Thursday, 15 August 2013

Chess Reviews: 217

ChessBase Magazine #155
The latest issue of ChessBase magazine is now available, offering the usual pot-pourri of top quality material.

The coverage of top tournaments is exemplary. The pick of the bunch this time is the Tal Memorial, a tournament with many interesting features. Boris Gelfand, at 45, went through the tough tournament unbeaten and took clear first place, half a point ahead of the world's highest rated player, Magnus Carlsen. No wonder Gelfand is smiling on the cover of the magazine.

As much as Gelfand's performance was a great advert for the enduring skills of the veterans, the tail end of the tournament was clearly trying to prove the opposite, with the current World Champion (Anand) finishing next to last with only a former World Champion (Kramnik) below him. One wonders if such a tournament result - with the participating World Champions propping up the table - has ever been seen before.

Gelfand's round seven game against Nakamura was the turning point of the tournament. The latter was in the lead and Gelfand was half a point adrift. Gelfand had the black pieces too but he won an instructive game to seize the tournament initiative. The winner has annotated the game for ChessBase magazine and here's a couple of instructive moments.

Nakamura vs. Gelfand
Black has just played 17 ...e4. Gelfand comments: ''Here I had to make a decision and after a long thought I decided for a risky-looking grab of the a2-pawn. However I couldn't find anything which refuted this idea. The point is that after the a2-pawn had been taken, Black wouldn't have problems in almost any endgame as he'll have counterplay connected with a5-a4.''

The point is that after 18 Rb1, he continued with 18 ...Qa5!? 19 0-0 Qxa2, which does look a little risky to the naked eye. Black has won the a-pawn but his queen could be cut out of the game for some time. However, Gelfand had calculated correctly and soon enough he managed to bring the queen back to the centre whereupon a queen exchange took place. The notes go on to point out several ways in which Nakamura could have improved his play (Gelfand's annotations are very honest; at one point he admits, ''When I faced this move I panicked first, but it turns out to be a waste of time''). There are some delightful variations in the notes too, such as this one:

Black to play
Gelfand played 43 ...Ng4! Nakamura defended with 44 Kg2 but Gelfand won shortly afterwards. If he had played 44 Nexf5 then 44 ...Bf1 is checkmate. The more stubborn 44 Ndxf5 fails to 44 ...Bf3! and the threat of 45 ...Nf2 checkmate forces White to sacrifice material.

Other tournaments receiving the full ChessBase treatment are the FIDE Grand Prix in Thessaloniki (won by Dominguez, ahead of Kamsky, Caruana et al), Norway (Karjakin, ahead of local hero Carlsen and eight others) and the European Individual Championship (won by Moiseenko on tie-break, despite sharing the top spot with no fewer than nine other players).

Elsewhere, fans of unusual opening lines are sure to find something of interest. The ones to catch my eye were:

Leonid Kritz on 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Na5!?

Alexey Kuzmin on 1 d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4 3 Nf3 a6 4 e3 b5

Boris Schipkov on 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 f3 0-0 6 Be3 e5 7 d5 Nh5 8 Qd2 Qh4+ (leading to Bronstein's famous queen sacrifice)

Robert Ris on 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nd4 4 Nxd4 exd4 5 0-0 h5

As usual, there are simply far too many other features on ChessBase Magazine to mention here, but I would just like to draw attention to the tactics survey by Oliver Reeh. It's always fun - and good practice - to try and solve the puzzles he presents. A ticking clock is provided to create a little tension and points are awarded for correct answers. It's easy to lose oneself in such an exercise and time tends to slip by very quickly.

Well done ChessBase for keeping the quality of their magazine at such a consistently high level.

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