Dubov masters Nakamura
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2020 - 12:00am

Daniil Dubov defeated Hikaru Nakamura in sudden-death Armageddon play-off to win the Lindores Abbey Challenge, the second leg of the $1 million Carlsen online chess tour. The victory also booked him a spot in the tour’s grand finals.

The final match concluded in dramatic fashion when Dubov and Nakamura, tied at two points apiece, faced off in Armageddon decider that was required to determine the tournament winner.

Dubov, Russia’s rising young star at 24, rallied and recovered well from a one-game deficit to beat the American blitz champion, who got caught in a fatal opening trap arising from a Vienna Game. Earlier, Nakamura ousted Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen in an Armageddon semifinals.

In winning the tourney, Dubov pocketed the $45,000 top prize and became the second player to make it to the tour’s grand finals, joining first leg qualifier Magnus Carlsen.

* * *

Meanwhile, the Clutch Champions Showdown, the richest internet tournament organized by the St. Louis (USA) chess club, is underway. 

The $265,000 online speed chess knockout event had eight of the world’s top players, including Carlsen, Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Russian Alexander Grischuk, Armenian Levon Aronian, and the American quadrumvirate of Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Leinier Dominguez and Jeffrey Xiong.

Matches can be followed live, with move-by-move commentaries.

* * *

Connoisseurs of chess endings will relish the following game, played out in the recently-concluded Lindores Abbey Challenge chess tour.

2020 Lindores Abbey Challenge

Round three Game two Finals

W) H. Nakamura (USA)

B) D. Dubov (Russia)

Sicilian Defense

1. e4      c5

2. Nf3                    Nc6

3. Nc3                    g6

4. d4                      cxd4

5. Nxd4                 Bg7

The Accelerated Fianchetto, an old variant strongly recommended in the 60s.

6. Be3                    Nf6

7. Bc4                    O-O

8. Bb3                    Re8!?

A novelty? Perhaps, but even if the move has been played before, it was not given enough attention by theoretical experts. .8....d6, which transposes into a pure Dragon Variation, is the standard continuation, while 8....a5, is an intricate line, which leads to interesting by paths.

9. Nxc6                 ....

Nakamura-Dubov, game two, round two, continued 9. h3 d6 10. Qd2 Bd7 11. 0-0 Na5, and Black is ok.

9....        dxc6

10. h3                    Qc7

11. f4                     b5

12. e5                    b4!

The point of Black’s 8th move. Now capturing with 13. exf6 is met by 13....exf6! and Black regains the piece with initiative.

13. Na4                 Nd5

14. Qf3                  Nxe3

15. Qxe3              a5

16. O-O-O            Qa7

17. Qe4                 ....

Obviously, trading Queens leads to a slight endgame edge for Black because of his Bishop pair.

17....                      Bf5

18. Qc4                 Qe3ch

19. Kb1                 Be6

After the text, White is compelled to swap Queens into a slightly inferior ending.

20. Qd4                 Qxd4

21. Rxd4               Rad8

22. Rhd1               Rxd4

23. Rxd4               Bc8

24. Nb6                 c5

25. Rd2                 ....

Not without a point, but seems passive. The engine prefers the active 25. Rc4.

25....                      g5

26. Rd5?!             ....

White’s last is a premature action, as it allows Black’s pieces to be activated. 26. Ba4 is considered best by the engine.

26....                      gxf4

27. Rxc5                f3!

A sharp Pawn stab which breaks the game wide open for Black’s forces.

28. gxf3                Bxh3

29. Rxa5               Rd8

Here White is a Pawn up, but Black’s pieces are more mobile, not to mention a dangerous passed h Pawn.

30. a4                    bxa3

31. bxa3               e6

32. Ka2                  h5

33. Ra4                  Bxe5

34. Re4?               ....

This move spoils White’s chances of survival. 34. Ra5 should have been tried. 

34....                      Bf6

Sharper is 34....Bg3!, according to the engine, e.g., 35. Nc4 Bf5 36. Re2 h4 and Black wins without a fuss.

35. Re1                 h4

36. Rg1ch             Kf8

37. Nc4                 Bf5

38. Rh1                 Rd4

39. Ne3                 Bg6

40. a4                    Bh5

41. a5?                  ....

This loses right off. 41. Rh3 is forced to prolong the game, though White is in dire straits anyhow.

41....                      Bxf3

42. Rf1                  Rf4

43. a6                    Bd4

44. Re1                 Re4


Solution to last week puzzle

White to play and win.

White=Kh1, Qe7, Rg3, Ne5, Pa4, Pc3, Pf2, Pg2, Ph3

Black=Kg8, Qd5, Rd8, Nf4, Pa7, Pb6, Pf5, Pg6, Ph7

1. Nf7!                  1-0

If 1....Qxf7 2. Qxd8ch and wins. Or 1....Rc8 2. Nh6ch

Kh8 3. Qf6 mate. And finally 1....Rd7 2. Nh6ch Kh8 3. Qf8ch Qg8 4. Qxg8 mate.

* * *

Black to move and win.

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