FIDE World Cup heats up

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

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave continued to impress in the $1.9 million FIDE World Cup as he beat 15-year-old Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa of India, 1.5-0.5, to advance to the round-of-16 in Sochi, Russia.

The 30-year-old Frenchman, who won the strong Croatia Grand Chess Tour two weeks ago, had a grand time, winning game two in convincing fashion.

The other seeded players, Poland’s Jan-Krzysztof Duda, India’s Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, Sam Shankland (USA) and local GM Vladimir Fedoseev prevailed to move into the last 16.

They will be joined by Haik Martirosyan of Armenia, Kacper Piorun of Poland and Iranian Amin Tabatabaei, who all advanced by winning their respective matches.

World champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway) was pushed to the limit by veteran Polish GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek, and is playing in the playoff tie-beaker at press time.

Other matches to be decided in tie-break order are Artemiev vs Karjakin, Dubov vs Esipenko, Durarabayli vs Abdusattorov, Grischuk vs Korobov, Ivic vs Andreikin, Ponkratov vs Bacrot and Vitiugov vs Svidler.

In the women’s side, Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine), Tan Zhongyi (China) and hometown bets Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina won and advanced to the quarterfinals.

The other four quarterfinal spots are being contested through tie breaks between Goryachkina vs Stefanova, Lagno vs Assaubayeva, Dzagnidze vs Shuvalova and Kashlinskaya vs Saduakassova.

All games can be followed live with commentaries at various websites starting at 8 a.m. EST.

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Martirosyan, the brightest Armenian star at 21, is doing great at the ongoing FIDE World Cup in Sochi. It seems Martirosyan, at such a tender age, has graduated from the stage of combinative tendencies to the stage of positional maturity. Witness the following game where he knocks down the world No. 6.

FIDE World Cup 2021

Round 03-01

W) H. Martirosyan (ARM)

B) S. Mamedyarov (AZE)

Neo-Grunfeld Defense

1. d4     Nf6; 2. c4     g6; 3. Nf3     Bg7; 4. g3     c6

The Neo-Grunfeld, a hypermodern opening, in which white fianchetto the light squared Bishop and delay the developing move Nc3. It was first introduced in tournament practice in Koenig vs Grunfeld, Vienna (Austria), 1922.

5. Bg2    O-O

After 5....d5 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. Nc3 0-0 8. Ne5 e6 9. 0-0 Nfd7! 10. f4 Nc6 11. Be3 f6 12. Nd3 Nb6 13. b3 Qe7 14. a4 Bd7 15. Bc1 Rfd8 16. e3 Be8 17. Ba3 Qf7 18. Rc1 Bf8 19., Bxf8 Qxf8, the game is about even. Karpov vs Timman, Candidates Final, 1990.

6. O-O    d5; 7. cxd5    cxd5; 8. Nc3    Nc6; 9. Ne5    Bf5; 10. Nxc6   bxc6; 11. Bf4    Nh5; 12. Be3    c5

Black’s last provokes complications, which quickly mounts. After the normal 12....Nf6 13. Na4 Nd7 14.. Rc1` Rc8 15. f3 Nb6 16. Bf2, white enjoys a slight edge due to black’s backward c Pawn.

13. Nxd5   e6; 14. Nf4    cxd4; 15. Nxh5   gxh5; 16. Bd2    ....

After 16. Bxa8 Qxa8 17. Bd2 d3 18. Bc3 Bh3, black regains the exchange.

16....      Rc8; 17. Bb4    Re8; 18. Rc1    Qb6; 19. Qa4    d3; 20. exd3   Bxd3; 21. Rfd1    Bb5; 22. Qb3    Bd4; 23. Be1    e5?

Thus far, the Azeri top gun has played exceptionally well, now he commits an error of stupendous proportions. Correct is 23....Be2.

24. Bd5!    ....

Now comes a fine finish, after which white picks up two pawns by force.

24....      Kg7; 25. Bxf7    Rf8; 26. Rxc8    Rxc8; 27. Bxh5    Rf8; 28. Bf3     Qa6; 29. Rc1    1-0

With a two-pawn deficit, plus an exposed King position, Black decides its time to hoist the white flag. The rest of the story could be 29....Be8 30. a3 Bg6 31. Rc6 Qd3 32. Qxd3 Bxd3, and White’s two-pawn advantage will rule the waves.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White=Kd1, Qd5, Ba2, Ne2, Pa3, Pd6, Pe4, Pf2, Pg2, Ph3

Black=Kh8, Qb2, Rg8, Nd3, Pa7, Pf4, Pf7, Ph7

1...           f3!; 0-1

If 2. gxf3 Rg1ch! 3. Nxg1 Qc1ch 4. Ke2, Nf4 mate. or 2. Qxd3 fxe2ch

3. Qxe2 Qa1ch 4. Kxe2 Qxa2ch, and 2. Qxd3 fxe2ch 3. Ke1 Rc8 and Black wins.

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