Magnus takes charge
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2020 - 12:00am

Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen scored an impressive six wins and one draw to move into the lead following the ninth-round blitz play at the $250,000 St. Louis Online Rapid and Blitz Invitational.

Carlsen was 6.5 points for the day and 18.5 combined rapid and blitz overall, half-a-point better than American Wesley So and 3.5 points ahead of Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi.

So (18.0) started the day with a one-point lead after topping the all-play-all rapid event undefeated but fell back with 5.0 points in the 10-player double round robin blitz.

Time control is 25 minutes plus five seconds increment in rapid and five minutes plus two seconds increment in the blitz. In rapid games, a win is worth two points and a draw one point.

The blitz final nine rounds are being played as we go to press, and can be viewed live with commentaries at the various chess websites.

* * *

Meanwhile, the 960 Online Champions Showdown, organized and sponsored by the St. Louis (USA) Chess Club, ended in dramatic fashion. US blitz champion Hikaru Nakamura had to be around to assure a creditable American showing. Eventually, Nakamura and Norwegian world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen tied for first and second with 6.0 apiece out of a possible 9.0.

Levon Aronian (Armenia) and Fabiano Caruana (USA) wound up third and fourth at 5.5 each while Wesley So was fifth with 5.0.

Other scores read Lenier Dominguez-Perez (USA) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), 4.0, Garry Kasparov (Croatia), 3.5, Peter Svidler (Russia), 3.0, and Alireza Firouzja (Fide), 2.5.

* * *

A poisoned pawn is an unprotected pawn in the opening that if captured, can result in positional disadvantage or material loss as in the following game where it claims victim even the Russian top gun, confronting him with problems which he fails to solve.

2020 Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz Round 05

W) I. Nepomniachtchi (Russia)

B) J. Xiong (USA)

Alekhine’s Defense

1. e4       Nf6; 2. e5       Nd5; 3. d4       d6; 4. Nf3      dxe5

White obtains a slight edge after 4....g6 5. Bc4 Nb6 6. Bb3 Bg7 7. Ng5 d5 8. 0-0 Nc6 9. c3 0-0 10. f4 f6 11. Nf3 Bf5 12. Nbd2.

5. Nxe5     g6; 6. Qf3      Be6; 7. Bc4      Bg7; 8. Qb3?!     ....

A time wasting move of little significance, and as the early chess writers wrote, “All of us like to go on pawn-hunting on occasion, but it could turn out to be a dangerous game,” More to the point is 8..0-0

8.         Bxe5; 9. dxe5     ....

9. Qxb7 Bxd4 leads to interesting complications with unclear.consequences.

9....        Nc6!

The refutation of White’s 8th move, as the b7 Pawn is poisoned.

10. Qxb7?    ....

Definitely the losing move. As the early chess writers used to say, “Sometimes the bait is too appetizing to resist, and in particular, the capture of the b Pawn with your Queen, often brings its own revenge.”

10....       Ndb4!

Black’s last is a crusher. Now the web was woven, putting the Queen on the wanted list.

11. Bb5      ....

Nothing can be done to prevent the coming threat 11....Rb8, trapping the Queen. 11. Bxe6 fxe6 leads to the same embarrassing results.

11.....       Nxc2ch; 12. Ke2      ....; 12. Kf1? Qd1 mate.; 12.....       O-O; 13. Bxc6     ....

Or 13. Rd1 N6d4ch 14. Kf1 Bd5 15. Qa6 Nxb5 16. Qxb5 Bc4ch is curtains.

13.... .       Rb8; 14. Qxa7     Nd4ch; 15. Ke1      Nc2ch; 16. Ke2      Rb6

16....Bc4ch! is most accurate, according to the engine. The rest is an easy win for the American youngster.

17. Na3      Nd4; 18. Ke1      Nxc6; 19. Qa4     Nxc6; 20. Qa4     Nxe5; 21. Bh6     Qd5; 22. f3       Rxb2; 0-1

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to move and win.

White=Kf6, Nf8, Pe6

Black=Kc8, Rd4

1. e7      Rd6ch

If 1....Re4 2. Ne6 Kd7 3. Nc5ch.

2. Kg7!    ....

Not 2. Kf7 Rd8! 3. Ne6 Rd7 and draw.

2....       Rd8

3. Kf7     Kc7

4. Ne6ch and win.

*   *   *

Black to move and win.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with