Upsets at the World Cup

(left: Polgar sisters as child prodigies playing 3D Risk)

In the Sunday NYTimes, FM Dylan Loeb McClain has a column where he covers the hot novelties and interesting chess tidbits that addicted chess fanatics such as myself crave. This last Sunday, while at Variety coffee shop slamming a stumptown ‘spro at 8a.m. before biking to the Marshall Chess Club, I picked up his column and saw this article. Sam Shankland upset Peter Leko at the World Cup- who could have seen that coming. It goes without saying that at No. 19 in the World, Leko is an elite GM. Thus, beating him with the black pieces is a major achievement for our own S. Shankland. The game is a Semi-Slav, which arrives at a curious position where Black’s pieces shuffle on the 3 ranks while white appears to have a better position for most of the game. Then, like an avalanche, Black’s kingside pawns start rolling forward and block out white’s dark square bishop, leaving black with a golden knight that is centrally placed. The game is nothing short of a positional masterpiece from the young American.

In my last post I think I lamented how most GM’s don’t have their own websites in an era where shameless self-promotion has become more than socially acceptable – almost mandated- but it turns out I spoke too soon. Sam Shankland has a site of his own here, and it’s not bad actually! Granted it isn’t a 20 thousand Euro website the way that Jan Gustafsson’s appears to be, but it isn’t an early 1990’s GeoCities looking chess website either, so kudos Sam.

Another upset which caught my eye was Judit Polgar eliminating the top seeded Karjakin in the World Cup. The masterful endgame is nicely analyzed over at ChessVibes (for no charge- believe it or not!)

Apparently, after having some babies Judit is back in action and gunning for an elite top spot again. How amazing would it be to see her in the candidates next time around? Having a female World Champion could give a lot of good publicity to chess and perhaps entice more women to play in general- like a gender specific Bobby Fischer effect. There’s no question that if any woman on the planet has a shot it’s Judit.

ok chess geeks -swoon-

If that game was juicy enough- in their second game Judit whipped out the Ruy Lopez Open as black to drawn (Swoon again!).

As those of you who follow this blog know, we have a bit of a love affair with the Ruy Lopez Open- check it out- I have all three Chess Informant Monographs on the subject by the hero of line himself!!

Naturally, the following game demonstrates Polgar’s ability to control the position and hold the draw.

I have to admit- despite all of the shenanigans her sister has been involved with here concerning the USCF (and I won’t mention specifics as I don’t want to be sued for defamation – ugh- ) i’m still a fan of Judit and wish her well.