The Carlsen World Tour Coming to an End

By Shai Hecker, Operations Intern

The Carlsen World Tour is finally coming to an end and we will have a victor on August 20. Magnus Carlsen is playing against Hikaru Nakamura where they will play the best out of seven sets.

The tournament only had four contestants, the other two being Ding Liren and Danil Dubov. According to Chess Base Liren actually managed to win his first game in the semifinals against Carlsen. He then lost three consecutive games allowing the World Chess Champion to proceed to the finals.

Nakamura on the other hand won each game he played against Dubov. He is the only player who has managed to take a victory away from Carlsen and perhaps he can do so again.

The two Grandmaster just started the first set of the finals today and Nakamura is leading 2.5 to 1.5. Although this is only the first set out of 7 Carlsen may not be able to hold up against the American player who took him down at the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge. Perhaps Carlsen will be able to hold out, but Nakamura could take home this final win and put the World Chess Champion in second which would be a shock to the chess world. Many of the games are being hosted live for free so its an opportunity to see these two grandmasters at work.

Throwback to 2019: Riga Grand Prix

By Shai Hecker, Operations Intern

Let’s take a look at a game from 2019 played by Alexander Grischuk and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. I will not be looking at the full game, but if you would like to see it you can find it here. Vachier is playing as black while Grischuk is playing as white in this game.

The game begins with 1. d4 Nf6 which is commonly known as the Indian Defense. Black is allowing white to gain center control with the ultimate purpose to completely undermine white’s position on the board. White then plays 2. c4 and the board looks a bit like the beginning of the Queen’s Gambit which is not the Indian Defense. However black responds by playing 2. g6 which turns it into the King’s Indian Defense. Black generally then follows up with Bg7, but that is not the case here. White plays 3. h4 and then Vachier responds by moving c5 which looks to be the Queen’s Gambit. This is different from the King’s Indian Defense as generally black moves the bishop into bishop, but Vachier does not.

By the middle of the game the board state is a complete mess. Grischuk’s king is unprotected and Vachier seems a bit confined to the left side of the board as seen in this picture on the right. It seems that Vachier is in a much stronger position as he has better pawn placement than Grischuck.

 

Grischuck’s unprotected king is eventually his downfall. Vachier takes advantage of the unprotected king and checks Grischuck repeatedly not allowing him to have any breathing room. If Grischuk had better protection for his king he would have had a better chance in the endgame, but because he did not prepare he ultimately lost.

 

 

Sports and Chess Edition – Continued

By Eliana Bane, Marketing Intern

“These young guys are playing checkers. I’m out there playing chess​.” ~K​obe Bryant

Many sports players acknowledge the skill, strategy and technique that is needed to play chess. Kobe Bryant is known as one of the best players that played in the NBA. He appeared in 15 All-Star Games, won four All-Star Game MVP Awards, and two NBA Finals MVP Awards. Bryant achieved greatness. His basketball skills were spectacular and he dominated the court. Kobe Bryant parallels basketball to chess. He says, “…I’m out there playing chess”, showing that he feels he is one step ahead of his opponents. While Kobe Bryant was not a chess player, his mindset was in line with a chess game, staying ahead of your opponent and recognizing their next move.

The second athlete of this week’s Sports and Chess edition is Shaun Alexander. He is a former running back for the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins. In 2005, Alexander became the first Seahawk to win the MVP award. Along with Alexander’s football skills, he is an avid chess player. He started playing chess in junior high and in around 2005 was named to the board of America’s Foundation for Chess. Shaun Alexander donated thousands of dollars to develop a chess program for students to encourage them to stay in school and to get educated.

One day after the Hawks first Super Bowl win, Alexander went to Madrona Elementary School in Seattle to give out prizes for the winners of the chess tournament that was created by America’s Foundation for Chess. He also raffled a trip, all-expenses paid, to Hawaii, to watch him play in his 3rd Pro Bowl. Shaun Alexander says, “ ‘Chess teaches them to think ahead three or four moves. It teaches them to have a vision. They learn to say to themselves, ‘If I make this move, this will happen.’ Those are things kids don’t get on their own.’”.

Deciphering My Grandfather’s Chess Game Against Bobby Fischer Part #3

By Benji Grin, Marketing Intern

Hello everyone!
This is Part #3 in the series examining my grandfather’s May 24, 1964 exhibition game against the then 21 year-old US Chess champion, Bobby Fischer.
By way of background, In blog post part #1, I figured out that the pieces in the game transcript were annotated in the Polish language, ( Q = H, R = W etc.). In blog post #2, we also determined that the columns in the game transcript were actually inverted (H = A, G = B, etc.).
After weeks of this clarifying detective work, we can now actually analyze the game. ​So, let’s jump into it!
As both the book, A Legend on the Road: Booby Fischer’s 1964 Simultaneous Tour and the New York Times newspaper article indicate, Bobby Fischer opens with e4. According to the newspaper article, he thought that it was cowardly to play anything but that move.
1. e4 c5
As black, my grandfather responds with the most popular and best response to e4, the Sicilian defense, playing c5. The reason why 1.e4 is considered a worse move than 1.d4 is solely because of the high success rate of the Sicilian defense. About one in four chess games actually begin with the Sicilian defense. Fischer responds by playing the top engine move of 2. Nf3.
2. Nf3 Nc6
Nc6 by my grandfather is the second to most popular move in this position and is a strong developing move. This opens the door for Fischer to play 3. D4 which is called the Open Sicilian. The Open Sicilian is known to lead to many complex positions. In this position, white has better development and more space on the kingside, while black has a central pawn majority after cxd4 is played.
3. D4 cxd4
Fischer then takes back the pawn with his knight, and black responds with e6. e6 by black, provides a segue to the Taimanov variation, which tries to develop the kings side bishop. e6 by black is not at all the most popular move at this point; there are less than 7,000 known uploaded games in existence that use this variation. e6 by black is also a slight variant of the Kan Paulsen Variation. Furthermore, after 5. Nb5 d5 there are only 11 games that have been played in this position. This move by Fischer is a variant of the Szen variation. Both the Szen and Paulsen variations usually start with 2… e6. d5 here according to the engine is not a great move and gives the edge to white.
4. Nxd4 e6 ​5.​ Nb5 d5 Next, they exchange pawns.
​6​. exd5 exd5
Now Fischer develops his bishop and places it on f4. My grandfather then plays the top engine
move of Bb4+.
​7​. Bf4 Bb4+

Instead of blocking with the knight, Fischer blocks the check with his pawn and plays c3. My grandfather then retreats a space by playing Ba4, still pinning the pawn on c3. With this move by Fischer, it narrows this game to one other game in the chess database that has this exact position. The game was played in 2003 between Casey Hickman (1255) and Heather Huddleston (1522). White ended up winning that game.
​8​. c3 Ba5
White, Fisher, then counters with a check of his own with his knight by playing Nd6+. After the king retreats to f8, white can take the pawn on d5 with his queen. My grandfather then checks white with Qe7+.
​9​. Nd6+ Kf8 ​10​. Qxd5 Qe7+
Fisher blocks the check with Be2, and Black threatens the queen with his bishop by playing
Be6. At this point, we have a completely unique game that has never been played before. ​11​. Be2 Be6
After this, white should have played Qc5 continuing to threaten the bishop and knight. However, Fischer retreats his queen to d1, thereby relinquishing the lead to black. Black takes advantage of this blunder by moving his rook to d8 pinning whites knight in front of his Queen.
​12​. Qd1 Rd8
Fischer moves his other knight in front of his queen, removing the pin of both the knight and the pawn. Black takes advantage of this opportunity by trading his rook for white’s bishop and knight.
​13​. Nd2 Rxd6 ​14​. Bxd6 Qxd6
White Castles. Black moves his bishop to c7 threatening checkmate in one.

​15​. O-O Bc7
White moves up the g pawn one space to prevent the checkmate. Black then activates his knight by playing Nf6. A better move probably would have been to push his h pawn, putting pressure on black’s g pawn.
​16​. g3 Nf6
White puts his bishop into action by threatening the knight. Black moves up his g pawn one square. White moves his queen removing the pin of the knight. Black threatens the queen by moving his bishop to f5. My grandfather is certainly in the lead here!
​17​. Bf3 g6 ​18​. Qc2 Bf5
White blocks the attack of the queen by moving his knight to e4. Back then moves his knight to e5 threatening white’s light square bishop. White retreats the bishop to g2, and black moves his queen to e6.
​19​. Ne4 Ne5 ​20​. Bg2 Qe6
White threatens the a pawn while still keeping an eye on e4. Black moves his knight to d3.
They then trade knights.
​21​. Qa4 Nd3 ​22​. Nxf6 Qxf6
White captures the undefended pawn.
However, here is when things get very tricky. According to the annotated game, black plays Nxf2. This move doesn’t really make a lot of sense. It seems to just give away the knight for nothing.
​23​. Qxa7 Nxf2

