Caruana Fends Off Carlsen, Still Leads Sinquefield – –

The usually irrepressible Magnus Carlsen couldn’t put away Fabiano Caruana today at the 2018 Sinquefield Cup. They drew, and the chess world will now wait 76 days until the two do it all over again, 12 more times in London.

“Considering the position, this was a great result,” Caruana said. He’ll need a few of those days to repair some newfound issues with one of his main defenses as black, the Petroff.


Better get used to this picture. London is right around the corner. | Photo: Mike Klein/

In the game that everybody wanted to see, the two players that will contest the next world championship were situated on the middle board at the Saint Louis Chess Club. Before the round, the press marked their territory with tripods and chairs, while fans endured several queues for entry into the tournament hall.

Even fellow players unwittingly took part. One by one, like lapped race cars moving to the apron to allow the leaders to pass, the other four outlying games all ended drawn. Carlsen (4.0/7) and Caruana (4.5/7) had the room to themselves, but the champ said he couldn’t trust his normally reliable intuition.

“A lot was at stake today; I was a bit nervous,” Carlsen said after the afternoon ended.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen listens to what Fabiano Caruana thinks after the game. | Photo: Mike Klein/

Taking white and trailing Caruana by a half point in the standings, the world champion got a sizable edge against the challenger’s now-trusty Petroff. His mounting pressure caused the American to play very precisely in limited space. After the first slip-up, all of Caruana’s kingside pieces huddled for warmth.

Carlsen felt so confident in his position that he made a rare visit to the confessional booth. Note that he didn’t actually “confess” anything. Carlsen didn’t even utter a word. How to show confidence in the most laconic way possible? 

Well let’s just say maybe the recent information sharing wasn’t a one-way street with NBA star Klay Thompson.


A pair of current champions: Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson has received chess advice from Magnus Carlsen, and NBA superfan Carlsen got to imitate Thompson today, at least in a small way.

Carlsen conducted most of the on-air interview with his hand over his mouth. His dour mood only lightened briefly when asked about the confessional booth gesture.

“That kind of backfired!” he said with a laugh. “At that point I was pretty sure I was winning and I just wanted to have some fun.”

About the game, Carlsen said that while he made a specific mistake, that it was not a one-off this tournament.

“First I was slightly better then he missed this Ng4, f6 trick,” Carlsen said. “Then I felt that I was close to winning, but I miscalculated. My intuition told me to go f6 before Ng4.” Alas, he inverted those moves, explaining that he didn’t originally see how to “refute” 27… Nf6 if he had played 27. f6 first.


Not quite time to put the jacket back on — the challenger faced duress but survived the onslaught. | Photo: Mike Klein/

All of these lines became possible because Caruana thought the f-pawn couldn’t even advance to f5, let alone f6. He had planned to answer the discovered attack on his rook by taking the h-pawn.

“As soon as he took on h6, I realized that there’s Ng4 and I can resign now,” Caruana said, adding that a little earlier he thought he was just fine from what he understood about the position.


Not a “clean” draw, but Caruana showed some resilience today by find a few “only” moves. | Photo: Mike Klein/

“It felt like it must be winning. I was absolutely sure I was winning,” Carlsen said, adding that once Caruana balled up with 28…Ng8, he already couldn’t find anything convincing.

“The problem is, in all my games, I’m not being practical. I just can’t make up my mind, can’t follow my intuition and make decisions.”

Full analysis by GM Robert Hess coming soon:

“A draw with Fabi is not a disaster, but I got serious chances,” Carlsen said. “I just couldn’t calculate.”

Only after the game was Caruana shown Carlsen’s finger-on-lips moment.

“I guess he thought it was already over, but it wasn’t,” a pleased Caruana said after watching the replay.


Caruana got to play “Magnus, Level 27” today. | Photo: Mike Klein/

For the first time all event, Carlsen left the club without giving the (now sizable) media pool a chance to ask any questions.

For full disclosure, Caruana spoke with But after that, he left out the back door, something this reporter has never seen him do (although no additional media outlets explicitly asked him for an interview prior to him leaving).

Watch Fabiano Caruana On Trash Talk with Magnus Carlsen from Chess on

Magnus Carlsen

An anguished Carlsen furtively checks his notation sheet in the moments before claiming the repetition. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.


Carlsen, a portrait. | Photo: Mike Klein/ (note this picture was edited with software for artistic effect). 

All four other games ended drawn, so Caruana maintained his half-point lead over the chase group.

The most interesting of the other draws was Sergey Karjakin’s attempt to get his first win. Eventually, all of the play collapsed onto the queenside, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov held.


Sergey Karjakin, not having his best tournament, but still bearing down. | Photo: Mike Klein/

The game followed another big clash from the exact same room: Dominguez-Kasparov from last year’s Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave got a noticeable advantage against Hikaru Nakamura, but yet another American held today. (For completeness, Wesley So was nominally down a pawn in the ending to Levon Aronian, but he held down the host country’s barracks, too.)

The Frenchman got the two bishops nearly for free, but couldn’t grab the win.

In the final game, Viswanathan Anand drew Alexander Grischuk in a very quiet Giouco Piano that was the first to finish.

