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October 2007

India wins three rapid chess golds at Asian Indoor Games

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 31, 2007 in Uncategorized

Krishnan Sasikiran and Dronavalli Harika added the individual gold medals in rapid chess to make it a clean sweep for the Indian chess team at the second Asian Indoor Games here.

The Indians won the team gold and then both the individual gold medals in rapid chess, giving India three gold medals and a third place in the medal standings.

Black was the winning colour for Sasikiran and Harika as they won their finals with a victory with black pieces. Sasi beat Qatar’s Mohammed Ahmed Al Modiakhi and Harika defeated Nguyen Thi Thanh An as India dominated the rapid chess competition.

‘This makes up for the Asian Games disappointment,’ said Sasi. ‘But there is more to come, so I am looking forward to that.’

While India won all three gold medals available in rapid chess, Vietnam had one silver and two bronze, Iran had one silver and one bronze, Qatar had one silver, and China, one of the pre-Games favourites, managed just one bronze in individual through their top seed Bu Xianghi.

There are six more sets of medals to be fought for in chess, with three sets available in Classical and three more in blitz. Indians are expected to make their presence felt strongly in those too.

Sasikiran, who was very upset at not being able to win the individual gold medal in the Asian Games in Doha last December, made up with a fine performance here.

Winning five games in six rounds, Sasi made the semi-finals comfortably and then went the full distance before beating Vietnam’s Ngyen Ngoc Truong Son in the semi-finals. Sasi won the first game with black, but then instead of going for a draw with white, he lost the game and went into the tie-breaker. He won that to make it to the final.

In the other semi-final, Qatar’s Mohammed Ahmed Al Modiakhi stunned China’s top seeded Bu Xianghi in the tie-breakerwAfter after they drew both their regulation games.

In the final, Sasi drew the first game with black and then defeated Al Modiakhi with white to complete a gold medal win.

In the women’s section Harika beat Catherine Perena, who had stunned Koneru Humpy in the team competition, in the first game. Without trying any fancy stuff, Harika sealed her place in the final with a draw in second game.

From the other semi-final, Paridar Shadi of Iran beat Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Thanh An in the tie-breaker, they split the regulation games with one win each.

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Azerbaijani Collective Chess Team to Compete in European Championship

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 30, 2007 in Uncategorized

The European Chess Championship starts in Crete on 28 October. The men’s chess team of Azerbaijan will compete at the Championship with a full slate. The women’s team will also compete with a full slate, however, Firuza Valikhanli and Mehriban Shukurova were not included in the women’s team due to various reasons.

“Our men’s team is rated third after the Russian and Ukrainian teams. Azerbaijan has every chance to win the medals,” Fikrat Sideifzadeh, the coach of the Azerbaijani team, said.

“The Azerbaijani team included to the ten best teams can be appreciated as our success, Anar Allahverdiyev, the coach, said.

The players will compete by special composition. Tural Bakhishov, the Press Secretary of the Azerbaijani Chess Federation, informed about the final composition of the national collective team to Trend News Agency.

Men:

1. Shakhriyar Mammadyarov
2. Teymur Rajabov
3. Vugar Qashimov
4. Gadir Huseynov
5. Rauf Mammadov

Women:

1. Zeynab Mamadyarova
2. Ilaha Qadimova
3. Turkan Mammadyarova
4. Nargiz Umudova
5. Khayala Iskandarova

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11th annual Essent Tournament by Jonathan Speelman

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 29, 2007 in Uncategorized

The 11th annual Essent Tournament took place in Hoogeveen in Holland from 12-20 October. First held in 1997, this always comprises several different sections with at the top an elite four player double rounder.

Last year’s tournament was won jointly by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Judit Polgar and Mamedyarov was back together with Ruslan Ponomariov, Loek Van Wely and the 2006 World Junior Champion Zaven Andriasian (Armenia), who was invited since the World Junior Champion is traditionally included in the field.

