One of the most important tournaments in the World Championship cycle, the World Cup, held in Khanty-Mansiysk, is covered by GM Robert Hungaski with a special focus on the winner Teimour Radjabov and the runner-up Ding Liren, who, incidentally, will both be competing in the forthcoming World Championship Candidates tournament.
The performance of each of the U.S. representatives is also individually assessed, in particular that of the most successful American player GM Jeffery Xiong, who has had a fantastic 2019 in terms of both results and overall progress. Here we examine Jeffery’s play from the perspective of pre-game preparation – a true “behind the scenes” story revealed by his coach Vladimir Georgiev.
Another major tournament report comes from GM Michael Rohde who provides extensive coverage of the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss Open played on the Isle of Man. Here, the denouement came about in a dramatic last round scenario which resulted in Chinese GM Wang Hao scoring a surprise overall victory on tie-break from Fabiano Caruana and thereby qualifying for the next Candidates tournament. The performances of other U.S. players are also covered as are some rather curious and even amusing episodes from the tournament.
Looking back, our authors faced the difficult task of presenting the most significant chess highlights of the past year.
From the theoretical perspective, GM Ivan Sokolov came to the conclusion that it was the symmetrical openings, 1.e4 e5 and 1.d4 d5, where the most important opening developments took place this year. True, trends are usually set by the elite but the aim of the article is primarily to explain the basic concepts and logical development of these new ideas. Indeed, by presenting a wealth of examples illustrating the implementation of this year’s innovations in practical play, the author hopes to make them accessible to competitive players of varying levels of play.
For his contribution, GM John Burke has chosen three outstanding positional victories of the year and analyzed them in great depth, with both explanatory text and concrete lines of play, to demonstrate how strong players patiently and progressively increase an advantage, whilst keeping their opponents under sustained pressure – a sure-fire path to winning chess!
Our regular columnist GM Alex Fishbein does what he does best by dissecting his choice of the top ten endgames of 2019. With his customary modesty, he shares with readers the lessons he has himself learnt from studying these endgames in the hope that any aspiring player will be encouraged to follow his example and improve their technique in this stage of the game, which so often demands the greatest precision in order to achieve an optimum result.
To conclude our overview of the year, GM Joel Benjamin focuses on the players and performances that have attracted attention in 2019, both at home and abroad. Girls and boys, youngsters and seniors, strong and not so strong are all given a mention as are those behind the current boom in the American chess scene.
To show our commitment that the pages of American Chess Magazine are open not only to elite grandmasters, we start a new column devoted to unsung heroes – with IM Justin Sarkar getting the show on the road with his real life story of how has been able to achieve victory over adversity through the medium of chess.