London Classic: King's pawn openings – Chessbase News

A Berlin and a Petroff

Curiously, all four games that took place in the main stage of the London Classic started with 1.e4, and all of them were answered with a different defence. In the Grand Chess Tour, Fabiano Caruana chose his trusted Petroff against Levon Aronian, while Hikaru Nakamura used the Berlin against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Both encounters ended peacefully, which increases the streak of draws in classical games played in London to twenty — twelve from the World Championship match and eight from the GCT.

The fact that some draws are (much) more exciting than others was clearly seen on Sunday’s round. Nakamura barely survived against Vachier-Lagrave after finding a miraculous resource in a rook endgame, while Aronian and Caruana signed a quick 21-move draw.

The match for first place is between two of the most consistently strong rapid and blitz players in the world, Nakamura and MVL. It is quite a fitting final match, given the absence of Magnus Carlsen and the fact that, as pointed out by Maurice Ashley during the live commentary, this year’s Grand Chess Tour put more emphasis on the accelerated time controls — only the Sinquefield Cup was a pure classical round-robin.

Hikaru arrived wearing a new jacket | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour 

In the second game of the final, Vachier-Lagrave once again demonstrated that he is very well prepared to face the Berlin Wall. However, when his opening play was praised by Alejandro Ramirez in the post-game interview, the Frenchman clarified: “15.a3 was Vladi’s move, so I have to give credit to Vladi on this one”. He, of course, referred to Vladimir Kramnik.

Nakamura felt surprised by White’s 20.g4, a move he had not foreseen — “I played 19…Bd5 and then miscalculated this whole line”, said Hikaru. After 20…Bxe4 21.Rxe4 Ne7 22.e6 f5, this was the position on the board:


At first, the American thought that he could take on g4 in this position, but then found out it was not possible due to 24.h4, with Bg5 coming next, leaving Black in a very uncomfortable situation. “I played 23…Nd5 but even here I didn’t realise just how dangerous this really was, because I thought this should just be completely fine…” It was time to defend for Nakamura, who found a very nice resource:


With 31…g6, Black had a couple of targets and a chance to draw with precise play after 32.hxg6. Maxime clearly was in the driver’s seat, but according to Hikaru he should have played 33…Rf5 instead of 33…Rf7+, as it gave more practical winning chances. Nakamura said about his plan with g6: “It was a good couple of moves that I found after kind of misplaying the middlegame”.

Black kept on defending until the draw was agreed with only kings on the board after 53 moves. Vachier-Lagrave was not happy with the way he handled his advantage: “My position was very promising, but then I’m pretty disappointed at myself because I did what Levon did against me in game two — I played just too fast and missed resources”.

Nakamura is a good defender | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour

In an adjacent board, the action had finished much earlier, when Levon decided it was a smart decision to take a quick draw with White, targeting Caruana’s weaker point (as shown by Carlsen a few weeks ago). When asked about his decision, Aronian said: “I’m usually not the guy to go for a short draw with White, but since it’s a match I thought it to be practical. After all, I have a much higher rating in rapid and blitz than Fabiano, so mathematically it should not be a bad decision”.

The only point where the game could have gone a different — sharper — way was on move 15:


Here White could have chosen 15.c5 instead of 15.cxd5, which would lead to a much more complex middlegame. “Had I prepared this before the game, I would have gone for this”, said Aronian, but after the capture simplifications followed and the outcome was never in doubt. 

So, everything will be decided on Monday’s rapid and blitz rounds. When asked about Caruana’s chances in the last stage of the match, Nakamura declared: “Levon should win. […] He is a little more stable”. 

Caruana keeps using his Petroff effectively | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour

Live commentary webcast

Yasser Seirawan, Jennifer Shahade, Maurice Ashley and Alejandro Ramirez

All games – GCT London Classic


Jones beats the French

As mentioned above, the British Knockout also featured two games with 1.e4. In the battle for first, Luke McShane chose the French Defence against Gawain Jones, while on the other board we saw Mickey Adams drawing with Black against David Howell’s Ruy Lopez. 

