Review by Michael McGuerty
Chess Insider: Sochi 2014, Various Annotators, Chessdom 2014, PDF and PGN formats, Figurine Algebraic Notation, 72pp. $18.95
Chess Insider: Sochi 2014 is the Chessdom coverage of the 2014 Carlsen-Anand World Chess Championship match. It is delivered as a zipped download file comprised of twenty-five files: twelve PDF files, twelve PGN files, and one archived ChessBase file (cbv). The twelve PDF and PGN files correspond to the eleven games from the championship, along with a preview game by WGM Swaminathan Soumya in which she annotates the ninth round of the 2013 Anand-Carlsen championship. The inclusion of the one cbv file is odd because it only has the preview game in the database, whereas one might expect it to have all the games. Of course, the reader can easily copy these games over from the PGN files without any trouble.
The annotators to the eleven match games are as follows:
- G1: GM Christian Bauer
- G2: GM Christian Bauer and WGM Iva Videnova
- G3: WGM Iva Videnova
- G4: GM Christian Bauer and WGM Iva Videnova
- G5: GM Boris Chatalbashev
- G6: GM Boris Chatalbashev
- G7: WGM Iva Videnova
- G8: WGM Iva Videnova
- G9: WGM Soumya Swaminathan
- G10: WGM Soumya Swaminathan
- G11: WGM Soumya Swaminathan
Christian Bauer is a French grandmaster and author, who won the French Chess Championship in 1996.
Iva Videnova is a three-time Bulgarian women’s champion, and member of the Bulgarian Olympiad team, who won the bronze medal on second board at the European Team Chess Championship in 2011.
Boris Chatalbashev is a four-time Bulgarian men’s champion, a member of the Olympiad team, and trainer of the Bulgarian National Women’s Team.
Swaminathan Soumya is currently the fifth strongest Indian chess player. In 2009 she won the World Junior Chess Championship (for women under 20) and she won the National Champion of India in 2010-2011.
Altogether the PDF files provide seventy-two pages of commentary. However, these are oddly sized at 17×11, with three narrow columns of content per page, except for the introductory page where the text runs across the entire page from left to right. One wonders why they chose to format the material in this way, because this causes the reader to have to scroll up and down and side to side on every page.
The layout woes continue in that the diagrams are a colorless gray and are sometimes cutoff on one side.
Each PDF document ends with a graph of the current standings of the match.
As to the annotations, they are mostly breezy, as if from the live commentary of the match, which is exactly where they are from. In fact, at the time of this writing they are still available online at the Chessdom website.
Here are some excerpts:
From game six by Boris Chatalbashev:
[The next two days Carlsen has white and he will be looking for points against a rock solid Anand. So, it is quite obvious the importance of the game today – Anand should try to keep things at least level at half-time. One of Carlsen’s advantages over Vishy is his greater psychological stability. But if the match remains close until the end of it, he might become nervous too, as we saw in the finish of London Candidates when he was really shaky. So, no doubt, Magnus will try to apply maximum pressure now. Nothing is decided in this match, with the score equal.]
1.e4 [A normal first move for Carlsen, in view of the current standings and statistics. A win with white is very heavy at this moment, but we also have to remember a win with black can be decisive for the match too.]
1…c5 [Anand’s reply …c5 gives us a Sicilian opening, something that we saw early in the match.]
2.Nf3 e6 [The problem of Ruy Lopez as was Anand’s choice the first game is that Carlsen likes these positions a lot and plays them tremendously well with both colors!]
3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 [Diagram: Sicilian Kan is the current variation. Previously was a famous opening in blitz games, now the modern move is Qd3.]
From game seven by Iva Videnova:
30.Bxe5 fxe5 31.Rh5 [Teimour Radjabov twitted during the game: Rg8-Bxe5-fxe5-Rh5-Rf8-Ke3-Bd5-Ne4-Bxe4-Kxe4-Rf4+ now Ke3 or Kxe5, Kxe5 seems winning after Rxf3-Ke6!]
31…Bxg4! [Diagram: Very interesting and as the game showed, right decision by Anand! He chose to give a piece for White’s kingside pawns. He will try to build a fortress against White’s pieces instead of entering the aforementioned rook endgame.]
[31…Rf8 32.Ke3 Bd5 33.Ne4 Bxe4 34.Kxe4 Rf4+
A) 35.Kxe5 Rxf3 36.Ke6 Re3+ 37.Re5 (37.Kf7 Re7+ 38.Kf6 Ke8 39.Rxc5 seems insufficient for a victory.) 37…Rxe5+ 38.Kxe5 Ke7 39.Kd5 Kf6 40.Kxc5 Kg5 41.Kd5 Kxg4 42.Ke6 Kf3 43.Kd7 c5 44.Kc7 c4 45.Kxb7 Ke3 46.Kc6 Kd2 47.Kb5 Kxc2 48.Kxc4 Kxb2 49.Kb5=;
B) 35.Ke3 Rb4 36.Rxe5 Rxb2 37.Rxc5 c6! transposing into a pawn endgame is Black’s only chance. (37…b6 would have been a mistake in view of 38.Rc3 c5 39.g5 Ke7 40.Kf4 Kf7 41.Kf5 Rb5 42.f4 a5 43.Rh3 c4+ 44.Ke4 Rb2 45.f5 Rxc2 46.Rh7++-) 38.g5 Rb5 39.Rxb5 cxb5 40.Ke4 a5 41.c3 a4 42.Kd3 Kd7 43.f4 Ke6 44.g6 Kf6 45.f5 Kg7 46.Kc2 Kf6 47.Kb2 Kg7= and neither White, nor Black can improve.]
From game ten by Soumya Swaminathan:
16…Qf6 [Diagram: Here after 16…Qf6, black already gets Rad8 on the next move. However the game progresses from here, we can safely say that 16. d6 was the critical move for Be4. Whether black could have still equalized or not is another matter.]
17.Bxh6 Qxb2 [Now white can go for this position after 18. Qb2 Bb2 19. d6 Nb4 20. d7 Red8 21. Bg5 f6 22. Bc4 Kh8 23. Be3, but as far as the evaluation for this line goes it is highly unclear. This is a typical Gruenfeld characteristic – white gets a very strong passed pawn early into the middlegame – the d-pawn – and in return black has very good piece activity, the g7 bishop being the pride of his position.]
18.Qxb2 [So in the line we saw just now, 18. Qb2 Bb2 19. d6 Nb4, it would be a better idea to go 20. Bc4 first, preventing this possibility of f6, threatening d7, Bg5.]
18…Bxb2 19.Ng5 [Here is one very pretty idea for white here if black co-operates 🙂 19. d6 Nb4 20. Bb5 Bd5 21. Be8 Re8 22. a3!! Ba3 ( forced or else u lose the d5 bishop ) 23. Re1 Rxe1 24. Rxe1 and suddenly black’s king is caught in a mating web which is not so easy to escape from!]
As can be seen the English is passable, and sometimes unintentionally humorous, but there are numerous weaknesses with Chess Insider: Sochi 2014 including its price. At almost the cost of a complete book, it offers very little in comparison to similarly priced titles. More value needs to be added to make this an attractive product.
My assessment of this book:
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