Ju Wenjun Beats Lagno In Playoff, Wins Women's World Chess Championship – Chess.com


As the first woman to retain her title in a knockout tournament, Ju Wenjun of China won the 2018 World Championship by beating Kateryna Lagno of Russia in the final.

It must be said that there is a sad poignancy to every knockout final. In the beginning of November, 64 participants had descended in Khanty-Mansiysk in a sudden flurry of excitement and trepidation. Three weeks later, just two weary athletes remained playing until the tournament’s curtain call. It sure is lonely at the top.

Playing out that final to a virtual audience were top-seed and reigning Women’s World Champion GM Ju Wenjun (China) and third-seed Russian grandmaster Kateryna Lagno.

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The last battle: Lagno vs Ju. | Image: Instagram ChessOlympiad 2020

From the outset it was difficult to call the action between top-seed Ju and third-seed Lagno. With just a nominal 12-point rating difference, combined with the two players having never played a classical game among themselves, this match-up was always destined to be close.

The only difference between the pair was in their contrasting paths to the top. It had been very smooth journey for Ju. Like the nimble hare, she raced through 10 games and five matches without a hair out of place. For Lagno, the road had been exhausting and long, playing a backbreaking 21 games in total. Although, one could claim that World Champion Ju had glory odds, in the shape of a marginally-higher rating and better form. But as we all know in a knockout anything can happen at any time.

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Dropping the puck, GM Kateryna Lagno visits an ice hockey match on the free day. | Photo: Ugra Chess

Game 1: Controlling the chaos

Often the first games in matches are not showy affairs, they are simply two players circling each other probing for weaknesses. Ju had been earning her bread and butter by successfully following the theory of simplicity — playing chess in a very uncomplicated and risk-free manner. It was clear from the first game that Lagno was out to rock the proverbial boat.

nullJu Wenjun managed to weather the storm. | Photo: Ugra Chess

Game 2: The tale of two bishops

The tension magnified in the second game when Lagno defeated Ju, in what was to be the first of many rook and opposite-colored bishop endings. In a piece of (accidental?) dark humor, Lagno even managed to employ an opening move that Ju had herself devised!

nullKateryna Lagno played a flawless ending in round two. | Photo: Ugra Chess

Game 3: The eyes watch but cannot take—so near and yet so far

Game three was probably the most fascinating game of the classical match, with Ju missing several beautiful ways to level the score. Try to spot them!

nullRule number one: When you play with white you wear white! Ju Wenjun coming close to victory. | Photo: Ugra Chess

Game 4: Down but not out: the big comeback 

Leading with one point and having the white pieces, the match was going very well for Lagno. Indeed at the start of game four the worry could be seen clearly in Ju’s face.

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Will she be the shortest reigning world champion? Ju Wenjun doesn’t know. | Photo: Ugra Chess

However nothing is cooler or more attractive than a big comeback story and with a last game victory, once again the reigning champion was back in the ring.

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Her pose says it all — disaster is about to befall Kateryna Lagno in round four. | Photo: Ugra Chess

Tiebreaks: Thinking, fast and slow.

When asked about how she estimated her chances in the rapid and blitz tiebreaks, Ju answered: “Clearly Lagno is good at rapid, but I am not bad there as well. But who can tell about tomorrow? No one can predict.”

Psychologically one could argue that Ju had an advantage on account of her victory in the fourth game but it would be foolish to discount the role of experience. Lagno had been in this exact position three times and had on each occasion emerged victorious. Not only that, Lagno had been Mind Sport rapid champion in 2016.

As the commentators Alexander Morozevich and Alexandra Kosteniuk indicated, the key to success would be in alternating between fast and slow thinking. To borrow a quote from the aforementioned book: “The world makes much less sense than you think, the coherence comes mostly from the way your mind thinks.”

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With a hand shake the tie-breaks begin! | Photo: Ugra Chess

Rapid game 1: Rock beats scissors

Game one was a very solid affair with both sides taking little risk. Ju, with the white pieces, was always pressing but Lagno firmly held her ground. The closest Ju came to victory was in the following moment:

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In complete concentration, Ju Wenjun. | Photo: Ugra Chess

Things were equally solid in the second game. Lagno had just one single moment to apply uncomfortable pressure.

