Monday, October 26, 2020
The 2020 Chess.com Speed Chess Championship takes place 1st November to 13th December 2020. The 16 player final follows a long series of qualifying events which produced 8 qualifiers to go alongside the 8 invitees. There is a prize fund of $100,000 for this final phase Players: Hikaru Nakamura (World number 1 rated blitz player and winner of this event in 2018 and 2019) , Magnus Carlsen (World Champion and world number 2 blitz player - winner in 2017, the last time he played, when he defeated Nakamura), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Vladislav Artemiev, Alireza Firouzja, Vladimir Fedoseev, Anish Giri, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Nodirbek Abdussatorov, Nihal Sarin, Parham Maghsoodloo, Haik Martirosyan and Jan Krzysztof Duda.
Round 1 pairings: Nakamura-Martirosyan, Carlsen-Maghsoodloo, MVL-Sarin, Wesley So-Abdussatorov, Nepomniachtchi-Aronian, Artemiev-Giri, Firouzja-Fedoseev and Caruana-Duda
Monday, October 26, 2020
The Speed Chess Championship Invitational took place on Sunday 25th October to decide the final place in chess.com's Speed Chess Championship. The format for most of the event was two 5m+1spm games, four 3m+1spm games, and eight 1m+1spm games however in the final, there were three 5m+1spm games, five 3m+1spm games, and 10 1m+1spm games. A very strong 16 player field included Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Santosh Gujrathi Vidit and Daniil Dubov but it was Jan-Krzysztof Duda who emerged the winner beating Sergey Karjakin 10-4 in the final. The final was closely contested until the bullet stage where Duda ran away with it winning every game.
Monday, October 26, 2020
The SPICE Cup took place over the board in Chesterfield, Missouri 20th-25th October 2020. Illya Nyzhnyk was in first place alone on 7.5/9 half a point clear of Benjamin Gledura. This is the third time Nyzhnyk has won this tournament and he took home $5000, Gledura won $3000.
Friday, October 23, 2020
The US Chess Championships take place 9th to 29th October 2020. The event will see all the different sections Junior, Senior, Women's and Championship sections played one after each other online as rapid play tournaments.
Friday, October 16, 2020
Alireza Firouzja beat Jan-Krzysztof Duda to finish second in the 8th Altibox Norway Chess tournament. Firouzja built up a huge advantage but then allowed 28...Na5 which was almost equal but once Duda didn't play this there were no further problems. If Firouzja had held the endgame against Carlsen yesterday he would have even won the event. Nevertheless this looks like a breakthrough result for Firouzja.
Magnus Carlsen who had already secured victory in the tournament yesterday played extremely poorly against Levon Aronian. First Carlsen was quickly worse out of the opening but then Aronian allowed him back in the game, Carlsen was worse again and then completely equal before 50.Rxf6? (50.Rg7+=) and he really was lost - Carlsen rarely gives this number of chances. Tarjei J. Svensen (@TarjeiJS twitter) gave the following Stat: "Carlsen loses his first game with white in classical since December 2017, 88 games ago (+40 =48 -0)".
Fabiano Caruana was held in a Ruy Lopez by Aryan Tari in the classical game but when they repeated it in the Armageddon Caruana won.
Final Standings: 1st Carlsen 19.5pts, 2nd Firouzja 18.5pts, 3rd Aronian 17.5pts, 4th Caruana 15.5pts, 5th Duda 9.5pts, 6th Tari 3.5pts.
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Magnus Carlsen won the 8th Altibox Chess tournament after beating Alireza Firouzja in the ninth round of the ten round event. Carlsen visited the confessional just out of the opening and was already unhappy with his choice as he believed that black had very few winning chances and white was a bit better. He was much happier a few moves later saying white might only be a "tiny" bit better which he visually demonstrated. The game then continued on and on and although Firouzja was not initially worse he started to consume a lot of time and play a little strangely. Carlsen started to take over and was pushing for a win but his 36...Nc1? which he thought was immediately finishing the game (instead he should have played 36...f5) turned out to allow Firouzja to get a more or less equal position. The game eventually simplified down to a drawn King and Pawn endgame where but Firouzja was surviving on the very short 10 second increment and was incredibly nervous, at the end Carlsen said Alireza was shaking so much it almost seemed random where the pieces landed, and in these circumstances Firouzja just blundered the entire position away and had to immediately resign. This meant that Carlen was already the winner of the tournament with one round to go.
Jan Krzysztof Duda and Fabiano Caruana both seemed intent of winning their game against each other in a Sicilian but in the end it finished in a repetition. Caruana eventually emerged with the slightly better position around move 37. Caruana won the Armageddon with black in impressive style.
