Best of ChessBase!

Hello everyone!

Most of you probably know ChessBase.com. It is one of the most-read chess websites, and they have new in-depth articles on a range of topics every day. If you have the time to go through them, most of these articles are both instructive and fun to read. However, since most of you probably don't have enough time to spend hours reading chess articles every day, today will feature a best-of chessbase articles of the last few weeks. Off we go!

First things first: the strongest chess tournament in history just started yesterday! The Sinquefield Cup, organized by the St. Louis Chess Club, is a double round-robin tournament with an average ELO rating of 2801. The players participating are Carlsen, Aronian, Caruana, Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave, and Topalov, all currently ranked in the top ten players in the world! The most notable event to take place yesterday was not the multiple Ice Bucket Challenges the players took part in, but the tactical Scotch played by Vachier-Lagrave and Carlsen. I went through it this morning, and honestly, I have no idea what they were thinking. Very entertaining and confusing stuff. If you don't believe me, have a look at GM Finegold's analysis in the article! You can follow the next rounds of the tournament live here!

Next up, a tribute to Judit Polgar, who recently announced her retirement from competitive chess. Judit Polgar has shattered records and been a very active chess ambassador her entire life. If you are unfamiliar with her chess career, this article does a nice job summarizing the key moments, and the videos are great illustrations!

What would a world championship match organized by FIDE be without a bit of controversy? The matches between Karpov and Kasparov became legendary because of what was taking place both on and off the board. Today, Carlsen is at risk of losing his title unless he agrees to the terms of the contract offered to him by FIDE. You can find out more in this article. To summarize very briefly, the match is supposed to take place in Sochi in a few weeks, but according to the article, Carlsen "seems unhappy with the venue and the finances". Since he is currently playing in the Sinquefield Cup, Carlsen has asked for a delay to give his answer, but FIDE answered a postponement is not possible because the event has been on FIDE's calendar for a long time and there is sponsorship money on the line. Should Carlsen forfeit, Anand would play Karjakin instead. This kind of controversy might lead players around the world to wonder how FIDE organizes these events. The following excerpt from the article is telling: "the money appears to be coming from Aleksander Tkachev, who is Governor of the Krasnodar Territory and one of the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. For this reason Tkachev has been blacklisted by the European Union, together with other key Russian officials from the region". You can also read this chess.com article on the topic. 

 Finally, on a totally unrelated topic, if you are interested in the study of human expertise as it relates to chess, then you should look at the following article titled "The geometry of expertise". The authors examine the difference in thought processes between novice and expert players, and present a very "academic" report. The last few lines of the article present the researchers' main findings: "The results described above show that weaker players tend to produce consecutive moves in proximal board locations, more often moving the same piece and exchanging pieces more rapidly to reduce the number of remaining pieces. These three principles reflect consistent general findings which might reflect the effect of expertise on human actions in complex setups."

 That's it for today. I hope all of you get to enjoy the end of the summer!

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