Monday, April 22

Chess Events Around the World

Alexander Alekhine
Mikhail Tal

One of the best ways to improve in chess is to play through master games.  I strongly encourage any student rated 1800+ to regularly review the games of recent elite Grandmaster tournaments.  Watch the world's top rated players or pick your own favorites.  Bay Area fans often follow American stars Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky or local prodigies Sam Shankland, Daniel Naroditsky and Sam Sevian.  Chinese families, for example, may cheer for Wang Hao, Ding Liren or rising star Wei Yi, who currently leads the national championship at just 13 years old.

What should you pick up from these games?  If you're an A player, you will want to learn from the positional strategies and tactical creativity of the super Grandmasters.  As you improve, you should imitate the style of your superiors.  Chess experts and masters will concentrate on their favorite openings, picking up new moves based on the latest trends.

In some sense, growth of the internet has diminished the importance of studying collections of games by the champions of yesteryear.  Nonetheless, any disciple of Caissa should read a few classics, e.g. Alekhine's Best Games of Chess (2 volumes), Life and Games of Mikhail Tal and My Sixty Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer.  The internet offers an expanding wealth of information to supplement the foundation presented in these books.  The modern chess student benefits from the resources at his fingertips, but must stay dedicated to keep up with an evolving body of theory.

My favorite website to watch tournaments is, of course, the Internet Chess Club.  You can also find quality chess reports, analysis, photos and videos elsewhere on the net, including Chessbase, Chessvibes, Chessdom, and The Week in Chess.  The MonRoi game database covers the top boards at major American tournaments.  (Hint: add these to your bookmarks.)

The international chess calendar is filled with exciting events over the next two months.

Magnus plays on "The Pulpit Rock" 2000 ft above a fjord to promote Norway tournament.

  • 3rd FIDE Grand Prix in Zug, Switzerland (thru April 30) - 12 players including 11 of Top 20; favorites = Karjakin, Topalov, Nakamura; dark horse = Giri
  • Alekhine Memorial in Paris (the Louvre) and St. Petersburg (thru May 1) - 10 players all 2700+; favorites = Aronion, Kramnik, Anand; dark horses = Adams, Ding Liren
  • US Championships in St. Louis (May 2-13) - 24 players including 19 GMs; favorites = Kamsky, Gareev, Onischuk, Robson, Shankland; dark horses = Shabalov, Ramirez 
  • Norway Chess in Stavanger (May 7-18) - 10 players including 7 of Top 10; favorite = World #1 Carlsen; dark horses = anyone except Hammer could win!
  • 4th FIDE Grand Prix in Madrid (May 22 - June 4) - 12 players including at least 9 of Top 20; favorites = Caruana, Topalov, Nakamura; dark horse = TBA
  • Tal Memorial in Moscow (June 12-24) - 10 players including 6 of Top 10; favorite = World #1 Carlsen; dark horses = two Russians: Kramnik and Morovezich

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