Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Pogonina: One needs very good nerves to endure it

The last Russian participant of the World Championship defeated Pia Cramling on tie-break and will now play in the final match for the chess crown. We met Natalia shortly after her dramatic victory in the second rapid game.

– Natalia, congratulations with advancing to the final match! Could you tell us please how you managed to defeat Pia?

– I did not expect the move order that happened in the first game, and after 9.e4 was playing on my own. I knew the general ideas, but not the concrete lines.

My trainer told me later that she could sacrifice a pawn with a big advantage. I saw that sacrifice, but thought, well, I will consolidate and defend somehow, and a pawn is a pawn... But she didn't go for it, and then there was the move repetition and a draw.

As for the second game... I did not expect 8...Bb4 at all. She also combined it with short castling, and we arrived at a Hedgehog-type position. I am not sure whether such positions are easier to handle with White or Black in a rapid game. In any case, I rarely play them, so Pia surely has more experience in this structure than me.

But she got short on time, her position started to come apart (possibly due to time trouble mistakes), and I got very close to a victory. And then... I hallucinated about something, did not calculate two moves ahead, and instead of having an extra queen got an endgame with the opposite-colored bishops and an extra pawn.

– How did you adapt to basically starting the game over?

– Well, at least I had a pawn... Of course having the h-pawn with the light-squared bishop made it more difficult. Still, defending without any thinking time except those ten seconds per move is very hard in a practical game. And I had won such positions even in classical games... Of course, objectively it was a draw.

I just needed to keep fighting and look for my chance. If she defends – no big deal, I was prepared to play the 10-minute games if necessary. I did not let myself to regret about missing a win.

– You are in the World Championship final right now. What are you feeling?

– No feelings yet. I keep thinking about the last game, all the previous games, and I also think that tomorrow is a day off. It is very hard to play in such a rhythm, with three comebacks and three tie-breaks in a row. One needs to have very good nerves to endure it. I think everyone who works here also needs some rest.

– Will you treat yourself during the day off? Shopping, perhaps?

– I haven't been to the mountains yet, so this is my plan for tomorrow. I look forward to the new sights, it must be exciting.

– You are here for 20 days already. What do your family members think about your absence?

– They are all rooting for me, only my 5-year-old son always asks: mammy, when will your tournament end?

– Well, now you at least know exactly what to tell him! By the way, did you buy the return ticket before the championship?

– Actually, it is very convenient now, as my son is with my mother in Stavropol, which is like 8 hours on a train from here. And there are never any problems with train tickets, so I did not care about buying the return ticket...

US Championship LIVE!

US Women's Championship LIVE!

Mickey Adams to replace Radjabov in Shamkir

Adams to replace Radjabov in Shamkir Chess Tournament
Apr 1, 2015

Grandmaster Teimour Radjabov was forced to withdraw from the 2nd Vugar Gashimov Memorial for health reasons, reports quoting the tournament press service.

Radjabov will be replaced with Michael Adams (England). The official website is currently showing photos of nine participants.

The organizers have also announced live games commentary in three languages. GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko will provide commentary in English language, while GM Viorel Iordachescu from Moldova will comment in Russian language.

The commentary in Azerbaijani language will be by IM Anar Allahverdiyev and GM Farid Abbasov.

3-peat journey

Webster University wins President's Cup 3 straight years
by André Schulz

3/31/2015 – For the third time in a row Webster University won the College Chess Final Four championship, also known as "President's Cup". With their strong team of Liem Le, Ray Robson, Illia Nyzhnyk, Vasif Durarbayli, Fidel Corrales Jimenez, and Andre Diamant Webster University was clear favorite. The team did not disappoint and won convincingly.

This year the College Chess Final Four championship was played in the New York Athletic Cup. And to avoid time trouble with the US Championship that starts on March 31st in St. Louis the university teams played one week earlier than usual.

