Thursday, February 28, 2019

February 2019 Tactical Training: Part 2

I should get this out before February ends!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

JB Chess Rapids 2018: Part 2

The last time I left off in the JB Rapids, we looked at a game where I built a very nice attack against the enemy king. Today, I shall share another game where I came on the receiving end.

Let's face it: In the following game, I played terribly. There were no less than 4 blunders, and while it was a 20 minute rapid with plenty of time scramble, that doesn't excuse the fact that some of my mistakes could have been avoided with a more objective analysis of the position.

Kudos to my opponent for beign able to capitalize on my errors to execute a swift and crushing attack:

What can we learn from this game?

Sometimes, our past experiences hold us back: We all know that grabbing pawns (especially those at the edge of the board) while our opponent is about to launch an attack is generally not a good idea. But in this case, capturing on b7 would not have hurt me, because it also opens up an avnue for me to counterattack! This could have been avoided if I had done a more objective analysis of the position... but my over cautiousness ended up backfiring as it reduced me from active to passive defense.

Let's end off with some lighter stuff: As the competition was located on the 36th level of JB City Square (in the office towers, not the shopping mall!), that gave us a bird's eye view of the city, as well as the Singapore coastline. It makes for some nice views that made the registration fees worth paying for.

Singapore's North-Western Coast. You can see the Kranji Dam on the middle-left, and to its right is Sungei Buloh. I have set foot there many times but never got to see it from a distance o.o

Sometime in the afternoon, I could literally see a storm blanket out the east side of Singapore. Alas, I have no photos of those (:

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A tribute to Vladimir Kramnik

Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have known by now that Vladimir Kramnik, the 14th undisputed World Chess Champion, has announced his retirement from professional chess. This came shortly after his participation in the Tata Steel Chess 2019.

Kramnik is best known for having dethroned Garry Kasparov in the Classical World Championship 2000, winning 8.5-6.5 without losing a single game. He then defeated Veselin Topalov in a 2006 reunification match to become the undisputed World Champion for the next two years. His contribution to opening theory -- notably the Berlin Defense in the Ruy Lopez -- was enormous, and his tough, positional playing style has cemented him as one of the best positional players in recent times.

Today, we will look at three of his sample games, where the Russian displays a fine combination of both positional and attacking play. Our first game took place in 1999, when he was on better terms with his long-time rival Topalov:

It was during the Classical World Championship 2000 that Kramnik rose to prominence, after defeating Kasparov to win the Championship. Game 10 was the critical round which gave Big Vlad his 2 point lead: It was indeed shocking to see Kasparov crash out in less than 25 moves:

Kramnik (left) vs Kasparov, 2000

Even in his later days, when young bloods like Carlsen, Caruana and Giri were making their mark, Kramnik proved that he was still a force to reckon with. In particular, his brilliancy against Aronian in the Candidates Tournament 2018 shows that he could still play vibrant, attacking chess if he wanted to:

Aronian (left) resigns to Kramnik in the Candidates 2019

It is a pity that another chess legend has left the global stage, but it is only a matter of time: The big names of the past (e.g. Kramnik, Kasparov, Anand and Topalov) will eventually give way to rising stars (Carlsen, Caruana, Giri, etc). Nevertheless, the impact that the former have made on modern chess will last forever. Let us wish Kramnik all the best in his future endeavours as he begins a new phase of his life!