International 2009

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament Nanjing China 28th September - 9th October 2009
€250,000 prize fund, with lineup Topalov, Carlsen, Radjabov, Leko, Jakovenko, and Wang Yue. It is a double round-robin, with all playing each other twice. There will be 10 rounds starting on September 28th, with two rest days. The games start at 3am USA/Eastern, which is 3pm Beijing time, except for the last round which is earlier.

The event, organised by Global Chess, is part of a series of six tournaments to be held over two years (2008-2009). 21 top world players are selected to compete in these tournaments, with each player contracting to participate in exactly four of these tournaments. The winner of the Grand Prix series at the end of 2009 will play the winner of the World Cup held in 2009 in an eight game match to become the challenger to the World Champion in a match to be held in the third quarter of 2010.

Results and pgn file on official website. To play through the games by opening

2nd Grand Slam Masters Final Bilbao 5th - 12th September 2009
The winners of the Nanching Pearl Spring, Corus-Wijk aan Zee, Ciudad de Linares and M-Tel Masters-Sofia tournaments were due to compete, but the last minute replacement for Veselin Topalov, Levon Aronian, took first place. Special scoring was in effect, with 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. This was to prevent "Grandmaster draws", and to promote exciting chess.

6th IGB Dato Arthur Tan Malaysia Open 21st - 28th August 2009
Final Rankings of the 6th IGB Dato Arthur Tan Malaysia Open are shown at this link. GM Negi Parimarjan (IND) 2590 is the 2009 champion. The tournament features regular New Zealand players WFM Helen Milligan, Paul Spiller and Hilton Bennett.

5th FIDE Grand Prix Jermuk 8th - 24th August 2009 The fifth FIDE Grand Prix tournament in Jermuk, Armenia, from 8th to 24th August 2009. With an impressive victory with the black pieces in his final round game, GM Vassily Ivanchuk scored an undefeated 8.5 out of 13 to win the Jermuk leg of the Grand Prix tournament dedicated to Tigran Petrosian, who was world champion from 1963 through 1969. Ivanchuk's games were exciting, long lasting, and unpredictable, often involving out-of-the-blue combinations, impressive protracted defensive stands, and most often his hallmark creativity. Sharing second and third places were Armenian GM and crowd favorite Levon Aronian and Boris Gelfand, each of whom won their final round games as well.

Incidentally, with his joint second place finish, Aronian has already clinched first place in the overall Grand Prix cycle, which is doubly impressive, given the fact that there is still one leg left to be played, and that he has yet to play in his fourth tournament. Congratulations to Levon Aronian for his overall accomplishment in winning the Grand Prix series.

The event, organised by Global Chess, is part of a series of six tournaments to be held over two years (2008-2009). 21 top world players are selected to compete in these tournaments, with each player contracting to participate in exactly four of these tournaments. The winner of the Grand Prix series at the end of 2009 will play the winner of the World Cup held in 2009 in an eight game match to become the challenger to the World Champion in a match to be held in the third quarter of 2010.

Results and pgn file on official website. To play through the games by opening

Australasian Chess Match of the Decade 1st August - 6th August 2009

    NZCF Patron Jim Benson with 
         GM David Smerdon                     IM Puchen Wang 
      Photo by Helen Milligan             Photo by Helen Milligan
Grandmaster David Smerdon (AUS) 2502 vs International Master Puchen Wang (NZL) 2465
Chess match over six games to be held in Auckland from Saturday 1st August - Thursday 6th August 2009 at the Old Boy's Pavilion at Auckland Grammar School, parking Gate 4, Mountain Road, Epsom. Commences 4.00 pm each day. Spectators are welcome to attend during the match and we will have a live Internet broadcast web hosted on

smerdonvswang (pdf file) for details.

Grandmaster David Smerdon was born on 17th September 1984 in Australia - 24 years old. He won the Queenstown Chess Classic 2009 incorporating the 116th New Zealand Chess Congress, and has become a regular on the New Zealand circuit. International Master at age 14, Australian Junior Champion in 1999, and Grandmaster as of June 2009. David Smerdon won his first GM norm at the Australian Championship in 2006 when he came equal second with New Zealand GM Murray Chandler behind GM Ian Rogers and ahead of German GM Roland Schmaltz and Czech GM Lubomir Ftacnik. His second norm came at the Bangkok Open in April 2007, and the third at the 18th Czech Open Festival in Paraduce, Czech Republic, in July 2007. When David won the 2009 New South Wales Open, he lifted his rating to 2500, fulfilling the final condition that enables him to receive his Grandmaster title. In his first contest after acquiring his title David won the 2009 Oceania Zonal Championship at Tweed Heads, Gold Coast, which was a world championship cycle qualifier, with a score of 7.5 from 9 rounds and a full point clear of the field. He is Australia's fifth home grown Grandmaster after Walter Browne, Ian Rogers, Darryl Johansen, and Zhao Zong Yuan. He is also Canberra's first Grandmaster. See "Home" page under NZ Champs 11th February 2009 for more.

