Russian GM Dreev main attraction of upcoming Capablanca tournament

Russian Alexei Dreev will be the major attraction in the Elite Group of the Capablanca Memorial Chess Tournament to take place in Havana from May 8-20 next.

Dreev currently owns 2,653 ELO points and although he no longer appears among the best players of his country, his curriculum includes five Chess Olympics, attendances to world championships and victories in famous contests.

He will undoubtedly bring prestige to the six-player-round-robin event that will also feature famous players such as American Samuel Shankland (2,668) and Russian Alexander Rakhmanov (2,655).

Shankland finished second last year when the winner was Indian Krishnan Sasikiran, only one able of "stealing" a crown from Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk in all his attendances to this competition, but he won´t come this time.

Carlos Rivero, Cuba´s national commissioner, told JIT sports publication that the 2018 Capablanca Memorial Chess Tournament will also include an Open Group to be attended by about 150 players, mainly locals, and an U16 Poole.

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Viswanathan Anand wins Tal Memorial rapid

Final three rounds of the rapid tournament of Tal Memorial were played in the Museum of the Russian Impressionism in Moscow on March 4.

Viswanathan Anand won the rapid part of the super tournament with 6 points out of 9.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Sergey Karjakin, and Hikaru Nakamura are half a point behind. Thanks to the superior tie-break, Mamedyarov took the second place, while Karjakin is the third.

Blitz event with 14 players will take place on 5th March.

Final standings:

1. Viswanathan Anand – 6
2-4. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Sergey Karjakin, Hikaru Nakamura – 5
5-6. Boris Gelfand, Alexander Grischuk – 4.5
7-8. Vladimir Kramnik, Daniil Dubov – 4
9-10. Peter Svidler, Ian Nepomniachtchi – 3.5.

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Leinier returns to the Chess Boards

This year looked like the perfect season to rest and to spend some time with his family, especially with his little boy Sebastian. There were no major events ahead, so the best Cuban chess player nowadays wanted to take a sabbatical 2017.

However, life sometime changes and it happened these days. He was invited to participate in a rapid and blitz Tournament to be held in St. Louis.

I am pretty sure this is not the first invitation he has received this year. He rejected the others, but this one is different. It has something special: the return of genius Garry Kasparov to an official tournament.

Playing against Baku’s Beast, privilege or torture Leinier has never experienced before, must have shaken his foundations as he said yes. Therefore, Leinier will be playing along with seven other strong chess players in August 14-19.

Besides Leinier and Kasparov, Vietnamese Le Quang Liem, Czech David Navara, Russians Ian Nepomniachtchi, Sergey Karjakin, and Americans Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruano, Armenian Levon Aronian, and Indian Vishy Anand complete the line-up.

With such line-up, it is hard to turn the invitation down. Not even for the Cuban, who has not competed for months and will face here strong players.

Nonetheless, Leinier is not there for free. He is number three in the FIDE world rapid ranking with (2803) behind Nakamura (2822) and Nepomniachtchi (2819).

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

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The king is back: Chess legend Garry Kasparov comes out of retirement

He was the "monster with 100 eyes, who sees all" whose painful defeat against IBM's Deep Blue computer heralded the end of human dominance over artificial intelligence.

Yet 20 years on Garry Kasparov is still considered the greatest chess player in history, a genius so special he became world champion at 22 and was then almost invincible for two decades.

Now, 12 years after he turned his back on the professional game, the king is back.

To the delight of fans, the 54-year-old Russian exile has announced he will return to competition next month.

Kasparov will appear at the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz tournament as one of four wildcard picks playing for a total prize fund of $150,000.

The event is part of the prestigious Grand Chess Tour, a "grand slam" set of tournaments that is bankrolled by UK billionaire Rex Sinquefield and seen as a rival to the events organised by Fide, the official world governing body.

Kasparov, whose nickname of "The Beast" was earned by his bullish behaviour, has previous form at challenging Fide.

In 1993, he led a split after an acrimonious dispute to form the Professional Chess Championship.

The PCA subsequently collapsed when computer chip maker Intel withdrew its sponsorship, although the parallel world championship limped on until 2006.

In 2014 Kasparov, with the backing of Sinquefield, launched an attempt to unseat eccentric Fide president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov which ended in failure.

But what matters most to fans is the series of mouth-watering old versus new clashes Kasparov's return sets up over the board.

While he will not face the current world's best, his former protégé Magnus Carlsen, Kasparov will take on Carlsen's Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin and two top Americans, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana.

Kasparov has had outings in minor exhibition matches since retiring, but this time he is entering pa one of chess's elite level "grand slams".