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Giving it her all Kateryna Lagno. | Photo: Ugra Chess

Blitz: In the midst of movement and chaos keep stillness inside of you

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The players are not the only ones feeling the heat! New FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich (at the forefront) follows the action. | Photo: Ugra Chess

Not quite rapid and not quite blitz, it looked like Lagno was planning to nurture the long time advantage of the bishop pair until this oversight.

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Playing black in a must-win scenario was always going to be a thankless task for Lagno against Ju’s effective safety-first policy. Indeed it was the calm manner of Ju’s play that simply proved impossible to crack.

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The last chance saloon for Lagno. | Photo: Ugra Chess

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The smile that says she won it all. Trainer Yu Shaoteng can be seen in the background clapping with admiration. | Photo: Ugra Chess

After the game, Ju commented that Khanty-Mansiysk had been a lucky place for her. Not only had she won the Grand Prix series in Khanty-Mansiysk but she had now defended her crown there too.

The secret to her world championship success? Enjoying the games of chess! When asked how she would spend her prize money and what her future plans were, she replied that she would treat her friends to dinner and then take a pause from chess.

And for anyone thinking that Ju can rest and enjoy her title, FIDE has already announced they will be holding a Candidates’ tournament in the early half of 2019 to determine her next challenger. The three semi-finalists Alexandra Kosteniuk, Mariya Muzychuk and Kateryna Lagno have all qualified. There will not be a wild card; the remaining five will qualify by rating based on average Elo from the January-December 2018 rating lists.

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Women’s World Champion once again! Ju Wenjun and trainer Yu Shaoteng with the stunning championship trophy. | Photo: Ugra Chess

At least this time, she will not have to defend her title within six months

Games via TWIC.


Previous reports:

  • Women’s World Chess Championship: Ju Wenjun, Lagno In The Final
  • Women’s World Chess Championship: Ju Wenjun, Lagno, Kosteniuk, Muzychuk Through
  • Women’s World Chess Championship: Tokhirjonova, Abdumalik Shine; Lagno Wins In Armageddon
  • Women’s World Chess Championship: Koneru, Goryachkina, Tan, Zhao Out
  • Women’s World Chess Championship: Girya, Paehtz, Kashlinskaya, Zhukova Out



WATCH: This is the most indecisive million-dollar chess match, ever – News24


Two chess masters are locked in a seemingly neverending spiral of tied games – 10 so far – at the World Chess Championships.

It’s the longest streak of draws to ever hit the league’s 132-year history.

Whatever the eventual outcome, both end up winners as they will split the $1.1 million (around R15m) prize 60:40.

ALSO WATCH BELOW: World’s fastest pianist performs in Turkey



World Chess Championship Game 10: Draw Streak Continues Despite Wild Game – Chess.com


In the movie Children of Men, the U.K. goes 20 years without anyone being able to conceive a child. So far in the 2018 world chess championship, London has experienced a similar dearth. Two weeks in, and nobody has been able to birth a win.

There’s not yet any rioting by chess fans, but there is frustration. And that is surely shared by the players. Five years to the day after he became world champion, Magnus Carlsen is finding his title defense stagnant against Fabiano Caruana.

One exceptional group that is surely content with today’s draw: those holding tickets to round 12. The match is now guaranteed to go the full distance, and perhaps longer.

Magnus Carlsen Fabiano Caruana

The b-pawns were the stars today in round 10. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Today, you can’t say the players didn’t try. In fact all three results were possible in the late middlegame, as Carlsen looked to ditch his entire queenside and go “true caveman” in his attack against Caruana.

Hikaru Nakamura used that term as he said, “I don’t see how this could possibly be drawn.” Well, that’s just how things are going this match—the players found a way.

They’ve now extended the historic ignominious streak by drawing the first 10 games of the title bout. The score is 5.0-5.0 as each player retains one more chance with White in classical chess. Friday is a rest day so Carlsen will go first in game 11 on Saturday.

Today’s game was the first time an American played a world championship chess match on Thanksgiving. But on a day where most in the United States relax and eat, the players avoided any tryptophan-rich foods and played energetic, uncompromising chess. There were no turkeys in the playing hall as both sides risked potential catastrophe.

Magnus Carlsen

The champ enters the arena. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

“It’s the type of game I expected from this line,” Caruana said. The variation in question was a reprise of game eight. Although he got an advantage in his last turn with White, it was the challenger who deviated first anyway. His 12. b4!? represented another surprise, and on the same move number as a few days ago. It was also his second time as White playing the same pawn thrust unexpectedly (once it came from a Rossolimo).

