giovedì 17 agosto 2017

It is not down in any map; true places never are

Fabiano Caruana – Garry Kimovich Kasparov
Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour 2017; Saint Louis, August 16, 2017
Sicilian Defence B52

I just watched Kasparov destroying David Navara in the first game of the day, which, however, he managed to lose in a way that would have been impossible for Siegbert Tarrasch to forgive! And then, I watched him praying for a gift from Lê Quang Liêm (who promptly gave him one even greater of what he prayed for!). Now finally the High Midnight with Fabiano Caruana: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7 5. c4 Nc6 6. Nc3 g6 7. d4 Bg7 8. Be3. Another modus operandi is 8. d5 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Na5 10. 0-0 f6 11. Nd2 b6 12. Qe2 Qa4 13. f4 Nh6 14. e5 0-0-0 15. Rb1 Nf5 16. g4 Nh4 17. exf6 exf6 18. Qf2 g5 19. Ne4 Qe8 20. Re1 Qg6 21. fxg5 Rhe8 22. Nxd6+ Rxd6 23. Rxe8+ Qxe8 24. Bf4 Nxc4 25. Bxd6 Nd2 26. Rd1 Qe4 27. Bg3 ½ : ½ Shirov – Kasparov, 32nd Chess Olympiad, Yerevan 1996. 8. ... cxd4 9. Nxd4 Nf6 10. f3 0-0 11. 0-0 a6 12. Na4. The strategic alternative is 12. a4 e6 13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. a5 as occurred, for instance, in A. Muzychuk – 侯逸凡 (Hóu Yìfán), Women’s Grand Prix 2013–2014, first stage, Genève 2013. 12. ... Rab8 13. Nxc6. It could be a novelty, but who knows? Whatever it is, the recorded instance 13. Nb6 Qd7 14. c5 Nd7 doesn’t worry Black at all, Smeets – Yilmaz, Schachbundesliga 2012-2013, Solingen 2013. 13. ... Qxc6 14. Nb6 Nd7 15. Nxd7 Qxd7 16. Rf2 b5 17. c5 Qa7 18. Rc1 dxc5 19. Bxc5 Qc7 20. f4 Rfd8 21. Qe1 Rd3! Black’s position is just a little easier to play, but probably nothing more than that. Ben entendu, this might even matter... if they had the same age!

22. e5 Qd7 23. h3 Qe6 24. Rd2 Rxd2 25. Qxd2 f6 26. exf6 Bxf6 27. b4 Re8 28. Rf1 Kf7 29. Rf3 h5 30. a3 Qc4! Very well played, at least from a psychological viewpoint. Kasparov plays in middle game style, carrying metaphorical pinpricks on his opponent’s fortress. But unfortunately he has not enough time to deal with any disappointments that might arise with respect to unexpected change of strategy. 31. Qd7 a5! 32. f5 g5! 33. Qe6+!! I believe Caruana was lucky to find this, and of course wise enough to play it at the right time! Maybe I’m wrong, but I think he might have collapsed if he did not succeed in exchanging Queens, even though, objectively speaking, his position was not worse than that of his opponent. 33. ... Qxe6 34. fxe6+ Kxe6 35. bxa5 Ra8? This will turn out to be a fatal loss of time and the losing move, which is due to the lack of time, as well as the twelve-year absence from the chess wars. Black had to play 35. ... Kd5! 36. Rf5+ e5! 37. Rxf6 Kxc5 and, however complicated, the ending was probably drawable and most likely drawn. 36. Bb6! Now, instead, it is a lost cause. 36. ... Kd5 37. Rf5+ Kc4 38. Rc5+ Kb3 39. Rxb5+ Kxa3 40. Kf2 Ka4 41. Rf5 Kb3 42. Ke3 Kc4 43. Ke4 g4 44. Rxh5 gxh3 45. gxh3. Just like against Nakamura in Round Two, Garry Kimovich finds himself having to deal with the a- and h- passed Pawns’s nightmare, but this time it’s not a “lucky” exception. 45. ... Bc3 46. Rc5+ Kb3 47. h4 Bb4 48. Rg5 Kc4 49. h5 Bd6 50. h6 1 : 0. As it was expected, Kasparov suffered a bit in the rapid format, mainly due to time management. On the other hand, he got very good openings and showed deep and fresh understanding of the middle game. I’d even say that he did a very courageous thing coming back to his epic (absolute) past knowing that he would have seen himself older in the mirror. Not everyone has this courage. Finally, I am sure he will play much better – and with much more profit – in the blitz grand finale. It’s a normal thing: when you stop playing you become insecure, and the more you think, the more you doubt.