International Master Puchen Wang was born on 20th January 1990 in China, and citizen of New Zealand - 19 years old. He participated in the Olympiads of 2004 and 2006. He became the New Zealand Champion, Rapid Champion and Lightning Champion in January 2007. In May 2007 he was unbeaten in the Zonal Tournament of Oceania, played in Fiji. His score of 6˝/9 was enough for second place and the award of the International Master title. He was invited to the Euwe Stimulus Tournament in Arnhem, The Netherlands, 17-26 August 2007. It was an invitational tournament in the format of a nine rounds Round Robin. Together with this group, ten players competed in a regional group. Players included Grandmasters Barua, Panno, Olafsson and Gaprindashvili. The tournament was won by Simutowe, and Puchen was placed third. He was not able to defend his New Zealand Champion title in January 2008 as he was due to sit an exam, but he did retain his Lightning title. He took a gap year between school and university in 2008, and the New Zealand Chess Federation put together "Project Grandmaster" to provide the best tournament format and funding vehicle to maximise Puchen's chances for success. He was hugely successful in tournaments in Europe, but the Grandmaster title just eludes him for now. He obtained a chess scholarship from the University of Texas in Dallas, and is in New Zealand on holiday. See "Events" for more.

History of Trans Tasman Rivalry In 1952 Ortvin Sarapu of New Zealand played Cecil Purdy, then champion of Australia, for the championship of Australasia. The match was played at Auckland, and drawn +4 -4 =2 so the players became joint champions. Sarapu became an International Master in 1966, and was awarded a MBE for his services to chess in 1980. In 1986 Murray Chandler of New Zealand played Ian Rogers of Australia. The match was played in Wellington and Auckland, and won by Chandler +2 -0 =2. Paul Spiller was the Arbiter for the two games played in Auckland. Chandler became an International Master in 1977 and a Grandmaster in 1983, and Rogers became an International Master in 1980 a Grandmaster in 1985. Exact player ratings are unknown, but on 14th November 1986 at Dubai Murray Chandler's rating was 2565 and Ian Rogers' was 2515.

Chandler vs Rogers Wellington & Auckland 7th - 15th May 1986

1986 I Rogers vs M Chandler 1/2-1/2 Score Chandler 0.5 Rogers 0.5
E04, Catalan Opening, Open Variation

1986 M Chandler vs I Rogers 1-0 Score Chandler 1.5 Rogers 0.5
C17, French Defence, Winawer System, Advance Variation

1986 I Rogers vs M Chandler 1/2-1/2 Score Chandler 2.0 Rogers 1.0
E00, Catalan Opening

1986 M Chandler vs I Rogers 1-0 Score Chandler 3.0 Rogers 1.0
C16, French Defence, Winawer System, Petrosian Variation

Game 01 (pgn file) Game 02 (pgn file) Game 03 (pgn file) Game 04 (pgn file)

Wang vs Smerdon Auckland 1st August - 6th August 2009

01/08/09 P Wang vs D Smerdon 0-1 Score Smerdon 1.0 Wang 0.0
D38 Queens Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation

02/08/09 D Smerdon vs P Wang 1/2-1/2 Score Smerdon 1.5 Wang 0.5
C10 French Defence, Rubinstein Variation

03/08/09 P Wang vs D Smerdon 1/2-1/2 Score Smerdon 2.0 Wang 1.0
C02 French Defence, Advance Variation, Paulsen Attack

04/08/09 D Smerdon vs P Wang 1/2-1/2 Score Smerdon 2.5 Wang 1.5
B22 Sicilian Defence, Alapin Variation

05/08/09 P Wang vs D Smerdon 1/2-1/2 Score Smerdon 3.0 Wang 2.0
B78 Sicilian Defence, Dragon Variation, Yugoslav Attack

06/08/09 D Smerdon vs P Wang 1-0 Score Smerdon 4.0 Wang 2.0
C05 French Defence, Tarrasch System, Closed Variation

Game 01 (pgn file) Game 02 (pgn file) Game 03 (pgn file) Game 04 (pgn file) Game 05 (pgn file) Game 06 (pgn file)

Many thanks to Paul Spiller, sponsor and organiser of the "Australasian Chess Match of the Decade".
Sponsored by Paul Spiller and Chess Enterprises New Zealand

British Championship - Torquay England 26th July - 8th August 2009
Some brilliant games at this tournament. Features familiar friends to New Zealand shores GM Stuart Conquest and GM Gawain Jones. Also features chess authors Richard Palliser, Gary Lane, Peter Wells and Andrew Greet. And of course the mighty Mark Hebden, authority of the Ruy Lopez.

GM David Howell
Results and pgn file on official website. To play through the games by opening

Oceania Zonal Open 20th - 26th June 2009 The Oceania Zonal tournaments are held every two years, and this year it will be at Tweed Heads, Gold Coast. It is a World Cup qualifying event, and probably the most important chess tournament in Queensland for at least 10 years.

It will feature the new king of Australian Chess, GM Zong Yuan Zhao, and new GM David Smerdon. An Open field of around 80 is expected, and about 20 in the Womens tournament.

Our Club will be represented by Paul Spiller, who had to pull out of the Fairhurst Pawn to go to this prestigious tournament. Paul is the President of the New Zealand Chess Federation, and it is likely that he will be organising the next Oceania Zonal back in New Zealand, in 2011.


All 324 games (pgn file).

M-Tel Masters 12th - 23rd May 2009

       Antoaneta Stefanova
     Photo The international super chess tournament M-Tel Masters 2009 from 12th-23rd May 2009 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The fans of the ancient game will be able to watch live.

Ex-Womens World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova will comment on the games from the fifth edition of the super chess tournament M-Tel Masters. Competitors are the leader in the world rankings Veselin Topalov 2812, Magnus Carlsen 2770 from Norway, last year’s winner Vassily Ivanchuk 2746 from Ukraine, Alexei Shirov 2745 from Spain, Yue Wang 2738 from China and Leinier Dominguez 2721 from Cuba. The average ELO of the participants is 2755, which makes the tournament a FIDE 21st category. Only five tournaments in history have been of that rank so far.

