01 February 2009

Corus Chess 2009: Historic Finale--Live!

3:24am PST; 12:24pm CET

Why am I awake at this hour? The Corus Chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee ends today. The last round, which could take six or seven hours, or even longer will be all but finished in the next four hours. Six players in the top group are vying for first place.

I am waiting for the games to begin.

Wang Yue played 1.d4

3:31am PST

I am logged into the Playchess server, where I am simultaneously watching seven games. All of theme will affect the final result in the Grandmaster A and B Groups.

Dominguez - Karjakin are playing a Sicilian Najdorf
Smeets - Aronian: Sicilian Kan
Kamsky - Movsesian: Sicilian Scheveningen
Wang - Carlsen: Semi-Slav
Radjabov - Stellwagen: Sicilian Scheveningen
Motylev - Kasimdzhanov: Pirc
Caruana - Short: Open Catalan

Some 55 moves on seven boards in eight minutes. There's no way that I will not miss some of the action. But, I won't miss it all.

Magnus Carlsen is eighteen years old. His father Henrik maintains a blog, Magnus Carlsen: Chess Grandmaster, where he wrote yesterday:
As parents we've always maintained that Magnus should focus on having fun, learning and on doing his best, and not on results, but by now we have of course realized that there is quite a lot of focus on results from the outside world. Maybe not surprising when you are a top5 chessplayer at 18 and one of the pre-tournament favourites, but anyhow a mixed blessing for a young player.
Corus 2009 Round 12
Young Carlsen is not the youngest potential winner today. The leaders in the Corus C Group are the youngest players in the three main tournaments, including the newest and youngest Grandmaster, Anish Giri. But, Carlsen is the highest rated player vying for first place today. The January 2009 FIDE Rating List has Magnus Carlsen at number 4; his opponent this afternoon is number 13, Wang Yue.

Wang Yue - Carlsen [D45]
Corus Chess (13), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 b6 7.Bd3 Bb7 8.O-O dxc4 9.Bxc4 c5 10.Rd1


4:05am Pacific Standard Time; 1:05pm Central European Time

Dominguez - Karjakin [B90]
Corun Chess (13), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bc1 Nf6 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bh4 g5 11.Bg3 Bg7 12.h3 Nf6 13.Qe2 Nc6 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.e5 dxe5 16.Bxe5 O-O 17.g4

Both of these players are in first. One might win, but not both, unless there are five draws.

Dynamic Chess Strategy
Two felons must be charged with having jolted me out of the solid and healthy "classical" approach to strategy: 1. The Sicilian and its grandson, the Hedgehog. 2. My first GM norm.
Mihai Suba, Dynamic Chess Strategy (1991), 23
Dutchman Jan Smeets is tangling with a hedghog: Levon Aronian has five pawns on the sixth rank. The fifth rank is vacant.

Smeets - Aronian [B42]
Corus Chess (13), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.O-O Qc7 7.Qe2 d6 8.c4 g6 9.Nc3 Bg7 10.Rd1 O-O 11.Nf3 Nc6 12.h3 Nd7 13.Be3 b6 14.Rac1 Bb7


In February 2004, my USCF Rating was 1506 and in round 4 of the Collyer Memorial Tournament I was playing an underrated fourth grader named Zach. I had recently taken up the French Defense as my new main line against 1.e4. But, facing a young aspirant whose rating was far below me and far below his playing strength, I needed an edge. I went with my experience and played the Sicilian, my weapon from the late 1970s. The kid is now in high school, he is now rated over 1800, and he has had White in five games of our six rated tournament games. He's played against my French five times. Black has three wins and two draws. My one White was an Open Catalan, also drawn.

I may now be a Frenchie, as someone called me recently, but a day full of Sicilians still can get me excited, particularly when there is a hedghog among them.

Back to Smeets - Aronian

15...Rfc8 16.Qd2

4:39am PST

Except for the humming of a CPU fan that bears replacing, my house is quiet. I could go out into the cold, dark morning to find that my newspaper is not here yet. I expect delivery is another hour. The newspaper will be filled with stories about a football (the American version) game that takes place later today, advertisements to stimulate our failing economy, and highlights from another forgettable WSU basketball game.

The news I want is on my computer screen.

