Today marks the first anniversary of Magnus Carlsen’s incredible Game 6 victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi during the 2021 World Chess Championship Match. As you may recall, the first five games of the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi were drawn. Their sixth game, however, was an epic battle where both players took risks for a decisive result. Magnus Carlsen’s talent was on full display as he created meaningful imbalances, turned the initiative into a slight advantage and then pressed ahead for a win. The game concluded after Carlsen marched his two white pawns pawns forward in harmony with his rook and knight while maintaining a shield against checks from his opponent’s lone black Queen. When Nepomniachtchi resigned, a 136 moves had been played (the longest world championship game ever). Nepomniachtchi played his heart out and was never able to recover from this devastating loss. During the remainder of the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi Match, Ian was a shadow of his former self, losing another three games and drawing just two.
Throughout the course of history, there have been many remarkable chessboard performances by the great players, so choosing which ones were the best is no easy task. After aging for a year, this game only keeps improving and I now believe that Magnus’ Game Six victory, taken in the context of occurring on the stage at the World Championship, represents the highest achievement possible on the chessboard. This is likely a contributing factor in Magnus’ decision to not defend his FIDE World Championship title. He has accomplished all he can on this stage and will likely never surpass his opus in Game 6 of the 2021 World Championship Match.
Since it’s inception in 2018, the Tata Steel Chess India tournament has invited five of the most talented Indian Grandmasters to compete in their home country against an equal number of top international competitors. The annual event features the strongest rapid and blitz chess on the subcontinent. For 2022, the Tata Steel Chess India event doubles the amount of top notch chess by adding a Women’s tournament with an identical structure.
Today’s puzzle worthy position comes from round 2 of the 2022 Tata Steel India chess tournament. GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who is fresh off a disappointing result at the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals in San Francisco, has bounced back quickly in Kolkata. In particular, his victory over GM S.P. Sethuraman concluded with a nice tactical combination. In the position below, Grandmaster Sethuraman (black) has just played 29… Qd5. Can you spot the combination that GM Mamedyarov used to win the game?
The 2018 US Championship was an action packed event. The San Francisco Bay Area’s own Grandmaster Sam Shankland stole the spotlight by taking first place over such pre-tournament favorites such as Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura. Norcal chess enthusiasts weren’t exactly shocked by GM Shankland’s championship run as we have long since grown accustomed to his winning ways even dating back to when he was competing in CalChess scholastic events. However, GM Shankland may have taken first place but the prettiest finish was recorded by the player who placed second.
GM Fabiano Caruana, who finished the 2018 US Championship only a half point behind Shankland, had a second round victory which featured a game winning move that instantly became a classic. In the position below, Grandmaster Aleksandr Lenderman (black) has just played 22… a5. After GM Fabiano Caruana’s 23rd move, GM Lenderman resigns. What is Grandmaster Caruana’s (white’s) game winning move?
Chess fans around the globe were excited to watch some of our game’s biggest stars competing in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals in San Francisco. The prestigious event took place on November 14-20, 2022. The format was a round-robin featuring eight elite chess competitors (GM Magnus Carlsen, GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, GM Arjun Erigaisi, GM Anish Giri, GM Liem Quang Le, GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, GM Rameshbabu “Pragg” Praggnanandhaa and GM Wesley So). Each of the seven rounds consisted of four-game rapid (15 minutes with a 10-second increment) matches.
The San Francisco Bay Area is no stranger to top level chess. FM James Eade organized a famous super tournament tournament in San Francisco in 1995 and the “City by the Bay” has several active chess clubs including one that is the oldest continuously running chess club in the United States. However, Meltwater Champions Chess Tour brings a different kind of energy by treating chess as an e-sport and its rapid paced structure captured the interest of a new generation of chess fans who enjoy watching chess streamers.
I had the pleasure of attending the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour in person at Shack15 in San Francisco and am currently writing a feature article on the event for the upcoming Winter Edition of the CalChess Journal. While working on my article, I began compiling a list of my favorite chess moments from the event. Of course, such a list will undoubtedly vary greatly depending on the individual tastes of the list creator and I am sure my list is especially unique because of my role as a professional chess coach in Northern California. So, I am sharing my personal favorite Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals highlights with the Daily Chess Musings community from this perspective as an educator. Think of it as an appetizer for the CalChess Journal’s complete coverage of the event from my perspective as a chess journalist attending a truly historic chess tournament for California.
