10 Aug

Hey Manhattan!

After months of delay and swirling speculations surrounding the upcoming World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin being held in New York, it will indeed be held in New York! Better late than never I suppose, as on Tuesday, Agon Limited, Fide’s official commercial partners for the world championship cycle, confirmed that it would take place November 11th to 30th in the scenic South Street Seaport District of downtown Manhattan.


According to the official press release, the Match arena will be built within the newly refurbished Fulton Market Building, a five-minute walk from Wall Street, and will also feature dedicated spectator and VIP lounges with panoramic views of the Brooklyn Bridge as well as retail space, a restaurant, TV studios and much more.

The new-look Fulton Market Building

Ilya Merenzon, Chief Executive of Agon, said: “We are thrilled to hold the Championship in such a fantastic venue – a location that befits the status of chess as one of the world’s fastest growing sports both in terms of participation and commercial appeal.

“This is going to be the first Championship Match contested by two Grandmasters of the smartphone generation – a battle of two of the finest minds on the planet – and witnessed and enjoyed by countless chess fans who play the game online everyday.”

The playing hall will have room for up to 300 spectators with ticket prices up to $50. Tickets for the $1million 12-game showdown between the Norwegian two-time defending champion Carlsen and his Russian challenger, Karjakin, go on sale on August 17. Anyone interested in attending can register their interest at the official site nyc2016.fide.com.

However, Agon will be serving many thousands upon thousands of more chess fans online on its website, where games and live commentary will be provided. Details will be announced at a later stage, but it is expected that Agon will have learned their lesson of attempting to impose a draconian copyright on game scores - as they foolishly attempted to do at the Moscow Candidates’ Tournament - and could be set to allow rival websites to also broadcast the moves live, so long as they agree to show the names of the official match sponsors.

And no one as yet knows who the match sponsors will be, as that’s not been announced as yet, though sources close to Agon have hinted to the media that an announcement on sponsorship would be made by the end of the month and that two seven-figure sponsors were already on board. We look forward to hearing more on that shortly!

Meanwhile at the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, after two rounds of draws - although some gritty fights and entertaining stuff nevertheless - Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria jumped into the sole lead going into today’s rest day with a somewhat fortuitous win in round five against Ding Liren of China, which was the only decisive game of the round.


Meanwhile at the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, after two rounds of draws - although some gritty fights and entertaining stuff nevertheless - Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria jumped into the sole lead going into today’s rest day with a somewhat fortuitous win in round five against Ding Liren of China, which was the only decisive game of the round.

All the action from the Sinquefield Cup is being streamed live daily on www.grandchesstour.org, featuring play-by-play and analysis from the world-renowned commentary team of GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Maurice Ashley, and WGM Jennifer Shahade.

Photo © | Sinquefield Cup GCT

1. Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) 3.5/5; 2-4. Levon Aronian (Armenia), Wesley So (USA), Vishy Anand (India) 3; 5-6. Fabiano Caruana (USA), Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2.5; 7-9. Ding Liren (China), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) 2; 10. Peter Svidler (Russia) 1.5.