“I mean, it’s very, very double-edged, both sides are taking risks,” Caruana said about the resulting complications. “Black takes some very clear risks because he’s going for an attack so he’s sort of going all-in. And of course, I’m getting attacked, so I could potentially get mated.”

Carlsen told Norwegian television that he had a lot of fear about losing the game today.

The game enthralled past world champions:

  • Hou Yifan: “Fabiano’s team is really confident in their home preparation, especially in the Sicilian.”
  • Garry Kasparov, commenting for the Saint Louis Chess Club on the possibility Carlsen’s key idea of 21…b5, which sought to trade rooks and therefore remove a defender of f3: “If he does it he deserves to remain a world champion.” 
  • Viswanathan Anand: “It’s not easy for me to evaluate. Practically it’s nice to be Black…It could easily go either way…The position is fascinating.”

And Carlsen did go for …b5! His thinking was a little less brainy, a little more gusto: “I thought for so long and I wasn’t sure about it but I thought I just go for it and up the stakes even more. Either you win the game, or you get mated,” he said. 

Besides, he thought that if he played an alternative like 21…Kh8, he’d still have some long thinks coming up soon thereafter. Why not get going right away?

Magnus Carlsen

Carlsen’s bandage got slimmer, but so did his chances to defend his title in regulation. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen also admitted that the thrust was partly based on the intractable results of the match, where neither player can seemingly avoid splitting the point.

“It was partly based on the match situation,” Carlsen said. “I felt that it would be, even though I had less time at this point, I thought it would be very unpleasant to face, but I didn’t make it solely on psychology, of course.”

Kasparov thought that type of move, where the resulting maelstrom couldn’t possibly be controlled or calculated, was out of the style of both players.

“They prefer to play a different kind of chess,” he said. “When they have to play positions that are not in their style, it takes (extra) time. And you have to add the pressure of world championship chess.”

Magnus Carlsen

Carlsen reacts to post-game variations.| Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

“I think there’s a good chance Fabiano missed it,” Hikaru Nakamura said of the move. Caruana dispelled that idea.

“When I went for Ra3 I was looking at this stuff,” Caruana said. “I thought that …b5, Nb6 would be bad for Black and that’s why I was expecting …Kh8.” He said that passing the turn would have put the onus on White since “many of my moves have problems.” Eventually, Caruana agreed that moving the b-pawn was “probably the right choice.”

From there Caruana had several crises to solve. Should he take the pawn en passant, or a few moves later, with his bishop? How much could he get away with on the queenside and avoid collapse on his own king?

He ultimately decided against capturing it then, or later. (Caruana: “It feels kind of greedy.”) Instead, it was time to hunker down and weather the Norwegian storm.

“When I played g3, it was such a difficult moment because after …Qg5 I have so many options,” Caruana said. “There’s a lot of potential for attack [by Black] but it’s still a bit slow and I have to decide how I want to set up my pieces. I think f3 was probably the best way to do it; I mean, after I played g3 I started to wish I had played f3.”

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana projected much more energy in the post-game press conference, even if his answers are generally less quotable. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

And even after the many mates to consider, there was still a rich rook ending to navigate. It was truly a game with several chapters and sequels—make sure you also take a look at the dangerous tactics stemming from 35…Qe2, an idea which Caruana saw but didn’t fully appreciate (the “only stupid moment” according to the American).

With such a massive game with a myriad possibilities, Chess.com called on a big name for the daily analysis: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. 

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

About the ending, did Carlsen see tangible winning possibilities, or was it a bit like yesterday where he thought he’d give nominal pressure before acquiescing? 

“I didn’t particularly think I had real chances,” the champion said. “I thought I’d try. Unfortunately on the moment that I played 44…Kd4, I discovered only after I played the move that 44…Rb8 was a move that would have at least passed the move on and it wouldn’t have been that easy for him.”

Unlike yesterday, a third result could have crept in, so Carlsen shut it down a little while later. “I could have lost it in the end,” Carlsen told Norwegian television.

Want to understand the complicated game even more? Alex Yermolinsky needed a little more tape than usual for his post-game video analysis. Luckily, Chess.com went digital years ago:

Leading up to the ending, both players slipped below one minute and neither had more than a handful of seconds when making his 40th move.