7) Tactics, Tactics, Tactics…
r1b2rk1/ppp2pp1/3b1Bn1/7Q/q3p1N1/4P2P/PPP2PP1/R3KB1R w KQ – 6 18
6) Masterful Maneuvering
5r2/p2q1p1k/5Pp1/6r1/4QRp1/1Bp5/Pb2R1KP/8 b – – 4 41
5) Punishing a Crime
6k1/5pp1/2NQ1nn1/1pPp4/1P1P3p/4PP1q/4NK2/8 b – – 1 32
4) Costly Mistakes in the Endgame
8/k1K5/5p2/4p1p1/1P1pP1P1/8/8/8 b – – 2 57
3) Mate in 3 Finish
4r2k/5p1q/2Q5/2p5/3b1B2/3p2RP/PP2r1PK/5R2 w – – 4 33
2) A Beautiful Combination to Win
8/p4np1/2p1k3/4r3/2P1p1PB/1P2K3/P3R3/8 w – – 1 36
1) Mate in 11!
2r2rk1/ppR5/1n1n4/3PNP2/3q3p/5Qp1/P5PP/1B3R1K w – – 2 28
See why I chose all of these memorable chess positions and watch them explained in the video below.
Today’s puzzle worthy position comes from one of the many great battles between GM Anatoly Karpov and GM Jan Timman. Both chess geniuses were born in 1951 and their chessboard rivalry stretched for a half century from 1967 until 2016. Karpov had a winning record against his Dutch contemporary with a score 30 to 8, with 63 draws at classical time controls. Despite the Russian’s dominating record, games between GM Anatoly Karpov and GM Jan Timman were almost always hard fought struggles and this, of course, was especially true in their 1993 FIDE World Championship Match in which Karpov triumphed.
Today’s puzzle of interest is a mate in 2 with many carefully placed ingredients. I was struck by this chess problem’s modern design and surprised by the fact that it was composed over a century ago in 1920. Not only is this chess puzzle a beautiful reminder of how much is possible on the chessboard but it also reminds us to respect the efforts of chess composers who created complex chess positions before the computer age.
The action at the Chess Bundesliga is always worth checking out! A recent Bundesliga game between GM David Navara and GM Luke McShane reached a most remarkable position before concluding. In the position below, black (McShane) has just moved his pawn to b2 on his 34th move. GM David Navara (white) responds to the promotion attempt in the most accurate fashion and black immediately resigns. What was GM Navara’s 35th move?
At just 19 years of age, FM Ekaterina Goltseva has made quite a name for herself by twice tying for first place at the European Youth Championships and also winning the silver medal at 2017 Russian Youth Chess Championship. Today’s Puzzle Worthy Position comes from the seventh round victory by Fide Master Ekaterina Goltseva over Woman Candidate Master Grete Olde at the 38th Girls World Junior Championship. Grete (black) has just played 20… Be8 to add a second defender to f7. However, this doesn’t stop Ekaterina (white) from winning my force.
My premise for the Puzzle Worthy Positions series is to include tactical problems from real chess games that make great puzzles to test your tactics with. If you enjoyed this type of content, click here to see other Puzzle Worthy Positions.
Chess players from around the San Francisco Bay Area showed up to battle for a share of the $10,000 prize fund at The Real Bay Area Championship this weekend in Milpitas, California. I took a break from analyzing games to capture photographs of the over-the-board chess drama. Look for a full report on this exciting chess tournament organized by Bay Area Chess in the upcoming Fall Issue of The CalChess Journal (the official news magazine for Northern California chess). Until then, please enjoy photos of interesting chess positions and familiar faces from the fourth round of this important NorCal chess event.
I was honored to be employed as the Chief Tournament Director for The Eade Foundation’s Say Gay Chess Day chess tournament. It was especially fitting that James Eade formally welcomed the gay community into the chess community in a place that has such a storied chess history as The Mechanics’ Institute in San Francisco. In all, approximately twenty people participated in the inaugural Say Gay Chess Day and I am proud to have been part of this truly historic day for Northern California chess. Hats off to Jim Eade and The Eade Foundation for sponsoring the event!
Please enjoy this slideshow from the 2022 Say Gay Chess Day:
Former World Champion Anatoly Karpov is an incredible chess player who dominated the international chess scene for a decade beginning in the mid-seventies. Anatoly wasn’t the flashiest World Champion but his games are very approachable and I often recommend that fans of Capablanca also study the games of Karpov.
