Online Grand Tour unfolds
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - June 21, 2020 - 12:00am

A selection of the world’s top players will see action this weekend as the third leg of the $1 million online Grand Tour gets underway.

Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen, winner of the first leg and the top seed, will be seeking to win the top prize for the second time and will be desperate to bounce back after a shocking semifinal loss to American Hikaru Nakamura at the Lindores Abby second leg. Russia’s rising star, Daniil Dubov, won that event by beating Nakamura in the finals.

Dubbed as the online Chessable Masters,  the 12-super GM field was split into two groups of six, where they play a double round-robin preliminary, with the top four in each group advancing to the knockout grand finals. Time control will be 15 minutes, plus 10 seconds per move increment.

Group A pairings: Nakamura vs Carlsen; Dubov vs Grischuk (Russia); and Artemiev (Russia) vs Harikrishna (India).

Group B pairings: Caruana (USA) vs Liren (China); Nepomniachtchi (Russia) vs Radjabov (Azerbaijan); and Vachier-Lagrave (France) vs Giri (Netherlands).

Round one games are in progress as we go to press, and can be viewed live with move-by-move commentaries at and various chess websites.

* * *

Meanwhile, with the game hanging in the balance and his title quest slipping away, Magnus Carlsen played the kind of chess that wins majors, outlasting Fabiano Caruana in a thrilling final round to capture the online Clutch International.

Carlsen, 29, whose current hobby is collecting first prizes in major online tournaments, which proliferates nowadays, pocketed the top prize of $50,000 and an additional $25,000 bonus prize.

* * *

In the following game, a little galloping by the Knight brings about an exciting finish to a tranquil opening. A fine performance by the tournament winner.

2020 Clutch Chess International

W) M. Carlsen (Norway)

B) F. Caruana (USA)

London System (Colors Reversed)

1. d4      Nf6

2. Bf4                     d5

3. e3      c5

After 3.....e6 4. Nf3 Bd6 5. Nbd2 0-0 6. c3 b6 7. Ne5 c5 8. Bd3 Bb7 9. h4 Nc6, the game leads to a balance middlegame. Carlsen-Mamedyarov, 2020 FIDE Online Steinitz Memorial.

4. Nf3                    Nc6

5. Nbd2                Nh5

6. dxc5                  Nxf4

7. exf4                  Qa5

8. Bd3                    Qxc5

9. O-O                   g6

10. Nb3                 Qd6

11. Qd2                 Bg7

12. c3                     O-O

13. Rfe1                Bg4

There are also numerous possibilities of more less debatable nature, but 13....Bh6 is most accurate, according to the engine. For instance, 14. g3 e5 15. Rad1 exf4 16. Be4 Ne7 17. Bxd5 Nxd5 18. Qxd5 Qxd5 19. Rxd5 Be6, and Black was slightly better because of the Bishop pair.

14. Qe3                 Bxf3

15. Qxf3               e6

16. h4                    h5

16....Rfd8, as the engine suggests, leads to equality after 17. Rad1 a5 18. a4 Rac8 19. h5 Qc7, etc.

17. g3                    Rfe8

18. Rad1               a6

19. Nd2                 b5?!

A dubious move which allows White to obtain a dangerous initiative. 19....Rac8, with chances to hold, seems preferable.

20. Ne4!               ....

A tempo-gaining intermezzo, which will enlarge White’s bridgehead for K-side operations.

20....                      Qd7

Obviously 20...dxe4? loses material after 21. Bxe4.

21. Ng5                 ....

Now the Knight jumps over to its best attacking square on the Kingside.

21....                      Rad8

22. Bc2                  b4

23. Ba4                  bxc3

24. bxc3                Qc8?

This error leads to a quick collapse. 23....Rf8 may offer more resistance, though White clearly has a big advantage.

25. f5!                   ....

This finally is a decisive blow to which there is no good reply.

25....                      gxf5

Forced, as 25....exf5? loses outright after 26. Rxe8ch Rxe8 27. Qxd5.

26. c4!                   ....

An energetic follow up of his previous move, which breaks the game wide open.

26.....                     Nd4

27. Rxd4               Bxd4

28. Bxe8               Rxe8

29. Qxh5              Qc7

Other tries also fails after 30. cxd5.

30. cxd5                Re7

31. dxe6               f6

If 31....Qxg3ch 32. Kh1 Qxf2 33. exf7ch Kf8 34. Nh7ch and mate follows. Now White finishes off the game in spectacular fashion.

32. Qg6ch            Kf8

33. Nf3                  Bc3

34. Rc1                  Rxe6

35. Nd4                 Rb6

36. Qh6ch            Kg8

37. Qe3                 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


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

6. Kh2 Qg3ch 7. Kh1 Qh3 mate.

* * *

Black to play and win.

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