Howell and Adams are still tied in the battle for third place | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Jones-McShane followed theory until move 16, when White had the initiative but Black was left with the pair of bishops. It was not a crazy Najdorf, but the position had hidden tactical themes that pushed both players to use a lot of time on most moves. McShane, known for getting in time trouble often, spent almost 34 minutes before choosing an imprecise continuation:


Luke was surely considering whether it was safe to take on b2, but finally decided to continue with 21…Rc5. The computer thinks that capturing the “poisoned pawn” (at least, it is given that name in some Sicilians) was the right way to go, but it is hard to blame McShane for not doing so — this is a sample variation of the many he needed to calculate: 21…Rxb2 22.Nxe5 Bxe5 23.f4 Rb4 24.Rxe5 Rxc4 25.Rxe7 Rxe7 26.Bxc4.

From this point on, however, Gawain showed confident and accurate play to take advantage of his trumps in the position. He seemed to have everything worked out when he took only over a minute before sacrificing his bishop:


25.Bxf7+ was the killer blow. Black captured with the queen, 25…Qxf7, leaving the d6-bishop undefended — after 25…Kxf7, keeping the queen connected to said bishop, there would have followed 25…Kxf7 26.Rxd6 Qxd6 27.Ng5+ Kg8 28.Ne4 Qd4 29.Qxc5:


McShane saw this and preferred to take with the queen. Nonetheless, Jones showed the flaw with that continuation in the next four moves. Luke resigned and now will need to mount a comeback in the final day of this year’s Knockout Championship.

Gawain has been showing great chess in the KO Championship | Photo: Lennart Ootes

All games – British Knockout 



1997 F1 champion Villeneuve to return full-time in NASCAR Euro Series –

Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve will return to racing full-time next year in the NASCAR Euro Series.

Villeneuve, the 1997 champion with Williams, made four NASCAR Cup starts – the first two of which came a year after his final outings in F1 – between 2007 and ’13 and has also competed in the Trucks and Xfinity categories that support the main series plus NASCAR Canada.

The 47-year-old made a return to racing this year in the Americas Rallycross Championship in his native Canada in a Subaru Impreza, more than two and a half years after he was dropped by Venturi during the 2015/16 Formula E season.

He last completed a full season in 2005 when he drove for Sauber in F1.

Villeneuve recently tested at the Franciacorta circuit in Italy, and will race in the Euro Series with the Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang outfit that also competes in the Cup series.

“I had a lot of fun discovering the car because it is really similar to what I was used to in NASCAR in the US,” said Villeneuve, who also won the Indianapolis 500 in 1995 and the overall CART title that year.

“You can really drive it hard and you can work a lot on the car and that’s also very nice.

“Returning full-time is what matters the most to me, because I want to be part of a complete project and have a goal for the entire season. I’m really looking forward to the first race of 2019!”

Go Fas joined the series last year, running cars for Frenchman Romain Iannetta and rookie Florian Venturi – who was runner-up in the Elite 2 division for silver and bronze drivers.

The Euro Series has typically been contested over six weekends, but a seventh event at Most has been added for 2019.

NASCAR Cup champion Bobby Labonte made a one-off Euro Series appearance in 2017 at Brands Hatch before undertaking a full season this year.

Knoxville in 'substantive' talks about Smokies baseball in Old City as Knox Rail Salvage begins move – Knoxville News Sentinel


Knox Rail Salvage vice president Joel Piper discusses the company’s new Fountain City location. Their East Jackson Ave. location was purchased by Randy Boyd.
Tyler Whetstone, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

The city of Knoxville and representatives from the Tennessee Smokies Double-A baseball team have had “substantive conversations” about moving the team to Knoxville’s Old City in recent weeks as current Old City tenant, Knox Rail Salvage, is prepping for a new storefront in Fountain City.

