Strongest tournament in history?

Maybe it is, but does it really matter? Just enjoy six of the strongest players in the world compete in St. Louis. The Sinquefield Cup, named after America’s top chess benefactor, started yesterday and is well worth following.

You can see the games, along with video commentary, on the official site.


Magnus Carlsen (World Champion and #1 in the world)

Levon Aronian (#2)

Fabiano Caruana (#3)

Hikaru Nakamura (#5)

Veselin Topalov (#8)

Maxime Vacher-Lagrave (#9)

If you only catch part of the event, make sure to check in today, as Nakamura will have White against Carlsen.

Manhattan Open

July rating: 1807

(unofficial) current rating, as of 7/28: 1961

It isn’t often a class A player gains over 150 points in a month. What if the player is nine years old? Yes, Brandon Wang has had a good month, and is now knocking on the Expert door (more like getting ready to smash it down). Assuming his rating stands, he could easily end up as one of the top 10 nine year old chess players in the country. Impressive, to say the least.

How do you end up having such a good chess month? It’s easy, just tie for first in your section in two large tournaments. You know, that thing that none of us have ever done. No big deal.

First Brandon dominated the Under 2010 section of the Bradley Open, then followed it up a week later by demolishing the Under 2000 section of the Manhattan Open. In the process taking home enough money to get the attention of the IRS.

Congrats, Brandon, for having a great month – keep that momentum and who knows how high you can reach. Maybe your Dad will take you out of school so you can devote all your time to chess!

Recent tournaments

I haven’t been following the top tournaments recently, so I have to thank Ernie for pointing out a nice game by Caruana at the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting 2014. Calling a tournament a “meeting” really undersells it; I expect a bunch of bored people sitting around a conference table and talking in circles without accomplishing anything. But perhaps my day job has biased my opinion of that word.

It’s a small field, but strong. Besides Caruana there’s Kramnik, Adams, Leko, Ponomariov, Naiditsch, and a couple local (German) 2600s – also known as cannon fodder.

Today they will be starting the penultimate round, but the game Ernie (and I) would like to draw your attention to occured in Round 2. Clicking here will bring you to a playable version of the complete game, but before you play it through you should spend some time trying to find White’s move.

White to move

White to move

Other ongoing tournaments include Biel, featuring Vachier-LaGrave and Giri, and Bergamo, featuring Nepomniachtchi , Wesley So and (one of my favorites for his interesting opening play) Baadur Jobava.

Triple crown for Sauron

California Chrome has nothing on Magnus Carlsen, who recently completed the triple crown of tournament chess by winning the Rapid and Blitz world championships in Dubai. To go along with his regular world championship. What a trophy hog!

It was a disappointing event for US #1 Hikaru Nakamura, the pre-tournament favorite (at least by rating), ending in 29th(!) place in the Rapid. He did finish third in the blitz tournament, with a very strong last lap. As Chessbase reports, he won “against Aronian, Anand, Morozevich, Korobov and Dreev in a row”, but it was not enough to catch Carlsen (and he lost on tiebreaks for 2nd to Nepomniachtchi).

The Week in Chess has a nice report, including most (all?) games for replay. Here’s one:

GM Nakamura, Hikaru (2775) – GM Goloshchapov, Alexander (2586)
FIDE World Blitz 2014 Dubai UAE (1.1), 2014.06.19
1.e4 e6 2.d3 c5 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 g6 5.f4 Bg7 6.Nf3 d6 7.O-O Nge7 8.c3 O-O 9.Be3 b6 10.Qe2 Bb7 11.Bf2 Qd7 12.Nbd2 f5 13.Rfe1 Rae8 14.d4 cxd4 15.cxd4 fxe4 16.Nxe4 Nf5 17.Rad1 d5 18.Nc3 Kh8 19.Qd2 Bf6 20.h4 h5 21.Bh3 a6 22.Ne5 Nxe5 23.dxe5 Bd8 24.Ne2 a5 25.Nd4 Ba6 26.Rc1 Be7 27.a3 Rc8 28.Nxf5 gxf5 29.Bxb6 Qb5 30.Bd4 Bc5 31.Bf1 Qb6 32.Rxc5 Rxc5 33.Bxa6 1-0

US Championship

The 8th round is underway (live coverage at official site and elsewhere). GM Varuzhan Akobian is the current leader (5 points), followed by defending champ GM Gata Kamsky (4.5).

There are 11 rounds total (last round on Monday), with playoffs on Tuesday (if necessary). The Women’s championship (9 rounds) is being played at the same time (they are on round 7 today). IM Anna Zatonskih is in first (5), followed by defending champ GM Irina Krush (4.5). Notice a pattern?


Shamkir 2014

The very strong tournament held in memory of Vugar Gashimov is underway, with round 2 going on as I type this. The top section is a double round-robin, and at least one of the matches today should provide interest: Carlsen vs Nakamura.

You can hear live commentary (in English, so far) at the official site, and check out ChessBomb for a real-time board view of the games (with computer engine analysis).

Long interview with GM Nakamura

You can read the whole thing at ChessVibes. Some highlights:

1. He spends a lot of time in Italy, with his chess-playing girlfriend. Hopefully the US will not lose him like we did Caruana.

2. It is very unlikely he’ll continue playing (high-level tournament) chess once he turns 40.

3. His next tournament is the Vugar Gashimov memorial, from April 19-30. He’s playing in the A section, a 6 player double round-robin featuring World Champ GM Carlsen (aka Sauron), Caruana, Karjakin, Mamedyarov, and Radjabov.

4. He has just signed a sponsorship deal with Red Bull.

There’s more, but you should read it yourself.