2018

Mid year 2018 status

Having played three elite events in two and a half months in addition to the 10-day trip to the US lately, it is good to spend some time back in Oslo and also enjoy the football World Cup featuring magical matches as witnessed in Spain – Portugal (3 – 3).
2018

Altibox Norway Chess 2018

I’d like to congratulate Caruana on winning Altibox Norway Chess 2018 with an inspired spurt winning the last two rounds to reach +2. The last round could have seen a five-way tie for first with 8 rounds of Blitz play-off on Friday.
2018

Norway Chess 2018 - Great start!

Hopefully this is what good form is about. Sleeping well. A relaxed atmosphere and little emphasis and focus on expectations. Not second-guessing own opening choices. Efficient time-management. Enjoying the games. Easier said than done, of course.
2018

Leading Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir with two rounds to go

Usually I’m in good shape two days after a tough football match. This time I wasn’t and misplayed the opening against Topalov. Probably both made several inaccuracies, and the middle game was pretty balanced. My plan with Rd2, Qd1, Re3 created challenges for black, but I expected him to see the necessary Kf8-resource. Topalov says he did, but chose to give his queen for rook and bishop. Sometimes you can defend fairly easily against the queen. Generally any misplaced pawn makes it very difficult for the lighter pieces. Today I gave him some drawing chances partly due to my exposed king. Evaluating the position correctly was tricky for both of us, and fortunately I won and took clear the clear lead!
2018

Vugar Gashimov Memorial Shamkir 2018

Expectations were high ahead of the first round today as I was black against second seed Mamedyarov. Still the game fizzled out all too soon. Maybe he expected a Grunfeld and was surprised by my Kings Indian. The line he chose didn’t leave enough play after the opening exchanges. I was hoping to gain some longterm initiative with the queenside majority only to discover that his f4! was even slightly better for white. Draw is objectively fine with black against Mamedyrov, but having had too many non-games in April already, I had hoped for more of a fight. There were more content in some of the other games, but we are all sharing the lead with 0,5/1 !
2018

Grenke Chess Classics 2.place

The last six rounds of Grenke Chess Classics took place in Baden-Baden. It is a short transfer by car from Karlsruhe, but the setting is very different. From the largest Open in the World, taking place in the middle of city, to the much more intimate Kulturhaus playing venue in the spa-town Baden-Baden, partly in summer weather. Curiously, my level of play hasn’t been stellar in Baden-Baden. Not so despite winning in 2015, nor in 2017 or this time. This year I fought hard, had many quite long games and was only in danger once, after over-pressing against Meier. In time trouble none of us saw the beautiful winning line involving a double rook sacrifice on h7 and h6.
2018

Grenke Chess Classics 2018

From a spectator perspective the introduction of Candidates tournaments from 2013 onwards has been a resounding success. Somewhat surprisingly the 2018 tournament is arguably the most exciting so far. I really enjoyed the many intense fights and the uncompromising approach by nearly all the players. With 14 rounds the Candidates is the longest elite event these days, and with the high stakes and winner-takes-all dynamic, gravity pulls down the leaders and facilitates comebacks even at a late stage. Still, I think the early +2 score achieved by first Kramnik and then Caruana forced a risk-taking approach more generally.
2018

6th Wijk aan Zee victory!

In 2015 and 2016 I won outright with 9/13 in Tata Steel Chess. This time it was enough for shared 1st with Anish Giri, and with the new play-off rules implemented in 2017, tournament victory was decided by a Blitz play-off to the joy of most spectators and the chagrin of purists taking exception to deciding classical events with Blitz (albeit slow 5+3 Blitz). Personally I’m fine with both alternatives; shared victory, or play-off. I do like play-offs despite the extra pressure, and fortunately I managed to maintain my good record, and won 1,5-0,5 to clinch the title and capture the status of having the most tournament victories ahead of Anand at 5, and Aronian (among contemporary players) and others at 4.
2018

Three-way tie before final weekend

In round 9 I had the black pieces against Viswanatan Anand who has played very well except against Kramnik. We ended up playing a Ruy Lopez variation that is somewhat better for white but solid for black. It was a surprise when he went c4 as I thought I might have more problems after a slower approach with b4, and eventually rerouting the knight from g3. White still had the initiative, but it was not much. When he offered me a draw on move 32 it was still fairly equal. Since I couldn’t see any scenario where I would end up better, I promptly accepted.
2018

Actionfilled weekend in Tata Steel Chess 2018

We played rounds 6 to 8 this weekend, and while the individual results cannot be considered particularly unexpected, the many comebacks from lost positions are exceptional. Friday it was Mamedyarov’s and So’s turn, and by winning Mamedyarov took the sole lead ahead of Anand and Giri.
2018

Wind aan Zee

Even for January in Wijk aan Zee the storm was quite heavy this morning. The planned basketball match in Ijmuiden was cancelled due to an authority red alert related to traffic dangers, falling trees etc. Early afternoon it calmed down a bit and we enjoyed a walk on the beach and a late afternoon basketball session at the local Heliomare, before playing the first online Proleague match of the year for the Norway Gnomes. Todays opponents were aptly named the (Gorky) Stormbringers. We won convincingly.
2018

Two weeks aan Zee ahead

Traveling from Oslo via London for the annual Arctic early January sponsor event onwards to Wijk aan Zee outside Amsterdam, I’m reminded of one effect of living close to the Arctic circle. Just a short flight from Oslo there’s already 1,5 hours more daylight mid January.
2018

Riyadh rollercoaster ride

The King Salman 2017 World Rapid & Blitz Championships in Riyadh was organized at the highest level, and my family and I were treated with great hospitality throughout our stay. The quality of my play was more of a rollercoaster until the last day. The great last day change was reminiscent of the Berlin 2015 Championship, with opposite signs.