GM Veselin Topalov - GM Ding Liren
4th Sinquefield Cup, (5)
Ruy Lopez, Flohr-Zaitsev Variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Re8 10.d4 Bb7 The Flohr-Zaitsev Variation - though more usual with 9...Bb7 - has been the height of current fashion since Igor Zaitsev (One of Anatoly Karpov's trainers) showed that the old plan with ...Na5 (e.g. the classic bout between Fischer,RJ - Stein,L, 1967) was less safe than re-organising with ...Re8 and ...Be7. This is a pretty heavyweight GM line that proved to be a battleground during another World Championship match in New York - though shared with Lyon, France - between Karpov-Kasparov in 1990. 11.Nbd2 For those looking for an easy day at the office, there's also the well-known "GM draw" threefold repetition here with 11.Ng5 Rf8 12.Nf3 Re8 13.Ng5 etc. 11...Bf8 12.a3 Two other well-trodden paths are 12.d5 and 12.a4 - but no doubt Topalov wanted to avoid the 'business end' of the Zaitsev of Black playing ...exd4 and following up with ...Nb4 and ...c5, as those wonderful battles between Kasparov and Karpov. 12...h6 Played to avoid the annoying knight hop of Ng5. 13.Bc2 With the usual Zaitsev ...Nb4 option, not a factor anymore, Ding Liren goes for a well-known 'Breyer regrouping' of his knight, which will be redeployed via d7. 13...Nb8 14.b3 Nbd7 15.Bb2 Rc8 With Black's rook vacating the a-file, opening it up now makes perfect sense for Topalov. 16.a4 b4?! It's almost as if Ding Liren has been totally flummoxed by Topalov's 12.a3, as he rashly plays a move that just helps to open the game for White's better-placed pieces to strike. He would have been wiser playing cagily himself with 16...c6, leaving his options open for perhaps a counter-strike in the centre with ...d5. In any case, from here, Ding Liren comes under enormous pressure. 17.cxb4 exd4 18.Bxd4 c5 19.bxc5 Nxc5 20.Qb1 a5 21.b4! Immediately creating a very problematic passed a-pawn that Black has to keep a close eye on. Not only that but Topalov's pieces are nicely poised to strike. The only thing Ding Liren has going for himself here is the pressure on White's e-pawn. 21...axb4 22.Qxb4 Ba8 23.a5 d5!? Realising how difficult his position was becoming, Ding Liren opts to complicate matters - and probably the best thing to do in such circumstances. If Black immediately recaptures the pawn, then he looks doomed: 23...Ncxe4 24.Nxe4 Nxe4 25.Ba4! Re6 26.Bb6 Qf6 27.Qd4! And White has a big advantage in space ,as well as the ace in the hole with that big a-pawn. 24.Bxf6 Qxf6 25.e5 Qa6 Keeping tabs on the a-pawn, but.... 26.Qg4! This swift switch to the kingside attack highlights the inherent problems with Black's position: he can't defend against both attacks, as something has to give. 26...Ne6 27.Bf5 Rc5 28.Bxe6! Topalov has quickly sized-up how he's going to win, as he leaves Ding Liren with a bad bishop on a8 with his knights now coming to the fore. 28...Rxe6 29.Nb3 Crucially defending the all-important passed a-pawn - but also looking to put a stranglehold on the d4 square with his knights, thus leaving Black to deal with his blocked in bishop on a8. 29...Rc4 30.Nfd4 Bb7 31.Qf5 Taking the exchange does give Black some chances, as Black's bishops become more active. Also, a strong option was 31.Qh5 followed by Re3 and a kingside attack. As it is, Topalov has his own plan. 31...Re7 32.e6! Bc8 If 32...fxe6 33.Rxe6 Rxe6 34.Nxe6 Qd6 35.a6! wins. 33.exf7+ Rxf7 34.Qxd5 Bb7 35.Qe6 Two pawns down, Ding Liren should really be thinking of resigning here - but all credit to him for finding ways of avoiding the inevitable by activating his pieces. 35...Rb4 36.Re3 Qa8 37.Rc1 Bd5 38.Rc8 Bxe6 39.Rxa8 Bc4 40.Rc8 Kh7 41.Rc3 Ba6 42.Rd8 Ra4 43.Ne6 Stronger and better would have been 43.Rc6 first. 43...Bb4 44.Rc6 Bb5 45.Rc1 Ra2 This is as good as it gets for Ding Liren - somehow, two pawns down, he's given himself good saving chances. 46.f3 Ba4 47.Nbd4 Bxa5 48.Ra8 Bb6 49.Kh1 Bb3 50.Rb8 Bxe6 51.Rxb6! This was by far the more dangerous bishop, as it retained certain saving chances by covering White escape squares for his king on g1 and h2. 51...Bf5 52.Rd6 Not 52.Nxf5 as the double rook ending will give Black excellent chances of saving the game, especially with all the pawns on the one side of the board. 52...Bg6 53.Rd8 The problem for Ding Liren is that his king is susceptible to getting caught in a mating net, as it is trapped in the corner allowing White's rooks and knight to combine for maximum mayhem. 53...Bf5 54.Rd6 Bg6 55.Rc8 Rb7 56.Rdd8 Bd3 57.Ne6 Bf1 58.Nf8+? Missing the automatic win with 58.Rh8+! Kg6 59.Nf4+ Kf6 (59...Kf5 60.Rhf8+ Ke5 61.Rc1 Bb5 62.Re1+ Kd4 63.Rc8! and you are going to have to lose your bishop to prevent Re4 mate.) 60.Rc1! Bb5 (60...Ba6? 61.Rc6+ winning a piece.) 61.Rf8+ Ke5 62.Re1+ Kd6 63.Rd8+ Bd7 64.Nh5! and White is going to capture both of those kingside pawns shortly. 58...Kg8 59.Ng6+ Kh7? Wrong - and how costly! Instead, after 59...Kf7 60.Nh8+ Ke7 61.Ng6+ Kf7 all White can do is repeat moves, else he could be losing himself if g2 falls with check. 60.Nf8+ Kg8 61.Ne6+ (See Diagram) 61...Kh7?? The final, fateful blunder. Again, ...Kf7 was correct -only this time though, Black is the one emerging with the better side of the draw: 61...Kf7! 62.Nf4 Bxg2+! 63.Nxg2 Rb1+ 64.Kh2 Rbb2 65.Rf8+ Kg6 66.Kg3 Rxg2+ 67.Kh4 Ra5 68.Rc6+ Kh7 69.Rc4 and a draw is coming - though White is the one more uncomfortable. 62.Rh8+ Kg6 63.Nf4+ Kg5 64.Rhf8 Rbb2 Now if Black tries to escape with 64...Bxg2+ the key move is the totally unhuman-like 65.Kh2!! (And not 65.Nxg2 Rb1+ 66.Kh2 Rbb2 and again, we are heading for a draw, as the above note.) 65...Bxf3+ 66.Kg3 and Black's king is caught in a mating net and he will have to lose a lot of material. 65.Rc7 g6 66.g3 1-0 Ding Liren resigns, as there's no escape from his king caught in the mating net.

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