Carlsen holds ground
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - August 2, 2020 - 12:00am

Top-seeded Magnus Carlsen of Norway defeated Russian Peter Svidler, 2.5-0.5, to open up a one-set lead at the start of the Legends of Chess online grand tour semifinals.

Carlsen, who won the first and third editions of the $1 million online grand tour, is looking to win his fifth overall online chess title.

Ian Nepomniachtchi won the other semifinal encounter, beating Dutchman Anish Giri, 2.5-0.5, and if successful, a potential final match showdown with Carlsen looms.

The Russian No. 1 is also in the hunt to lock down one of the two remaining grand final spots.

The 10-player $150,000 Legends of Chess online competition is the final leg in the selection process leading to the tour’s grand finals which begins on Aug. 9.

The second set is ongoing as we go to press, and can be viewed live at chess24.com and other chess websites.

* * *

As the early chess authors used to say, center Pawns may become too vulnerable if they advance too far from base as this game shows. A flashing performance by the world champion. 2020 Legends of Chess Semifinal

W) P. Svidler (Russia)

B) M. Carlsen (Norway)

Queen’s Indian Defense

1. c4       Nf6

2. Nf3    e6

3. e3                      b6

4. b3                      Bb7

5. Bb2                    Be7

6. d4                      O-O

7. Bd3                    c5

By transposition of moves, the opening has reached an unexplored version of the Queen’s Indian Defense. The ensuing middle game is rich in possibilities.

8. O-O                   cxd4

9. exd4                 d5

10. Nc3                 Nc6

11. Qe2                 Re8

12. Rad1               Rc8

13. Rfe1                g6

According to the engine, better chance of active counter play for Black follows after 13....Nb4 14. Bb1 dxc4 15. bxc4 Bxf3, etc..

14. Bb1                 Bf8

15. Ne5                 Bg7

16. f4                     dxc4

17. bxc4                Na5

18. d5                    ....

Seems risky, as it activates Black’s major pieces. A safer alternative, as suggested by the engine, is 18. a4 18....Bf8 19. Ba2 Bb4 20. Rf1 Qe7, with equal chances.

18....                      exd5

19. Nxd5              Bxd5

20. cxd5                Nc4

21. d6                    Nd7

22. Bd3      ....

Here, White has trouble in defending his center Pawns. Apparently, he intends to seek counter play with Bb5, but the plan doesn’t work, while after 22. Ba1 Ncxe5 23. fxe5 Nxe5, Black picks up a Pawn.

22....                      Nxb2

23. Qxb2              Rc5

Now one of White’s center Pawns must fall. The immediate 23....Nxe5 wins material after 24. fxe5 Rxe5 25. Rxe5 Qxd6 26. Be2 Qxe5.

24. Bb5?               ....

White is playing for a tactical aim which fails. Best, under the circumstances, is 24. Bf1, e.g.,  24....Nxe5 25. fxe5 Bxe5 26. d7 Re7 27. Qd2 and White holds for the time being.

24....                       Nxe5

25. fxe5                ....

Obviously, 25. Bxe8? loses to 25....Nf3ch.

25....                      Rexe5

26. Rxe5               Bxe5

27. Qb3                  ....

27. Qe2 may prolong the game, though Black should win with 27....Bxd6.

27....                      Bxd6

0-1

After 28. Rf1 Qc7 29. Be8 Bxh2ch 30 Kh1 Rf5, Black’s material advantage prevails..

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to move and win.

White=Kd2, Rc1, Ph3

Black=Kb3, Pa2, Pg6, Ph5

1. h4!                     Kb2

2. Ra1!                  Kxa1

If 2....Kb3 3. Ke3 Kb2 4. Rxa2ch Kxa2 5. Kf4 Kb3 6. Kg5 Kc4 7. Kxg6 Kd5 8. Kxh5 Ke6 9. Kg6 Ke7 10. Kg7 and win.

2. Kc2    1-0

If 2....g5 3. hxg5 h4 4. g6 h3 5. g7 h2

6. g8Q h1Q 7. Qg7 mate.

* * *

White to move and win.

MAGNUS CARLSEN
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