Ivanchuk Leads Gibraltar Chess Festival and Korchnoi Is Unbeaten

Ivnachuk and ShortVassily Ivanchuk and Nigel Short at the start of their game in Round 6.

Game Replays

After a surprising start in which several lower ranked players took the lead of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, the tournament’s top seed, Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, took the lead Sunday by beating Nigel Short of England.

Short, who had a perfect score until he lost, was probably not surprised by the result. He said in the tournament bulletin after Round 5 that he had ““a very long shot for winning this tournament, and I say that as someone who has, in my three years here, won it twice, and come second, once.” As he explained, “The tournament has improved and there are some really top class players, and there are a lot of them.”

Ivanchuk has 5.5 points, followed by Short, Victor Mikhalevski of Israel and Daniel Fridman of Germany, who each have 5 points.

Several of the women in the tournament (there are special prizes for them, giving them more incentive to play) have continued to perform extremely well. Sunday, Nana Dzagnidze of the Republic of Georgia beat Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain, who is ranked No. 40 in the world.

Dzagnidze has 4.5 points, as does Nadezhda Kosintseva of Russia.

Another player having a great tournament is Viktor Korchnoi of Switzerland. Through six rounds, Korchnoi is undefeated, with two wins (one over Fabiano Caruana of Italy, ranked No. 25 in the world) and four draws, including a draw in Round 6 against Krishnan Sasikiran of India, who is ranked No. 45.

Korchnoi is profiled in Sunday’s Chess column. Though he is almost 80 years old, he continues to be an active and successful tournament player, which is extraordinary.

The only people in history who approached Korchnoi’s long career at such a high level are Emanuel Lasker, the second world champion, who placed third at a world-class tournament in Moscow in 1935, when he was 66, and Vasily Smyslov, the seventh world champion, who made it to the finals of the candidates matches in 1984 at age 63, before losing to Garry Kasparov.

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Nakamura Wins Tata Steel Chess Tournament

Game Replays

Hikaru Nakamura of the United States emerged as the winner of the elite section of the Tata Steel chess tournament in the Netherlands after a spate of draws in the final round on Sunday.

Nakamura finished with 9 points, a half point ahead of Viswanathan Anand of India, the world champion. Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Levon Aronian of Armenia tied for third, with 8 points each, while Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France were another half point back, tied for fifth.

In the final round, Nakamura had Black against Wang Hao of China. Rather than act like a wallflower and try not to lose, Nakamura played aggressively, even offering to sacrifice an exchange (a rook for a bishop). Wang refused to fully engage, however, and a draw was agreed to rather quickly.

Anand also had Black. His opponent, Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, gained a bit of a space advantage out of the opening and then did sacrifice an exchange to win a pawn. The resulting position was fairly balanced, however, and the players agreed to a draw after Nepomniachtchi set up a fortress that Anand would not have been able to break. (Interestingly, a computer evaluation of the position showed a clear advantage for Anand, which shows the limitations of computers in some types of positions.)

All-in-all, it was an exceptional performance by Nakamura, who won six games, lost once (to Carlsen), and drew six games. He finished ahead of the four top-ranked players in the world — one of the best results by an American in decades.

Garry Kasparov, the former world champion, was effusive, saying Nakamura’s result was perhaps even better than any tournament performance by Bobby Fischer, the former world champion, and maybe the best in more than 100 years.

Hikaru NakamuraKoen Suyk/European Pressphoto Agency Hikaru Nakamura just after winning the Tata Steel tournament.

In an e-mail, Kasparov said, “Fischer never won a tournament ahead of the world champion. He was second in Santa Monica,” referring to the Second Piatigorsky Cup. “Of course, there were far fewer such events back then, and Fischer had several great tournament results like Stockholm 62,” the interzonal qualifier for the world championship. “Reuben Fine only equaled Keres on points at AVRO in 38.”

Referring to the breakout performance of Frank J. Marshall, the United States Champion from 1909 to 1936, Mr. Kasparov continued, “Then you have Marshall at Cambridge Springs in 1904 ahead of Lasker, though Tarrasch wasn’t there. So unless you include Capablanca as an American player, I think you can go back to Pillsbury at Hastings 1895 for an American tournament victory on par with Nakamura’s.” (Harry Nelson Pillsbury was an American player who died at age 33, never having again equaled his triumph at his first international tournament.)

Kasparov’s analysis is interesting, but he seems to have neglected Gata Kamsky, who won the World Cup in 2007, and beat some outstanding players along the way, including Alexei Shirov, Peter Svidler, Ruslan Ponomariov, and Carlsen. Shirov and Ponomariov also played at Tata Steel. Nakamura beat Shirov and drew with Ponomariov.

Kamsky also played, and lost, a world championship match against Anatoly Karpov in 1996. To qualify, he won a series of matches against top players, including Anand.

In the B section, the co-leaders, Luke McShane of England and David Navara of the Czech Republic, did not play a quick grandmaster draw to split first place. They engaged in a long game of patient maneuvering and Navara, who was White, eventually won a pawn. He was unable to hold on to it, however. They agreed to a draw only after all the pieces were traded off and only pawns that could not move remained.

McShane and Navara tied for first, with 9 points each. Zahar Efimenko of Ukraine, who drew with Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia, was alone in third, with 8.5 points.

The C section was also decided by a clash between the leaders. In this case, Daniele Vocaturo of Italy had a half point lead over Ilya Nyzhnyk, a 14-year-old Ukrainian grandmaster. Vocaturo, who was White, only needed a draw to win the tournament, but it turned out to be no easy matter. Rather than play conservatively, Vocaturo launched an all-out attack against Nyzhnyk’s king. Vocaturo kept hurling pieces at Nyzhnyk, but he defended well. He should have won, as the attack was unsound, but Vocaturo managed to muddy things just enough to force a perpetual check with his lone remaining piece — his queen.

That clinched first place for Vocaturo, who scored 9 points, and second for Nyzhnyk, who finished with 8.5. Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine beat Jan Willem de Jong of the Netherlands to finish third, with 8 points.

In another incredibly entertaining final game, Mark Bluvshtein of Canada wove a mating net around the king of Ivan Ivanisevic of Serbia. They tied for fourth in the C group with Dariusz Swiercz of Poland. Each had 7.5 points.

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With One Round to Go, Nakamura Holds Lead at Tata Steel

Game Replays

With an easy draw against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the penultimate round, Hikaru Nakamura of the United States preserved his lead in the elite section of the Tata Steel chess tournament in the Netherlands. Nakamura has 8.5 points.

Wang Hao of China, Nakamura’s opponent in the final round on Sunday, is all that stands in his way of victory. Though obviously any opponent can be dangerous, Wang will probably not pose the kind of challenge that the top players would. As Nakamura said after his game on Satuday, “At least, he’s not Kramnik. So I’ll have some chances in the final round.”

Viswanathan Anand of India, the world champion, has the best chance to catch Nakamura as he only trails him by half a point, though Anand was a bit lucky that it was not more. He was White on Saturday against Anish Giri of the Netherlands and he was completely outplayed. Though there was never a moment when Giri clearly missed a win, Anand was on the defensive throughout the game. It was only on Giri’s last move, when he blundered and lost his advantage, that Anand felt comfortable and the players agreed to a draw.

Anand said after the game, “I just drifted, making a move according to one plan and then another in line with a different one. I had the feeling I was losing, although there was never anything concrete.”

It was another remarkable performance by Giri, who beat Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the No. 1 player in the world, earlier in the tournament, and also with the Black pieces. At only 16 years old, he is clearly moving up fast.

Anand will have Black against the talented and tough Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia in the last round.

Technically, should Nakamura lose, there are two other players who could catch up to him: Carlsen and Levon Aronian of Armenia, who each have 7.5 points.

Carlsen has had an uneven tournament, but he is coming on strong in the latter stages of it. He won his second consecutive game on Saturday, this time smashing Wang, who was Black and never really got going.

Though Aronian played Erwin l’Ami of the Netherlands, the lowest-ranked player in the field, he struggled as l’Ami, who was White, played well and kept Aronian under pressure. At one point, l’Ami built up a sizable advantage, even winning an exchange (rook for bishop). But he eventually made some inaccurate moves and the game petered out to a draw.

Though it had no bearing on the fight for first, the game between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and Nepomniachtchi was interesting, partly because both are talented, 20-year-old grandmasters. This time, Vachier-Lagrave got the best of Nepomniachtchi with a brilliant mating attack, but it seems likely that Nepomniachtchi will have many opportunities in the future to get even.

In the B section, two of the four co-leaders after Round 11 won, putting them in the drivers seat going into Sunday.

One of the leaders is Luke McShane of England, who started the tournament with three victories before stumbling with several draws and two losses. Saturday, he won his second consecutive game, beating Wesley So of the Philippines, one of the co-leaders after Round 11. At the end of the game, So was in a difficult position, but then he blundered and promptly resigned.

The other leader is David Navara of the Czech Republic, who started the tournament slowly, but has played better as it has progressed. Saturday, he won his fourth consecutive game (and fifth of his last six) beating Friso Nijboer of the Netherlands. The game was full of tactics, but chances were roughly equal until Nijboer blundered, dropping a piece.

Navara and McShane each have 8 points. In an unusual stroke of fortune, they will play in the final round, so the winner of the section is likely to be decided on the board.

Zahar Efimenko of Ukraine, who was tied with Navara, McShane and So after Round 11, drew with Le Quang Liem of Vietnam, and is in third with 7.5. Le Quang, So, Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia and Vladislav Tkachiev of France are tied for fourth with 7 points each.

The race for first in the C section seemed all but over after Round 11 as Daniele Vocaturo of Italy held a 1.5 point lead. But Saturday he lost to Dariusz Swiercz of Poland, while Ilya Nyzhnyk, a 14-year-old grandmaster from Ukraine, who was in second, beat Robin van Kampen, a Dutch international master. Vocaturo now leads with 8.5 points and Nyzhnyk has 8, while Ivan Ivanisevic of Serbia is in third, with 7.5 points.

As in the B section, the two leaders, Vocaturo and Nyzhnyk, are paired in the last round, so the C section will also be decided over-the-board.

Whatever happens on Sunday, it seems that a new cast of characters is settling in for the long haul at the top of the world rankings. Though Anand and Kramnik and a few others (Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, Boris Gelfand of Israel) are not has-beens, clearly their time as the world’s elite is drawing to a close. On the rise are an incredible group of young, talented players, led by Carlsen, but also including Nakamura (who is only 23); Sergey Karjakin of Russia, who just turned 21; Vachier-Lagrave; Nepomniachtchi; Giri; So (who is 17); Nyzhnyk; and Fabiano Caruana of Italy (18), who is currently playing in the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival; among others. It should be enjoyable to watch as they progress.

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Nakamura Wins Again and Seizes Lead of Tata Steel Chess Tournament

Game Replays

In an exceptional performance that combined spirited attack and defense, Hikaru Nakamura beat Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia on Friday in Round 11 of the Tata Steel chess tournament in the Netherlands.

Nakamura’s co-leader after Round 10 (and 8 and 6 and 4), Viswanathan Anand of India, the world champion, only drew against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France. That allowed Nakamura to once again take control of the elite section, with two rounds to play.

Nakamura’s victory was his sixth of the tournament. He now has 8 points, followed by Anand, with 7.5, Levon Aronian of Armenia, who also drew Friday, who has 7, and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Magnus Carlsen of Norway, each with 6.5.

Carlsen was the only player in the top section, aside from Nakamura, to win Friday. He beat Kramnik after a long endgame. It was a victory more typical of Kramnik’s style and it was made possible when Kramnik inexplicably blundered on Move 17 by taking a pawn that, after a forced sequence of moves, led to an endgame in which Carlsen was up a pawn. Carlsen then used impeccable technique to grind Kramnik down.

The B section remained wide open as the co-leaders after Round 10, Wesley So of the Philippines and Zahar Efimenko of Ukraine, both drew. That allowed David Navara of the Czech Republic and Luke McShane to catch them after they defeated Vladislav Tkachiev of France and Surya Ganguly of India, respectively. All four players have 7 points each.

Lurking only a half point behind are Le Quang Liem of Vietnam and Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia. After a rough start, Le Quang has surged with three consecutive victories, including a win over Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway on Friday.

The fight for the title in the C section was all but decided on Friday as Daniele Vocaturo of Italy beat Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine, his closest pursuer after Round 10. Vocaturo now has 8.5 points, 1.5 points ahead of Ilya Nyzhnyk, the 14-year-old Ukrainian grandmaster, who beat Benjamin Bok, a Dutch international master, on Friday. Lahno is now tied for third with Ivan Ivanisevic of Serbia. They each have 6.5 points.

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Gibraltar Chess Tournament Has Become a Major Draw

Caruana and KorchnoiFabiano Caruana and Viktor Korchnoi at the start of their second round game.

Game Replays

It is not quite as prestigious as the Tata Steel tournament going on in the Netherlands, but the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, which was renamed this year as Tradewise Insurance replaced Gibtelecom as the main sponsor, has become a major tournament in its own right and now attracts a world-class field.

Undoubtedly, the competitors are partly drawn by Gibraltar and its famous Barbary Macaques, which make the tournament locale a bit unusual.

This year’s event, which began Tuesday, includes Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, No. 9 in the world; Michael Adams of England, No. 23; Fabiano Caruana of Italy, No. 25; Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain, No. No. 40; Viktor Bologan of Moldova, No. 44; Krishnan Sasikiran of India, No. 45; and Alexander Onischuk of the United States, No. 46. In all, there are 53 grandmasters.

In addition to the regular prize fund (first place is 17,500 euros, or about $24,000 at the current exchange rate), there are special prizes for the top women (10,000 euros for first, or almost $14,000). That has attracted a stellar group of women players, including the Russian Kosintseva sisters, Tatiana and Nadezhda, who are ranked Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, among women; Nana Dzagnidze of the Republic of Georgia, No. 6; Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria, a former women’s world champion, No. 7; and Viktoria Cmilyte of Lithuania, No. 9.

Viktoria CmilyteViktoria Cmilyte

Hou Yifan of China, who won the women’s world championship in December was also supposed to play, but a press release by the organizers before the tournament started said that she was unable to attend because of a critical family illness.

In an open tournament, there are bound to be upsets and Gibraltar has been no exception. After three rounds, the unexpected leaders, each with perfect scores of three wins, are Nigel Short of England, ranked No. 11 at the start, Nadezhda Kosintseva, who was ranked No. 33 at the beginning, Deep Sengupta of India, No. 42, and Cmilyte, No. 43.

The women in the tournament have delivered many of the upsets. Cmilyte beat Kiril Georgiev of Bulgaria, ranked No. 72 in the world, in Round 2, and Emanuel Berg of Sweden, No. 141, in Round 3. Nadezhda Kosintseva beat Chanda Sandipan of India, No. 105, in Round 3. Zhu Chen of Qatar, another former women’s world champion (who is orginally from China), beat Romain Edouard of France, No. 122, in Round 2. And Irina Krush of the United States beat Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu of Romania, No. 59, in Round 3.

Several of the top-ranked players, including Ivanchuk, Adams and Vallejo Pons have each yielded a draw, while Caruana, Bologan and Onischuk each lost in Round 2. Bologan lost to Sangupta, Onischuk to Richard Rapport, a 14-year-old grandmaster who earned the title when he was 13, and, perhaps most amazing of all, Caruana lost to Viktor Korchnoi of Switzerland, the former challenger for the world championship, who is almost 80. Caruana had swept their four previous games. Of course, the tournament is long enough that the pre-tournament favorites could work their back into contention for first place.

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World Chess Federation Issues Letter Supporting the Turkish Federation

Two weeks ago, 18 of the women who played in the Women’s World Championship tournament in Antakya, Turkey, wrote a letter to the World Chess Federation complaining about the quality of the organization of the event.

Among the issues that the women raised were that they felt that they had been overcharged for the hotel in which they stayed and played (they paid 130 euros a night, or about $176 at the current exchange rate) and that the quality of the facilities was substandard.

Thursday, the World Chess Federation, which is also known by the acronym FIDE (for Fédération Internationale des Échecs), issued its response to the complaint and offered its unconditional support for the organizers. The letter, which was signed by Georgios Makropoulos, FIDE’s deputy president, read:

With great surprise I read your letter of 14 January, signed by several players, concerning the conditions of the World Women’s Championship 2010 in Antakya.

It is even more surprising that the main accusation, repeatedly mentioned, is that the organisers of the Turkish Chess Federation tried to make money by overcharging the players. I would like to remind that the organisers have provided the full prize fund of the event (450,000 USD) by taking on their own cost the 20% contribution to FIDE and not deducting it from the players. This means that a total of 90,000 USD was offered free to the players by the organisers. Each participant received a bonus starting from 750 USD (for the players who were eliminated in the 1st round) and reaching up to 12,000 USD (for the World Champion). If the organisers wanted to “make more money”, wouldn’t they simply not offer this bonus? This is well known to all the chess community and it is pretty strange to suggest that an organiser would first donate 90,000 USD to the players and then FIDE or the players should fight with the organisers if they make or not 15-20 euros per day from each hotel room. It is not fair to insult the Turkish Chess Federation, which has showed so much support by organising many top women events with big prize funds and good conditions (Women’s Grand-Prix, European Championships, Women’s World Championship). Furthermore it is also not fair for the organisers to be treated like this by certain players, when at the same time we hope for more sponsorship money in women’s chess and larger prize funds in the future.

A letter with a different and positive attitude, which would first acknowledge the efforts up to now of the Turkish Chess Federation and then suggest possible improvements, would have been much more appreciated and not create such a negative image for our organisers and sponsors.

Concerning the other accusations about the conditions of the latest Women’s World Championship, they are simply not accurate in most of its content. The hotel was a good 4-star hotel and after the first game all the other rounds were held within the hotel so the players avoided any travel before the games. The front road was asphalted and only the side roads were not asphalted as the area of the hotel is a developing suburb. In all cases, the roads were not dirty as your letter suggests. The center of the city was within a 4-minute taxi ride without traffic and some participants even walked the distance. A park was right next to the hotel for anyone who wished to have a walk nearby. There were not any problems with the air conditions outside of the hotel nor with the air-conditioning of the hotel itself. Obviously, if there were really such problems, they would have been noticed at the event, as the games were played for almost 25 days! Furthermore, no player asked the organisers or the FIDE officials to change her room, not even for noise problems as your letter suggests.

The only issue which was addressed by the players after the first round was the quantity of the food portions. From the second round this had significantly improved, very much because of the efforts and pressure of the organisers to the hotel management. In all events such minor problems may occur and the organisers in Antakya were very quick in resolving them.

I would also like to remind that many participants in Nalchik 2008 were in a hurry to complain for the location of that event and afterwards the players appreciated FIDE and the local organisers for the high level of that championship. FIDE will take into consideration your proposals for the future, as it always listens to the views of the players, but the distribution of such “open letters” does not help in attracting sponsors for women’s chess.

By this letter, FIDE re-establishes the true facts about the last Women’s World Championship in Antakya and we would like to thank once more the Turkish Chess Federation for its continuous support to women’s chess events.

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Betting on Chess

London oddsmakers allow wagering on everything else, so it is probably not surprising that they also take bets on chess.

In the Tata Steel tournament currently be played in the Netherlands, one bookmaker called BestBetting seems to have Viswanathan Anand of India, the world champion, who is currently tied for the lead, as the favorite (9 to 10, meaning if someone bets $10 and Anand wins, the bettor only wins $9). Levon Aronian of Armenia, who is tied for third, a half-point behind Anand and Hikaru Nakamura of the United States, is the next betting favorite (13 to 10; wager $10 and if he is first, win $13), while Nakamura has the next longest odds (5 to 2).

That Nakamura is behind Aronian may have more to do with the quality of the opponents he still has to face than his own ability. Nakamura will play Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, the former world champion, who is tied with Aronian for third; Ian Nepomniachtchi, another Russian, who beat Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the No. 1 player in the world, on Wednesday; and Wang Hao of China.

Aronian’s remaining opponents are Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine, and Erwin l’Ami and Jan Smeets of the Netherlands, who are the two lowest-ranked players in the field.

Anand also does not have a pushover schedule as he will play Nepomniachtchi, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and Anish Giri of the Netherlands, a rising star who tagged Carlsen with his other loss in the tournament.

Kramnik, who has 4 to 1 odds, will play Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave in addition to Nakamura.

Chess organizers are always looking for ways to promote chess and betting would seem to be one way to stimulate interest, even among people who are not real fans of the game. Of course, it is not a legal practice in many countries and there is an obvious danger. What is to prevent a player from betting against himself and then throwing his games? Or betting on himself and then paying his opponents to lose to him? The only thing standing in the way of such a scheme are chess players’ egos, which can be fairly huge.

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Nakamura and Anand Again Separate Themselves From the Pack at Tata Steel

Game Replays

After a great day of fighting chess in Round 10 of the Tata Steel chess tournament in the Netherlands, Viswanathan Anand of India, the world champion, and Hikaru Nakamura of the United States are once again tied for the lead in the top section. Anand and Nakamura were also co-leaders after the fourth, sixth and eighth rounds.

Four players were tied for the lead after Round 9. But on Wednesday Nakamura beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and Anand beat Alexei Shirov of Spain, while Levon Aronian of Armenia and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia respectively drew with Anish Giri and Jan Smeets, two Dutch grandmasters.

Anand and Nakamura each have 7 points and Aronian and Kramnik are tied for third with 6.5 each.

In the other important game of the day, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who was tied with Vachier-Lagrave a half point behind the leaders after Round 9, lost to Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia.

Carlsen, Vachier-Lagrave and Nepomniachtchi all have 5.5. points, which probably leaves them too far behind the leaders with three rounds to play to have a chance to still win the tournament.

Anand’s win seemed relatively effortless, which is an indication of how out-of-form Shirov is. To borrow a baseball term, he is usually a hard out. Wednesday, he was Black and obtained a reasonable position out of the opening, though there were some pitfalls he had to avoid. For a player like Shirov, that should have been no problem. But he started floundering just out of the opening, first missing a simple developing move (18 … Rac8) and then blundering by misplacing a rook (23 … Rbd8). Three moves later he resigned, probably as discouraged by his play as by the position on the board.

Shirov is tied for last place with Alexander Grischuk, each with 2.5 points.

Nakamura’s win over Vachier-Lagrave was a bit more difficult than Anand’s was over Shirov, but it was very impressive. Vachier-Lagrave chose the Grunfeld Defense and the game entered one of the most popular and complicated variations of the opening. Vachier-Lagrave allowed Nakamura to create a passed pawn, but it seemed he would no difficulty blockading it and obtaining counter play by opening the king side. When he did so, however, it boomeranged on him as the open position became an avenue of attack for Nakamura’s pieces. The speed with which Nakamura mobilized his pieces was impressive. Within a few moves, Vachier-Lagrave had lost a rook and his king was caught in a mating net, and he resigned.

Carlsen began the day only a half point behind the leaders and he had White, so he probably felt compelled to win. The opening was a Sicilian Defense and Carlsen played a bit speculatively, losing his advantage and allowing Nepomniachtchi to obtain a solid position. Nepomniachtchi tried to force a draw by repeating moves, which Carlsen should have allowed. Instead, he avoided the repetition and pressed ahead, using up more and more of his allotted time. At a critical moment, he overlooked a nice queen move by Nepomniachtchi (25 … Qd7), and suddenly White was a bit worse.

Thrown on to the defensive, Carlsen played carefully and Nepomniachtchi had no clear path to victory. He had an opportunity to force a draw by perpetual check, but since Carlsen’s king was very exposed, he chose to continue. It turned out to be a wise decision as he slowly improved the position of his pieces and Carlsen’s king began to run out of air. In desperation, Carlsen sacrificed an exchange (a rook for a knight) to quell the attack. But Nepomniachtchi was able to force a winning endgame and Carlsen eventually resigned.

Two of three leaders in the B section lost on Wednesday. Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia was beaten by Le Quang Liem of Vietnam in a long maneuvering game in which Le Quang’s knight proved to be better than Sargissian’s bishop in the endgame.

Luke McShane of England lost a fascinating and entertaining game to Zahar Efimenko of Ukraine. At one point, McShane tried to sacrifice his queen and Efimenko had to decline it as accepting it would have led to checkmate.

With the victory, Efimenko is tied for the lead with Wesley So of the Philippines, each with 6.5 points. Sargissian and McShane are tied for third with Vladislav Tkachiev of France (who drew with So on Wednesday) and David Navara of the Czech Republic (who beat Li Chao of China). Each has 6 points.

