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Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

The chess magazines are filled with Carlsen, Carlsen, Carlsen following his annexation of the world championship. So to end the old era, here is a summation to date of the rise of Magnus Carlsen, now age 23.

The Norwegian became a Grandmaster in 2004 at the age of 13. In 2007, he became the top-rated player in the world and has held that position since, except for three odd months. He broke Garry Kasparov’s all-time highest rating in 2013, his most successful year. In January of that year he won the Tata Steel Championship, a 13-rounder, winning by 1.5 points, ahead of Levon Aronian of Armenia. Then came the 2013 candidates tournament, in London in March and April. Carlsen eked out the right to be a candidate in a tiebreak ahead of Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. While treading water before facing Viswanathan Anand of India, the reigning champion, he entered the Tal Memorial and dispatched Anand, Kramnik, and American Hikaru Nakamura, but placed second, just behind Boris Gelfand of Israel. 

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Carlsen then moved on for his first major appearance in America in the Sinquefield Cup, which he won ahead of Nakamura. Finally, he faced Anand in the World Championship and after four straight draws, won two straight games as Anand lost confidence, and won the ninth game and the match.

The most recent leading international tournament was at Zurich, the six-player Chess Challenge, billed as the strongest ever. Carlsen won the preliminary blitz event to determine the pairing numbers in the classical event, with two wins, two draws, and one loss, with Aronian placing second. Carlsen performed less well in the rapid event, which accounted for one-half of the points in the classical section, suffering two losses. However, he retained enough of a lead in the overall standings to win the tournament.

The other players in the event were Aronian, Nakamura, Gelfand, Anand, and Fabiano Caruana, an American-born Italian grandmaster. Carlsen’s wins in the classical section included one against Nakamura, who has been battling the Carlsen jinx for a long time. His losses to Carlsen numbered eight prior to Zurich, with no wins in 23 games. After Zurich (including a rapids loss) his record against the world champ is 10 losses in 25 games and still no wins.

After Tata Steel and Zurich it appears that Aronian is the betting favorite to become the next challenger for the world championship at the March 11 candidates tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, but Carlsen has a plus record against him as well. (Nakamura did not qualify.) Peter Svidler of Russia, the wild-card choice for this qualifying tournament, is the only player with a winning record against Carlsen, with two wins, one loss, and nine draws.

 

Brevity: M. Czerniak vs. Z. Domnitz (1976) 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.c3 d6 4.f4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.dxc5 dxc5 7.e5 Nd5 8.Be4 Nb6 9.Qxd8+ Kxd8 10.Nf3 f6 11.0–0 Kc7 12.a4 Bf5 13.Bxf5 gxf5 14.e6 Nc8 15.Na3 a6 16.Nc4 Rd8 17.Nh4 Nb6 18.Nxb6 Kxb6 19.Nxf5 Bf8 20.Be3 Rd5 21.Rfd1; 1-0. 

 

Winners: Newburyport Championship — 1st, John Elmore, 2d, Geoffrey Collins, 3d, Frank Sisto; Waltham G/5 — 1st-2d, Steven Winer
Denys Shmelov, 10-2, 3d, Sebastian Gueler, 8-4.

 

Coming Events: Boylston Grand Prix, Feb. 22, and BCF Quads, March 1, both at 240B Elm St., Somerville, www.boylstonchessclub.org;
84th Chelmsford Burger King Scholastic,
Feb. 23, 74 Drum Hill Road, Chelmsford,
MatthewGosselin24@yahoo.com

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