Levon Aronian must have felt he had a must win game with black against Aryan Tari but he very much overdid it and was lost in only a few moves. Tari has had a miserable tournament and must have been rather nervous, eventually he started to go wrong and in the end Aronian escaped with a draw. Aronian won his first Armageddon.
Round 9 of 10 Standings: 1st Carlsen 19.5 2nd Firouzja 15.5 3rd Aronian 14.5 4th Caruana 14 5th Duda 9.5 6th Tari 2.5
Final Round 10 pairings Friday 16th 4pm BST: Carlsen-Aronian, Firouzja-Duda and Caruana-Tari.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Magnus Carlsen beat Aryan Tari to take the Lead of the 8th Altibox Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger while the former leader Alireza Firouzja lost an Armageddon to Fabiano Caruana and in third place Levon Aronian lost yet another Armageddon tie-break, this time to Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
Carlsen gave a wonderful demonstration of positional chess against Tari but the gulf in class was quite obvious. Firouzja played his Caro-Kann again vs Caruana and was quite a bit worse straight out of the opening but starting with 15...c5 he managed to generate counter play and after 21.Bd7 (computers suggest 21.a4) he was completely equal. The Caro-Kann didn't hold up quite so well in the Armageddon and Caruana won a fine game. Levon Aronian surprised Duda by playing 1.e4 and he chose an Accelerated Dragon Sicilian - Aronian looked to have the advantage but soon this disappeared and there was a draw by repetition. Duda chose the Fort Knox French in the Armageddon and Aronian got no advantage, it still came down to seconds for each side when Aronian had to try something but he just ended up with a lost position.
Round 8 Standings: 1st Carlsen 16.5, 2nd Firouzja 15.5, 3rd Aronian 13, 4th Caruana 12.5, 5th Duda 8.5, 6th Tari 1.5.
Rest Day Wednesday 14th Oct 2020
Round 9 4pm Thursday 15th Oct 2020 Firouzja-Carlsen, Duda-Caruana, Tari-Aronian.
Monday, October 12, 2020
Alireza Firouzja leads the 8th Altibox Norway Chess tournament after an Armageddon win against Levon Aronian, their classical game was a big struggle too. The game of the day saw Fabiano Caruana get a significant advantage against Magnus Carlsen but the World Champion defended well to avoid a second defeat in just three days.
Magnus Carlsen was in danger of a second loss in three days in his game against Fabiano Caruana. Caruana played a Rossolimo Sicilian and didn't get much until 17...Na5?! (17...Bxh4) when all of a sudden Carlsen was in grave danger. 25.b4 (maybe just 25.Qxd3) perhaps let Carlsen back into the game and even though he was short of time he was equal by move 30 and the game was soon draw. The Armageddon was eventually won by Carlsen on time.
Alireza Firouzja didn't seem to get much out of the opening against Levon Aronian and the position looked rather dull but only a few moves later the position became very complicated and Firouzja was pressing for a win, Aronian saved the endgame. In the Armageddon Aronian missed a two move tactic that would win and eventually lost on time. Firouzja leads by a point from Carlsen.
Jan-Krzysztof Duda got a large advantage out of the opening against Aryan Tari and brought home the full point in 27 moves.
Round 8 Tuesday 4pm 13th Oct 2020. Carlsen-Tari, Aronian-Duda, Caruana-Firouzja
Round 7 Standings: 1 Firouzja 14½pts, 2 Carlsen 13½pts, 3 Aronian 12pts, 4 Caruana 11pts, 5 Duda 7pts, 6 Tari 1½pts.
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Alireza Firouzja took the lead of the 8th Altibox Norway Chess tournament following his victory against Aryan Tari. Former leader Levon Aronian was beaten by Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen beat Jan-Krzysztof Duda following his defeat the day before.
Carlsen quickly got his revenge against Duda by beating him in just 26 moves. This was a smooth victory - Carlsen in the "confession booth" said he was unhappy that he hadn't prepared for 10...c5 but he found an interesting pawn sacrifice which posed too many problems for Duda. Carlsen thought 17...Ba6 was the start of the problem but it seems 18...Qe8 was the losing move with 18...Nd5 being roughly equal. Instead Carlsen clinically brought home the full point in only a few moves.
Caruana managed to end a two game losing streak by beating Aronian. Caruana had been extremely disappointed with his play against Carlsen and this seems to have affected his play the following day against Aronian. Today Caruana played Aronian again and was worse out of the opening but Aronian used a lot of time and came up with 23.g4?! (23.Ng5 was much better) when the board blew up in a position where he was both in time trouble and not better. Caruana took the initiative and Aronian in massive time couldn't defend himself. After 34.Rxd3 (34.Ne5 was probably better) and the losing 35.Ke3? (35.Qxf4 had to be played) allowed Caruana to just clean up.
