Grandelius marches on

LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2021 - 12:00am

Sweden’s Nil Grandelius drew with American Fabiano Caruana, and finished with four points to remain a half-point ahead after the sixth round of the Tata Steel Masters Festival at Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands.

Grandelius, 27, who is ranked 77th in the world, posted an impressive record of three wins, two draws, one loss, and moved into position for his first major title.

Caruana, the defending champion, was in a group of six players in a tie for second after scoring 3.5 points in the 14-player single round-robin chessfest.

Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen,  Alireza Firouzja (FIDE) and  Pentala Harikrishna (India) were tied with Caruana, along with the Dutch tandem of Anish Giri and Jorden van Foreest.

Other GMs in the table were Andrey Esipenko (Russia) and Radoslav Wojtaszek (Poland) at 3.0 apiece;  Maxime Vacier-Lagrave (France), Jan Kryzstof Duda (Poland)  and Aryan Tari (Norway), 2.5; David Anton (Spain) 2.0;  Alexander Denchenko (Germany) 1.5.

The annual classical event can be followed live with commentaries at  various chess websites

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In this game, Black’s predilection for risky opening play was not enough for White’s excellent strategy.

Tata Steel Masters 2021

W) N. Grandelius (SWE)

B) M. Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)

Sicilian Defense

1. e4       c5; 2. Nf3       d6; 3. d4       cxd4; 4. Nxd4      Nf6; 5. Nc3      a6;           6. Bg5      e6;        7. f4        Qb6

Black employs the razor-sharp Poisoned Pawn Variation,  a well-analyzed line popularized by the 11th world champion,  Robert J. Fischer.

8. Qd2       Qxb2; 9. Rb1       Qa3; 10. f5        Be7

Not without a point, but the text is an unproven commodity. 10....Nc6 is usually played here, i.e., 11. fxe6 fxe6  12. Nxc6 bxc6 13. Be2 (13. e5 dxe5 14. Bxf6  gxf6 15. Ne4 Be7 16. Be2 h5 is probably unclear)  13....Be7 14. 0-0 0-0 15. Rb3 Qc5ch 16. Be3 Qe5, and the ensuing middle game leaves White with only a slight edge, if any.

11. fxe6      Bxe6

11....fxe6 12. Bc4 is favorable for White.

12. Nxe6     fxe6; 13. Bc4      Nbd7; 14. Bxe6     Nc5; 15. Bb3      Rc8; 16. O-O      Nxb3; 17. Rxb3     Qc5ch; 18. Be3      Qc4; 19. Rf4       Qe6?

Here Black goes astray, giving White a big advantage. 19....Nh5 is necessary, according to the engine.

20. Rxb7     O-O; 21. h3        Rb8; 22. Ra7       Ra8; 23. Rxa8      Rxa8; 24. Nd5       ....

Now with the initiative plus a Pawn, White has a win.

24....         Rb8

Obviously 24....Nxe4? loses to 25. Nxe7ch Qxe7 26. Qd5ch.

25. c4        Bd8; 26. Qf2       Nd7; 27. Bd4       Bg5; 28. Rf5       Bh6; 29. Kh2       Rc8

29....Rf8 should have been tried, though White retaIns maximum prospects.

30. Qg3       g6?

This move loses right off. Again 30....Rf8 is probably preferable.

31. Qh4!       ....

White’s last is a crusher, to which there is no satisfactory reply.

31....         Bf8

31....gxf5 32. gxf5 Qe8 33. Ne7ch Kf7 34. Nxc8 Qxc8 35. Qxh6 is hopeless for Black.

32. Rf6!       ....

Another hammer blow that ends the story.

32....         Qe8

After 32....Nxf6 33. Nxf6ch Kf7 34. Qxh7ch Bg7 35. Ng4 Rg8 36. Nh6ch Kf8 37. Bxg7ch Rxg7 38. Qh8ch Rg8 39. Nxg8, White wins handily. 33. Rxf8ch!     ....    Finishing off all Black’s resistance.

33....         Qxf8; 34. Ne7ch     Kf7; 35. Nxc8      1-0

The rest of the story would be 35....Qxc8 36.. Qxh7ch Ke8 37. Qxg6ch Kd8 38. Qg8ch.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to move and win.

White= Kh2, Qh8, Be4, Nh5, Pa2, Pb3, Pd6, Pf2, Pg4, Ph3

Black= Kf8, Qf7, Ng8, Bb5, Pa5, Pb4, Pe5, Pfr6, Pg6, Ph6

1. Bd5!       Qxd5; 2. Qg7ch      Ke8; 3. Nxf6ch     1-0

If 3....Nxf6 4. Qe7 mate, or 3....Kd8 4. Qc7 mate.

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