Garry Kimovich Kasparov
Photo © Lennart Ootes

mercoledì 16 agosto 2017

The House with Crying Windows

Pictured above are a series of floor plans in Liberty/Art Deco style of a very large house owned by Alessandra’s family and located in the heart of Florence, Italy. For almost two years, the house has been unlawfully occupied by a non-communitary woman who almost surely acted on behalf of – alas! – our unidentified fellow “patriots” interested to run their “business” there with no cost in a risk-free way. We filed suit against the frontwoman, and finally, on October 10, 2016, we re-entered into possession of the house. Inside, we found the worst representation of an occupied house, and since then we’ve been working non-stop everyday in order to restore damaged rooms. We haven’t had a single day’s holiday so far. I never forget when I entered the house for the first time on that morning of October 10, I immediately saw and felt something I had seen and felt already, even if not there. Behind the charade of such a badly staged representation, everything revealed the unmistakable style of Arcovazzi. So somehow I think the story we will tell you a little at a time may be of some interest. Of course, the glasses of all windows were broken, and so, no doubt, we should title our (not too short) story “The House with Crying Windows”.

自我批判 (Self-criticism)

People eat chillis while taking a bath in peppers during a competition in 宁乡市 (Níngxiāng), 湖南省 (Húnán province), China. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images.

天鹅湖 (Swan Lake)

Diving Queen 吴敏霞 (Wú Mǐnxiá), pictured centre, rehearsing for the “Swan Lake” ballet, which is expected to be a cult scene in the screenplay of 极速前进4 (The Amazing Race China 4). Just an advice from the teaching body of our school: turn en dehors and hold tight the fifth position! Photo:

印象派 (Impressionism)

合肥 (Héféi), China: Tens of thousands of rental bikes seen from above create an image like a painting. They are parked in a graveyard of bikes while companies struggle to regulate the parking behaviour of their users. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Images.

Twelve Years Later

Garry Kimovich Kasparov – Ian Aleksandrovich Nepomniachtchi
Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour 2017; Saint Louis, August 15, 2017
Grünfeld Defence D90

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. h4!? Kasparov is just playing into the enemy’s hand – at least in a theoretical sense. 5. ... c6 6. Bg5 dxc4 7. e4 Be6!? Nepomniachtchi aims to improve on 7. ... b5 8. e5 Nd5 9. h5 h6? 10. hxg6! hxg5 11. Rxh8+ Bxh8 12. gxf7+ Kxf7 13. Nxg5+ Kg6 14. Qf3! with a vehement attack, Nepomniachtchi – Giri, 3rd SportAccord World Mind Games, Blitz Event, 北京 (Beijīng) 2013. 8. e5 Nd5 9. h5 Nd7. Not 9. ... h6? on account of 10. hxg6! hxg5 11. Rxh8+ Bxh8 12. Nxg5 followed by Qd1-h5 with a powerful attack. 10. h6! Bf8 11. Ne4. With the threat of winning the Queen by Ne4-d6+. 11. ... f6 12. Bd2 b5 13. a4 Bf5 14. Ng3! e6 15. Nxf5 exf5 16. axb5 cxb5 17. Be2 Be7 18. 0-0 a5 19. b3! White energetically seizes the initiative. 19. ... c3 20. Bxb5 cxd2 21. e6 0-0 22. exd7? Afterwards, Kasparov bitterly regretted getting rid of his e-Pawn, and indeed it was a big mistake! After 22. Bxd7 Nb6 23. Bb5 White would have kept a powerful edge. 22. ... Nc3 23. Bc4+ Kh8 24. Qxd2 Ne4 25. Qe3 Qxd7 26. Nd2 Nxd2 27. Qxd2 Bb4 28. Qd3 Qd6 29. Ra2 Rae8 30. Re2 Qf4 31. g3 Qxh6 32. Kg2 f4 33. Rh1? Losing a crucial tempo. 33. Rxe8 Rxe8 34. Bf7 is still tenable enough, and might have been successfully defended to the end. However, just to make things worse, Kasparov was terribly short of time. 33. ... Qg5 34. Rxe8 Rxe8 35. Bf7? And this is the end. White should have aimed to defend the ending a Pawn down by 35. Qf3.