"Ready to see if I remember how to move the pieces! Will I be able to announce my re-retirement afterward if not?!", he tweeted.

Held in America's official chess capital of Saint Louis, Missouri, the tournament pits the world's best against each other at tournaments in London, Paris and most recently in Leuven, Belgium.

Kasparov's epic duels with his predecessor, the 12th world champion Anatoly Karpov, made him a household name in the 80s, a decade when chess made headlines and the England team were number two in the world.

In 1993 he beat the Leigh-born Grandmaster Nigel Short in a breakaway world title match that was broadcast live on Channel 4.

It remains the only time an English Grandmaster has challenged for the title. But Kasparov is perhaps better known outside chess for the epic 1997 battle with an IBM computer that ended an era of human dominance, which is the subject of his recent book Deep Thinking.

IBM inflicted a narrow but psychologically crushing defeat on Kasparov, who later claimed the computer's programmers had the unfair advantage that he wasn't able to study its games beforehand.

Three years later Kasparov lost his world crown to the well-prepared Russian Vladimir Kramnik, who appeared to nullify Kasparov's attacking flair with a solid opening called the Berlin Defence.

In 2005, Kasparov retired from professional chess in tears after losing a game in Linares. It brought to an end a record 20 years as the world's top-ranked player.

At the time he said: "It is very difficult to quote one reason. But if I try I could tell you that, as you know, I am a man of big goals.

"I have to achieve something, I have to prove something, I have to be determined. But I no longer see any real goal in the world of chess."

Since then he has become a prolific author, human rights campaigner and a fierce critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, himself a fan of the game.

Speaking yesterday, Kasparov said: "It's a thrill to officially be returning to the game, and certainly not something I would have anticipated more than a decade after my retirement.

"Coming back to the board in Saint Louis is truly an honour – I wouldn't want to commemorate this moment anywhere else."
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GM Leinier Dominguez: Sestao´s second board at Spain Chess Honor Division

Cuban GM Leinier Dominguez will defend the second board of the Sestao Naturgas Energia at the Spanish teams’ chess championship to be held in Huesca, from September 26 to October 2.

The Caribbean chess player, silver medalist at the recently concluded chess Olympiad in Baku, is the third player with highest ELO rating among chess players of his team (2720), behind, Hungarian GM Richard Rapport (2752), and Azeri Teimur Radjabov (2723).

Every team is composed of 12 chess players. The Sestao line up, besides Rapport, Radjabov, and Leinier, is as follows: French GM Eduard Romain (2635), Spanish Francisco Vallejo (2718), Gm Ivan Salgado (2662), and Salvador del Rio (2516), among others.

Eight teams will liven up the tournament and it will be played in a round-robin system, seven rounds. It is mandatory to play a woman in every round.

The points scored will be given round after round (winners 2 points, draw 1 point; a loss, 0 point).

The time of the each game will be 90 minutes for first 40 moves, then 30 minutes more for the rest of the game.

Round 1 will be held at 16:30 local time on Monday September 26. Sestao will face Merida Patrimonio with GM Ernesto Inarkiev (Russia) and Rumanian GM Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu as its best chess players.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / Cubasi Translation Staff

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World Team Chess Championship: First Round

The meetings of first round of the World Team Chess Championship took place today in Tsaghkadzor. The confrontations Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Armenia were central. Pavel Eljanov defeating Evgeny Tomashevsky gave his team a victory with the minimum score 2.5 : 1.5. The same score was in the match Israel-Armenia. Here the winning point was scored by Maxim Rodshtein who took advantage over Vladimir Akopian.

It seemed that the match USA-China would end in peace. But when the match score was 1.5 : 1.5 and the draw was predictable around the 1st board, Ding Liren took victory over Samuel Shankland and China took victory. In the match India-Egypt the favourites were found stronger and the Indians took victory with the score 3 : 1. The only in-draw was signed in the match Hungary - Cuba with the score 2 : 2.

In the second round will compete India - USA, Hungary - China, Russia - Cuba, Armenia - Ukraine, Egypt - Israel.

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Judit Polgar to retire from professional chess

Judit Polgar is to retire as a professional chess player at the end of the Olympiad. The surprise announcement was made in a brief interview with The Times. Polgar herself was unavailable for comment as she was in preparation for the final round of the Olympiad with her Hungarian team which lies in second place and has a chance for gold in the final round. Polgar has so far contributed as score of 4.5/6 on board 5. It is unclear whether she will play in the final round.

No doubt there will be plenty of interviews after the round finishes. With her retirement she brings to an end an "educational experiment" which saw Judit and her three sisters all become exceptional players in a generally male dominated game.

