Grand Chess Tour resumes

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

The Grand Chess Tour third leg (Croatia rapid and blitz) will take place July 5-12 in Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb.

World challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia leads a packed field that includes first-leg winner Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE), world No. 7 Alexander Grischuk (RUS), No. 8 Anish Giri (NED), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA), Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL) and former world champions Viswanathan Anand (IND) and Garry Kasparov of the host country.

Also in the mix are Wijk aan Zee champion, Jorden Van Foreest (NED), Anton Korobov (UKR) and local GM Ivan Saric.

The over-the-board competition, sans world champion Magnus Carlsen, is still a very strong tournament considering the rare participation of Kasparov, former dean of Russian chessers. Called “the child of change,” Kasparov’s star was of the first magnitude in the 90s.

Format will be single-round robin rapid chess (25+10) and double-round blitz (5+2) with a whopping $150,000 total prize fund.

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Meanwhile, the Goldmoney Asian Rapid online tournament, the seventh leg of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, will be in its final stages as we go to press.

Contrary to expectation, Norwegian top seed Carlsen failed to advance as he was dismissed by world No. 5 Levon Aronian (Armenia), 2-0, in the semifinal tie-break playoff. Having fallen behind 0-1 in the first set, Aronian dug deep in the second set to run away, 3-1, and forced a playoff tie-breaker.

In the other semifinal matchup, Russia’s former chess prodigy, Vladislav Artemiev, 23, rallied from a set down to beat No. 2 seed Chinese Ding Liren, 1.5-0.5, in tie break playoff, to set a two-day final clash with Aronian.

The finals can be viewed live with commentaries at various websites starting at 7 a.m. est.

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In inverse proportion to Aronian’s gain in strength as the match progressed, Carlsen’s play deteriorated. The game below gives Aronian his second win in the deciding tie-break A disorganized Carlsen is no match for the invigorating and polished strategy of Aronian.

2021 Goldmoney Asian Rapid

Semifinals Tie-break Game 2

W) M. Carlsen (NOR)

B) L. Aronian (ARM)

Giuoco Piano

1. e4     e5;           2. Nf3     Nc6;      3. Bc4    Bc5;        4. c3      Nf6;        5. d3      ....

In the So-Carlsen Game 3, quarterfinals, play went 5. d4 exd4 6. e5 d5 7. Bb5 Ne4 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. Nc3 0-0 10. Be3 Bg4 11. Qb3 Bxf3 12. gxf3 Ng5 13. 0-0-0, and the game is unclear.

5....       d6;           6. Bg5     h6;         7. Bh4     a6;         8. Nbd2    Ba7;    9. O-O    ....

After 9. a4 Qe7 10. 0-0 Be7 11. b4 0-0, the game leads to equality. So-Carlsen, Game 1, quarterfinals same tournament.

9....      O-O;         10. a4     Na5;      11. Ba2    g5;        12. Bg3    Nh5;    13. b4     Nxg3;   14. hxg3    Nc6;  15. Nh2    Kg7;    16. g4     Qf6;       17. g3     Ne7;      18. Kg2    Ng8;    19. f4?     ....

Eager to open up the kingside, Carlsen goes astray, giving up a pawn without compensation. Better is 19. Bd3, according to the engine.

19....      exf4;      20. d4     Ne7;     21. Nc4    d5;       22. e5?    ....

Another premature action. which loses material. Correct is 22. Ne5. Now Aronian uses one of his development trademarks, getting his queen into action via the c file.

22....      Qc6;       23. b5     axb5;    24. axb5    Qxb5;               25. Nd2    Ng6;   26. Qc2    Be6;    27. Bb1?    ...

27. Rab1 should have been tried, though white’s game is already unsatisfactory.

27....      c5

A fine move which strategically refutes white’s last. Stronger, however, is the engine’s 27....Bxd4!, picking up another pawn, as 28. Rxa8 loses to

28....Qe2ch.;      28. Ndf3    cxd4; 29. Rxa7   ....

Seems forced to reduce the sting of black’s pressure. If 29. cxd4, 29.... fxg3 30. Kxg3 Rfc8, brings down the curtains..

29....      Rxa7;     30. Nxd4   Qb6;  31. Nf5ch   Kh8; 32. Nf3     fxg3    33. Rh1    Qf2ch!

This queen swap converts into a won endgame, and it’s time for white to hoist the white flag.. The rest needs no comment.

34. Qxf2    gxf2; 35. Kxf2    Ra1;   36. Rxh6ch Kg8; 37. Bd3     Rc8;    38. N5d4    Nf4;  39. Bf5     Rxc3;   0-1

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