35. ... Re3! A pretty solution. 36. fxe3 Qxg3+ 37. Kf1 f3 0 : 1.

martedì 15 agosto 2017

Time and the Hour

London, England: People abseil over the clock face on the Elizabeth Tower. The Big Ben bell is to fall silent for four years while repairs are carried out. Photo: Andy Rain/EPA.

Sailing with Strangers

Hikaru Nakamura – Garry Kimovich Kasparov
Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour 2017; Saint Louis, August 14, 2017
Grünfeld Defence D80

It was the first day of 13th World Chess Champion’s comeback – and it was not a bad one. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Bg7 5. Bxf6 Bxf6 6. cxd5 c6 7. e4 0-0 8. Nf3. Theoretically speaking, 8. e5 Bg7 9. Bc4 might be a little more promising for White; for 9. ... b5 10. Bb3 b4 11. Nce2 cxd5 12. h4 h6 see Wojtaszek – Tari, 14th Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, Catalan Bay 2016. 8. ... cxd5 9. e5 Bg7 10. Qd2. This could be a new idea, even though far from an improvement on the old ones. The older try was 10. h4 Nc6 11. h5 Bg4 12. hxg6 hxg6 13. Rh4 Qd7 14. Be2 f6 with Black standing better already, Turner – Navara, 4NCL 2006/2007, Wokefield Park 2007. 10. ... Nc6 11. Bb5. White’s whole plan seems deeply inadequate. The more reserved 11. Be2 might have been safer; Black would have probably continued 11. ... Bg4 followed sooner or later by ... f7-f6. 11. ... Bg4 12. Ng1. This looks odd, but White has hardly anything better. No doubt Kasparov clearly won the opening duel. 12. ... f6! 13. h3 Be6 14. exf6 Rxf6! 15. Bxc6 bxc6. Black can be content with his two powerful Bishops against White’s two Knights. 16. Nge2 Qd6 17. 0-0 Raf8 18. Rae1 Bc8! 19. Na4 e5. This seems all very natural, but it may be a little premature. Stockfish gives 19. ... R6f7 20. b4 a5! 21. bxa5 e5! which might actually be more effective. 20. dxe5 Qxe5 21. b4

21. ... Re6!? It is aesthetically very appealing as Black redeploys his Rooks into classical and romantic forms, but perhaps he missed the moment for pushing on his initiative further. Stockfish prefers 21. ... g5 22. Nc5 g4 (which, indeed, looks very strong at this point), and 21. ... a5! 22. bxa5 Qd6! 23. Rc1 g5! seems very appealing also, even though I mostly like 23. ... R8f7!! 24. Nc5 Qf8 (Alekhine’s Gun) with continuations such as ... g6-g5 or ... Bg7-h6 to come. 22. Nc5 Ree8 23. Nb3! It is probably the only way to hold together the position. 23. ... Qb2! 24. Qxb2 Bxb2 25. Ned4 Rxe1 26. Rxe1 Bd7 27. Re2 Bc3! Kasparov keeps his symbolic initiative, but only at the cost of a Pawn. 28. Rc2. If 28. a3 then 28. ... Rf4 with a draw in sight (28. Nf3 Bxh3). 28. ... Bxb4 29. Nxc6 Bd6 30. Nxa7 Re8 31. g4 h5 32. f3 Re1+ 33. Kg2 Kf7 34. Nc6 h4 35. Ncd4 Rd1 36. Rd2 Rxd2+ 37. Nxd2 Kf6 38. Kf2 Ke5? A slip which might have been fatal but was doomed not to be! Black should have played first 38. ... g5, if just he wanted to play his music such as it is. 39. Ke3 g5 40. f4+! I imagine Kasparov might have overlooked this tremendous move, which, in fact, prevents Black’s King from penetrating the enemy's camp on the Kingside. 40. ... gxf4+ 41. Kd3 Be7 42. N2f3+ Kd6 43. Nf5+ Bxf5+ 44. gxf5 Kc5 45. Nd4 Kd6 46. a4 Bd8 47. Ne6 Bb6 48. Nxf4 Ke5. However desperate the ending, Kasparov plays the only moves to cling to some hope that something will happen. 49. f6! Bc5. 49. ... Kxf4 50. f7 Bc5 51. a5 Ke5 52. a6 Kf6 53. a7! is just a didactic win. 50. f7 Kf6 51. Nxd5+ Kxf7 52. Ke4? And Nakamura (quite incredibly) takes the wrong direction! His Majesty should have supported the a-Pawn by 52. Kc4 and after, for instance, 52. ... Bf2 53. Kb5 Ke8 54. Kc6 Kd8 55. Kb7 Be1 56. Ne3 Black seems to be actually doomed to defeat. 52. .. Ke6. Now Black draws, even though it took much time for Nakamura to convince himself about it. 53. Nf4+ Kd6 54. Ng2 Bf2 55. Kf3 Bg3 56. Kg4 Kc5 57. Nxh4 Bf2 58. Nf5 Kb4 59. Ng3 Kxa4 60. h4 Kb5 61. h5 Be3 62. Ne4 Kc6 63. Ng5 Kd7 64. h6 Ke7 65. h7 Bd4 66. Kf5 Ba1 67. Kg6 Bb2 68. Nf7 Ba1 69. Nh6 Bh8 70. Ng4 Ba1 71. Ne3 Bh8 72. Nd5+ Ke6 73. Nf4+ Ke7 74. Nh3 Ke6 75. Ng5+ Ke7 76. Nf7 Ba1 77. h8=Q Bxh8 ½ : ½.

