Asian Nations Cup winds down

LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - October 25, 2020 - 12:00am

Not unexpectedly, the 2020 Online Asian Nations Cup, held under the auspices of the FIDE, will be in its final stages even before we go to press.

Top-ranked India advanced to the semifinals by beating a stubborn team Mongolia , 2.5-1.5, 2.5-1.5.

India will next meet Kazakhstan, which had an easier time clinching semifinal by whitewashing Team Philippines, 4-0, 3-1.

In other quarterfinal matches, Iran clobbered Singapore, 4-0, 2-2, while Australia blasted Indonesia, 3-1, 3.5-0.5, paving the way for a semifinal match up.

In the women’s bracket, India, Philippines and Mongolia advanced to the semifinals, while Iran and Indonesia were battling for the last spot as we go to press.

Semifinal and final matches can be followed live at various chess websites.

* * *

Meanwhile, the $150,000 US Online National Championship, the strongest and richest online national championship anywhere, gets underway Oct. 25-29.

World No. 8 Wesley So, No. 14 Lenier Dominguez-Perez and No. 18 and defending champion Hikaru Nakamura will be featured in the 12-GM all-play-all competition.

They will be joined by American teenagers Jeffrey Xiong, 19, ranked 31st in the world, Sam Sevian, 19, and 17-year-old Awonder Liang.

Also competing are world No. 40 Sam Shankland, Ray Robson, Dariusz Swiercz, Alex Lenderman, Alejandro Ramirez and Elshan Moradiabadi.

Time control will be 25 minutes plus five seconds increment.

Games can be viewed with live analysis courtesy of the St. Louis (USA) Chess Club.

* * *

Who is Alireza Firouzja? At 17, the talented Iranian exile is ranked 22nd in the October FIDE standard world rankings, and before long he is expected to get involved in the world championship cycle. It seems Firouzja, at such a tender age has graduated from the stage of combinative tendencies to the stage of positional maturity. Witness the following game where he excels in piece play.

Altibox Norway Chess 2020 Round 10

W) A. Firouzja (FIDE)

B) J K Duda (Poland)

Reti Opening

1. Nf3       d5; 2. g3       ....

Czech master, author and composer Richard Reti (1889-1929), more than any other, is responsible for putting the Fianchetto on the book.

2....        g6; 3. Bg2      ....

This is the Reti hypermodern set up, reachable by one transposition or another. Firouzja has a predilection for this type of development.

3....       Bg7; 4. d4       Nf6; 5. O-O     O-O; 6. c4       c6; 7. b3      dxc4; 8. bxc4     c5; 9. Bb2     cxd4; 10. Nxd4    Qb6; 11. Qc1     Bd7; 12. Nd2     Nc6; 13. Nc2     Rac8; 14. Bc3     Qa6

14....Qc5 comes into consideration.

15. Qb2     Nh5

15....Na5 is probably a better alternative

16. Bxg7    Nxg7; 17. Ne3     Be6; 18. Nd5     Rfe8; 19. Rfc1    Na5; 20. e3      Nf5

20....Nh5, intending 21....Bxd5 followed by 22....Nf6 seems a good idea.

21. e4     Ng7; 22. Qa3    ....

22.c5 also favors White after 22....Nc6 23. a4 Qd3

24. Nb3 a5 25. Rd1 Qa6

26. Rac1, etc.

22....      Nc6; 23. Qxa6   bxa6; 24. f4      Kf8; 25. Kf2    Red8; 26. Rab1   Ne8; 27. Ke3    f6; 28. a3     Bf7

Or 28....Na5 29. c5! and Black’s game will be reduced to passive defense. Now White exerts pressure on the light squares.

29. Bh3!    e6

29....Ra8 should have been tried, though Black is still in difficult situation.

30. Nb4    a5; 31. Nxc6   Rxc6; 32. c5     Nc7; 33. Bf1    e5

If instead 33....Ne8 34. Nf3 Rcc8 35. Rb5 Rb8 36. Rcb1 Rxb5 37. Rxb5 a4 38. Ra5 Rc8 39. e5, Black is almost out of playable moves.

34. fxe5   fxe5; 35. Nf3    Be8; 36. Rb7   Ne6; 37. Rxa7  Nxc5

After 37....Rxc5 38. Rxc5 Nxc5 39. Nxe5 a4 40 Bc4, White’s attack is too powerful.

38. Nxe5  Rf6; 39. Ng4   1-0

Black cannot avoid losing material.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to play and win.

White=Kc8, Ra5, Pc5, Pc7

Black=Ke8, Rb2, Pa2

1. Rxa2!    Rxa2

Or 1....Rb1 2. Re2ch Kf7

3. Kd7 Rd2ch 4. Kc6 and wins.

2. Kb7     Rb2ch; 3. Kc6     1-0

* * *

White to play and win.

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