Thursday, December 24, 2009

The year that was

Frank “Boy” Pestaño

JUST like in other sports there has been no shortage of dramas in chess in 2009. To help remember the year that was, we have compiled a list of major international events ranging from Corus in January to the World Cup in December. Local and National events will be reviewed in my next column.

The first major event of the year is always Corus or Wijk Aan Zee as it is popularly known among the chess players. The youngest person to become grandmaster, Sergey Karjakin, surprisingly won the Group A event. The other winners were Fabiano Caruana in Group B and Wesley So in Group C.

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However, Sergey’s most memorable moment came later this year when he married WGM Kateryna Dolzhikova on July 24 and decided to become a Russian citizen.

The Fide Grand Prix 2008–2009 was a series of six chess tournaments, which formed part of the qualification for the World Chess Championship 2011.

Five of the six tournaments have been played. Levon Aronian has already scored sufficient points to win the Grand Prix with Teimour Radjabov at second.

There were three major events in February--Linares,Aeroflot and the Topalov vs Kamsky match which Topalov easily won.

Alexander Grischuk won Linares by virtue of a superior tiebreak score over Vassily Ivanchuk, with Anand and Carlsen close behind.

Aeroflot, where Wesley So also played, was marred by a scandal when Shakhriyar Mamedyarov accused one of his opponents of computer-assisted cheating. Etienne Bacrot won the tournament.

Lev Aronian snared the Amber Rapid and blindfold event in March, performing equally well at both disciplines to take the overall prize.

Hikaru Nakamura won the US championship in May. The MTel Masters in Sofia was likewise won by Alexei Shirov over top favorite Magnus Carlsen and hometown hero Veselin Topalov.

Carlsen came out on top in Leon and it was revealed that the young sensation has been training under Garry Kasparov.

In Dortmund in July ,Vladimir Kramnik triumphed for a staggering ninth time.

Next up was the Biel tournament, where young Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France took first prize.

In August Aronian again prevailed over a tough field which included Vishy Anand in the World Rapid Championship.

In the same month a Russian-born chess maverick, Vladislav Tkachiev, fell asleep on the board after reportedly turning up drunk at a grandmasters’s tournament in India.
August was also the month that the International Olympic Committee refused the inclusion of chess in the 2016 Olympic games.

The month also featured a rematch between the two former chess giants, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov. Kasparov easily won, 6-2.

Pearl Spring in China revealed the new Carlsen and his rating went over 2800. In fact, he is now rated no.1 in the World.

The strongest tournament of the year and one of the strongest of all time, the Tal Memorial in Moscow, also revealed that former World champion Vladimir Kramnik is still a force to reckon with. In the world blitz championship after the tournament, Carlsen again grabbed the headlines.

November also saw Anand crushing Karpov in a rapid match.

The last month of the year featured the strongest and most prestigious tournament in a quarter of a century in England, the London Chess Classic which was a resounding success. Carlsen won the event to finish the year as the new world #1.

Next up was the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiyk, Russia which was won by Boris Gelfand of Israel over Rusland Ponomariov of Ukrainne. He therefore qualified for the candidates event in the next World Championship Cycle.

The World Cup also discovered a new talent in Wesley So, who defeated Gata Kamsky and Vassily Ivanchuk and was dubbed the “gold nugget ”of the tournament.


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