Linares Impressions Print E-mail
Jennifer's Blog
By Jennifer Shahade   
February 17, 2007
This is an exciting weekend for chess, with both Linares ( Feb.16-March.10 the first half in Morelia, Mexico) and the U.S. Amateurs kicking off at the same time. The only decisive game at the first round of Linares was Carlsen-Morozevich. When Carlsen played Nxd6!?, my first thought was that the sack was a bit nutty. In fact, the deeper I looked into the position, the worse it looked for Black. Morozevich must have agreed, because he sacked a piece back to relieve some of the pressure. After the fireworks, the young Carlsen was up a pawn and managed to reel in the first full point of Linares. 43. Bd3! was a pretty finishing touch.


I found the Ivanchuk-Leko game the most interesting of the round.


Sadly, Ivanchuk did not have enough time to play for a win- he had to make 15 moves in less than a minute. On, Kaidanov predicted that time pressure would be a serious obstacle between Ivanchuk and a good result in Linares.

I'll be on on Thursday, February 22nd commenting on round five from Morelia with GM Larry Christiansen. I'm really excited about the tournament, but only because of the players. The round robin with no tiebreakers is a terribly undramatic format. In Corus, we got extremely lucky because the most successful players there happened to be paired toward the end of the event. Why should an exciting finish with the top guns facing be left to chance? It seems insane to me, although when my brother made a similar disparaging comment about the lack of tiebreaker in Corus, he got some interesting feedback from USCF members who disagreed.

I thought Linares could be the defacto tiebreak between Topalov, Aronian and Radjabov. Unfortunately, Radjabov's hotel room was robbed just hours after he and his father arrived in Morelia. He dropped out of the tournament not only because he was rattled, but also because he believed the organizers did not adequately support him. Read the official press release on Ivanchuk, who was in Mexico anyway, replaces Radjabov.

In all my chess travels, my hotel room was only robbed once. I had been living for over a week in a dingy, party hostel in downtown Budapest. Of course, I was playing in the First Saturday tournament! My dad came to visit for a few days, so we moved to a decent hotel. Paranoid about locking up all my possessions in the hostel, I relaxed because we were in a more upscale spot. Just a day later, $300 cash money, left hidden in my camera bag disappeared while I was gone from the hotel. This is typical from my experience. I worry about being robbed in places that I perceive as "bad neighborhoods" or "seedy places" but really it's important to be reasonably careful everywhere but never paranoid.

I just moved to Philadelphia, to the same exact block (Delancey) that I was mugged on once at gunpoint ( Delancey is a very ritzy block-but writers and chessplayers can live in such places in Philly.) To add to the psychological significance of my location, it's a block away from where I went to preschool and two blocks away from my elementary school. Talk about coming full circle! I really still love New York, but I longed for a smaller place where I might actually run into people I know…and my family is in Philly.

In a lot of ways, the chess world offers that small town sense, where everyone is within two degrees of everyone else. If you don't believe me, check out

In December, I went on a great free trip with Irina to Israel. A highlight of the trip was Golan Heights, just South of Lebanon. My father is Lebanese and my mother is Jewish, so I did feel like I was right in the middle of myself. (No wonder I like hummus and grape leaves so much- it's in my blood!) Many Israel lovers told me that going there would feel like home. I wouldn't go that far, but when I asked a few Israelis why they moved there, they looked at me like I was crazy. One even said: "This question…. Are you kidding?" By the end of the trip, I saw where they were coming from. I promised to post some photos, despite the lack of relevance to chess…. so enjoy them below.

That's all for now- I know it's been a long time since I blogged so I wanted to give you all a quick update on my world. I will be back next week to report on an exciting chess event at the Whitney Museum, where I'll be playing against artists and other chessplayers on melting candle chess sets. I'm a bit clumsy, so my hair and clothing might be at the greatest risk of getting checkmated.


Israel Photo Gallery

Irina in Golan Heights

One of a group of Orthodox Israeli women who we met in Jerusalem- they tried to convince us of the superiority of their way in a series of mindblowing lectures called "Women and Judaism". They had huge rocks on their fingers and perfect hair, (wigs).

The bodyguards on our trip. They did not have to use their guns.

Irina and me on top of Masada, on Irina's 23rd birthday. On this day, a kind and insecure comedian shouted that Irina was a great chess champion. She was besieged with questions about how the Knight moves for the rest of the trip.

A Jerusalem market-place policewoman

Gay pride parade in Jerusalem

We were in Israel during Hanukkah

Irina floating in the Dead Sea.