American Chess Magazine stays the course

American Chess Magazine stays the course

– The second edition of the American Chess Magazine is out, and for those wondering whether this new foray into the challenging print chess magazine market could continue the promise of its first edition, the answer is a resounding yes. The main focus this time is of course the World Championship, but you will also find many fascinating articles, such as the tournament report on Nakamura’s win in Gibraltar by… Hou Yifan!

American Chess Magazine Issue No.2, Spring edition

The magazine turns the spotlight on the fantastic winning streak of Wesley So at the Wijk Aan Zee and London super-tournaments, as well as reporting on Hikaru Nakamura’s triumph at the Gibraltar Masters. Moreover this issue takes a very detailed look back at the Carlsen-Karjakin World Championship match in

Asking whether the second issue would live up to the promise of the first is not unreasonable. The first issue was excellent, with numerous contributors that astonished, such as Jobava Baadur and Vassily Ivanchuk, who were attributed full columns no less. You then worry if, like the pilot for a new TV series, whether the rest will be as good as that first showcase piece.
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The new issue has a few things going for it that certainly made it easier on the editors to find ideas and material: it comes right after the World Championship, and includes the huge wins by Wesley So at the London Classic, winning not only the event, but as a result of it, the 2016 Grand Chess Tour, and finally the Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee, won ahead of Magnus Carlsen himself. In fact, it says a lot about who the editors felt made the biggest waves during that period, that Wesley So’s photo graces the cover and not an image of the World Championship match.

This isn’t to suggest that the World Championship takes a backseat to this all, surely not. In it you will find multiple articles on the topic, from detailed analyses by Ernesto Inarkiev, the reigning European Champion, to a multi-page anecdotal look at the past world championships written by Mihail Marin.

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The victory of Wesley So at Tata Steel above Magnus Carlsen was the biggest news in more ways than one. It wasn’t merely that a player had won an event above him, since that has obviously happened before, but also the when and who of it. Wesley So has been on an incredibly run, not just in undefeated classical games (67 games as of this writing), but in sheer tournament wins. He has won pretty much everything since last August when he won the Sinquefield Cup. This issue brings no fewer than three articles, such as a piece by top Latin American GM Leinier Dominguez, to one by Ivan Sokolov, and then another on the opening novelties from the event by Jaan Ehlvest.

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In fact, there is a fourth article if you include the one signed by US Junior GM Jeffery Xiong, who came third in the Challengers.

Speaking of novelties, there is an excellent article by Brazilian GM Rafael Leitão on novelties in the Slav Exchange. Admittedly, the very name might have most readers rolling their eyes in disinterest, but the author defends this choice very well: “Often important games for the development of opening theory are not the prettiest ones on the tournament circuit, nor are they always even noticed by the audience. Here I am not talking about spectacular opening novelties, but improvements in the games that featured fashionable lines which will certainly be played again in the near future. This is theory on the factory production line! The Exchange Slav is usually associated with boring play, more often than not when the first player is aiming for a draw. Of course Mamedyarov, one of the most creative and aggressive players around, has his own view on the matter.” Naturally, it didn’t hurt that he chose a game by the ultra aggressive and creative Mamedyarov.

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Vassily “Chucky” Ivanchuk is still there, this time with an article on winning with black

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It isn’t all about star-studded chess, and to show that the title ‘American’ Chess Magazine is not just a commercial ploy, you will find innumeorus articles by American players, as well as on local events. Nothing could make this any clearer than the one above titled, “There is chess in Colorado!” Author NM Brian Wall shares some of the inititiatives made to keep chess going and interesting there:

Clones Wars: Tournament participants can decide each round if they want to play one, two or three boards, in effect, giving a simul each round. At 4 rounds I end up playing 12 games of Chess.

Zombie Apocalypse: Anyone who has not played for 5 years gets free USCF, state dues and entry fee. They just play and try to win a prize. We brought 15 sheep back into the fold this way.

Great ideas for what it’s worth!

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An unexpected (and welcome) choice was also top female player, Hou Yifan, who provides a full report on the Gibraltar Masters won by Hikaru Nakamura, commenting his win over French GM Maxime Lagarde.

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Albert Silver

 

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