Thursday, January 31, 2019

January 2019 Tactical Training: Part 2

End off the first month of 2019 the right way!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

JB Chess Rapids 2018: Part 1

SCF's rapid tournaments are becoming more and more expensive: From $30, to $40, and then $50 this year for the upcoming Hong Bao Rapids... Not surprisingly, it made more sense to look for more affordable options elsewhere. And that brought me to Johor Bahru's Causeway Rapids 2018, held just across the causeway last month.

One thing that surprises me is how well behaved the young players are over there. Unlike the typical SCF tournament where we see children screaming all over the place with flustered parents in tow, the kids in the JB Rapids don't exhibit that kind of behaviour. And the few that I played against had decent manners. It's something that I wish were more common in our local tournaments...

But enough of the commentary, and on to the fun stuff. Due to time crunch, I am only able to share an analysis of one game, but will be posting more in a follow-up article. This is probably one of the most fun games I had in a while, despite losing on time:

(Errata: My good friend has pointed out that after 18... Rdg8, the f7 pawn is immune because of Bxh2... thanks for pointing out!)

An opportunity lost, but a valuable lesson on risk taking learnt in this game!

In Part 2, I will catch up on a couple other games from the same tournament which I have yet to analyze.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

World Chess Championship 2018 Highlights: Part 2

This was supposed to have been written last month, but as usual things always get delayed by work. Still better late than never.

One cannot deny that the World Championship was the highlight of 2018. Even though all classical games ended in draws, to say that there were no good fights would be a great injustice to both players. Today, we look at two of the most exciting battles from the classical match.

Caruana vs Carlsen, Game 10

In top-level matches, the opening games are usually quiet affairs, as both sides test each other out. Think back to the World Championship 2013 between Carlsen and Anand, where the lack of fireworks in the first two games prompted someone to write a (misguided) article lamenting the current state of top-level chess. But not this time. Already in the first round, we see Carlsen pressing an advantage on the kingside. It was only after a few inaccuracies, and Caruana's resolute defense, that the game equalized and ended in a draw.

The next game that we look at is Game 10. After 9 consecutive draws, an interesting struggle manifested, with both sides pressing hard on both wings. For a moment, it seemed like a decisive result was poised to occur... only for the fireworks to peter out, with peace agreed. But what a hard-fought peace!

There is no doubt that both players are fabulously strong, and so closely matched that the Championship had to be decided by tiebreakers. Carlsen will stay at the top for at least another two years, but who knows whether a stronger Caruana will return to take up the challenge again?

The closing ceremony after a three-week battle

All photos by Maria Emelianova/