|Jen on Team Blitz and the Beijing View on Bonn|
|By Jennifer Shahade|
|October 15, 2008|
In the final round of the blitz team at the 1st World Mind Sport Games (check games and results ), the United States Women’s team faced off against China. Although we double castled (Abby Marshall was the closest to winning, getting her opponent down to one second), we were all very excited to play the host delegation’s famous women’s squad. I played GM-elect Hou Yifan, who I interviewed in a previous dispatch from China. I had a good position on the board and the clock, but tangled my knights together and lost one of them.
So, how did we get on board one without the top women players Krush, Zatonskih, etc? The most attentive uschess.org readers will probably guess that it had something to do with the Swiss system- indeed, although we had come off a nice victory over Slovakia, our board one finale was a bit misleading: China had played most of the heaviest hitting teams in the 10 rounds before facing us. In the semis and finals, China prevailed and beat out Russia and underdog teams Turkey and Vietnam to secure the team blitz gold medal.
In the rapids, the men are in contention to make the semifinals with two rounds to go. Jesse Kraai and Josh Friedel both sited their favorite games as wins over the Mexican IM, Roberto C. Del Campo Martin.
The women are struggling in the rapids but Abby Marshall’s games are always entertaining. Iryna Zenyuk who plays on board two between us told Abby, “Whenever I look at Jennifer’s position, it seems normal and then yours are always crazy.” Abby, a King’s Gambit devotee, turned in the following two wins.
Abby and I analyzed the position above from the second game and found the spectacular 11.Qxf7!!? The idea is Kxf7 xc6+ followed by xb7, trapping the rook and winning a queen. Most attempts to mate or check by Black fall short. My engine did not like the move at first, but it finally recognizes its power in most variations (One creative Black defense is Bd7 with the idea of xa8 Bc6+ though that falls short to Bb5!) These variations are lots of fun, but I must admit that what Abby played, the straightforward 11.Qc7 is just as good and much more practical…
As the World Mind Sport Games winds down, conversations veer toward the World Championship which just began in Bonn, Germany. Although game one did not give us much to talk about, game two was more promising.
I asked anyone I could find who their pick in the match was…the U.S. team was split down the middle with Friedel and Schneider picking Anand, Perelshteyn quoting a 50/50 chance and Shabalov and Kraai predicting a Kramnik victory “My boy Kramnik has been world Champion since 2000.” I also decided to go with Kramnik, not from a dutiful study of his games, but a feeling that he can successfully bore Anand to death. I guess you can figure out by that line who I am rooting for!
Before my blitz game against Indian IM Tania Sachdev, I asked her about the Anand match. She gave 60/40 in favor of Anand, and then switched it to 55/45, not a mark of confidence, I thought. Then, with just 20 seconds left in the pre-game countdown, she asked me who I’d pick. Of course, I didn’t want to get her mad right before playing me, so I said Anand, retracting my quote from just an hour before! She won anyway.
I’ve learned the basics of GO at this mind festival, and I’m intrigued but unsure if I want to learn more. I also played at an outdoor festival sponsored by Aigo, a sponsor of the Mind Sports. Aigo is supposedly a merging of Western Chess and Chinese Chess. Aigo is chess with two “cannons”, a piece that moves like a rook but captures by jumping over a piece. I was a bit confused by the cannons on b2 and g2 (the b- and g-pawns start on b3 and g3), so in the game pictured above, I simply traded off the cannons and crushed my opponent in chess! It took me a while to grasp the idea that the cannon could move like a rook but not capture/mate like a rook. I have a new appreciation for how difficult it is for a total beginner to learn the pawn…
A few people told me they are checking my China blogs mostly for the photos so here we go again! Also check out my blogs and albums on arrival , individual blitz and individual rapids/pairs.)