The projects don’t go hand-in-hand exactly, but they are linked. Smokies owner Randy Boyd — who’s also the current interim president of the University of Tennessee — purchased 7 acres of Knox Rail Salvage’s East Jackson Avenue campus for $6 million in 2016. Per the parties’ agreement, Knox Rail Salvage will be off the property by April 30.

Earlier this fall, city leaders reached out to the Smokies about prepping for conversations but now, Chief Policy Officer Bill Lyons said, “we have gotten together to start talking at a high level.”

Lyons said it’s too early to report on a timeline for any project and said the parties are just “exploring all the possible arrangements” at the moment. The most recent talks have not involved Boyd due to his role at UT. Instead, talks have centered around Smokies CEO Doug Kirchhofer.

When reaching out for Boyd to comment, UT System spokeswoman Tiffany Carpenter directed the News Sentinel to speak with Kirchhofer.

Kirchhofer said Lyons invited him to an “introductory meeting” where the two sides exchanged ideas, got to know each other and agreed to meet again. When asked about the Old City property, he said it is a “point of interest” but there are no plans or real focus at this point. Talks could develop or go nowhere, he said.

Not everyone is included in the talks, however. Sevier County spokesman Perrin Anderson said the county has had no such talks or updates from Boyd or the Smokies.

“The county has not had any discussion with Randy Boyd and/or the Smokies management team regarding a possible move to Knoxville in the past three months,” he said in an emailed statement. “There are no plans to have any discussions.”


Tennessee Smokies owner Randy Boyd has continued to buy property near the Old City, possibly for a new stadium.
Angela Gosnell, Knoxville News Sentinel

How baseball talks have progressed

Knoxville officials and Boyd began to discuss moving the Smokies from Kodak to downtown Knoxville as early as 2014, according to emails obtained in a 2016 public records request.

Included in the request was a 2016 email from Sevier County Economic Development Executive Director Allen Newton who cited information from Boyd and said a stadium in Knoxville would cost in the “$50 to $60 million range.”

Also included in the records request was an unsigned proposal bearing the letterhead of Boyd Sports LLC., which included, among other things, a line about the Smokies continuing to pay the current lease amount through 2025. A broken lease could cost Boyd millions. 

According to the proposal, the Smokies would have an option to purchase the facility for a predetermined $5 million with a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, with the continued maintenance and improvement of the facilities.

If the Smokies did not purchase the facility, the team would extend a 10-year lease at 50 percent of the current rate. At the end of the 10 years, the Smokies could again purchase the facilities for a predetermined $3 million with a PILOT agreement.

New area, new approach for Knox Rail Salvage

In August, Knox Rail Salvage Vice President Joel Piper said 90 percent of the company’s profits come from its Magnolia Avenue location, but Wednesday Piper said the company, which is owned by his father-in-law, Mike Frazier, wasn’t looking to move before Boyd came knocking.

“We weren’t really looking to expand, he said. “The offer got too good to ignore. So, then it was like, we can find a better facility that’s more open.”

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Joel Piper, vice president of Knox Rail Salvage, points out cabinet pieces on Dec. 12 in the warehouse part of Knox Rail Salvage’s new location at 4214 Greenway Drive in Knoxville. (Photo: Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel )

The company quickly found space to own and purchased the former Ennis building on Greenway Drive for $400,000 in October 2016. Since then, the property has received a new parking lot and new sprinkler systems and electrical wiring.

The plan is to have the 43,000-square-foot building, complete with a kitchen gallery and showroom, open for business this spring, sometime between March and May. The opening will coincide with the company’s 40th anniversary.

More: Exclusive: Knoxville city official contacted Randy Boyd to talk baseball this week


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Piper said he expects the new location to draw customers from their brand recognition and from people looking for an alternative to Home Depot and Lowe’s, both of which are a few minutes away. He said there’s already a clientele for discount home improvement supplies.

