China paces Nations Cup
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2020 - 12:00am

At the FIDE Online Nations Cup invitationals, top-seeded China continued to impress, dominating the preliminary and advancing to the grand finals with still two rounds remaining.

The reigning Olympiad gold medalists scored eight consecutive victories and had 15 match points in the four-board, six-team double round-robin competition.

Composed of Candidates Ding Liren and Wang Hao, young guns Wei Yi and Yu Yangi and women world champions Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun, China awaits the winner of the USA-Europe penultimate round match, which is in progress at press time. All matches can be followed live, move-by-move with commentaries at chess.com and chess24.com.

Team USA, spearheaded by Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, took a giant step towards securing the other final berth by beating Russia, 2.5-1.5, and Rest of the World, 3.0-1.0. The Americans were in second spot with 11.0 match points, one point better than Team Europe, which is led by Candidates Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri and world No. 7 Levon Aronian.

Other scores read Russia and India, 5.0, and Rest of the World, 2.0.

* * *    

At 50, Anand must be on the decline. The former world champion is feeling, by his own admission, the ravages of time.

At the FIDE Grand Tour and Grand Swiss, he failed to qualify for the Candidates. At the 2020 Tata Steel in Wijk aan Zee, he finished a disappointing seventh. But at the ongoing FIDE Online Nations Cup, Anand paced himself beautifully, posting convincing wins over Candidates qualifiers Nepomniachtchi and Radjabov, with a very impressive five out of eight undefeated record on board one for Team India.Watch the crisp style of the young Anand in the game below.

FIDE Online Nations Cup 2020

W) V. Anand (India)

B) I. Nepomniachtchi (Russia)

Grunfeld Defense

1. d4                      Nf6

2 c4       g6

3. Nc3                    d5

In the 1922 Teplitz-Schonau (Czech Republic) international tournament, Austrian grandmaster Ernst Grunfeld (1893-1962), introduced a new system of defense for Black. The system is replete with sharp counter-attacking possibilities and became a success, resisting all attempts at refutation and is still today, one of the important systems of defense at Black’s disposal against the Queen’s Pawn Opening. This, and only this is the Grunfeld Defense.

4. cxd5                  ....

The sharp Exchange Variation, in which White obtains broad center Pawns (e4 and d4), while Black in general, attacks the center with .c5, Nc6 and Bg7.  

4....       Nxd5

5. Bd2!?                ....

A solid sideline which will compel Black to trade his dark-squared Bishop early in the game.

5....         Bg7

6. e4                      Nxc3

7. Bxc3                  c5

The game Anand-Hammer, Norway 2013, went 7....0-0 8. Qd2 c5 9. d5 Bxc3ch 10. bxc3 e6 11. d6 e5 12. h4, and White has the edge, (1-0=45).

8. d5                      Bxc3ch

9. bxc3                  Qd6

After 9....0-0 10. Nf3 e6 11. Be2 exd5 12. exd5 Bg4 13. 0-0 Nd7 14. h3 Bxf3 15. Bxf3 Ne5 16. Be2, White stands better, (1-0=52), Nakamura-Kariakin, Tal Memorial 2013.

10. Qd2                 O-O

11. f4                     e6

11....e5 is a fair alternative, e.g., 12. fxe5 Qxe5 13. Bd3 Bg4 14. Nf3 Qd6 15. 0-0 Nd7 16./ Rab1 17. b6 17. Rbe1 f6, sets the chances as fairly even.

12. Nf3                  exd5

13. Bc4                  Be6

A risky move. The alternative 13....d4 deserves consideration.

14. O-O                 d4?

This is a fatalistic reply, which loses right off. Safer is 14....Rd8.

15. f5!!                  ....

Like a bolt from the blue, which the engine failed to consider. White’s last is a crusher.

15...       Bxc4

Seems forced. If 15....gxf5 16. Qg5ch Kh8 17. Qf6ch Kg8 18. exf5 and White wins without much fuss.

16. e5!                  ....

Note the logic in White’s move. Not a single tempo is wasted. Compared to a symphony conductor, who doesn’t miss a single beat.

16....                      Qd7?

This leads to a quick finish, but there’s nothing else can be done. 16....Bxf1 17. exd6 is equivalent to resignation, or 16....Qd5 17. f6 Qe4 18. Rae1 Qf5 19. Qh6 and White wins, and finally, 16....Qb6 17. f6 Nd7 18. Qh6 Nxf6 19. Ng5 leads to mate.

17. f6!                   1-0

White’s mating threat starting with 18. Qh6, is indefensible. For instance, 17....Kh8 18. Qh6 Rg8 19. Ng5 and mate follows..

Solution to last week puzzle

Black to move and win.

White=Kb3, Qh5, Rf3, Pa3, Pb2, Pc2, Pf2,Pg5, Ph2

Black=Kf8, Qh1, Ra1, Bg7, Pa6, Pb7, Pb5, Pe6, Pf7, Ph7

1....      Rxa3ch!

0-1

If 2. Kxa3 ( 2. bxa3 Qb1 mate) 2....Qa1ch

3. Kb4 (3. Kb3 Qa4/Qxb2 mate) 3....Qa4ch

4. Kc5 Qd4 mate.

* * *

White to move and draw.

FIDE ONLINE NATIONS CUP INVITATIONALS
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