Candidates Tournament set
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - October 4, 2020 - 12:00am

The 14-round Candidates Tournament, postponed halfway last March due to the pandemic, will resume play in its original venue of Yekaterinburg (Russia) on Nov. 1

The FIDE also designated Tbilisi (Georgia) as the alternate venue in case another surge of virus affects Yekaterinburg.

After seven rounds, Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and local bet Ian Nepomniachtchi shared the the lead with 4.5 points apiece.

The rest of the standings read: Fabiano Caruana (USA), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Wang Hao (China), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), 3.5, Ding Liren (China) and Kiril Alekseenko (Russia), 2.5.

The FIDE Candidates Tournament is being held to choose Carlsen’s challenger in next year’s World Championship match slated in Dubai, UAE.

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Meanwhile, everything is all set for the 8th Altibox Norway Classic which begins Monday in the city of Stavanger. Magnus Carlsen (NOR), Fabiano Caruana (USA), Levon Aronian (ARM) Jan-Krzystof Duda (POL), Alireza Firouzja (FIDE) and Aryan Tari (NOR) will be featured in the over-the-board double round robin event.

The category 21 tournament is expected to provide 11 days of terrific action for chess fans around the world.

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

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In the following game, Black walks into a debatable variation of the Spanish Opening, from there into a dangerous Kingside attack, and from there again into disaster. White’s winning play, starting with a little finesse, is a pleasant one to follow.

Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz 2020

Rapid Round 04

(W) W. So (USA)

(B) L. Dominguez-Perez (USA)

Ruy Lopez

1. e4      e5

2. Nf3    Nc6

3. Bb5    a6

4. Ba4    Nf6

5. O-O   Nxe4

This is known as the open variation, strongly recommended in the 70s, but only Viktor Korchnoi has succeeded in making it popular.

6. d4                      b5

7. Bb3                    d5

8. dxe5                 Be6

9. Nbd2                ....

In the game Xiong vs Dominguez-Perez, Rd. 02, play went 9. c3 Bc5 10. Qd3 0-0 11. Be3 f6 12. Nbd2 Nxd2 13. Qxd2 Bxe3 14. Qxe3 fxe5 15. Nxe5 Nxe5 16. Qxe5 Bf7, with equal chances. (1/2:1/2=27).

9....                        Nc5

10. c3                     d4

After 10....Be7 11. Bc2 Bg4 12. Re1 Bh5 13. Nf1 0-0 14. Ng3 Bg6 15. Be3 Qd7 16. h4, the game hangs in the balance.

11. Bxe6               Nxe6

12. cxd4                Ncxd4

13. a4                    ....

If instead 13. Ne4 Be7 14. Be3 Nf5, White has a slight edge, e.g., 15. Qc2 0-0 16. Rad1 Nxe3 17. fxe3 Qc8 18. Rd3 c5 19. Nd6.

13....                      Bb4

Not a pointless move, but the normal 13....Be7 seems preferable.

14. Ne4                 O-O

15. Be3                 Nf5

16. Qc2!                ....

A clever move which threatens 17. Nf6ch!.

16....                      Nxe3

17. fxe3                Qe7

18. Nd4                 ....

18. Ng3 is a possibility deserving attention.

18....                      Nxd4

19. exd4               Rad8

20. Rad1               c5

21. axb5               axb5

22. Qd3!               ....

This sharp intermezzo threatens to win right off with 23. Nf6ch! gxf6 24. Qg3ch Kh8 25. exf6.

22.... .                    cxd4

23. Rf5                  g6

24. Rdf1!              ....

White chooses the most energetic continuation which seeks to enlarge a bridgehead for his Kingside operations. The alternative 24. Nf6ch Kg7 25. Qh3 Rh8 also favors White.

24....                      Kg7?

A fatalistic reply, and as the early chess writers wrote, “In a difficult situation, a slip comes easily.” Correct is 24....h6 (24. gxf5? 25. Nf6ch!) 25. Nf6ch Kg7 26. Qg3 Bd2, and Black may be able to hold.

25. Ng5!               ....

Very well played. Now Black loses material by forced.

25....                      Kg8

After 25. Kh8 26. Qh3 h5 27. Nxf7ch, White wins the exchange.

26. Qh3                 h5

27. Qg3                 d3

27....Bd2 is met by 28. Nxf7!

28. Nxf7               Bc5ch

29. Kh1                 Rxf7

30. Rxf7                Qxf7

31. Rxf7                Kxf7

32. Qf3ch             Kg8?

The decisive mistake. 32....Ke7 is the best chance, according to the engine, e.g., 33. Qf6ch Kd7 34. e6ch Kkc7 35. Qf7ch Kc6 36. e7 Bxe7 37. Qxe7 Rd6, when Black probably retains drawing chances.

33. e6!                  Kh7

33....d2 loses to 34. Qf7ch Kh8 35. Qf6ch.

34. Qf7ch             Kh6

35. Qf4ch             Kg7

36. Qc7ch             1-0

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to move and win.

White=Kg1, Qg6, Rd1, Re1, Pb4, Pc3,Pd7, Pf2, Ph5

Black=Kf8, Qf5, Rd8, Rf7, Pb5, Pf3, Pg7, Ph6

1. Re8ch!             Rxe8

2. d8Q! 1-0

If 2....Rxd8 (or 2....Qxg6ch 3. hxg6 Rxd8 4. Rxd8ch Ke7 5. gxf7 and wins) 3. Rxd8ch Ke7 4. Qd6 mate.

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