Carlsen favored in Norway

LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - February 28, 2021 - 12:00am

World champion Magnus Carlsen returns to over-the-board action when he headlines the 2021 Altibox Norway Chess Classic scheduled May 9-21 in Norway.

Carlsen leads home hopes as Norway welcomes the elite field to its southwestern city of Stavanger. The 30-year-old world No. 1 will be looking to claim his third consecutive title and fourth overall after topping the 2016 2019 and 2020 editions.

He will be joined by 2018 winner and world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana (USA), 2017 champion and world No.5 Levon Aronian, who has switched federation from Armenia to USCF very recently, and US champion Wesley So, who claimed his second Champions Chess Tour title two weeks ago.

Other big names competing are world No. 3 Ding Liren (China), No. 8 Shakriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) and Candidates co-leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France).

The Norway field will also feature under-20 world No. 1 Alireza Firouzja (FIDE) and local bet Aryan Tari, the 2017 junior world champion.

There has been some respite in major classical tournaments last year due to the pandemic. The chess world can rest assured, however, that the chess calendar is sure to perk up towards summer, and once again, the lavish profusion of chess events will be displayed.

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Connoisseurs of chess strategy will relish the following game. With equal fervor and doggedness, both players once again proved that chess is 99 percent tactics.

Champions Chess Tour

2021 Opera Euro Rapid (Prelims)

W) J. K. Duda (Poland)

B)  A. Grischuk (Russia)

English Opening

1. Nf3 Nf6, 2. c4 g6, 3. g3 Bg7, 4. Bg2 O-O, 5. d4 d6, 6. O-O           Ne4!?

An interesting idea, with the intention of transposing into a Dutch Leningrad set up. 6....c6 is the normal continuation.

7. b3 a5, 8. Qc2 f5

Now the opening has become an old-fashioned Dutch Leningrad Defense.

9. Bb2 Nc6, 10. Nbd2 Nxd2, 11. Qxd2 e5 12. d5 Nb4

Black offers a Pawn in return for complications, though the safety minded would prefer 12....Nb8 and after 13. Ne1 Nd7 14. f3 a4 15. Nd3 Nf6 16. Nf2 Bd7, the game is near equality.

13. a3 Na6, 14. Qxa5 Bd7?!

A move of no significance as it allows White to retain his Pawn advantage without labor. 14....e4 is considered best by the engine with these possibilities: 15. Nd4 c5! 16. Qxd8 Rxd8 17. Ne6 Bxb2 18. Nxd8 Bxa1 19. Rxa1 Kf8 20. Ne6ch Bxe6 21. dxe6 Ke7 22. Rd1 Nc7 23. a4 Nxe6 and Black obtains equality.

15. Qc3 Nc5, 16. Nd2 Qe7, 17. a4 Rf7, 18. Qc2 f4, 19. Ne4 Bf5, 20. b4 Nd7

Another move of little significance. Stronger is the engine’s 20....Nxe4 21. Bxe4 Qg5 22. Bxf5 Rxf5 23. a5 Raf8, with chances for counterplay on the King’s wing.

21. a5 Kh8, 22. Qb3 g5, 23. c5 dxc5?

This loses right off. 24....Rb8 is a better try to stay in the game.

24. d6!             ....

As the early chess writers used to say, combinations where even a meek little Pawn plays an important role in the attack are particularly attractive.

24.... cxd6, 25. Nxd6 Qxd6

Black has nothing better. 25....Rf6 is met by 26. Nxf5 Rxf5 27. Bxb7 Rd8 28. Be4 Rff8 29. b5, and White’s two connected passed pawns decide the issue.

26. Qxf7 Be6, 27. Rad1! ....

This is the end, Queen on the seventh, plus Rook on the open file are irresistible.

27....               Qa6

After 27....Qxd1 28. Rxd1 Bxf7 29. Bxb7 Rd8 30. bxc5 Bf8 31. c6 Nc5 32. Rxd8ch Bxd8 33. a6 Nxa6 34. Bxe5ch Kg8 35. Bxa6 and White wins easily.

28. b5             1-0

28....Qxb5 is refuted by 29. Qxe6 Nf8 30. Qb6.

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Solution to last week”s puzzle:

Black to move and win.

White=Ke3, Rg8, Bc7,

Black=Kf5, Bb4, Be4, Pd3, Ph3

1.....            d2!

2. Rd8          ....

If 2. Rg1 Bc5ch and wins.

2....               Bd6!


If 3. Bxd6 d1Q, or 3. Rxd6 h2

4. Rh6 d1Q.

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