Chess Room Newsletter #545 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #545

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #545     


He's one of the few players who is less concerned with the results than with having a real fight.

Gary Kasparov talking about Hikaru Nakamura 

1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
2) 2011 World Team Chess Championship  3)1st Metropolitan Chess International
4) World Cup Pairings
5) Upcoming Events

  1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News  

Cyrus Lakdawala and Ricardo De Guzman tied for first in the 11th Charles Bagby G/45 held July 16th. The two IMs, who drew with each other in round four, scored 4.5 from 5. Among those finishing on 4-1 in the 53-player event were SM Gregory Kotlyar and NM Sevan Buscara.

NM Sevan Buscara took top honors in the MI Summer Tuesday Night Marathon scoring 6.5 from 8. Tying for second at 6 were FM Robin Cunningham, NM Evan Sandberg and Expert Uyanga Byambaa.

The 24-player Neil Falconer Blitz, held August 2, ended in a four way tie for first between IMs Ricardo DeGuzman and John Donaldson, SM Gregory Kotlyar and NM Sevan Buscara with 7.5 from 10.

The Dan Litowsky Tuesday Night Marathon started last night with FMs Andy Lee and Frank Thornally the top seeds. It's still possible to enter the eight round event with a half point bye for round one.

Jules Jelinek, the MI Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator, writes: 

Hello everyone,


Tonight is Wednesday night. That means it is time to drop by the chess club and play in the weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Tournament at Mechanics' Institute. As always, it starts at 6:40pm with sign-up beginning at 6:20pm. Entry is $10 with clock $11 without clock. Prizes are 50%, 30%, 20% of entry fees. TIme control preferably is 3 minute increment 2 second otherwise 5 minutes increment 0 second.


Last week, the winners were:


1st - Carlos D'Avila
2nd - Jules Jelinek
3rd - Merim Mesic


Look forward to seeing you tonight.


2) 2011 World Team Chess Championship by US Team Captain John Donaldson 
The 2011 World Team Championship, held July 16-26 in Ningbo, China, was in the opinion of many including Levon Aronian, the strongest such competition ever held. The ten team round robin boasted an average rating of 2728 among the first boards - considerably higher than Biel (2709) and just under Dortmund (2731).  Almost half of the 50 players participating were rated over 2700 and only a handful were under 2600.


Russia was the top seed with an average rating of 2752 for its top four boards followed by Azerbaijan (2737), Ukraine (2722) and Armenia (2709). Imposing as these ratings might be what quickly became clear, the Egyptian team excepted, was that any team could beat any other on a given day.



The Armenians finished a deserving first scoring 14 from 18 match points with China second a point behind. Both teams played very well but their final scores do not indicate how easily things might have turned out differently. In retrospect the round that really decided things was the seventh. The two marque match-ups were Armenia-Hungary and China-Russia. Both matches finished 2.5-1.5 with one decisive result apiece. This could easily have gone differently had Almasi found 29...Bc1! against Movsesian or Karjakin 40...e2 against Wang Hao, but they didn't. In such a tough event it is not enough to play well; you also need to grab any second chances.



Sergei Movsesian, in his debut for the Armenian team was a rock scoring an undefeated 6 from 9 for a performance rating of 2824. He not only performed admirably but also allowed Vladimir Akopian and Gabriel Sargissian to play down a board. The Armenian top three (Aronian, Movsesian and Akopian) lost only one game between them (Aronian in round two as black against Kamsky) but China outdid them with Wang Hao, Wang Yue and Li Chao all undefeated. Wang Hao had the best result of all first boards with 6 from 9 (2854 performance) but Wang Yue outdid him scoring 7 from 9 for the best performance of the entire Olympiad (2916). This was the first time China has medaled since the change in scoring from game to match points in 2008 and with a better performance from their young stars Yangyi Yu and Liren Ding they might have done even better. This is definitely a team to watch out for in the future as it was the youngest in Ningbo, with an average age per player of 21.