Antoaneta Stefanova, Bulgaria's all time strongest female player, won the chess crown at the World Championship in Elista in 2004, and held the crown until 2006. She is currently fourth in the ladies' world rankings with an ELO of 2549.

As commentator Antoaneta Stefanova will be metres away from the glass pavilion where the games will be played. Her guests will be Bulgarian GMs, and after each game she will be able to analyse the game with the participants.

Her comments and analysis will also be heard online in real time on the official website for the tournament The games will start each day at 16:00 local time, with only the last round beginning at 15:00.

M-Tel Masters is part of the Grand Slam circuit that starts in January 2009 in Holland with the Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee. The other competitions included are the Linares (Spain) Tournament, and the Dubai (UAE) or Abu Dhabi (UAE) Tournament in 2010, which replaces the Morelia (Mexico) Tournament. The four winners will determine the winner of the Grand Slam at a final tournament in Bilbao, Spain at the end of each year.

2 rounds with a 5-hour time control. Two games against each other with exchanged colours. Tie break in case of a draw at the top for determining the winner. Players cannot agree to a draw, which can only be decided by the chief arbiter.

Results and pgn file on official website. To play through the games by opening

Sydney International Open Chess Tournament 15th - 19th April 2009 Features Kiwis Mike Steadman, Bob Gibbons, Hilton Bennett, WFM Helen Milligan and Bill Forster.

4th FIDE Grand Prix Nalchik 14th - 30th April 2009 The fourth FIDE Grand Prix tournament is taking place in Nalchik, Russia, from 14th to 30th April 2009. There are thirteen rounds and two rest days (20th April and 25th April).

The event, organised by Global Chess, is part of a series of six tournaments to be held over two years (2008-2009). 21 top world players are selected to compete in these tournaments, with each player contracting to participate in exactly four of these tournaments. The winner of the Grand Prix series at the end of 2009 will play the winner of the World Cup held in 2009 in an eight game match to become the challenger to the World Champion in a match to be held in the third quarter of 2010.

Results and pgn file on official website. To play through the games by opening

XVI Russian Team Championship 4th - 10th April 2009 XVI Russian Team Championship in Dagomys, Sochi. This championship is the strongest in the history of the Russian team competitions. 8 Premier League teams of 8 players each will play in a round robin. No player is less than 2340 Elo.

Results and pgn file on official website. To play through the games by opening

18th Melody Amber Blindfold & Rapid Tournament 14th March - 26th March 2009

    Veselin Topalov
Photos Five-star luxury Hotel Palais de la Mediterranée, Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. Twelve top grandmasters from ten countries are taking part. The Melody Amber tournament is one of the most prestigious chess events in the world and the only one in which half of the games are played blindfold, i.e. without the players seeing board and pieces. Instead, they each look at a laptop with a chess board and no pieces, and are allowed to move the mouse around on the empty board!

The tradition started in 1992 when Dutch software billionaire Joop van Oosterom decided to dedicate a chess tournament, organised by his Monaco-based Association Max Euwe, to his newborn daughter of the same name. And Joop van Oosterom is no ordinary chess patron, because he's the world's No.1 ranked correspondence player and former world champion!

With no ratings at stake and a hefty €216,000 (NZD532,000) prize fund on offer at the Melody Amber tournament, we've seen some sensational sacrificial chess from the players.

16/03/09 Round 2: Alexander Morozevich of Russia and Levon Aronian of Armenia lead the Melody Amber tournament with 3/4.

17/03/09 Round 3: Morozevich and Aronian still lead with 4/6.

18/03/09 Round 4: Kramnik takes the lead with 5.5/8.

20/03/09 Round 5: Kramnik and Aronian share the lead on 6.5/10.

21/03/09 Round 6: Aronian leads again with 8/12, thanks to a 1˝-˝ victory over Karjakin. Anand defeated Radjabov 2-0 and moved into shared second place, together with Kramnik, with 7.5.

22/03/09 Round 7: Anand and Kramnik overtook Aronian to share the lead with 9/14. Anand defeated Karjakin 1˝-˝, while Kramnik booked the same result against Aronian. Carlsen defeated Wang Yue 2-0 and moved into 3rd= place with Aronian, on 8.5. Tomorrow will see the big clash between Anand and Kramnik.

23/03/09 Round 8: Anand defeated Kramnik 1˝-˝ and is in the sole lead with 10.5/16. Aronian and Carlsen are 2nd= with 10, and Kramnik 4th with 9.5.

25/03/09 Round 9: Anand vs Topalov ended in a 1-1 tie, allowing both Aronian (who beat Morozevich 1˝-˝) and Carlsen (who beat Karjakin 1˝-˝), to draw level with Anand, all on 11.5/18 in a three way tie for 1st.

26/03/09 Round 10: Anand stumbled against Morozevich, and Carlsen lost to Kramnik, so Aronian moves into the sole lead with 13/20. Aronian defeated Wang Yue 1˝-˝, and with one round (two games) to go and he is one full point ahead of Anand and Carlsen with 12 each. In the last round Aronian plays Topalov, Anand faces Wang Yue, and Carlsen is paired with Radjabov.

