The Master's Bulletin: January-May 2014
In this second blog post I want to share some information on the latest issues of The Master's Bulletin, one of my main projects here at Chess.com besides providing daily news coverage. It has become a really nice magazine, I must say, even though I am not a hundred percent unbiased!
Let me share (as in: copy-paste) with you my introduction texts, which give a good intro (doh) to what great content we have had in the first five issues of 2014:
January 2014 - Looking Back One More Time
A Happy New Year to our readers! One thing that became clear in 2013 is how quickly online chess has adapted to new standards. There's hardly any top tournament left that does not provide online streaming commentary, to my great delight.
As I am writing this during the first week of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, I am quite busy myself with making this service happen in Wijk aan Zee as well. I am assisting Lennart Ootes and together we are doing the work behind the scenes to provide commentary by e.g. Yasser Seirawan, Erwin l'Ami and Lawrence Trent. Every day we are experiencing new technical problems, but at the same time we're happy to serve the chess fans with the show, improving it step by step!
Before we definitely say goodbye to 2013, Alex Yermolinsky provides us with a nice selection of games that he felt deserved more attention. In his typical style, "Yermo" analyzes five gems that can't be missed!
Again, we have two theoretical articles on openings. GM Danny Gormally, who will also start writing strategical articles for the Chess.com website from February onward, looks at Bobby Fischer's 6.h3 against the Najdorf Sicilian and deals with one of Black's main replies, 6...e6. The acclaimed author GM Viktor Moskalenko tells us the current status of Bent Larsen's 1.b3, and provides ideas for both sides.
The astonishing game Kramnik-Ezat from the recent World Team Championship inspired IM Arthur van de Oudeweetering to both look at this game in depth, and provide more examples of a queen sacrifice where one only gets two minor pieces in return (besides, of course, plenty of compensation). Names like Nezhmetdinov and Tal come to mind!
IM Robert Ris looks at the game Najer-Bacrot, played in December in the Bundesliga, that saw an instructive and typical rook ending where White had one passed pawn on the queenside. And of course we have three new studies selected by IM Yochanan Afek as well as last month's solutions.
February 2014 - A sudden gap between big events
After a period chock-full of tournaments (Tata Steel, Gibraltar, Zurich!) suddenly things are much more quiet in the chess calendar. The next big event is the Reykjavik Open, and then of course the Candidates’ Tournament. Plenty of time to read this new Bulletin!
In last month's introduction I wrote about producing the live commentary at the Tata Steel tournament together with Lennart Ootes. Only two days later both of us were doing the same for the Gibraltar Chess Festival: taking care of the online live commentary. By now I can say that we have developed quite a lot of experience, and I can gladly announce that we will be doing the same for the Reykjavik Open. That event will be embedded on Chess.com/TV so don't miss it!
But enough about my personal plans - let's have a look at this month's Master's Bulletin. For our featured article we decided to do things a bit differently. Instead of focusing on the games of the top group at Tata, or Zurich, which already got a lot of attention in our news section and elsewhere, we asked IM Lorin D'Costa to make his selection of the five best games played in the Tata Challengers group. He provides (and analyzes) five wonderful games for you!
In our opening theoretical section, GM Danny Gormally presents the second part of his series on Bobby Fischer's 6.h3 against the Najdorf Sicilian - this month he deals with that other main reply for Black, the typical Najdorf move 6... e5. Besides that, we have GM Simon Williams writing about the two games played in Wijk aan Zee with... the Budapest Gambit. It's not an opening you see very often, but after reading Williams' notes, I am tempted to try it myself!
IM Arthur van de Oudeweetering takes a thorough look at the astonishing game Nakamura-Giri from Wijk aan Zee which started with that wild line in the Symmetrical English, 1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nb4 6. Bc4 Nd3+ 7.Ke2 Nf4+ 8.Kf1 Ne6. Ever heard of the “fourth phase”? Arthur tells you all about it!
Besides providing the tactical puzzles, in his monthly endgame column IM Robert Ris looks at the game Naiditsch-Aronian, also from Wijk aan Zee. To his great surprise,“some incredible tactical resources turned out be available in that oh-so- drawish-looking endgame with opposite-colored bishops,” he writes. A very nice ending indeed! Like every month, we have three new studies selected by IM Yochanan Afek as well as last month's solutions. And, tatadadaa... we have a new column starting from this month: Beyond the Board, this month with GM Erwin l'Ami!
March 2014 - Witnessing a historic moment
The 2014 Candidates’ Tournament is on everyone's mind, and also on mine. It's such an important event, and the games of the first four rounds have been so exciting, that I've almost forgotten about Reykjavik already!
For the third year in a row I was lucky enough to work at the Reykjavik Open. In the first (long) week of March, the chess players of Iceland gathered, together with a big number of foreign players, for their annual festival. The winner was Li Chao, which you can read in our news section (which we have put forward, to page 3).