This was both extremely flattering for Andriasian, who is rated in the mid 2500s more than 160 points less than the average of the others, and potentially exceedingly treacherous. It’s impossible to convey here what it’s like to play chess in a serious tournament but without I hope dwelling morbidly on Andriasian’s ordeal – and to cut a miserable story short, the poor man finished on 0/6 – the details of what happened in the first half may supply some sense of this and the crucial role of luck.

Chess tournaments are never gentle places especially for the weaker players, who are not only outgunned but also unable to tap into the esprit de corps of the stronger ones which sometimes leads to relatively stress free and respectful draws. Moreover, small double-round tournaments are especially tough since they are so intimate.

In such circumstances, a confidence booster early on is essential but Andriasian was unlucky enough to draw a double Black in his first two games (a one in four chance). He started with the fairly grim defeat by Ponomariov below and was then beaten by the top seed (currently world number seven and twice world junior champion) Mamedyarov. By the time he got to his first White in round three against Loek Van Wely, he must already have been downhearted. He lost that too and the rest was free fall.

The other three, meanwhile, fought for the top places in a different dimension. After Mamedyarov beat Van Wely in round 1, the Dutchman was always behind. However, in the final round he won a fine game as Black against Ponomariov to overtake him and the final scores were Mamedyarov 4.5/6, Van Wely 4, Ponomariov 3.5 and Andriasian 0.

Ruslan Ponomariov v Zaven Andriasian
Hoogeveen 2007 (round 1)

Queen’s Gambit Slav

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 e3 e6 When White plays e3 this early, Black tends to reply with …Bg4. The move order is very delicate in the Slav and while 4…e6 is far from unnatural it does give White the opportunity to reply as Ponomariov does with 5 b3 preventing counterplay based on …dxc4 and after Bxc4 b5.

5 b3 Nbd7 6 Bb2 Bd6 7 Bd3 0-0 8 0-0 b6 9 Nc3 Bb7 10 Rc1 Rc8 11 Qe2 Black’s plan of simply fianchettoing the c8 bishop has become very respectable recently but there is a vital nuance. The main lines start after 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Nc3 e6 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Qc2 b6 so that the queen is already committed to c2. Here it goes to e2 in one move which gives the thematic break e4 more oomph since if Black captures twice on e4 – which is normal – then White may take the second time with the queen. This persuaded Andriasian to make his own break immediately.

11…c5 12 cxd5 Nxd5?! It’s never easy deciding how to recapture. If 12…exd5 13 Ba6 the d5 pawn is potentially weak but this must be better than conceding the centre.

13 Nxd5 Bxd5 13….exd5 was still conceivable but in principle Black would prefer to keep more minor pieces on if he recaptures with the pawn (since with more minor pieces it’s easier to defend the weak pawn) so it was better last move.

14 Ba6 Rc7 15 e4 Ba8 16 Rcd1 Qe8 17 a3 Be7?! Short of space, Andriasian was perhaps preparing to capture …cxd4 but the bishop retreat enables White to advance

18 d5! after which the advantage is large and clear.

18…exd5 19 exd5 Bd6 20 Qd3 Qd8 21 Rfe1 Bb7 22 Bc4 Bc8

Zaven Andriasian (Black)

Ruslan Ponomariov (White to play)

23 Re6! Pretty and decisive. Of course if 23…fxe6 24 dxe6 regains the investment with interest.

23…Nf6 24 Rxd6! Qxd6 25 Be5 Qd8 26 Ng5 g6 Forced to defend against 27 Bxf6 followed by Qxh7 mate.

27 Bxc7 Qxc7 28 d6 Qd7 29 Re1 b5 This desperate move relieves the pressure against f7 but only for an instant. If 29…Qg4 30 Nxf7 Rxf7 31 Re7 wins.

30 Bxb5 Qg4 31 Ne4! clearing the way to advance the d pawn.

31…Nxe4 32 Rxe4 Qg5 33 f4 Qf6 34 d7 Bb7 35 Re8 Qa1+ 36 Kf2 and Andriasian resigned.

