Wesley towers in Paris

LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro - The Philippine Star

The Grand Chess Tour second leg (Rapid and Blitz) was held June 18-22 in Paris, France.

Twelve super Grandmasters (including a former world champion and the WCC official challenger) were on hand in the elegant city of lights, arts and fashion.

When the smoke cleared, American champion Wesley So added another porcupine quill to his fearsome reputation, dominating both rapid (25+10) and blitz (5+2) events. He clinched first with still a round to spare.

The Philippine-born So, 27, posted a combined 18.5 total ( 6/9 rapid and 12.5/18 blitz), leaving behind the elite field by 2.5 points. He lost only once (to Levon Aronian) in the 27-round competition.

World challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia came in second with 16 while 18-year-old Iranian exile Alireza Firouzja was third at 15.5.

The tourney featured the participation of former world champion Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), who competed in the blitz event.

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The Prague (Czech Republic) International Chess Festival was another strong classical tournament in the year’s second quarter.

GM Sam Shankland, one of the stalwarts of American chess, topped the single-round robin category 18 chessfest with an impressive 5.5/7.0 undefeated record.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Poland’s top chess talent, took second being half-a-point back while compatriot Radoslaw Wojtaszek finished third with 4.0.

Rounding out the top eight were Thai Dai Van Nguyen (CZE) and Nijat Abasov (AZE), 3.5 each, and Nils Grandelius (SWE) and Jorden Van Foreest (NED), 2.5 apiece. Local bet David Navara was a disappointment, landing last with 1.5.

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Wesley’s sixth win in Paris is a brilliancy over the current world No. 1 junior. He caps his performance with a beautiful queen sacrifice on the 29th move.

2021 Grand Chess Tour

Paris Rapid & Blitz Rd. 16

W) A. Firouzja (FIDE)

B)  W. So (USA)

Trompowsky Opening

1. d4            Nf6;  2. Bg5          ....

This is the Trompowsky Opening, an old system introduced into practice in the late 30s by Brazilian champion Octavio Trampowsky (1897-1984). It is long considered as comfortable for White.  But times change, and so do opinions. Today, in this period of computer supremacy, the line is supposed to offer white only moderate chances, if any.

3....              d5

The system of development (holding the center), chosen by black is one of the best and leads to equality. Also deserving consideration are the active 3....c5 and the sharp 3...Ne4.

3. e3            c5;     4. Bxf6          gxf6;              5. dxc5          Nc6;               6. Bb5          e6;   7. c4            dxc4; 8. Nd2          Bxc5;                9. Ngf3          c3;  10. bxc3        O-O;              11. O-O          f5; 12. Nd4          Bd7;              13. Rb1          Rc8;               14. Qh5          Qf6;     15. Rfd1        Qg6;              16. Qe2          .....

16. Qxg6 hxg6 leads to a balanced ending.

16....              Rfd8;             17. N2f3        Qf6;               18. e4            Bb6;               19. exf5          ....

The alternative 19. e5 deserves attention.

19....              Nxd4;            20. cxd4        Qxf5;             21. Bd3          Qf6;               22. Qe4          h6; 23. Qg4ch      Qg7;             24. Qh4          Ba4;     25. Re1?!        ....

This premature action that creates complications favors black.  A safer alternative is 25. Rd2 and after 25...Rd5 26. h3 Rc3 27. Be4 Bd8 28. Qf4 Bc7 29. Qh4 Bd8, the game is equal.

25....            Bxd4;               26. Re4          Bf6;               27. Qh3          Rxd3;           28. Rg4?        ....

A fatalistic reply that loses right off.  After 28. Rxa4  Rdc3 29. Rf1 Rc1, black has the upperhand.

28....              Bg5;               29. Rxa4        ....

White has pinned his hopes on this move, overlooking black’s next reply.

29....              Qb2!!

Like a bolt from the blue is the least we can say of this move. Now black forces a win in sparkling fashion.

30. Rf1          ....

Or 30. Re1 Rc1 31. Re4 Qb1 32. Rxc1 Qxc1ch 33. Re1 Rd1 and black wins a piece.

30....              Rc1;                31. g4            ....

If 31....Re4 Rxf1ch 32. Kxf1 Rd1ch 33. Re1 (33. Ne1 Qb5ch and Black wins) Qb5ch 34. Kg1 Qe2, black is winning

31....              Rxf1ch;         32. Kxf1        Qb5;              0-1

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to play and win.

White=Kf4, Bg2, Pd5, Pe6

Black=Kd6, Bg6

1. Kg5           Be8;                2. Kf6            Bh5;                3. Be4           Be8;                5. Bf3            1-0

If 5....Ba4 6. Kf7 or 5....Kc7 6. Ke7 and wins.

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