Kavalek in Huffington: September Chess – part one

by ChessBase
10/11/2013 – The most significant chess event in Saint Louis, USA, was the first official world championship match between William Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort, staged in 1886. The most significant, that is, until the September 2013 Sinquefield Cup, a double-round tournament with Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky. Huffington Post columnist GM Lubomir Kavalek elucidates.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


September Chess

By GM Lubomir Kavalek

September was a great month for chess.

The world's top-rated chess player Magnus Carlsen played his first official tournament in America, his last event before the world championship match against the titleholder Vishy Anand in November. The Chinese GM Hou Yifan regained the women's world title. The FIDE Grand Prix winner Veselin Topalov relaxed in the Czech town of Novy Bor while the last GP event in Paris spilled into October with a nice but sad victory for Fabiano Caruana.

The Sinquefield Cup

Within a few years Rex Sinquefield transformed Saint Louis into the center of professional chess in the United States. He founded the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and brought in the Chess World Hall of Fame. The well-financed U.S. championships and visits by world-class players are yearly attractions, drawing the attention of the media.

The Sinquefield Cup, a double-round tournament with the participation of Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky, was the most significant event in Saint Louis since the 1886 first official world championship match between the Prague-born William Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort, a Polish-born player who settled in London in 1872.

Steinitz began the match in New York with a disastrous 1-4 score, but he overcame the deficit in St. Louis, winning three games. From that moment on, Zukertort was in Steinitz's grasp. Exhausted and ill after the match moved to New Orleans, he lost almost without resistance. The final tally was 12.5-7.5 in Steinitz's favor.

Three seems to be Carlsen's magic number in Saint Louis as well. He finished first undefeated, winning three and drawing three games. His victory was far from easy. The start belonged to the local hero Nakamura with two wins and one draw. He won the first game with a little luck.

[Event "Sinquefield Cup "] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2013.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C88"] [WhiteElo "2772"] [BlackElo "2813"] [Annotator "Kavalek,Lubomir"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3r1rk1/5p2/p5pp/2N2n2/q7/2P2P2/4Q1PP/3RR1K1 b - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "22"] [EventDate "2013.09.09"] {Nakamura was ready to split the point after 30...Qc6, but Aronian pleasantly surprised him, hanging the exchange.} 30... Qb5 $2 {The move will find its way into the gallery of blunders. Not even the world's best are immune from mistakes.} 31. Qxb5 axb5 32. Nd7 Rxd7 ({After} 32... Rfe8 33. Nf6+ {black loses faster. The game can't be saved anyway.}) 33. Rxd7 Ra8 34. Kf2 Ra6 35. g4 Nh4 36. f4 Rc6 37. Re8+ Kg7 38. Ree7 Rf6 39. Kg3 g5 40. f5 h5 41. Re6 1-0

In the second round Nakamura played well in time pressure and defeated Kamsky. He outplayed Carlsen with the black pieces, but the Norwegian defended well and secured a draw.

After the first half Nakamura was leading the field, but he had problems in the past to convert leads into tournament victories. Like a "rabbit" in track and field races, he would give his all to lead other players and help them to win by dropping out of sight.

He did it again against Aronian, rather recklessly sacrificing a piece. Nakamura lost and allowed Carlsen to pass him. But Hikaru still had a chance in the key game of the tournament: a victory with the white pieces against Magnus would have propelled him back to first place.

Carlsen met the Spanish opening with the Berlin defense, hotly contested in the Steinitz-Zukertort match, and the game got on the way.

