“You lookin’ at me?”

The much-anticipated World Chess Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin has finally started in New York. Fortunately, the dispute between the official organisers and the various chess websites around the world, the former threatening to sue the latter for any unauthorised coverage of the match, has been resolved and fans can now follow the games in a variety of ways.  The official site offers, for a reasonable sum, ‘live 360 degree coverage’ of the games for which, apparently, special glasses are required.                  

With such anticipation, it was almost inevitable that the first couple of games would be something of an anti-climax and so it proved. This was not what spectators expected, Carlsen having announced at the press conference that, “I’ll punch him until he finally knocks over.” If this was a new tactical variation on the popular sport of chess boxing it was not demonstrated in either of the first two games. Nigel Short tweeted that, “It is at moments like this when watching a game that I am grateful that I have plenty of wine in the house”. Still, as Garry Kasparov pointed out, “Often one of the best indicators that a chess game is interesting is that amateurs think it isn’t!” Nevertheless, it may be that the build up was, indeed, more interesting than the chess.

Let’s start with the venue. The Fulton Market Building has attracted some criticism and, while it was packed for the press conference, the main reason was that not only had those with tickets turned up but so also had those with complimentary tickets for Game One. Consequently, there were not enough seats and it was very much standing room only. The press conference was entertaining on a number of levels.  FIDE Vice President Israel Gelfer – taking charge in place of the President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who was refused a visa to travel to the US (!), commented that this was the youngest World Chess Championship in history. He contrasted Botvinnik’s defence of his title to Tal when the former was fifty years old with the current match where both players’ ages combined only came to 52, each player 26 years old. (Carlsen then interrupted to say that he would not be 26 until November 30!). After initially mis-hearing one journalist’s question as to who he thought was the best chess player in the world (“I’m sorry, what was the question?”), Carlsen replied both tactfully and honestly, “I think that’s going to be decided in the next couple of weeks… Right now, if I may be so bold, I would say myself.” 

After the main press conference there was a second for the Russian press which, presumably, Carlsen did not attend. When asked then about his chances, Karjakin replied: “I dream of returning the crown to Russia.”  The President of the Russian Chess Federation, Andrey Filatov, said that during the recent Olympiad many ‘chess experts’ had told him that Karjakin’s chances were about the same as Donald Trump becoming U.S. President…..However, before Karjakin’s supporters break out in a chorus of ‘We shall overcomb’ (sic), it is worth noting that while this may be a term lost in translation – the official website for the Russian Chess Federation in its report on the press conference, twice referred to Karjakin as the ‘runner up’ when, presumably, they meant ‘challenger’. We shall see.

Broadstairs  2½         Bridge A   4½ 

1 David Faldon (179) 1-0         Michael Green  (170)
2 Nick McBride (e160) 1-0         Shany Rezvany  (170)
3 Bob Page (141) 0-1         David Shire (158)
4 John Couzens (125) 0-1         Robert Collopy (156)
5 Andy Flood (117) 0-1         Emily Green (146)
6 Reg Pidduck (107) ½-½         Chris Stampe (127)
7 Bob Cronin (103) 0-1         Bill Tracey (e110)

David Faldon writes:

Bridge brought a team designed to steamroller us on the lower five boards, and the plan worked, just. Our boards 3, 4 and 5 were all under heavy pressure early on and unfortunately none of them survived much past 9.30. We still had chances to get something from the match at this point, but then something went wrong for us on board 7 and Bob C lost from what had looked to be a good position. That was no disgrace, though, as Bridge’s new player, Bill Tracey, seems quite strong – he beat Reg in a Walker Cup match between the same teams last week. Reg did much better this week, drawing in solid style against an experienced and tricky opponent. The top two board games were both very complicated. My win on board 1 was decided by one bad move from my opponent as his time ran down. You can play through Nick’s splendid win on board 2 as it’s our game of the week. As you do, try to guess how Nick is going to get his a1 rook into the action.

Broadstairs  1         Bridge   3 

1 Reg Pidduck (107) 0-1     Bill Tracey  (e110)
2 Bob Cronin (103) 0-1     Graeme Boxall  (83)
3 Michael Doyle (90) 1-0     Ray Rennells (81)
4 Jordan Leach (46) 0-1     Ian Redmond (70 )

Reg Pidduck writes:

BOARD 4:   JORDAN DEBUT.  Ian Redmond’s experience told as he got the better over our Jordan playing his first game in a Thanet League competition. 1-0 down

BOARD 3:  IN-FORM MICHAEL. The turning point came when Michael’s discovered check won a rook and cleared the the danger of Ray’s advanced pawn. 1-1

BOARD 1: LETHAL KNIGHT. Bill Tracey looks quite a find for Bridge at this level as I had trouble containing his knight which caused havoc deep inside my defence. I finally had to sac my own knight to avoid a mate but to no avail and had to resign. 2-1 down

BOARD 2: STEADY GRAEME. Bob could do nothing about Graeme always finding the right moves once he got the positional advantage. With a final swap off of rooks and queens, Graeme was left with a passed pawn out off Bob’s reach. 3-1 down

With only half a point now from two away matches, our home games will be vital to get back parity. Thanks to Bob for driving duty.


                    GM Alexander Riazantsev

The 69th Russian Chess Championship has just concluded in Novosibirsk with a victory for Alexander Riazantsev. If this name is new to many people, this is not surprising. His ELO grade of 2651 made him only the eighth seed of the twelve in the tournament so while his victory does not quite sit alongside Foinavon winning the Grand National or Leicester City winning the Premier League, it was still a surprise. For the uninitiated, Riazantsev was born on September 12 1985 in Moscow and has been an international grandmaster since 2001. While he remained undefeated throughout the eleven rounds, his score of 7/11 included eight draws so it is fair to say that he can attribute his success to the fact that he achieved more wins (3) than any other player. However, just as the saying goes that the loser in chess is the one who makes the last mistake, the reverse is also true – that if you are going to win any game in a tournament, make it the last.  Here is Riazantsev’s crucial last-round victory.

White: Dmitry Jakovenko (2714)            Black: Alexander Riazantsev (2651)

Russian Chess Championship 2016


                     GM Alexandra Kosteniuk

If the men’s result was unexpected, the same cannot be said for the women’s championship where Alexandra Kosteniuk won her second title with a score of 8½/11. Her total included seven wins with only one defeat and victory in this, her penultimate game, gave her the title with a round to spare. It is worth noting that after White’s 59th move, the computer says that ‘Black is much better’ but after Black’s reply 59…a4? it has the position as ‘equal’, by 62…Qb3 ‘White is much better’ and after 64…Qa4? ‘White is winning’.

White: Alexandra Kosteniuk (2537)            Black: Evgenija Ovod (2362)

Russian Women’s Chess Championship 2016


Nigel Short has beaten Hou Yifan 3½-2½ in their special six-game challenge match as part of the 20th Hoogeveen Chess Tournament in the Netherlands. With three wins and three draws in the match, there was some entertaining chess for spectators following live and online. Hou Yifan’s only win came in the last game with the result decided and, while entertaining and worth checking out,  it is only fair, especially as we featured one of Hou’s wins in the last post, to show the decisive fourth game that gave Short a 3-1 lead. For details of all the games, go to  Conscious, perhaps, of his once-controversial views on women’s chess, there was no gloating from our Nige, who tweeted after his win: ‘Delighted to have secured victory against the Women’s World Champion, with one game remaining.’    

White: Hou Yifan (2639)            Black: Nigel Short (2673)

Hoogeveen Chess Tournament 2016