“We just want to pick off some of that (business to Home Depot and Lowe’s) … people who would come to our business drive past two Home Depots (on the way in), you know?” Piper said. “So, if they’re already in the market it’s not much more to just swing over here to see what we’ve got.”

Piper said, Knox Rail Salvage’s the new store will have a more refined approach, focusing on three things: cabinets, floors and doors.

“Over here it’s going to be more of a cabinet, floors and doors discount home center concept … focused on the items we can really deliver the best value in and have the best opportunity to turn over. When you go so wide and shallow (it’s tough).”

Piper said the company currently employs 38 people and at most could hire a few more employees to bump the number over 40, but said they would mainly be moving currently employees around to make things work.


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Two dozen MMA fighters provide plenty of action in 'Mayhem in Mesquite XVI' – St George News

Elizabeth McMullin trades blows with opponent Brandi Buckley, “Mayhem in Mesquite XVI,” Mesquite, Nev., Dec. 15, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

MESQUITE, Nev. — Saturday night’s “Mayhem in Mesquite XVI” featured plenty of action with mixed martial arts fights staged inside the CasaBlanca Events Center at CasaBlanca Resort.

Sadie Ault (top) grapples with opponent Kaycee Pearce, “Mayhem in Mesquite XVI,” Mesquite, Nev., Dec. 15, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Included on the evening’s card were several fighters from St. George and Southern Utah, including some who were making their debuts with “Tuff-N-Uff: The Future Stars of MMA.” Four of the 12 fights featured women fighters, and the last two bouts of the night were title fights with a championship belt on the line.

Following are short recaps of Saturday’s action, with bouts listed in chronological order:

The evening’s first fight featured two women in the 125-pound category. Kaycee Pearce of Idaho Falls forced Sadie Ault of St. George to tap out under an armbar submission hold 1 minute and 28 seconds into the first round. Pearce improved her record to 3-0 with the win, while Ault dropped to 1-2.

Next, in what turned out to be one of the most action-packed fights of the night, 145-pounders Brandon Honsvick of Hurricane and Tylor Kates of St. George, both of whom were making their debut, traded flurries of punches and kicks for three full rounds. Although Kates appeared to gain the upper hand during the second round, Honsvick finished strong in the third and ended up winning by unanimous decision.

Next, at 190 pounds, Cameron Cooper of Las Vegas outlasted Bailey Hogan, a fighter from St. George making his debut. Cooper won on a technical knockout (TKO) when the referee stopped the fight midway through the second round (0:56 into the round). Cooper improved his record to 2-1.

Another female matchup then followed, pitting newcomers Elizabeth McMullin of Tucson, Arizona, and Brandi Buckley of Las Vegas in the 145-pound category. Buckley opened a bleeding cut at the top of McMullin’s forehead in the opening seconds of the fight, but McMullin eventually prevailed, scoring a TKO win near the end of the first round, with 1:41 having elapsed.

Brandon Honsvick (top) of Hurricane battles opponent Tylor Kates of St. George, “Mayhem in Mesquite XVI,” Mesquite, Nev., Dec. 15, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

In the next fight, Joshua Tolbirt of Hurricane, making his debut at 155 pounds, faced Zane Darlington of St. George. The pair battled evenly during the first round, but 24 seconds into the second round, Tolbirt suffered an apparent injury to his lower right leg after being taken down by Darlington. Darlington was declared the winner by TKO, improving his record to 2-0, while Tolbirt was transported from the arena on a stretcher.

The evening’s shortest fight came next, as 205-pound fighter Joe Hurst III of Hobbs, New Mexico, applied a rear naked chokehold to opponent Chris MacLockette of Las Vegas, forcing him to tap out just 46 seconds into the first round. Hurst improved his record to 2-1, while MacLockette, who was making his debut, fell to 0-1.

The seventh contest on the card featured two women in the 110-pound weight class. Tamika Jones of Las Vegas and Heather Allen of Cedar City battled for three full rounds before Jones was declared the winner by unanimous decision. Jones picked up a win in her debut fight, while Allen’s record dropped to 1-2.

