Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Grandmaster Accuses Fellow GM of Cheating at Tournament

At the Aeroflot Open in Moscow, Russua, Grandmaster Shakhryiar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) accused his opponent Igor Kurnosov (Russia) of cheating. Mamedyarov then withdrew from the tournament.

According to GM Mamedyarov, he felt the following circumstances pointed towards his opponent somehow getting computer assistance during the game in a letter he wrote:

To: The organizer of the AEROFLOT-OPEN tournamentAlexander Grigorievich

From: GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Explanation of my protest

Dear Alexander Grigorievich,

On 22.09.2009 the game between myself and Igor
Kurnosov was played. During the game my opponent went out of the playing hall
after each move, took his coat and withdrew himself on the toilet. After
suspicion of unfair play on move 14 I offered a draw, he refused. We quickly
played 11 moves, on the 12th move I played a move which confused my opponent.
The next moves from him were given as first choice by Rybka, which quickly
allowed him to win the game.

Due to this series of suspicions, having to do with the unusual behaviour of my opponent, Igor Kurnosov, I hereby lodge a protest and refuse to continue participation in the tournament. I hope that his kind of situation will not occur in the future.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

When the chief arbiter asked to see the contents of Kurnosov's jacket, all that was found was some ciggaretes, a lighter, and a pencil.

Here is the game data:

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2724) - Igor Kurnosov (2602)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nb6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2Nc6 9. O-O-O f5 10. h4 fxe4 11. h5 gxh5 12. d5 Ne5 13. Bh6 Nec4 14. Qg5 Rf7 15.Bxc4 Nxc4 16. Rd4 Qd6 17. Bxg7 Rxg7 18. Qxh5 Qf4+ 19. Kb1 Bf5 20. fxe4 Bg4 21.Nge2 Qd2 0-1*

Any thoughts on this interesting development in the chess world?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Video: Chess Position Practice #4 - Candidate Moves

Game PGN Data

[Event "Amber Blindfold"]
[Site "Monte Carlo MNC"]
[Date "2006.03.19"]
[EventDate "2006.03.18"]
[Round "2"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Levon Aronian"]
[Black "Veselin Topalov"]
[ECO "A03"]
[WhiteElo "2752"]
[BlackElo "2801"]
[PlyCount "101"]

1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 c6 5. O-O Bg4 6. Ne5 h5
7. h3 Be6 8. d3 Nh6 9. Qe1 Nd7 10. Nf3 Qb6+ 11. Kh1 d4
12. Nbd2 Nf5 13. Ne4 Bd5 14. c4 dxc3 15. bxc3 Nc5 16. Nh4 Nxh4
17. gxh4 Nxe4 18. dxe4 Bc4 19. Ba3 Qa5 20. Bb4 Qc7 21. Bc5 b6
22. Be3 c5 23. a4 O-O 24. Rg1 e6 25. Bf3 Bh6 26. Qf2 Kh7
27. f5 exf5 28. Bxh6 Kxh6 29. exf5 Qf4 30. Raf1 Rae8 31. fxg6
fxg6 32. Qg2 Qd6 33. Bxh5 Rxf1 34. Rxf1 Re5 35. Qg3 Bd5+
36. Kg1 Be4 37. Rf7 Qd1+ 38. Kf2 Rf5+ 39. Rxf5 Bxf5 40. Qg5+
Kh7 41. Qe7+ Kh6 42. Bg4 Qd2 43. Qe5 Qd8 44. Qf4+ Kh7 45. Bxf5
gxf5 46. Qxf5+ Kh6 47. Qg5+ Qxg5 48. hxg5+ Kxg5 49. Kf3 Kf5
50. h4 c4 51. Ke3 1-0