Then, even more absurdly, Fischer plays Bc6. This move is rated at -20 according to lichess.com. It simply doesn’t make any sense. There must be some sort of mistake here. That seemingly blows the game. ​There is no way the great Bobby Fischer would have played that move. ​Black checks with the knight.
​24​. Bc6 Nh3+
White gets out of check with Kg2. Black then kills white’s light square bishop and checks with
his queen.
​25​. Kg2 Qxc6+
Whites only move is Re3. Now, the best move for black in this position is knight g5, threatening the pinned rook. However, the recorded game says that white plays knight g4. This is problematic, for black’s knight can not get to g4. Even if we say that he meant g4 when he recorded the game and it was just a mistake, this leads to more problems. The next move that white plays according to the annotated game is rook to e1. This also makes no sense as Black has a clear checkmate in two moves. However, the recorded game says that he doesn’t capture the knight but rather plays bishop e4. Once again, Black’s bishop cannot go to e4.
​26​. Re3 Nb(4/5) ​27​. Re1 Be4
These problems are once again building up. Perhaps my grandfather missed a move or 2 when recording this game that explains these errors. I will keep trying to find a solution and will update the blog if and when I make progress.
Thanks all of you who have followed my journey thus far. If any of you have ideas, I would love to hear them. Please feel free to reach out.

Marketing Step-by-Step

By Eliana Bane, Marketing Intern

Before I became an intern at Premier Chess I had minimal marketing experience. I created virtual posters and designed one website before, but that was it. The first day on the job, I was given opportunities to expand my knowledge base.

Over the course of the past few weeks, I have learned how to grow a marketing audience, use social media platforms as means to grasp others attention, and when and how to design posters to showcase events and important information.

I have created graphic design for many  of our solutions and social media accounts, including Twitch and Youtube and have recently been developing Premier Chess’s youtube channel. I highly recommend following Premier Chess on Twitch, Youtube, Instagram and Facebook.

 

Check out our new Youtube video! 

Twitch:  https://www.twitch.tv/premierchess

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBJmV7lBeFSw08JhRhxN3eQ/featured

Instagram: @premier_chess

Facebook: premierchess

Legends of Chess Final Results

By Shai Hecker, Operations Intern

The fourth event in the Magnus Carlsen tour has finally come to an end. In the semifinals Carlsen defeated Peter Svidler, by winning the first two games. Ian Nepomniachtchi won the first game of the semifinals against Anish Giri, but then lost the second game. However, in the third and final game, Nepomniachtchi managed to take home the win and move on to the finals.

Nepomniachtchi lost two consecutive games against Carlsen allowing Carlsen to take home his third win out of the first four events in his tour.

Due to the Global Pandemic the World Chess Championship was canceled for the time being. This prompted Carlsen to initiate his world tour by creating the Carlsen invitational which is the first professional online chess tournament according to Magnuscarlsen.com. From there Carlsen created a whole tour out of online events to compensate for the canceled tournaments.

Although Carlsen lost the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge and did not even place in the top three he has managed to win three times; three times more than the player with the second most tournament wins in the tour.

Carlsen has proven so far through his tour that he is the World Chess Champion, but perhaps in the Grand Final someone can finally defeat the reigning champion.

Sports Edition Continued: Athletes Who Are Chess Fanatics

By Eliana Bane, Marketing Intern

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar​ is a former NBA player. He played a total of 20
seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. He was
awarded ​NBA​ Most Valuable Player six times, was a 19-time NBA All-Star,
and was an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team Member. Abdul-Jabbar has
won six championships as a player and then two more championships as an
assistant coach. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was honored as one of the 50
Greatest Players in NBA history, in 1996. Abdul-Jabbar was an amazing
basketball player with a great mindset towards the game. However, basketball was not the only game he was interested in. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was an avid chess player.

I’m 2001, at a Bonnaroo Music Festival, Abdul-Jabbar was caught reading “Chess Tactics for Champions”.

“American tennis great Jack Kramer claimed: ‘To be a championship tennis player, you need the mind of a chess master and the endurance of a marathon runner.’”

Many tennis players also play the game of chess, including
former German former world No. 1 professional tennis star, Boris
Becker. Boris Becker won many titles in the Wimbledons, the
Australian Opens and the US Open. However, Becker’s skill does
not stop in tennis. He is an avid chess player as well. Becker was
taught how to play chess as a teenager, by his coach Günther
Bosch. Becker explains Bosch’s reasoning for teaching him
chess, “‘Gunther thought that I would expand my intellectual
awareness of structuring a point if I learnt to play chess,’ Becker
said. ‘Strategy is important in chess and tennis. In a one-on-one
situation it’s important to always remain one step ahead of your opponent.’”

Both of these players are well known athletes. Their interest in chess improves their game and develops skills they use when playing basketball and tennis.

Path to Affiliate

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin


While the end may ultimate justify the means, it is important to celebrate each milestone. Every time we get another 100 likes on our Facebook page,  we will publish a celebratory post. We are currently 7 likes away from 8400.

Over the last few months, I have had a lot of fun playing with live commentary, listening to live music, most notably my favorite two bands- The Grateful Dead and  The Allman Brothers, hosting lectures  and recording podcast episodes on our Twitch channel.  The road certainly does go on forever.

I am excited to announce that this past weekend, we made Affiliate on Twitch, which means we can start earning revenue via subscriptions and bits.

For a streamer to become eligible to be an affiliate, there are 4  requirements:

-50 followers

-500 total minutes broadcast over the last 30 days

-7 unique broadcast days in the last 30 days

-average of 3 or more concurrent viewers over the last 30 days

It was fairly easy getting the first 3 requirements through some cross promotion on our Facebook page, website and newsletter.  While I didn’t have much difficulty getting 189+ followers, it was difficult building active viewership so that wed’ get an average of 3 concurrent viewers.

Here are few things that helped get us there:

-Build a network between friends that can support one another’s streams.

-Notify people ahead of time on social media and newsletters, of when I am planning on streaming.

-Organize matches against other streamers; check out channel to see a 10-game 3-2 match I  am playing against Chess Coach John, Today, August 4th at 9:00 PM CST.

I will never forget how my former Vice President at Oracle Kevin McGee used to always ask “What have you done for me lately?” It didn’t matter if you close a massive deal the month before, he always drilled into what pipeline was in store. Therefore, while affiliate is a nice milestone, I am definitely not going to stop here! Off to partner we go as we aim for those requirements:

-Stream for 25 hours

-Stream on 12 different days

-Average of 75 viewers (concurrent viewership excluding hosts, raids and embeds)

If you haven’t yet, please follow stream and send an email to evan@premierchess.com to set up a complimentary 30-minute virtual private lesson. 

Boris Spassky versus Bobby Fischer

We are going to take a look at one of Bobby Fischer’s games against Boris Spassky during the World Chess Championship of 1972. If you would like to view the full game check it out here.

In this game Fischer is playing as white while Spassky plays as black. The game begins with 1. c4 e6 Fischer then follows up with 2. Nf3 and Spassky responds by pushing his pawn to d5. Fischer then moves 3. d4 and we now have a position similar to the queen’s gambit. The purpose of the queen’s gambit is to tempt black to take the pawn on c4, which would allow white to have more control of the center. Spassky responds by moving his knight to the f6 square. He declines Fischer’s gambit as he would rather have a stronger presence on the board.

At this point in the game Fischer begins to take a more offensive approach while Spassky plays a more defensive game. Gameplay goes 6. e3 h6 putting pressure on Fischer’s bishop. Then 7. Bh4 b6 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Bxe7 Qxe7 10. Nxd5 exd5. All of a sudden much of the board is gone. Although Spassky’s king is more protected, Fischer has a much stronger board state with his two pawns on d4 and e3, and his knight on f3.

The game is altogether 41 moves so we are going to take a look at the final state of the game when Spassky resigns. Here Fischer plays Qf4. Both Fischer and Spassky have four pawns a queen and a rook. However, Fischer has a bishop while Spassky has a second rook. The game ends as Fischer has a much better offensive than Spassky does. Many chess games end in resignations, but how do you suppose this game would have ended?

 

Legends of Chess: Semi Finals

By Shai Hecker, Operations Intern

There are only four players left in the Legends of Chess tournament. Results, from Chess Base, show that Magnus Carlsen is in the lead tied with Ian Nepomniachtchi. Carlsen beat Peter Svidler in their first set and Nepomniachtchi beat Anish Giri in their first set as well. Carlsen has been playing very well this tournament and it seems that he may take home another victory.

The two former World Chess Champions did not make it to the semifinals. Vladimir Kamnik the Russian Chess Champion placed in 6th while Viswanathan Anand placed in 9th which is disappointing.

It seems likely that Carlsen will face off against Nepomniachtchi in the finals. The tournament was created to feature these older legendary players. However, it appears that the final showdown will be between these two younger players.

As this tournament winds down Carlsen will begin preparing for the final leg of his tour, The Grand Final. The Legends of Chess Tournament is scheduled to end on August 5th and on August 9th Carlsen will start playing in the final event of his tour. Carlsen has so far won two of the five events as Hikaru Nakamura took the title at the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge so perhapsthe World Chess Champion can lose again.