27/03/09 Round 11: Aronian wins 18th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament With 14/22. The Armenian grandmaster, the defending Champion, survived scary moments in his blindfold game against Topalov and then comfortably drew the rapid game to take the title. In 2nd= place were Anand and Kramnik with 13.5. Anand defeated Wang Yue 1˝-˝, while Kramnik routed Peter Leko 2-0. In the blindfold competition 1st= were Carlsen, Aronian and Kramnik. In the rapid competition 1st= were Anand, Aronian and Kamsky.

Some interesting observations:
- Topalov drew more games than anyone else.
- Anand and Kramnik both had a combined record of 8+ 11= 3-.
- Kamsky came first in the Rapid and last in the Blindfold.
- The tournament saw a revival of the Caro-Kann Defence, with a combined record of 4+ 6= 2-. Blind record 2+ 4= 1-. Rapid record 2+ 2= 1-.
- Anand played the Caro-Kann Defence the most, with a record of 2+ 3= 0-, Morozevich's record 1+ 1= 1-, Leko's record 0+ 2= 0-, Aronian's record 1+ 0= 0-, and Topalov's record 0+ 0= 1-. Anand is a Sicilian specialist, Morozevich a French, Leko a Sicilian, Aronian a Ruy Lopez, and Topalov a Sicilian.
- The Sicilian Defence is still the most popular reply to 1. e4, with a combined record of 5+ 8= 6-. Blind record 2+ 3= 3-. Rapid record 3+ 5= 3-.
- Radjabov played the Sicilian Defence the most, with a record of 1+ 3= 4-, Carlsen 1+ 1= 1-, Ivanchuk 0+ 2= 1-, Karjakin 0+ 2= 0-, Topalov 1+ 0= 0-, Kramnik 1+ 0= 0-, and Kamsky 1+ 0= 0-. All these players are Sicilian specialists except Kamsky, who is a Ruy Lopez specialist.

Cross Table
No Name                   Feder  Rtg  Total  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11

1  Veselin Topalov        BUL    2796 5.5    2:D  3:D  4:L  5:L  6:D  7:D  8:L  9:D 10:W 11:W 12:W   Bld 
                                      5.0    2:D  3:D  4:D  5:W  6:D  7:D  8:D  9:D 10:D 11:L 12:L   Rpd 
2  Viswanathan Anand      IND    2791 6.5    1:D  3:D  4:L  5:L  6:W  7:W  8:W  9:D 10:D 11:D 12:W   Bld
                                      7.0    1:D  3:W  4:D  5:D  6:W  7:D  8:L  9:D 10:W 11:W 12:D   Rpd
3  Vasily Ivanchuk        UKR    2779 5.0    1:D  2:D  4:D  5:W  6:W  7:W  8:L  9:L 10:L 11:D 12:L   Bld
                                      4.5    1:D  2:L  4:D  5:D  6:D  7:D  8:W  9:L 10:D 11:D 12:L   Rpd
4  Magnus Carlsen         NOR    2776 7.0    1:W  2:W  3:D  5:W  6:L  7:L  8:D  9:D 10:W 11:W 12:D   Bld
                                      6.0    1:D  2:D  3:D  5:D  6:W  7:D  8:D  9:L 10:W 11:L 12:W   Rpd
5  Alexander Morozevich   RUS    2771 6.5    1:W  2:W  3:L  4:L  6:D  7:L  8:D  9:D 10:W 11:W 12:W   Bld
                                      4.5    1:L  2:D  3:D  4:D  6:D  7:W  8:L  9:L 10:W 11:D 12:L   Rpd
6  Teimour Radjabov       AZE    2761 5.0    1:D  2:L  3:L  4:W  5:D  7:L  8:D  9:L 10:D 11:W 12:W   Bld
                                      4.0    1:D  2:L  3:D  4:L  5:D  7:D  8:D  9:D 10:L 11:L 12:W   Rpd
7  Vladimir Kramnik       RUS    2759 7.0    1:D  2:L  3:L  4:W  5:W  6:W  8:W  9:D 10:W 11:D 12:D   Bld
                                      6.5    1:D  2:D  3:D  4:D  5:L  6:D  8:W  9:W 10:W 11:D 12:D   Rpd
8  Peter Leko             HUN    2751 5.5    1:W  2:L  3:W  4:D  5:D  6:D  7:L  9:W 10:D 11:D 12:L   Bld
                                      4.5    1:D  2:W  3:L  4:D  5:W  6:D  7:L  9:L 10:D 11:L 12:D   Rpd
9  Levon Aronian          ARM    2750 7.0    1:D  2:D  3:W  4:D  5:D  6:W  7:D  8:L 10:W 11:W 12:D   Bld
                                      7.0    1:D  2:D  3:W  4:W  5:W  6:D  7:L  8:W 10:D 11:L 12:W   Rpd
10 Wang Yue               CHN    2739 3.5    1:L  2:D  3:W  4:L  5:L  6:D  7:L  8:D  9:L 11:D 12:D   Bld
                                      4.0    1:D  2:L  3:D  4:L  5:L  6:W  7:L  8:D  9:D 11:D 12:D   Rpd
11 Gata Kamsky            USA    2725 3.0    1:L  2:D  3:D  4:L  5:L  6:L  7:D  8:D  9:L 10:D 12:D   Bld
                                      7.0    1:W  2:L  3:D  4:W  5:D  6:W  7:D  8:W  9:W 10:D 12:L   Rpd
12 Sergey Karjakin        UKR    2706 4.5    1:L  2:L  3:W  4:D  5:L  6:L  7:D  8:W  9:D 10:D 11:D   Bld
                                      6.0    1:W  2:D  3:W  4:L  5:W  6:L  7:D  8:D  9:L 10:D 11:W   Rpd

Medium Elo: 2759 <=> Cat: XXI 
Round 01 (pgn file) Round 02 (pgn file) Round 03 (pgn file) Round 04 (pgn file) Round 05 (pgn file)
Round 06 (pgn file) Round 07 (pgn file) Round 08 (pgn file) Round 09 (pgn file) Round 10 (pgn file)
Round 11 (pgn file)

To play through the Blindfold games by opening

To play through the Rapid games by opening

26th Linares Tournament 15th February - 7th March 2009

                                   Image Can't read Spanish? You don't need to. Just click onto the link to the official website. Google Translation will automatically translate the Spanish to English.

Former UAE prodigy rides to the rescue of 'chess Wimbledon'
The architect of the UAE bid, Sulaiman Al-Fahim, was a chess prodigy 'ranked fifth in the world at age nine', on an under-10 list. His playing career ceased early but now he is now president of the UAE chess association. The elite tournament at Linares, Spain, known as the 'chess Wimbledon' has had budgetary problems in recent years, which were temporarily solved by playing the first half of the tournament in Morelia, Mexico. This year the Mexicans pulled out and it seemed that Linares's future was again uncertain. Then came an announcement during the current event that from 2010 onwards the tournament would be shared between Spain and the UAE. Al-Fahim commented that "We will pay the expenses of the players and the prizes, I think around two million euros." So, the world's top GMs will be clamouring for one of the eight invitations to Linares-Dubai or Abu Dhabi 2010. Extract from

06/03/09 - Eight of the best super GMs do battle. Alexander Grischuk leads with 7 after Rd 12. Two more rounds to go, and Grischuk has just lost to Magnus Carlsen, on 6.5 with Vassily Ivánchuk. Viswanathan Anand has no hope, coming 4th= with Levon Aronian on 6. Anand must still face Grischuk and then Carlsen.

07/03/09 - The tournament is now wide open, with Ivanchuk beating Aronian. So, Ivanchuk and Grischuk now lead with 7.5 each, followed by Carlsen on 7. Anand is 4th on 6.5. One round to go.

08/03/09 - Grischuk of Russia was the surprise winner of the elite Linares tournament in Spain. He and Ivanchuk of Ukraine finished with the same score of 8/14, but Grischuk was the winner on tie-break based on having won more games (three) than Ivanchuk (two). Carlsen of Norway finished on 7.5 in 3rd place, and Anand of India, the world champion, finished on 7 in 4th place. No doubt Veselin Topalov will be analysing Anand's games in great detail. Anand seems to have lost the will to win. There were several games in which he held the advantage but agreed to a draw.

No Name			1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	Pts 

1  Viswanathan Anand   	x	0.5 	0.0 	1.0 	0.0 	1.0 	0.5 	0.5 	
   Rating 2791 Fed IND	x	0.5	0.5	0.5	0.5	0.5	0.5	0.5	7.0
2  Vassily Ivánchuk    	0.5 	x	0.5 	0.5 	1.0 	0.5 	0.5 	0.5 	  
   Rating 2779 Fed UKR	0.5	x      	0.5	0.5	1.0	0.5	0.5	0.5	8.0
3  Magnus Carlsen      	1.0 	0.5 	x 	0.5 	0.5 	0.5 	0.5 	0.5 	 
   Rating 2776 Fed NOR	0.5	0.5	x	0.5	0.0	0.0	1.0	1.0	7.5
4  Teimour Radjabov    	0.0 	0.5 	0.5 	x 	0.5 	0.5 	0.0 	0.5 	 
   Rating 2760 Fed AZE	0.5	0.5	0.5	x	1.0	0.5	0.5	0.5	6.5
5  Levon Aronian      	1.0 	0.0 	0.5 	0.5 	x 	0.5 	0.0 	1.0 	
   Rating 2750 Fed ARM	0.5	0.0	1.0	0.0	x	0.5	0.5	0.5	6.5
6  Wang Yue    		0.0 	0.5 	0.5 	0.5 	0.5 	x 	0.0 	0.5 	 
   Rating 2739 Fed CHN	0.5	0.5	1.0	0.5	0.5	x	0.5	0.5	6.5
7  Alexander Grischuk  	0.5 	0.5 	0.5	1.0 	1.0 	1.0 	x 	0.5 	 
   Rating 2733 Fed RUS	0.5	0.5	0.0	0.5	0.5	0.5	x	0.5	8.0
8  Lenie Dominguez  	0.5 	0.5 	0.5 	0.5 	0.0 	0.5 	0.5 	x 	
   Rating 2717 Fed CUB	0.5	0.5    	0.0	0.5	0.5	0.5	0.5	x	6.0
Medium Elo: 2755 <=> Cat: XXI  
All 56 games (pgn file)

To play through the games by opening

World Chess Challenge 17th - 27th February 2009

       GM Gata Kamsky                                                         GM Veselin Topalov 
                                        Image from      World Chess Challenge in Sofia, Bulgaria - Veselin Topalov vs Gata Kamsky.

Early career of Gata Kamsky

Gata Kamsky was born 2 June 1974 in Novokuznetsk, Russia.

He won the Soviet under-20 championship twice before 1989, and at age 12, defeated veteran Grandmaster Mark Taimanov in a tournament game. He was possibly the then youngest person to defeat a grandmaster. He also earned his National Master title in that year. In 1989 he moved to the United States with his father Rustam.

