Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Zurich Chess Challenge 2014!

Let me start this article with some historical reference!
In 1953, Zurich established itself as one of the most important venues for chess. The Zurich International tournament was held here and the challenger to Botvinnik was to be found in this tournament. It was none other than the great legend Vasily Smyslov who won the tournament with 18/28, a whooping 2 point margin over David Bronstein who finished 2nd.

Smyslov the winner of 1953 Zurich International.

Thus Smyslov qualified to challenge Botvinnik in 1954, a match that he tied with 12-12 score but as per the prevailing rules in case of a tie, the world champion retained the title! But as you can see, Zurich had a great impact on the fate of World Championship as a challenger was to be sought from here. Secondly, David Bronstein had written an excellent book on the Zurich tournament of 1953 which according to many great chess players, is a must read. I have personally read the book in parts and some commentary has stuck in my memory. Especially an anecdote about Bronsteins explanation of dark square weaknesses in the position. Here is that game.

You can use arrow keys to control the speed of the moves.

About the above game, this is what Bronstein had to say.
"I have long suspected, whenever the books I have read began discussing darksquare weaknesses or an attack on the dark squares, that the subject under discussion was not only beyond my understanding, but beyond the author's as well. "Certainly", I would say to myself, "it must be true that the enemy dark squares will be weak if his pawns stand on light squares and he loses his dark square bishop. But if he then removes all of his pieces from the dark squares, what will be left for me to attack ?".
Such was my line of reasoning, until the day I realized that a weakness of the dark squares is also weakness of the pieces and pawns on the light squares. Light-square weakness are also possible, resulting in a weakening of the enemy pieces and pawns on the dark squares - as occurred, for example, in the Geller - Najdorf game Round 13. The point of an attack on the dark squares is that, by placing my pawns on the dark, I attack my opponent's pieces and pawns on the light."

Pretty deep eh!! Thats why this book is worth reading. Here is the link of the book on amazon :
Zurich International Chess tournament 1953

David Bronstein: A great player and author of the wonderful book Zurich International 1953.


Enough of History! Lets come to the present! That is 29th January 2014!
From today starts the Zurich Chess Challenge 2014. There are 6 players for this event! And what a field!! 

The current World no.1 and World Champion!

World No.2 In form and winner of recent Tata Steel event!

World No.3 and a chaotic player!!

World No.6 and the upcoming talent in the world

World no.8 who has proved age is no bar to be the best!

World no.9 who is itching to make a comeback after a dismal world championship!

Leaving aside Kramnik, Topalov and Grischuk out of the top 9, 6 players are playing here! This gives the tournament a whooping average of 2801!! This average rating has never been seen in a tournament before!! 
And when was the last time Vishy Anand was the last seed in a tournament!!

Magnus Carlsen definitely starts as the favourite but his opponents havent been quite strong in the past month! Playing against the likes of Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, I think Carlsen must be rusty! Then again I dont think 2 months of rest can affect the playing strength of the World Champion!
As for Levon Aronian he is the man on the rise! After winning the Tata Steel tournament with a 1.5 points margin, I think he has a great chance to win the tournament over here! He will have to beat his Nemesis, Magnus Carlsen for that!!
While Nakamura and Caruana are always consistent and dangerous, it will be a real test for the two veterans Gelfand and Anand!

The combined age of the first 4 players is 102 and while the age of Anand and Gelfand adds upto 90!! We can definitely say its a fight between the youngsters vs the veterans!!

The tournament will also be looked forward to for the battle between Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen! It will be the first time they will meet on the board after the world championships!

The beautiful Hotel Savoy Baur en Villa, where the tournament will be held.

Today 29th Jan is the blitz tournament. As per my calculations the games will begin at 23.30-00.00 IST today (they have written 19.00 zurich time and India is 4.5 hrs ahead of them).
The games will be shown live on the following site.

The very famous Yannick Pelletier will be giving the commentary so it will be a chance for us to learn!

After the blitz tournament that ends today, from tomorrow will start the Classical tournament which will be in a single round robin format. Hence only 5 games! The 5 games will be played without a rest day from 30th Jan to 3rd Feb. The games will start at 19.30 IST (15.00 Zurich time) everyday. And on 4th Feb there will be a  rapid tournament before the closing ceremony!

Thus, this chess festival holds all the 3 types of format, Blitz Classical and Rapid and will be a treat for the chess lovers!

Who do you think will win the tournament? I would like to diverge from the favourite Magnus Carlsen and put my money on the in form Levon Aronian! But as always in the heart of every Indian, we secretly hope that Vishy Anand makes a resounding comeback!

Offical site for the tournament:

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  1. This is first time i read your blog in depth... Thanks Sagar..i feel as if a great treasure has been opened for me... Will follow your very instructive blogs now ! Hariketan