Defending Olympic Champions Ukraine were missing Ruslan Ponomariov due to a conflict with Dortmund (Kramnik and Nakamura were also missing for the same reason as the dates for the World Team were only released after the field for the German event was finalized) and his absence was felt. The first half of the tournament looked like a disaster in the making with losses to China and Hungary and minimal (2.5-1.5) wins over Egypt and India but in the second half of the event the team found a winning formula with three players blocking and Alexander Moiseenko doing the heavy lifting en route to scoring 6 from 8 and a 2818 performance, good for the gold medal on board four.  Overall Ukraine could be satisfied with third place which is where it was seeded. The final result, achieved without Ponomariov or successful coach Vladimir Tukmakov (first place in 2004 and 2010 for Ukraine) is testament to the seemingly inexhaustible supply of chess talent this country has.



The failure of Russia to medal, let alone take home the gold medal, was for many the big story of the 2011 World Team Championship. Certainly no half measures were taken in preparing the team with a 10 day training camp and week-long acclimatization in Ningbo prior to the event. Captain Evgeny Bareev, coach Alexander Riazantsev and the team of Sergey Karjakin, Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomaniachtchi, Peter Svidler and Nikita Vitiugov didn't suffer from lack of motivation. Besides the honor of representing their country the players pay was based on performance as in recent past events. One report I read had $50,000 each for taking first with $25,000 for second and $10,000 for third with no pay for a non-medal result. 



The Russian team started well enough with 3-1 wins over the US and Hungary and a draw with Armenia but the first hint of trouble came in round four when they lost to Azerbaijan by the same score. The next few rounds went well enough but then came the previously mentioned loss to China which not even a 4-0 whitewash against Israel the next round could erase. Russia had theoretical chances to medal in the last round if it won and China or Ukraine lost which did not happen. The loss to India compounded what was already a disappointing performance and made the final result look worse than it was. The team performed at an average rating of 2727 which was only about 20 points below the average of all five players going into the event but this did not translate well into match victories. While Ukraine also underperformed by rating it succeeded in winning five matches by the minimum score (2.5-1.5) while Russia either won matches by big scores or lost the close ones.



The Russian press had a field day criticizing the team's failure with no less than former World Champion Anatoly Karpov calling the result a "real shame". Predictably team captain Evgeny Bareev was sacked from his job having lasted but two events after taking over from Alexander Motlyev at the last Olympiad. Sergey Karjakin, in his debut as team leader, failed to win a single game in Ningbo. The Russian chess federation spent a considerable sum of money paying for his transfer from Ukraine, an apartment in Moscow and training with Motlyev. He and his fellow teammates appeared to be playing under a heavy burden of expectation.



While the result in Ningbo was a failure to this writer the criticisms leveled at the team seem a little too much. No one can accuse them of not trying hard enough or not preparing professionally. With just a bit of luck Karjakin could have beaten Wang Hao and the team could have played more normally in round nine instead of trying to win by a big score to improve it tiebreak on game points. This scenario would have led to no worse than second place.



Finishing second when seeded first is not exactly a great success but the days when Russia is an automatic lock to take gold are long gone. The Russian teams today are very strong but not like the 1960s when the Soviet Union often fielded former World Champions as reserves. There are many factors that have contributed to this change with the breakup of the Soviet Union the major influence. The democratization of chess talent around the world is increasing at an accelerating rate. Back in Karpov's day there were a handful of countries that were semi-competitive with the Soviet Union. Today teams like Azerbaijan (three players in the top fifteen) and Ukraine have almost the same average rating for four boards.  Russia, with its great depth, was not aided when the second reserve player was eliminated. 



All this said Russia will be back on the podium soon. Young Nepomaniachtchi made an excellent impression in Ningbo and Grischuk played well even though he must have given his teammates a few small heart attacks with his time pressure adventures. These two plus the return of Kramnik and Karjakin on a lower board still look like the team to beat in future events.



The two teams that tied with Russia for fourth in Ningbo, Hungary and the United States probably have different feelings about their final result.  Both were missing key personnel, for Hungary their fourth board Ferenc Berkes (2696) and for the US Hikaru Nakamura. Both teams were also noted throughout the event for their excellent team spirit. For Hungary, this plus some excellent play by fourth board Csaba Balogh who scored an undefeated 5 from 8 good for a performance rating of 2760, almost led them to the promised land. Had they won in the last round against China, Hungary would have taken home the bronze medals.