For today’s Winning Chess Move puzzle, I chose a very pretty finishing move which occurred in a relatively unknown game from a simultaneous exhibition Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov gave in Koszalin, Poland on August 15, 1997. Karpov had the white pieces against Piotr Mickiewicz who just played 46… Rff8. What is Anatoly Karpov’s (white’s) next and game winning move?
Today’s puzzle worthy position comes from the 1985 Baden-Baden Chess Tournament. 1985 was a strong edition of this historic tournament featuring many prominent chess players including Susan Polgar, Efim Geller and Ludek Pachman. However, our puzzle worthy tactic comes from a winning combination played by Robb Witt.
FM Robb Witt of the Netherlands sadly passed away on September 22, 2022. The position below comes from his twelfth round victory in the 1985 Baden-Baden chess tournament. FM Robb Witt had the black pieces against the strong Austrian chess master (and soon to be Grandmaster) Stefan Kindermann. Kindermann (white) has just played 34. f6 which threatens mate in 1 with Qxg7. However, before his opponent has time to execute his mate, Witt steals the initiative and delivers a stunningly beautiful mating combination of his own.
If you are a chess parent who lives or can travel to Bellevue, Washington, consider taking your child/teen to the 17th annual Susan Polgar Foundation’s National Open for Girls and Boys. The SPFNO, which will take place on October 22-23, is one of the most prestigious scholastic chess tournaments in the United States and the only tournament of its kind to award $100,000 in college scholarships. Of course, not every player will win scholarships or fabulous trophies, but every child in attendance will have numerous opportunities to learn from and interact with GM Susan Polgar during the main tournament as well as all of the fun side events. For more information and to sign up, visit the official website for the Susan Polgar Foundation’a National Open for Girls and Boys.
My Facebook friend Michael Pasman recently became a World Champion. More specifically, Michael won first place and thus the gold medal for the Studies category in the 10th FIDE World Cup in Composing.
Michael Pasman is well known in the chess puzzle community for his compositional knowledge, creativity and his high output of outstanding studies. However, he is also a highly accomplished over the board chess player who holds the title of International Master from FIDE.
Take the time to understand the chess composition below and you will see why Michael Pasman’s gold medal finish was well deserved. If you are stumped (and you will be), try visiting IM Michael Pasman’s website for more on this study, other chess puzzles, his chess career and excellent chess videos.
The CalChess Journal is the official news magazine for Northern California chess. In the Spring/Summer issue you can read about the most important California chess events of the last several months and see the games of Norcal chess’ top players. Special thanks to Bay Area Chess, The Berkeley Chess School, The Eade Foundation, Mission 360, The Menlo Park Chess Club, and Lauren Goodkind for your thoughtful contributions.
I am deeply honored and humbled to have been selected to receive the Chess Journalists of America’s Best Educational Lesson award.
It was especially meaningful to receive this award for A Night at the Opera. The very first time I showed this game to a class, I put a lot of effort into learning the full story of this incredible chess triumph. To my surprise, I still had a couple students ask questions that I did not know the answer to. As I learned to retell the story better, Morphy’s most famous chess triumph became a journey that is every bit as scientific as it is art, as mythic as it is historical. Over two decades later, I still feel a special connection to Morphy’s Opera House Game.
I would like to thank the Chess Journalists of America for this award. It is a a great honor to have this lesson recognized as a the Best Educational Chess Lesson by other chess journalists who have read or seen other renditions of this game.
I would also like to thank my thousands of students past and present. I have shown the Opera House Game to nearly every class I teach and my coverage of this classic has definitely evolved because of their incredible questions. So I would like to share this achievement with all of my students who helped shape my presentation of A Night at the Opera into the award winning lesson it is today.
Finally, I need to thank my wife for her role in editing my lesson. Without her superb video editing skills, my lesson on Morphy’s Opera House Game wouldn’t be available on YouTube.
Grandmaster Tan Zhongyi of China finished her tenth round game at the 2022 Women’s Grand Prix with a very unique mate in 2. GM Zhongyi, who was the FIDE Women’s World Champion from 2017-2018, was facing WGM Dinara Wagner when Wagner played 43… Kh6 with the black pieces giving Tan a golden opportunity to finish the game in style.
A mate in 7 can seem daunting but they aren’t always difficult to solve. Technically the position below is indeed a mate in 7 for white, but that’s only because black can throw pieces away blocking the first check to extend the game unnecessarily. So, in the actual game, I checkmated in just five moves. Regardless, it is good to notice how variations can be extended and of course spot the winning motif. As should already be your established habit, start by analyzing all of the checks and that should lead you to a most satisfying checkmate.