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Sports

Carlsen still ahead

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

Norway’s Magnus Carlsen edged Dutch No. 1 Anish Giri, 1.5-0.5, in the sixth-round tie-break to retain the overall lead at the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour grand finals, putting himself in position to win the $100,000 top prize.

Carlsen, who won four legs of the 10-event tour, had 28.5 points total, including bonus tour points, entering the final three rounds of the 10-player, all-play-all tournament, where finalists started with bonus points based on their previous tour performances.

Every round is decided in best-of-four rapid games including a two-game tie-breaker and Armageddon, if necessary. A regular win is scored three points while tie-break win gets two points.

Philippine-born American Wesley So was in second place at 21.5 followed by Azeri Teimour Radjabov with 18.0.

Other scores read: Levon Aronian (ARM), 15.0, Hikaru Nakamura (USA), 14.0, Vladislav Artemiev (RUS), 13.5, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA), 12.5, Giri, 11.5, Jan Krzysztof Duda (POL), 8.0, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE), 6.5.

Games can be followed live at various chess websites starting at 11 a.m. EST or 1700 CEST.

* * *

Meanwhile, youth once again came to the fore at the annual TePe Sigeman & Co. classical tournament held Sept. 23-29 in Malmo, Sweden.

Dutchman Jorden van Foreest, 22, had a grand time, clinching first with a round to spare. The present Wijk aan Zee champion scored an impressive five points out of a possible seven for his second major title this year. He rose six ranks higher to 38th spot in the recent live chess ratings.

There was a logjam for second to fourth at 4.0 points apiece among Germany’s Vincent Kymer and the English tandem of Nigel Short and Gawain Jones.

Nils Grandelius (SWE), 3.5, Nihal Sarin (IND), 3.0, Etienne Bacrot (FRA), 3.0, and Jonas Buhi Bjerre (DEN), 1.5, rounded out the top eight.

* * *

Carlsen’s first win at Meltwater is a brilliancy over Poland’s top chess talent, capping his performance with a beautiful Bishop sacrifice on the 18th move.

2021 Meltwater Champions

Chess Tour Finals

W) M. Carlsen (NOR)

B)  J. K. Duda (POL)

Queen’s Gambit Declined

1. d4            Nf6; 2. c4            e6; 3. Nc3          d5; 4. cxd5        ....

The Exchange Variation, in which white aims to achieve the well-known minority attack, a method where white advances his b pawn, thus creating weaknesses on black’s q-side pawn structure. It is most often applicable in positions arising from the QGD where black’s pawn is on c6.

4....              Nxd5

This avoids the usual 4....exd5, leading to the minority attack, e.g., 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 0-0 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. Qc2 Re8 9. Nf3 Nf8 10. 0-0 c6 11. Rab1.

5. Nf3          ....

5. e4 is the main line, and after 5....Nxc3 6. bxc3 c5 7. Nf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 Bb4ch 9. Bd2 Bxd2ch 10. Qxd2 0-0 11. Bc4, the game is probably equal..

5....              c5; 6. e3            cxd4; 7. exd4        Nxc3; 8. bxc3        Qc7; 9. Rb1!?        ....

White is happy to give away a pawn in return for rapid development.

9....              Nd7

Capturing the c pawn leads to unclear consequences, e.g., 9....Qxc3ch 10. Bd2 Qc7 11. Bd3 Nc6 12. 0-0 Be7 13. Qc2 h6, while though there’s no immediate effect, white has sufficient comnpensation, due to his more active pieces and space advantage..

10. Bd3        Qxc3ch; 11. Kf1          Be7; 12. h4!          O-O; 13. Rh3!          ....

The point of white’s last move. The immediate threat is 14. Bxh7ch!

13....              Nf6?!

Not a good choice as it cedes the important e5 square. Better is 13....Qc7.

14. Ne5          Qa5; 15. Rg3          Kh8?

And this slip is fatal.. 15....Ne8 put up a reasonable defense, though white maintains the initiative and strong pressure on the kingside.

16. Bg5!        ....

Black is only skimming the surface, while white’s moves show depth and foresight. White’s last, which threatens 16. Bxf6 followed by 17. Qh5 is a crusher

16....              h6?

This loses at once, but after 16....b6 17. Nc6 Qa3 18. Bxh7ch! Nxh7 19. Bxe7, black loses material.

17. Bxh6!        ....

This sharp bishop sacrifice brings down the curtains.

17,,,,              gxh6; 18. Qf3          1-0

Nothing can be done as the threat of  19. Qf4 is indefensible.

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

Black to play and win.

White=Kh1, Qf7, Rf1, Pb4, Pg2

Black=Kh4, Qe3, Nh3,Pa6, Pe4, Pg3, Pg5, Ph6

1....          Qg1ch!; 2. Rxg1     Nf2ch; 3. Qxf2      gxf2; 4. g3ch      Kh3; 5. Rf1        e3; 0-1

* * *

MAGNUS CARLSEN

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