Loek Van Wely (Black to play)

Ruslan Ponomariov (White)

This was the crucial moment of the decisive last-round game. In the opening, Ponomariov had allowed the exchange of his black squared bishop for a knight in return for the initiative: a gamble he was now to regret, since at the cost of the e pawn Van Wely was able to active his minor pieces, putting the White monarch under serious threat.

26…Bc5 27 Qc3 Nd6! 28 Rxe5 b4 29 Qd3 Rae8 30 Re2 The danger is well illustrated by the line 30 Rde1? Rxe5 31 Rxe5 Nb5! 32 Qxb5 (else it lands on c3) Qxe5 when Black wins immediately

30…Rxe2 31 Nxe2 Qe7 32 c3 If 32 h4 Qe5 33 c3 Ne4 34 Qc4 bxc3 is most unpleasant but bow Black not only regains the material but soon goes on to win the h pawn as well.

32…Qxg5 33 Bd7 Qe5 34 Rc1 Qxh2 35 cxb4 Bxb4 36 Rc2 Qh1+ 37 Nc1 Rd8 38 Bc6 f5 39 Re2 Qg1 40 Re6 Trying vainly to gain some counterplay but it’s hitting air.

40…Rf8 41 Qe2 Ne4 42 Kc2 Qd4 and Ponomariov resigned.

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Salgados draws with NCR’s chess talents

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 25, 2007 in Uncategorized

Lennon Hart Salgados of Corpus Christi School in Cagayan de Oro squandered away a “won game” against many-time national age-group champion Prince Mark Aquino but still remain in title race with four more rounds to go of the 2007 National Shell Active Youth Chess Grandfinals here at the 4th floor of SM Megamall.

With Aquino in time trouble and having only a Rook and pawns to his foe’s Queen, a pair of Rooks, a Bishop and pawns, Salgados exudes a re-assuring gesture of handily posting a third-straight win when suddenly a shocker unveiled right before his very eyes.

An inaccurate move by Salgados allowed Aquino to force a repetition of moves leading to an inevitable draw in a seemingly hopeless position. Overjoyed by the nightmarish escape, Aquino jumped off his seat to the cheers of the equally-bewildered spectators.

“Wala nako natira ang fatal nga move kay abi nako’g wala na siyay mahimo. It’s a big mistake in my part and a great lesson nga dili gyod diay magkumpiyansa,” said the No.8 seed Salgados of his forgettable bout with the No.6 Aquino.

His succeeding matches with the No.15 Narquingden Reyes and No.2 seed Haridas Pascua, double gold medallist in the 2007 Asean Age-Group Championship in Singapore, also ended in a truce.

It was a see-saw duel with Pascua whose time was flagged down at the time the University of Baguio secondary chess standout is barely few seconds away from delivering a checkmate.

“Advantage ko sa middlegame pero akong na-mishandle. Losing ko sa endgame mao akong gi-rumble kay panic time na siya. At least, ako na sab ang lucky sa among dula ni Pascua,” said Salgados who along with fellow 3.5 pointers Pascua and Jerich Cajeras was only trailing by half a point behind Reyes who now shares the lead with Christy Lamiel Bernales and Loren Brigham Laceste at four points each.

At presstime, Laceste battles Reyes on board 1, Bernales versus Pascua on board 2 and Salgados opposite Cajeras on board 3.

One of the two girls (the other being Jan Jodilyn Fronda) who made it to the 14-under kiddies grandfinals, Bernales ended the winning streak of Escalante, Negros Oriental pride Cajeras–conqueror of Pascua in the fourth round–with a Queen sacrifice that offered her a lasting advantage in the endgame.

In the 20-below junior division, Lennon’s compatriot Antonio Chavez Jr. suffered his second-straight defeat at the hands of Davao leg champion Chito Dimakiling II. Committing blunders in the neck of time is probably Chavez’s greatest enemy here as what predicted earlier by National Master Levi Mercado who helped out in his training back home.

“Naay chance ang duha nga mo-champion basta dili lang mag-careless si Lennon ug ma-time trouble si Chavez,” was Mercado’s accurate evaluation.

Junior division’s top-four pacesetters after five rounds were Lyndon Sombilon, Bryll John Arellano, Marvin Ting, Lehi Dan Laceste, Mohamad Sacar and Ellan Asuela.