In 1990, while aged 16 and still untitled, he played in the 64-player Interzonal tournament, the first step towards the World Chess Championship. He finished with 5.5 / 13.

In 1990, FIDE awarded Kamsky the grandmaster title. In 1991, he won the U.S. Championship. Kamsky also did well at other prestigious chess tournaments, winning the Las Palmas tournament in 1994.

World Championship Candidate (1993-1996)

In 1993, the rival organisations FIDE and PCA each held Interzonal tournaments. Kamsky played in both, and in both cases qualified for the respective Candidates Tournaments. In the first round of the 1994-95 FIDE Candidates matches, Kamsky beat Paul van der Sterren (+3=3-1). Kamsky's quarter-final match against Anand, held in July and August 1994 in Sanghi Nagar, India, was more dramatic. After draws in the first two games, Anand won the next two games to take an imposing 3–1 lead. Game 5 was drawn. Kamsky then scored 2.5–.5 in the remaining three games to tie the match 4–4 (+2=4-2), then won the two rapid chess playoff games to win the match. In the semi-final, held in Sanghi Nagar in February 1995, Kamsky routed Valery Salov 5.5–1.5 (+4=3-0).

In the 1994-95 PCA Candidates matches, Kamsky beat Vladimir Kramnik in the quarter-finals in New York in June, 1994. In September, 1994 Kamsky beat Nigel Short in the semi-finals in Linares, Spain. In the March 1995 final against Anand in Las Palmas, the FIDE result was reversed, with Kamsky losing (+1=7-3).

In 1996, Kamsky played a 20-game match against Anatoly Karpov for the FIDE World Chess Championship 1996 title at Elista in Kalmykia, losing 7.5–10.5 (+3=9-6).

Inactivity (1996-2004)

After losing the match to Karpov, Kamsky gave up chess. He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1999. Later he attended medical school for a year. He then attended and graduated from law school at Touro Law Center in New York.

Kamsky's next rated games after his loss to Karpov were in 1999, when he returned to play in the FIDE Knockout World Championship event in Las Vegas, where he played a two-game match against Alexander Khalifman. Kamsky won the first game, lost the second game, and then lost the rapid play-off games.

Comeback (2004 onwards)

Kamsky did not play another game in public until June 15, 2004, when he participated in the 106th New York Masters, playing four games in a day with a time control of 30 minutes for all moves. His two wins and two draws were enough for him to tie for first place. He subsequently played in several other editions of the weekly event with mixed success, before returning to regular chess in the 2005. He was rated number 19 in the world on the April 2005 FIDE Elo rating list, at 2700. He retained this rating on the July 2005 list, but moved up to number 18, after a good unbeaten result at the 2005 HB Global Challenge tournament, held in Minneapolis in May, 2005.

He has since returned to international chess, most notably finishing second behind Veselin Topalov at the M-Tel Masters 2006. Soon after, Kamsky led the US team to the bronze medal at the International Chess Olympiad at Turin. In 2005, Kamsky played in the FIDE World Cup Tournament, and qualified for the Candidates Tournament for the FIDE World Chess Championship in May-June 2007. He won his first round match against Etienne Bacrot (+3-0=1), but was eliminated when he lost his second round match to Boris Gelfand +0-2=3.

In November-December 2007, Kamsky won the Chess World Cup 2007. In the final he defeated Alexei Shirov (+1-0=3). This earned him a match against Veselin Topalov in 2009, for the right to challenge for the World Chess Championship in 2009. The match will be held in Sofia, Bulgaria 17th - 27th February 2009.

Veselin Topalov

Veselin Topalov born 15 March 1975 is a Bulgarian Grandmaster and the 19th World Champion. In the January 2009 FIDE rating list, he is ranked first with an ELO 2780. His current trainer and manager is International Master Silvio Danailov.

Topalov became the World Champion by winning the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. He was awarded the 2005 Chess Oscar. In October 2006, Topalov had the second highest Elo rating of all time (2813).


Veselin Topalov was born in Rousse, Bulgaria. His father taught him to play chess at the age of eight. In 1989 he won the World Under 14 Championship in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and in 1990 won the silver medal at the World Under 16 Championship in Singapore. He became a Grandmaster in 1992.

Topalov has been the leader of the Bulgarian national team since 1994. At the 1994 Chess Olympiad in Moscow he led the Bulgarians to a fourth-place finish.

Over the next ten years he won a number of tournaments, and ascended the world chess rankings. As early as 1996, he was being invited to "supergrandmaster" events for the world's élite. In the knockout tournaments for the World Chess Championship, he reached the last 16 in 1999, the quarter-finals in 2000, the final 16 in 2001, and the semi-finals in the 2004.

Topalov scored his first "super-tournament" success at Linares 2005, tying for the first place with Garry Kasparov (though losing on tiebreak rules), and defeating Kasparov in the last round, in what was to be Kasparov's last tournament game before his retirement. He followed this up with a one point victory (+4 =5 -1) at the M-Tel Masters 2005, ahead of Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Ruslan Ponomariov, Michael Adams, and Judit Polgar. The average rating of the participants was 2744, making this super-GM, double round-robin tournament the strongest in 2005.

On the strength of his rating, Topalov was invited to the eight-player, double round-robin World Chess Championship in San Luis, Argentina, in September-October 2005. Scoring 6.5/7 in the first cycle, Topalov had virtually clinched the tournament at the halfway mark, before drawing every game in the second cycle to win by 1.5 points and become World Champion. The average rating of the field in the championship was 2739, and Topalov's performance rating was 2890!