The three teams that tried to prevent Webster from winning their third title in as many years were Texas Tech, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and University of Texas in Dallas. But Webster clearly dominated the championship. They won all three matches, scored nine wins, conceded four draws, and did not lose a single game.

Round 1

Webster 3.5 - 0.5 UMBC

Niclas Huschenbeth vs Liem Le ½-½
Ray Robson vs Tanguy Ringoir 1-0
Akshayraj Kore vs Illya Nyzhnyk 0-1
Yasif Durarbayli vs Levan Bregadze 1-0


Holt, Conrad vs Gorovets, Andrey 1-0
Margvelashvili, Giorgi vs Zherebukh, Yaroslav ½-½
Moradiabadi, Elshan vs. Kritz, Leonid ½-½
Shoker, Samy vs. Berczes, David 1-0

Round 2

Webster 3.5: 0.5 UTD

Liem Le vs George Margvelashvili 1-0
Leonid Kritz vs Ray Robson 0-1
Illya Nyzhnyk vs Conrad Holt ½-½
Valentin Yotov vs Yasif Durarbayli 0-1

TTU 1,5 - 2,5 UMBC

Zherebukh, Yaroslav vs Huschenbeth, Niclas 1-0
Ringoir, Tanguy vs Moradiabadi, Elshan ½-½
Gorovets, Andrey vs Akshayraj, Kore 0-1
Bregadze, Levan vs Shoker, Samy 1-0

Round 3

Webster 3:1 TTU

Liem Le vs Yaroslav Zherebukh 1-0
Elshan Moradiabadi vs Ray Robson ½-½
Illya Nyzhnyk vs Andrey Gorovets ½-½
Samy Shoker vs Yasif Durarbayli 0-1


Huschenbeth, Niclas vs Margvelashvili, Giorgi 1-0
Kritz, Leonid vs Ringoir, Tanguy 1-0
Akshayraj, Kore vs Holt, Conrad 0-1
Kadric, Denis vs Bregadze, Levan 1-0

Full article here.

2015 US Championships begin

US Championship Round 1 pairings

GM Ray Robson - GM Kayden Troff
GM Alex Onischuk - GM Timur Gareev
GM Conrad Holt - GM Hikaru Nakamura
GM Var Akobian - GM Sam Sevian
GM Gata Kamsky - GM Sam Shankland
GM Wesley So - GM Daniel Naroditsky

US Women's Championship Round 1 pairings 

FM Alisa Melekhina - NM Apurva Virkud
WGM Tatev Abrahamyan - WIM Annie Wang
WFM Jennifer Yu - WGM Anna Sharevich
WGM Katerina Nemcova - IM Rusudan Goletiani
WGM Sabina Foisor - GM Irina Krush
WIM Viktorija Ni - IM Nazi Paikidze

The secret to building a world class team

The SPICE team won the Final Four college chess championship for the fifth time. This was the third consecutive title of the team as Webster University.

With 10 points, Webster University broke our own all time Final Four record of 9.5 points (in 12 games) set in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the 4.5 point winning margin is the largest for Webster (beating the previous record of winning by 2.5 points set in 2013 and 2014).

Replay the games here

After the victory, Paul Truong – the marketing and PR director of the program – gave an extensive interview to

Congratulations on winning the College Chess Final Four for the 5th consecutive years. What is your secret to winning the most prestigious College Chess event in the United States year after year?

Thank you. It is not really a secret since our system is well known. The system is also very simple.

1. Train harder than anyone else. Since this was the strongest ever Final Four College Chess Championships with 18 GMs among the 4 teams, we knew it would not be easy. Our work started the minute the PanAm InterCollegiate Chess Championship ended on December 30, 2014 when we knew which other 3 schools qualified for the Final Four. From December 30 until March 27, we spent over 1,000 hours collectively as a team doing research to know every little thing about each of our potential opponents. We want to know what are their favorite openings, as well as strengths and weaknesses in each phase of the game, in addition to many other intangibles.

