Vintage Anand still sparkles
Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2018 - 12:00am

The Wijk aan Zee Festival, which ushers in the chess calendar for the new year, has gotten underway in the Dutch coastal town of Wijk aan Zee.

Tabbed the “Wimbledon of Chess”, the entry list had the reigning world champion – Magnus Carlsen of Norway, and former world champions – Vishy Anand (India) and Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), and women’s ex-world champion Hou Yifan of China.

Other big names this year included American Wesley So, the defending champion, world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana (USA), world No. 3 Shakriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, candidates qualifier Sergey Kariakin of Russia and compatriot Peter Svidler, the world No. 10, and hometown bet Anis Giri.

Also in the list were 18-year-old Chinese prodigy Wei Yi, Russian Maxim Matlakov, the 2017 European Individual champion, India’s Adhiban Baskaran, last year’s bronze medalist and British Gawin Jones, the 2017 Wijk aan Zee challengers’ champion.

Opening round is being played as we go to press.

* * *

At 48, Anand must be on the decline. The former world champion is feeling, by his own admission, the ravages of time. In the 2017 FIDE world Cup, he was ousted in the second round by a lower rated opponent, and in the 2017 London chess classic, he finished last.

But in the 15-round world rapid championship held last month, he dominated the competition, pacing himself well to last the whole grind. And if chess skills alone are to be the criteria, Anand is on top of his game.

Watch the crisp style of vintage Anand in the game below.

2017 World Rapid

Championship

W) V. Anand (India)

B)  A. Demchenko (Russia)

Sicilian Defense

1. e4               c5

2. Nf3              d6

3. d4               cxd4

4. Nxd4           Nf6

5. Nc3             Nc6

6. Bg5              ...

The Richter-Rauzer Attack, an ancient variant introduced into practice by German IM and writer, Kurt Richter in the 1930s.

6....                 e6

7..Qd2            ...

Soviet master Vsevolod Rauzer’s well-known idea, in which White castles long followed by pawn roller on the Kingside.       

7....                a6

8. O-O-O         Bd7

9. f4                Be7

A possibility is 9...h6 and after 10. Bh4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Bc6 12. Kb1 0-0, the game is about even.

10. Nf3             b5

11. Bxf6           gxf6

12. Kb1            b4

13. Ne2            h5

Not a pointless move, as it plans to stop White’s immediate 14. g4, but as the Black King is still stuck in the center, it would be more logical to play 13...0-0.

14. f5               e5

15. Rg1           Qb6

16. g4             Qf2

17. Qd3           hxg4

18. Rxg4 Nd8

Seems passive. Either 18...a5 or 18...Rc8 is probably better, according to the engine.

19. Rg2           Qc5

Black’s Queen maneuvers proved ineffective.

20. Ng3           a5

21. Nd2           Nb7

22. Qf3            a4

23. Bc4           Rc8

24. Rc1           Bf8?

Definitely the losing move. Correct is 24...Na5 and the game probably hangs in the balance.

25. Nh5!           Ke7

Black has no choice. 25. Rh6 is answered by 26. Qg4, while 25...Be7 fails because of 26.Ng7ch Kd8 27. Bxf7.

26. Qg4!          ...

White’s immediate threats are 27. Nxf6 and 27. Bxf7. 

26....                Bh6?

A poor move that is equivalent to resignation. 26...Qd4 is the last chance, although White clearly has the upper hand.   

27. Nxf6           Bxd2

28. Nd5ch         Ke8

29. Qg8ch!        1:0

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

 

White to move and win.

White=Kg1, Qe6, Rb6, Rg4, Pe3, Pf2, Pg2, Ph3

Black=Kh8, Qc7, Ra5, Rd7,Pb7, Pd5, Pg7, Ph6

1. Qe8ch         Kh7

2. Rxh6ch!       1:0

If 2...gxh6 3. Qg8 mate or 2...Kxh6 3. Qg6/Qh8 mate.

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