Magnus greatest for 5th year in row
IDAING MO KAY VANEZZA - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - November 6, 2016 - 12:00am

The FIDE has released its  Nov. 2016 world rankings, and  reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway was again the  world’s No. 1 for the fifth year running.  Carlsen did not play a single game for the  period, and his rating remained high at 2853.

Fabiano Caruana, the current  US champion, moved up one  notch to No. 2 with 2823, replacing Russian Vladimir Kramnik, who fell to fourth with 2810. Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave rose to third spot with 2811.

The rest of the top 12 read  5. Aronian (Armenia) 6. Wesley So (USA), 7. Vishy Anand (India),  8. Hikaru Nakamura (USA), 9. Sergey Kariakin (Russia), 10. Pentala Harikrishna (India), 11. Anish Giri (the Netherlands) and 12. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia).

* * *

Borrowing an idea from the Germans (Bundesliga), the Chinese organized their national team tournament this year on an international basis, i.e.,  foreign GMs are invited and pitted against local stars and aspiring hopefuls.

Dubbed as the 2016 Chinese Chess League, most of China’s top players and some of the world’s super GMs are competing in the 12-team, double round  robin event. Each match is played over five boards with two women playing on  two boards. The tourney concludes next month.

For this issue, we present an  interesting game from the ongoing event.

2016 Chinese Chess League

W) Yu Yangi 2736

B) Wang Yue 2724

Queen’s Gambit Declined

1. d4                      d5

2. c4                      c6

3. Nf3                     Nf6

4. Nc3                     e6

Black’s last is the popular Meran  Defense, which Anand (as black),  essayed successfully against Kramnik  during the 2008 world championship match.

5. Bg5                     Nbd7

5...dxc4 6. e4 b5 7. e5 h6 8. Bh4 g5 9. Nxg5 hxg5 10. Bxg5 leads to enormous complications.

6. cxd5                    exd5

7. e3                      Be7

8. Qc2                     0-0

9. Bd3                     Re8

10. h3                     Nf8

Seems passive. More aggressive and  interesting is the engine’s 10...Ne4!? which could lead to an even game after 11. Bf4 Ndf6 12. 0-0 Bd6.

11. g4!?                   ...

This thematic pawn advance  signals that a double-edged, razor- sharp middle game is in the horizon.

11...                       a5

Anticipating White’s next  move, but the computer’s 11...h6 or 11...Bd6 is seemingly better.

12. 0-0-0                   a4

13. Kb1                    Qa5

13...Ne4 is considered best by the computer. E.g. 14. Bxe7  Nxc3ch 15. Qxc3 Qxe7 16. Rdg1  a3 17. b3, the game is unclear.

14. a3                     Be6

15. Bxf6!?                 ...

Gaining a tempo and eliminating ...Ne4.

15...                       Bxf6

16. g5                     Be7

17. Ne5!                   ...

The point of White’s 15th move. The Knight is firmly anchored on e5, paving the way for f2-f4.

17...                       Bxg5

Played out of necessity in view of the threat 18. f2-f4. The alternative is 17...Qb6 and after 18. Nxa4 Qa7 19. Nc5 Bxg5 20. f4 Bf6 21. Rdg1, White is clearly superior. After the text, White’s major pieces will play actively along the half open g file.

18. f4                                   Bf6

19. h4                                   Bxe5

20. fxe5                                 b5

21. Na2                                  Rac8

22. Nb4                                 Qb6

23. Rc1                                  Bd7

24. Rhg1                                Qd8

25. Qg2                                 Ne6

26. Rcf1!                                ...

Threatening to win  at once with 27. Bxh7ch! Kxh7 28. Rxf7 and the  threat on g7 is difficult to parry.

26...                       Qe7

27. Bxb5!                  ...

A bolt from the blue which starts a series of sizzling combinations.

27...                       cxb5

Declining the sacrifice  seems better, but it leaves Black  with a poor game. For instance 27...Red8 28. Bxa4 Qxh4 29. Rc1 and White has the upper hand.

28. Nxd5                   Qd8

29. Nf6ch                  Kh8

30. Nxe8                   Qxe8

31. d5                     ...

The tail end of White’s combination. Now he wins material on a forced move. The rest is a routine technique for White.

31...                       g6

32. dxe6                   Qxe6

33. Qd2                   h5

34. Rf6                    Qe8

35. e4                     Kh7

36. Rg5!                   ...

Intensifying the pressure on Black’s King which is now under heavy pressure.

36...                       Bg4

37. e6!                     Bxe6

38. Rxh5ch!                ...

This ends the story as  Black gets mated after  38...gxh5 39. Rh6ch Kg7/g8 40. Qg5ch Kf8 41. Rh8ch.

38...                       Kg7

As early chess writers wrote, ‘”When an ordinary prophylaxis fails to ward off a deadly check,  then the game is past surgery.”

39. Qd4                   ...

Quicker is the engine’s  39. Rxg6ch fxg6 40. Qd4ch Kf7  41. Rh7ch Kg8 42. Qg7 mate.

39...                       Qd8

40. Rxf7ch!                Kxf7

41. Rh7ch                 1:0

After 41. Kf8 42. Qg7ch Ke8  43. Rh8ch and mate next move.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

Black to move and win

White=Kc1, Rb1, Nc3, Bh5, Pa4, Pb2, Pf6

Black=Ke1, Rd7, Ne3, Pa5, Pb3, Pc4, Pf7

1...                        Rd2!

Threatening 2...Rc2 mate.

2. Ra1                     Rc2ch

3. Kb1                     Nf1

4. Ne4                     Nd2ch

5. Nxd2                    Kxd2

Followed by ...Rc1 mate.

0:1.

MAGNUS CARLSEN
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