US-based Dolly Ilogon and Arnold Sendaydiego of Homeworks Engineering-Fairplay Specialist were just among those instrumentals in making the Oro pair’s campaign for national chess glory virtually trouble-free.

“Win or lose, dako among pasalamat sa mga individuals nga nakatabang sa ilang training ug pang-allowance dinhi sa Manila. Sila among inspiration,” said the FCD (Fighting Chess Defenders) mentor who accompanies Chavez and Salgados in the ongoing Shell Chess Grandfinals.

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A chess champ’s advice: Attack and don’t relent

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 22, 2007 in Uncategorized

Business strategy by Garry Kasparov

As a teenage chess prodigy, Garry Kasparov quickly learned to deal with failure.

Twice he clashed with reigning champion Tigran Petrosian, and each time the upstart’s aggressive tactics were twisted against him, repelled by “Iron Tigran’s” notoriously impenetrable defence.

So on the eve of the their third meeting, the young Mr. Kasparov sought out some advice from the legendary Soviet grandmaster Boris Spassky.

“Squeeze his balls,” Mr. Spassky counselled, sidestepping the more delicate intricacies of strategy. “But don’t rush into it,” he cautioned. “Squeeze one, not both.”

The message? Pressure is a good thing, but it must be applied steadily and with purpose.

“If you stay aggressive and things don’t work as planned, you at least learn something,” Mr. Kasparov told a gathering at the World Business Forum in Manhattan yesterday. “Mistakes of inaction, I believe, are psychologically harder to deal with. We always regret missed opportunities more than misplayed attacks.”

Mr. Kasparov, of course, blossomed into one of the chess world’s greatest competitors, among other things: consultant, political activist, presidential candidate (although this looks increasingly in doubt), and author, most recently, of How Life Imitates Chess, designed to translate his experiences as a player into a guidebook for decision making in the corporate arena.

It was this latter hat he ostensibly donned yesterday, ready to make what he described as “the case for the offence.” In Mr. Kasparov’s thinking, attacking is as integral to business or politics as it is to chess; those who win do so not only by forcing their opponents into a retreat, but using their newly held advantage to launch further “assaults.” A failure to do this can be fatal, he said, furnishing the Wright Brothers, Wang computers and AltaVista as examples of pioneers who ceded their positions to more aggressive rivals.

“In business it means you will give your competitor a chance to catch up and pass you,” he warned. “Consider Apple’s strategy with iPod. The Mini was incredibly popular when Apple introduced another line, the Nano. Instead of waiting around and counting their money, they pushed their advantage. In business, the best attack is always pre-emptive. An opponent or competitor who is under pressure is more likely to make a mistake.”

Like some of his co-speakers, a group that included former Disney chief Michael Eisner and corporate raider Carl Icahn, Mr. Kasparov’s lecture was rich in humour and anecdote, but thinner on actionable ideas.

Chess has long been a favoured metaphor for business types, conjuring as it does notions of a defined battlefield, complex strategy, and the need to marshal resources of various potential.

But business is not played on a two-dimensional board, and the metaphors tend to ring hollow when fastened too tightly to corporate strategy (“As on the chess board, if you don’t use your initiative, you will lose it” or “In chess we know that a subtle move on one side of the board can have a decisive effect on the other side of the board.”)

Even Mr. Kasparov, in response to a question from a moderator, conceded there was “no relation” between life and chess. The real key to his experiences, he added, was not so much the game, but the conceptual frame of mind he inhabited in order to win: the acceptance of failure, the necessity of absorbing criticism, no matter how painful, and the willingness to perform unflinching self-analysis.

“It’s critical to understand why we succeed – not only why we fail,” he said. “Nobody wants to look at success – we believe we won, because we’re great. It’s complacency. A good plan can fail with bad implementation and vice versa.”

Mr. Kasparov, who has been a stern and persistent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was one of three presidential candidates recently put forward by opposition coalition Other Russia. Yet his candidacy for the December election was blocked this week because Other Russia is not a registered party.

