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Carlsen remains No. 1

Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian remain No. 1 and 2 in the Nov. world rankings released on Friday by the FIDE. The 26-year-old Norwegian world champion earned 11 rating points and jumped to 2837, 36 points ahead of the Armenian world cup champion, who ranked second at 2801.

Fabiano Caruana (USA), 25, and Azeri Shakriyar Mamedyarov tied for second-third with 2799 apiece. They were followed by Frenchman Maxime Vacier-Lagrave, who came in fifth with 2796. The rest of top 10 were American Wesley So, the youngest at 24, with 2788; Russian Vladimir Kramnik (2787); Vishy Anand (India) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia) at 2782 each and Hikaru Nakamura (USA) with 2780. 

* * *

In the following game, Black adopts a system which requires precise counterplay in the center, but indulges instead in pawn-grabbing and ineffective maneuvering with minor pieces. Anyhow, this is a fine struggle, full of captivating points throughout.

2017 European Team Ch.

W) S. Mamedyarov (AZE)

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B) D. Navarra (CZE)

Queen’s Gambit Accepted

1. d4     d5

2. c4     dxc4

The Queen’s Gambit Accepted, which has the undeserved reputation of surrendering the center early, was first introduced into top level chess in the 1886 world championship match between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort.

3. e3 Nf6  4. Bxc4 e6  5. Nf3 c5  6. O-O a6

So far, the game has run into well-known lines of the QGA.  

7. Qe2  ...

The main alternative is 7. a4, but the text move has become usual lately in grandmaster play.

7... b5 8. Bd3 ...

If instead 8. Bb3 Nc6 9. Nc3 Be7 10. dxc5 Bxc5 11. e4 b4 12. e5 bxc3 13. exf6, White has a satisfactory game.

8....  cxd4

The game hangs in the balance after 8...Nc6 9. Nc3 cxd4 10. exd4 Nb4 11. Bb1 Be7.

9. Rd1 Be7  10. a4 bxa4

Or 10...b4 11. Nxd4 0-0 12. Nd2 Bb7 13. N2b3 Nbd7 14. e4, and White stands slightly better.

11. Rxa4 dxe3  12. Bxe3 Nbd7

Black has won a pawn, but his position looks totally cramped.

13. Nc3  O-O  14. Bg5 Bb7  15. Rd4!  ...

White threatens to win material with 16. Bxf6.

15. ... Bxf3

This exchange only brings White’s Queen into a commanding square. However, the alternative 15...Qe8 also gives White a good game after 16. Bc2 Bc6 17. Bxf6 Nxf6 18.Ne5.

16. Qxf3 Ne5  17. Qe3 Qb8  18. Bf4 Neg4  19. Qe2 e5  20. Bg3 h5 21. Nd5  Re8

Or 21...Nxd5 22. Rxd5 Qb6 23. Bc4 Rad8 24. h3 h4 25. Bxh4 Bxh4 26. hxg4 Bf6 27. Rxd8 Rxd8 28. Rxd8ch Qxd8 29. Bxa6 and White emerged a pawn ahead.=Engine.

22. h3 h4  23. Nxf6ch Bxf6

23...Nxf6 seems a better alternative to hold the balance.

24. Qe4 g6  25. Bc4! ...

White continues as sharply as possible. Now Black faces too much danger for his poorly protected King.  

25. ...    Kg7  26. Rd7 ...

White starts invasion on the seventh rank. The open d file contributes to White’s superiority in controlled space. 

26....   Re7

This allows the Queen and Rook penetration against the Black King. But 26...Nh6 is no bargain either, because of 27. Bxh4 Bxh4 28. Qxh4 Ra7 29. Rd6 Rxd7 30. Qf6ch Kh7 31. Rxd7 Rf8 32. b3, and Black will soon run out of payable moves.

27. Bxh4 Bxh4  28. Qxg4 Bf6  29. R7d6 ...

Sharper is 29. Bxf7!, and the engine offers these possibilities: 29...Kxf7 30. R1d6 Qh8 31. Qe6ch Kf8 32. Qxf6ch Qxf6 33. Rxf6ch Ke8 34. Rxe7ch Kxe7 35. Rxg6 and White wins handily.

29. ...  Rc7?

29...Qh8 should have been tried to prolong the game.

30. Qf3!  ...

Decisive. Now White wins by forced, and the rest needs no further comments.

30...  Bh4 31 . Rd7 Rxd7 32.  Rxd7 Qb4 33. Qxf7ch Kh6  34. Qh7ch Kg5  35. f4 ch Kf5  36. Qf7ch Ke4 37. Qxg6 ch 1:0   

 Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to play and win.

White=Ka6, Rg3, Bg5, Pf7

Black=Kb8, Rf1, Pe2

1. Kb6!              Rxf7

If 1...e1Q 2. Bf4ch Kc8 (2...Rxf4 3. Rg8 mate) 3. f8Qch Kd7 4. Rg7ch Ke6 5. Qf7 mate.

2. Be7!!             ...

Threatening 3. Rg8 mate. If 2...Kc8 3. Kc6 Kb8 4. Rg8ch Ka7 5. Bc5ch Ka6 6. Ra8 mate.

2...                   Rf8

3. Bxf8              e1Q

4. Rg8!              1:0

For example 4...Qb1ch 5. Bb4; 4...Qe3ch 5. Bc5; 4...Qe6ch 5. Bd6; 4...Qe6/Qe8 5. Bd6; 4...Kc8 5. Bb4;

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