'Magnus Carlsen: King Among Chess Kings'

6/28/2010 – "Imagine," writes GM Lubomir Kavalek, "Usain Bolt, the fabulous Jamaican sprinter and world record-holder, running a 100 meter dash against the world's best contenders and winning by 20 meters. This is how the Norwegian chess superstar Magnus Carlsen dealt with the opposition at the elite Kings Tournament in Romania. Kavalek is especially enchanted by Magnus' use of the King's Gambit.

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Magnus Carlsen: King Among Chess Kings

By GM Lubomir Kavalek

Imagine Usain Bolt, the fabulous Jamaican sprinter and world record-holder, running a 100 meter dash against some of the world's best contenders and winning by 20 meters. This is how the Norwegian chess superstar Magnus Carlsen dealt with the opposition at the elite Kings tournament in Medias, Romania, last week. Undefeated, with five wins and five draws, Carlsen left his nearest rivals two full points behind, scoring 7.5 points in 10 games. It was an amazing display of chess dominance.

Carlsen, 19, is the world's top-rated player and his new rating is projected at 2826, some 23 points above the second-placed Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. Nobody, except Garry Kasparov, ever climbed that high. It could soon be lonely up there. Every time he plays, Magnus is expected to win, often by big margin.

Carlsen began the event in Medias slowly with three draws, but accelerated the pace with four consecutive wins, leaving the other players a mere spectators. They finished as follows: Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan and Boris Gelfand of Israel, both 5.5 points; Ruslan Ponomairov of Ukraine, 4.5 points; Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu of Romania, 4 points; Wang Yue of China, 3 points.

Appropriately, Carlsen honored the Kings tournament by playing the King's Gambit for the first time in his life. The opening evolved over the years. The old romantic masters loved fireworks as presented, for example, in the analysis by the Italian master Gioacchino Greco (1600-1634). To some chess historians, Greco was the first chess professional. Others thought of him as the first chess hustler. Whatever you call him, Greco was a very talented player who made a living by teaching chess to wealthy patrons, including a few kings. In 1619 he wrote a manuscript on openings, consisting of games, probably fictitious, full of combinational fantasy and clarity. Here is Greco's take on the King's gambit.

Note that in the replay windows below you can click on the notation to follow the game.

By contrast, Carlsen's treatment of the King's gambit was purely positional. It has been done before, for example, by Akiba Rubinstein and Richard Reti at the beginning of the last century. William Steinitz and Boris Spassky were the finest King's gambit connoisseurs among the world champions. It is possible that Magnus turned to the gambit to avoid the solid Petroff defense the Chinese GM Wang Yue employs regularly. In any case, it worked.

For Gambit Fans

Marco Saba has created the Encyclopedia of Gambits
The monumental work covers more than 700 gambits played in 450 years, since 1560, the date of Ruy Lopez book, till this year. The web site is in Italian and partly in English but can be followed easily. Many interesting statistics, lists of players, games and even evaluations are included. Some of the gambit names look funny, but it is worth a visit.

Original column hereCopyright Huffington Post


Chess Puzzles (Solutions)

In last week's HuffPost column Lubomir Kavalek showed us two positions that prove that "Even the Champions Get It Wrong". They are taken from the book Nunn's Chess Endings. In the first Juri Averbach did not convert a two pawn advantage against the Slovakian IM Jan Sefc in the tournament in Dresden 1956. The Russian GM avoided a variation, leading to a position of our first puzzle.

Note that in the replay windows below you can click on the notation to follow the game.

The future looked bright for the 13-year-old Etienne Bacrot in 1996. His coach, GM Iossif Dorfman, even thought the French boy was born to dethrone Kasparov. At 27, Bacrot is one of the top French grandmasters, but never played a match for the world title. Kasparov won brilliantly against Bacrot in Sarajevo in 2000 and was close to victory in Moscow in 2004.

Original column hereCopyright Huffington Post


The Huffington Post is an American news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington and others, featuring various news sources and columnists. The site was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet and liberal/progressive alternative to conservative news websites. It offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy. It is a top destination for news, blogs, and original content. The Huffington Post has an active community, with over one million comments made on the site each month. According to Nielsen NetRatings, the site has around 13 million unique visitors per month (number for March 2010); according to Google Analytics the number is 22 million uniques per month.


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