Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chess

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SOME chess tournaments are so powerful and so iconic they become a permanent part of chess history.

Mention New York 1924, or Nottingham 1936, or Zurich 1953 to any chess enthusiast and they will instantly recognize the city and year of a great event. Now some people are asking: will London 2013 be added to the list?

This year's Candidates tournament in London featured eight of the world's best players in a double round-robin event, all vying for the right to challenge world champion Viswanathan Anand for the title.

The world chess title has become somewhat devalued in recent years. Bickering between rival organizations gave way to political disputes that seemed to prevent the very top players from getting a shot at the championship. Anand still holds the crown, even though he is currently ranked just sixth in the world.

The London tournament featured three players rated over 2800, including the man most people consider the current world's best -- Magnus Carlsen of Norway. Lev Aronian of Armenia and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia were also seen as possible winners, while even Alexander Grischuk and Teimour Radjabov were seen as having an outside chance.

But in addition to the lineup, the tournament pioneered some innovative technology that made it far more exciting for fans to follow the action, in person or online. Every spectator in the playing hall was given a Samsung tablet which allowed them to follow the moves, analysis, related statistics and commentary. Online visitors to a variety of sites could see the same thing.

Many of the sites also featured instant computer analysis that provided a running evaluation of the game. It's fascinating to watch a move played by one of the world's leading grandmasters and get an instant evaluation of whether it was optimal, sub-optimal or weak. Equally exciting is the ability to see how quickly the complexion of a game can change with a single inaccuracy.

An estimated half-million visitors followed the games during the tournament, truly making it a mass sporting event.

The tournament itself had a dramatic and exciting finish. Carlsen led for most of the event, only to be overtaken by Kramnik near the end. They were tied going into the final round, forcing both players to play risky, edgy chess to maximize their chances of scoring wins.

The tension proved too great, and both leaders lost their final games. That meant they finished in a tie for first, and Carlsen earned the right to challenge for the world championship as he had the better tiebreak score.

The final scoretable shows Carlsen, Kramnik, Aronian and Svidler all within half a point of each other. And the quotient of decisive games, many of them entertaining, see-saw battles, was impressive.

Anand will face Carlsen in November at a site yet to be determined. It's safe to say the chess world will be equally transfixed for this match.

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Don't forget the second Tyndall Park chess tournament April 20 at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, 737 Keewatin St., with $2,000 in prizes for all categories.

Register at the Tyndall Park Constituency office, Unit 24-360 Keewatin, or by calling Rey Sangalang at 204-421-9493. Registration is $15 before April 15 and $20 afterwards.

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This week's problem: White to move and mate in two (Hartong). Solution to last problem: White mates with 1.Ke3.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 6, 2013 E11

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