Wesley 8th in FIDE rankings
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - April 5, 2020 - 12:00am

The FIDE has released its world rankings.

The April 2020 rating list includes more than 200,000 titled players, including thousands of active GMs, IMs and FMs representing the global chess body’s 184 member nations. 

Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen, was again the world’s highest ranked player for the 10th year running, with a steady 2863 ratings.

American Fabiano Caruana, this year’s winner of the prestigious Wijk aan Zee, again ranked second at 2835 despite.losing seven points in the period.

Chinese No. 1 Ding Liren’s ratings fell to 2791, but retained third place.

Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France ) rounded out the top five with 2784 and 2778 respectively.

They were followed by Alexander Grischuk (Russia), 2777, Levon Aronian (Armenia), 2773, Wesley So (USA), 2770, Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), 2765 and Anish Giri (Netherlands), 2764.

The biggest gains were posted by MVL (+11) and Nepomniachtchi (+10), while the biggest drops were registered by Liren (-14) and Caruana (-07).

* * *

World No. three Ding Liren entered the tournament as one of the favorites, the Ding Liren who went 100 classical games undefeated,.including 14 in the 2018 Candidates tournament. But he performed below expectation, losing three games and finishing last when the competition was suspended.after seven rounds.

The specter of COVID-19 disrupted Ding’s preparations. For more than a month, he was quarantined in his hometown Wanzhou (China), and had another two weeks of isolation in Moscow prior to the tournament.

Here we see him outplayed in his own buoyant but sometimes very solid style.

Candidates Tournament 2020 Round 06

W) I. Nepomniachtchi (Russia)

B) D. Liren (China)

Ruy Lopez

1. e4      e5

2. Nf3                    Nc6

3. Bb5                    a6

4. Ba4                    Nf6

5. O-O                   Be7

6. d3                      ....

MVL-Liren, Rd. 2 same tournament had gone 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 0-0 8. h3, with equal chances.

6....         b5

7. Bb3                    d6

8. a3                       O-O

9. Nc3                    Na5

10. Ba2                  Be6

This is a well-known sideline against the Spanish opening, and a favorite in Ding’s arsenal.

11. b4                    Bxa2

12. Rxa2               Nc6

13. Bg5                  Qd7

Both players followed the game MVL-Liren, Rd. 2 2019 London chess classic.

14. Bxf6                Bxf6

15. Nd5                 a5

16. Rb2!?             ....

And here’s Nepom’s improvement from the London classic game which went 16. c4 Ne7 17. Qb3 bxc4 18. Nxe7ch Bxe7 19. dxc4 axb4 20. axb4 Qc6 21. Re1 Rxa2 22. Qxa2 Ra8, and Black obtains counterplay.

16....                      axb4

17. axb4               Bd8

18. c4                     Nd4

19. Nxd4              exd4

20. Qc2                 Re8

20....c6 seems preferable, e.g., 21. Nf4 Rb8 22. Ra1 Bf6 with still a balanced middle game.

21. g3                    bxc4

22. Qxc4               ....

If instead 22. dxc4, Black’s pieces gets free play after 22....c6 23. Nf4 Ra3.

22....                      c6

23. Nf4                  Bg5

24. Ne2                 d5

25. exd5               cxd5

26. Qb3                 h5!?

Ding does not relish a passive endgame, and takes his chances with a slightly inferior but tricky middle game.   

27. b5                    h4

Black’s last is a straight forward idea. He may do better with 27....Rab8, and one computer line runs as follows: 28. b6 Qg4 29. Re1 Qf3 30. Qd1 h4 31. Nxd4 Qxd1 32. Rxd1 hxg3 33. hxg3 Bf6 34. Rb4 Bxd4 35. Rxd4 Rxb6 36. Rxd5 Re2, with probably drawing chances.

28. b6                    h3

29. Kh1!                ....

A fine King move which vacates the g1 square for defensive purposes.

29....                      Reb8

30. Rfb1                Bd8

31. Qb5                 Qg4

32. Qxd5              Ra5

33. Qc6                 Rc5?!

Black has pinned his hopes on this move, overlooking White’s resources. The engine’s 33....Rxb6 offered more resistance, e.g., 34. Rxb6 Qxe2 35. Rb8 Re5 36. Rxd8ch Kh7, and the game continues.

34. Qe8ch            Kh7

Black twitched on White’s next move.

35. Ng1!               ....

The point of White’s 29th move, which clinches matters. Now Nepom finishes elegantly.

35.....                     Rxb6

After 35....Qg6 36. b7 Qxd3 37. Qxf7 Bf6 38. Qe6 Qf5 39. Qxf5ch Rxf5 40. Rc2, White also wins. 

36. Qxd8              Rxb2

37. Rxb2               Rc1

38. Qh4ch            Qxh4

39. gxh4               Rd1

40. f3                     1-0

Solution to last week puzzle

White to move and win.

White=Kg1, Qh6, Rf2, Bb1, Pa4, Pb3, Pe5, Pf6, Ph2

Black=Kg8, Qf7, Na3, Ba6, Nf8, Pa5, Pb6, Pd5, Pe6, Pg6,

1. Bxg6!                Nxg6     

If 1....Qxg6ch 2. Rg2 and White wins.

2. Rf3!                   1-0

There’s no adequate defense against the threat 3. Rg3.

If 2....Qh7 3 f7ch Kh8 (Qxf7 4. Rxf7) 4. f8Qch and wins.

* * *    

Black to move and win.

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