World Women’s tiff on in Russia
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - November 4, 2018 - 12:00am

The FIDE Women’s World Championship, a 64-player knockout match play, begins today in the Autonomous Okrug’s famous city of Khanty Mansiysk, Russia.

The 64 participants selected were filtered by the following requirements: 

(a) last cycle’s finalists and semifinalists

(b) current ratings

(c) continental and zonal qualifiers (Europe, America, Asia and Africa)

(d) FIDE nominatedformat will be two match games, with tiebreaks,  for rounds of 64, 32, 16, 8 and 4. The finals will be played over four games, including tiebreaks, and  time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves and 30 minutes to finish the game, will be adopted. 

Reigning world women’s champion and Olympiad gold medalist Ju Wenjun of China, headlined the  participants, including former world champions Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia, Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine, Tan Zhongi of China, Antoanetta Stefanova of Bulgaria and Anna Ushenina of Ukraine.

The championship, which offers $60,000 to the  winner, will run up to Nov. 23.

* * *

The second Shenzhen Masters Classic, which opens tomorrow in Shenzhen, China, is one of the year’s strongest tournaments thus far.

The Chinese tandem of Ding Liren and Yu Yangi,  Olympiad gold medalists and ranked fourth and 12th in the world, led the list of six super GMs competing in the Category 20, double round-robin event. The field included world No. 5 Anish Giri of the Netherlands; world No. 6  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France; Poland’s Radoslav Wojtaszek,  winner of the 2018 Isle of Man and ranked 16th in the world,  and Olympiad bronze medalist Nikita Vitiugov of the host city.

A total cash prize of $90,000 will be at stake with the champion getting $20,000.

* * *

Here Black’s Knight maneuver in the  opening looked good, but it proved ineffective, as the Knight, later in the game, was driven from square to square by a pair of Rooks, bringing about a short and spicy finish. A fine performance by the Chinese stalwart.

Chinese League 2018 

W) Bu Xiangzhi (China)

B) F. Vallejo Pons (Spain)

Queen’s Gambit Declined

1. Nf3             d5 

2. d4              Nf6 

3. c4              e6 

4. Bg5            dxc4 

5. Nc3            a6 

6. a4             Nc6 

7. e3              Na5

The start of Black’s ineffective maneuvering, and as the early chess writers wrote, many games have been lost when the Knights  wandered away from their best  defensive posts in the opening. In this case, the c6 square. A much better alternative is 7...h6.

8. Nd2            c5 

9. dxc5           Bxc5 

10. Bxc4         Bd7 

10...h6 seems a promising alternative (10...Nxc4 11. Nxc4 leaves Black with dark square weaknesses) as after 11. Bh4 0-0 12. Be2 Be7 13. 0-0 Bd7  14. Nf3 Bc6, Black has fair chances  for equality. 

11. O-O           Rc8 

12. Bd3           Be7 

13. Qe2           Nd5 

13...h6 is preferable, according to the engine.

14. Bxe7         Nxc3 

After 14...Qxe7 15. Nxd5 exd5, White has a clear edge because of Black’s isolated d pawn, and  14...Nxe7 15. Nce4 0-0 16. b4 also favors White.

15. Bxd8         Nxe2ch 

16. Bxe2         Kxd8 

16...Rxd8 17. b4 Nc6 18. b5 is unpleasant for Black.

17. b4              Nc6 

18. Nc4!           ....

White continues sharply. After 18. b5 axb5 19. axb5 Nb4 20. Ne4 Ke7 21. Ra7 f5, Black may hold on the endgame.    

18...               Ke7 

White obtains winning chances after 18...Rb8 19. Rfd1 Ke7 20. Nb6 Rhd8 21. b5 axb5 22. axb5 Nb4 23. Rac1, etc.  

19. Nb6           Rb8 

20. b5             axb5 

21. axb5          Nb4 

22. e4!             ...

Denying Black’s Knight of the e4 square, which is now in great danger.

22...               Nc2 

23. Rad1!!         ...

A tempo-gaining move that ends the game right off.

23...               Rhd8 

24. Rd2!           ...

This beautiful Zwischenzug clinches the victory.

24...               Na3 

Or 24...Nb4 25. Rb2! and White wins.

25. Nxd7         1-0

There’s no way to save the Black Knight, as 25...Rxd7 is met by 26. Ra2 Ra8 27. Rfa1.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to play and draw.

white=Kh3, Qf6, Of5, Pg5, Ph2

black=Kg8, Re8, Rg1, Bf2, Pf7, Pg6

1. Qg7ch!           Kxg7

2. f6ch               K-any


* * *

 Black to move and win.

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