Judit Polgar reached a career high of 2735 and world number #8 in 2005. At that point her highly tactical style had matured into a stronger all round game. Shortly afterwards Polgar took some time off to raise her family and although her initial return was promising she is quoted as saying her concentration at the board is in decline. Recently her focus has switched to writing books on her career and the Judit Polgar Chess Foundation.

Earlier in the Olympiad Judit Polgar was asked about the possibility of a match against Hou Yifan at a point I guess she already knew she would retire, she was non-committal without ruling it out. With the right money I guess it still wouldn't be out of the question but would really have to be this year. Hou defeated Polgar in their only game together in Gilbraltar 2012 and it was already clear it was only a matter of time before Hou became the women's number one. Now the baton has definitely passed to her.

There will be time enough to celebrate the career of the greatest ever women's player. It seems to me Judit Polgar didn't see playing was about women competing on an equal basis but that gender shouldn't make a difference at all.

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Round 9 board pairings: Life is elsewhere

There’s a strong sense of the chess being overshadowed today. What’s been an ugly contest to become World Chess Federation President for the next four years reaches its inglorious conclusion at the University of Tromsø, a bus trip away from the Olympiad venue. We should know whether Kirsan Ilyumzhinov will extend his 19 years in power, or former World Champion Garry Kasparov will take over the reins, at some point during Round 9. Fortunately, though, we’ll have more than enough chess action to distract our attention in the meantime!

China - Ukraine

7th seeds China are unbeaten and lead the Olympiad by a point despite the absence of 2730-rated Wang Hao, but today they face a true test – 2010 Olympiad gold medalists and 2nd seeds Ukraine have shrugged off a poor start to fight their way back to the top table, and outrank the Chinese on all but board two - Ding Liren (2742) – Ruslan Ponomariov (2717).

Ding Liren has broken into the world Top 20 without yet playing any real super-tournaments - in Tromsø he has 4 wins and 3 draws for a 2841 rating performance | photo: Georgios Souleidis, chess24

3rd seeds France will be looking to stake their claim for the title when they take on the Czech Republic (David Navara – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on top board), while Romania’s charmed existence ends in Round 9. Previously they’d sneaked to the top of the table despite encountering no-one higher seeded than the Czech Republic in the last round (they drew), but they now face the might of Azerbaijan. Defending champions Armenia will also hope to advance against 29th seeds Serbia.

After his late arrival Hikaru Nakamura has a solid 2 wins and 4 draws, but is likely to look for more against Germany's Arkadij Naiditisch today | photo: Georgios Souleidis, chess24

Other matches to look out for include the close contests Israel-Hungary (Gelfand-Leko), Bulgaria-Cuba (Topalov-Dominguez) and USA-Germany (Nakamura-Naiditsch). It’s curious to note that Germany, with four wins and four draws, remain the only unbeaten team other than leaders China.

Down on board 11 pre-tournament favourites but 19th placed Russia have again rested Vladimir Kramnik after his two losses in a row. Their opponents are the over-performing Norway 2, which will delight Norwegian television and the local audience. Frode Urkedal has already beaten one mighty 'chuk, Ivanchuk – can he defeat another, Grischuk?

Magnus Carlsen will also be in action against Turkey’s Dragan Solak, in a match the Norwegian first team are favourites to win. Other games to watch include Francisco Vallejo (Spain) – Alexei Shirov (Latvia) and Julio Granda (Peru) – Le Quang Liem (Vietnam).

Can the Russian women maintain a perfect score?

Lilit Mkrtchian (2453, Armenia) has the black pieces against Valentina Gunina (2524, Russia) today | photo: Georgios Souleidis, chess24

They nearly missed the event, but Russia and their new leader Kateryna Lagno are on course to win a third Olympiad in a row. They lead China by a full two points and outrate today's opponents Armenia by 50 points+ on every board. China similarly outrate France, but neither match is as much a foregone conclusion as ratings would suggest.

Perhaps the day’s best contest will be between 5th seeds India and 3rd seeds Ukraine. Harika Dronavalli takes on Anna Muzychuk on top board, while Tania Sachdev takes on Anna’s sister Mariya on board two (see our interview with Tania here). 12th seeds Germany vs. 13th seeds Hungary is another closely matched contest, with Elisabeth Paehtz-Hoang Thanh Trang on top board.

Breaking news: Perhaps we can announce the result of the election already so everyone can concentrate on the chess!

Or perhaps not  The first link below has the full pairings for the day's play, with handy clickable flags so you can find your own team.

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