Grand Tour finals on
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - August 9, 2020 - 12:00am

The top four superstars in men’s chess go into battle as the $300,000 Online Grand Tour finals begins today.

Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Ding Liren (China), Hikakru Nakamura (USA) and Daniil Dubov (Russia) will be featured in the showpiece online event, which hopefully will provide another 12 days of thrilling action for chess fans around the world.

Carlsen, the reigning world champion, is pitted against world No. 3 Ding in a best-of-five semifinal match-up while blitz champion  Nakamura faces off with second leg winner Dubov in the other semifinal encounter.

Time control will be 15 minutes plus 10 seconds per move increment.

All matches can be followed live with commentaries at chess24.com and various chess websites starting at 1400 UTC.

* * *

Carlsen played model chess at Legends of Chess. The world champion distinguished himself by essaying unorthodox opening lines and going his own way. At any rate, faced later with a dangerous attack in this game, he radically clears the situation to emerge with a decisive advantage.

2020 Legends of Chess Final

W) M. Carlsen (Norway)

B)  I. Nepomniachtchi (Russia)

London System

1. d4      Nf6

2. Nf3    g6

3. Bf4     ....

The London System, a tranquil opening which  has become popular among leading GMs in recent years.

3....                        Bg7

4. e3                      O-O

5. Be2                    d6

Black avoids  the standard continuation 5....c5.

6. O-O                   Nh5

Carlsen vs.Harikrishna, chessable masters online 2020, went 6....Nfd7!? 7. c4 e5 8. Bg3 Nc6 9. Nc3 exd4 10. exd4 Nf6 11. h3 Bf5 12. d5 Ne7, and the game is about even, (1/2=67).

7. Bg5                    h6

8. Bh4                    g5

9. Nfd2                 Nf6

10. Bg3                  Nc6

10....c5 seems preferable to fight for initiative.

11. Nc3                 ....

The engine suggests 11. c4 with a slight edge for White after 11....e5 12. d5 Ne7 13. Nc3 Nf5, etc.

11....                      e5

12. dxe5               Nxe5

13. f4                     Neg4

14. Rf3                  Re8

15. Nf1                  Nh5?!

Black’s last provokes a crisis. 15....Nh7 is more proper and solid, according to the engine, e.g., 16. e4 Bd7 17. h3 Ngf6 18. Re3 Nc6, with a balanced middle game.

16. Be1                 f5?

Definitely the losing move. Correct is 16....gxf4, with abundance of possibilities arising from  17. exd4 Qe7 18. h3 Bxc3 19. Bxc3 Qxe2 20. Qd4 Ngf6 21. Ng3 c6 22. Qxf6 Nxf6 23. Nxe2 Rxe2 24. Bxf6 Bf5, etc..

17. Bc4ch             Be6

17....Kf8 should have been tried, though Black’s game is in a miserable state, anyhow.

18. Bxe6ch          Rxe6

19. h3                    Ngf6

20. fxg5                hxg5

21. Rxf5                ....

Here Black loses a Pawn, without compensation.

21....                      Bh6

22. g4                    Ng7

23. Rf3                  Qd7

23....Qe7 is a better attempt to hold out, but White has a superior game. .

24. Ng3                 Rae8

25. Bf2                  Qc6

26. e4!                  Nd7

The recommended 26....Rf8 is met by 27. Bd4 Rf7 28. Qd3 and Black soon will run out of reasonable moves.

27. Nd5                 1-0

There’s no adequate defense against the threat of 28. Rc3, which nets at least another Pawn.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to move and win.

White=Kh2, Qe4, Rd3, Rg2, Bf2, Pa5, Pb4, Pe5, Ph4

Black=Kh7, Qe2, Rc7, Rd2, Nf5, Pa6, Pb7, Pe6, Pf7

1. Rd8ch!             Kh8

If 1....Rxd8 2. Qxe2.

2. Rg7ch!              Kxg7

2....Kh6 3. Qf4ch leads to the same result.

3. Qg2ch               1-0

If  3...Kh7 (3....Kh6 4. Rh8 mate).4. Qg8ch Kh6 5. Qh8ch Kg6 6. Qf6ch Kh7/Kh5 7. Rh8/Qg5 mate.

* * *

MAGNUS CARLSEN
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