26 Jul

Play Magnus

With a first-ever for the chess annals, world champion Magnus Carlsen announced earlier this week he’s set to play in September’s FIDE World Cup in Tbilisi, Georgia, the 128-player knockout that acts as a direct world championship qualifier, where players must win a series of two-game mini-matches (and speed playoffs) to advance to the final. […]

24 Jul

Poles Apart

In one of the biggest upset wins ever in a super-tournament, Radoslaw Wojtaszek seized the opportunity to emerge from the shadows of being former world champion Vishy Anand’s second to step for himself into the limelight, as the Polish No1 defied the odds with the first major win of his career as he snatched outright […]

21 Jul

Girls Talk

A nagging question over the years has been: Why aren’t there more good players who are women? Since the game’s governing body, Fide, began ranking players more than 40 years ago, only one, Hungary’s Judit Polgar, broke through the glass ceiling to make her way into the top 10 and also qualifying as a ‘candidate’ […]

19 Jul

It’s Awonder-ful Life!

The everyday home computer has done much to enhance chess for children. Now they have multi-million game databases to study attacking patterns, and powerful, accurate, freely available chess engines, with ratings estimated at 3200 and beyond, far above that of World Champion Magnus Carlsen’s peak level, to play against daily and analyse their latest tournament […]

17 Jul

Wow Wei!

There was heightened speculation at the weekend that the world No.1 spot could dramatically change hands as the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess-Meeting got underway in Germany, with Vladimir Kramnik – dubbed ‘Mr. Dortmund’ – looking to add to his record-breaking super-tournament haul of 10-title wins there, as in the process the Russian ex-world champion would topple […]

14 Jul

The Brilliant Comeback

According to my ever-present Oxford Companion to Chess, the first ‘Brilliancy Prize’ was awarded in 1876 to England’s Henry Bird (for his game against James Mason) by the flamboyant owner of New York’s Café International, where a major tournament was being held. After that, such awards soon became a tradition, and they were often gifts […]

12 Jul


China is a unique phenomenon in world chess. The team only began to compete internationally as a nation in the mid-1970s but within 30 years was a serious contender at men’s level and No.1 in women’s chess. Yet the national game remains Chinese chess and the global version has little public support nor appeal. After 26.e6! The […]

10 Jul

All in the Family

Chess quite often runs in families. The most notable being the Byrne brothers, Robert and Donald, both contemporaries of Bobby Fischer; and then there is the Polgar sisters, Susan, Sofia and Judit; and also not forgetting the Shahades, brother and sister IM Greg and WGM Jennifer who – like the Byrnes – played in several […]

07 Jul

Never Say Never Again

The unofficial world chess hub of Saint Louis in the US Midwest has staged some remarkable and imaginative events over the past few years thanks to Rex Sinquefield and his dedicated staff, but perhaps their biggest coup yet was the dramatic announcement yesterday that ex-world champion Garry Kasparov is set to come out of retirement […]

05 Jul

The World Is Not Enough

We’ve seen a high-level of super-tournament activity almost following on from each other in recent weeks, what with the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament and then going straight into the Grand Chess Tour double-header in Paris and then Leuven – and you would think that, amongst all this, there would be nothing else of importance on […]