“There was a little time pressure for sure,” Carlsen said. “I cannot say I kept my cool one bit!” 

That quote was notable as it represented the only time in the post-game press conference that he smiled. Unlike yesterday where his answers represented some annoyance, today Carlsen seemed just plain tired. He looked over at his team (Henrik Carlsen and Peter Heine Nielsen) several times during the interview session, and while Caruana answered a question, the champ even rested his head on his shoulder and closed his eyes.

Magnus Carlsen

If 2014’s world championship taught us anything, it’s that Carlsen sleeps when he wants to sleep (his snooze only lasted a few seconds today). | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Maybe he was humming the new tune that dropped today from chess-themed singer Juga. She seems to have jinxed the players as her “Isolated Pawn” yielded exactly zero of them today! Maybe on the b-side of that track she can similarly jinx the duo with a song called “Draw All Day, Draw All Night.”

So what will Carlsen and his team conjure for his final turn with White? He’s already tried 1. c4, 1. d4, and 1. e4. Recall that in game 12 in 2016 he essentially played a non-game, but this time around it is different since he won’t get the final say with the first move.

As for all the draws, neither player wished to see the new idea of reversing the colors and playing again, but Carlsen did agree that the brevity of the match was influencing the play. With only a dozen games, any risks that backfire would leave either player in a serious hole. Carlsen said he wished for championship matches to be extended to 16 or 18 games.

Magnus Carlsen

Carlsen briefly chatted with officials before the press conference began, but there would be no repeat of his early exit from the press conference like in 2016. He answered questions with thoroughness, even more so than yesterday. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

As for Caruana, there will be no Thanksgiving celebration tonight. And that’s not just because his team is made up entirely of foreign-born players (although Alejandro Ramirez does have American citizenship). It is simply due to his intense focus on the match.

“Thanksgiving for us is a week from now,” Caruana’s second Cristian Chirila told Chess.com. “We will feast then!”

In Children of Men the infertility comes to all females, but is chess’s highest stage fertile ground for women? The final question to the players came from a filmmaker who wanted to know if they could even envision a woman competing for the same title. 

“Right now, the current crop of players, it’s hard to imagine,” Carlsen said. “But in the future I don’t see why not.”

“In the future it’s possible but right now there don’t seem to be any players currently,” Caruana said. “So many not in my time, but certainly one day.”

To follow the match, Chess.com has extensive coverage, including daily reports on game days right here on Chess.com/news. You can catch all of the moves live at Chess.com/wcc2018 and watch Chess.com’s best-known commentators, IM Danny Rensch and GM Robert Hess, on either Twitch.tv/Chess or Chess.com/TV. Special guests, including Hikaru Nakamura, Hou Yifan, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So, Sam Shankland and more will be joining the live coverage on different days. 

In addition, GM Alex Yermolinsky will be doing round-by-round wrap-up videos, available immediately after every round on all your favorite social platforms (Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and Chess.com). 

The current U.S. chess champion GM Sam Shankland will provide written, in-depth analysis of each game in our news reports.

GM Yasser Seirawan will share his thoughts on the match standings and inner workings of how the players are approaching each game with videos, exclusive to Chess.com members, on each rest day.


Previous reports:



It Was Finally Fabiano Caruana's Turn To Survive At The World Chess Championship – FiveThirtyEight


Magnus Carlsen got a black eye before Game 9 of the World Chess Championship. But it didn’t hinder his vision of the board as Wednesday’s play began.

For the first time in nearly two weeks of play, Carlsen, the defending champion, was able to successfully command the white pieces to an attacking advantage. Throughout much of Game 9, Carlsen outdueled his challenger, Fabiano Caruana. Caruana, the world No. 2, appeared to reel at points, and his allocated time melted off his clock as he pondered his defense.

But Carlsen’s advantage melted, too. The game was drawn after 56 moves over 3.5 hours of play. It was the ninth consecutive draw and the best-of-12 match sits level at 4.5-4.5.

Before the game Wednesday, the list of colorful stories orbiting the match ballooned to two. First came the infamous deleted YouTube video appearing to show elements of Caruana’s pre-match strategic preparation. Now we had the black eye.

NRK, the Norwegian broadcaster, reported that Carlsen collided — excuse me, “kolliderte” — with one of its own journalists while playing soccer on Tuesday, a rest day from the chess. Questions were raised about Carlsen’s mental soundness — a grandmaster should do nothing but grandmastering, apparently. Per Google’s translation of NRK, he was reportedly “dumbfounded” after the crash. “If he has to use pain relief, there may be a potential problem,” NRK wrote.