However, there is another reason why I won't easily forget this edition. On March 9th, the day Bobby Fischer would have celebrated his 71st birthday, Garry Kasparov paid a visit to his grave in Selfoss, and I had the privilege to be there! It was quite a special moment, since Fischer and Kasparov never met in real life. I was bold enough to grab my camera and interview Kasparov, with Fischer's grave visible in the background. I think I even asked some decent questions... J
But enough about that, and back to the here and now: the Candidates’. I'm very happy to have the excellent chess author IM John Watson with us this month - he wrote a historical perspective, and included six wonderful games from earlier Candidates’ Tournaments. The article is followed by a Q&A with the Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna.
Again we have two opening articles. GM Emanuel Berg, a true French specialist, looks at the McCutcheon variation - always good for very interesting games. GM Tamir Nabaty covers the brand new system 1.d4, 2.Bc3 and 3.Bf4 which is currently used by creative GMs like Baadur Jobava and Richard Rapport. Topical and fun!
The great game played by Arkadij Naiditsch against Predrag Nikolic in February in the Bundesliga is thoroughly analyzed by IM Arthur van de Oudeweetering, and IM Robert Ris again provides the monthly tactics and the endgame column - this time three recent GM games with the pure ¤ vs. ¥ ending. IM Yochanan Afek has again selected three endgame studies for you to solve.
And, tatadadaa... we again have a new column starting from this month: Grandmaster Tips for Beginners, this month by GM Alex Yermolinsky!
April 2014 - Vishy is back
The World Championship Tournament in 2007 in Mexico City was the first major event that I attended for ChessVibes.com. Anand's victory at the Candidates’ Tournament reminded me of this event, where the Indian won in similar style, and where I interviewed him for the first time. Now, after some mediocre years, Vishy is back!
In Mexico City, Anand finished on an undefeated 9.0/14, with ten draws and four wins. Tied for second place were Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand. In Khanty-Mansiysk, Anand was again the only player to remain undefeated. He scored eleven draws and three wins, which was more than enough as all other participants lost at least two games.
As a journalist I might have preferred a match between Carlsen and Aronian or Kramnik, but as a chess fan, I am very happy to see that Anand is still capable of playing really well. Over the past few years I've seen him struggling for moves, and struggling for answers. I am sure the new title match between the same players will be very exciting.
Naturally we are looking back at the Candidates’ in this issue. GM Alexander Ipatov selected what he thought were the five most instructive games from Khanty-Mansiysk, and explains them for you! In the second edition of our new column Beyond the Board we introduce a young American GM: Sam Shankland.
After that you'll find the section on opening theory, with again two lengthy articles: GM Bartel Macieja & IM Danny Rensch on the Vienna, and GM Evgeny Postny on the Grünfeld. After IM Robert Ris' tasty tactics you'll find the middlegame musings by IM Arthur van de Oudeweetering, this time about the Sicilian Scheveningen. And then back to IM Robert Ris, who dived into the wild west tactics of the game Kramnik-Mamedyarov from the Candidates’.
At the end of the magazine, after IM Yochanan Afek's three studies, we have GM Ben Finegold giving his grandmaster tips for beginners and then yet another new column: Member's Analysis. GM Roman Dzindzichashvili will look at an (annotated) game by one of the Chess.com members, and annotate those annotations. Doubly instructive!
May 2015 - Shamkir stones
As Chess.com's news editor I attended the Shamkir Chess tournament in Azerbaijan, which was won by, who else, Magnus Carlsen. It was a memorable event for me not just because of the splendid organization.
During the rest day, when I was tortured for hours by pains in my lower left back, I decided to ask for a doctor. Soon I realized that I would be enjoying an different kind of excursion: one to the local hospital. Diagnose: kidney stones. My new friends would sometimes tease me and sometimes almost kill me. Luckily I only needed to skip round 8, which I spent mostly in my hotel room.
The tournament itself was a great memory to Vugar Gashimov, the wonderful chess personality that sadly passed away in January. A small video documentary (on YouTube here!) was shown during the opening ceremony and many spectators (including myself) were deeply touched.
In this month's Bulletin GM Alex Yermolinsky looks back at the tournament by analyzing three games. They are followed by two of Gashimov's games, selected by his coach GM Viorel Iordachescu. Independently, IM Robert Ris also decided to deal with this topic in his endgame column.
GM Bartek Macieja finishes his two-part series on Vienna Queen's Gambit Declined, and GM Sergey Tiviakov discusses the topical Sicilian Dragon with with 10...¤xd4 11.¥xd4 b5. This month WGM/IM Tania Sachdev goes “beyond the board”.
As always IM Arthur van de Oudeweetering tells the bigger story behind a recent GM game (this time Bologan-Shimanov), referring to famous predecessors and examples from chess literature. Besides the tactics selected by IM Robert Ris and IM Yochanan Afek's endgame studies, we have IM John Bartholomew giving his “grandmaster” tips for beginners and GM Roman Dzindzichashvili again looking at a game played and annotated by one of the Chess.com members.