2. Team work. Every member of the entire team contributes in one way or another. This is one family. Those who do not buy into this system are shown the door out of SPICE, regardless of their ratings. There is no I in this team and selfishness is not something we tolerate. There is no exception to this rule and some found out the hard way.

3. Pinpoint assessment. After the initial scouting phase of the Final Four, we have to try to outsmart and outguess our opponents. Pinpoint assessment is the key. The better the assessment, the better chance to win. This is a science in itself. This is also why many big financial firms reached out to recruit chess players. This pinpoint assessment skill can translate into major success in finance or business.

4. Game plan precision. After the initial scouting and pinpoint assessment, we then come up with a game plan for each match and each player in each round. The better the data, the more precise the game plan will be. Our game plan has worked to perfection in the last 5 years.

5. Enhanced physical fitness. Even though we were made fun of many times about why chess players need to be fit to move the little chess pieces, we firmly believe that physical fitness is required to raise chess strength to another level. When a chess game can last 5, 6, or 7 hours, and there are 2 games in a day, you have to be so fit. When players are tired, mistakes are more likely to happen.

6. Setting goals. We do not believe in randomness. This team sets goals every year. Then we will do everything humanly possible to reach those goals. For example, the goal of getting 10 points in 12 games in the Final Four to break our own records from the past 2 years was something we aimed for. Some may say we are nuts but that was our goal.

7. Planning for the next year. My personal enjoyment ended 1 minute after we won the Final Four. While I am very happy for Webster University, the staff, the students, and all our sponsors and supporters, I am already looking at 2016. There are a long line of students waiting to get into SPICE and we have students who will be graduating. Never sit on your laurel for too long. The competition will not sit still. They will work hard to improve and if you want to be the best, you have to be 2-3 steps ahead of them. As I said to many people, including all of my students, that while we may or may not have the best team in any given year, we will work harder than anyone else, fight with more vigor than any other team, and we will be more disciplined than all the competition. I guarantee it!

These are some of the things we instill in each of our student. Wesley So learned from the same system which vaulted him from mid 2600′s to high 2700′s and top 10 in the world.

Webster University has many strong students. What is your recruiting secret to getting some of the biggest names (all 2600+ GMs) such as Le Quang Liem, Wesley So, Ray Robson, Georg Meier, Illya Nyzhnyk, Vasif Durarbayli, Fidel Corrales, Manuel Hoyos, etc?

Contrary to what many people think, we do very little recruiting. Even though we do reach out to a few particular students, but in most cases, prospective chess students contact us. Everyone knows where and how to contact Susan (Polgar) directly.

We have a long list of GMs, IMs, WGMs, and other players applying and waiting to get in. There are many good universities which offer chess scholarships. But if players are serious about improving and getting to the next level, SPICE at Webster University is the first choice for all of them. However, I must say that it is harder to get into the elite SPICE program than to get to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, or Cornell, etc.

The cup coming once again to SPICE and Webster

What are the requirements to get into Webster University – SPICE?

1. They must focus on their academic study to maintain at least a 3.0/4.0 GPA, although we expect a much higher GPA.
2. They must follow all team rules.
3. They must conduct themselves professionally and ethically at all times.
4. They are expected to volunteer in the community.
5. They must respect their teammates and learn to work as a team.
6. They are expected to work on their physical fitness and endurance.
7. They are expected to set achievable chess goals, and work with us to reach these goals.

Every player has strengths and weaknesses. We will work with our players to enhance their strengths and fix their weaknesses. If they do not want to improve and get better then they will not be a right fit at SPICE. They are better off being at other chess programs which are not as strict or have no expectation at all. There are plenty of players who want to improve and want to have the chance to improve to get to the next level.

CrossFit Chess Challenge

What do you look for in potential students?

We look for the 7 P’s.

1. Passion
2. Process
3. People
4. Purpose
5. Preparation
6. Persistence
7. Perseverance

For those who are not acquainted with the SPICE program, allow me to tell you more about it. SPICE stands for Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence. Susan is the Director of SPICE, as well as Head Coach of the chess team. It is a part of Webster University. In order to be a part of SPICE, all students must follow the same process to be admitted to the university. Once they are accepted, they can then apply to be a part of SPICE. There are two main components to our chess program at Webster.