But those neurological questions seemed quickly answered at the board and Carlsen said he felt no pain while playing.

The first eight moves on Wednesday exactly matched the first eight from Game 4 — their name sounds like something out of Tolkien, an English opening that became a Reverse Dragon. But the game took a radical and aggressive turn on move 9, when Carlsen scrambled his bishop to the g5 square, into enemy territory and with its mitre directly pointed at Caruana’s queen.

This specific position has only ever materialized on a tournament chessboard once before, according to the ChessBase database, in an otherwise uncelebrated game in 2008 between two Croatian non-grandmasters. (Though black won that one.) The attack was on, and Caruana contributed with a misstep on his 17th move, capturing a knight in Carlsen’s territory that he oughtn’t have. That capture sparked a series of moves that eventually allowed Carlsen’s bishop to escape, flying across the board to capture the black pawn on b7.

As deep into the game as the 18th move, Carlsen hadn’t spent more than a minute on any one move and quickly opened up a 40-minute advantage on the clock. One knock against the champ in this match has been his apparently lackadaisical preparation. But he was solidly prepared for his aggressive line on Wednesday, sailing through his moves. Caruana, meanwhile, took 9 minutes to make his 12th move, 21 minutes on his 13th, 8 on his 14th and 13 on his 17th.

The fruits of the Norwegian’s preparation appeared to be a comfortable position: Either he would win or he would draw. Before Carlsen’s 24th move, the position looked like this.

“I think there are some long-term dangers here for black,” said Hikaru Nakamura, a top American grandmaster commentating for Chess.com. Carlsen’s white bishop, for example, was far more active than Caruana’s. “If Caruana doesn’t find the right moves, he will lose.”

It appeared to all the world that the Norwegian chess superstar would finally make real progress in the match, and indeed that a victory in the moves to come would effectively decide the match — and the world title — itself. “There are certain types of positions where Magnus is stronger than a computer,” said Anish Giri, the world No. 5, on a chess24 broadcast.

It’s an evocative claim, but it was not true on Wednesday. Carlsen may have rushed his attack on move 25, shortly after the position above. He pushed his pawn up the flank on the edge of the board, to h4 and toward Caruana’s king. He then pushed it again, to h5. It may have been a square too far, or at least too soon. (The computer engine Stockfish preferred involving that active white bishop instead.)

“He’s just not playing his best chess,” added Peter Svidler, the world No. 19, on that very same broadcast. The position simplified dramatically and the two shook hands — which they must be getting very good at — after 56 moves.

Ah, chess is cruel. Here’s a chart to quantify that cruelty — and we’ll keep it updated throughout the rest of the match. There are three regular games left, and speedier tiebreaker games will follow on Nov. 27, if necessary.

This match has been different for Carlsen than his 2016 World Chess Championship encounter against Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin, which began with seven consecutive draws. Many of those found Karjakin on the backfoot, escaping like Houdini from the shackles of the world champion. Caruana, however, has rarely been in real trouble until Wednesday, and this year Carlsen has been forced to play the part of escape artist.

Carlsen would, however, be an enormous favorite should the tiebreakers become necessary.

“I’m really not thinking about the tiebreak now,” Caruana said after the game. “I really don’t agree with most people about my chances in the tiebreak.”

Game 10 begins Thursday at 3 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time — that’s 10 a.m. Eastern. But that’s also Thanksgiving. As a result, our next dispatch will come on Friday. Chess waits for no turkey, but FiveThirtyEight does. I’ll be covering the rest of the match here and on Twitter.



Winning in Style – Chess.com


    This is simply a compilation of sparkling games.

   My original intention was to title this Chess Brilliancies but upon reflection, I wasn’t convinced the definition was applicable.  I tend to think of brilliancies as remarkable conceptions during games between highly and equally skilled players. While they often involve marvelous tactics, brilliancies can be extraordinary in other ways too.  

   The games here mainly shine tactically and while some are played between people of relatively  equal ability, in other games the skill disparity is obvious. Although none of Paul Morphy’s games are featured here, all the game contain what J.H. Blackburne used to call a bit of Morphy.

