Speelman's World Cup survey

by Jonathan Speelman
9/22/2019 – Jon surveys the World Cup agony and ecstasy and asks for your help setting the future direction of the column with a 60-second questionnaire for which you can win an autographed DVD. | Send in your own games! Jon can always use more material from readers. If your games are selected for the Agony column, not only will you get free detailed commentary of your games by one of chess’s great authors and instructors, and former world no. 4 player, but you also win a free three-month ChessBase Premium Account!

Magic of Chess Tactics 2 Magic of Chess Tactics 2

FM Claus Dieter Meyer has put under the microscope a comprehensive fund of topical and timeless games / fragments. On video Hamburg GM Dr. Karsten Müller has outlined corner points of Meyer's work and created 14 tests plus 10 interactive test sets.


Speelman's Agony #106

Over the last couple of weeks and for another week to come, chess life has been dominated by the FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

Among a number of other commentators, I've been doing live commentary intermittently on my own channel and this has also provided some fodder for this column as audience members have sent in games which I'll be using here over time.

Speaking of this column, we'd greatly appreciate your feedback via a three question survey (it'll take less than a minute).

If you include your email address (optional) we'll enter you into a drawing for a ChessBase software DVD autographed by World Champions and other elite GMs like these!

Signed DVDs

(Click or tap to enlarge image)

  1. Fabiano Caruana
  2. Wesley So
  3. Viswanathan Anand
  4. Magnus Carlsen
  5. Hikaru Nakamura
  6. Levon Aronian
  7. Hou Yifan
  8. Judit Polgar
  9. Anatoly Karpov
  10. Jan Timman

The knockout is the preferred format for events in some sports most notably perhaps tennis but for chess it's something of an interloper. The first great international tournament in London 1851 was a sixteen player knockout and (as confirmed in The Oxford Companion to Chess) it was a system commonly used in the 1850s and 1860s, but from London 1862 to the Curacao Candidates tournament of 1962 all major tournaments were round-robins (all-play-alls). 

The knockout Candidates tournaments which took place from then on — and which I later participated in — consisted of matches of at least six games. These “mini world championship matches” were immensely stressful indeed one of my opponents lost a stone (14 pounds so 6.4 kilos) in a week. But with six or more games there was at least some latitude in the early stages whereas the new format of two game matches followed by tie-breaks which (I believe) was pioneered in Tilburg 1992 and has continued in the FIDE knockout world championships and now FIDE World Cups is on a knife-edge form the very beginning. It's a format which inevitably leads to blunders and I thought today we'd look at a pot-pourri of these and some nice tactical finishes, to counterbalance them. 

NihalThere was a fairly widespread belief years ago that “grandmasters didn't blunder” or certainly not much. This has been turned on its head by the rise of live online chess with people using engines imagining that almost every move is bad.

Of course even the world's top players do make many suboptimal moves and the occasional tactical howler — though those howlers are often perpetrated because delicately tuned move generators screen out examination of anti-positional moves even if those anti-positional moves turn out to win tactically.

I don't know the statistics but I suspect that crude blunders are fairly rare among grandmasters but of course the more stress the more prevalent they are, and we start with something really rather horrible from Nihal Sarin [Pictured during Round 2 | Photo: David Llada] before continuing with three more blunders (agony) and then four nice finishes (ecstacy).


Click or tap any game in the list to switch

Marin's English Love Vol.1 and 2 - A complete repertoire for White after 1.c4

The aim of these Dvd's is to build a repertoire after 1.c4 and 2.g3 for White. The first DVD includes the systems 1...e5, the Dutch and Indian setups. The second DVD includes the systems with 1...c5, 1...c6 and 1...e6.

Submit your games and win free Premium!

Did you enjoy the column and instructive analysis by GM Jonathan Speelman? Do you wish you could have a world-renowned grandmaster analysing your play? You can!

To submit your games just upload a PGN or ChessBase file (.pgn or .cbv archive), along with your name and e-mail address. Send one success story (Ecstasy) and one loss (Agony).

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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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