By Peter Henner
The 22-year-old Magnus Carlsen followed up his victory in the December 2012 London Chess Classic by topping the field in the annual Tata Steel Chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee, with a score of 10-3, a full 1.5 points ahead of last year’s winner, Lev Aronian (8 ½ -4 ½), and World Champion V. Anand and S. Karkajin who tied for third and fourth (8-5).
The sole American entry, H. Nakamura, finished sixth with 7-6.
With this victory, Carlsen raised his already record-high Fédération internationale des échecs rating to 2872, more than 60 points higher than the world Number 2 Aronian.
In 2010, Carlsen, already one of the top players in the world, declined to play in the world championship qualifying cycle. Although he did not qualify in 2012, he will be one of the eight players who will contest a double round-robin tournament in London in the last two weeks of March 2013, to determine the 2013 challenger to Anand.
The other contestants are Aronian, former world champion V. Kramnik, B.Gelfand (the lowest rated contestant at 2740, who qualified because he narrowly lost the 2012 world championship match), V. Ivanchuk, P. Svidler, A. Grischuk and T. Radjobov.
Although John Phillips appeared to be winning his playoff game with Carlos Varela for the sixth spot in the finals of the Schenectady championship, a simple blunder cost him the game
In the first round of the finals, Carl Adamec defeated Dilip Aaron, Mike Mockler defeated Varela, and I defeated Dave Finnerman, in a game that is extensively annotated by Bill Little on the Eastern New York Chess Association blog.
End of Gazette Chess Corner
Schenectady’s Daily Gazette has decided to end its long-running chess column in the Sunday paper. This is a major loss for the Capital District chess community and leaves this Enterprise column as the only regularly published chess column in the Capital District.
Bill Townsend had been writing the column for many years, in addition to directing a number of tournaments (including the Schenectady championship). He has been a tireless collector of chess games from both the Capital District and around the state. (He also writes a regular column in Empire Chess, the magazine of the New York State Chess Association.)
I contacted The Gazette and urged them to reconsider canceling the column, and I would encourage readers of this column to similarly contact The Gazette.
Capital District top players
One of the things that Bill Townsend has always done is prepare an annual list of the region’s top players. This year’s list shows 104 local players with ratings over 1000, including two masters (over 2200), seven experts (over 2000), and 27 Class A players (over 1800).
In addition, there are a number of inactive players, including at least two masters (Matthew Katrein and Daniel Van Riper) who are not listed because they have not competed in tournaments for a number of years.
Lawyers as chess players
It is not surprising that some lawyers are chess players: Our legal system, at least in theory, is a form of intellectual combat, and individuals who choose such combat as their profession are likely to be drawn to chess, which, more than anything else, is a form of pure intellectual combat.
Three of the 12 contestants in the Albany club championship, two of the six contestants in the Saratoga championship, and two of the six contestants in the Schenectady championship finals are lawyers.
On the Capital District top players list, lawyers hold positions 5, 7, 19, 23, 34, 51 and 70.
There is one fact that I, as a lawyer and chess player, find particularly noteworthy: Of the seven identified lawyers, none of us have worked for a large law firm for a significant part of our careers: one holds a position with the Department of Public Service, two are retired from other state jobs, three of us either were or are solo practitioners, and one is employed by the State in a non-legal capacity.
I would suggest that this is not an accident: Lawyers who are drawn to the pure intellectual struggle of chess are not the types of people who are drawn to the type of work that is done by large law firms.
This week’s problem
White’s (Grandmaster Karkajin) 31st move, Qg2, contained a subtle threat which Black, (Ivan Sokolov, who was having a very bad tournament and finished last) failed to recognize when he played Rd8.
As a result, White has an immediate win.
Hint: It is a relatively quiet move, rather than a spectacular piece sacrifice.
Scroll down for solution
After 32 Bc2, Sokolov resigned because of the threat of Bd1, trapping the Black Queen. 31 Qg2 indirectly threatened mate at g7, and prevents the Knight at g6 from moving to create a retreat for the Queen. Had Black played 31… Re7, Black could now play Nf8, and answer 33 Bd1 with Qe8. After 32… Rd8, Black’s best is to give up his Bishop with Bg3, but a full piece down is a hopeless loss at the grandmaster level.