    We will start off with a few gems from Blackburne himself.  If anyone carried Morphy’s torch, it was Joseph Blackburne. Like Morphy, Blackburne seemed to play even more glittering chess when giving odds or when blindfolded.

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These next two jewels come from the 6th American Chess Congress of 1889. In both games the players who lost are playing White.

nullGeorge Hatfeild Gossip beats Jackson Whipps Showalter

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nullWilliam Henry Krause Pollock

    “The latter part is worthy to rank among the few immortal games we possess.”—Hoffer.
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Mr. Pollock’s play from the 17th move, renders this game one of the finest monuments of Chess ingenuity; and altogether this game belongs to the most brilliant in the annals of practical play.”—Steinitz.
  
The prize offered for the most brilliant game in the tourney was awarded to Mr. Pollock for this game.

The above quotes about the game below come from Chess by R.F. Green 1893

In this game, William Henry Kraus Pollock defeats Max Weiss

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   The following three games are Muzio Gambits (1. e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.0-0) in which White gambits an entire Knight (or a Knight and a Bishop in a Double Muzio) right in the opening.

The hypermodernist Richard S. Réti plays hyperomantically

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Next, Janowski starts off minus a knight and then plays the Muzio!

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Alexey Shirov’s Classic Double Muzio

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   John Cazenove (1788-1879) was the son of a Genovese merchant who migrated to London. He published, anonymously, some pamphlets on economics, such as Principles of Political Economy and also published a now-rare chess book entitled A selection of curious and entertaining games at Chess in 1817. Cazenove had been president of the London Chess Club for a time.

   Here, Cazenove lets us witness a brilliant Queen sacrifice in a King’s Gambit miniature.

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   Three of the great Russian chess players before Tschigorin came on the scene were Alexander Petroff, Carl von Jaenisch and Ilya Schumoff.

   This famous game, nicknamed Petroff’s Immortal, was played in Warsaw in 1844 against Petroff’s frequent chess partner, Alexander Hoffmann.

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Below is a sparkling game played between Schumoff and Jaenisch in St. Petersburg in 1845.

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   Here is a little tactical brilliance from the Austrian Morphy, Wilhelm Steinitz, who defeats an amateur, the ubiquitous NN, with style:

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   Conrad Bayer was a well known chess problemist, one of the greatest of his day. Here is an example of brilliant OTB play by Conrad who, as black, employs the Falkbeer counter-grambit against the King’s Gambit.

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   Sir Alfred Kempe was a British ecclesiastical barrister and diocesan chancellor best known for his work as an amateur mathematician.  Several of his amateur chess games had been published in various chess periodicals of his day and later in various games collections.
   In this game, he sacs his Queen to let his Rook eat pieces like Pac-man, then allows the Rook its own sacrificial demise to force mate.

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    Sir Kempe played blindfold with the same panache in this game the might be loosely described as a Muzio Deferred:

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   Karl Lepge (1831-1890) and August Saalbach played a series of games, two of which are recorded in Fiske’s (and Morphy’s) 1860 Chess Monthly. Both Lepge and Saalbach had some losses published in Schachzeitung against Anderssen and Paulsen. They were all played even, so apparently they were both players of some force. In this KGA (Bishop’s Gambit) game Saalbach loses to Lepge’s clever, some might say brilliant, play:

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   But to be fair to Saalbach, who edited the chess section of the Leipziger Sonntagsblatt and who died in December 1864, here is a pretty miniature he won in 1861 (his opponent, Hermann Herrmann Pollmächer, died on December 24th of the same year as this game):

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.     This leads to a nice little story I came across in the January 1892 edition of the Deutsche Schachzeitung involving Carl Lepge but related by Richard Mangelsdorf who witnessed it.  Lepge and Alfred Schmori (a German player of comparable strength) were in the Café National, the chess center of Leipzig, in November 1963.  They were deeply involved in analyzing a game when a stranger walked in and started quietly observing their exchanges. They asked the stranger for his opinion on a variation and were taken back by the depth of his ideas.  Mangelsdorf said he thought this had to be Louis Paulsen but  Paulsen wasn’t known to be in town.  The following day the stranger returned and confessed he was indeed Louis Paulsen.   Paulsen, now a known entity to the Leipzigers, returned to the Café National in January of 1864 and upon being coaxed, played four blindfold games. Carl Lepge, Hermann Hirschbach and Richard Mangelsdorf, editor of the chess column in the lllustrirten Zeitung, were all present.  Paulsen played the following game (however, it was not until the next day when Paulsen returned to the Café National that Mangelsdorf though to ask him for the moves and Pauslen rattled them off from memory). On the 13th move, Paulsen announced mate-in-11,

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  Although born in the Lviv Oblast of present-day Ukraine, Jakob Rosanes received his degree, like his contemporary Adolf Anderssen, in Mathematics from the University of Breslau where he eventually became a professor. Most notably, he and Anderssen contested a small series of recorded games of which Rosanes won about half. In the following game, however, Rosanes takes on an amateur whom he defeats with breath-taking panache . . . maybe even brilliance.