[Event "Sinquefield Cup"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2013.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2772"] [BlackElo "2862"] [Annotator "Kavalek,Lubomir"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2013.09.09"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "6"] [EventCountry "USA"] [EventCategory "22"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 {The Berlin defense.} 5. Re1 {The most common move at the 1886 world championship match between William Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort.} ({The challenging} 5. d4 {deflates the game into a queenless endgame after} Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 {Although this has been known for more than a century, it became popular after the year 2000 when Vladimir Kramnik beat Garry Kasparov in the world championship match in London, turning the defense into the Berlin Wall. Without the queens on the board Kasparov didn't find a way to break through.}) 5... Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 $5 ( 6... Nxe5 7. Rxe5+ Be7 8. Nc3 Nxb5 $2 9. Nd5 O-O {Allowing a pretty finish mentioned by the former world champion Emanuel Lasker in his book "Common Sense in Chess."} (9... Kf8 10. Rxe7 c6 11. Qf3 f6 12. Qg4 Rg8 13. Re1 (13. Qh5 Nd6 $1) 13... cxd5 $6 14. Qb4+ $18) 10. Nxe7+ Kh8 11. Qh5 $1 g6 (11... Nd6 $2 12. Qxh7+ $3 Kxh7 13. Rh5#) 12. Qh6 d6 {Diagram [#]} 13. Rh5 $1 gxh5 14. Qf6#) 7. Bf1 {Going all the way home, not blocking the d-pawn, has been popular lately.} ({After} 7. Nc3 {comes} Nxb5 $1 {for example} 8. Nd5 $2 Nbd4 $1 { winning a piece. Black's last move was overlooked by Lasker.}) ({Steinitz's} 7. Bd3 {can be met by Zukertort's} O-O 8. Nc3 Ne8 {This Lasker's retreat was adopted in the early 1960s by the Czech GM and two-time world candidate Miroslav Filip, although} (8... Nxe5 9. Rxe5 c6 {could be a simpler way to equalize.}) 9. b3 (9. Nd5 Bf6 (9... Nxe5 10. Rxe5 Bd6 11. Re3 g6 $11) 10. Ng4 d6 11. Ngxf6+ Nxf6 12. Nxf6+ Qxf6 13. c3 Bf5 14. Bxf5 Qxf5 15. d4 {1/2-1/2 (15) Szabo,L-Filip,M Miskolc 1963}) 9... Nxe5 10. Rxe5 d6 11. Re1 (11. Re3 Nf6 12. Ba3 Re8 13. h3 Be6 {1/2-1/2 (13) Gufeld,E-Kavalek,L Helsinki 1961}) 11... Nf6 12. Qf3 c6 13. h3 Be6 14. Bb2 Nd7 15. Ne4 Ne5 16. Qg3 f6 17. Bf1 Bf5 18. d4 Ng6 (18... d5) 19. d5 $1 c5 20. Qc3 Rf7 21. Ng3 Bd7 22. Bd3 (22. Nh5 $16) 22... Qc8 23. Qd2 (23. a4 $5) 23... b5 24. c4 bxc4 25. Bxc4 a5 {1/2-1/2 (25) Kavalek, L-Filip,M Kosice 1961}) 7... Nxe5 8. Rxe5 O-O 9. Nc3 ({The players reached a position from the 4th game of the 1886 match Steinitz-Zukertort in which white played} 9. d4 {Nakamura wants to use his d-pawn to cover the square e4.}) 9... Ne8 10. Nd5 Bd6 11. Re1 c6 12. Ne3 Bc7 13. Nf5 d5 14. Ne7+ Kh8 15. Nxc8 Rxc8 { The white pawns didn't move and the pieces are reshuffled but undeveloped on the first rank. Only the rook on the open e-file is happy. It is the price the players are willing to pay today for a bishop pair. And their computers may even encourage it.} 16. g3 {A new move. White's bishop pair is a symbolic advantage only. Carlsen can get space on the kingside before white can mobilize his forces.} Nd6 17. Bh3 f5 18. d3 Qf6 19. c3 ({White could have tried to light a fire with} 19. Bf4 {but} Nf7 $5 {equalizes.} ({Too risky seems } 19... Qxb2 20. Be5 Qa3 21. Qh5 {for example} Kg8 22. Bxg7 $1 (22. Re3 $6 Rf7 23. Rae1 Rcf8 $15) 22... Kxg7 23. Re7+ Rf7 24. Qg5+ Kh8 25. Rxf7 Nxf7 26. Qxf5 Rf8 27. Qf6+ Kg8 28. Be6 {threatening a perpetual check with 29.Qg5+.})) 19... Rce8 20. Bd2 (20. Bf4 g5) 20... Nf7 21. Rxe8 Rxe8 22. Qf1 f4 $1 {A well-calculated counter play.} 23. Re1 Rf8 $1 {The chances are equal now.} 24. Qe2 ({Unfortunately, white's pseudoactivity} 24. Re6 {can backfire after} Qd8 { - threatening Nf7-g5 -} 25. Bxf4 Bxf4 26. gxf4 Qh4 {and black has plenty of counterplay on the dark squares.}) 24... h6 25. Kh1 Ng5 26. Bg4 Bd6 {The points of entry along the e-file are covered.} 27. h4 {Weakening the pawn on g3 gives black a new target.} Nh7 28. Kg2 Qg6 29. Bh5 {Nakamura decides to repeat the moves.} (29. Qe6 Qxd3 $1 $11) 29... Qf5 30. Bg4 Qg6 31. Bh5 Qf5 32. Bg4 Qg6 1/2-1/2

The draw brings us back to the match Steinitz-Zukertort. Eight games out of the first nine were decisive. And the only draw in Saint Louis seemed very suspicious to the onlookers. They did not understand why the players could negotiate the result during the game. Something was fishy with the game of chess. The next day, according to news reports, the audience dwindled. Draws and how to avoid them are very much on the mind of chess fans today. The remedy remains the same: play with a fighting spirit. It worked for Bobby Fischer as it does for Carlsen, Nakamura and many others who are willing to fight until only two kings remain on the board.

Final standings of the Sinquefield Cup:

Images by Alejandro Ramirez from Saint Louis

– Part two will follow soon –

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.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register