If Magnus Carlsen ever suffered from a lack of form, then it was only moderately so and for a very short time. In the difficult environment of the Chess Olympiad the World's Number One could not dominate in the way one is used to see him do. And from Carlsen's perspective the tournament in Bilbao, which followed right after the Olympiad, was also rather "mediocre".
However, shortly afterwards at the Pearl Spring tournament in Nanjing the young Norwegian again showed who was "boss". With one round to go he was already certain to be clear first. In the end he won with 7 out of 10, one full point ahead of Viswanathan Anand. With this performance Carlsen recovered from his Elo-plunge, which had led the Norwegian to regions slightly below 2.800. However, the result in Nanjing did not suffice to secure first place on the FIDE ranking list, which appears every two months because the tournament in Nanjing was played too late to make it to the current list, on which Anand is now number one. The World Champion also won Elo-points in China. And with Levon Aronian one more player has surpassed the threshold of 2800 Elo-points.
After his success in Nanjing Magnus Carlsen dropped his bombshell. The Norwegian declared that he would not play in the coming candidates tournament, and in a press release he indicated that he was not happy with the organisation of the World Championship cycle, its current length - five years - and its scheduling - at the time of Carlsen's declaration it was not yet clear when the candidates matches would take place. Carlsen also did not like the form of the cycle. To win the candidates tournament one would have to play and win three difficult matches of only four games each following shortly after each other.
Indeed, FIDE has not yet been able to lay down a concrete World Championship cycle. Though unification took place - as before the split, the chess world has only one champion - transparency and continuity are missing.
However, the chess capital in autumn was Moscow. In quick succession the Russian Chess Federation organised the Tal Memorial, the World Blitz Championship and the Super Final of the Russian Women’s Championship. Amazing what some federations can do. The Russian Federation even managed to run a live webcast on its website. This proved to be particularly useful at the Blitz World Championship and helped to recover a couple of lost moves. However, the video clips behind the following links are from Sergey Sorokhtin.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Levon Aronian and Sergey Karjakin shared first prize in the tournament to honour Michail Tal. Levon Aronian went on to win the title of World Blitz Champion ahead of Teimour Radjabov and defending champion Magnus Carlsen.
There was the amusing battle between Vladimir Kramnik and a machine. As is well known, Kramnik likes to accept such challenges. However, this time the opponent turned out to be the arm of a robot. The robot did not only play excellent chess (but presumably he pursues chess just as a hobby, and in "real life" works as rivet assemblyman at Tupolev), he was also able to operate a chess clock accurately during blitz, something one has to see as a major achievement. The only thing he does not yet know is how to accept a draw.
CHESSLETTER December 2010