The US team had the longest trip to Ningbo (roughly 20 hours from San Francisco with a one stop flight to Shanghai and a three hour train ride south to the tournament location) and this partially accounted for the dismal start of two losses in the their first four matches. The defeats, against Russia and China, might have occurred anyway, but the matches would likely have been much closer had the team been better adjusted to the time difference.  The American team arrived in Shanghai three days before the start of the event which pre-tournament seemed plenty of time to get adjusted. The choice of Shanghai to fly into was a good one and the team had a wonderful time there, hosted by the Shanghai Chess Federation during part of its stay. There are few places in the world where in one city block the year appears to be 1400, 2011 or 2100. Shanghai is definitely a mixture of past, present and future.



Looking back it would have been better to have arrived a week earlier spending most of it in Shanghai. Most of the 2011 World Team Championship the American team's sleep habits consisted of going to bed at 10pm, waking up around 3am, going back to sleep until 6am and having breakfast together around 7am. One very important job of the team captain was to make sure all players were awake by 2.15pm (all rounds but the last started at 3pm).



The U.S., team settled into a rhythm the final five rounds and finished strongly with three match wins (including Azerbaijan), a draw and a loss to finish with a plus score. This was close to the maximum result for the Americans who were playing without Nakamura. The best performers were the always dependable Gata Kamsky (an undefeated 5 1/2 from 9 on board one) and Robert Hess (3 1/2 from 6 as the reserve) who each won bronze medals on their respective boards. There was also a remarkable result from the Rip Van Winkle of chess, Yasser Seirawan.



Going into the World Team no one, Yasser included, knew exactly what to expect. Although not completely retired, his last serious tournament prior to playing in the 2011 US Championship was the 2003 US Championship. True, Yasser had played roughly a dozen games a year the past eight years in the Dutch Team Championship. He had also participated in various blitz and rapid events during this time but one could not help but notice how rusty he was at the beginning of this year's US Championship. This rustiness manifested itself most significantly in Yasser's constant time pressure in St. Louis. On the plus side he played much better the second half of the event and more importantly started to develop a hunger to start compete again.



Seirawan scored a very respectable1.5 from 3 the first half of Ningbo playing exclusively with the black pieces but it was in the second half of the event that he really shined. The last four rounds playing Polgar, Mamedyarov, Moiseenko and Smirin he scored 3-1 against an average rating of 2714. Seirawan's score of 4.5 from 7, good for a performance rating of 2773, earned him the silver medal on board four though he spent more time playing board three. What makes the result truly remarkable is that he did this at age 51. Besides two Egyptian players the only other competitor in the event over 40 was Vassily Ivanchuk (42). When Yasser played Yangyi Yu, the youngest competitor in the event at age 17, he noted that this was the third generation of Chinese players he had faced. During the first few rounds some of the younger players, who had read of his success back in the 1980s, gathered around his board for confirmation that dinosaurs did indeed once roam the planet.



Seirawan's result was especially important for the American team as Alex Onischuk and especially Yury Shulman were not feeling well the second half of the tournament.  Yasser's contributions were not limited to the board as he always kept the team in a good mood with his ample supply of jokes and stories. His enthusiasm for analyzing was in evidence at every team meeting and the youngster on the team, 19-year-old Robert Hess, and he were constant sparring partners. Grandmaster Ben Finegold, one of the two US coaches along with Varuzhan Akobian, was amazed to discover that Fritz was the main engine on Yasser's laptop and quickly introduced him to Houdini for which he quickly developed a marked appreciation joining the other 49 other players in their engine of choice.



The rest of the teams competing in Ningbo had occasional bright moments but would likely prefer not to remember their final result. The big disappointment in the 2011 World Team Championship was not Russia but Azerbaijan. Playing at full strength, seeded second and with the well-respected coach Vladimir Tukmakov as Captain, it finished seventh at 50 percent. There were moments when the team realized its powers - witness its 3-1 win over Russia - but too many losses in close matches.