Garry Kimovich Kasparov
Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour

lunedì 14 agosto 2017

A Day Late and a Byte Short

Marina Brunello – Teodora Rogozenco
Young Masters zum 2nd Internationales Erfurter Frauenschachfestival; Erfurt, July 31, 2017
Philidor Defence C41

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. 0-0 0-0 7. a4 a5 8. h3 h6 9. Be3 c6 10. Ba2 Qc7 11. Qd2 Re8 12. Rfe1 Nf8 13. Rad1 Ng6? Far from being a consolidation, this move offers White an easy target. 13. ... Be6 14. Bxe6 Nxe6 15. d5 Nf8 seems sounder and safer, Della Morte – Sambuev, Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League, 2017. 14. dxe5! dxe5. 14. ... Nxe5 15. Nxe5 dxe5 16. Bxh6! is maybe a little better, but substantially not so different.

15. Bxh6! gxh6? Tantamount to surrender. After 15. ... Bb4 White can choose whether to continue the attack with the controversial 16. Ng5!? (as played in Nurkić – Mrkonjić, 10th International Tournament, Tuzla 2004) or to safely keep her extra Pawn (for instance by 16. Bg5!). 16. Qxh6 Nf8. No better is 16. ... Nf4 17. Ng5 with overwhelming attack. 17. Qg5+ Kh7 18. Bxf7 Rd8 19. Rxd8 Bxd8 20. Nxe5 Kh8 21. Qh6+ N6h7 22. Ng6+ Nxg6 23. Qxg6 Nf6 24. e5 Qe7 25. Qxf6+. 25. Re4! (Stockfish) is an even more perfidious enclosure. 1 : 0.

domenica 13 agosto 2017

So Arcovazzi, give us back the key to our house and keep the one of your wife’s vanity case

Altri mangiano la candela e tu smaltisci lo stoppino.

Others ate the candle, and you dispose of the wick.

Tuscan proverb

Sgt. Pepper Prize Award Ceremony

A contestant competes in chilli-eating contest in a water vat filled with chillis at 宁乡市 (Níngxiāng), 湖南省 (Húnán province), China. Photo: Visual China Group/Getty Images.

Cherry Blossom

“Ciliegio in fiore” ™ © Mado Flynn

Handmade in Italy by Mado Flynn

sabato 12 agosto 2017

Our advice for anyone who isn’t sure to join the ballet class? Be careful if you are hitchhiking the mall for shopping ’cause she might pick you up!

Yes, Edna, we know you are not that kind of girl who would ever miss a ballet class for accompanying Arcovazzi’s wife on shopping sprees in the mall

The day we kicked Arcovazzi out of our house

Hero the Hedgehog entertains the crowd during day eight of the 16th IAFF World Championships in London, England. Photo: John Walton/PA.

Yes, Edna, he kicked the door and broke the biometric key, but he just wanted to go to sleep in his room for a while!