In the C section, Daniele Vocaturo of Italy lost to Ivan Ivanisevic of Serbia. It was Vocaturo’s second loss of the tournament, but, with 7.5 points, he still has a one point lead over Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine, who drew on Wednesday. Ivanisevic is tied for third with Ilya Nyzhnyk of Ukraine, each with 6 points.

Wednesday, 15 of the 21 games in the three sections ended decisively. The high proportion of decisive results has been the pattern throughout the tournament, which is unusual. Often in elite events, about 30 percent end in victory.

It may be the relatively large fields in the sections — there are 14 players in each — puts more pressure on the competitors to play harder because if they draw too many games, they will have little chance to win the tournament.

It may also be that the organizers invited a good mix of players, like Nakamura and Carlsen, for example, who almost always try to win and usually disdain short draws.

Thursday is a rest day and the tournament resumes on Friday with Round 11.

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Winter Sport

Two men playing chess in KievKonstantin Chernichkin/Reuters Two men playing chess Tuesday in a park in Kiev, Ukraine.

It is snowing again in New York City. Some people might think that means that it is not a good time to play chess outside. But some people in Eastern Europe, which is passionate about the game, would obviously disagree.

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Anti-Semitic Comments Found Under a Chess Organizer’s Name

In the late 1990’s, someone using the name Mansour Bighamian posted more than 1,000 messages on Web bulletin boards about political and religious topics. Many of the postings were screeds attacking Jews and Israel, as well as gays. Among the most vitriolic suggested that the “time is ripe to build more ovens in EVERY country in the world for the D-DAY.”

Though the posts were years ago, some people in the chess community have been digging them up in recent days because of an e-mail that was sent to an Israeli grandmaster earlier this month in the name of Mick Bighamian, the founder and director of the Los Angeles Chess Club. That e-mail said, “We don’t allow players from terrorist countries in our tournaments!”

Mr. Bighamian has denied sending the e-mail, saying that someone used his account at the club to do it.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Mr. Bighamian said that Mansour was his real name, but that the Web postings in the late 1990’s were also not his.

He said that he was running the Houston Chess Club at the time and had barred some people from the club and believes that they wanted to get back at him, so they posted the messages in his name. “Some people evidently don’t want me in business,” he said.

He said that he was active on the Usenet groups posting messages about chess, but that the e-mail addresses used in the anti-Semitic postings were not his. He said that his e-mail address at the time was mbighamian@sbn.net.

There are two e-mail addresses used in the late 1990’s postings. In the ones from 1998, which are only about religion and politics, the e-mail is tta.com@worldnet.att.net. In a group of postings from 1999, which contain more anti-Semitic comments but also include announcements of chess tournaments and recommendations on what chess books to read, the e-mail address is tta@wt.net.

On Monday, Mr. Bighamian wrote a letter to Bill Hall, the executive director of the United States Chess Federation, about the e-mail sent to the Israeli grandmaster. Mr. Bighamian wrote:

When we spoke on Friday, I was under the impression that the purported e-mail must have been a hoax — trying to smear LACC’s increasingly-improving image in the past few years. However, over this past weekend, I found out the e-mail was indeed sent out from the LACC’s computer at the club.

As the club computer has been always accessible by all the club players, members, and directors at all times, I found out that someone had responded to the israeli gm saying: “We don’t allow players from terrorist countries in our tournaments”. Most players would normally use the club computer to check their e-mails, play online, etc. I am still investigating to find out who could have possibly sent that response on behalf of the LACC.

To that end, and effective this past weekend, I made LACC e-mails accessible to the club directors only –- in order to avoid any such incidents in the future.

As for the LACC policy with regards to interested tournament chess players, my 25+ years as a tournament director is an evidence of nondiscrimination. As a tournament director, I have always advocated, and indeed welcomed, having players of all backgrounds, genders, national origins, and strengths in my tournaments. There is not a single example to the contrary.

As slow as chess club are these days (due to online chess, etc.), it would make no sense to bar interested players from tournaments — as clubs’ livelihood depends on players’ participation.

The club e-mail signature — below — automatically appears upon responding to any e-mails (thereby explaining how LACC signature showed on that e-mail).

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