December 3, 2016

Munster League Round 7

Todays round of the Munster League featured a top of the table clash between Ennis and Cork A. The match ended in a draw which was a fair enough result though maybe we could have hoped for more as we were leading 2.5-0.5 at one point.

Cork A 2.5-2.5 Ennis
1. A Byrne 0-1 R Quinn
2. H Doyle 1-0 J Miller
3. H de Jonge 0.5-0.5 T Dunne
4. J O Donoghue 0-1 N Larter
5. G Condon 1-0 M O Donnell

Just the one match today and there was a blitz afterward which was convincingly won by Ioana Gelip on 6 from 6. Well done Ioana! Paul Walsh came second and was the highest placed Munster player. Jacob Miller was third. The Munster League now takes a break until the New Year.

November 30, 2016

Carlsen retains World Title

The World Championship match in New York has just ended and Magnus Carlsen has retained his World Title. Deadlocked at 6-6 after the standard time control games, the match went to a Rapidplay tiebreak. Game 1 ended in a draw and Karjakin defended heroically in game 2 to hold it but Carlsen took the lead with a win in game 3 leaving Karjakin the uneviable task of having to win the last game with black to stay in the match. Owing to circumstance a Najdorf Sicilian ensued rather than the usual 1e4 e5 of this match. Carlsen got a comfortable position from the opening and Karjakin ran down his clock trying to come up with something. Eventually he sacced the exchange for a pawn but in his attempt to generate some sort of winning chances he left himself open to a spectacular mate and Carlsen took his chance.

 

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Carlsen – Karjakin (White to play and win)

If you haven’t already seen it can you work out the finish that clinched the World Championship match for Magnus Carlsen?

 

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November 27, 2016

Maze and Baburin tie for first in Kilkenny

The Kilkenny Masters finished earlier today and resulted in a tie for first between Sebastian Maze and Alex Baburin, both on 5 points. Maze was a half point clear going into the final round but was held to a draw by Tony Kosten. Baburin had an impressive win with black over Fabien Libiszewski to catch Maze. Mickey Adams finished in third place on 4.5 points in what was a very competitive section.

In the other sections, Stanley Yin and Mark Collins tied for first in the Major. Cian Murphy won the James Mason while Zalan Nemeth won the Challengers.

Meanwhile on the World stage the players in the World Championship had a rest day today. Deadlocked at 5.5 points each after 11 games, Carlsen has white tomorrow against Karjakin and if that game ends in a draw the match will go to rapid and possibly blitz tiebreak, on Wednesday. If necessary the match could even go to an armageddon finish which is an unusual way to decide the World Championship and in my opinion maybe not the best, though it would provide plenty of drama.

 

November 25, 2016

World Championship – Just two rounds to go!

Ten rounds into the World Championship and its Magnus Carlsen 5-5 Sergey Karjakin. As suggested it might well be that game 9 will be remembered as a pivotal one in the match. Carlsen held the draw in that game and then bounced back with a win in the 10th game, after Karjakin missed a chance to bail out with a draw. That sets the scene for an incredibly tense final two rounds as a single mistake by either side could well end up costing the match. The difference in prize money between first and second is only about 1/4 million dollars (small change to Carlsen) but it’s all about the glory of winning the World Championship for these guys. The match could well go to tiebreak yet.

Locally the 40th edition of the Kilkenny Congress is taking place this weekend with a total of 9 GMs taking part in the Masters. The draw, results and live games will be available on the Irish Chess Union website over the weekend.

November 23, 2016

World Championship 9 rounds in

Game 9 is just entering its final stages and Carlsen is under pressure. Round 8 saw the first decisive game of the match. Carlsen, looking frustrated at his inability to break his opponent down thus far, went all out for the win and it looked like he just tried too hard and eventually lost.It seemed a needless loss really but Karjakins no risk policy obviously got to him.

