Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Repetition

This post is a collaboration with Mr Andrew Crosby who is an expert in chess gambits.
Andrew usually plays them in his games with great success. In addition, he is member of our virtual club and takes active part in our online tournaments and team matches

Moving 50 years back, international tournaments for the chess elite were scarce, with the Hastings International Chess Congress and the Tata Steel Chess Tournament the most prestigious among them.

Hastings took place for the first time in the summer of 1895. It was arguably the strongest tournament in chess history at the time it occurred. It included two world champions, Steinitz and Lasker. However, Lasker only came third after Harry Pillsbury, a young American unknown in Europe. Mikhail Chigorin was second. Following the success of the event, the Hastings Tournament would become an annual feature.

On the other hand, Tata Steel began as a solely Dutch competition in 1938 under the name of Hoogovens Bewerwijk. In 1946, it became an international tournament and by 1964 it had become the strongest chess tournament in the world. Only three world champions (Alekhine, Smyslov and Fischer) haven’t won it.

50 years ago, except for national championships where only local citizens participate, events for top-10 players rarely exceed 10 every year. Moving forward to 2019, before the start of the COVID pandemic, the number had grown to 16. Incidentally, Magnus Carlsen won 5 of them including Zagreb, one of the Champion Chess Tour’s eight tournaments that combined rapid, blitz and classic chess.

In the year 2020, the cancellation of most of the “on-the-board” events meant that online games began to flourish and we saw the top players taking part in them almost weekly.

They were kept active by these rapid and blitz games, “extremely active” even. With one event after another, it was difficult for players to take a break. In fact, to preserve energy it was advisable to accept draws in games that weren’t decisive. In other words, games that had no bearing on the outcome of the tournament, which applies to today’s game, when Vachier-Lagrave and Mamedyarov should have been thinking along these lines. It was the last round and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was leading whilst his opponent had no chance of winning the competition.

They played today’s game which finished in barely 6 minutes reaching a theoretically drawn position in the Grunfeld Defense.

This sequence of moves occurred 15 times in top games between March and August, 2021.
Interestingly, Vachier-Lagrave played it 5 times as Black, while Wesley So drew 5 times with White.
Most intriguingly, that theoretically draw appeared 5 times in the same tournament: the FTX Crypto Cup.

If you enjoy online chess and are unable to attend your local club, then join our virtual club. We regularly play online tournaments, team matches and there is Blitz every Saturday.
More than 640 members enjoy that chance and new players join every week. New tournaments need players! Join now! Limited slots!

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