battles at Hastings | ChessBase


Look forward and back

[Note that Jon Speelman also looks at the content of the article in video format, here embedded at the end of the article.]

A very happy new year everyone as we head into 2022 at a time where traditionally we look both forward and backward.

Beset by Covid, 2021 has been another year of internet chess with many tournaments focusing primarily on European time zones – which was good enough for Americans too but tough for Asians starting rounds very late in the evening.

While internet tournaments are wonderful to watch – and even streaming – they tend to blend into each other, at least for me: and I wonder how easily even players themselves can tell the different ones apart. events when they were often seated at the same desks. against more or less the same groups of opponents?

What I do know without using a search engine is that Magnus Carlsen won his own tournament Grand Prix, the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. Carlsen has played a number of games on the internet over the year, but of course he’s also played overboard (and these are easier to remember because there is a geography to tell them apart).

Wijk aan Zee did not go particularly well for him and resulted in a surprise victory for Jorden Van Foresst, who beat Anish Giri in the play-off. Carlsen reached the semi-final of the World Cup near Sochi before losing to Jan-Krzysztof Duda, then won the Norwegian chess tournament first tied with Alireza Firouzja but first in the tie- break. Of course, he then defended his world title against Ian Nepomniachtchi in Dubai with relative ease. (It looked ‘easy’ in retrospect, but if Game 6 had gone differently, it surely would have been an entirely different game).

The other man of the year was without question Firouzja, whose brilliant performances at the Grand Swiss in Riga and then at the European Teams in Slovenia propelled him beyond the 2800 mark to place second in the world.

Alireza Firouzja at Grand Swiss in Riga | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Carlsen has now said he will only defend his world title against Firouzja if he wins the Candidates next summer. But I hope it wouldn’t be rude to suggest that this is at least in part an initial negotiating position …

I’m writing this Thursday, December 30, shortly before the second day of the World Blitz in Warsaw. The quick game ended yesterday with a quadruple tie for first place between, in the tiebreaker order, Nodirbek Abdussatorov, Nepomniachtchi, Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana. According to the regulations, they shared the prize money, but only the first two played for the title. And Abdussaturov beat Nepo to become the new fast-playing world champion – a brilliant result for the seventeen-year-old Uzkek: Bravo!

Carlsen, who had entered the tournament as a world champion in everything FIDE has a championship for – classic, quick play and blitz – took a toll on his chances in the opener on the final day when he pushed his luck against Abdussaturov in this position:

Sure, 51 … Qxh5 shoots immediately, but Carlsen tried 51 … f5 and later lost when Abdussaturov guided the h-pawn through. The exact details aren’t that exciting – the table’s basics tell us it’s been drawn for a long time, but ultimately even Carlsen couldn’t help but wobble.

But the really interesting question is whether Carlsen should regret his decision. It didn’t work this time around and seemed unnecessary (especially in hindsight) since he was the only leader at the time. But he based his success on pushing and pushing, winning most often in the end, sometimes having to defend and succeed and only occasionally actually lose. And presumably, he should continue to do so, perhaps just on occasion being more careful when the position of the tournament or match calls for it.

Magnus Carlsen, Nodirbek Abdusattorov

Magnus Carlsen against Nodirbek Abdusattorov | Photo: Fast and Blitz World Championship

It’s now a day later and the blitz is over too. (As readers know) Levon Aronian was leading after day one and continued for much of the day, but crashed in the later laps. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave beat Carlsen in the final round to share the first with Duda and Firouzja and, as with the quick, it was the first two that played, with MV-L becoming the world champion.

Looking forward to this year, Wijk will start in less than a fortnight with a very interesting peloton led by Carlsen and Caruana. There will be most of the traditional tournaments with luck and candidates, which according to FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich were written in pencil this summer, possibly in Madrid, with the next World Championship in early 2023. .

At least let’s hope that the proportion of over-the-board tournaments increases. This would not only be good news for us, the chess-watching public, but an infinitely more important indication that the world situation was improving.

Guess I should name one ‘game of the year’ and one that comes to mind right now – not because it was a wonderful game in and of itself, but because of its length and importance. , this is the sixth game in Dubai. It has been analyzed at length on the ChesBase site and elsewhere, so I won’t give it back here, but maybe readers would like to make their own suggestions and I can show a few here in future articles.

Ian Nepomniachtchi, Magnus Carlsen

Ian Nepomniachtchi and Magnus Carlsen in memorable sixth game of their World Championship game | Photo: Niki Riga

The traditional Hastings tournament

For many years I spent New Years in Hastings, and indeed I have the record for the most games played in the Hastings Premier by a player, which is around 236 if I recall Good.

I thought I would end with some memories of Hastings starting coincidentally with two very rare losses as Ulf Andersson’s White. It’s absolutely not because I have something against Ulf. He’s a very nice guy and a great chess player who is able to retreat and keep his position intact in a way that I have never encountered in anyone else. In over a dozen classic games with him I’ve had positions where I thought I was going to attack quite often, but they evaporated and we had a lot of draws and just one win for him. But these two are both iconic – for the second, I repeated my notes from a previous column

When I started to think about my own matches at Hastings, there had been loads of draws, and the losses included several against Evgeny Bareev against whom I hadn’t done too badly elsewhere but who had a huge plus on the game. South side. Among the wins was a Caro-Kann against Nigel Short – and, of course, the match against Lev Psakhis, in which I played my most outrageous move ever!

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

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