After years of competing head to head, in their 31st game at classical time controls (according to Wikipedia), American #2 Hikaru Nakamura finally beat World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Hikaru has come close a few times, but yesterday was the first day where he actually pulled it off. I’ve always thought that he had some kind of mental block against Carlsen, which is unfortunate since Naka is usually a very exciting player. Hopefully his dry spell is over. See Hikaru’s interview above; see an analysis of the game below.
Those chess fans on this blog will remember the disastrous ruling by Tony Rich last year that gave Varuzhan Akobian a forfeit win over Wesley So in the 2015 U.S. Chess Championship. Well today, Wesley got his revenge in the 2016 U.S. Chess Championship. He demolished Akobian by sac’ing a rook and a minor. See the finish and interview either above or here.
Wesley had a great quote on chess.com.
“I did some critical preparation today,” So said. “I decided to play more safely but then I couldn’t control myself.”
I remember when I was in kindergarten that we were taught that computers would never beat the top humans in chess and could never calculate the shortest distance between two points. Computers could only calculate, the teacher said, they can’t think. “That’s why you’ll always be smarter than a computer.”
This past Saturday, my son was in a chess tournament. He did well, defeating a reigning scholastic state champion and avenging a loss against another opponent who had won in their last outing. He was telling me about how after a game in one of the lower sections, the loser, who happens to attend a Chinese immersion school, came out in tears. He sat outside the playing area, bawling and crying. This is actually not atypical–chess is a sport that pulls strong emotions out of its players. Grown men have cried after losing hard-fought battles on the chessboard. I usually expect to see one or two kids crying after matches.
This is awesome. NFL linebacker James Harrison posted on Instagram that his sons won “participation trophies” for doing nothing and that he was returning them. His message is equally awesome:
I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy. #harrisonfamilyvalues
Jeffery Xiong won the Chicago Open ahead of well-known chess greats Gata Kamsky and Boris Avrukh. It’s quite an accomplishment given that he’s only 14. With his great performance, he completed his third grandmaster norm. He’s already over 2500, so he will become America’s next grandmaster. He’ll become the second youngest American grandmaster in history, behind Sam Sevian. More about Jeffery on the Chess Drum.
Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov gave a great commencement speech at St. Louis University. You can click the video above (speech starts at around 1 hour and six minutes). See the full transcript at chess.com. My two favorite parts:
1. The story about Tigran Petrosian’s wife. You always have to have a new dream. I wish someone had told me this when I was young.
2. This quote:
Great quotes by Freddie Roach:
“You learn more in defeat,” Roach added. “You can always tell a fighter, ‘You should’ve done this more, or that more,’ and he can’t say, ‘Yeah, but I won.’ “
The best adjustments in Pacquiao’s career followed his loss to Erik Morales in 2005, and his knockout defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, Roach said.
“Losing is not the worst thing in the world because it makes you better. I truly feel that,” Roach said. “I won my first 10 fights, lost my 11th, then won 17 straight after that because I knew I needed to work harder after taking a more experienced guy lightly.”
Everyone who follows chess saw a big tragedy go down this past week when arbiter Tony Rich forfeited Wesley So for writing inspirational phrases during a match. In doing so, Rich gave a free point to Varuzhan Akobian, who is a much weaker player (relatively speaking) than Wesley So. So explained that he didn’t know the rules. While I can see how writing on a piece of paper could be distracting to an opponent, I don’t see how that merits an immediate forfeit. I agree with Emil Sutovsky and Sam Shankland: a lesser punishment would have been more appropriate. Rich’s decision basically destroyed the entire event. The forfeit overshadowed everything else.
She’s only 11, and she’s a master. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe what she can do on the chess board. She’s got a great attacking style. I’m looking forward to seeing her competing in the big tournaments.