Next came a fight in the 130-pound category, as Eraj Aliev of Las Vegas was matched up against Hyrum Labaron of St. George. Both fighters remained on their feet for most of the fight, trading punches and the occasional roundhouse kick. Labaron managed to knock Aliev a bit groggy with a blow to the head late in the third round. Following a short timeout during which Aliev was cleared by a doctor to continue, he was able to withstand a late barrage of punches from Labaron as the final bell sounded. Aliev emerged as the unanimous winner on the judges’ scorecards, thereby improving to 1-0 after the debut win. Meanwhile, Labaron’s record dropped to 1-1 with the loss.

David Lopez celebrates after defeating Bronson Sabado in the flyweight (125-pound) title match, “Mayhem in Mesquite XVI,” Mesquite, Nev., Dec. 15, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

The ninth fight of the night was the fourth and final female matchup, with Allison Goodwin of Tucson and Antinicia Ragges of Las Vegas each making their debut at 115 pounds. After three evenly fought rounds, Goodwin was declared the winner by unanimous decision.

Next, at 140 pounds, Vance Elrod of Las Vegas defeated Morgun Colledge of St. George by TKO midway through the first round. Elrod landed a decisive blow to Colledge’s head, causing the fight to be stopped at 1:03 into the opening round. Elrod’s record improved to 3-3, while Colledge’s fell to 2-3.

The final two fights of the night were both title fights. The first of those was in the 125-pound flyweight category, where Bronson Sabado of Las Vegas battled David Lopez of Costa Mesa, California. The pair remained upright and traded punches throughout most of the first round but started to grapple in the second, eventually ending up on the mat, where Lopez applied a rear naked chokehold that forced Sabado to tap out with 1:11 elapsed in the second round. Lopez’s record improved to 8-1 with the title win, while Sabado’s overall record dropped to 7-9.

The final fight of the night featured Bryan Battle of Charlotte, North Carolina, who was bringing his 8-1 record at 205 pounds for a light heavyweight title defense against challenger Billy Elekana of Las Vegas, who came in to the bout with an overall record of 4-0-1.

Bryan Battle (left) pushes opponent Billy Elekana up against the cage fence during the light heavyweight (205-pound) title match, “Mayhem in Mesquite XVI,” Mesquite, Nev., Dec. 15, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Early in the first round, Battle pushed Elekana up next to the chainlink fencing surrounding the cage and pinned him there while delivering a series of punches and knee kicks. Although unable to break loose, Elekana responded likewise, getting in numerous short punches of his own.

The second and third rounds played out in similar fashion. At least three different times, the referee pulled the fighters away from the fence and brought them back out into the middle of the mat. On one such occasion, Elekana managed to drop Battle to the canvas with a hard punch, followed by a series of raining blows that only stopped when Battle managed to push Elekana up next to the fence again.

As the third and final 3-minute round came to a close, both fighters appeared tired. In a split decision by the judges, Elekana was declared the winner, thereby becoming Tuff-N-Uff’s new light heavyweight title holder.

“We’re excited to end 2018 with such an exciting event like Mayhem in Mesquite,” said Ely Prussin, director of player development for Mesquite Gaming and founder of Mayhem in Mesquite. “The popularity of MMA is growing, and thanks to our great partnership with Tuff-N-Uff, we’re able to give fans some thrilling fights.”

The featured fights presented by Tuff-N-Uff will air on beIN SPORTS Saturday from 7-8 p.m. MST.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.


Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

As sports betting begins in Philly, local gamblers relish the convenience – WHYY

Almost seven months to the date after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed states to legalize sports betting, Mike Davis was the first in line at SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia on Saturday morning, ready to place a bet on a college basketball game.

“I’m betting on Seton Hall over Rutgers, all day,” he said. “That’s the lock for the day.”

