Caruana closes in on London title
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - December 9, 2017 - 4:00pm

American Fabiano Caruana registered two consecutive wins to take a half-point lead over Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi after the sixth round of the London Chess Classic in the UK.

The world No. 3 had four points on a remarkable two wins, four draws performance, and moved closer to capturing the strongest year-ending chess championship.

Five other players were within one point of the lead entering the final three rounds. They were Norwegian  world champion Magnus Carlsen, Armenian Levon Aronian, Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Americans Wesley So (Story at right) and Hikaru Nakamura. 

They were followed by Indian Vishy Anand, Russian Sergey Kariakin and hometown bet Mikey Adams at 2.5 apiece.

* * *

The recently concluded Chinese team championship matches produced a good amount of stimulating classical games. This one carried off the best attacking game of the tournament.

2017 Chinese Team Chess


W) Yu Yangi g (China)

B) Wen Yang g (China)

Semi-Slav Defense

1. d4                           d5 

2. c4                           c6 

3. Nf3                         Nf6 

4. Nc3                        e6 

In the Semi-Slav, Black normally seeks chances on the Queen side, while White attempts to control the center and find attacking play on the other wing. This game did not follow that pattern, as the Black King remained stuck in the center.

5. Bg5                             h6 

5...dxc4 leads to double edged complications after 6. e4 b5 7. e5 h6 8. Bh4 g5 9. Nxg5 hxg5 10. Bxg5 Nbd7 11. exf6 Bb7.

6. Bh4                             ...

A promising alternative is 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. e3 Nd7 8. a3 Qd8 9. Bd3 Be7 10. 0-0 0-0 11. Qc2 a6 12. e4 dxc4 13. Bxc4 and the game perhaps near equality.

6...                                   dxc4 

7. e4                               g5 

8. Bg3                             b5 

9. Be2                             Bb7 

10. Qc2                          ...

In the famous game Kasparov-Tahl, Moscow Interzonal 1982, play continued 10. e5!? Nd5 11. h4 Qa5 12. Rc1 g4 13. Nd2 c5 14. Nce4 cxd4 15. 0-0 h5, with fighting chances for both sides.

10...                                Nbd7 

11. Nd2                          Qb6 

12. Rd1                          Be7 

13. a4                             a6 

14. O-O                          h5 

15. h3                             h4 

16. Bh2                          g4 

17. hxg4                        h3 

18. Bg3                          hxg2 

After 18...0-0-0 19. b3 Rdg8 20. bxc4 Nxg4 21. Bxg4 Rxg4 22. gxh3 Rxh3 23. Kg2 Rh5 24. Ne2 Nf6 25. Rh1, the computer assessed the game as equal. 

19. Kxg2                        Rg8 

20. f3                              Rc8 

20...Nh5 is best according to the engine. For instance 21. Bb2 Rd8 22. Rg1 e5 23. dxe5 Qe3 24. Nf1 Qg5 and Black obtains counterplay.

21. Rh1                         Ba8 

22. Rh3                         c5 

23. d5                            exd5 

24. exd5                        Nxd5 

25. Nxc4                        Qe6 

26. axb5                        Nxc3 

27. bxc3                         Rxg4 

28. Qd2!                        ...

Threatening 29. Qxd7ch.

28...                                Rd8 

29. Qe3                         axb5 

30. Ne5!                        ...

This move wins material by forced.

30...                                Rxg3ch

Black has no choice. 30...Rg8 is met by 31. Bxb5, while 30...Nxe5 loses to 31. Rh8ch Bf8 32. Rxd8ch Kxd8 33. Rxf8ch Kd7 34. Rxa8.

31. Rxg3                       c4?         

31...Bc6 probably prolongs the game, though White keeps the advantage.

32. Rg8ch                     ...

The engine’s 32. Rxd7 leads to a quick finish. E.g., 32...Rxd7 33. Rg8ch Bf8 34. Ng6! Qxe3 35. Rxf8 mate.

32...                                Bf8 

33. Kf2                           Bd5 

34. Rxd5                       Qxd5 

35. Nxc4ch                    1-0

If 35...Ne5, then White wins with 36. Nxe5 f6 37. Nc6ch Kd7 38. Nxd8 Qxg8 39. Qa7ch Kxd8 40. Qb8ch Ke7 41. Qc7ch Ke6 42. Bc4ch! bxc4 43. Qxc4ch. Or 35...Qe6 36. Nd6ch Ke7 37. Nf5ch Ke8 38. Ng7ch.   

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White to move and win.

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