Grand Prix
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2019 - 12:00am

The FIDE Grand Prix, which chooses two qualifiers for the Candidates Tournament,  is underway at the Central Chess Player’s House  in the Russian capital of Moscow.

Local bet Ian Nepomnianchtchi,  and the Polish tandem of Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Radoslav Wojtaszek were the opening day winners in the 16-player, two-game, knockout  match play, that began Friday.

Nepomninachtchi beat Armenian Levon  Aronian, while Duda and Wojtaszek won over American Wesley So and Azeri Shak  Mamedyarov respectively.

Other matches, Giri-Dubov, Kariakin-Griscguk,  Radjabov-Nakamura, Vitiugov-Svidler and  Wei-Yi-Jakovenko, all ended peacefully.

Twenty participants were selected through their Elo ratings, for the period  February 2018 to January 2019, with one wild card nominated by the FIDE.  Players are required  to participate in three of four Grand Prix tournaments, with the top two finishers (highest GP points),  advancing  to next year’s Candidates Tournament, the final event,  which selects the world championship challenger.

Grand Prix champion gets 8.0 points,  runner up, 5.0, semifinalist, 3.0 and quarter finalist, 1.0.

The next Grand Prix tournaments will be held July 11-25 in  Riga (Latvia),  Nov. 4-18  in Hamburg (Germany), and Dec. 10-24 in Tel aviv ( Israel).

* * *

This is a highly instructive classical game  with both players showing good technique.

FIDE Grand Prix 2019

W) J. K. Duda (Poland)

B)  W. So (USA)

Giuoco Piano

1. e4          e5

2. Nf3q       Nc6

3. Bc4        ....

The Giuoco Piano, a very old  opening with very new points, has  become the latest preference in  grand master play....

3....            Bc5

4. c3          Nf6

5. d3          O-O

6. O-O       d5

Not without a point, but Black’s last is an unproven commodity.. Normal is  6....h6 and after  7. Re1 d6 8. Nbd2 a5, Black has  a promising game.

7. exd5      Nxd5

8. a4          a6

9. Re1        Bg4

10. Nbd2    Kh8

10....Nb6 is preferable,  according to the engine. 

11. h3        Bh5

12. Ne4      Ba7

Another move of little  significance as will  be seen later in the game.  Instead, 12....Be7 is a much better alternative.

13. Ng3      Bg6

Not a good choice. Better is 13....Bxf3 and after 14. Qxf3 Nb6 15. Bxa6 bxa6 16.Qxc6 Qxd3, Black has a good chance to hold the balance.

14. Nxe5    Nxe5

15. Rxe5    Nb6

16. Qf3      c6

16...Nxc4 is Black’s best chance  to stay in the game.

17. Bf4       Bb8

18. Ree1    Nxc4

19. dxc4    Qh4

20. Ne2      Ba7?

A  time-wasting move. The Bishop is badly placed here as soon appears. Correct is 20....a5.

21. Bd6      Rfe8

22. Nf4       Bc2

23. c5!       a5?

This move makes matters worse. Correct is  23...f5 with chances to play on  after  24. b4 a5  25. Re2 Be4, etc.

24. Re2      Bb3

25. Ra3!     1-0

There’s no satisfactory continuation anymore. For instance  25...Be6  26. Nxe6  fxe6 27. Qf7 and White picks another Pawn.  Or 25... Rxe2 26. Qxe2  Be6 27. Nxe6 fxe6  28. Rb3 and White has material plus and  big positional advantage.

Solution to last week puzzle

White to play and win.

White=Kg1, Qh5, Rd6, Rf1, Be4, Pc4, Pf2, Pg2, Ph2  Black=Kh8, Qa2, Rc3, Rf8, Bh6, Pa6, Pg7, Ph7

1. Rf6!            1-0

1. Rxh6? Qxf2ch! 2. Rxf2 Rc1ch and Black wins.     Now If 1....gxf6 (1....Rxf6 2. Qe8ch or 1...Rg8 2. Rxh6 gxh6 3. Qe5ch)  2. Qxh6 Rf7 3. Bxh7 Qa3 (3....Rxh7 4. Qf8 mate) 4. Bf5ch Kg8 5. Be6 and wins.

White to play and win.

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