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   In 1863 Ignatz Kolisch played Ladislas Maczuski a short 4 game match, drawn 2-2.  Three years prior, Kolish had been winning against Maczuski, already a published problemist, giving him Knight odds.  Later Maczuski would be a talented blindfold player and editor of Le Palamède français and Le Pion.

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   Maczuski played a four-board simul at the Ferrara Chess Club on May 31, 1876. In one game, given below, he announced mate-in-11.  I couldn’t find this 11 move mate, but I was able to work out a decisive advantage for White.

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    Finally, we come to the end with a bit of mechanical Morphy.  The automaton Mephisto (here operated by Isodor Gunsberg) plays the British chess columnist and master Samuel Tinsley, who, if had hoped to show up the entertainment-oriented creation, finds himself turned into fried liver.



Stockfish Wins Computer Chess Championship Blitz – Chess.com


The highest-rated chess engine of all time added another title to its resume this week as Stockfish decisively won the Chess.com Computer Chess Championship 2: Blitz Battle.

The victory comes six weeks after Stockfish won the first revamped CCC: Rapid Rumble in October. Stockfish also won the inaugural edition of the Chess.com computer championship one year ago, making it a perfect three-for-three in Chess.com engine events.

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Stockfish won the CCC 2: Blitz Battle in dominating fashion, scoring the highest in all three stages and defeating the three other top chess engines in the world in the finals of the event. Stockfish scored 178/300 with just eight losses in the final stage, easily topping Komodo, the machine-learning engine Lc0, and Houdini.

ccc 2 blitz battle

Stockfish finished atop a mammoth field that featured 33 of the world’s strongest chess engines at the start of stage one.

Komodo made a strong resurgence to finish second in the blitz event after coming in fourth in the rapid tournament. Lc0 was able to hold off Houdini to finish third, the same spot it finished in CCC 1.

ccc 2 blitz finals crosstable

The crosstable for the CCC 2: Blitz Battle finals. Click on the image for a larger version. 

CCC 2: Blitz Battle will conclude with some bonus games before Chess.com begins CCC 3: Rapid Redux, an all-new championship event with the 16 top engines in the world and a time control of 30 minutes per game plus five seconds increment per move.

Check back on Chess.com/news soon for more information on CCC 3, including the full rules, schedule, and list of participants.

Stockfish scored dozens of beautiful wins in the blitz championship, but perhaps most impressive was its achievement as Black in the finals. Of the 600 games played in the final stage, Black won just 31 times. The majority of those wins came from Stockfish, who contributed an astounding 18 wins as Black.

Stockfish demonstrated how not to panic when your opponent sacrifices a piece for a scorching kingside attack in the following game, where it coolly absorbed Houdini’s knight sacrifice before securing its king and proving a decisive advantage in a two knights-vs-bishop endgame.

In the end, all that remained were those two black knights, the two kings, and a newly promoted queen. Stockfish, emotionless as always, declined to play the thematic Ne7# at the end, preferring to deliver mate with the queen.

Komodo showed off its winning quirks with one of the strangest rook dances ever on the queenside, kicked off by the baffling move Ra3. The waltzing rooks were good enough to gain a winning edge, and Komodo proved it could indeed convert the basic king-and-pawn vs king endgame.

The machine-learning chess engine Lc0 needed just 49 moves to put away Komodo in the following masterpiece, which in computer chess practically qualifies as a miniature.

Lc0’s shocking 14. Nxh7! was not foreseen by Komodo (or, on analysis, by Stockfish) and showcases the creative, flexible, and intuitive style that has generated so much fan support for the neural-network engine.

You can download PGN for all of the Computer Chess Championship blitz games at the following links:

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Which chess engine did you like the best in the Computer Chess Championship? Let us know in the comments.