Alireza Firouzja took the lead beating Aryan Tari who is obviously struggling a great deal. Firouzja played his Caro-Kann as black again and was a bit better after Tari's 19.b4 and after 22.g3? he won with a direct attack on Tari's king.
Round 6 Standings: 1 Firouzja 13pts, 2 Carlsen 12pts, 3 Aronian 11pts, 4 Caruana 10pts, 5 Duda 4pts, 6 Tari 1.5pts.
Round 7 4pm Monday 12th October 2020. Caruana-Carlsen, Firouzja-Aronian, Duda-Tari.
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Jan-Krzysztof Duda defeated Magnus Carlsen in the fifth round of the 8th Altibox Norway Chess tournament. This was Magnus Carlsen's first loss since the 31st July 2018 when he was defeated by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov at the Biel Chess Festival. According to Tarjei J. Svensen (@TarjeiJS on twitter) the unbeaten streak lasted 125 classical games or 2 years, 2 months and 10 days and that Carlsen was probably lost at some stage in four of them and "close to lost" in another four before his luck finally ran out today.
Duda had been really struggling prior to the rest day and Carlsen probably felt obliged to push for a win today which he did via a very sharp line of the Caro-Kann with castling on opposite sides. Carlsen was very much the one making the running at the start but Duda did not back down in the face of such aggression. Carlsen thought for about half an hour over 15...Re7 and was definitely doing fine after giving the exchange up with 19...Rxa4 but after that starting with 21...h4 (21...Ng4!?) 22.h3 (22.Re3!) 22...Ng6 he was always struggling to keep enough compensation and the final nail was probably 30...Qg2? (30...f6 kept a certain amount of practical chances) he was definitely lost because after the forced 32...Qxc4 he loses his Queen to Rh8+ in a number of lines so he had to give up a rook instead. Duda held his nerve in time trouble but brought home the point in the end.
This was the first round where all the games were decisive. Levon Aronian won a very fine game with black against Fabiano Caruana to take the lead in the tournament and Alireza Firouzja moved into third place with a victory over Aryan Tari but the ending of Carlsen's long unbeaten streak really dominated the whole day.
The tournament has an extremely unusual, if not unique, pairing system which means that now they have reached the half way point they will repeat the pairings in reverse order, this means that the players meet tomorrow with reverse colours so Carlsen has chance of revenge with the white pieces, Duda has the chance to really make his tournament whatever the other results.
Round 5 Standings: 1st Aronian 11pts 2nd Firouzja 10pts 3rd Carlsen 9pts 4th Caruana 7pts 5th Duda 4pts 6th Tari 1.5pts
Round 6 pairings Sunday 10th Oct 4pm BST: Carlsen-Duda, Tari-Firouzja, Aronian-Caruana.
Thursday, October 08, 2020
Magnus Carlsen scored his first win against Fabiano Caruana in 19 classical games including an entire world championship match and that took him into the lead of the 8th Altibox Norway Chess tournament going into the first rest day. Carlsen didn't get a huge amount out of the opening which was a solid Nimzo-Indian variation. Caruana's 11...Qd7 is less common than 11...Qe7 but previously all the games had been drawn and it seems that Caruana had come close to equalising but Carlsen kept some practical chances. However then things started to go wrong for Caruana, 25...c3 was not necessarily wrong but after this Caruana thought for a long time on the following move, then 29...Kd7 probably placed the King on the wrong square and after 30...Rc6? Caruana was objectively losing and Carlsen brought home the full point in an exceedingly convincing manner.
Levon Aronian offered a draw on move 30 against Alireza Firouzja taking the tie into the Armageddon tie-break. Firouzja played his solid Caro-Kann and although it looked like there might be pawn storms as the kings were on opposite wings instead the game went on positional grounds and was levelish when the game was agreed drawn. In the Armageddon tie-break Firouzja started with only five minutes instead of seven because the arbiter said he arrived late. A clearly still furious Firouzja called him a liar after the game saying that he was told 18:45 a time he arrived by and that incidentally was the time the commentators thought the start time should be. Firouzja came up with a new move in the same Caro-Kann but was so far behind on the clock he quickly fell into a poor position. Aronian became very nervous in a winning position and then the whole game went into a furious pace played on increment, the moves were lost but Aronian resigned when Firouzja took the last pawn.
