Legends of Chess all set
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - July 19, 2020 - 12:00am

The Legends of Chess online tournament, the final leg of the $1 million online Grand Chess Tour, gets underway on July 21 until Aug. 5.

Notable players invited includes former world champions Vishy Anand (India) and Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), and former world title challengers Peter Leko of Hungary and Boris Gelfand of Israel.

Other guest players entered are Ukraine’s Vassily Ivanchuk, the 2002 FIDE world championship runner-up, and eight-time Russian champion Peter Svidler.

The rest of the 10-player field includes Chessable Masters winner Magnus Carlsen (Norway), finalist  Anish Giri (Netherlands), and semifinalists Ding Liren of China and Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia.

Format calls for a single round-robin preliminary after which the top four players will advance to the semifinal and final stages. Time control will be 15 minutes plus 10 seconds increment.

Carlsen has been a dominant force in the tour, winning two of the last three editions. While Carlsen remains the top favorite, a number of quality players are in serious contention for the title, including Giri and Ding.

The online tournament provide players the opportunity to earn two qualifying spots for the tour’s grand finals which begins on Aug. 9.

* * *

In his march to victory in this tournament, Carlsen was stopped twice, by Giri and Daniil Dubov. Here we see him smashed in his own buoyant but sometimes speculative style. A very fine performance by the Dutch world contender.

Chessable Masters Finals 2020

W) M. Carlsen (Norway)

B) A. Giri (Netherlands)

Sicilian Defense

1. e4      c5

2. Nf3    d6

3. Bb5ch               ....

White’s last move puts the opening in less known territory, making it more specifically an anti-Sicilian line against the Najdorf Variation.

3....                        Nd7

After 3....Nc6 4. 0-0 Bd7 5. Re1 Nf6 6. h3 a6 7. Bf1 g5!?, the game leads to sharp complications, Carlsen vs. Caruana, Chessable Masters quarterfinals. Also possible is 3....Bd7, with a fairly even game after 4. Bxd7ch Qxd7 5. c4 Nc6 6. Nc3 e6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Nf6 9. 0-0 Be7 10. Be3 0-0, etc.

4. a4                       Nf6

5. Nc3                    g6

6. a5                       Bg7

7. O-O                   a6

8. Be2                    O-O

9. Re1                    ....

The engine prefers 9. d3.with chances for White to gain the initiative.

8....                        b5

10. axb6               Bb7

11. d3                    Nxb6

12. e5                    ....

The normal developing move 12. Bf4 is probably better.

12....                      Nfd5

13. Nxd5              Nxd5

14. exd6               ....

There are other alternatives, but 14. e6! is most accurate, according to the engine, e.g., 14....fxe6 15. Ng5 Nc7 16. Bg4 Bc8 17. Nxe6 Nxe6 18. Bxe6ch Bxe6 19.. Rxe6 Qd7 20. Re2, and White is slightly better because of Black’s vulnerable Pawn structure. The text allows Black to seize the initiative.

14....                      exd6

15. c3                     Re8

16. Bd2                 Qb6

17. Qc2                 a5

18. h3                    ....

Safer is 18. Bf1 to be followed by exchanges, reducing the sting of Black’s pressure...

18....                      Bc6

19. d4                    cxd4

19....Rab8 seems stronger, according to the computer.

20. Nxd4              Nb4

21. cxb4                ....

Embarking on some interesting complications. A safer alternative is 21. Qc1 Bxd4 22. cxd4 Qb7 23. Bxb4 axb4 24. Rxa8 Rxa8 25. Bf1, and the game is about even.

21....                      Bxd4

22. bxa5               Bxf2ch

23. Kf1                  Qd4

24. Qxc6?             ....

This move loses outright. Correct is 24. Qc3 Qxc3 25. Bxc3 Bxe1 26. Rxe1, and White has full compensation, because of his two connected passed Pawns.

24....                      Bxe1

25. Bxe1               Qxb2

26. Bf3                  0-1

The rest of the story (though White is no longer interested) would be 26....Qxa1 27. Qc3 Qxe1ch 28. Qxe1 Rxe1ch 29. Kxe1 Rxa5.

Solution to last week’s puzzle.

White to play and draw.

White=Kd3, Qf1, Rg3, Pc2, Pe4,

Black=Kh7, Qa6, Pa4, Pb4, Pd4, Pe5, Pe7Ph6

1. c4!                     bxc3ch

If 1.... dxc3ch 2. Ke3 Qxf1

3. Rg7ch Kxg7 stalemate.

2. Kc2                    Qxf1

3. Rg7ch               Kxg7

Or 3....Kh8 4. Rg8ch.


* * *

White to move and win.

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