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Mainz 2008: Kosteniuk wins Chess960, Rybka and Shredder qualify

8/1/2008 – Alexandra Kosteniuk won the 2nd FiNet Chess960 Women's Rapid World Championship, beating Ukrainian GM Kateryna Lahno in the final of this shuffle chess variant. On the second day of the computer Chess960 world championship Rybka scored nine points out of twelve games, easily qualifying for the final against Shredder (6.5/12). Reports and games.
 

Chess Classic Mainz 2008

The 2008 Chess Classic is taking place from July 28 to August 3 in the Rheingoldhalle of the Congress Centre, Hilton Hotel in Mainz, Germany. The event includes tournaments and Opens in traditional and Random Chess, with stars like the current World Champion and world's number one Vishy Anand, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Russian GM Alexander Morozevich and the strongest female player of all time Judit Polgar.

2nd FiNet Chess960 Women's Rapid World Championship

Alexandra Kosteniuk wins final to become World Champion

By Johannes Fischer

It was an exciting end of an entertaining and interesting event. In the final of the 2. FiNet Chess 960 Rapid World Championship Alexandra Kosteniuk and Kateryna Lahno played four hard fought, entertaining games. Sometimes Lahno Kosteniuk proved to be lucky, sometimes Lahno. But in all four games of the match, Kosteniuk set the pace in the end she deservedly won became World Champion.

The first game already set the tone of the match. Kosteniuk with White, proceeded aggressively and in the middlegame her passed d-pawn and her prospects on the kingside seemed to give her good chances – though she probably was not too happy about her exposed king.

But in the tactical complications that ensued after Kosteniuk tried to break through on the kingside White had to give a couple of pawns. When the queens went off the board Kosteniuk put all her faith into the strong passed pawn on the d-file. As both players were desperately short of time by now Lahno failed to find the proper defense – which was there – and lost.
However, fortune smiled upon her in the second game. Kosteniuk with Black again gained the initiative but after winning a pawn with a tactical combination suddenly found herself confronted with a lot of counterplay by White. While still keen on converting her extra pawn into a win she took too many chances and in the end was mated by Lahno.

Unperturbed, Kosteniuk continued to play well in game three, which opened with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 and thus led to a bizarre “King’s Gambit”. In fact, Kosteniuk played in a good King’s Gambit style to gain a lead in development and started to open files against the enemy king. However, though her position looked overwhelming she failed to deliver the decisive blow and Lahno could escape into a draw. Thus, after three games the score was 1.5:1.5 and the fourth game was to decide the match.

Maybe it was the pressure of the match, maybe it was the disappointment of the chances she had missed in the previous games, but in the crucial fourth game Kosteniuk seemed to be determined. Perhaps a bit too determined. The opening being barely over she decided to go for complications which could have easily backfired had Lahno found the right moves. But maybe the pressure of the situation also affected Lahno’s nerves. At any rate, in a complicated tactical position she blundered a piece and after a couple of irrelevant moves finally decided to resign which made Alexandra Kosteniuk the new World Champion in Chess960.

However, despite winning the title, Kosteniuk did not get carried away. In the press conference after the game she said, that she “was not too happy about the chess. I had a number of promising positions and made too little of them.” That might be true, but that she still won just shows her class.

The match for third place between Natalia Zhukova and Viktorija Cmilyte came to a quicker end. Both players had decided to take part in the FiNet Open, in which Natalia Zhukova with 3.5 points from 5 games did pretty okay. However, against Cmilyte she again had troubles with the clock and clearly lost 1:3.

But in the press conference after the match Zhukova did not seem to be too shaken by her disastrous tournament and was keen to play the second half of the FiNet Open tomorrow: “Of course, I want to qualify for the next World Championship.”
She seems to know what a good tournament is.

  • All games in PGN
    Note that Chess360 can only be replayed with Fritz 11 or ChessBase 10

4th Livingston Chess960 Computer World Championship

Rybka and Shredder qualify for the finals

By Eric van Reem

On the second day of the Livingston Chess960 Computer World Championship, title holder Rybka showed her (remember? Rybka is a she) class by scoring 5.5 points out of six games. With 9/12 games programmer Vasik Raijlich clearly won the preliminaries and will meet Shredder, the program by Stefan Meyer-Kahlen on Friday. Shredder scored 6.5 points. The ICC qualifiers Naum and Shredder played some very good games, occasionally teased Rybka and Shredder, but in the end the favourites came out on top.


The computer Chess960 world championship in Mainz

Today, another round robin was played and after a suspense-packed first day, Rybka had a perfect start by winning 2-0 against Shredder. The first game really hurt Shredder, because Rybka played a very powerful game, but the second one was equal, until Shredder pushed too hard for a win, made a mistake and lost in the end. Aleksandar Naumov, who scored 3.5 points on the first day with Naum, had a disappointing start of the day. He only scored half point in his mini-match against Deep Sjeng. The last game was interesting for endgame lovers. A mind-boggling knight endgame seemed to be drawish, but Deep Sjeng kept pushing and won after more than 100 moves. So the Belgian program was back in business again. Shredder won 1.5-0.5 against Naum and Sjeng lost 1.5-0.5 against Rybka, although Sjeng must have missed a way to win the endgame in the second game. “This was actually the most interesting game of the day for Rybka”, Raijlich said, “because this was a really nice endgame”.

With only two games left, after ten rounds, the situation was as follows: Rybka 7 points, Naum and Shredder 4,5 points and Sjeng 4 points. Rybka won 2-0 against Naum and got her revenge for the loss on Wednesday. Shredder won 2-0 against Deep Sjeng. On Friday, we will see a repetition of last year’s final. Will Rybka win the second Chess960 title in a row? The programs will battle it out in four games.

Some comments from Vaclav Gerhard Vasik: “Today I scored more points (Elo performance 3350!), but even in computer chess, some days are better than others. Yesterday I scored only 3.5 points, but that is ok. I was not worried about Rybka’s performance yesterday. Tomorrow, when I play the final, Rybka must be ready. That is the important day”.

Throwing the dice

There are many procedures for creating the starting position for a game of Chess960. You can use the new DGT Chess960 clock, which is probably the easiest way to create a position, there are coin-tossing methods but have you ever heard of the the eight-card method? Using a deck of playing cards, the king, queen, two jacks, two aces, and two tens can be selected. It is decided which pieces are represented by which cards (as the king and queen are obvious.) The deck is shuffled, cut, and dealt. Care must be taken as to keep the bishops on opposite colors, and the king between the rooks. To deal with a card that would be illegal, just hold that piece to the side until it is legal to place. When a legal square opens, place the held piece. Sometimes, two pieces are held but it is not confusing and quite a speedy and random method.
There a a few more (and more fun) methods. Since so many grandmasters wander around the Rheingoldhalle during the Chess Classic, it has become a nice tradition that tournament director Eric van Reem asks one of them to determine a Chess960 position by rolling the dice. On the first day world champion Vishy Anand rolled the dice, and today big names like Hikaru Nakamura and Judit Polgar were happy to create a position for the computer tournament. The two Dutch Chess960 ambassadors, Bianca Mühren and Dennis De Vreugt created interesting positions.


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