Isbrytar (Icebreaker)

Magnus Carlsen – Levon Grigori Aronian
5th Sinquefield Cup; Saint Louis, August 11, 2017
Spanish Game C88

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 0-0 8. a4 b4 9. a5 d6 10. d3 Be6 11. Bxe6 fxe6 12. Nbd2 Rb8 13. c3 Qe8 14. Nc4! Much stronger than 14. d4 bxc3 15. bxc3 exd4 16. cxd4 Rb5 17. Nc4 Qg6 18. Qe2 Nd7 19. Bd2 Bf6 20. Bc3 Rb3 21. Qc2 Rb5 22. Na3 Rb7 23. Qe2 Ra8 24. Rac1 Nd8 25. Nc4 Rb5 26. e5 Be7 27. exd6 cxd6 28. Bd2 Qf7 29. g3 Rab8 30. Bf4 Qf8 31. h4 h6 32. Kg2 Nf6 33. Bd2 Nd5 34. Ne3 Nxe3+ 35. fxe3 Qe8 36. e4 Nb7 37. Qc4 Bd8 38. Qc6 Bxa5 39. Bxa5 Rxa5 40. Re2 Qxc6 41. Rxc6 Rf8 42. Rb6 Ra3 ½ : ½ Topalov – M. Adams, 4th Gashimov Memorial, Şəmkir 2017. 14. ... Qg6 15. h3 Nd7 16. Be3 d5. With this and the next two moves Aronian shows his aggressive intentions, but Carlsen keeps the situation firmly under control. 17. Ncd2 bxc3 18. bxc3 Nc5 19. Bxc5 Bxc5

20. Qa4! Now Black’s Queenside is doomed to fall apart, unless Aronian does not make up something. 20. ... Rb2 21. Rf1! Clearly not 21. Qxc6?? on account of 21. ... Bxf2+! turning the tables. 21. ... Na7. Aronian’s temporary Pawn sac will not prove good enough for discouraging Carlsen from tightening his grip. In any event, after Stockfish’s 21. ... Qe8 22. Rab1 Rxb1 23. Rxb1 Qd7 24. d4 White stands better. 22. Nxe5 Qh6 23. Ndf3 Nb5 24. Rae1! This as well as White’s 26th and 30th moves are as merciless as an icebreaker. Completely wrong would have been 24. Rac1? because of 24. ... Rxf2! with Black turning the tables again. 24. ... Nxc3 25. Qc6 Bb4 26. Kh1! dxe4 27. dxe4 Ne2 28. Rb1 Rxb1 29. Rxb1 Bd6 30. Qxa6! Nf4 31. Qb5. Carlsen’s (basic) aim is manifestly to promote his a-Pawn, and Aronian must find a way to avoid it. 31. ... c5. Stockfish dislikes it, but 31. ... c6 32. Qc4(!) does not seem particularly better. 32. a6 Bxe5 33. Nxe5 Qg5 34. Ng4 h5 35. Ne3 Nxg2. One last desperate mirage, but Carlsen doesn’t go astray. 36. Nxg2 Rxf2 37. Rg1 Kh7 38. Qd3. 38. Qe8 Qg3 39. Qxh5+ Kg8 40. Qe8+ Kh7 41. Qxe6 (Stockfish) was also very strong. 38. ... Qe5 39. Qe3 Ra2 40. Qf4 Qc3 41. Ne3 Qf6 42. Qxf6! We’d have expected something like 42. Qg3! Rxa6 43. e5, but Carlsen chooses the most elegant technical way, looking really study-like. 42. ... gxf6 43. Rc1! Rxa6 44. Kg2! Ra2+ 45. Rc2! Black is in Zugzwang. 45. ... Ra5. 45. ... Ra4 46. Kf3 Ra5 47. h4 transposes into the game. 46. Kf3 Kg6 47. h4 Rb5 48. Ra2 Rb1 49. Rc2. I thought White’s Rook was heading for c6 via a6, but no... 49. ... Rb5 50. Rc3! And that’s the epitaph, preparing for Ne3-g2-f4+. 50. ... f5 51. exf5+ exf5 52. Rd3! 1 : 0. What a formidable game!

giovedì 10 agosto 2017

Waiting for Godot

A chi fa i ’onti avanti l’oste, li convien’ farli du’ vorte.

You reckon your chickens before they are hatched.

Livorno’s proverb

Edna, he’s just feeling a bit frustrated by the fact that his biometric key never works, not even to open the door of his suite, whereas you may open a bottle of champagne with just one glance of your eyes

Napoleonic Wars

People dressed in period costumes take their place as a chess piece to play as a human chess as part of the 4th Denis Davydov International Equestrian Festival devoted to the 1812 French Invasion of Russia. Photo: TASS.