Six Super Games

Information overload.

That’s how I feel right now, with two major international events – the FIDE Grand Prix and Grand Chess Tour – going on, and with the dizzying number of other, less famous but “still plenty strong” tournaments that start one after another, in an incessant chain of chess moves.

It’s an amazing time to be a chess fan, with the live streams, daily pgn downloads, and Monday game bundles from The Week in Chess, but it’s also very, very hard to keep up with everything. I struggle with it, and it’s (literally) my job to stay on top of current chess events!

So every now and again it’s worth slowing down to appreciate some of the brilliant chess that is being played around the world. Today we’ll look at six games from recent and on-going events, talking a bit about the tournaments in which they were played, but really focusing on the chess itself. We begin with two stunning efforts from the Grand Chess Tour Superbet Rapid and Blitz in Bucharest.

Stunners from Anand and Aronian

courtesy STLCC

The Bucharest stop of the 2019 Grand Chess Tour is half over, with the days of rapid play completed. Wild card entrant Anton Korobov is the surprise leader after 9 rounds, holding a two point (wins are worth two points, draws one) lead over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Anish Giri, and Levon Aronian as the blitz portion looms.

Korobov’s play has been one of the key stories of the event, but two games – Artemiev-Anand from Round 1, and So-Aronian from Round 8 – dazzled fans and commentators alike. Both are worth your attention.

Artemiev-Anand (photo Lennart Ootes)

Two days of blitz chess remain, and with such a tightly packed field, the tournament is still entirely up for grabs. CLO will have a full story on the event next week after its completion.

Dubov’s Dandy

The Russians took both team golds at the 2019 European Team Championships, but one wonders whether Daniil Dubov will be asked back to the next Russian team. It’s not that he had a bad result – on the contrary, his 5.5/7 gave him a performance rating of over 2800! – but will his hair-raising, devil-may care style will endear him to team captains?!

Dubov gave notice of his intent in Round 1 with this daring novelty in the Anti-Marshall.

While other games, notably his Round 6 draw with Alexander Moiseenko, gave further evidence of his creativity in the opening, his Round 7 victory over Rasmus Svane has to be seen to be believed.

Gata Kamsky recently likened Dubov to a young Tal, and on the basis of his play in Batumi, it’s not hard to see why. Can such a style succeed at the highest levels of modern chess? Here’s hoping so.

The Kids are Alright

The World Junior Championships (New Delhi, India; Oct 15-26) concluded last month, with Texas Tech student Evegny Shtembuliak winning the Open gold and Polina Shuvalova taking the Girls title. CLO readers may recall that Shuvalova also won the U18 section at the World Youth Championships, also held last month in India.

While he didn’t finish at the top of the standings, Norway’s Eivind Olav Risting played the game of the tournament, defeating Floryan Eugene in one of the most amazing games I have ever seen. I present it without notes because, in all sincerity, I understood none of it!

Take some time this weekend to sit down and play through this game with set and board. It will be worth the effort.

While 15 Americans were in Mumbai for the World Youth, only one extended her trip to play the World Junior. Thalia Cervantes Landiero finished in 17th place in the Girls Championship with a score of 7/11.

Silicon Genius

Our last game does not appear in any of the major databases, nor will it. (Unless Chessbase trawls uschess.org looking for new games!) It comes to us from the Leela Chess user forums, where “vishyvishy” shared a “stunning sac from Leela” that occurred in a private engine tournament.

Leela Chess Zero, for those unfamiliar, is an open-source chess engine built on the same principles that undergirded the now-famous Alpha Zero. Like A0, Leela’s chess skill is self-learned, created through the self-play of millions of chess games. Hundreds of chess fans from around the world contribute time on their GPUs to the Leela Chess project to make this happen.

In this game, played at a bullet time control of one minute plus a one second increment, Leela offers Stockfish 10 a knight for what seems like nothing. The great strength of self-learning “neural net” engines – “intuition” – shows itself here, and Stockfish quickly comes to rue its ill-begotten feast.

Leela is currently the dominant neural-net engine available to the public, but another will be released on November 12th. Fritz 17 / “Fat Fritz” is a new engine from Albert Silver and Chessbase, and while the project is rooted in Leela technology, the Fat Fritz engine itself bears important differences. In place of pure self-learning, Silver began by ‘feeding’ Fat Fritz millions of top-level human games, and only then using self-play to grow the network.

CLO will have a full review of Fritz 17 next week.

Comments

  1. John, thanks for doing the work for us and finding these gems. Loved Aronian’s game because he is my favorite Super GM, and Leela’s game certainly did not look like the computer games of just a few years ago.

    Fun games! Thanks.

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