Archive for the ‘41st Chess Olympiad’ Category

An American in Tromso

August 12, 2014

Sam Shankland is sensational in his Chess Olympiad debut.


After eight rounds against a difficult international field, Grandmaster Sam Shankland of the United States remains undefeated in Tromso, Norway. Those of us from the United States and especially California couldn’t be prouder of our representative at the 41st Chess Olympiad. Below is my personal favorite from Sam’s play and I invite you to enjoy the game while raising a glass to the United States of America’s newest international chess star.


Sam Shankland has a lot to smile about. (photo from:

Sam Shankland has a lot to smile about these days. (photo from:


[Event “41’st Chess Olympiad”]

[Site “Tromso, Norway”]

[Date “2014.8.8”]

[Round “6”]

[White “Guillermo Vazquez”]

[Black “Samuel Shankland”]

[Result “0-1”]

[Eco “B12”]

[Annotator “Chris Torres”]


{[ CARO-KANN,B12]} 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 {Guillermo Vazquez chooses a very aggressive line as white. The idea is to add to his control on the kingside while creating threats against Shankland’s Bishop on f5. Many amateur players have allowed white to trap their bishop with pawn advances to g4, h5, and f3.}

The position after 4. h4

The position after 4. h4


h5 {Of course, there is nothing amateur about GM Sam Shankland’s chess and he chooses the best line to avoid white’s plans.}

5.Bg5 {This early bishop move gives black a nice target on “b7.” Nc3 is a fine alternative here and can be seen in the game below:}

( 5.Nc3 e6 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 Qb6 8.Bg5 Qa6 9.Qd2 c5 10.Nf3 cxd4

11.Ne2 Nd7 12.O-O Ne7 13.Nexd4 Nc6 14.a4 Nxd4 15.Nxd4 Qb6 16.a5

Qa6 17.c4 Qxc4 18.Rfc1 Qb4 19.Qc2 Nc5 20.a6 Nxa6 21.Rxa6 Qxd4

22.Qc7 Bb4 23.Rxe6+ fxe6 24.Qxg7 Rf8 {…1-0, Zelcic Robert (CRO) 2564  – Bartels Hans A (NED) 2297 , Caorle 1993 It (open)})

Qb6 {Sam Shankland develops with a threat and grabs the initiative. So much for trying to play a peaceful Caro-Kann.}

6.Bd3 {!?} {Guillermo Vazquez is willing to pay the price of a pawn on “b2” or “d4” in order to gain a strong attack. In a sense, he is allowing Sam Shankland to pick his own poison.}

The position after 6. Bd3

The position after 6. Bd3


Qxd4 {Sam chooses the pesto rather than the hemlock.}

( 6…Bxd3 {was Alexei Shirov’s choice in a nice victory over Anand.}

7.Qxd3 Qa6 8.Qf3 e6 9.Ne2 c5 10.c3 Nc6 11.Nd2 Nge7 12.Nb3 cxd4

13.cxd4 Nf5 14.O-O Be7 15.Bxe7 Ncxe7 16.g3 b6 17.Nf4 g6 18.Nh3

O-O 19.Qf4 Qe2 20.Rfd1 Rac8 21.Rd2 Qg4 22.Qxg4 hxg4 23.Ng5 a5

24.f3 Rc4 25.Kf2 Rfc8 26.fxg4 {…0-1, Shirov Alexei (ESP) 2713  – Anand Viswanathan (IND) 2817 , Leon  6/ 5/2011 Match “Leon Masters”}) ( 6…Qxb2 7.Bxf5 Qxa1 8.e6 {Is probably what Guillermo Vazquez was hoping for.})

7.Nf3 {Vazquez develops with a threat and is still hoping Shankland plays Qxb2.}

Qg4 {Sam Shankland avoids his opponent’s plans while simultaneously placing the queen in a very dangerous position for white.}

