Magnus in charge
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - July 5, 2020 - 12:00am

Magnus Carlsen held off a resurgent Anish Giri, 3.5-2.5, to open up a one-set lead in the $150,000 Chessable Masters online best-of-three finals.

The Norwegian world champion got more than he bargained for in a complicated Rook and Bishop ending, beating the Dutch No. 1 in the second blitz tie-break, to secure the victory and move to within a set of clinching his second online chess tour title.

Giri, the second lowest-ranked player in the knockout phase, must win the second set to stay in the match, and maybe pull off an amazing comeback. For the 25-year-old Dutchman, who defeated Carlsen in game four to force two blitz tie breaks, anything seemed possible.

The online tournament is the third leg of the 12-player, all-play-all  $1 million grand chess tour. The fourth leg (Legends of Chess) will take place on July 21 through Aug. 5.

The second set is in progress as we go to press, and can be viewed live with commentaries at chess 24 and other chess websites.

* * * *

Giri’s first win in the semifinal is a brilliancy over the Russian No.1 He caps his performance with a scintillating Rook sacrifice on the 21st move.

2020 Chessable Masters (Semifinals) W) A. Giri (Netherlands) B) I. Nepomniachtchi (Russia)Queen’s Gambit Declined

1. d4      Nf6

2. c4       e6

3. Nf3    d5

4. Nc3    c5

This is the Tarrasch Variation, named after the German world contender Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934).

5. cxd5  Nxd5

6. e4      Nxc3

7. bxc3  cxd4

8. cxd4  Bb4+ch

9. Bd2    Bxd2ch

10. Qxd2              O-O

11. Bc4  ....

So far, the game has run in well known paths, the next move takes it into less explored territory.

11....      Nd7

This is a rarely played line  which the Russian must have studied and assessed to offer Black equal chances. Usually, 11....Nc6 is played, then these interesting possibilities arises. 12. 0-0 b6 13. Rad1 Bb7 14. Rfe1 Rc8  (14....Ne7?! 15. d5!) 15. d5 Na5  16. Bd3, with fair chances for both sides.

12. O-O b6

13. d5    Nc5

14. Rfe1                exd5

15. exd5               Qd6

16. Qd4 Bb7

17. Rad1               Rae8

18. Ne5 a6

19. a3    Re7

20. Re3 Rfe8?

Black goes astray, overlooking White’s next move. A safer alternative with chances to hold 20...b5.

21. Nxf7!              ....

The refutation of Black’s last reply, like a bolt from the blue,  is the least we can say of this move.

21....      Kxf7?

This loses right off. However, after  21....Qg6 22. Ne5 Qd6 23. Rde1, White emerges an extra Pawn and a superior position.

22. Re6!                ....

As the saying goes, the opening up of the position almost always favors the player with the better development. White’s last is a crusher.

22...       Qd8

If 22....Nxe6 23. dxe6ch Qxe6 24. Bxe6ch Rxe6 25. f3 Kg8 26. Qc4 b5 27. Qc7, White wins easily.

23. Qf4ch             Kg8

24. Rxe7               Rxe7

25. d6ch               Re6

26. d7    g6

Or 26....b5 27. Bxe6ch Nxe6 28. Qe5 Kf7 29. Rd6 Nc7 30. Qf5ch Kg8 31. Qg5 Qxg5 32. d8=Qch Qxd8 33. Rxd8ch Kf7 34. Rd7ch Kf6 35. Rxc7 Be4 36. Ra7 and White should win.

27. Rd6 1-0

There’s nothing to be done after 27....Bc6 28. Rxc6 Qxd7 29. Qb8ch Kg7 30. Rc7 Re1ch 31. Bf1.

* * * *

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

Black to move and win.

White=Kh1, Qg3, Rf3, Bf1, Pa3, Pc5, Pd5, Pe4, Ph2

Black=Kg8, Qh5, Rg6, Bg4, Pa7, Pc7, Pe5, Pf3, Pg7, Ph6

1....        Bf5!

2. Qxe5 ....

If 2. Qxf3 Qxf3 3. Rxf3 Bxe4 4. Bg2 (4. Be2 Bxd5) Rxg2 5. Kxg2 Bxd5 and Black wins.

2....        Qg5

Threatening 3....Qg1 mate.

3. Qg3   Qe3

4. Qh4   Rg5


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