16...Bf8 17.Nb5

Wang Yue - Carlsen Update

11.d5 exd5 12.Nxd5 Bxd5 13.Bxd5 Nxd5 14.Rxd5 Be7 15.e4 O-O 16.Bg5 Re8 17.Rad1 Nf8

4:47am PST

Radjabov- Stellwagen [B85]
Corus Chess (13), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 Nf6 7.O-O Be7 8.Be3 O-O 9.Nb3 a6 10.a4 b6 11.f4 Qc7 12.Bf3 Bb7 13.Qe2 Rfe8 14.Rad1 Bf8 15.Qf2 Nd7 16.Kh1 Rab8 17.Nc1 Ba8 18.Qe2 Qc8

Kamsky - Movsesian [B83]
Corus Chess (13), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 Be7 7.O-O O-O 8.Be3 Nc6 9.Qd2 a6 10.a4 Bd7 11.Rfd1 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Bc6 13.Qe3 Qc8 14.a5 e5 15.Bb6 Qe6 16.Qd3 Rac8 17.h3 g6 18.b3 Kg7

5:07am PST; 2:07pm CET

Smeets - Aronian Update

17...axb5 18.cxb5 e5 19.Bh6 Be7 20.Bg5

Clocks 0:37 1:35

5:17am PST

20...Bf8 21.Bh6

Hiarcs 12 thinks that Smeets has an advantage, but he is not among the leaders. Will Levon Aronian become the first of the current leaders to put his hope of a shared championship wholly in the hand of the others?


5:32am PST; 2:30pm CET

22.Bg5 Bf8 ½–½

Aronian finishes with 7 1/2. Will it be enough for a share of first for the third consecutive year? Smeets finishes with 6. I watched the game end at 5:33am. On weekdays, I'm usually just beginning to awake. Normally, on a Sunday morning I would be fast asleep still.

Dominguez - Karjakin Update

17...a5 18.h4 Bxg4 19.f3 Bf5 20.hxg5 hxg5 21.Qe3 a4

Wang Yue - Carlsen Update

18.Qc4 Qe6 19.b3 h6 20.Bf4 Ng6 21.Bg3 Bf8 22.Nd2 Ne7 23.Rd3 Nc6 24.Qxe6 Rxe6 25.a4 a6 26.f3 b5 27.Bf2 Rc8 28.axb5 axb5 29.Nf1


Clocks 0:32 0:57

6:01am PST; 3:01pm CET

Dominguez - Karjakin Update

22.Qxg5 Bg6 23.Bd3 a3

You gotta love it when two tournament leaders slugging it out both have vulnerable kings.

Radjabov - Stellwagen Update

While I was typing "Wesley So Wins Corus C," Radjabov - Stellwagen reached a peaceful conclusion.

19.N1a2 Nf6 20.Nc1 e5 21.Qf2 b5 22.axb5 axb5 23.Nd3 b4 24.fxe5 ½–½

6:34am PST; 3:30pm CET

Okay, maybe it's a little bit fanatical to set the alarm for three in the morning on a Sunday when I'm not planning to go fishing. But, had I not done so, it would seem that half the games were over before I began to pay attention.

When I was in high school, I had what seemed then to be relatively up to date chess information because I bought in 1977 the 1976 RHM Press book, Wijk aan Zee: Grandmaster Chess Tournament 1975. That tournament was held before I knew that chess was a subject that had books. After discovering chess books and learning descriptive notation, my chess skills dramatically improved. In 1975 I became better at the game than my friends. But, I soon met others that could beat me (thankfully). I read a few chess books from the library, but one of the first that I bought was the Wijk aan Zee tournament book.

That book and thus tournament has always had a special place in my heart.

6:44am PST

Back to the games.

Wang Yue - Carlsen Update

30.Rc3 Ra6 31.Ne3 Ra3 32.Be1 Nc6 33.Rb1 Rca8 34.Kf1 Nd4 35.Rd3

35...Ra2 36.b4

It's not a lot, yet, but the fact that silent kibitzer Hiracs 12 is now showing negative numbers when I am on this game suggests that Carlsen might have the beginnings of an advantage. Wang Yua also must make four more moves in five minutes.

We know what a win will do for Magnus, when it seemed that he could not win a game when the last week of the event began. He almost certainly will finish as the only player in A without a loss.

36...R8a3 37.Rbd1 Ne6 38.bxc5 Bxc5 39.Rxa3 Rxa3 40.Nd5 Rb3

They made the time control

A six way tie for first remains a real possibility, but not as a consequence of a bunch of easy GM draws. Most of the players have exhibited a fighting spirit today. It is simply that at this level of play, it is enormously difficult to win.