( 7…Qxb2 8.Bxf5 Qxa1 9.e6 Nh6 10.exf7+ Kxf7 11.Bc8 Na6 12.Bh3

e5 13.O-O Bd6 14.Nfd2 Ng4 15.Bxg4 hxg4 16.Qxg4 Nc5 17.Nb3 Qxa2

18.Qf5+ Kg8 19.Nc3 Qa6 20.Nxc5 Bxc5 21.Qe6+ Kh7 22.h5 Qc4 23.h6

Rhg8 24.Qf5+ Kh8 25.Qh3 g6 26.Bf6+ Kh7 27.Qd7+ {…1-0, Kislinsky Alexey (UKR) 2495  – Krutul Piotr (POL) 1854 , Warsaw 12/16/2006 Ch Europe (active)})

The position after 7... Qg4

The position after 7… Qg4



8.O-O {White’s best move is to castle into danger. Below is fine example of strong play for black had white chosen to play Nc3 instead.}

( 8.Nc3 e6 9.O-O Nd7 10.Bxf5 Qxf5 11.Re1 Be7 12.Nd4 Qg4 13.Qd2

Bc5 14.Nb3 Be7 15.Nd4 Bxg5 16.hxg5 h4 17.f3 Qh5 18.Rad1 Ne7 19.Ne4

O-O 20.Nf2 a6 21.b4 Qh7 22.Ng4 Nf5 23.c4 Rfd8 24.c5 a5 25.bxa5

Nxd4 26.Qxd4 Rxa5 27.Re2 Rxc5 {…0-1, Malykh Yuriy A (RUS) 2140  – Airapetian Gor (RUS) 2451 , Lipetsk  3/28/2010 Ch Region})

Bxd3 {Sam decides to exchange the bishop which lacks scope for his opponent’s most active piece.}

( 8…e6 9.Be2 Qb4 10.c4 Ne7 11.Nc3 dxc4 12.Nd2 b5 13.a4 Nd7 14.axb5 cxb5 15.Nxb5 Nd5 16.Nxc4 Be7 17.Nbd6+ {1-0, Robson Ray (USA) 2466 – Rowley Robert (USA) 2234, Tulsa (USA) 2008.03.30})

9.Qxd3 {Vazquez recaptures while developing rather than attempting to restablish a pawn on “d4” by playing cxd3.}

e6 {Sam Shankland creates a standard Caro-Kann pawn structure in route to playing Be7.}

10.Nbd2 {The knight is better placed here rather than on “c3” because white will want to have the ability to move his c-pawn soon.}

Be7 {Shankland is a solid pawn up but will have to defend accurately in order to achieve victory against Vazquez’s dynamic style.}

11.c4 {Guillermo Vazquez is a very bold chess player.}

The position after 11. c4

The position after 11. c4


11… Bxg5

12.Nxg5 Ne7

13.Qb3 {The real reason behind “11. c4.”}

b6 {Shankland is playing very accurately when it counts the most.}

The position after 13... b6

The position after 13… b6


14.cxd5 cxd5

15.Rac1 Nbc6 {Sam’s defensive skills are exceptional.}

16.f4 {Vazquez is striking furiously on all sides of the board.}

The position after 16. f4

The position after 16. f4


Rc8 {Shankland is performing perfectly under heavy fire.}

17.Qd3 Nf5

18.Ndf3 O-O {Sam Shankland has survived unscathed! Unfortunately for Guillermo Vazquez, his brute-force attacking style has left plenty of holes in his position.}

The position after 18... 0-0

The position after 18… 0-0


19.Nh2 Qg3 {At this point, trading queens is no longer an option for white.}



The position after 20. Qd1

The position after 20. Qd1


20… Nxe5 {!} {Now it is Shankland’s turn to attack.}

21.Rxc8 {if} ( 21.fxe5 {then} Qe3+ 22.Rf2 Rxc1 {!} )

Rxc8 22.fxe5 {There are alternatives for white but they would just elongate the misery.}

Qe3+ {!} {Now Vazquez can either drop a queen, get checkmated or resign. He chooses the latter.}








Tromso Chess Olympiad Round 5: Kramnik vs Topalov

August 7, 2014

Thus far, the  41st Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway has lived up to all the hype surrounding the event. Almost all of the top chess players in the world are competing for personal glory and, more importantly, national pride. Even with hundreds of exciting games played in each round, all eyes were focused squarely onto the Russia-Bulgaria match which featured a game between the rivals, Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov.