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Bit of Chess Philosophy

The British philosopher John Locke once made the case that the human mind is best described in terms of "ideas", and I think the same holds true for chess. People talk about tactics and strategy, theory and calculation, opening principles and endgame mechanics, but what all these terms boil down to eventually is ideas.
Think about it. The single most important thing about each and every chess move is that you know what you are doing, regardless of whether you deal with a tactical move, a strategic move, an opening move, an endgame move, an aggressive or a defensive move. And unless you excel at calculation, your decision will likely be based on an idea you are already familiar with from your previous games or your chess study.
Knowing what you are doing is key in chess, but in order to know what you are doing you first have to come up with an idea about what you could be doing. The more chess you play, the more ideas you will have, and the more familiar some ideas will be to you.
Familiarizing yourself with ideas will help you get ideas during the actual game. The nice thing about the word "idea" is that it avoids the somewhat artificial distinction between tactics and strategy. In chess, tactics and strategy are in essence the same thing: finding moves that make sense. The fact that tactics tend to play out in one to five moves rather than ten to fifty is irrelevant to the actual game: unlike a chess puzzle, a chess game doesn't tell you that there is a tactic in the position; if you want to discover a tactic in an actual game, you first have to get the idea that this kind of position might offer tactical opportunities you can take advantage of. Therefore, tactics is in essence the same as strategy, i.e. assessing the position as a whole to get an idea what kind of move you are looking for. And kinds of moves are what ideas in chess are all about.
Ideas, or kinds of moves, are the repertoire of the experienced player. They are part abstract (in the form of a motto, or principle, or rule of thumb) and part concrete (in the form of familiar positions or piece setups from previous games or puzzles). Learning a chess idea means to know the theme of the move, that is how it relates to other ideas and when the move usually occurs (in the opening, in a cramped position, in a kingside attack, in an endgame, etc.), but also to have a rough picture of the move on the actual board (knowing common positions, and the pieces and squares commonly involved).
The reason I'm waxing philosophical about the notion of "idea" in chess is that I find it highly useful for structuring and managing my study of the game. First of all, I no longer have that disconnect between studying tactics versus strategy, or or studying the opening versus the endgame; I still use these distinctions, but they are now all subsumed under "ideas", which I find makes accessing them much easier. Secondly, it is much easier for me to make sense of and articulate to myself what I am learning. When I learn, say, the 2-pawns+rook versus rook endgame, I know that I have to learn the ideas behind the moves, and that makes it much easier to look for those ideas, for instance the idea how pawns can shield a king from enemy rook checks. Thirdly, I feel I have a better grasp of what is important to retain from a study session and what is not. When studying master games, for example, I know longer care about the concrete moves or how the game progresses, but the central ideas the games illustrate. When doing tactics puzzles, I try to make a mental note of the ideas the tactics involve and the positional features that make the tactic work; just solving the puzzle, on the other hand, doesn't seem to benefit my OTB play all that much, because I can take nothing away from it except the fact that I solved it.
To sum up: The notion of idea enables you to ask, "what's the key idea behind that move, or what kind of move is this?" I, for one, find that question extremely helpful, although I perhaps need to flesh out in some more detail how I think the answer to that question should be structured. That's for another post.

Edit: Rather than writing another post, here's an illustrative example of a puzzle position. White to move:

Since this is a tactics puzzle, we already have the idea that there is some forced sequence here White can exploit to get an advantage. If we came by this position in an actual game, we might consider moves such as Re2 (defending against potential intrusions on the second rank) or Nc5 (placing the knight on a nice outpost). But as it is, we immediately start searching for a forced line, and the one forcing move that jumps out is Nc7, attacking the rook. From there, we have to calculate and see if there's a follow-up move that wins material. However, ideas are extremely useful to aid us in our calculations. During my calculation, I saw that the Black knight on d6 was pinned once the knight moved, and so I immediately considered Ne8. I also saw that Nxe8 was forced. At this junction, however, I had the idea that after Rxe8, the bishop on f8 would be pinned that that there was nothing to prevent my bishop from attacking the enemy bishop again if I moved it do d6, and I had the vague idea that Black's white-squared bishop was pinned. What I missed, however, was that the white-square bishop isn't pinned at all, and that Black can simply move his rook to a8 and after Rxe8, the bishop can move to b7, protecting the rook and his black-square bishop at the same time.

Now, you might say that this is just trivial calculation stuff and hasn't much to do with ideas at all. I would argue, however, that missing the bishop-bit in my calculation would have been much less likely if I had been familiar with that kind of bishop-move. Why? Because calculation is only partly figuring out a move-by-move sequence; a huge part of calculation is simply knowing a typical kind of move sequence. Look at the following position, for example (Black to move):

If I reached this position, I'd quickly see that Bxa4 is a bad move because after playing a lot of painful blitz games I have absorbed the idea of the rook-piece-rook pin. So it takes much less time to see that after Ra1, Black loses the bishop or the exchange. And the same goes for the above position once you assimilated the idea of rook-bishop-rook-protection. Here's the idea in its pure form:

To return to my original point: in order to absorb and retain chess positions in a way that is useful for improvement, think about them in terms of ideas. Of course, I am only a 1650-player, and I have yet to prove with my own chess-development whether the notion of idea is indeed a useful one. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Space - The Final Garbage Dump

If you think your back yard looks out of shape (or your room for that matter) take a look at this computer generated impression of the debris orbiting the planet.

Source: MSNBC

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Endgame Study with Computer Practice on http://www.jrobichess.com

I have added a new section to the main site at http://www.jrobichess.com that allows you to practice a number of staple endgame positions, along with some extras, with the computer as your opponent. Whether your new to endgame study or just want to get back to basics because you're in a slump, this should help quite a bit.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sicilian Defence Najdorf Poison Pawn Variation: New Annotated Chess Opening with Computer Practice on www.jrobichess.com

I have added an annotated opening for the Sicilian Defence Najdorf Poison Pawn Variation with computer practice and Grandmaster examples on the main site at http://www.jrobichess.com.

The Poisoned Pawn Variation is a name used to describe several chess opening variations where a pawn is said to be 'poisoned' because its capture can result in positional problems or material loss for the captor.

The best-known of these, and that most often described as the "Poisoned Pawn Variation," is a line of the Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation that begins with the moves:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6 after which 8. Qd2 Qxb2 usually follows, accepting the 'poisoned' b2 pawn, although White can also play 8. Nb3, protecting the pawn.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Linares Chess Tournament 2009 - A Historical Look at the "Wimbledon of Chess"

With Linares 2009 fast approaching, I thought it would be interesting to see who has won over the years since the tournaments first gathering in 1978. For those not familiar with the Linares tournament (sometimes referred to as the Morelia - Linares Tournament) it is regarded as one of the strongest annual chess tournaments held each year.

Tied for Win
Ljubomir Ljubojević - Tied for win 1985
Robert Hübner - Tied for win 1985
Péter Lékó - Tied for win 2003

1 Clear Victory
Jaan Eslon - 1978 Winner
Boris Spassky - 1983 Winner
Jan Timman - Winner 1988
Levon Aronian - Winner 2006

1 Clear Victory + Ties
Larry Christiansen - 1979 Winner, Tied for win 1981
Anatoly Karpov - Tied for win 1981, Winner in 1994

Vladimir Kramnik - Winner 2004, tied 2000, tied 2003.

2 Clear Victories + 1 Tie
Vassily Ivanchuk - Winner 1989, 1991, 1995 (won on tiebreak)

3 Clear Victories
Viswanathan Anand - Winner 1998, 2007, 2008

8 Clear Victories + 1 Tie
Garry Kasparov - Winner 1990, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1999, tied 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005 (won on tiebreak),

As the past shows, Garry Kasparov has definitely dominated the tournament that is often referred to as the "Wimbledon of Chess".

As more information is announced about Linares 2009, I will post it on the blog here. Should be another excellent tournament! Coming off of an amazingly interesting Corus 2009, this year is shaping up to be one for the history books in terms of quality top-level chess tournaments.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Corus Chess Tournament 2009 Winners

Thanks for using the blog to enjoy the Corus Chess Tournament. All the rounds and games are now on http://www.jrobichess.com under the tournament section to review at your leisure. They can be found in the tournament section on the main page.

I enjoyed the Corus tournament very much. This year's competition was much more enjoyable that previous memory, and although the people I was pulling for did not end up winning it was a close tournament right up until the last moves.

Here are the final standings:

Corus A

1. S. Karjakin 8
2. L. Aronian, T. Radjabov, S. Movsesian
5. M. Carlsen, L. Dominguez 7
7. G. Kamsky
8. L. van Wely, J. Smeets, Y. Wang 6
11. D. Stellwagen, V. Ivanchuk, M. Adams, A. Morozevich

Corus B

1. F. Caruana
2. N. Short, A. Motylev, R. Kasimdzhanov 8
5. A. Volokitin, F. Vallejo Pons
7. Z. Efimenko 7
8. D. Navara
9. Y. Hou, D. Reinderman 6
11. E. l'Ami
12. H. Mecking
13. K. Sasikiran, J. Werle 4

Corus C

1. W. So 9½
2. T. Hillarp Persson, A. Giri
4. D. HowellA. Gupta 7½
6. F. Holzke
7. D. Harika 6
8. F. Nijboer, E. Iturrizaga, A. Bitalzadeh, M. Bosboom, R. Pruijssers
13. M. Leon Hoyos 5
14. O. Romanishin