The battle of the tailenders between Aryan Tari and Jan-Krzysztof Duda was a fairly 2.Nc3 Grand Prix Sicilian. Tari said he had decided to go "all in" and eventually emerged with an edge but allowed his opponent off with a draw. In the Armageddon tie-break first Duda was winning but as time ticked down Tari turned it around to a win.
Rest day 9th Oct.
Round 4 Standings: 1st Carlsen 9pts 2nd Aronian 8pts, 3rd-4th Firouzja, Caruana 7pts, 5 Tari 1.5pts 6 Duda 1pt
Round 5 pairings 4pm 10th Oct 2020 Duda-Carlsen, Firouzja-Tari, Caruana-Aronian.
Thursday, October 08, 2020
The chess.com Junior Speed Chess Championship took place Wed 9th Sep to Wednesday 7th Oct 2020. A mixture of blitz 5m+1spm, 3m+1spm and 10 games 1 minute bullet. GM Jeffery Xiong, Andrey Esipenko, Parham Maghsoodloo, Sam Sevian, Aleksey Sarana, Amin Tabatabaei, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Haik Martirosyan, Nihal Sarin, R Praggnanandhaa, Anton Smirnov, D Gukesh, Vincent Keymer, Arjun Erigaisi, Raunak Sadhwani and Andrew Tang. Nihal Sarin beat Alexey Sarana 18-7 in the final. The conclusion to game 24 of the final was especially pleasing.
Wednesday, October 07, 2020
Levon Aronian beat a struggling Jan-Krzysztof Duda with the black pieces to catch Fabiano Caruana in the lead of the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament after three rounds. Duda played a very solid line in the Four Knights with white but was gradually outplayed in the rook endgame. The final phase after move 50 could be set for the instruction books as it is very complicated. Alireza Firouzja drew a very interesting reverse Gruenfeld against Fabiano Caruana, in a must win Armageddon with white he managed to prevail. Magnus Carlsen played a Rauzer variation of the Sicilian against Aryan Tari. Carlsen was worse at one point but starting with 23...Nh5? Tari completely lost the thread of the position and was losing immediately. Carlsen's 26...Re1 was a fine tactic that won material and eventually the game.
Round 3 Standings: 1st= Aronian, Caruana 7pts. 3rd Carlsen 6pts, 4th Firouzja, Alireza 5½ 5th= Duda, Tari 0pts.
Round 4 4pm BST Thursday 8th Oct 2020 Carlsen-Caruana, Aronian-Alireza, Tari-Duda
Tuesday, October 06, 2020
Fabiano Caruana took the sole lead of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament when he beat Jan-Krzysztof Duda with white using an Exchange Slav variation. Caruana got a nagging edge from the opening moves and just like in Duda's first game he started to use a lot of time and not find the best at the same time. 23...b6? should have been the losing move, it might have taken 94 moves but Caruana exploited the advantage he was granted with this move which he soon turned into two minor pieces vs Rook. That said 45.g4? Rb2! is equal according to the computers, this was Duda's single chance to save the game.
Aryan Tari seemed to surprise Levon Aronian by choosing the Marshall against the Ruy Lopez. After 18...Qh5 moves they transposed to a position more often reached with black to move but black was still fine. Aronian is a specialist with the Marshall as black himself and he gradually outplayed his young opponent - 22...Bf3?! allowing the exchange of a pair of rooks was the start of the difficulties and black's position went downhill quite quickly after that.
Alireza Firouzja chose a solid Queen's Gambit with black against Magnus Carlsen and they followed the recent Carlsen-Kramnik for some way until 10...Nbd7 which is the usual move in the position. Carlsen spent some time trying to work out what Firouzja wanted and 11....b5 was a really bold choice as white has won all five games played against this so far. 15.Nf5 c4 was critical and during the game Carlsen explained his plan in the confession booth during the game. In the end Firouzja chose to play Bf8 and Carlsen had some mild pressure but nothing more and the game was drawn. In the Armageddon Firouzja obtained a crushing position just out of the opening but he failed to put Carlsen away and after the position became equal he eventually lost on time.
Round 2 Standings: 1st Caruana 6pts, 2nd= Firouzja Aronian 4pts, 4th Carlsen 3pts, 5th= Duda, Tari 0pts.
Round 3 Pairings Wednesday 6th Oct 4pm: Tari-Carlsen, Duda-Aronian, Firouzja-Caruana
Monday, October 05, 2020
The Altibox Norway Chess got under way with two decisive games and an Armageddon tie-break. This and Biel have been the only major elite events played over the board since the halting of the Candidates due to the Coronavirus. I don't have a live feed but will briefly report on the games each day.
