Shankland, Dreev pace Capablanca
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2018 - 12:00am

The all-Chinese women’s world championship match between defending champion Tan Zhongyi and challenger Ju Wenjun is underway in the cities of Shanghai and Chongqing.

After five games, Ju had a comfortable 3.5-1.5 lead, and threatens to pull away from Tan, halfway through the 10-game world chess series organized under the auspices of the FIDE.

The remaining games will run up to May 18 in China’s major city of Chongqing.

* * *

Meanwhile, Samuel Shankland (USA) and Alexey Dreev (Russia), made charges to share the lead after three rounds of the 53rd Capablanca Memorial at the Habana Libre Hotel in Cuba’s capital city of Havana.

Shankland, the current US champion and the veteran Dreev, had 2.0 points in the six-player, double round robin event. America’s longest-running yearly international, the chessfest is being held in honor of the Cuban world champion, Jose Raul Capablanca. 

Other players in the table were Aleksander Rakhmanov (Russia) and Yusnel Bacallao (Cuba), 1.5, Anton Guijarro David and Lazaro Bruzon (Cuba), 1.0.

* * *

Below is an exciting roller-coaster game taken from the recently concluded Russian team championship.

Russian Team Ch. 2018 

W) V. Artemiev (Russia)

B) D. Dubov (Russia)

Sicilian Defense

1. e4             c5 

2. Nc3           Nc6 

3. g3             g6 

4. Bg2           Bg7 

5. d3              ...

The Closed System against the Sicilian, adopted and strongly recommended by the late world champion Vassily Smyslov in the 50s and 60s, but only former world champion Boris Spassky succeeded in making it popular.

5....               d6

6. Be3            ...

An alternative is 6. f4, and after 6...e6 7. Nf3 Nge7 8. 0-0 0-0 9. Be3 Nd4 10. Rb1 Nec6 11. Ne2 Nxf3ch 12. Bxf3 b6, the game is about even.

6....               e5!?

A move essayed by Botvinnik against Smyslov, during their Moscow 1954 world championship match.  The idea is to block the scope of White’s g2 Bishop and to render difficult the thematic advance d3-d4. 6...e6 is a fair alternative wherein Black will obtain equality with 7. Qd2 Nge7 8. Nge2 Nd4 9. 0-0 0-0.

7. Nh3           Nge7 

8. O-O          O-O 

9. f4              exf4       

9...b5!? as the engine suggests, is better than the text.

10. Nxf4         b5 

11. a3            b4 

12. axb4        cxb4 

13. Ncd5        Bxb2 

14. d4!?          ...

Sharp, risky and therefore interesting.     

14....             Bxa1 

15. Nf6ch       Kh8 

16. Qxa1       Qa5 

17. Qd1         Ng8?!

The source of all Black’s problems. The engine recommends 17...Ba6 with chances for equality after 18. Re1 Qd8 19. N4d5 Nxd5 20. Nxd5 f6.  

18. N4d5        Be6 

19. Nxg8        Rxg8       

19...Kxg8? is met by 20. Nf6ch Kh8 21. d5.

20. Bg5          Rg7?

This passive move proves to be the decisive error. No matter how risky it looked, 20...h5 had to be tried.

21. Bf6           Rg8

22. Ne3         Qb6

23. Qd2         Na5

24. h4            b3

24...Nc4 may put up a longer resistance.

25. Rb1          b2

26. c4           Rb8

27. Kh2         Qb4

28. Qf2         Nxc4 

29. Nxc4      Bxc4 

30. d5          Qb6 

30...Qc5 31. Rxb2 Rf8  32. Qxc5 dxc5 33. d6 is also hopeless for Black.

31. Rxb2!      Bb3

Or 31...Qc7 (31...Qxf2 is punished by instant mate) 32. Qd4 Rg8 33. Rc2 and White wins.

32. Qe1      Qb4 

If 32...Rc8 33. Qb1 Rb8 34. Qa1 and wins.

33. Qa1       Rg8 

34. Qxa7     Qc4 

34...Rf8 35. Qe3 Rb8 36. Qh6 Rg8 37. Bxg7ch Rxg7 38. Qe3 and wins.

35. Qxf7      1-0

Black cannot avoid losing material. For instance 35...Qb4 36. Bxg7ch Rxg7 37. Qf8ch Rg8 38. Qf6ch Rg7 39. Qf3 and wins. Or 35...Qb5 36. Bxg7ch Rxg7 37. Qf8ch Rg8 38. Qf3 Rb8 39. Qf6ch Kg8 40. Bh3 followed by 41. Be6ch.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

Black to move and win.

white=Kd6, Pe3, Pf2, Pg2, Pg3

black=Kf6, Pe4, Pf5, Pg4, Ph5

1...             f4!

2. Kd5        ...

If 2. gxf4 h4, followed by 3...h3 and wins. Or 2. exf4 h4 3. gxh4 g3 4. fxg3 e3 and the pawn  promotes.

2...             f3!

3. gxf3        h4!

4. gxh4       g3

5. fxg3        exf3 and Black wins.

* * *

White to move and win.

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