Magnus No. 1 for 8th straight year
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - May 6, 2018 - 12:00am

World champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, and his American challenger, Fabiano Caruana, remained No. 1 and No. 2 in a month of changes in the world chess ranking top 10, released this  week by the FIDE.

Carlsen retained the top spot for the eighth consecutive year, improving to 2843 rating points, after winning the Gashimov Memorial super tournament last month in Shamkir, Azerbaijan.

Caruana had the other gains and move to his highest rating with 2822, after tremendous victories at the Candidates and the Grenke chess classic, and strong second place in the recent US championship. He replaced Azeri Shakriyar Mamedyarov, who fell to third with 2808.

Chinese star Ding Liren continued his rise through the ranking, moving up three spots to No. 5 with 2791, one point behind No. 4 Vladimir Kramnik (2792) of Russia.

The rest of the elite 10 underwent a major reshuffling, with Frenchman Maxime Vacheir-Lagrave dropping to sixth at 2789, Russian Sergey Kariakin, climbing up to seventh (2782), and Wesley So (USA), falling one spot to eighth with 2778. 

Dutch top gun Anish Giri and Hikaru Nakamura (USA), rounded out the top 10 with 2776 and 2769, respectively.

* * * *

There is a certain stamp in the manner Russians play chess. Their play is a paradox, and classically unorthodox, with an attending thirst for complications. Whatever it is, play the game below. It was played in the ongoing Russian team championship in the resort city of Sochi.

Russian Team Ch. 2018 

W) M. Antipov g (Russia)

B)  A. Motylev g (Russia)

Slav Defense

1. c4     c6 

2. d4                 d5 

3. Nf3                Nf6 

4. e3                 ...

The latest preference in grand master play.  4. Nc3 dxc4 leads to the regular variant  of the Slav.

4....                  Bf5 

5. Nc3               e6 

In the game Rodshtein-Antipov, same tournament, play continued 5...a6 6. Be2 h6 7. Qb3 Ra7 8. cxd5 cxd5 9. Ne5 and White stands slightly better. 

6. Nh4               Be4 

7. f3                  Bg6 

8. Qb3               Qc7 

9. Bd2               a6

After 9...Be7 10. g3 Nbd7 11. exd5 exd5 12. e4, White’s strong center and  Bishop pair, assures a good game.

10. g3               Be7 

11. Rc1             ...

The engine recommends 11. c5 and after 11...Nbd7 12. 0-0-0 Rb8 13. Nxg6 hxg6 14. Na4, White has a clear advantage.

11....                 dxc4 

12. Bxc4            b5 

13. Be2             c5 

14. dxc5            Nc6 

15. Nxg6           hxg6 

16. Qc2             Nb4 

17. Qb1             Rd8 

18. a3                Nbd5 

18...Nc6  probably is a better alternative.

19. Nd1             Nd7 

20. b4               Ne5 

21. f4                Nc6 

22. Nc3             ...

22. e4 Nf6 23. Nf2 favors White, according to the engine. The text is likewise effective and offers White chances to seize the initiative.  From hereon, both players are left to their own middle game resources, on a maneuvering kind of play. 

22....                 Nf6 

23. Bf3              g5 

24. Ne4             gxf4 

25. gxf4             Nd5 

26. Qc2             Kf8 

27. O-O             g5 

28. Qb2             Rg8 

29. Kh1             gxf4 

30. exf4             Nxf4 

31. Nd6!            ...

As the early writers on chess said, place a  Knight firmly on the sixth rank, and you can sit back and relax, the game will play itself. The text move is a clincher, as Black will soon run out of reasonable moves.

31....                 e5 

32. Bxf4            exf4 

33. Rg1!            ...

This is the end, as White takes control of the important open  g file. The immediate threat is 34. Rxg8ch, followed by 35. Rg1ch.    

33....                 Rxg1ch

34. Rxg1           Bxd6 

Played out of necessity, but there’s nothing else.

35. cxd6            Rxd6 

Or 35...Qxd6 36. Qg7ch Ke8 37. Re1ch Ne7 38. Qg8ch Kd7 39. Qxf7 and White wins.

36. Qg7ch          Ke7 

37. Qg5ch          Kf8 

38. Qc5             Ke7 

39. Rc1             Kd7 

40. h4               Ke7 

1-0

Black did not wait for

White’s reply, 41. Bxc6.

* * *

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

Black to move and win.

White=Kh1, Qe4, Re1, Rf3, Pa2, Pb3, Pc4, Pf2, Ph2

Black=Kg8, Qc6, Rd8, Nf5, Pa7, Pb7, Pe5, Pf7, Pg6

1...                   Rd1!

2. Kg2               ...

Iif 2. Qxc6 Rxe1ch 3. Kg2 bxc6 and Black wins.

2...                   Rxe1

3. Qxe1             Nh4ch

and Back wins.

FABIANO CARUANA MAGNUS CARLSEN
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