Chess - The Scotsman 30/11/2011

LOOKING back on 2011, January started with a bang for America’s Hikaru Nakamura who was the big surprise winner of the Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Holland, ahead of the world’s best players – a result up there as the biggest tournament victory for an American since Bobby Fischer in his prime.

World No 1 Magnus Carlsen, who turned 21 in November, proved he is more than worthy of his top spot as he continually turned in solid performances all year. At 2833, he is now the second-rated player in history and well on his way to challenge Garry Kasparov’s high of 2851.

This year, for the first time, four players reached the exclusive “2800 club” at the same time: Carlsen, Vishy Anand, Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik. Anand, the reigning World Champion, had a bad year and finished 4th in the world rankings, behind Carlsen, Aronian and Kramnik. Many believe Anand was not at his best through 2011, and are hopeful he will bounce back to form in time for his World Championship match next year against challenger Boris Gelfand.

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The year also saw a remarkable comeback to elite status for Russia’s Alexander Morozevich, who once said he no longer saw himself as a professional player, and even seriously considered quitting the game. Earlier this year, he was ranked 48th in the world – but now he’s back in the Top 10 again, and looks to be ending 2011 on a high after back-to-back wins at Reggio Emilia that have propelled him to No 6 on the unofficial live ratings.

A Giri - A Morozevich

54th Reggio Emilia, (2)

Slav Defence

1 Nf3 d5 2 d4 Nf6 3 c4 c6 4 e3 Bg4 5 h3 Bh5 6 Nc3 e6 7 g4 Bg6 8 Ne5 Nbd7 9 h4 dxc4 10 Nxg6 hxg6 11 g5 Nd5 12 Bxc4 Bb4 13 Bd2 Qe7 14 a3 Nxc3 15 bxc3 Ba5 16 f4 0–0–0 17 Qb3 Nb6 18 Bd3 Kb8 19 Ke2 Qd7 20 Be4 f6 21 gxf6 gxf6 22 Rag1 e5 23 fxe5 fxe5 24 Rg5 exd4 25 Rxa5 Rhe8! 26 Bg2 dxe3 27 Bc1 Qd3+ 28 Ke1 e2 29 Bf4+ Ka8 30 Kf2 Rf8 31 Qb4 Nc4 32 Qa4 Nxa5 33 Bf3 b5 0–1