2009 Year In Review - Part 2

2009 Year In Review - Part 2

SonofPearl
SonofPearl
Dec 21, 2009, 11:12 AM |
7 | Chess Event Coverage

2009.jpgThe second half of 2009 in the elite chess world began at Dortmund in July where Vladimir Kramnik won the event for a staggering ninth time.  A stunning tactical victory against Magnus Carlsen in round eight proved crucial.

Since losing his world title to Vishy Anand, Vladimir Kramnik had been undergoing something of a renaissance.  Carlsen would gain his revenge later in the year.

hikaru_nakamura-2.jpgSan Sebastian was a new addition to the tournament circuit in 2009, and the "H-Bomb" Hikaru Nakamura (pictured) exploded out of the starting gate with five points from the first six games.  By the end of the event, he had been caught by Ruslan Ponomariov, but won two rapid tie-break games convincingly to take a memorable victory.

In complete contrast the semi-retired 58 year-old former world champion Anatoly Karpov gave a truly dismal showing, finishing in clear last place with a mere 1.5 points out of a possible nine.  The recently announced rematch with his old adversary, the great Garry Kasparov, was starting to look more like a mismatch.

Maxime_Vachier_Lagrave1_cropped.jpgNext up in a busy month was the Biel tournament, where the young French talent Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (pictured) took first prize, ahead of a strong field including Vassily Ivanchuk, Boris Gelfand and Alexander Morozevich.

While Vachier-Lagrave impressively went undefeated, Morozevich's performance was typically uneven, winning four games, losing three and drawing just three.  Morozevich remains predictably unpredictable!

In August Hikaru Nakamura was back in the news at the Mainz chess festival where he won the Chess960 championship by convincingly beating Lev Aronian in the final.  If Chess960 ever becomes anything more than a sideshow curiosity, Nakamura could be the world #1.

Aronian made up for his final defeat by winning the main event - the World Rapid Chess Championships, with defending champion Vishy Anand failing to make the final after a poor start.

After the 18 year-old David Howell won the British Championships, attention turned to FIDE's Grand Prix series once again with Jermuk in Armenia hosting.  The series might have been in turmoil, but the chess on show was fantastic, with Vassily Ivanchuk returning to form and reversing his slide down the world rankings.  Long-time tournament leader Peter Leko agonisingly lost in the final round to finish only fifth.

Lev_Aronian.jpgAugust started with GM Vladislav Tkachiev drunkenly forfeiting a game, but quickly moved on to happier chess news with Lev Aronian (pictured) winning the M-Tel Masters in Bilbao.  Aronian only qualified for the event because Topalov had refused to play.

August was also the month when we discovered that the International Olympic Committee had refused chess entry to the 2016 Olympic games, with golf and rugby sevens being successful instead.

Will chess ever be part of the Olympics, or is it a hopeless dream?

Mainstream media attention was garnered by the rematch between Kasparov and Karpov, and it went to form and rating, with the supposedly retired Kasparov defeating the semi-retired Karpov 6-2 overall.

Magnus_Carlsen1.jpgThe Pearl Spring tournament in Nanjing in October provided the first evidence of the influence of Garry Kasparov's newly revealed training on young Magnus Carlsen (pictured). 

There were new openings from Carlsen and a palpable sense of fear from his opponents, both contributing to a staggering victory by a clear 2.5 points!  The victory marked a turning point, and Carlsen's rating topped 2800 for the first time.

October was also the month when US star Ray Robson achieved the GM title just before his 15th birthday and Anna Zatonskih retained the US Women's title.

Next, Hoogeven sent us to sleep with only one decisive game from 12 played, but Sergei Tiviakov wasn't complaining.  November woke us up again with Anand crushing Karpov in another rapid match, and Vladimir Kramnik winning the strongest event of the year, and one of the strongest of all-time, at the Tal Memorial.  After a subdued showing, Carlsen came alive in the after-event world blitz championship.

Which brings us right up to December, with London hosting it's first big tournament for a quarter of a century, and doing it in style.  The London Chess Classic attracted big crowds and was a resounding success.  Carlsen gained revenge for Dortmund against Kramnik, and won the event to finish the year on a high as the new world #1.

Meanwhile in frozen Khanty-Mansiysk, Boris Gelfand deservedly won the KO World Cup event to qualify for the candidates event in the next WCC cycle.

Phew, 2009 was quite a year!  What does 2010 hold in store?  Will Anand retain his world title, or will Topalov defeat him in Bulgaria?  And will either of them be able to resist the march of Magnus Carlsen?  We will find out right here at Chess.com!

Part one here.

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