Thursday, 12 April 2012

Chess Reviews: 196

ChessBase Magazine # 147

April's issue of ChessBase Magazine keeps up the very high standards one can rightly expect from this fine series.

As usual, the coverage of recent top tournaments is first class. Those receiving the full treatment this time include Wijk aan Zee and Gibraltar.

Girbraltar is billed here as the more exciting of the two events; the magazine states that 'This year there was not really great excitement in the Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk. The dominance of Levon Aronian was simply too obvious.'

Of course, there was plenty of excitement at Wijk aan Zee. How could there not be, with the likes of Aronian, Carlsen, Nakamura, Topalov and world title challenger Gelfand all in action? Nevertheless, Aronian's performance was indeed one of dominance (even though he managed to lose two games on the way to victory).

I was impressed by some little of the little details in his game with Giri.

Giri - Aronian

White's only active plan appears to be to push f3-f4. It's instructive how Aronian manages to keep that idea strictly under lock and key while manoeuvring towards a winning advantage for himself.

21 ...Rf5 'Preventing the advance f4' says Aronian, whose own notes adorn the game. 22 f4 gxf4 23 Nxf4 Rg5 is the simple point. White played 22 Kg2. 'On 22 Qb8+ as well as other moves, Black has the interesting resource Nc8' - because after 23 Qxc8, Rf8 wins the Queen! Aronian followed up with 22 ...Nd7, 23 ...Nf8, 24 ...Ng6 and 25 ...Nh4+ and went on to win after 43 moves.

Magnus Carlsen provides enlightening annotations to one of his games too. There's a key moment towards the end where he admits to missing an important possibility - which could have spoilt all of his efforts and earned Black a draw.
Carlsen - Gashimov
Carlsen played the tempting 51 f5 and comments:  'This was my point, as now Black cannot play ...gxf5 Bxf5 Ne6 due to the check on e6. However, Black has another trick, which I failed to spot.'
 51 ...g5?  It turns out that Black could have played 51 ...h5!! and after 52 fxg6 Ne6! the Knight springs to life and will soon hop into d4, apparently saving the game.

It's always good to read honest comments by the top players.

Gibraltar may well have produced more exciting games than Wijk, but its not really comparing like with like. Gibraltar was an Open tournament on the Swiss system, a format which demands active and aggressive chess if top honours are to be fought for.

Nigel Short certainly entered into the spirit of things, playing the rare Benoni Defence in a critical last round game and being rewarded for his bravery.

Sasikiran - Short
White has just played 29 Bg2-h1? which was a clear error (29 Bf1 was the better Bishop move). Short pounced with 29 ...Ne5!, winning the c4 pawn and, soon afterwards, the game.

With characters such as Hou, Adams, Judit Polgar and Korchnoi all in action, there was no shortage of dynamic chess or decisive results at Gibraltar.

In total, there are 2097 recent games from recent Grandmaster events and there's lots more besides.
For example, there's a 50 minute video featuring Alexi Shirov presenting his take on recent developments in the Botvinnik Semi-Slav, using his game against Grischuk at the European Team Championship as the main focal point.

Elsewhere, the opening surveys will be welcomed by serious tournament players as they are invariably up to date, interesting and presented by experts. The pick of the bunch this time is the one in which Viktor Moskalenko rounds up the recent theory on the French Advance with 6 a3 c4.

ChessBase Magazine continues to offer excellent value for money. There's no other chess product like it.

Two other items of interest.

Firstly, my review of this book...

The Tarrasch Defence available in the current issue of CHESS Magazine (April 2012).

Secondly, Gambit have just publushed a brand new, greatly expanded edition of a a classic title...

Vishy Anand: World Chess Champion

...just in time for the imminent World Championship match. My full review should appear soon but for now I'd just like to point out that there's a special section at the end of the book featuring a full appreciation of Anand written by me, partly based on the interviews we recorded at the London Chess Classic in December 2011.

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