Behind him were at least a dozen more people looking to usher in a new era of gambling in the city as SugarHouse became the first casino in the Philadelphia area to offer it.

“We finally got it after all these years,” said Davis. “I’m just glad the federal government is blessing me right now.”

State and local officials along with SugarHouse staff cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of sports betting at the Fishtown casino Saturday morning. (Brad Larrison for WHYY)

Shortly after a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony, eager gamblers filed to the sportsbook to place their wagers. City Councilman Mark Squilla placed the first official bet, putting up $20 on the Eagles versus the Rams.

The new attraction should reduce illegal gambling and provide bettors a sense of security, while bringing in tax revenue for the city, Squilla said.

“Now you give people the opportunity to feel happy about themselves to be able to go and do it legally,” he said. “You don’t have to travel to Vegas or go to another city to do it. Therefore, you spend your dollars locally in the city of Philadelphia.”

Gamblers seemed to relish the convenience.

Davis, who lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Sports betting has been legal in the Garden State since June. He used to drive 45 minutes to place his bets in Delaware. Now, he only has to drive about 15 minutes to SugarHouse in Fishtown.

“I’m saving gas, tolls, and … it’s just a lot more convenient, so I might be coming out here a lot more,” he said.

Northeast Philadelphia resident Barbaro Rubio says he used to make his wagers at “the corner store.”

“Now, I don’t have to do that,” Rubio said. “I’ll come here.”

SugarHouse and its sister casino in Pittsburgh, Rivers Casino, are now the second and third in Pennsylvania to offer sports betting. Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville became the first last month.

Though Saturday was the first official day of sports betting at SugarHouse, gamblers beat Squilla and Davis to the sportsbook Thursday for the start of a two-day test period, supervised by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Having passed, SugarHouse’s sportsbook is now fully operating at its regular hours: Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to midnight; Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to midnight.

Todd Lambert of Philadelphia waits to place his bets at the SugarHouse Casino Saturday morning. (Brad Larrison for WHYY)

Evan Davis, vice president and general counsel of SugarHouse, said there has been a “steady flow of people” since the initial soft launch. He believes it’s a sign of good things to come.

“Judging by the way things have looked for the last two days and ten minutes or so, it looks like this is going to be a vibrant part of our business,” he said.

Sports betting in New Jersey has generated more than $73 million in gross revenue since June.

That number is making SugarHouse executives feel optimistic, along with the reception from local sports betters, even though Pennsylvania’s $10 million licensing fee for sports betting and 36 percent tax rate on gross sports wagering revenue is the highest in the country — more than four times that of New Jersey.

Despite this, Cheryl Duhon, general manager of SugarHouse, said “a tax environment is part of the gaming industry” and the casino would rather focus on “bringing in a whole new clientele.”

Todd Lambert of North Philadelphia is looking forward to a shorter commute to place his sports wagers. He said he also travels to Delaware, where sports betting began back in June, every week to bet “a couple dollars.”

“I can stop going to Delaware,” he said, “stop going across the line, traveling all that time. [It’s] quicker. That’s it.”

Montana State slips past Omaha in women's basketball – Helena Independent Record

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BOZEMAN — Oliana Squires nailed a 3-pointer with 21 seconds remaining to give Montana State its first lead of the game and added two free throws with 12 seconds left as the Bobcats slipped past Omaha 59-56 in women’s basketball on Sunday.

Squires finished with a game-high 19 points. She scored 11 of those in the fourth quarter as the Bobcats overcame a 14-point deficit.

MSU will host South Dakota State on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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20 Under 40 – Recognizing 20 Outstanding Community Members Under Age 40 – July 2018

Get everything from comprehensive Friday night scores to profiles of Montanans past and present whose impacts have been felt inside and outside the lines.

20 Under 40 – Recognizing 20 Outstanding Community Members Under Age 40 – July 2018

Get everything from comprehensive Friday night scores to profiles of Montanans past and present whose impacts have been felt inside and outside the lines.

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