1. Webster University Chess Club: Any student, staff, faculty, or members of the local community can participate.
2. SPICE: This is for Webster students only, which includes training and competition, etc.

Thank you for taking time to chat with us. Congratulations once again to Webster University and all the students.
2015 College Chess Final Four Championship Standings

(4 team round robin with 4 boards for each team)

1. Webster 10 pts / 12 games
2. University of Texas in Dallas 5.5 pts / 12 games
3. Texas Tech University 4.5 pts / 12 games
4. University of Maryland in Baltimore 4.0 pts / 12 games

With 10 points, Webster University broke our own all time Final Four record of 9.5 points (in 12 games) set in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the 4.5 point winning margin is the largest for Webster (beating the previous record of winning by 2.5 points set in 2013 and 2014).

Board 1: GM Le Quang Liem 2.5 / 3
Board 2: GM Ray Robson 2.5 / 3
Board 3: GM Illya Nyzhnyk 2 / 3
Board 4: GM Vasif Durarbayli 3 / 3

Some players from Webster University Final Four Championship team will turn pro

Big changes for Webster University Final Four Championship team

by PT (Director of Marketing & PR for SPICE)

After Webster University won the third straight College Chess Final Four Championship by an overwhelming margin, major opportunities opened up for members of this historic team. Within 24 hours after bringing back to St. Louis the President's Cup, a major fitness company located in Chicago made a serious financial offer to some members of team. The deal is supposed to be finalized within the next week or so.

It is expected to be a 3 year contract with the players' option for the 4th year. Some members of the team will receive six digit contract offers annually plus substantial bonuses to be the company's official spokespersons.

"We are all very excited about this incredible opportunity to turn pro. We are all so much into chess and fitness. This is simply perfect!", said GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez, a computer major junior. "My former teammate Wesley So made millions turning pro after being victorious at Millionaire Chess. Winning the Final Four for the 3rd consecutive time also opened new opportunities for other team members as well", added GM Corrales.

Susan Polgar, head coach of the Webster University championship team, is very happy for her players. "We wish them the best. It is hard to replace some of the top talents. But we will have new 2600+ freshmen coming in next year to try to go for a 4-peat."

It is very exciting times for Webster chess. Stay tuned for further developments.

2015 Fagernes Chess International LIVE!

Aeroflot Open LIVE!

Closing out chess tactic

White to move. Is it possible for White to save this game? How should White proceed?

Polish Championship LIVE!

Polish Women's Championship LIVE!

On Magnus Carlsen - GMs Gustafsson / Jussupov ... and more

Typical play for Black in Nimzo-Indian Defence (Part I)

Posted on March 31,2015 By GM Levan Aroshidze in Strategy & Game Review, Chess Openings, General Chess Articles, Beginner's Corner. Theory grows rapidly and nowadays it became hard to get promising positions in the openings with Black. White tries to limit the rival's possibilities and play for only 2 results. Sometimes Black chooses risky playing systems in order to get complex position and fight for the initiative from the very beginning. However, still there are some solid opening setups that may offer sharp play without going into dangerous variations. One of this opening[...]

On Magnus Carlsen - GMs Gustafsson / Jussupov

Posted on March 30,2015 By OnlineChessLessons.NET Contributor in Strategy & Game Review, All Articles w/ Videos. Improve by studying the games of the World Champion! In the "On Magnus Carlsen" video series, the GMs Gustafsson and Jussupov show you the current world number one chess player and World Champion in a dazzling series of games. These games chronicle his rise as a player and show his improvement from the past up to the current day. The Grandmasters presenting the material are also highly regarded players and do a terrific job of explaining the thin[...]

Typical play in French for White (Part II)

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How to Build Your 1. d4 Repertoire - GM Jan Gustafsson

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