jansson.
This action feels disrespectful to us as the organizers of the event as well as the other players in the tournament, not to mention the entire chess world that were looking forward to the dress rehearsal for the World Championship match between Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen, says Aulin-Jansson.
Sergey Karjakin is a great chess player and he is still welcome as a participant in Altibox Norway Chess 2016. He has, after all, won both times he has participated, says Aulin-Jansson.
Karjakin obviously has a lot of nerves before his first World Championship match, however, we truly wish Karjakin and his advisors understand that one can not just run away from agreements because it suddenly does not fit in preparation for a match that does not start until about half a year later.
For more information, contact:
Phone: +47 913 32 242