Carlsen shows clutch moves
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2020 - 12:00am

Norwegian Magnus Carlsen easily dismissed Armenian Levon Aronian in the semifinal to move closer to the $265,000 Online Clutch Champions Showdown title.

Carlsen, the reigning world champion, made all the big wins look easy in beating Aronian, 10.0-4.0. He advanced to the finals against American Fabiano Caruana, who came from behind to edge compatriot Wesley So, 9.0-8.0. Down 2.0-6.0, Caruana posted back-to-back victories at the start of set two to mount an astounding comeback.

This weekend’s 12-game online clash marked the first  grand final between the two since the November 2018 World Championship match. All games can be watched live with commentaries at various chess websites.

* * *

The following game is another example of Carlsen’s pile-up technique, launching an all out attack against a weak c Pawn.

Clutch Chess International Semifinal

W) M. Carlsen (Norway)

B) L. Aronian (Armenia)

English Opening

1. c4       Nf6 

2. Nc3    e5 

3. g3                       Bb4 

4. e4                      O-O 

After 4....Bxc3 5. dxc3 Nxe4 6. Qd5, White regains the Pawn with a slight advantage.

5. Nge2                 ....

The seventh world champion, Vasily Smyslov (Russia), popularized this line sixty years ago.

5....        d6

6. h3                      Nc6 

7. Bg2                    a6 

8. O-O                   b5 

Black undertakes instant action on the Q-side.

9. d3                      ....

It is well known that Black obtains counterplay after 9. cxb5 axb5 10. Nxb5 Ba6, etc.

9....                        bxc4 

10. dxc4                Bc5

11. Kh2                 Rb8 

12. b3                    a5 

13. Nd5                 a4 

A promising alternative for Black is 13....Nxd5 14. exd5 Nd4.

14. Be3                 axb3 

15. axb3               Bxe3 

Not a good choice as it deny the Black Knight the important d4 square, and also concedes the half-open f file to White’s major pieces. Better is 15....h6, according to the engine..

16. fxe3                Nd7 

17. Nec3               Nc5 

18. Nb5                 Ne6 

19. h4!                  ....

There’s something wrong with Black’s deployment as this move reveals.

19....                      Bd7

20. Bh3                 Rb7 

Here Black is almost out of playable moves.

21. b4                    Ne7 

22. Ra2                  Nc8?

In a difficult position, a blunder comes easily, and this one is fatal. 

23. Ra8!                ....

Intensifying the pressure on Black’s pieces, which are all pinned.

23....                      Kh8 

24. Qh5                 Qe8 

25. Bf5                  h6 

26. Bh3!                ....

Paving the way for White’s army to deliver a series of hammer blows.The immediate threat is 27. Rf6 followed by 28. Rxh6ch.

26....                      c6 

27. Nxd6              Nxd6

This ends the story as White’s material advantage will be decisive. The rest needs no comment. 

28. Rxe8               Rxe8

29. Nf6                  Re7 

30. c5                     Nc4 

31. Nxd7              Rbxd7

32. Rxf7                Rxf7 

33. Bxe6               Rf2ch 

34. Kh3                 1-0

Solution to last week puzzle:

Black to move and win.

White=Kh1, Qf8, Ra1, Pe7, Pe5, Pf4, Pg2, Ph3

Black=Kh7, Qh4, Rd3, Nd4, Pb5, Pg7, Ph6

1....        Rxh3ch

2. gxh3  Qxh3ch

3. Kg1        Qg4ch               0-1

If 4. Kh1 Nf3 and wins. Or 4. Kf2 Qf3ch 5. Kg1(5. Ke1 Qe2 mate) Ne2ch

6. Kh2 Qg3ch 7. Kh1 Qh3 mate.

* * *

White to move and win.

MAGNUS CARLSEN
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