7:07am PST; 4:07pm CET

Dominguez - Karjakin Update

24.b4 Qb6 25.Rh4 Nh7 26.Rxh7 Kxh7 27.O-O-O Qxb4 28.Rh1+ Kg8 29.Bxg7 Kxg7 30.Qh6+ Kf6 31.Ne4+ Ke6 32.Rd1 Qb2+ 33.Kd2 Kd7 34.Qf4 Rfd8 35.Ke2 Ke8 36.Rh1

Black looks to have a decisive advantage. Sergei Karjakin may win Corus!

Still, after almost four hours of play, thirteen of the twenty-one games in the elite groups continue. Everything remains up for grabs in A (as many as six winners) and B (Short and Kasimzdhanov), while Wesley So has won C.

36...Ra5 37.Qc7 Rad5 38.Ke3 Kf8 39.c3 Rxd3+ 40.Kf4 f6 41.Rh8+ Kf7 0-1

Sergei Karjakin Wins Corus A! Carlsen might yet join him.

Kamsky - Movsesian Update

Game drawn

19.Qf3 Bd7 20.Ra2 h5 21.Qe3 Rfe8 22.Bf3 Bc6 23.Qd2 Nd7 24.Be3 f5 25.Bg5 Bxg5 26.Qxg5 Nf6 27.exf5 Qxf5 28.Qxf5 gxf5 29.Bxc6 Rxc6 30.Nd5 Nxd5 31.Rxd5 Kf6 32.c4 Ke6 33.Rad2 b6 34.axb6 Rxb6 35.b4 f4 36.c5 dxc5 37.bxc5 Rb1+ 38.Kh2 Rc8 39.f3 a5 40.h4 Rc6 41.Rd6+ Rxd6 42.Rxd6+ Ke7 43.Rh6 Rb5 44.Rxh5 Rxc5 45.Rh6 a4 46.Ra6 Rc4 47.Kh3 e4 ½–½

Wang Yue - Carlsen Update

41.h4 b4 42.f4 Rb2 43.f5 Nd4 44.Bxb4 Bxb4 45.Rxd4
The real goal of a chess game is to create an imbalance and try to build a situation in which it is favorable for you.
Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess, 3rd ed. (1993), 27.
This exchange of minor pieces appears to create an imbalance that is favorable to White

Black to move

When all the pawns are on one side of the board, the knight is better than the bishop.

45... Rb1+ 46.Ke2 Rb2+ 47.Kf3 Be1 48.h5 Rf2+ 49.Ke3 Rxg2 50.Ra4 Bh4 51.Ra8+ Kh7 52.Rf8 Bg5+ 53.Kf3 Rh2

I think that Wang Yue is the one pushing for victory.

54.Rxf7 Kg8 55.Ra7 Rxh5 56.e5 Rh3+ 57.Ke4 Rh1

I think White is still better, and he appears ahead on the clock a bit. Magnus Carlsen struggles to hang on to his unbeaten status.

58.e6 Re1+ 59.Kd4 h5 60.Kc5 Re5

Meanwhile in the B Group

Motylev appears to have the edge against Kasimdzhanov, while Short is certainly no worse in his battle with Caruana. Both games might have a lot of play left.

8:29am PST; 5:29 CET

Back to Wang Yue - Carlsen

Things are becoming clear: Morozevich pulled himself out of last place, well into a tie for last place, by beating Ivanchuk today. Other games were drawn. If this game ends as a draw, Carlsen shares second, Wang shares last. Wang Yue now seems to have a substantive advantage. The win will put him in a tie for eighth with Jan Smeets and Loek van Wely.


61...Bxf6 62.Kd2

I would resign in this position. The pawn cannot be stopped without giving up the rook. But, Carlsen is a lot better than me, and better than nearly everyone for that matter. Perhaps he sees something we overlook. Perhaps he is just stubborn because he really hates to lose.

Hiarcs 12 says checkmate in 32 moves.

9:19am PST; 6:19pm CET

Perhaps my engine was optimistic.

62...Rf5 63.Nxf6+ Rxf6 64.Kd7

I still think a rook sacrifice is the only way to stop that pawn.

64...h4 65.e7 Rf7 66.Kd8

9:37am PST

I've been watching and blogging over six hours this morning. I'm ready with my post showing the final standings, but am prepared for some quick edits if something unexpected occurs in two games--Wang - Carlsen or Caruana - Short. These are the only remaining games, and they will confirm the winners of the top two groups. The winner of Caruana - Short wins B, and White appears to have a substantial, if not decisive advantage (Hiarcs 12 says it is mate in five).

Wang Yue - Carlsen Update

66...Kh7 67.Ra6 1-0

Fabiano beat Nigel.

I got the scoop! I watched the first moves. I had "Karjakin, Caruana Win Corus A and B" posted within a minute of the players' resignations.

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