Although he was in New York to discuss strategy, Mr. Kasparov frequently veered into geopolitical issues, ranging from Iraq (“bad implementation of no plan”), to the state of Russian government, to what he views as the unsavoury symbiosis between oil and terrorism.

Mr. Kasparov was also unsparing in his critique of Russian business, and offered his American audience a few words of advice about dealing with the country’s wealthy and politically connected oligarchs. Although several foreign companies have profited by direct investment in Russia, he warned there is no such thing as an “easy ruble.”

“If you want to invest in KGB Incorporated,” he deadpanned, “you must remember that these are very, very active shareholders. Even Carl Icahn would pale by comparison.”

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So bounces back in world chess

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 19, 2007 in Uncategorized

AFTER two consecutive loses, Filipino Wesley So bounced back into contention by beating fellow IM Sasha Kaplan of Israel and climbing into a tie for 7th to 13th placers in the ninth round of 2007 World Juniors and Girls Chess Championships at the T. Petrosian Chess House in Yerevan, Armenia late Friday.

IM Kaplan resigned after 45 moves of a four knights game when the Filipino campaigner threatened the former IM in a one move inevitable mate.

The 14-year-old So had a rook in the seventh rank, bishop and two pawns against IM Kaplan’s rook and four pawns.

With the win, So from Bacoor, Cavite raised his total of 6.0 points and climbed into a tie for 7th to 13th placers in the company of GM Victor Laznicka of Czech Republic, GM Dmitry Andreikin of Russia, GM Parimarjan Negi of India, IM Gopal Narayanan of India, IM Marcus Ragger of Austria and tenth round opponent IM Abhijeet Gupta of India.

Top seed GM Wang Hao (2643) trounced over-night solo leader GM Ahmed Adly of Egypt after 60 moves of a Sicilian Defense to tied GM Adly in the leadership board with 7.0 points each.

GM Arman Pashikian of Armenia, on the other hand nipped GM Maxim Rodshtein of Israel after 38 moves of a Slav Defense to scored 6.5 points and shared 3rd to 6th placers along with GM Georg Meier of Germany, GM Ivan Popov of Russia and IM Grigoryan Avetik of Armenia in this 80 player’s field of the Boy’s 20 and under class applying 13 round Swiss-system tournament.

In the Girl’s 20 and under division, WIM Vera Nebolsina of Russia continues her winning run after crushing WGM Sabrina Vega of Spain to tote 8.0 points and remain on top.

At solo second place with 7.5 points is IM Dronavili Harika of India who dealt WGM Sanjay Karavade of India.

Meanwhile, Filipino Woman National Master Aices Salvador yielded to WFM Klaudia Kulon of Poland to remain at 4.0 points and drop into a tie for 35th to 42nd placers.

The 17-year-old La Salle management student will face WIM Khaled Mona of Egypt in the next round in the 58 player’s field.

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Speedy moves help chess champion achieve milestone

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 15, 2007 in Uncategorized

Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand has become the first Asian and only the second player from outside Eastern Europe in the past 60 years to win the World Chess Championship.

Anand’s victory in Mexico City last weekend was not a surprise — since he is ranked No 1 in the world — but it was a milestone.

Chennai-born Anand, 37, will not have much time to rest on his laurels. Under the rules of the World Chess Federation he must play Russian Vla dimir Kramnik, the previous champion, early next year.

While they are facing off, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, another former champion, will play the winner of a tournament to be held later this year in Russia.

The winners of those two matches will play a final match to determine a new champion.

Anand’s strength has always been his speed and computational ability. He quickly sees deeply into positions, rarely spending much time on his moves or using anywhere near his allotted time for a game. For many years he has widely been acknowledged as the best rapid chess player in the world.

But he took a long time to win the championship. He broke into the elite in 1991 by winning a strong tournament that included Garry Kasparov, then the world champion, and former champion Anatoly Karpov.

Since then, he has won all the top tournaments at least once, but he has always struggled to win matches.

In a match, the historical format for determining a champion, two players face each other repeatedly, while in a tournament, many face one another just once or twice.

