Lull after the storm
Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - February 11, 2018 - 12:00am

There has been some respite in the tournament circuit lately for several reasons. First there was the Wijk aan Zee last month in the Netherlands – the super-GM Festival that brought  together 14 of the world’s best players for at most 13 rounds of exciting chess.

Then there was the Gibraltar Open right  after in the UK, that assembled 276 strong players, including 97 GMs. Then there was the 16-team German chess league (Bundesliga) last week that attracted some of the world’s top players.

All these events kept various chess organizations occupied for the next three weeks. The chess world can rest assured, however, that the chess calendar is sure to perk up next month, and once again the lavish profusion of major chess events will be manifest.

* * *

In the following slam-bang affair between two young talents, Black executes a hypermodern game in grand style.

The Dutch teenager is given no  quarter in most phases of the game. 

The Russian youngster shows his class.

Bundesliga 2018

W) J. Van Forest (NED)

B) D. Dubov (RUS)

Sicilian Defense

1. e4                 c5

2. Nf3                Nc6

3. Bb5               ...

The Rossolimo Variation, one of  those flexible openings, leads off from well-known Sicilian lines.

3....                  g6

The hyper-modern set up. The  alternatives are 3...e6, 3...d6 and  3...Qb6, though less popular than  the text. 

4. Bxc6             ...

The alternative 4. 0-0 Bg7 5. Re1 e5 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. d3 Qe7!? 8. Nbd2 Nh6 9. a3 f6 10. b4 cxb4 11. axb4 0-0 12. Bb2 Rd8 13. Bc3 Nf7, leads to a balanced middle game. 

4....                  bxc6

4...dxc6 is a fair alternative.

5. O-O               Bg7

6. Re1               Nh6

More usual here is 6...e5.

7. c3                 O-O

8. d4                 cxd4

9. cxd4              d5

10. e5                f6

11. Nbd2           fxe5

12. Nxe5            Bxe5

13. dxe5            Qb6

14. Nf3              Nf5

15. h3              c5

16. g4              ...

Embarking on some interesting complications, but seems risky as it  weakens White’s Kingside. Safer,  according to the engine, is the simple 16. Qxd5ch.

16....                 Ng7

17. Bg5            ...

17. Qxd5ch Be6 18. Qe4 Rad8 19. Ng5 Bd5 20. Qc2 h6 21. Ne4 Ne6 is unclear, according to the engine.

17....                 Qe6

18. Bh4            h6

19. Nd2            g5

20. Bg3            c4

21. Nf3              d4!?

Black’s pawn sacrifice, which opens lines for his Queen  and Bishop, has definite merits as it creates dynamic imbalance.

22. Nxd4           Qb6!

After the text, Black enjoys maximum prospects along the open d file and the long  diagonal h1-a8. The game is now replete with tactical twists, many of which are unfavorable to White.

23. e6?              ....

As the early chesswriters wrote, “In a difficult position, a slip comes easily.” And this one is fatal. Correct is the engine’s 23. Re2 with  chances to hold although Black retains  the initiative after 23...Bb7, followed  by 24...Rad8.

23....                 Bb7

24. Be5             Rad8!

At a cost of a pawn, Black has a won position. White has no good move. In fact he could resign.

25. Rc1                         Rxd4!

The crusher after which White cannot avoid losing material without compensation.

26. Qxd4           Qc6

27. Re4            ...

Or 27. Kf1 Qg2ch 28. Ke2 Nxe6 29. Qe3 Rf3, Black wins  easily.

27....  Qxe4  28. Qxe4 Bxe4  29. Rxc4  Bd5  30. Rc7  Nxe6  31. Rxa7  ...

31. Rxe7 leads to the same result after 31...Rf3.

31.... Rf3  32. Kf1  ...

32. Ra3 Rxa3 33. bxa3 Bxa2 is also hopeless for White.

32.... Rxh3  33. a4 Rd3  34. Rxe7 Bf3 35. Kg1 Nc5!


After 36. Bc7 Rd1ch  37. Kh2 Ne4 38. Kh3 Rh1ch  39. Bh2 h5, Black wins smoothly.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to move and draw.

White=Ke4, Pa4, Pd5, Pg3

Black=Kd1, Bh2, Pd4, Pe7, Ph5

1. d6!!           exd6

2. Kd3!          Bxg3

3. a5             d5

4. a6             Bb8

5. a7             Bxa7


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