Bits and bobs as I've been a bit swamped with family, snow, and work lately. And apparently there are some kind of holidays this month. What's on your chess wish-list, material or otherwise?
The Russian championship just got underway in Moscow. Defending champion Svidler is the top seed. Grischuk and Jakovenko are the other big names, and as always it's a very strong field. In the first round Grischuk and Khismatullin notched wins. Kramnik and Morozevich aren't there this year.
Malakhov, the recent World Cup semifinalist, isn't there either. But he confirmed his impressive run of form in a less lofty venue by winning the 9th Amplico Life rapid tournament in Warsaw over the weekend. He scored an amazing 11.5/13 to finish a half-point ahead of Ivanchuk. Shirov and Gashimov were also in the field, finishing with 10 and 9.5. Malakhov, who started with eight straight wins, beat all three. Fantastic result. Don't see a game file anywhere yet but I'm looking forward to it.
A mostly filler and poorly translated/written interview with Anand in the Times of India did make me think about one thing. (Other than the similarity between the verbs "improve" and "improvise.") Anand pointed out this has been a mediocre year for him, and that's certainly true. He played in two classical tournaments, making an even score in Linares and a +1 at the Tal Memorial. Even "his" event, the Mainz rapid championship, escaped him, and in the semis at that. Even a world champion can't win them all, and he didn't play all that much, but it does highlight the era of parity we've been in for the past few years.
That might well be ending as the age of Carlsen seems to be dawning even earlier than most expected. Speaking of, we had a chance to toast the world #1 with a former holder of that spot, Garry Kasparov, here in NY the other evening. (He had his Kasparov Chess Foundation master classes with top US kids this weekend.) It sounds like success at the board has attracted successes in business, and sponsors may be making Carlsen quite a big brand soon enough. I'm not sure about his being the next Tiger Woods, but that doesn't mean what it used to mean anyway. New era or no, few would bet that Carlsen, who is achieving his #1 ranking two years younger than Kasparov did, is going to hold that spot for the 20 years Garry had it. But if Carlsen can learn to work as hard as Kasparov learned to do much younger by having Botvinnik and his mother in his life, why not? Are computers too great an equalizer?
Time to go dig through the "when will Carlsen reach #1?" informal poll we had in the comments a few years ago (?). The "never" folks are in trouble. I wonder if anyone nailed January 2011? And will this lead to a real chess boom in Norway and perhaps regionally? My Norwegian Friend (by transplant) GM Jon Tisdall refers to Carlsen's burgeoning fame as his retirement plan. Chess coaches might soon be in high demand.
Just tried eggnog with coconut rum in it. Recommended.