Some observers and fellow competitors have ascribed Anand’s struggles in matches to nerves.

In 1995, he lost an 18-game match Kasparov. In 1998, he won a tournament to select a challenger for Karpov for the World Chess Federation championship. They played to a tie in a six-game match, but Karpov prevailed in a playoff.

Technically, Anand’s victory in Mexico City is his second world title. In 2000, he won the federation’s championship tournament Teheran and New Delhi. But, at the time, the title was split and many people recognised Kramnik as the legitimate champion.

Last year Kramnik became the undisputed champion after beating Topalov.

In the Mexico City championship, Anand outdistanced seven of the world’s top 14 players, including Kramnik, emerging as the only undefeated player.

He is now the undisputed champion, acknowledged even by Kramnik, but some say he cannot be considered a true champion until he proves his mettle in a match. So the match against Kramnik will be important. Anand said that he did not know for how long he would continue to play competitively, but he drew a clear line.

Referring to Viktor Korchnoi, a former world championship challenger, who is 76 and still plays regularly in tournaments, Anand said: “You can rest assured that I won’t be doing a Korchnoi.”

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Huge response to chess in Asian Indoor Games

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 13, 2007 in Uncategorized

Abu Dhabi: A total of 24 countries will take part in the chess competition of the Asian Indoor Games in Macau later this month, a top official in the Asian Chess Federation told Gulf News.

UAE’s Hosham Ali Al Taher, the Secretary General of the ACF, said: “The teams will compete to win nine gold medals and as many silver and bronze in the games.”

“There are nine competitions including the regular chess, Blitz and dynamic chess with three competitions for each category for the mixed teams, men’s singles and women’s singles.

“The mixed teams consist of two men and two women players and the teams’ competition is of nine rounds in the Swiss format. The singles will be contested from six rounds,” Al Taher added.



“The time of the regular chess competitions will be 90 minutes for each player to finish his moves with 30 seconds for each move while in the Dynamic, the time will be 25 minutes for the game with additional 10 seconds for each move. In the Blitz, it’s only three minutes with an additional three seconds for each move.

“Each country can field six players, three men and as many women,” Al Taher explained.

The participating countries are: India, Bahrain, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mangolia, Iran, Indonesia, China, Japan, Kazakhistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Chinese Taipei, the Maldives and hosts Macau.

“It is true that the ACF is working hard to spread and improve the game of chess in many Asian countries as per the direction of Shaikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Shakhboot Al Nahyan, the President of the ACF.

“The Asian chess players are on top of the world at the moment as Indian GM Anand won the men’s World Championship while Chinese Woman Grand Master Xu Yuhua has won the ladies title,” Al Taher concluded.

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Viswanathan Anand’s World Championship win at Mexico City will go down as one of his greatest achievements

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 13, 2007 in Uncategorized

Viswanathan Anand achieved his World Chess Championship win with customary finesse. He was undefeated through the event, and became the first non-Russian after Bobby Fischer in 1972 to hold the number one ranking and the World Championship simultaneously; the latest addition to his glittering resume will further impact the rapid growth of the sport in the country.The World Championship win at Mexico City will go down as one of his greatest achievements. He had earlier won the title in 2000 in a knockout format, but the absence of Vladimir Kramnik had taken some sheen off the win. This time though, he is the undisputed World Champion, after competing with eight of the world’s best. He was the only undefeated player in the tournament and the only person to have won the World Championship undefeated in both the knockout and the round-robin format.

Perfect ambassador

Consistency has always been the 37-year-old’s forte. He has remained in the top-3 since 1997 (he’s No.1 now), and has not finished outside the top-3 in a tournament since May 2002. Besides that, he has performed exceptionally in both the classic and the rapid formats. Consistency, versatility and a single-minded focus have taken him where he is now. His calm and modest demeanour is very unlike that of the eccentric geniuses that the sport produces, and has helped him maintain his focus.

