Nakamura shows way
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - August 16, 2020 - 12:00am

American Hikaru Nakamura got off to a successful start, defeating Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, 2.5-1.5, to take a one-set lead at the $300,000 online Grand Tour FinalsNakamura, 33, exploited Carlsen’s dubious exchange sacrifice in game two to win in 56 moves of a Queen’s Gambit opening and set the tone in the best of seven finals. The other three games ended in pulsating draws.

Second set is underway at press time, and can be watched live at and various chess websites.

* * *

Meanwhile, the 163-team FIDE Online Chess Olympiad division two came off the wraps and was in full swing as we go to press.

Each match is played over six boards (two male, two female and two under-20) with time control of 15 minutes plus five seconds increment.

The top three teams in the 10-team, five-group, all-play-all match play will advance to the championship pool along with the top five seeds – Russia, China, USA, Armenia and Ukraine.

Standings after three rounds read Pool A:  Germany, Bulgaria, 6.0 match points; Australia, Indonesia and Philippines, 4.0. Pool B: Slovakia, 6.0, Romania, Greece and Latvia, 5.0. Pool C: Spain and Italy, 5.0, Albania, Netherlands, North Macedonia and Switzerland, 4.0. Pool D: Turkey, Serbia and Norway, 6.0. Pool E: Hungary, Ecuador and England, 6.0.

All matches can be followed live at and other websites.

2020 Chess Tour Finals Game 02

W) M. Carlsen (Norway)

B) H. Nakamura (USA)

Queen’s Gambit Declined

1. d4       Nf6; 2. c4       e6; 3. Nf3      d5; 4. Nc3      ....

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

4....       dxc4!?

This is a rarely played line, sharp and risky, but not necessarily bad. 4....Be7 is the normal move..

5. e4       b5; 6. e5       Nd5; 7. Nxb5     Nb6; 8. a3       Nc6; 9. Be3      Na5; 10. Qc2     a6

11. Nc3     Be7; 12. Rd1     Bb7; 13. Be2     Qd7; 14. h4      Bc6; 15. Rh3     Rb8; 16. Rg3     Ba4; 17. Nxa4    Qxa4; 18. Rc1     Nb3; 19. Rxg7!?    ....

White’s last is a premature action, as will be seen in the game. The safety-minded would prefer 19. Rd1.

19....       Nxc1; 20. Qxc1    c3!

This timely Pawn advance nets Black the positional advantage, as it compels exchanges and reduced the sting of White’s pressure. on the dark squares.

21. Qxc3    ....

21. bxc3 is met by 21....Bxa3 22. Qb1 Nd7 23. Qd1 Qxd1ch 24. Bxd1 Bf8, and Black has the upperhand.

21....      Nd5; 22. Qc1    Nxe3

After this piece trade, Black’s dark-square weaknesses wanes.

23. fxe3    Kf8; 24. Rg4    Qb3; 25. Qxc7   Qxb2; 26. Kf2     Qb7; 27. Qa5    Rg8; 28. Rf4     Qc6

29. Qd2    h6; 30. Qd3    Rg7; 31. Qxa6   Qxa6; 32. Bxa6   Rb2ch; 33. Be2    Bxa3

Now the ensuing endgame is very favorable for Black.

34. g4     Be7; 35. Re4    Rg8; 36. Rf4     Kg7; 37. g5     hxg5; 38. Nxg5   Bxg5; 39. hxg5?  ....

The losing move.Correct is 39. Rg4, with chances to hold after 39....Kh6 40. Kf3 Kh5 41. Rxg5ch Rxg5 42. hxg5 Kxg5 43. Bd3, etc The text allows Black’s Rooks to menace the White King..

39....      Rh8!

A scintillating move, which intensify the pressure on White’s pieces which are now pinned.

40. Kf3    Rh3ch; 41. Kg4    Rxe3; 42. Bf3    Rd2!

Black picks up the d Pawn as White can only watch. The rest is a routine win for the American blitz champion.

43. Kh4    Red3; 44. d5     exd5; 45. Rf6    Re3; 46. Rf5    Rd4ch; 47. Kh5    Rb4; 48. e6     fxe6; 49. Rf6    Re5; 50. Rg6ch  Kf7; 51. Rf6ch   Ke7; 52. Kh6    Rb8; 53. Rf4    Rf8; 54. Rxf8   Kxf8; 55. g6     Kg8; 56. g7     Re1; 0-1

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to move and draw.

White=Ka3, Qd3, Pa4, Ph4

Black=Kh7, Qg6, Pa7, Pa5, Pg7, Ph5

1. Qc2!      a6

1....Qxc2 is stalemate.

2. Qb1!      Kh6

Again 2....Qxb1 leads to stalemate.

3. Qc1ch    Kh7; 4. Qc2      draw.

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