World no. 2 Wesley So got the one he wanted on Monday in St. Louis as he won the US Championship on his third attempt. Alexander Onischuk put up a heroic fight in the rapid playoffs but lost his way in complications in the first game and then needed to win the second to force Armageddon. He came incredibly close, but ultimately couldn’t stop Wesley snatching the $50,000 first prize.

Wesley So added the coveted title of U.S. chess champion to his growing list of international super-tournament victories, winning a two-game, tiebreaking playoff in heart-stopping fashion Monday.

By winning the national championship, the 23-year-old grandmaster from Minnetonka continued to build the case that he has the best chance of any of his rivals of dethroning the world champion.

“He’s very hard to beat, very levelheaded, very practical, and he’s growing in front of us,” said grandmaster Maurice Ashley. “Imagine how strong he’s going to be in two years.”

So has won tougher international competitions than the U.S. Championship — which features America’s top 12 grandmasters — but he desperately wanted to earn this title for the first time.

“I really wanted to win this one this year … because it’s the strongest national competition in the world,” So said. “All the great [U.S.] players have won this one.”

So faced a playoff after he finished the nearly two-week tournament Sunday in a two-way tie for first place. The playoff with grandmaster Alexander Onischuk of Texas consisted of two “rapid” games in which each player had only 25 minutes on his clock for the entire game. So, playing with the white pieces, dominated the first game.

“Kudos to Wesley the way he created instant madness” that confounded Onischuk, said Ashley, providing live-stream commentary.

Onischuk, nearly out of time and completely out of defensive resources, resigned. With that win, So only needed a draw in the second game to win the championship.

In that game, the colors were reversed, and so were the players’ fortunes. So found himself on the ropes, down two pawns and edging closer and closer to running out of time on his clock, which would mean an immediate loss. Down to his last 18 seconds, So found a way to keep checking Onischuk’s king with his knight, and there was no way for the king to escape. That perpetual check forced Onischuk to concede the draw and the championship — and the first prize of $50,000.

“Today wasn’t easy at all, but I wasn’t expecting it to be,” So said, adding that his play in the tournament shows he still has “a lot to improve upon.”

“I’m just happy to have won this and to be able to say I’m the U.S. champion.”

So’s rapid rise has been spectacular. He came to the U.S. from the Philippines on a college chess scholarship in 2012 when he was ranked No. 99 in the world. A little more than two years later he broke into the world top 10, earning invitations to elite tournaments. At first he struggled against the world’s best players. At the 2015 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, he finished dead last in a 10-player field.

But So honed his game and gained confidence. Since last July, he has dominated elite international competitions. He is now the No. 2-ranked player in the world, behind only the world champion. At the U.S. Championship he extended his unbeaten streak to 67 games, one of the longest such runs in history.

So’s calendar for the rest of the year includes top-flight competitions in Azerbaijan, Norway, Paris, Belgium, Spain, St. Louis (again), Georgia (the country) and London.

By the end of the year, So hopes to secure one of eight spots in what’s called the Candidates Tournament. That tournament is likely to be held next spring, and the winner earns the right to play a head-to-head match against the world champion, Magnus Carlsen, for his title.


See also:

  • Official website
  • The US Chess Championships on chess24: Overall | Women
  • US Chess Championship, Round 1: So and Nakamura strike first
  • US Chess Championship, Round 2: Fighting chess
  • US Chess Championship, Round 3: So survives Caruana scare
  • US Chess Championship, Round 4: Wesley’s gamble pays off
  • US Chess Championship, Round 5: Kamsky shocks Xiong
  • US Chess Championship, Round 6: So’s close shave
  • US Chess Championship, Round 7: Zherebukh stuns Caruana
  • US Chess Championship, Round 8: Akobian catches So
  • US Chess Championship, Round 9: So’s masterpiece, Fabi & Naka crash
  • US Chess Championship, Round 10: Three-way fight
  • US Chess Championship, Round 11: Foisor triumphs, So gambles
Nov 30, 2016

Chess Armageddon may strike New York City Today : Watch Live Game

Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin will break their tie with speed chess and, if needed, the dreaded ‘Armageddon Game.’

Armageddon may strike New York City on Wednesday. This cataclysmic moment could finally decide a winner—the East versus the West—in a long-simmering battle for global supremacy. In chess.

Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin find themselves tied in the World Chess Championship after completing their best-of-12 match in Manhattan over the last month. In 10 of the games, there was no winner. Karjakin, the Russian challenger and the world’s No. 9-ranked player, stole one win. And then Carlsen, the No. 1-ranked champion from Norway, took a game of his own to even the score.

Their dead heat has sent the championships to a tiebreaker that will be held Wednesday. Carlsen and Karjakin will play a series of rapid and blitz games—and, if necessary, what’s known in chess as an “Armageddon Game.” It’s a game that’s guaranteed to produce a winner with rules so frenetic they could introduce never-seen-before controversy into the chess universe.

“The tension would be unbelievable,” said Dylan McClain, a master-level player. “I would suspect there would be people who are not happy.”

Live Game

In an Armageddon Game, the players will draw lots and the winner gets to choose if he is white or black. White will have five minutes to complete his moves and black will have four, but with a twist: If the game ends in a draw, black wins.

No World Chess Championship has ever been decided this way. This one just might. “Let’s hope there won’t be Armageddon, because it’s a little bit too much,” Karjakin said.

Exactly how the chess world arrived at a moment dates back decades to a time when championships took even longer. For example, the 1984 World Chess Championships between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov were abandoned after 48 games that stretched over five months and into 1985. The president of FIDE, the governing body of chess, eventually called it off, citing the concerns over the health of the players. Karpov had reportedly lost upwards of 20 pounds during the grueling affair.

Since then the matches have been shortened, resulting in the best-of-12 format that began in 2006. They also got rid of draw odds—where the reigning champion retained the title in case of a tie—because two different players had claimed to be the champion after the title split in 1993. All of this led the way to the elaborate tiebreaker system which will be seen on Wednesday.

First, Carlsen and Karjakin will engage in four rapid games, in which they have 25 minutes apiece. If they’re still tied, they would progress to a round of “blitz” matches, where they have five minutes aside. Should they remain tied after the blitz games, the Armageddon Game will settle it all.
Carlsen says he’s not sure if he would rather be white or black in the Armageddon Game—with all of their draws so far, black might be logical, but it would also depend on how the earlier tiebreaker games go. Karjakin wouldn’t even answer which he prefers.

The World Chess Championships have reached tiebreakers twice in this format—in 2006 and 2012—but neither of those went as far as chess’s version of the apocalypse. And should it head there on Wednesday, controversy would be a near certainty. Which is exactly what happened in 2008 when the United States women’s championship was decided in this format.

Irina Krush ran out of time in that 2008 Armageddon Game. Her opponent, Anna Zatonskih, was declared champion. Zatonskih had one second left. Krush said Zatonskih played moves even before her own ones were completed and disputed the result, saying Zatonskih maintained her waning clock time through illegal means. After the game, Krush slammed a piece off the board and stormed off.ararmageddon-looms

“I would certainly welcome any initiative to decide the title in over-the-board games, with real time controls that don’t degrade the participants into clock punching monkeys,” Krush wrote in an open letter afterwards.

This boils down to the fact that such a frantic game is a distant cousin of the methodical matches that make these players the best in the world. It’s the chess equivalent of penalty kicks in soccer—a solution that quickly produces a winner, even if it’s barely a measure of the skill that got the competitors to that point in the first place.

Should these fast games become necessary, Carlsen would appear to have the edge. He’s ranked No. 1 in rapid chess and No. 2 in blitz, while Karjakin is No. 11 in blitz and not in the top 100 in rapid. “I want to play a tiebreak,” said Carlsen, who will play for the title on his birthday. When asked if he was comfortable drawing the last game because of his skill as a speed player, he added: “That’s one interpretation.”

Then again, few thought Karjakin would play Carlsen so tightly in the first place. So even an unlikely proposition like an Armageddon Game suddenly seems realistic.

“2016 has been weird,” said Kassa Korley, an international master. “Between Brexit, Trump, LeBron and the 3-1 deficit, things have just been shocking all around.”


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Mar 04, 2017

Tan Zhongyi is the new Women’s World Chess Champion

The No9 seed beat Anna Muzychuk and Ju Wenjun on her way to the title in a tournament that was marred by controversy. Tan Zhongyi became the new Women’s World Champion after defeating Anna Muzychuk in tiebreaks. The 25-year-old has kept the title in China, after showing good technique and an astounding competitive spirit. Tan Zhongyi played no less than 34 games, and overcame a number of highly tense encounters.

After a draw in Game 4, the Women’s World Chess Championship final — just like the World Championship in New York — was decided in tiebreaks. A priori, Anna Muzychuk was the favorite given the fact that she obtained an impressive double gold in last year’s Rapid and Blitz World Championships in Qatar. The Ukrainian had White in the first 25-minute game.

The Chinese used the Petroff Defense and, curiously, until move 14 followed a game played by Anna Muzychuk against her sister. That game ended in a peaceful draw in a little over 30 moves, but this one would be different!

3484: David Howell v Das Debaskis, world rapid, Doha 2016. How did the English GM (White, to play) win a pawn down with his bishop attacked?

The world women’s championship in Tehran ended with a shock on Friday afternoon when Tan Zhongyi, the No9 seed but little known outside China, defeated the No2 seed, Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine, in speed tie-breaks to capture the crown. Tan Zhongyi had earlier knocked out the top seed, Ju Wenjun, but two of her other matches went to nine games and she more than once escaped elimination when opponents missed simple winners.

It cannot be called a good result for women’s chess, for Tan Zhongyi’s next move will be a match against Ju Wenjun, who won the women’s Grand Prix to become the official challenger. Two Chinese players, neither of them the all-time No2, Hou Yifan, who did not defend her title due to her dislike of the knock-out format, equals indifference from chess fans.

The championship was controversial from the start. The global chess body Fide awarded it to Iran as the only bidder, a decision which sparked immediate protests which intensified when it became clear that all competitors would be required to wear a hijab headscarf. The Americans and some other leading players boycotted the tournament.

Iran had high hopes for its own players, but all were knocked out early. Coincidentally or not, the Iranian chess federation president marked the occasion by banning two of its players, both resident in Spain, for their conduct at Gibraltar several weeks earlier. A woman IM was penalised for not wearing the hijab at the event and her 15-year-old brother because the organisers accidentally paired him with an Israeli in the opening round, though he only found out later. Normal Fide policy is that Iranians and Israelis are not paired to avoid the probability of a default. The statement from Mehrdad Pahlenanzadeh said that “our national interests have priority over everything” and that he would offer “no leniency”.

Iranian chess has been pilloried in the media this week yet it could be that a positive item for them was the most significant of all. At Moscow Aeroflot, Iran’s national champion, Alireza Firoudja, just 13 years old, played a wonderful tournament, scoring 6/9, his first GM norm, a 2746 rating performance and the youngest 2700 result in chess history. Allowing for age, this is better than all the other current teenage talents except perhaps China’s Wei Yi.

“One of the most boring tournaments I ever played” tweeted a competitor in the €130,000 Fide Grand Prix at Sharjah, where almost 75% of the games were drawn, many before the battle had really started. Russia’s Alex Grischuk played a canny strategy, halving quickly as Black and grinding with White and won on tie-break from Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Shak Mamedyarov, who had led most of the way.

What really mattered were the Grand Prix points which will be added up following Moscow, Geneva and Palma de Mallorca later this year to decide two qualifiers for the 2018 candidates to produce a challenger for the jackpot – Magnus Carlsen’s world crown. The winning trio scored 5.5/9, just half a point in front of Hikaru Nakamura, but they were awarded 140 GP points to the American’s 70.

This means that Naka will be under pressure to win one of his remaining two tournaments, while Levon Aronian’s chances for the candidates have already taken a big hit. The Armenian’s listless 4/9 score earned him just seven GP points.

The Greek Gift Bxh7+ with a devastating attack on the king is one of the best-known tactics at all levels from club player up, so it is bizarre that Black allows it in a world title match. It was well telegraphed when White castled long and Black could have stopped it by 12…Nc5 or 13…f6. There were nuances after the bishop sac, but Muzychuk found the precise 15 Qd3+! and 17 Nxd5! after which Black was lost. In the final stages White’s rook and extra pawns easily crushed Black’s floundering knights.

Anna Muzychuk v Tan Zhongyi

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 f4 c5 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 Be3 Be7 8 Qd2 O-O?! 9 dxc5 Bxc5 10 O-O-O Qa5 11 a3 Be7 12 Bd3?! a6?! 13 h4! b5? 14 Bxh7+! Kxh7 15 Qd3+! Kg8 16 Ng5 f5 17 Nxd5! b4 18 Nxe7+ Nxe7 19 Bd2 Rb8 20 Qd6 Qc5 21 Bxb4 Qxd6 22 Bxd6 Ng6 23 Nxe6 Re8 24 Bxb8 Rxe6 25 g3 Bb7 26 Rh2 Nc5 27 Rd8+ Kh7 28 Bd6 Ne4 29 h5 Nh8 30 h6 Nf7 31 Rd7 Rxd6 32 Rxf7 1-0

Moscow’s Aeroflot Open went to Vladimir Fedoseev, 22, who leads a band of ambitious Russians in their late teens and early twenties advancing into the world top 100. None of them look like worrying Carlsen but they could become a team to end Russia’s drought in the 150-nation world Olympiad.

3484 1 Rh8+ Kg6 2 Qg5+! hxg5 3 h5 mate.


See also:

  • Official website
  • All the games with computer analysis on chess24
Apr 01, 2019

The Russian men’s team clinched gold with a 3.5:0.5 win over Sweden

The Russian men’s team have won the World Team Championship for the first time since 2013 after they crushed Sweden while England lost to China and India drew against the USA. Gold was also decided with a round to spare in the women’s section, where the Chinese team won an 8th match in a row to claim a first Women’s World Team Championship since 2011. Tan Zhongyi (6.5/8) and Lei Tingjie (6/7) got the wins against the USA. Silver and bronze medals will be up for grabs as the last round starts three hours earlier than usual on Thursday.

The Russian men’s team doesn’t have a stellar reputation in team tournaments, but that’s largely down to the Olympiad, which they’ve famously failed to win since 2002. Over the same period they’ve now won 4 of the 7 World Team Championships that have been played, and this time round they took full advantage of beating their key rivals China in Round 3. By the penultimate round they knew a victory might win them the title, and they methodically set about crushing the Swedish team.

See also:

  • Official website
  • All the games with computer analysis on chess24: Open | Women  
  • World Team Championship starts in Astana
  • World Teams 2-3: Russia pile misery on China
  • World Teams 4-5: Chinese women strike
  • World Teams 6-7: The moment of truth