Anand’s pioneering role in Indian chess is common knowledge, and this win will only help in inspiring a lot more children into taking up the sport. His subsequent achievements after becoming India’s first Grandmaster in 1987 sparked off massive interest in the game. India now has 15 Grandmasters and many potential ones. Chess is a sport that is suited to Indians, and it was just a matter of time before more Indians started dominating the game.

Anand is also a perfect ambassador for the sport in India, and is aware of his responsibilities in improving media coverage for chess and taking the sport to the rural areas across the country. When in the country (he is based in Spain), he is actively involved in promoting the game.

The World Champion can presently afford to rest on his laurels and has some time on his hands before his match against Kramnik next year. One of India’s greatest sportsmen is playing some of his best chess, and is enjoying it. The good news is that he wants more.

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Chess is catching on across Africa and beginning to produce some formidable players

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 7, 2007 in Uncategorized

Amon simutowe learned chess by reading magazines. He was the Zambian national champ by the time he was 14. But a series of dazzling victories at a recent tournament in the Netherlands earned Simutowe, now 25, a permanent place in chess history: he became the first sub-Saharan African to achieve the notoriously difficult ranking of international grandmaster. At home in his native Lusaka, the local papers exalted in his victory on the front pages.

Chess in America has typically been the reserve of the geeky eccentric, or the rich and effete. But in many parts of Africa, where the game is seen as a powerful tool for intellectual strength and self-improvement, it has developed a broad following. And because chess is so cheap, it is luring players who are just as likely to come from a rural village in Botswana or a South African township as from a European boarding school. Now two homegrown stars—Simutowe and Zimbabwean Robert Gwaze, who won the African Individual Championships last month and is heading toward becoming a grandmaster—are leading the way for other African players to break into the ranks of the world’s best. “This is the beginning of a real renaissance,” says Lewis Ncube, the Zambian vice president of the World Chess Federation. “In time they’ll be able to challenge for the top positions in the world.”

Christian missionaries first spread chess throughout Africa in the 19th century. But the continent has generally lagged behind in turning out masters—until now. Since Simutowe first beat British grandmaster Peter Wells in 2000, he has become something of a national hero. He receives hundreds of e-mails from adoring Zambian fans and provides them with daily updates from his tournaments via BlackBerry. Chess now regularly makes the front page of the sports section in The Post of Zambia. And Zambian officials are reportedly considering awarding Simutowe—who earned degrees in finance and economics while on a chess scholarship at the University of Texas at Dallas—a diplomatic passport to encourage him to become a global ambassador for African chess. “This is proof that you can come from southern Africa and achieve grandmaster ranking,” says Dabilani Buthani, president of the African Chess Union. “It’s going to be a boom.”

Perhaps. There are lots of hurdles. African players face a dearth of good tournaments at home and are unable to afford traveling abroad to play. Malawian Alfred Chimathere bounced for 72 hours in a bus to participate in the African championship—only to be detained at the border for two days because officials wouldn’t accept his visa. Chimathere began playing only two years ago, but is already working his way toward an international title. “Chess is a game of thinkers,” he says. “That motivated me to show the world that I can think.” And while many aspiring players improve their games over the Internet, some of the best African players don’t yet have access to the Web. Chimathere’s policeman’s salary, for instance, is not enough for him to buy a laptop. In Zimbabwe, political instability and a severe economic crisis have stripped the game of financial backing, forcing leading lights like Gwaze to move abroad. “I’ve gotten no support whatsoever from them,” he says.

But support is starting to come in other forms. African chess officials have embraced the strategy that Russia, a world-class chess center, adopted long ago: teaching chess in schools. The World Chess Federation plans to implement a global Schools Program focused on promoting chess among children in developing countries. In South Africa, there are already an estimated 100,000 students participating in official and nonofficial games. Earlier this year South Africa promoted chess as one of six “priority sports codes,” allotting it the same kind of federal funding as football, rugby and swimming. Botswana and Namibia both now categorize chess as a sport, which means it is federally funded and promoted. Namibia is working with Iceland—where the government pays chess champions large salaries and where the reclusive American chess master Bobby Fischer lives—to promote chess in schools and prisons.