We are at a crucial juncture in the match now. Carlsen must hold this position if he wants to keep his title. If he loses, two games down with just three to go looks like too great an obstacle to overcome. The current position looks like it should be holdable. Karjakin has an extra pawn in a queen and bishop ending but it’s a doubled isolated one and the pawns are all on the same side. Doubtless Karjakin will try to win as he has nothing to lose by pushing but barring a collapse Carlsen should go into the last three games still with a chance.

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November 21, 2016

World Championship – 7 rounds in

Just over halfway through the World Championship and its still even. 7 games have resulted in 7 draws. Carlsen had a great chance in game 3 and also seemed better in game 4 but Karjakins resolute defence held firm. If anyone was better in 5 it was Karjakin but that too ended in a draw, game 6 was over quickly and…well you get the picture!

Game 8 on Monday and Carlsen, who is due White, will surely view it as an opportunity to take the lead in the match. They way things have been going so far just one decisive game could be the winning of this match.

Carlsen started the match as strong favourite but I think his chances have narrowed somewhat as with the combatants still deadlocked and just five games to go, a single win for Karjakin would put Carlsen under serious pressure.

The rules have swung somewhat in favour of the Challenger recently. Years ago if the match ended in a tie the Champion retained his title. In this edition if there is a tie then blitz games will be used to decide the title. Going on his form in his recent blitz series with Nakamura, I would put Carlsen favourite for that too. Karjakins best chance is to keep drawing games and sneak a win in somewhere. Either way it’s all set for a fascinating end to the match.

November 16, 2016

World Championship 4 rounds in

Almost a third of the way into the World Championship and it looks like the combatants will be deadlocked at 2 points each as the 4th match seems to be almost certainly heading to a draw. Carlsen may be wondering how he is not in the lead at this stage as in the third and fourth games he seemed to have a serious advantage. Particularly in today’s game, where some commentators were chalking up the point to Carlsen 35 moves or so in. Well they are now at move 83 and it looks like Karjakins tenacious defence will prevail.

It will be interesting to see how the match goes from here. Carlsen must still be favourite as he has been pressing in the last two games but he must be wondering what he needs to do to break down Karjakin. Carlsens is usually the master at grinding out wins from slight endgame edges but Karjakin has been up to the task so far even holding much worse looking positions.

Maybe one of the players needs to move into more enterprising territory. So far, with the possible exception of game 3, it’s been stodgy enough. Players have a rest day now before round 5 on Thursday.

November 13, 2016

Munster League Rounds 5 and 6

Two very close matches for Ennis against strong opponents today in the Munster League. Two excellent wins by Mike O Donnell ensured we took something from both matches and stayed in touch at the top of the table.

Ennis 2.5-2.5 Adare
1.R Quinn 0.5-0.5 S Sudolski
2.J Miller 0.5-0.5 O Murchadha
3.T Dunne 0.5-0.5 J Heinrich
4.A Nguyen 0-1 A Fox
5.M O’Donnell 1-0 B Thee

Sarsfields 2.5-2.5 Ennis
1. P Walsh 0.5-0.5 R Quinn
2. F Noonan 1-0 J Miller
3. P Kiely 0.5-0.5 T Dunne
4. M O’Grady 0.5-0.5 A Nguyen
5. L O’Brien 0-1 M O’Donnell

November 11, 2016

World Championship gets Underway

Round 1 of the World Chess Championship is underway in New York as the reigning Champion Magnus Carlsen battles it out with his Challenger Sergey Karjakin for the title of World Chess Champion and the lions share of a 1.25 million dollar prize fund. Theres really good coverage online for the duration of the match. Most previews seem to favour Carlsen which is probably not surprising. Carlsen has opened with the Trompovsky and the players fairly quickly reached an ending which looks close to equal though no doubt Magnus will try to extract as much as he can from the position.

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November 7, 2016

European Club Cup

The 2016 European Club Cup is taking place in a city with a long chess history, Novi Sad in Serbia. Irelands representatives at the event are Gonzaga and Trinity College. Henry Li has won both his games for Gonzaga already including a win against an IM. Gonzaga have match points on the board already as they beat a Turkish team earlier today. Trinity are yet to get off the mark in match points but might have a chance tomorrow against Roma.