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Carlsen outwits Nakamura

LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - May 9, 2021 - 12:00am

As the whole chess world know by now, world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen has won convincingly in the 2021 Online New In Chess Classic, outplaying Hikaru Nakamura, 5-3, in the finals.

The top seeded Norwegian, 30, lived up to  his billing, winning the first set, 3-1, and  acquiescing to a 2-2 draw in the second set,  to defeat his 33-year-old American adversary.

It was Carlsen’s first Champions Chess Tour title (after four disappointing attempts), and his first as well of the 2021 chess calendar. He collected the $30,000 top prize and moved closer to locking down a grand final spot in the $1.5 million Meltwater Chess Tour scheduled in September this year.

He will return to competitive action at the $200,000 Champions Tour sixth leg, which gets underway on May 23.

In the battle for third place, Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov defeated Levon Aronian, 4.5-2.5.

*     *     *

The ongoing Russian Team Championships (open and women) in Sochi has produced a good amount of lively, exciting chess. This 16-move miniature surely will carry off the best brevity game award.

2021 Russian Team Championship

Premier League Round three

W) A. Timofeev GM

B)  A. Alexeev GM

Sicilian Defense

1. e4           c5

2. Nf3          Nc6

3. Nc3         Nf6

4. Bb5!?          ....

After 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 e5 6. Ndb5 d6, the game transposes into the Sveshnikov Variation of the Sicilian. White’s last is the comparatively unbooked variation  of the Sicilian. Usually, 4. d4 is played,  but White elects to omit 4. d4, thereby giving new twist to the opening.

4....             Nd4?!

Provoking White’s center pawn advance which is not commendable. The engine’s 4....d5 is a safer alternative.

5. e5!           ....

After the text, White enjoys a clear advantage because of Black’s undeveloped pieces.

5....             Nxb5

6. Nxb5        Nd5

7. Ng5!         ....

Early in the game, Black is caught in the toils. The immediate threat is 8. Qf3.

7....              Nc7?

As the early chess writers used to say, “In a diffcult position a slip comes easily,” And Black’s last is fatal. Correct is 7....f6, though White enjoys maximum prospects after 8. Ne4.

8. Qh5!         ....

This move is a crusher.

8....              g6

9. Qf3           f5

10. exf6        exf6?

This capture leads to a quick collapse, but Black is in a difficult situation nonetheless. For instance, 10....d6 11. f7ch Kd7 12. a4, and White has a huge advantage.

11. Nxc7ch    Qxc7

12. Qxf6        Qd6

13. Qxh8       ....

Black loses the exchange without compensation and has no good move. In fact, he could resign. The rest is a routine win for White.

13....             Qe7ch

14. Kf1          Qxg5

15. d4            Qh4

16. Qe5ch      1-0

*     *     *

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to move and win.

White=Kg1, Rd6, Rf1, Be3, Pa3, Pb2, Pc2, Pg2, Ph3

Black=Kg6, Rc8, Rf8, Bf6, Pa7, Pb6, Pc6, Pc5, Ph5

1. Bd2!           1-0

If 1....Rc7 (1....Rd8 2. Rfxf6ch Rxf6 3. Rxd8) 2. g4 hxg4 3. hxg4 Kg7 4. Rfxf6 Rxf6 5. Bc3 Rf7 6. g5 and wins.

CHESS
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