Young Indian GM shines

LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - April 11, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa of India posted an impressive 8.5/10 to take the lead midway through the $100,000 Julius Baer NextGen Online Challengers Tour.

The 15-year-old Indian GM has a half-point lead over top rated GM Nodirbek Abdussattorov, 16, of Uzbekistan and 14-year-old IM Christopher Yoo of the United States entering the final nine rounds.

They were followed by the Indian tandem of Nihal Sarin, 16, and Dommaraju Gukesh, 14, at 7.0 points apiece.

Twenty youngsters (10 under-18 male and ten under-25 female) are seeing action in the single-round robin tournament where the winner earns outright qualification to the $1.5 million Meltwater Online Champions Tour fifth leg, which begins on April 24.

Time control is 10 minutes plus five seconds increment.

Games can be followed live at various chess websites with commentaries by former world champion Vladimir Kramnik and Judit Polgar, the greatest female chess player of all time.

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In the following game, White executes a hypermodern game in grand style. American Awonder Liang is given no quarter in all phases of the game. The Indian laddie shows his class.

2021 NextGen Julius Baer Challengers

W) N. Sarin GM (India)

B)  A.  Liang GM (USA)

Queen’s Gambit Declined

1. Nf3 c6, 2. d4 Nf6, 3. c4 d5, 4. Nc3 e6

The flexible Semi-Slav Defense against the QGD can be reached by one transposition or another and applicable also in other lines.

5. Bg5           Nbd7

Black’s last is a modest, solid line which avoids the sharp variant arising from 5....dxc4 6. e4 b5 7. e5 h6, etc.

6. e3 Qa5, 7. Nd2 Be7, 8. cxd5 exd5, 9. Bd3 Nf8?!

Here Black’s ineffective maneuvering starts. The normal 9....0-0 is accurate, according to the engine.

10. O-O Ng6, 11. f4! ....

White continues sharply.  He threatens to harass the g6 Knight with 12. f5.

11....              h6?

Not a good idea as Black’s Kingside weakness now comes into view. 11....Qd8, is a better alternative, according to the engine.

12. Bxf6 Bxf6, 13. Qh5 O-O, 14. Nf3 Ne7?

And here’s the losing move as it allows White’s next reply. 14....Qb4 should have been tried with chances to hold.

15. Ne4!  Qd8, 16. Nxf6ch gxf6, 17. Qh6 Bf5, 18. Rad1 Bxd3, 19. Rxd3 Nf5, 20. Qh3 Ng7?

This loses right off 20....Qc8 was necessary to stay longer in the game, though White has a huge advantage.

21. Nh4 Qe7, 22. e4! ....

Black is only skimming the surface while White’s moves shows depth and foresight. White’s last unmasks the power of the Rook on the open g and h files.

22.... Qxe4, 23. Rg3 1-0

There’s no adequate defense against the coming threat 24. Nf5

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Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to move and win.

White=Kb3, Re3, Rf4, Nd4, Pa2, Pb4

Black=Kh3, Rc1, Rc4, Ng3, Pa7, Pf5

1. Rxg3ch! Kxg3, 2. Ne2ch K-any, 3. Rxc4 1-0

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