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Sports

Grand Swiss in Latvia

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

The FIDE Grand Swiss, a selection tournament leading to the next World Chess Championship cycle, will take place Oct.26-Nov. 7 in Latvia’s capital city of Riga.

Considered as the world’s strongest Swiss System event, the second edition will feature 114 top players from 39 federations, filtered by the following exacting requirements: (a) 100 qualifiers by ratings (12 rating lists from July 2020 to June 2021); (b) A place for the current women’s world champion; (c) Four spots nominated by four continental FIDE presidents; (d) Four spots nominated by the FIDE president (e) Five places nominated by the host organizers.

The top two finishers will lock down spots in the 2022 eight-player Candidates Tournament.

Format will be 11 rounds, with time control of 100 minutes (40 moves), 50 minutes (20) and 15 minutes to finish the game, plus 15 seconds increment, and the total prize money is $425,000.

The 50-player First Women’s Grand Swiss will be held concurrent with the Open, with $125,000 prize fund.

* * *

While the Russian Championship is invariably the strongest national championship anywhere, the next strongest is that of the United States.

With most of its top players present, the ongoing US National Championship in St. Louis, Missouri, is a Category 18 on the FIDE scale.

After three rounds, the quadrumvirate of Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Samuel Sevian and Ray Robson shared the lead at 2.0 points apiece.

Closely behind were Leinier Dominguez Perez, Lazaro Bruzon, Aleksandr Lenderman, Sam Shankland and John Burke with 1.5 each,   Dariusz Swiercz and Daniel Naroditsky, 1.0, and Jeffery Xiong, 0.5, rounding out the top 12.

Format is single-round robin and time control is 90 minutes (40), plus 30 minutes with 30 seconds increment. Total cash prize is $194,000.00.

Games can be viewed live with commentaries at various chess websites starting at 2 p.m. EST.

* * *

Chess is full of surprises that even a world champion like Magnus Carlsen, with encyclopedic knowledge of opening theory, can still be caught napping. A very fine performance by the tournament runner-up.

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals 2021

W: T. Radjabov (AZE)

B: M. Carlsen (NOR) Pirc Defense

1. d4     g6; 2. e4     d6; 3. Nf3     Nf6; 4. Nc3    Bg7

The Pirc Defense (named after five-time Yugoslav champion Vasja Pirc (1907-1980), has not been popular among leading GMs in recent years owing to its modest outlook, which allows white to establish a center with pawns on e4 and d4. As former world champion Garry Kasparov once said, “The Pirc Defense is hardly worth using in tournaments of highest category, as it gives white too many opportunities for anybody’s liking.”

5. Be2    O-O; 6. O-O    a6

Normally 6....Nc6 is played. Nevertheless, black’s last, intending an early ....b5, is acceptable.

7. a4      Nc6; 8. Be3     b6

8....e5 is a fair alternative, according to the engine.

9. d5      Nb8

The retreat of black’s knight seemed passive. . A better try is 9....Nb4.

10. Nd4    Bb7; 11. f3      c6; 12. dxc6   Nxc6; 13. Nxc6   Bxc6; 14. Qd2    Re8

The opening is just about over. white has a definite plus in space and mobility.

15. Rfd1    Nd7; 16. Bd4    Bf8; 17. Bc4    e6; 18. Bf1     Qc7; 19. Be3    Qb7; 20. b4      b5

It is vital to play 20....Qc8, as suggested by the engine. After the text, white gains substantial positional superiority..

21. axb5    axb5; 22. Bf2     h5; 23. Ra5!    ....

An excellent move which gains a pawn, while his queenside attack goes on unabated.

23....      Rxa5; 24. bxa5    Ra8; 25. Nxb5    d5; 26. Nd4    Nf6?

This move loses, but after 26....Nc5 27. Nxc6 Qxc6 28. exd5 exd5 29. Qc3, white also obtains a big advantage.

27. a6!     ....

The march of the a pawn is a sight to behold and perplexing to black.

27....      Qc7?

27....Qc8 may prolong the game, but at the end of the day white wins.

28. Qc3!    1-0

Black loses a piece without compensation.

* * *

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to play and win.

White=Kg1, Qc3, Rd1, Re1, Nc5, Bd4, Pa3, Pb2, Pc4, Pf2, Pg2, Ph3

Black=Kg8, Qh6, Ra8, Re8, Bc8, Be7, Pa6, Pb7, Pc6, Pf7, Pg6, Ph7

1. Rxe7!    Rxe7

2. Bg7!     Qxg7

3. Rd8ch    1-0

* * *

FIDE

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