So, Firouzja show way
LETS PLAY - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2020 - 12:00am

Wesley So and Alireza Firouzja scored 4.0 points to share the lead halfway though the 2020 Tata Steel Masters in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.

So, the world No. 6 American, has made a successful start to 2020, winning two games and drawing four without defeat, in the category 20 single round robin elite tournament.

Meanwhile, Firouzja, the 16-year-old Iranian now living in France, continued to impress, moving forward with three convincing victories, two draws and one loss, including a big win against Dutch Candidates qualifier Anish Giri 

World No. 2 American Fabiano Caruana was in a tie for third-fifth, along with Russian Daniil Dubov and 20-year-old local bet Jorden Van Foreest, half-a-point behind the leaders.

Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world champion, and Indian Vishy Anand, were tied for 6th-11th at 3.0 apiece, that included Giri, Jeffrey Xiong (USA), Jan-Krysztof Duda (Poland), and Vladislav Artemiev (Russia). 

They were followed by Nikita Vitiugov (Russia), 2.5, Yu Yangi (China), 2.0 and Vladislav Kovalev (Belarus), 1.0.

* * *

Anand has been around for five decades. The old lion maybe older than the combined age of So and Firouzja, but he is not defanged nor debilitated. He still has his bag of tricks and without any trainer’s prodding, can bite off anybody’s hand. He methodically chewed up Xiong’s French Defense in the beautiful game below. 

Tata Steel Masters 2020 round 05

W) V. Anand (India)

B) J. Xiong (USA)

French Defense

1. e4      e6 

2. d4                      d5 

3. Nc3                    Bb4 

The Winawer Variation, named after Polish master Szymon Winawer (1838-1919), and pioneered by Nimzovich and Botvinnik. It leads to a more complex type of struggle, and suits more to Anand’s style.

4. e5                      Ne7

5. a3                       Bxc3ch

6. bxc3                  c5

7. Qg4                   Kf8 

The main line is 7....Qc7 and after  8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4  10. Ne2 Nbc6 11. f4 Bd7 12. Qd3 dxc3 13. Nxc3 a6, the ensuing middle unclear.

8. h4                      h5?!

Seems dubious as it allows White to place his dark-squared Bishop on g5. 8....b6 is a better alternative. 

9. Qd1                   b6 

10. Bg5                  Qc7 

11. Rh3                 cxd4

The immediate 11....Nf5 is preferable, according to the engine.

12. cxd4                Nf5 

13. c3                     Ba6 

14. Bxa6               Nxa6 

15. Ne2                 Nb8

Seems passive. 15....Qc4 is  probably stronger.

16. Nf4  g6 

17. g4                    hxg4 

18. Qxg4               Nd7 

19. Rc1                  Rg8 

20. h5                    gxh5 

21. Qxh5              Qc4 

22. Ne2                 Rc8 

23. Rf3!                 ....

An astute move after which the coming threat Ng3 is hard to meet.

23....                      Rc6 

24. Ng3                 Ke8 

25. Nxf5               exf5 

26. Rxf5                Rcg6 

27. Kd2                 Nf8 

28. Be3                 Ne6 

29. Qe2!               ....

Compelling Black to either swap into a lost ending or allow White to open up the important c file.

29....                      Qa2ch 

There’s nothing better. For instance 29....Nc7 30. Qxc4 dxc4 31. Rh1 and White’s passed d pawn will rule the waves.

30. Rc2                  Qb1 

31. c4!                   Rg4 

Black, desperately seeking counter play, initiate a combination very favorable for White.

32. cxd5                Rxd4ch

32....Nxd4? is met by 33. Rc8ch Kd7 34. Rxf7ch Kxc8 35. Qc4ch. 

33. Bxd4               Qxc2ch

34. Kxc2                Nxd4ch

35. Kd3                 Nxe2 

36. Kxe2               ....

When the dust cleared, White emerges with a decisive Pawn advantage. The rest is a routine  endgame win for the former world  champion.

36....                      Rg4 

37. f4                     Rg3 

38. Rg5                  Rxa3 

39. Rg8ch             Kd7 

40. Rf8                  Ke7 

41. Rb8                 Kd7 

42. Rb7ch             Ke8 

43. d6                    1-0

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

Black to play and win.

White=Kg1, Qe6, Re1, Rf1, Bd4, Pa2, Pb4, Pc3, Ph2

Black=Kg8, Qc7, Rf4, Rf7, Bb7, Pa6, Pb5, Pg7

1....                        Qc6!


If 2. Qxc6 (2. Qe8ch Kh7) Rg4ch 3. Qg2 ( 3. Kh1 Bxc6ch) Rxg2ch 4. Kh1 Rg3ch and White gets mated.

* * *

Black to play and win.

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