Chess Articles

Anish Giri, Will He Ever Win?! by Theo Slade

The following article was published in the 2016 May issue of  British Chess Magazine  (BCM), which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine.  Theo Slade  (2059), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.  Photo by:  Brendan O' Gorman

The following article was published in the 2016 May issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM), which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2059), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community. Photo by: Brendan O' Gorman

anish giri, will he ever win?!

asks Theo Slade

The biggest achievement for a chess player is to become World Champion. That is more important than being ranked number one, or playing immortal games, or even having plus scores against the World Champion! Therefore, in the super tournaments leading up to the Candidates’ Tournament, I did not feel the same excitement that I usually do. For example, did it really matter that World Champion Magnus Carlsen won his fifth Wijk aan Zee title ahead of Candidates Karjakin, Caruana, and Giri? It pales in comparison to the Candidates’, and you could tell by looking at their games – only Caruana looked in good form, so naturally he was the pre-tournament favourite.

As you read last month, I recently moved to the US, and since there were no British participants in the Candidates’, I was naturally rooting for either Nakamura or Caruana, particularly because the World Championship match against Carlsen is scheduled to be played in New York!

However, before the Candidates’ began it turned out that there was some off- the-board drama going on. Agon bought the broadcasting rights to five successive World Championship cycles, which includes the World Championship matches and the Candidates’ Tournaments. However, chess24, chess.com, and the Internet Chess Club showed the games anyway on their own websites with their own commentaries.

Agon broadcasted the games on worldchess.com, with commentary by GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Evgenij Miroshnichenko. To be fair, it was very professionally done, with commercial breaks, as if you were watching the action on television. Also, they published the highlights of the day’s commentary, such as Miroshnichenko’s mini-lectures on the on-going games and the press conferences of each game, on their YouTube channel.

I decided to watch the first game on chess24 because I prefer their commentary and interface, then I followed the rest of the tournament by reading the news articles published on chess24 after each round, followed by viewing every YouTube video published by World Chess. However, on the last day, I watched the whole round on chess24, but the stream cut out at one point, so I had to finally give in and watch the World Chess broadcast in the decisive moments of the Tournament.

Rumour has it that Agon is planning to sue chess24, chess.com, and ICC, and you can understand why, but I do not think that they are going to be successful. It seems a strange concept that you can purchase the rights to show chess games. After all, anyone present in Moscow could merely tweet the moves to the rest of the world, for example. On the other hand, if we as chess players want there to be more money in chess, it could be necessary for companies like Agon to buy broadcasting rights to increase sponsorship deals, prize money, and so on.

Moving on to the chess, it quickly became apparent that if there was to be an American challenger, it was much more likely to be Caruana, because Nakamura blundered against Karjakin in round two and lost again in round six, this time against Aronian. Meanwhile, Caruana had drawn his first seven games, which left him a point off first place, held by Karjakin, but his rut came to an end when he defeated his nemesis, Nakamura, in round eight.

Anish Giri didn't win a single game - but he didn't lose any either! Photo by David Llada

Anish Giri didn't win a single game - but he didn't lose any either! Photo by David Llada

Meanwhile, Giri had been quietly going about his business, drawing every single game, which was to be expected, some would say! Thus far, Giri’s only eventful game was in round six, where he pressed throughout with Black against Topalov, obtained a big advantage, but could not translate this into a full point. Naturally, then, when the youngest two participants in the Candidates’, and arguably the best-prepared players in the world, play an extremely important game, you know both of them will bring a huge amount of energy to the table!

Culture Shock by Theo Slade

The following article was published in the 2016 May issue of  British Chess Magazine  (BCM), which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2059), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

The following article was published in the 2016 May issue of British Chess Magazine (BCM), which began in 1881 and is the world's oldest chess magazine. Theo Slade (2059), a new Orlando resident from Cornwall, England, is their youngest ever staff writer, starting when he was only 12 years old! Theo has been writing regularly for BCM for three years and has agreed to share his articles with the CFCC community.

culture shock

by Theo Slade

Just over five months ago my family and I moved from Cornwall, England, to Orlando, Florida, the Land of Opportunity. It was something that we had been thinking about and planning for a long time, and finally, we took the plunge. Orlando, known as The City Beautiful, is much more than just theme parks; it really is a beautiful place to live. And as for the chess, well, the only “Floridian” players that I knew of were Caruana and Nakamura, and if you ignore them, then who is there?! So you can get a good picture inside your mind of what I was thinking when boarding the Virgin Atlantic plane to make the giant leap across the pond. 

As you can tell from my headline, the chess culture out here is completely different from what I imagined it to be, even if my original interpretation was somewhat wishful. Oh, and another thing, not only did we move countries, away from family and friends, but I also moved from an Academy which had only just been founded two years before, to a virtual school in America. I now attend Orange Country Virtual School (OCVS), which is kind of a normal school; it is just that there is no building! I do my work online and submit it for my teachers to mark. I have to be disciplined, but if and when I am, it gives me time and flexibility to study and play chess.

Secondly, there are rarely “set” scoresheets. Most players merely record their moves in their scorebooks. Next, you have to bring your own set and clock to the game. As you can imagine, boards come in all shapes and sizes (mostly square!), and sets vary from the regulation Staunton pieces to the very ornate – nice to look at, but difficult to play with. Everyone also seems to have a different clock, although analogue clocks are unheard of (woo hoo!). The first battle with one’s opponent is to decide whose set to use! In my short spell here I have already had two disputes with my opponents before a pawn has even been pushed...

Overall, American events are less formal. Players are allowed to listen to music through their headphones, and if someone’s phone goes off the arbiters (or Tournament Directors (TDs), as it would be over here) do not mind it as much as they do in England. This leads to some funny scenarios. In one tournament, where several GMs were playing, someone’s phone went off extremely loudly, and everyone looked round. As you do, he just apologised nonverbally and walked out of the playing room quickly. As it transpired after the game, his phone went off because of a tornado alert! It was all over the news, and there was a possibility of it actually affecting us! Thank goodness it did not...

The game that I have chosen to feature is not necessarily typical of the tournaments I have been playing in. Maybe next time I can tell you about the choice between two- and three-day schedules, the option to buy yourself back into the tournament if you lose your Friday night game (!), and even different time controls for different rounds!! Normally I have no time to prepare, I have few, if any, games of my opponent, and I do not know my opponents anyway. However, this game was an exception because I had already played Cooke before. See Cooke – Slade, Turkey Bowl, 2015.

Just generally, I would say that I am quite an emotional person, and my coach has tried to curb this. One massive advantage of living here is that I am now coached by GM Lars Bo Hansen, and his wife, WIM Jen Hansen, who have a very innovative training system, which you can even access from the UK! If you are interested, you can find out more at orlandochesshouse.com. However, this tournament was a team event, and I always get a bit (!) more emotional in these events, because I have a passion for winning as a team, rather than just individually... 

In the featured game below, after 68.Qxb1: The only thing that can explain my emotional state is that it was just like...

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil after scoring a winning goal!

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil after scoring a winning goal!