Sunday, May 20, 2018

Return of the Old Guard: QCD SG Chess League 2018 Round 4

Today we shall look at another of my games from the QCD SG Chess League 2018. Now in its second year, the League is unlike most of the single day, rapid tournaments that were once commonplace in Singapore. Instead, it is a team event held over the course of several months, with games held on Friday evenings. Perfect for chess-playing adults who want a place to destress after their work.

The playing hall after Round 3 (Photo courtesy of Ong Yujing)

Oh, and did I mention that you need to be above 20 to participate in the event? That’s what makes it even more appealing: No screaming kids running around the place, or haranguing the arbiters over the touch-move rules. Such a nice, quiet environment to play in, which makes me regret not having signed up for the 2017 edition.

Return to the abyss, little ones

Round 4 was held last Friday, and it was a series of well fought games for my team despite suffering a loss. Incidentally, I was paired against one of my ex-seniors, who was also an NUSH alumni. The last time we faced off under tournament conditions (if my memory doesn’t fail me) was during a team event at PJC in 2010.

Well, old comrades we may be, but that doesn’t make the subsequent clash any less intense:

What can we learn from this game?

  1. Sometimes, it is good to just maintain the tension instead of releasing it so early, especially if you have the advantage. The pawn exchange on move 15 gave Black an opportunity to free up his cramped position.
  2. In my bid to break the stalemate, I ended up opening the position and gave the enemy bishop pair free reign. It is a simple strategic mistake which we should learn from: The two bishops are king of the open battlefield!
  3. When in time trouble, it is best to keep things simple instead of playing so aggressively; 31. Qa5 was simply asking for trouble.

I end off with an anecdote: After the game, my opponent told me that I had become a much better player compared to when we faced off 8 years ago.

My reply? “Yeah I train quite a bit, but the only difference it makes is that I take a longer time to lose!”

Definitely, I am still making poor decisions in time trouble even after all these years of competitive chess. It’s something for me to work on, which shows how the learning never stops!


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Candidates Tournament 2018 Highlights: Part 3

We finish off our Candidates Tournament series by looking at the last few rounds. If the earlier games were dramatic, then the last few rounds were reaching fever pitch, as more blood was shed in desperate efforts to score those final, valuable wins.

Round 12 saw the tournament being blown wide open as Sergey Karjakin defeated Fabio Caruana to catch him in first place. This was also an incredible comeback for the former, who started poorly with 2.5/7 in the first half of the tournament.

An amazing comeback by Karjakin

Watch how Karjakin deals Caruana his first defeat in this tournament with the nice exchange sacrifice 17. Bxd5:

The same round saw another decisive game: Ding Liren scored his first win in the tournament against Shakriyar Mamedyarov, using an unstoppable queenside pawn majority:

Ding wins his first game in the tournament

With the tournament blown open in Round 12, four contenders had good chances to earn the challenger rights: Caruana, Karjakin, Ding Liren and Mamedyarov. Even Kramnik had a theoretical, albeit low, chance. The final two rounds were gearing up to be hotly contested fights.

Eventually, it was Caruana who emerged victorious from the mess, beating Alexander Grischuk in the final round to win the tournament by a full point:

With that, we round up our coverage of one of the most thrilling chess events in 2018. Congratulations to Caruana for earning his right to the World Chess Championship 2018, and here’s to more exciting games between Carlsen and Caruana in November!

History has been written, and will continue to keep doing so

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

All photos by Maria Emelianova/