Corporate sponsors are also pitching in. For years the mining company De Beers has sponsored chess championships in Botswana. Now a South African company called ChessCube plans to launch an interactive, free Web site featuring chess lectures and videos aimed at Africans who don’t have access to teachers or local chess clubs. “This system we’re building helps make Africa smaller,” says ChessCube’s Mark Levitt. And as Africa gets smaller, the number of African chess champions is bound to grow.

Source: Newsweek

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So scores anew, shares world junior chess lead

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 6, 2007 in Uncategorized

Filipino International Master Wesley So trounced Polish FIDE Master Krzysztof Bulski on Thursday to share the lead with 11 others after two rounds of the 2007 World Juniors and Girls Chess Championships at the T. Petrosian Chess House in Yerevan, Armenia.The No. 14 seed So next faces Armenian Tigran Mamikonian, who stunned IM Sebastian Feller of France, to join the rank of 2.0-pointers.

So, who turns 14 on Oct. 9, also beat Lithuania’s Emilis Pickelis in the first round.

Among those with 2.0 points are top seed Grandmaster Wang Hao of China and No. 3 GM Maxim Rodshtein of Israel.

The 18-year-old Hao, who emerged co-champion with countryman GM Zhang Pengxiang in the recent 6th Asian Individual Chess Championship in Mandaue City, took the scalp of IM Tornike Sanikidze of Georgia.

In the girls’ championship, Filipino Woman Master Aices Salvador bounced back from a loss to German WFM Sarah Hoolt in Wednesday’s first round to best Ghazal Hakimifard of Iran.

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Cuban Chess Player Improves Position in FIDE World Ranking

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 4, 2007 in Uncategorized

According to the FIDE world list – published every three months -, Dominguez has an ELO rating of 2683 points and places 29th in the world ranking.


The Cuban player was a member of the training team of Hungarian GM Peter Leko during the recently concluded Mexico 2007 World Chess Championship won by India’s GM Viswanathan Anand and where Leko finished in the fourth spot.

According to the FIDE website, Anand heads the world ranking with 2801 units followed by Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk (2787) and Russian Vladimir Kramnik (2785).

The Top Ten is completed by Bulgarian GM Vesselin Topalov (2769), Leko (2755), Russian Alexander Morozevich (2755), Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2752) and Teimour Radjabov (2742), Armenian Levon Aronian (2741) and Spanish Alexei Shirov (2739).

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Zhang Pengxiang wins VI Asian Chess Championship

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 1, 2007 in Uncategorized

The encounter between two Chinese Grandmaster in French defence finishes in draw after 24 Moves, and with 8 points these two GM from China leaded the Asian Chess Championship. The final positions are: 1- GM,Zhang Pengxiang (2649) CHN, 8 ; 2- GM,Wang Hao(2626) CHN, 8; 3- GM,Kunte Abhijit (2519) IND,7½; 4- GM,Zhao Jun(2558) CHN, 7½;
5- GM,Megaranto Susanto (2554) INA, 7½ ; 6- IM,Wen Yang(2475) CHN, 7½ ; 7- IM,Laylo Darwin(2486) PHI, 7½ ; 8- GM,Zhou Jianchao (2572) CHN, 7½ ; 9- IM,Gopal G. N. (2480) IND,7 ; 10- M,Hossain Enamul(2485) BAN, 7

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PM congratulates Anand on winning World Chess Championship

Posted by 365Chess.com on October 1, 2007 in Uncategorized

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday congratulated Viswanathan Anand for winning the World Chess Championship.

Anand regained the title after a gap of nearly seven years, drawing his 14th and final round game against Hungarian Peter Leko in Mexico City on Saturday.

The ‘Tiger from Madras’, as he is fondly called, also became the first undisputed World Chess Champion since 1993 as this world championship was the culmination of the reunification of the chess world.

Besides, Anand will keep his number one ranking in ELO ratings due to be released on the October 1.

After regaining the crown he last won in Teheran (2000), Anand said, “being the undisputed world champion is a relief. Since, last year the feud was resolved in chess and we instituted a unified chess title, I am the absolute world champion.”

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