It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly eight years since Topalov’s manager threatened to abort a World Championship Match because of complaints about Vladimir Kramnik’s bathroom habits. The publicity surrounding the complaint grew exponentially and soon there was more newspapers reporting about “Toilet Gate” than about the actual games from the match. The jokes about Kramnik’s bathroom habits took a toll on the Russian and Topalov nearly used his ill gained initiative to take the title. However, Vladimir Kramnik managed to bounce back just in time to tie the match and win in the rapid play tie-breaks. Even becoming the undisputed World Chess Champion could not take all the sting out of the cheating claims that Team Topalov attacked Kramnik with.

Fast Forward eight years and the two enemies were again separated by a mere eight chess ranks. Below is my take on Vladimir Kramnik’s beautiful win over Veselin Topalov at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway.


[Event “41’st Chess Olympiad”]
[Site “Tromso, Norway”]
[Date “2014.6.8”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Vladimir Kramnik”]
[Black “Veselin Topalov”]
[Result “1-0”]
[Eco “D37”]
[Annotator “Chris Torres”]

{[ QUEEN’S gam. var. WITH 5.BF4,D37]}

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.g3 O-O 6.Bg2 Nbd7 7.Qd3  Nb6 (7…c6 8.O-Ob6 9.Rd1 a5 10.b3 Ba6 11.a4 Rc8 12.Bf4 Nh5 13.Bd2 Nhf6 14.Rac1
Qc7 15.Bf4 Qa7 16.e4 Rfd8 17.e5 Ne8 18.Bf1 Nc7 19.Bg5 Bxg5 20.Nxg5
Nf8 21.Qf3 Rd7 22.cxd5 exd5 23.Bh3 Nce6 24.Nxe6 fxe6 25.Ne2 Bxe2
26.Qxe2 c5 27.f4 {…1/2-1/2, Grischuk Alexander (RUS) 2733 – Leko Peter (HUN) 2756 , Moscow 11/18/2009 It “World Blitz”})

Position after 7...Nb6

Position after 7…Nb6

8.c5 Nbd7 9.O-O c6 10.b4 b6 11.Bf4 a5 12.a3 Ba6 13.Qc2 Nh5
14.Bd2 Nhf6 15.Bf4 ( 15.Rfe1 Bc4 16.h3 Qc8 17.Bf4 Qa6 18.Rab1
Ra7 19.g4 axb4 20.axb4 Rfa8 21.Nd2 bxc5 22.bxc5 e5 23.dxe5 Ne8
24.Ra1 Qxa1 25.Rxa1 Rxa1+ 26.Kh2 Nxc5 27.Nxc4 dxc4 28.Bxc6 Rc8
29.Nd5 Bf8 30.Bb5 Ne6 31.Be3 N8c7 32.Qxc4 Nxd5 33.Qxd5 Ra5 34.Bb6
Ra3 {…1/2-1/2, Horvath Jozsef M (HUN) 2104 – Atalik Suat (BIH) 2608 , Budapest 1991 It “CANSYS”})

( 15.Rfb1 Qc8 16.e4 Nxe4 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.Qxe4 axb4 19.Bg5 Nf6
20.Bxf6 Bxf6 21.cxb6 Bb7 22.Qe3 c5 23.dxc5 Bxa1 24.Rxa1 Ra5 25.Rc1
Rxa3 26.Qe2 Qa8 27.Nh4 Bxg2 28.Nxg2 Ra1 29.Rxa1 Qxa1+ 30.Ne1
b3 31.Kg2 b2 {0-1, Larsen Peter (DEN) 2206 – Halkias Stelios (GRE) 2570 , Helsingor 7/29/2012 It “Politiken Cup” (open)})

Position after 15. Bf4

Position after 15. Bf4


Nh5 16.Bd2 Nhf6 17.Rfe1 ( 17.Rfb1 Qc8 18.e4 Nxe4 19.Nxe4 dxe4
20.Qxe4 axb4 21.Bg5 Nf6 22.Bxf6 Bxf6 23.cxb6 Bb7 24.Qe3 c5 25.dxc5
Bxa1 26.Rxa1 Ra5 27.Rc1 Rxa3 28.Qe2 Qa8 29.Nh4 Bxg2 30.Nxg2 Ra1
31.Rxa1 Qxa1+ 32.Ne1 b3 33.Kg2 b2 {0-1, Larsen Peter (DEN) 2206 – Halkias Stelios (GRE) 2570 , Helsingor 7/29/2012 It “Politiken Cup” (open)})

