Grischuk in GP finals
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2019 - 12:00am

Third ranked Alexander Grischuk of Russia posted a 1.5-0.5 semifinal victory over top-seeded Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to reach the Hamburg Grand Prix finals.

Grischuk moved on to face Polish youngster Jan-Krzyzstof Duda, who advanced after beating another Russian Daniil Dubov, 3.5-2.5. Grischuk and Duda played to a 46-move draw in the finals first classical game. Game two is underway as we go to press.

While Grischuk (with 17 grand prix points), remains the heavy favorite to qualify for the 2020 Candidates, the remaining spot, to be decided in Jerusalem next month, is still wide open.

* * * *

Meanwhile, a 10-player super GM tournament was held in Romania,  simultaneously with the Hamburg joust. The Grand Chess Tour rapid and blitz took place Nov. 06-10 in the city of Bucharest.

Armenian world contender Levon Aronian topped this one. Although tied with Russian Sergey KarIakin, at 20.0 points apiece, Aronian prevailed, 1.5-0.5 in tie-break playoff.

Vishy Anand of India finished third with 19.5 points. The rest of the standings read Le Quang Liem (VIE), 19.0, Anton Korobov (UKR), 18.5, Vladislav Artemiev (RUS), 18.0, Anish Giri (NED), 18.0, Wesley So (USA), 16.5, Shakriyar Mamedyarov (AZE), 16.5 and Fabiano Caruana (USA), 14.0.

* * * *

Connoisseur of positional chess will relish this one, played out in the quarterfinals of the ongoing 3rd FIDE grand prix.

Hamburg Grand Prix 2019

W) D. Navara (CZE)

B) A. Grischuk (RUS)

Queen’s Gambit Declined

1. d4      Nf6 

2. c4       e6 

3. Nf3    d5 

4. Nc3    Bb4 

The Ragozin Variation, named after Russian GM Viacheslav Ragozin (1908-1962), writer and editor of the famous Russian chess magazine, Shakhmaty.

5. Qa4ch               ....

5. Bg5 leads to the well-analyzed Vienna Variation, while 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 0-0 8. e3 Bf5, is equal, Grischuk-Eljanov, Sharjah Grand Prix 2017.

5....        Nc6 

6. e3      O-O

7. Qc2    Re8

8. Bd2    Bf8 

Nothing new has come out so far in the opening.

9. a3       e5 

10. dxe5               Nxe5 

11. cxd5                Nxf3ch

12. gxf3                Nxd5 

13. Bd3 Nxc3

14. Bxc3                Qh4 

15. O-O-O            g6 

16. Be4 Bg7 

17. Qa4 Qe7 

18. Bxg7               Kxg7 

19. h4    Qc5ch

20. Kb1 Bf5 

21. h5    b5 

22. Qa6 Rxe4 

23. h6    Kf8 

24. fxe4                Bxe4

25. Ka1  Bxh1

26. Qf6?               ....

A fatalistic reply which leads to complications in Black’s favor. Better is 26. Rxh1 and after 26....Qb6 27. Qxb6 axb6 28. Kb1, White may have drawing chances.

26....      Bc6 

27. e4    b4 

28. axb4               Qb5 

29. b3    ....

After 29. Rd8ch Rxd8 30. Qxd8ch Be8 31. Qxc7 Qa4ch 32. Kb1 Qxb4 33. Q e5 Bd7 34. Qh8ch Ke7 35. Qe5ch Be6 36. Qc7ch Ke8 37. Qc6ch Bd7 38. Qa8ch Ke7 39. Qxa7 Qxe4ch and Black should win.

29....      a5 

30. Kb2 ....

If 30. Rd8ch Rxd8 31. Qxd8ch Be8 32. bxa5 Qf1ch 33. Ka2 Qxf2ch 34. Kb1 Qe1ch 35. Kb2 Qxa5 Black is winning.

30....      axb4

31. Rd2 Qc5 

32. Rd3 Re8 

33. Qg7ch            Ke7 

34. Rf3  Kd8 

35. Rxf7                Bxe4 

36. Qf6ch             Kc8 

0-1

White runs out of check after 37. Qa6ch Kb8.

* * * *

Correction to last week’s puzzle. The Black Pawn should be on h3, instead of h6.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

Black to play and win.

White=Kg3, Rb6, Pa5, Pe4

Black=Kg7, Bc4, Ne5, Pb3, Pf7, Ph6

1....        h2!

2. Kxh2 ....

If  2. Kg2 Ng4 3. a6 Bf1ch 4. Kh1 Bd3 5. Rb4 b2 and wins.

2....        Nf3ch

3. Kg3    Nd4!

Threatening 4....Nb5

4. Rb4    Nc6

0-1.

White to move and win.

ALEXANDER GRISCHUK
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