Magnus Carlsen managed to hold a comfortable draw against Levon Aronian with black in a Ragozin and they repeated to draw on move 30. In the format of the tournament this meant they played an Armageddon game with the same colours. Aronian got a very large advantage with white on the board and the clock but at one stage became uncertain losing all his time advantage and quickly the advantage on the board, he continued playing too slowly and lost both on the board and on time.
Fabiano Caruana played a striking idea in the Paulsen Sicilian, his 13...Bxe3 has been thought to be an error for years but Rustam Kasimdzhanov came up with a new idea which meant black got a lot of play - his young opponent Arjan Tari had opportunities for equality but after 33.Rd3 his position just got harder and harder and after 36.Be2 he was just lost, resigning on move 55. Caruana said that he was in negotiations over the resumption of the Candidates, he express sympathy with FIDE for the difficult situation and didn't want to talk in detail about it but he said a decision as to whether it will go ahead will have to happen in the next few days.
Jan-Krzysztof Duda grabbed a very hot b7 pawn in a Caro-Kann against Alireza Firouzja, this opened lines against his King in a position where they were already castled on opposite sides. Firouzja thought he had compensation "forever" for the pawn and he had built up a winning position by move 28, it was still complicated and by move 40 the position was very unclear but probably in some way balanced. 44.Nxg3 was certainly possible for white but 46.a5? was the final decisive error when 46.b5 was still a race.
Round 1 Standings: 1 Caruana 3pts 2 Firouzja 3pts 3 Carlsen 1.5pts 4 Aronian 1pts 5 Duda 0pts 6 Tari 0pts
Round 2 4pm BST Tuesday 6th Oct 2020 Carlsen-Firouzja, Caruana-Duda and Aronian-Tari.
Sunday, October 04, 2020
The 8th Altibox Norway Chess tournament takes place Mon 5th Oct to Fri 16th Oct 2020 in Stavanger, Norway. The 6 players have been isolated for the last few days in order to play this over the board event. Players Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Alireza Firouzja and Arjan Tari. The event uses an unusual format in that there is three points for a win and if drawn there is a single Armageddon game where the winner gets 1.5 points and the loser 1 point.
Friday, October 02, 2020
The PRO Chess League was due to take place 7th January to 5th May 2020 but the final phase was postponed due to the Cornavirus. The final phase took place online 25th to 27th September. Teams from all over the world play online hosted by chess.com. Players including: Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura, Rados?aw Wojtaszek, Wei Yi, Harikrishna Pentala, Alireza Firouzja, Quang Liem Le, David Navara, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Li Chao, Alexei Shirov, Dr Bassem Amin, Sam Shankland, Gawain Jones, Nils Grandelius, Luke McShane, Wang Yue, Ray Robson, Vladimir Fedoseev etc In the final the Armenia Eagles won a very tight final against the favourites Saint Louis Archbishops 9.5-6.5 the teams were tied 6-6 after three of the four legs but in the final one Saint Louis were heavily defeated 3.5-0.5 with the first win by Tigran Petrosian seemingly being key, he scored 3.5/4 for the Eagles and was clearly the difference on the day. However a few days after the result Saint Louis Arch Bishops were declared champions - the reason was precisely Petrosian's results - which the organisers say "violated fair play regulations". Petrosian was accused of cheating by Wesley So earlier in the week and, to say the very least, vigorously denied it. IM Greg Shahade released the following statement: "It's always unfortunate when the league is presented with evidence of fair play violations, but we stand behind the evidence presented from Chess.com's Fair Play team." Cheating and Anti-Cheating regulations have always been the Achilles heal of online chess and this is obviously a very sad way for things to finish.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
The chess24 Banter Series tookplace 1st to 29th September 2020. Magnus Carlsen has reached the final where he will play Wesley So. There were two places available in the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour starting later in the year and a $36,000 prize fund. Magnus Carlsen defeated Wesley So 5.5-3.5 in the final.
Monday, September 21, 2020
The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament moved to the internet this year and was hosted by Lichess. Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura were most the favourites in a strong 10 player field. The others were: Ian Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian, Wesley So, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Alireza Firouzja, Jeffrey Xiong and Pentala Harikrishna. The event turned out to be a battle between Wesley So - who won the Rapid section by half a point from Carlsen - and Magnus Carlsen who scored a point more in the blitz to tie with So, Nakamura finished in third place.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
The Schachbundesliga Championship takes place in Karlsruhe Wed 16th Sep to Sun 20th Sep 2020. After the halting of the regular Bundesliga season some German teams were interested in playing over the board chess this year and others not. 8 teams will play for a new title.