Harry Benson

The hunters become the hunted: A look at the larger-than-normal press corps, all assembled for one game. Far right is Harry Benson, past photographer of Bobby Fischer. Also arriving today were the likes of HBO, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.



Graphics courtesy Spectrum Studios.

Games via TWIC.

The Sinquefield Cup, the final qualification leg of the Grand Chess Tour, is a nine-round tournament from August 17-28. At the end of the tournament, four players will qualify for the London finals. The games in St. Louis begin at 1 p.m. Central U.S. time daily (8 p.m. Central Europe).

Earlier reports:

Can You Solve These Tactics That Won Brilliancy Prizes? –

After sharing positional puzzles to the raging masses, I thought that it was only right to offer tactical puzzles and sharp attacks.

However, there’s a tiny blip: All these games won brilliancy prizes. Anyway, whether you solve it or not, you should have a lot of fun trying.

As usual, please look at the notes after you try to solve the puzzle.


Wilhelm Steinitz vs. Samuel Rosenthal, London 1883

Steinitz (born 1836, died 1900) was the first official world chess champion. He changed chess by proving that positional chess was just as important as tactical play.

Rosenthal (born 1837, died 1902) became the strongest player in France.


Isidor Gunsberg vs. Emil Schallopp, London 1886

Gunsberg (born 1854, died 1930) was a top player who came very close to winning the world championship in 1891 against Steinitz.

Schallop (born 1843, died 1919). Don’t associate him with a scallop, which is a saltwater clam. 



Jean Taubenhaus vs. Amos Burn, Nottingham 1886

Taubenhaus (born 1850, died 1919) was born in Warsaw but settled in Paris where he played, just about every day (!) at the legendary Cafe de la Regence.

Burn (Born 1848, died 1925) was stronger than Taubenhaus. Nimzowitsch claimed that Burn was one of the six best defensive players in the world. Richard Forster wrote an excellent (and huge) book all about Amos Burn (McFarland & Company 2004).


Henry Bird vs. Nicholas Theodore Miniati, London 1889

Bird (born 1830, died 1908) was an accountant, not a professional chess player. However, he played like a pro and defeated (in tournaments and matches) chess gods like Anderssen, Blackburne, Chigorin, Winawer, and just about everyone. A magnificent book (608 pages, hardcover) about Henry Bird was written by Hans Renette. If you like books like this, try to get a copy.

Miniati (born 1860, died 1909) was known as a strong amateur chess player, but he was a bit more than that since, in those days Miniati (a man with a very aggressive style) was thought to be one of the strongest amateurs in the world. He actually played a match against Emanuel Lasker in 1890, drawing two and losing three (two draws against Lasker is a great success!).

Here’s a fun example of Miniati’s style. He announced mate in seven:

Now for the puzzle:


William Pollock vs. Charles Moehle, USA (Cincinatti) 1890

Pollock, an Englishman (born 1859, died 1896), was a surgeon and chess master. Though he wasn’t able to always hang with the big guys, he did beat quite a few famous names including Steinitz, Gunsberg, Bird, Teichmann, Tarrasch, Pillsbury, etc.

Moehle (born 1859, died 1898) was one of America’s best players, perhaps second only to Jackson Whipps Showalter.


Paul Lipke vs. Dawid Janowski, Vienna 1898

Paul Lipke (born 1870, died 1955) was a strong German player. However, after enjoying the rush of international tournaments, he said enough was enough, quit chess, and became a lawyer.

Janowski (born 1868, died 1927), a world-class player, loved to have two bishops vs. two knights or bishop and knight. He was so famous with the bishop love affair that when he went to the United States American spectators called the bishops the “two jans.” Janowski played a match for the world championship against Lasker, but he got crushed by the score of no wins for Janowsky, three draws, and eight losses.

Lincoln-Way chess teams attended tournament in February – The Herald-News

Lincoln-Way chess teams attended tournament in February | The Herald-News

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On chess: Fighting for a spot at the Grand Chess Tour final – St. Louis Public Radio

Another week full of chess action has just finished, and we are fast approaching the end of the regular season of the 2018 Grand Chess Tour. This year, the format of the tour consists of five events: Your Next Move in Belgium, Paris GCT, St. Louis Rapid & Blitz (USA), Sinquefield Cup (USA) and the Grand Chess Tour Finalin London, which features the top four finalists from the previous four events.

The second annual St. Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament took place Aug. 10 to 16. The field included nine of the best 15 players of the world, with the notable absence of world champion Magnus Carlsen, who has chosen a lighter playing schedule, perhaps in order to save the energy he will need to defend his title against the American grandmaster Fabiano Caruana in November. 

The St. Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament was an intense battle with many exciting developments. American Hikaru Nakamura emerged as the clear winner with 22.5 points out of 36 possible, while Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France finished second. The Frenchman managed to add 58 points to his already lofty blitz rating, reaching 2936.8, just 2.2 points shy of Magnus Carlsen. Shakhiyar Mamedyarov, who has gone from a top-20 player to the top five in the last two years, earned third place.

