Monthly Archives: May 2018

Ju Wenjun World Champion

It is perhaps the ultimate proof what FIDE thinks of chess and chessplayers – a World Championship match completely ignored. If the best players are ignored, then what do you think is left for the others?

If you wanted to follow the match, you had to put in some effort. In English, there was no media coverage, no live commentary, no press conferences. Sometimes it made me regret not learning Chinese. But at least I could get the moves.

I usually avoid political comments, but this time FIDE just went too far. They are so concerned about the elections in September, worrying and protecting their own interests, that the definition of it being a World Chess Federation is suspended. Gens una sumus? Doesn’t look like it.

Going back to chess, the match was quite an exciting one. There were 5 (!) decisive games in the first 6 of the match! Then things calmed down a bit as Ju Wenjun learned how to keep things under control.

It seemed to me that Ju Wenjun was clearly the better player. She won her games because she played better than Tan, she lost when she blundered badly. This reminds me of Kasparov’s conclusion about his losses to Karpov in one of his matches – he concluded that he was losing only when blundering badly. Once he stopped blundering, he stopped losing. This is what happened in the second half of the match in China – Ju learned how to avoid the blunders and that was basically the end of the match because Tan couldn’t outplay her. In fact, Ju could have won one or two more games and the score would have been quite convincing then. The final score of 5.5-4.5 doesn’t reflect her domination.

Ju’s best game was the third one, after which she led 2.5-0.5.

The stronger player won and one of the strongerst women players in the world is now a World Champion. If only FIDE would acknowledge the fact and pay respect by more than just posting it on their website.

CONTINUE READING

An Idea from Cuba

More than 10 years ago I was really looking forward to May and spring. It meant going to Cuba to play the Capablanca Memorial.

I played in Cuba in 2005 and 2007. I freely admit that big part of the Cuban attraction lay in the exotic nightlife and the great fun to be had in the surreal atmosphere of Havana. What great times they were!

This year’s Capablanca Memorial has again an open tournament and a double-round robin elite event alongside. While browsing through the games I noticed this very interesting idea in the Rossolimo Sicilian. It was played by my friend GM Yuri Gonzalez.

Ideas come easily in surroundings that are susceptible to their creation. For me Cuba was an attack on all my senses and understanding of how things should be done. It took me some time to get used to it, but once I did, it was just going with the flow. Here’s an exciting game from 2005, played after meeting Ozyris the previous night.

Thinking of Cuba always makes me smile. For me it was indeed Cuba Libre, in all possible senses. And I suppose spring will always remind me of Cuba.

CONTINUE READING

Inspirational Quotes

This post is somewhat off-topic and not directly chess-related. I do believe, however, that the better a person is (or becomes) the better the quality of his or her life. And that, eventually, will also lead to better chess.

The text below is taken from my newsletter, from time to time I send my readers inspirational quotes like the ones below. They do help me, so I hope they also help my readers. Just to remind you, if you like what you’re reading, please feel welcomed to enter my Inner Circle by using the yellow form on the right.

 

I’ve just finished reading a book by my favourite non-fiction writer. I’ve mentioned him and his books before, Tim Ferriss and his The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef.

His latest books are called Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors. I rarely buy books, mostly because I have already too many of them that are still waiting to be read, but these two I bought. Yesterday I finished Tools of Titans. The book is basically life-advice on various topics by people who have “made it”. You have writers, artists, sports people, enterpreneurs, CEOs, doctors, singers, actors, all walks of life really. When I read books like these I like to take notes so here I’d like to share some of them as I think they may be useful and they also nicely fit in the Inspirational Quotes category. So this time it is less chess, more inspiring and thought-provoking life advice! Enjoy!

 

Calm is contagious.

I’m either ready or not. Worrying is not going to change that. – Floyd Mayweather

The best plan is the one that lets you change your plans. (said by a non-chessplayer)

Standard pace is for chumps.

Busy = out of control. Lack of time = lack of priorities.

Being buys is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.

Being busy is often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.

Doing something well doesn’t make it important.

You are suffering because you’re focused on yourself.

When you are grateful, there is no anger, no fear.

Hope is not a strategy. Luck is not a factor. Fear is not an option.

Be a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generality.

Keep track of the times it worked, not of the times it didn’t.

Losers have goals. Winners have systems.

No need to play with the cards you’ve been dealt, change the table!

Amplify your strengths rather than fix your weaknesses.

When you complain nobody wants to help you. – Stephen Hawking

Don’t find time, schedule time.

Inspiration is for amateurs. Just show up and get to work.

When given a choice, take both.

Those who work much, don’t work hard.

Discipline equals freedom. Whatever freedom you want, you can only achieve it by discipline.

If you want to be tougher mentally, it’s simple: Be Tougher. It’s a decision to be tougher.

Work will work when nothing else will work.

What we most fear doing is what we most need to do.

In any situation you have 3 choices: change it, accept it, leave it.

Always choose courage over comfort.

Luxury is feeling unrushed.

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

Lives remaining: 0.

CONTINUE READING

Gashimov Memorial & US Championship 2018

It has been some time since these two finished, so the wrap-up is overdue. Since everything is already written and known of the tournaments and the results, I will focus on some personal observations.

The Gashimov Memorial is Carlsen’s second tournament victory of the year. It is good that both the Champion and the Challenger are dominating the events where they play. Carlsen’s play was far from ideal in Shamkir, but it sufficed. He embraced the pragmatic approach of Karjakin and made draws until his chances came. Then he took them, probably his most cherished one being against Giri, who at least for a while stopped his Twitterade.

I won’t repeat myself here as I recorded a video on my YouTube channel where I discuss the problem of the many draws that were non-events in Shamkir. I cannot say I like the occurrence, but it is the reality of modern chess.

In the US Championship the main news was the unexpected win by Sam Shankland, who definitely had the tournament of his life. Caruana had a great tournament, with only the temporary crisis in Rounds 4 (loss to Izoria) and 5 (saving a lost position against Shankland) preventing him from winning another title. He also won another Petroff with Black, against Robson. I also talked about his early novelties in Grenke, his opening preparation still reaps the fruits of the thorough preparation for Berlin.

The main negative surprise in Saint Louis was Nakamura. He lost 18 points and is only 3 points ahead of Grischuk as number 10 in the world. He scored a miserable 50% and he was absolutely toothless in the openings. I already wrote about this tendency of Nakamura to slacken, but I didn’t expect it would continue for the whole tournament. With Norway Chess coming soon, it is not inconceivable for Nakamura to drop out of the Top 10.

To conclude, I’ll take a look at the very convincing way Caruana dealt with an annoying line in the Sicilian.

CONTINUE READING