In May 2006, Topalov defended his M-Tel Masters title in the 2006 edition of the tournament, coming first with 6.5, a half point ahead of Gata Kamsky (whom he beat 2-0).

In September – October 2006 Topalov played Vladimir Kramnik in a twelve-game title unification match. The match was drawn at 6-6, but Topalov lost the tie-break 2.5-1.5.

In January 2007, Topalov finished in joint first place (ahead of Kramnik, who finished 4th) at the Category 19 Corus Tournament along with Levon Aronian and Teimour Radjabov.

During the same year the Grand Slam was founded. The top level tournaments were united by the idea to give opportunity to world's strongest players to determine who is the best. The winners took place in the final event - the Grand Slam Masters in Bilbao (Spain) in September 2008. Vesko convincingly won the trophy! In November he was the leader of the Bulgarian team at the Chess Olympics in Dresden, his performance - 6.5 out of 8 - being excellent. Those high scores got him the top ranking in FIDE's January Rating List.

In December China organised its first top level chess tournament - an event of the extra strong 21st category took place in Nanjing. Once again Vesko was more than convincing - he finished first with 1.5 points lead.

He is obviously entering his top form. All experts are predicting him as the winner of the forthcoming World Chess Championship semi-final against Gata Kamsky. This match will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria, 17th - 27th February 2009.

Both profiles have been copied from, the official website.

22/02/09 Game 4: Topalov is the overwhelming favourite with a 6 - 2 personal score, and Kamsky had a period of inactivity whilst studying for a law degree. But it is not turning out like the predictions. The score is 2 - 2 after Rd 4, and this is turning out to be a huge battle. There has been very sharp play in every game so far, and it is obvious that they are not there to draw. Kamsky played the typical 12. Ng5 but only after 11. ... Bf8 leaving Black's Rook misplaced after 12. ... Re7. This reinforces White's usual threat of Ng3 and Nf5, hitting the Black Rook. White follows up with the usual strategy with 18. h4, and Black counters with 21. ...c6. Kamsky then sacrifices the "c3" pawn with 26. b3 and it soon becomes clear that White has activated both Bishops and all the major pieces - the Knights were already on their ideal squares. Kamsky easily wins the pawn back with 35. Bxb4. He takes over the open "c" file and pressures the weak Black "d6" pawn on the half open "d" file, finally winning it with 42. Bxd6. After some manoeuvring and a series of exchanges, Kamsky played 58. Ne4 to indirectly protect the White passed pawn on "d5". With the loss of the Black Bishop imminent Black resigned.

24/02/09 Game 5: Topalov takes the lead for the second time. This may be the first French Defence seen at the very highest level for many years. This was the first positional game of the match. Topalov played 9. c4 to lumber Black with three pawn islands versus White's two, and more importantly the White "a" and "b" pawns will come up against a lone Black "a" pawn in the endgame. Topalov set the trap with 35. Rc2 and Kamsky fell into it with 35. ... Nb4? losing a pawn with 37. Rxd4!. Kamsky should have probably resigned after 41. Qe4+ with the capture of the "b4" pawn next move. He was probably still in shock over White's 37th move. Topalov has a huge psychological advantage now, and has the home crowd in support. So Kamsky will have to recover fast.

25/02/09 Game 6: Well, no wonder Topalov would not comment on his choice of openings whilst the match is in progress. Kamsky played the French Defence in last game, and Topalov proved he can play positionally. Now Topalov simply wants to draw the rest of the games, and pulls out the Caro-Kann Defence as a drawing weapon. How well does Topalov know the Caro-Kann? Well, since 1998 of the 16 games he had played on the Black side his record is 5+ 9= 2-, which is amazing considering that one of the losses was a rapid game, and that he is a Sicilian specialist. But of particular note is that 12 of those 16 games were all played last year! Not to be outdone, Kamsky has played 24 games on the Black side since 1989, with a record of 8+ 11= 5-. Three of them were at Corus this year, and three last year. Compare these statistics with the last game, where Kamsky had no previous games with the Black side of the French Defence, compared to 31 games by Topalov 11+ 11= 9-.

Kamsky chose 4. Nf3, which was played by Leinier Dominguez-Perez as White against him at Corus last month. Topalov varies with 5. ... c5, instead of Kamsky's 5. ... Nd7. Mr Fritz recommends 5. ... Ne7. With 6. Be3 Kamsky chose not to hold the pawn barrier with 6. c3. I don't like 11. ... g6 as that square belongs to the King's Knight, and the dark squares are weakened. The recapture 13. ... Nxd5?! allowed 14. Bc5 thus preventing castling. Mr Fritz gives an easy draw with 13. ... Qxd5 14. Qa4 Qa5 15. Qxa5 Nxa5. Unnecessary was 15. Qc1, when the simple 15. Bxf8 spoils Blacks castling. Instead of recapturing Topalov plays 16. ... Nd4! striking at the White Queen, and Bishop on "e2". Removal of another set of minor pieces makes life more comfortable for the Black King, who is feeling a little exposed at present. The two open files invite the exchange of both pairs of Rooks, leaving a typical Caro-Kann Queen and Knight ending, which is complicated. After 32. ... Qe2! White is actually in "zugzwang" (not able to move without conceeding an advantage to the opponent), and upon 33. Qe3 Topalov should have exchanged Queens and left White with doubled "e" file pawns. But Mr Fritz says it would make no difference after 33. ... Qxe3 34. fxe3 f5 35. exf6+ Kxf6. Black picks off the pawn on "b3" but White uses the dark square weaknesses to force a draw by three-fold repetition.