Coming into the Sinquefield Cup, Hikaru Nakamura, who also won the Paris GCT event in June, is leading the overall standings of the Grand Chess Tour by a substantial margin. With 33 points, he has a comfortable distance from his closest followers, Vachier-Lagrave, Sergey Karjakin of Russia and American Wesley So with 25, 24, and 23 points respectively.

Magnus Carlsen was selected as the event wildcard for the Sinquefield Cup, and he has the opportunity to play spoiler for the rest of the field as they clamor to make the finals in London. This is also the last classical chess event in which Carlsen will face Caruana — his soon-to-be challenger for the world championship title. They square off on Saturday.

The Sinquefield Cup is one of the strongest chess tournaments in history. Based on the Universal Rating System, the event features players ranked first through ninth and 13th. This is the first time all nine of the highest-rated players have competed in a classical chess event. You have to go back to the 1938 AVRO tournament to find an event with the top eight.

The Sinquefield Cup is certainly one of the most exciting chess events in the world every year, and our readers are encouraged to follow the games, either online or in person. Live transmission of the event is available, with expert commentators explaining the games as they develop. This year’s English-language broadcast team includes Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and Jennifer Shahade. Meanwhile, Russian commentary is provided by elite players Peter Svidler and Evgenij “Miro” Miroshnichenko. All commentary can be viewed at or at the Saint Louis Chess Club.

In addition, live commentary is available next to the club at Kingside Diner, where spectators can interact and ask questions to commentators Alejandro Ramirez and Cristian Chirila. Tickets to see the games in person may be purchased online or at the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Mauricio Flores is a chess grandmaster based in Minnesota, where he will soon be finishing his Ph.D. in applied mathematics. He is the author of the book “Chess Structures, a Grandmaster Guide”.

Saturday Chess at the Library: learning, practice games, and tournaments – mysouthborough

by beth on August 22, 2018

Post image for Saturday Chess at the Library: learning, practice games, and tournaments

Above: Come on out to learn or hone your basic Chess skills at the Library, starting next month. (image posted to flickr by Jo)

The Southborough Library is launching “Saturday Chess” for beginners. The bi-weekly gatherings are for those interested in learning beginner chess skills. It’s geared for ages 12 and up.

At the afternoon sessions, participants will learn and practice basic skills. They’ll then be invited to test out their new skills at tournaments.

Saturday Chess poster

(click to enlarge)

The first gathering takes place on September 8th from 2:00 – 4:00 pm in the downstairs Eaton Meeting room. Follow up sessions this fall are on September 22, October 6 & 20, and November 3rd. The first tournament will take place on November 17th.

Originally, the Library posted a request for chess set donations. But the Roumiantsev family heard and answered the call. Thanks to their donation, that’s no longer necessary.

(But, anyone interested in supporting these events is welcome to donate an “allergy-free snack”.)

If you have any questions, contact Assistant Director & YA Librarian Aileen Sanchez-Himes at or 508-485-5031.

A chess master reflects on strategies, human potential – SFGate


David Bennett, 31, earned the rank of national master in chess in 2016. He coaches students of all ages and competes nationally and internationally. He lives in Washington,D.C., with his fiancee.

Q: So what does it mean to be a national master?

A: It’s kind of like a black belt without stripes. Then you have the international titles, your stripes, and then norm-based titles like international master and grandmaster. That would definitely be a lifetime achievement.

Q: When did you first get involved in chess?

A: Well, my dad first taught me when I was about 5, but I really got into it around eighth or ninth grade. I remember playing with a friend, and he kept on doing the four-move checkmate on me. He got me a few times in a row. I’m like, Ahhh, how do I stop this? I think it was just that competitive instinct, combined with my dad and my brother playing and giving me a hard time, and I was trying to beat them. So I started reading books on my own and stuff. And I went to a coffee shop where the chess scene was pretty thriving. That’s where I met my first coach. He started training me and taking me to tournaments. I took a gap year after high school just to go as far as I could.

Q: Chess is often seen as rather rarefied. Do you think everybody has the capacity to play?

A: I think anyone can become good. You just have to give people access. And it’s phenomenal for kids, because it’s fun and they’re absorbing all these concepts of logic and strategic planning: thinking ahead, having patience. And psychological things, too – everybody can benefit from that.

Q: Is there a moment it all came together for you?

A: It was at the historic Marshall Chess Club championship in Greenwich Village. I lost three games in a row at the very beginning and was pretty mad at myself. Then I had this moment of clarity. And I wrote down every single thing I had done wrong. Maybe things I had done well, too. Just this relentless self-critique, probably four pages long. But that worked, because then I won five out of my six next games. And looking at that note before every game is actually one of the things that led me to finally break through and become a master, to find that flow where I began to play more consistently.

Q: So if someone’s going in for the chess match of their life, what advice do you give them?

A: Don’t worry about your opponent. Just play the board. And to my younger students, in particular: Take your time. Your opponent is trying to exert their will, trying to make you play their game. But you’ve got to do your thing. That’s one of the key things that distinguishes masters, I think, just this inexorable implementation of [their] ideas. Because ultimately, that’s what it comes down to: a struggle of ideas.