Position after 17. Rfe1

Position after 17. Rfe1

Bc4 18.Bf4 Nh5 19.Be3 Nhf6 20.Bf4 Nh5 21.Be3 Nhf6
22.h3 h6 23.Nd2 Ba6 24.f4 bxc5 25.bxc5 Nxc5 26.dxc5 d4 27.Bf2
dxc3 28.Qxc3 Nd5 29.Qc2 Bf6 30.e4 {Vladimir Kramnik is dreaming of a position in which he is down the exchange but has a couple of passed pawns.}

Position after 30. e4

Position after 30. e4

Bxa1 31.exd5 Qf6 {?} ( 31…Bf6 32.dxe6 fxe6 33.Rxe6 Bd4 34.Rd6
Bxf2+ 35.Kxf2 Qe7 {Is a much better possibility for black.} )

32.d6 {Vladimir Kramnik achieves his first passed pawn. The chess machines prefer the line below but I think Kramnik’s choice is much more instructive.}
( 32.dxe6 Bd4 33.exf7+ Kh8 34.Nf3 Bxf2+ 35.Qxf2 Rxf7 36.Ne5 Rc7)

Position after 32. d6

Position after 32. d6


Qc3 33.Qd1 ( 33.Qxc3 Bxc3 34.Rd1 Be2 {is what Vesilin Topalov would have loved to see.})

Bb2 34.Bxc6 {Now that Kramnik has achieved his dream of two connected passed pawns, white is clearly in the driver’s seat.}

Position after 34. Bxc6

Position after 34. Bxc6

Rad8 {?} {Topalov panics about the passed pawns and misses a critical alternative. As we are about to witness, rooks have a very hard time stopping passed pawns from the front side.}( 34…Rab8 35.Nb1 Qf6 ( 35…Qc4 36.d7 Rfd8 37.Qd6 ) 36.Qd2 Rb3 {!} {This line seems necessary for Topalov to survive but deserves more study from chess enthusiats the world over.})

35.Nb1 {!} {Kramnik punishes Topalov!}

Qf6 36.Qd2 Rb8 {Topalov transfers his rook to the open file which is where it should have landed in the first place.}

37.Be4 {It’s been a while since we have seen Vladimir Kramnik play with this much purpose.}

e5 38.Nc3 {Perfect timing on reactivating the knight. Can you guess where Kramnik intends to place it?}

Position after 38. Nc3

Position after 38. Nc3

Qe6 {Topalov threatens the pawn on “h3.”}

39.Nd5 {Kramnik is not worried about “h3.” He has bigger fish to fry!}

Qxh3 {Topalov’s queen says, “Zdravei!”}

40.Bg2 {Kramnik’s bishop says, “Do sveedaniya!”}

Qh5 41.d7 {!}

Position after 41. d7

Position after 41. d7

exf4 42.Qxf4 Bxa3 {Topalov creates his own passed pawn.}

Position after 42... Bxa3

Position after 42… Bxa3

43.Qxb8 {!} {Vladimir Kramnik is not impressed by Topalov’s pawn grab and delivers a near fatal blow to the Bulgarian.}

Rxb8 44.Re8+ Kh7 45.Rxb8 Qd1+ {Topalov tries in vain to manufacture tactics.}
46.Kh2 Qh5+ 47.Bh3 Qf3 48.d8=Q Qxf2+ 49.Bg2 1-0

Position after 49. Bg2

Position after 49. Bg2

{Veselin Topalov resigns as he has no more reasonable chances at avoiding a loss to his rival. Besides, Vladimir Kramnik had Mate in 8: 49…Bxc5 50.Nf4 Qxf4 51.gxf4 Kg6 52.Be4+ Kh5 53.Qd1+ Be2 54.Qxe2+ Kh4 55.Bf5 h5 56.Qe1+ Bf2 57.Qxf2#}

%d bloggers like this: