When Alexi Shirov and Richard Rapport, two of the world’s most interesting and entertaining players, faced each other at the Chess Olympiad, it was inevitable that sparks would fly.
One of the great things about the Chess Olympiad is that there are so many intriguing matchups. Round 5 of the recent Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, produced one of the best of them as two of the most uncompromising players from two generations — Alexei Shirov of Latvia, 44 and Richard Rapport of Hungary, 20 — squared off.
1. e4e52. Nf3Nc63. Bb5a64. Ba4Nge75. c3d66. d4Bd7So far the game has followed a fairly routine path and looks like a standard Steinitz Variation of the Ruy Lopez. But watch what happens... 7. h4!?Somewhat outlandish but it has a clear point. Black's bishop on f8 is shut in and can only come to life by g6 and Bg7 or Ng6 and Be7. White's move is excellent prophylaxis against both ideas. 7... h6
( 7... Ng68. h5 )
( 7... g68. h5 )
8. h5It looks like Black will have a very hard time developing his dark-squared bishop, but Rapport finds a clever solution: 8... Ng8!Instead, h6 would be more a more common move for Black in this type of opening. Essentially Black is losing two moves by playing Ng8-f6. But, White is spending those two tempi on h4-h5. This is probably in Black's favor 9. d5Nce710. c4b511. Bc2f5?!
( 11... c6Looks like a more natural way to attack the center. )
12. Nh4f413. g3!?
( 13. Nd2I would be content with a simpler plan, but Shirov had other ideas. )
13... fxg314. f4The position is already completely crazy! Nonetheless, I think both sides have played reasonably well. Black is under some pressure as White's pieces are poised to attack. 14... Nf615. fxe5!Bg416. Qd3Nxh5
( 16... dxe517. Qxg3Bxh518. Nc3Would not be much of an improvement. White still looks better. )
17. e6Ng6??A terrible blunder. Mistakes such as these tend to happen more often in irrational positions, even among very strong players
( 17... c6White looks better to me, but the game would continue. )
18. Nxg6Qf619. Qf1!The refutation. Black cannot take the knight on g6. 19... Bf3
( 19... Qxg620. e5!The undefended bishop on c2 does not matter because Black is about to be checkmated. 20... Qxc221. Qf7+Kd822. Qd7# )
20. Rg1Be721. Nxh8Qd422. Rg2And Black had seen enough. A very original game!
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
After 9 days of intense chess battles at the last leg of the World Chess Grand Prix series 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, the two winners of the series were finally determined: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, overall 340 points in the series) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 336,4 points). They qualified for the Candidates Tournament – the next part of the World Chess Championship cycle, which leads up to the Championship match.
The sole leader of the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix Levon Aronian made a quick draw with Evgeny Tomashevsky today, inviting the group of rivals to join him at the top. But same as in the previous rounds all games on the top boards finished peacefully and not a single player came close to catching up with him.
After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.
Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
In the Third Round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma de Mallorca games between the four leaders, Vachier-Lagrave-Aronian and Rajabov-Giri, finished in a draw. Peter Svidler joined the group of leaders by beating Jon-Ludvig Hammer in the third round.
The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca – a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.
Katerina Lagno, one of the strongest Russian women-grandmasters won the historic Moscow Blitz Tournament, beating her fellow Russian Olympic team members Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players