Champions Showdown set
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - September 6, 2020 - 12:00am

The world’s elite players will see action next week as the $150,000 Online Chess 960 Champions Showdown gets underway on Sept. 11.

World champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway) and former world champion Garry Kasparov (Croatia)  headline the 10-player field that included Americans Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura and Lenier Dominguez.

Other big names entered are Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Peter Svidler (Russia) and 17-year-old Iranian exile Alireza  Firouza.

Chess 960 aka Fischer random chess is a variation of the sport where the engine randomly picks the chess pieces starting positions before the game.

Games can be followed live with commentaries at various chess websites.

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Meanwhile, Russia and India were declared co-champions in the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad that concluded last week.

The FIDE appeals committee supported India’s second set protest (first set was drawn) after major internet disconnection resulted in time forfeitures of two Indian players with both games still hanging in the balance.

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It is a Russian patent to sacrifice the Exchange (exchange Rook for Knight or Bishop) to obtain positional advantage or simply to get out of difficulties. GM So borrows a page from Botvinnik’s Russian School of Chess in the captivating game below. At the end, So had a strong passed pawn, plus an active Knight against his adversary’s passive and uncoordinated Rooks.

2020 FIDE online Chess Olympiad

W) W. So (USA)

B)  A. Grischuk (Russia)

Giuoco Piano

1. e4             e5; 2. Nf3            Nc6; 3. Bc4           ....

White’s last constitutes the Giuoco or Italian opening. Its goal is to attack  Black’s weakest square f7,  early in the opening.

3....              Bc5; 4. c3             Nf6; 5. d3             d6; 6. O-O          O-O; 7. Re1           a5; 8. h3             Ba7; 9. Bb3           h6; 10. Nbd2       Be6; 11. Bc2         Re8; 12. Nf1          d5; 13. exd5        Bxd5; 14. Ng3         Qd6; 15. Nf5          Qd7; 16. N3h4       Ne7; 17. Rxe5       Nxf5; 18. Rxf5        Qe6; 19. d4!?         ....

An interesting idea. White allows Black to control the open e file, in return for bewildering complications. The engine prefers 19. Bf4, e.g., 19....g6 20. Re5 Qb6 21. Qd2 g5 22. Be3 Qxb2 23. Rb1 Bxe3 24. Rxe3 Qa3 25. Rxe8ch Rxe8 26. Nf5 Qf8, with a slight edge for White.

19....            Qe1ch; 20. Kh2         c5; 21. Bxh6       Bb8; 22. Bf4          Qxd1; 23. Rxd1        Be6

Black based his entire strategy on this move which wins the Exchange, but with two Pawns plus a sound  position, White has sufficient compensation.

24. Rxf6         gxf6; 25. Bxb8        Raxb8; 26. d5!            Bd7; 27. Rd2          b5?!

Not a good choice. 27....Re5 is Black’s best chance for active play and prevent White’s next move as well,  but he has voluntarily denied this chance to himself.

28. Bf5!           ....

The refutation of Black’s error. Now the Knight will be posted on f5, saddle  Black’s Rooks and rule the waves.

28....             Rbd8; 29. Bxd7        Rxd7; 30. Nf5           Kh7; 31. g4            Re4; 32. Kg3          b4; 33. d6            bxc3; 34. bxc3         Rc4; 35. Rd3          Ra4

35....Re4 seems forced to prolong the game.

36. Re3!           ....

Here comes a painful invasion to which there’s no good answer. Resignation is honorable at this point as White wins more material. The rest needs no further comment.

36....               Rd8; 37. Re7           Rc4; 38. Rxf7ch       Kg8; 39. Rxf6           Rxc3; 40. Kh4            c4; 41. g5              Rd3; 42. g6              Rf8; 43. Kg5            c3; 44. Ne7ch        Kg7; 45. Nf5ch         Kg8; 46. Rxf8ch       Kxf8; 47. Kf6            Rxd6; 48. Nxd6          c2; 49. g7ch          Kg8; 50. Nf5            c1=Q; 51. Ne7ch       1-0

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

Black to play and draw.

White=Kf5, Pa4, Pc4,Pf6

Black=Kf7, Pa5, Pb7, Pc5, Pd6.

1.....           b6!

If 1....Kf8 2. Ke6 Ke8 3. f7ch Kf8 4. Kf6 b5 5. axb5 a4 6. b6 a3 7. b7 a2 8. b8Q mate.

2. Kg5        d5; 3. cxd5      c4; 4. d6        c3; 5. d7         c2; 6. d8Q       c1Qch and Black draws.

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White to move and win.

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