27/02/09 Game 7: Well, another French Defence Tarrasch Variation from Kamsky, despite his lack of experience with it. Topalov played the more popular 4. exd5 instead of 4. Ngf3 from game 5. Kamsky played the less popular 6. ... Qd6 instead of 6. ... Qd8, which is the Eliskases Variation. There is nothing wrong with the move played though. I was watching the game live for a few moves after 13. ... Qb6 and I think they were still in their opening preparation right up to at least 16. ... a4, due to the speed of the moves by both players. Kamsky wanted to remain active, whilst Topalov was drawing the Black Queen away from defence of the Kingside, and developing and positioning his pieces straight towards the Black king. But it started to go wrong for Black, strategically, as after 17. ... Qxb2? Topalov replied with 18. Bg5! which I only found by asking Mr Fritz. So it seems that Topalov won the opening preparation battle. Why can't Black win a piece? Well, after the critical line 18. ... Bxd4 19. Rxd4 Qxc2 20. Bxf6! gxf6? 21. Rg4+ the Queen is lost or Black is Mated. So, 18. ... Nd5! 19. c4! Bxd4 20. Qd3 (Mr Fritz says 20. Re2 is better) 20. ... f5 21. Qxd4 Qxc2 22. cxd5 Qxa2 Black has defended perfectly, is two pawns up, and appears to be holding his own. Mr Fritz says Black has a slight advantage.

But then came 23. Qb6! and the Black position has holes exposed on the dark squares. 23. ... a3 24. Be7? (24. dxe6 wins a piece) 24. ... Rfe8 25. Qd6?! (25. Qxb7) 25. ... Ba4? (25. ... Bc8) 26. Qxe6+ Kh8 27. Ra1 Qc4 28. Rec1?! (28. Rxa3) 28. ... Bc2! 29. Qd7?! (29. Qe1! Rad8 30. h3 Rxd5 31. Rxa3 h6) 29. ... a2! 30. d6? (30. Qxb7) 30. ... b5?! (30. ... Qb3) 31. Qb7 Reb8? (31. ... b4! 32. d7 Reb8 33. d8Q+ Rxd8 34. Bxd8 Rxd8 35. Qe7 Rc8 36. Qe5 b3 37. Re1 f4 38. Qb2 f3 39. gxf3 Qf7 -+ is the win that Kamsky missed, says Mr Fritz) 32. Qc7 Rc8? Black had a clear advantage until now, and apparently this is the losing move, but I can't see how - Mr Fritz cannot make up his mind between 32. ... Bd3 and 32. ... Be4, but the critical line must be 32. ... Bd3 33. Rxc4 bxc4 34. h3 Rb1+ 35. Kh2 Rxa1 36. d7 Rh1+ 37. Kg3 Rg8! 38. d8Q a1Q 39. Qcb8 Rxh3+ 40. gxh3 Qg1+ 41. Kf3 Be4+ 42. Ke2 Bd5 43. Bf8 Bf7 44. Qe5 Bh5+ =. Holding onto the pawns was tricky, and 38. ... b4? lost the pawn on "a2" (38. ... Bd3!). This was an excellent game, with very long sequences of perfect moves by both players. But in the end, there had to be a winner and a loser. Congratulations to Topalov, and I feel sorry for Kamsky, as he tried so hard.

The final score was Topalov 4.5 - Kamsky 2.5 (best of 8 games), after Topalov won in Game 7, 26th February 2009 (Central Europe Summer Time).

Topalov becomes the challenger for the World Chess Championship against the reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand in April 2010. Will Topalov be the second ex-FIDE World Champion, after Anand, to ascend to the Classical World Champion throne? Topalov looks like the player in form, whilst Anand is looking very average at the 26th Linares Tournament with 3.5 from 7 and coming 4th-5th out of eight players. But it will be the match of the century, as they are both aggressive players with similar styles.

17/02/09 V Topalov vs G Kamsky Game 1 1/2-1/2 Score Topalov 0.5 Kamsky 0.5
D86 Gruenfeld Defence, Exchange, Classical Variation

18/02/09 G Kamsky vs V Topalov Game 2 0-1 Score Topalov 1.5 Kamsky 0.5
C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence, Beverwijk Variation

20/02/09 V Topalov vs G Kamsky Game 3 1/2-1/2 Score Topalov 2.0 Kamsky 1.0
D81 Gruenfeld Defence, Russian Variation

21/02/09 G Kamsky vs V Topalov Game 4 1-0 Score Topalov 2.0 Kamsky 2.0
C92 Ruy Lopez, Closed Defence, Zaitsev Variation

23/02/09 V Topalov vs G Kamsky Game 5 1-0 Score Topalov 3.0 Kamsky 2.0
C07 French Defence, Tarrasch, Open Variation

24/02/09 G Kamsky vs V Topalov Game 6 1/2-1/2 Score Topalov 3.5 Kamsky 2.5
B12 Caro-Kann Defence, Advance Variation

26/02/09 V Topalov vs G Kamsky Game 7 1-0 Score Topalov 4.5 Kamsky 2.5
C07 French Defence, Tarrasch, Open Variation

Game 01 (pgn file) Game 02 (pgn file) Game 03 (pgn file) Game 04 (pgn file) Game 05 (pgn file) Game 06 (pgn file) Game 07 (pgn file)

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