Sarana tops Russian Higher League
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2018 - 12:00am

The Russian Higher League, a selection tournament which  chooses five finalists for the 2018 Russian Championship super final, is underway in the Kremlin’s ancient city of Yaroslavl.

Unseeded Alexey Sarana and Artyom Timofeev were the surprise leaders in the  nine-round Swiss system event when fourth  round play was concluded at the well-known Ring Premier Hotel. Both grand- masters had 3.5 points, going into the last five rounds.

Sarana, Russia’s third youngest GM at 18, posted an impressive three wins, one draw record in the 58-player field that included 37 strong GMs.

Tied for third-ninth at 3.0 apiece were E. Inarkiev, D. Paravyan, A. Motylev, V. Zviaginsev, S. Oparin, I.Popov and A. Rakhmanov.

* * *

The recently concluded Chinese team championship (June 19-25) in  Hangzhou City, produced lively and exciting  chess. The following game has been selected on the basis that the players come out slugging and the winner incisively and  doggedly pursues winning ideas employing both strategical and tactical schemes.

Chinese Team Championship 2018 

W) Li Chao g  (China)

B) Lin Chen g (China)

King’s Indian Defense

1. d4              Nf6 

2. c4              g6 

3. Nc3            Bg7 

4. e4              d6 

5. h3              ...

This rare sideline against the  King’s Indian has become popular lately in top level chess. This is  actually a very old variant, but with  modern tendencies, and was pioneered  by Vladimir Andreevich Makogonov  (1904-1993), many-time Azerbaijan champion.

5...               O-O 

6. Be3!?           ...

White’s last is an interesting system of  development. The standard move is 6. Nf3, and after 6...  c5 7. d5 e6 8. Bd3 exd5 9. exd5 Re8ch 10. Be3 Bh6 11. 0-0,  White has a slight edge. For example  11...Bxe3 12. fxe3 Nbd7 (12...Rxe3?! 13. Qd2! favors White) 13. e4 Qe7  14. Qd2 and White stands better. Or 6. Nf3 e5 7. d5 Nh5!? 8. Nh2! Qe8 9. Be2 Nf4 10. Bf3 f5 11. g3! Nxh3, the game is unclear., e.g., 12. Bg2 f4! (12...fxe4 13. Be3) 13. Nf3 g5 14. Rxh3 g4, the game is in the balance.

6...               c5

Rather unexpected. 6...Nfd7,  6...Nbd7 and 6...e5 are fair alternatives   with good chances for both sides.

7. dxc5          dxc5

Usual here is 7...Qa5, which leads to interesting complications after 8. Bd3 dxc5 9. Ne2 Nc6 10. 0-0 Rd8 11. Nd5, etc.

8. Qxd8          Rxd8 

9. e5               ...

After 9. Bxc5 Nc6, White is a pawn up, but Black’s better development more  than compensate for the material deficit. The text creates a strong center for White,  which will try to exploit his space advantage. 

9...                Nfd7 

10. f4              f6 

11. exf6           exf6 

12. O-O-O       Nc6 

13. g4!             ...

Opening up the long diagonal a8-h1 for White’s light-squared Bishop, which will eventually obtain control of the important d5 square.

13...               Nb6 

14. Rxd8ch      Nxd8 

15. Nf3             f5 

16. Ne5            Nf7

After 16...fxe4 17.hxg4 Bxe5 18. fxe5 Bxg4 19. Ne4! White obtains sufficient compensation for the pawn.=Engine.

17. Nxf7           Kxf7 

18. Nb5            Bf8 

19. b3              Bd7 

20. Bg2            Re8 

21. Bd2            a6 

22. Nc7           Rc8 

22...Rb8 is met by 23. Ba5! and White gains the upper hand.

23. Nd5!          ...

After the text, White’s endgame  superiority is manifest once and for all.

23...              Bc6?

This move loses material, but after 23...Nxd5 24. Bxd5ch Be6 25. Bxb7 White emerges  a pawn up in an advantageous position. 

24. Nxb6         Bxg2 

25. Rh2           Rc6

26. Nd7!           1-0

After 26...Be4 27. Ne5ch Ke6 28. Nxc6, followed by 29. g5, clinches matters for White.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to play and win.

white=Kg1, Qb7, Re1, Ng5, Pb5, Pf2, Pg3, Ph4

black=Kg8, Qc7, Rc8, Nb6, Pa7, Pf7, Pg6, Ph7

1. Re8ch!         Kg7

1...Rxe8 is met by 1. Qxc7.

2. Ne6ch!         fxe6

3. Re7ch          Qxe7

4. Qxe7ch        1:0

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