As usual the team was surrounded by questions of whether it would implode due to the strained relations between its big three of Radjabov, Gashimov and Mamedyarov. Following the board order that brought the team success in the 2009 European Team Championship Mamedyarov was placed on board four and rotated between that board and board three., The idea was to feed him as many Whites as possible and allow him to lead the team with his strong punch. This tactic has ed to some remarkable individual performances in the past by "Shak"(8/9 in the 2009 World Team Championship) but flopped in Ningbo where he was at 4 from 6 before losing to Seirawan in round seven. Whether the "experiment" will continue is an open question. Gashimov, for one, openly questioned it with his assertion that Mamedov and Guseinov (on board three and playing reserve) were much better with White than Black.



India, playing without Anand (who typically does not play in team tournaments), will treasure its last round victory over Russia and Surya Ganguly's miniature win over Peter Svidler. Israel, also missing its leader in Boris Gelfand, had a nice win over China and good play for most of the event from newcomer Tamir Nabaty. Emil Sutovsky, the star of the last Olympiad where he had a close to 2900 performance, found the going very tough on board one scoring 2 from 7. He mentioned after the event that playing 2720+ players round after round was a completely new experience for him.



Last and not least in the 2011 World Team Championship was the African Continental representative Egypt. The bottom seed with an average rating of 2550, over 100 points below the next team, the Egyptians still boasted young 2600 Grandmasters in Ahmed Adly and Bassem Amin but neither performed to expectation. Instead it was left to board four Samy Shoker (2475) and reserve Mohamed Ezat (2430) to provide the surprises. The aptly named Shoker defeated both Areschenko (2682) and Mamedyarov (!) in scoring 4 from 9 against an average rating of 2675. It's not often you see a player make a GM norm with a minus score! Ezat, playing up 200-300 points every round scored a very creditable 2.5 from 7 including a draw against Nikita Vitiugov where he had to defend for 158 moves.

The 2011 World Team Championship in Ningbo under the auspices of the Chinese Chess Association with the patronage and support of the Ningbo Municipal Government and Ningbo Sports Bureau was very well organized. The hotel the players stayed at, the New Century Grand Hotel Ningbo, was first rate and the buffet, that offered local delicacies like frog, caiman and sea whelk in addition to more conventional fare, was plentiful. The tournament direction under Chief Arbiter Mr. Panagiotis Nikolopoulos was thoroughly professional as usual and the Appeals Committee had an easy job with no protests to consider. The only challenges the players faced away from the board, which was outside the organizers purview, was the weather. The temperature during the day got as high as the mid 90s (36 Celsius) but the real killer was the humidity that by comparison made August in Miami bearable.

World Team Lineups.  


Go to the outstanding site: for more technical information. 


Karjakin 2788
Grischuk 2746
Nepomniachtchi 2711
Svidler 2739
Vitiugov 2733


Radjabov 2744
Gashimov 2760
R.Mamedov 2679
Mamedyarov 2765
Guseinov 2625   

Ivanchuk 2768
Eljanov 2697
Efimenko 2706
Moiseenko 2715
Areshchenko 2682


Aronian 2805
Movsesian 2700
Akopian 2667
Sargissian 2663
Hovhannisyan 2556

Leko 2717
Almasi 2726
Polgar 2699
Balogh 2643
Erdos 2613

Wang Hao 2718
Wang Yue 2709
Li Chao 2669
Yu Yangyi 2672
Ding Liren 2654

Kamsky 2741
Onischuk 2675
Shulman 2617
Seirawan 2635
Hess 2609

Sutovsky 2700
Roiz 2669
Smirin 2676
Postny 2618
Nabaty 2584

Harikrishna 2669
Sasikiran 2681
Ganguly 2627
Negi 2642
Gopal 2576

Adly 2631
Amin 2609
El Gindy 2510
Shoker 2475
Ezat 2430

3)1st Metropolitan Chess International

In August 2011, GM Mickey Adams will participate in the 1st Metropolitan Chess International to be hosted by Metropolitan Chess, Inc.  at the Sheraton in downtown Los Angeles in the heart of the fashion district.

The 1st Metropolitan Chess International will run from August 17th to August 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California, USA.
A list of some of the players can be found here:

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