NBA
FIDE G Prix offers last 2 berths
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2017 - 4:00pm

The fourth FIDE Grand Prix, which determines the last two Candidates berths, will get underway Nov. 16-25 in chess- conscious Spain.

The tournament at Palma de Mallorca is the final leg in the year-long qualification process leading to the selection of a challenger for next year’s world championship cycle.

Armenian Levon Aronian, this year’s World Cup champion and ranked second in the world, heads the 18-player entry list, that included world No. 5 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, No.10 Hikaru Nakamura (USA) and No. 11 and World Cup finalist Ding Liren of China.

Format is an 11-round Swiss, with the top two finishers securing spots in the Candidates tournament slated March 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Six players have already qualified for the double round robin event. They are Russian Sergey Kariakin, last cycle’s challenger; World Cup finalists Aronian (Armenia) and Liren (China); Americans Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, 2017 highest rated players and Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), as wild card.

* * *

In the following game, White takes advantage of a favorable opening variation.

2017 European Team Championship 

W) E. Sutovsky g (Israel)

B) K. Piorum g (Poland)

Sicilian Defense

1. e4        c5

2. Nf3       Nc6

3. Bb5       ...

The Rossolimo Variation, which avoids the well-analyzed open Sicilians, was named after its pioneer, GM Nikolai Rossolimo (1910-1975), a French-American world-class player.

3...         d6

To be considered are the alternatives 3...Nge7, 3...g6 and 3...Nf6.   

4. O-O       Bd7

5. c3        Nf6

6. d4!?       ...

White sacs a pawn, double-edged and therefore very interesting. After 6. Re1 a6 (6...Qb6) 7. Bxc6 Bxc6 8. d4 Bxe4 9. Bg5 d5 the game is about even.

6...         Nxe4

Seems risky, but if instead 6...e6 7. Bd3 d5 8. e5 Ne4 9. Nbd2 Nxd2 10. Bxd2, Black has a cramped game.

7. d5  Ne5  8. Na3 Nf6 9. Bg5 Bxb5  10. Nxb5 a6  11. Na3 g6

Or 11...Ned7 12. Re1 h6 13. Bxf6 Nxf6 14. Qb3 g6 15. Re2 Rb8 16. Rae1, and White is superior.=Computer.

12. Nxe5 dxe5  13. d6!?      ...

Seems the only move to fight for initiative, as both 13. f4 and 13. c4 leads only to equality. 

13… Bg7

14. Qa4ch  Qd7

14...b5 is met by 15. dxe7 and White enjoys a slight edge.

15. Qxd7ch Kxd7  16. dxe7  Ne4  17. Rad1ch  Kc6? 

This move leads to a quick collapse. Better is 17...Ke6, preventing White’s next reply.

18. Rd8!      ... 

A neat tactical point which nets White the upper hand, as he gains control of the eighth rank and the open d file.

18....        Nxg5

Seems forced, as the alternative 18...f6 is refuted by 19. Rfd1 Raxd8 20. Rxd8 Nd6 21. Bh6 Bxh6 22. Rxh8.= Engine.

19. Rfd1      Ne6?!

A dubious move which spoils Black’s chances of survival. The best chance, according to the engine, is 19...Bf6, though White retains the advantage after 20. R8d6ch. Now White’s Rook seizes the seventh rank and wrecks havoc and destruction.

20. R1d6ch Kc7  21. R8d7ch Kb8  22. Nc4  Bf6  23. Rb6!   ...

Threatening 24. R6xb7ch and 25. Nd6 mate.

23....        Ra7

24. Nd6!      ...

This is the end. A little galloping by the Knight brings about a spicy finish.

24....  Bxe7  25. Nxf7 Rf8  26. Rxe7 Nc7  27. Rd6 Nb5  28. Rdd7 b6  29. Nxe5 1-0

The threat of 30. a4 is difficult to meet.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to play and win.

White=Kg1, Qd4, Rc1, Nf6, Pe3, Pf2, Pg2, Ph3

Black=Kf8, Qc7, Rb3, Bb7, Pc5, Pd5, Pf7, Pg6

1. Qa4    1:0

If 1...Rb6 2. Nd7ch wins material, or 1...Rd3 2. Nd7ch Kg7/Ke7 3. Nxc5 and wns, and finally 1...Rb2 2. Qe8ch Kg7 3. Qg8ch Kxf6 4. Qh8ch K -any 5. Qxb2.

 

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