A hole in my preparation

In last months Elite Hotels Open, in Växjö, I played a decent tournament and in the last round I found myself facing the sympathetic Yuri Solodovnichenko, on board 2, with the Black colours. I have lately been working extensively on my repertoire with Black, but with only half an hour to prepare I did, for a moment, lose my confidence and decided to play something that “I know well”, ergo the Modern. I knew that Yuri has a favourite line that I wasn’t afraid of, so it seemed like a good idea. Instead of repeating the this line, my opponent played something that I had previously not even considered as critical. I followed my own recommendation, but after just a few moves my position started to deteriorate, fast, and it became a horrible game for me. It was a hard way to discover a flaw in my views on the Modern, but now I feel obliged to share it with other Modern afficionados:

Carlsen plays the Modern, again

The World Champion has tried out the Modern Defence for the second time within a month and I feel it is my responibility to comment on this game since it follows my main line in “The Modern Tiger” up to move 8.

I am kind of hoping that this initial setback will not make Magnus abandon the Modern. I lost my first three games in this opening and it was only when I returned to it (a year later), that I got it right. Post Script: I now see (after having it pointed out to me by a friendly reader) that it was much more difficult to evaluate 19…Rab8, than I originally thought. It bears witness to how little we sometimes see from the side lines and how easily we… well, hrrm, I, fell into a false narrative. I shall try to do better next time.

Ignorance is bliss

This year’s Rilton Cup turned out well for me. It was not because I played very well, but rather due to the fact that I was a bit lucky and then didn’t make a mess of it in the later rounds. In the sixth round I managed to win a King’s Indian with the black colours against Maxim Turov and then in the seventh I got the chance to play the same side of the same opening against Mihail Krasenkow. It was clear to me that whatever happened I would always know less of what was going on than my opponent did. Maybe my real advantage was that I would not know how bad my position really was?

I’ll be back soon.

The day before the Day

Tomorrow sees the start of the World Chess Championship Final between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand. Every nook of chess media has filled up with tips and touts as to how the match will go. I decline to offer any such tips and prefer to be surprised whatever happens. I hope Magnus will win, but will be almost equally happy if Vishy takes the title. It’s a clear win-win, for me. What I do hope for is a more equal struggle than the one we witnessed last year. And I believe there is reason for hope. Vishy Anand has a good year behind him and seems to have more “bite” than last year. The margins in our game have become increasingly small and a good start will mean a lot to any one of the two players. Last year the match was decided in the ninth game when Anand managed to get the kind of position that he will have to score from if he is going to have a chance in this match: