Chess Room Newsletter #910 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #910

Gens Una Sumus!




Newsletter #910

Mar 20, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Mechanics' Institute Tuesday Night Online Tournament Kicks Off!

With the 'shelter in place' order in effect, the Mechanics' Institute (MI) building will be closed through at least April 7, 2020. This, of course, impacts our lives tremendously, and we are all learning to adjust to a temporary new normal. Uncertainty for many has settled in, and we are all coping to change. For many of us, chess provides an escape, allows us to engage with others in competition and sport, as well as social interaction. It has the potential to let us get a bit lost in something we enjoy and temporarily escape the challanges of our daily lives. The one thing that was most important for us at MI is that chess can continue on, not just for our club players, but for the entire chess community in the Bay Area. We see the Tuesday Night Marathon as something important in our history, and we saw an opportunity to keep the Tuesday night tradition, while keeping the chess community united and active in these sometimes isolating times. 

We announced we would be experimenting with our Tuesday Night Online Mechanics' event through, free to anyone, as a way to continue this MI tradition. We hoped we would get 30-40 players, we ended up with 118. These players were comprised not only of our club regulars (who showed up in full force), but also many players well known in the Bay Area and even some players across the country with local ties. The result was an amazing evening of chess that brought the chess community together and gave all of us three hours of action-packed entertainment. It was fun to watch the local players play each other online, and see some match ups that we would normally not get to see. When it was all over, three players finished with perfect scores of 4/4, including GM Dmitry Gordievsky, WFM Natalya Tsodikova, and Abhinav Penagalapati. Congratulations to those players, and everyone who participated to bring our community together through chess.

Full results can be found here:

Here are a couple of games from our first Tuesday Night Online, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(4) Tejas Mahesh (ChessTX9) (1988) - WFM Natalya Tsodikova (natrost2000) (2204) [A57]
Live Chess, 18.03.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.f3 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nc3 Bg7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.Nge2 axb5 10.Nxb5 Ba6 11.Nec3 Nbd7 12.0-0 Diagram


A fairly typical Benko Gambit stlye game. Black has fair compensation for the pawn. 12...h6?! [12...Qb6 seems more active] 13.Be3 Ne5 14.Be2 g5 15.a4 Ng6 16.Qd2 Qb8 17.b3 Nh5 18.g3 Bc8 19.Kg2 Bd7 20.Rae1 [White has a nice edge here. He should play for activity with 20.f4! Bxb5 21.Nxb5 Bxa1 22.fxg5 hxg5 23.Bxh5 Bg7 24.Bxg5] 20...Qc8 21.Kh1? Diagram


allowing a tactic 21...Bxb5 22.Bxb5 Nxg3+! 23.hxg3 Bxc3 24.Qh2?! [More circumspect is 24.Qxc3 Qh3+ 25.Kg1 Qxg3+ 26.Kh1 since 26...Nh4?! 27.Re2 Nxf3 28.Bf4! Qh3+? 29.Rh2! would win] 24...Bxe1 25.Rxe1 Kg7 26.f4 f6 27.Qh5 Rb8 28.Kg2 Rxb5!? 29.axb5 Qe8 30.Rh1? Nh4+! 31.Rxh4 gxh4 32.Qxh4 Qxb5 33.Qg4+ Kh8 34.Qh5 Qe8! 35.Qxh6+ Kg8 36.f5 Qf7 37.g4?! Diagram


taking a checking square away from the queen. More chances are with [37.Qh3] 37...Qh7! 38.Qf4 Rb8 39.g5 [39.Bxc5 Rxb3 40.Be3 Qh4] 39...fxg5 40.Qxg5+ Qg7 Diagram


Black trades into an ending and efficently wraps it up. 41.f6 Qxg5+ 42.Bxg5 exf6 43.Bxf6 Kf7 44.e5 Rxb3 45.Kf2 Rd3 46.Bh8 Rxd5 47.exd6 Rxd6 48.Ke2 Ke6 49.Bg7 Kd7 50.Ke3 Kc6 51.Bf8 Rd7 52.Bg7 Kb5 0-1


(5) Theo Biyiasas (TABiyiasas) (2164) - GM Cristian Chirila (TheCount) (2624) [D85]
Live Chess, 17.03.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bb5+ c6 8.Ba4 0-0 9.Ne2 b5 10.Bb3 a5 11.Be3 a4 12.Bc2 Nd7 13.h4 Diagram


An aggressive attacking move in this Exchange Grunfeld. The question is if Black can put enough pressure on the white center before the attack gains full steam. 13...Nf6 14.Ng3 h5 15.Qd2 Ng4 16.Bg5?! [16.e5 would hold the black squares better by blocking the fianchetoed bishop.] 16...c5 [16...b4! 17.cxb4 Qxd4] 17.Rd1 b4 18.Ne2?! [18.cxb4] 18...bxc3 19.Qxc3 Ba6 20.Bd3 cxd4 21.Qb4 Bxd3 22.Rxd3 Rb8! Black has clearly won the opening battle and White is on the defensive. 23.Qxa4 Rb1+ 24.Rd1 Rxd1+ 25.Qxd1 d3 26.Nc1 Bc3+ 27.Bd2 Qd4 Diagram


Active play by Black puts the pressure on, but Theo stays cool and keeps the disadvantage manageable. 28.0-0 Qd6 [28...Rc8! 29.Bg5 Rd8 30.Bxe7? Qe5] 29.g3 Bd4 30.Qf3 Ne5 31.Qf4 Rc8 32.Nb3 Bb6 33.Rc1 Rc2 34.Kg2 Qe6 35.Rxc2 dxc2 36.Bc3 f6?! [36...Nc6] 37.Bxe5! fxe5 38.Qd2 Qc4 39.Kf3 Bd4 40.Nc1 Bb2 41.Ke3 Qd4+? [41...Ba3!] 42.Qxd4 Bxd4+ 43.Ke2 Kf7 44.f3 Ke6 45.Nd3 Kd6? [Black should keep the white king out with 45...Bc3 maintaining equality as Black is better after 46.Nc1 Kd6 47.Kd3?! Be1] 46.Kd2 Kc6 47.Kxc2 Kb5 48.Kb3 e6 49.a4+ Ka5 50.g4! Diagram


Zugzwang. Black must either retreat with the king or allow the e-pawn to drop. 50...Be3 51.gxh5 gxh5 52.Nxe5 Bf2 53.Nc6+ Kb6 54.Nd8 e5 55.Ne6 Bxh4 56.Ng7 Corralling the dangerous h-pawn. There is no hope for Black now. 56...Kc5 57.Nxh5 Kd4 58.a5 Bd8 59.a6 Bb6 60.Nf6 Ba7 61.Kb4 Ke3 62.Kb5 Kxf3 63.Kc6 Kf4 64.Kb7 Bd4 65.Nd5+ The Count resigned as 66. Nb6 blocks the bishop and the pawn queens. 1-0

Mechanics' Institute Defeats Charlotte 64.5-33.5 In Club Rematch

The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club defeated the Charlotte Chess Club and Scholastic Academy decisively on Thursday night 64.5-33.5 in our second club match meeting. The format of the match was 2 rounds G/15 +2, and each team member played 2 games, white/black against the same opponent. Each side had 49 players participating.

The match was won by the collective firepower of MI players, as we had a rating advantage over Charlotte due to the high turnout of our stronger club-level players. Leading the Mechanics' team were FM Josiah Stearman, NM Eric Li, NM Ruiyang Yan, NM Henry Wang, IM Elliott Winslow, and Kristian Clemens. The match was decided by our strong "middle class" corp of club players like Cailen Melville, Cesar Tamondong, Erika Malykin, Alejandro Canales, Abhinav Pebagalapati, and Theo Biyiasas just to name a few. We want to thank all our players for coming out and representing their club. It was an hour of action-packed fun! 

Tune in for our next club match next Thursday, as we get take on Marshall in a rematch of a tightly contested match. For information on joining, please see the online schedule announcement in this newsletter. 

To see full results of the match, please follow this link:

Mechanics' Institute Online Events Schedule

The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club will continue to hold regular online events in various forms. Here is the upcoming schedule for players:

3/21 Saturday - Saturday Online Matinee
Format: 3 rounds of G/30  (Swiss) 
Join from 1PM via
Start: 2PM sharp!  
3/23 Monday - Monday Online ARENA
Format: G/5+2 - as many as you can for an hour!
Learn about Arena tournaments HERE
Join from 5:30PM via 
Start: 6:30PM sharp!
3/24 Tuesday - Tuesday Night Online Games
Format: 5 rounds of G/10+2  (Swiss)
Join from 5:30PM via 
Start: 6:30PM sharp!
Interested in past result? Check out last Tuesdays' tournament. 
Note: we have changed the time control for shorter wait time, and increased the rounds in hope for a clear winner:) 
3/26 Thursday - Online Club Match against Marshall
Format: each Mechanics' player will be paired with a Marshall player
They'll play two games, with alternating colors.
Time control: G/15+2
Join the match from 4PM - link coming soon.
Save your spot by filling out: 
Start 5PM sharp!
Interested in past results? Check out the 3/19 Club Match against Charlotte
Before playing in our online tournaments, be sure to:
1. Sign up and log in to
2. Sign up to be a member of Mechanics' Institute Chess Club
without being a member, you won't be able to play in our online tournaments!
3. Please fill out the Google Form, so we know who you are, and can inform you about changes, and ad hoc events:
Thank you,
Any questions? [email protected]


FM Paul Whitehead's Column

Early Chess Stories

In 1968 San Francisco, prior to an Atlantic crossing to Europe aboard the SS United States, my father Stanley taught my brother Jay and me how to play chess. I was eight, he was seven.

His thinking was (as he later stated) that it would "Give you both something to do." Perhaps it was intended to also bring us closer together, which it did, in consequences he might have been more savvy to: we found another reason to clobber each other.

Chess was clearly a competitive endeavor, and although I don't remember if we knew how the pieces properly moved, or what check or checkmate was exactly, there was a winner, worse yet a loser, and violence simmered below the surface of the chessboard.

Nevertheless, Jay and I may have found some refuge for a time there, in chess: here is photographic evidence of us playing during this trip.  Both of us seem absorbed, and the largest ocean liner in the world, host to our game, seems nowhere in our thoughts.
So many years ago.

Jay Whitehead 1968

My father was fascinated by the game, but mostly on a visual level.  In Spain he bought an out-sized and marvelous replica of the famous Lewis Chessmen, which accompanied us all over Europe and finally back to the States in 1972, where it moved about with my father from studio to house to apartment, until his passing in Berkeley, in 2006.

The Lewis Chessmen, in cream white and blood red, has been lost to me as well.

Paul Whitehead 1968

In 1972 we were still in Europe, and after much moving about my family had settled for a bit in Scotland, where my parents (civilians) taught Kindergarten and High School classes on an American base, a school my brother and I attended as well. We lived off-base, and apart from the ubiquitous Lewis Chessmen, the game of chess rarely entered my mind.  I was 12 years old, interested in soccer and books.  I loved the solitary Scottish countryside and took long walks down to the sea with the family dog.

But in the Summer all of that was to change.
I was given a choice: accompany the family to Morocco, or fly back solo to the States and spend my vacation with my maternal grandparents in upstate New York.
They lived in a small retirement community called Mountaindale, deep in the Catskills.

In choosing Mountaindale over Marrakesh, I think I made an interesting decision, like a homing pigeon choosing its target…

1972 was a huge year, a year of change and portent:

- Rod Stewart (the Scot, mind you) sang "Maggie Mae" all year long.
- Shirley Chisholm ran for President.
- Nixon went to China.
-The "Godfather" premiered.
- The Watergate complex was broken into.
- Jane Fonda went to Hanoi.
- M*A*S*H*
- The Baader-Meinhof Gang ran loose.
- Pong debuted.

In 1972 the worship of Norse gods was officially approved in Iceland,
 and Iceland fought England in the 2nd Cod War.

And, in the Summer of 1972, Iceland hosted the Match of the Century, where chess exploded into the public consciousness.

And exploded into mine as well.

(To be continued).



GM Nick de Firmian's Column

Meet the Candidates!

This week: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

To become World Chess Champion is a herculean task. You must battle against great players to get into the Candidates Tournament, and there you must battle against the very best in the world to gain the sole right to become the challenger. Then there is the battle with the champion him/herself. It is often wondered what is the greater difficulty – to overcome the other challengers or to win the championship match. In the time of the great Soviet players winning the Candidates Tournament was an incredible feat. There was Keres, Smyslov, Bronstein, Tal, Spassky, Petrosian, Geller, Korchnoi, and others to surpass. After reaching the match against Botvinnik one could say the hardest work had been done. Botvinnik only managed to keep his title for some time with the help of rematches and a favorable system.

The group of contenders in the current Candidates Tournament is very  impressive. Caruana and Ding Liren have been world beaters for years. Nepomniatchi and Giri have shown their great talent and Grischuk has been a serious contender for over a decade. To be champion requires incredible talent and dedication, but perhaps most important is the intense desire to compete and win. Radjabov had a place in this Candidates Tournament but withdrew due to the Corona Virus. In jumped Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (MVL), who barely had missed qualifying and was burning to play. Did he let the little issue of a pandemic bother him? Absolutely not! He is playing to become World Chess Champion. The obstacles he must overcome are even more severe than a life threatening disease. This is the right attitude of a true challenger. I count MVL as a very worthy candidate for his great fighting spirit and intense desire to win. This is similar to Lasker, Korchnoi, and Kramnik. We present now some games of MVL, starting with an epic battle against the current World Champion.

(1) Vachier Lagrave,Maxime (2722) - Carlsen,Magnus (2821) [B30]
Biel Accentus Biel (5), 23.07.2011

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 This line in the Sicilian is a slower, closed positon where there is a lot of maneuvering. MVL decided not to take on Magnus's favorite Sveshnikov Sicilian with 3. d4. 4...Be7 5.d3 d6 6.Nd2 Bg5 7.Nf1 Bxc1 8.Rxc1 Nge7 9.Ne3 0-0 10.0-0 Ng6?! [10...Be6] 11.Ncd5 Be6 12.c3 Na5 13.Nf5! Kh8 14.g3 Qd7 15.Nde3 Ne7 16.Nxe7 Nxc4 17.dxc4 Qxe7 18.Qd3 Rad8 19.Rcd1 b6 20.Rd2 Rd7 21.b3 Diagram


21...Re8 The opening phase is over and Black has everything defended, but a passive position. (In fact Magnus or Capablanca would be very happy with the White side.) It is very hard to make progress for White though, and requires great patience. Most players would be glad to agree a draw against the world #1 here. 22.Kg2 Qg5 23.Rfd1 Kg8 24.Qe2 Red8 25.Qf3 Qe7 26.h4 Qf8 27.h5 Qe7 28.h6 g6 29.Nd5 Bxd5 30.Rxd5 Qg5 31.Rh1 Kf8 32.Qd3 Qf6 33.Qe3 Qe6 34.Rf1 f6 Diagram


The hole on d5 and the backward black pawn on d6 give White the small edge. Black has very little counterplay. MVL gives an instructive strategic lesson on how to press this position. 35.b4 Ke8 36.Rfd1 Kf7 37.a4 Ke7 38.a5! Rc8 39.b5 Qg4 40.axb6 axb6 41.Ra1 White has not gotten too much on the queenside, but has taken control of the a-file. Black will have to worry about that, though there is breakthrough there yet. 41...Rb8 42.f3 Qe6 43.Qd2 Kf7 44.Rd1 Ke7 45.Ra1 Kf7 46.Ra6 Qe7 47.Qe3 Qe6 48.Qc1 g5 49.Qh1 Kg6 50.g4 Threatening mate! That is easily defended though. 50...Kf7 51.Kf2 Ke7 52.Qf1 Kf7 53.Ke3 Kg6 54.Qh1 Kf7 55.Kd3 Ke7 56.Kc2 Qg8 57.Qa1 Qf8 58.Rd1 Rdb7 [58...Qxh6 59.Rh1 Qg7 60.Ra8] 59.Rh1 Kf7 60.Kb3 Qe7 61.Qa2 Qd7 62.Ra1 Qe7 63.Qd2 Kg6 64.Qh2 Kf7 65.R1a2 Qd7 66.Qh5+ Kf8 67.Qh1 Kf7 68.Qd1 Kg6 69.Rd2 Rd8 70.Qh1 Kf7 71.Rda2 Rdb8 72.Ra1 Qe7 73.R6a2 Rd7 74.Qd1 Kg6 75.Qh1 Kf7 76.Qb1 Rdb7 77.Qd3 Kg6 Diagram


78.f4! White had been maneuvering back and forth for thirty moves and now courageously tries a breakthrough with this pawn sacrifice. The alternative was just to agree to a draw. 78...gxf4 79.Qh3 Kf7 80.Ra8 Qe6? [finally a mistake from Magnus. He would defend better with 80...Rd8 81.Qh5+ Kg8 82.Qf5 Rbd7] 81.Qh5+ Kf8 82.Qf5 [82.Rxb8+ Rxb8 83.Ra7 Kg8 84.g5 f5 85.g6] 82...Qxf5 83.gxf5 Rxa8 84.Rxa8+ Kf7 85.Kc2! stopping the passed f-pawn with the king 85...Re7 86.Kd3 Re8 87.Ra7+ Kg8 [87...Re7 88.Ra6 Rb7 89.Ra8 Re7 90.Rh8] 88.Rg7+ Kf8 89.Rxh7 Kg8 90.Ra7 Kh8 91.h7 Rb8 92.Ke2 Rd8 93.Kf3 Rc8 94.Kg4 Rd8 95.Kh5 f3 96.Kg6 Diagram


Magnus resigned as 96...f2 97. Ra1 gathers up the f-pawn and the white king dominates on the kingside. This was almost a hundred moves to beat Magnus - real determination from MVL! 1-0


(2) Anish Giri - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave [B96]
Norway Chess Stavanger NOR (2), 20.04.2016

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 MVL is the current generation's Najdorf expert. He loves to play the complicated tactical positons that arise from the opening and he shows no fear of the long computer opening preparation of his opponents. 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 h6 8.Bh4 Qb6 Diagram


The Poisoned Pawn Variation. MVL likes this way to play the black side where 7...h6 8. Bh4 has been inserted. 9.a3 Be7 [9...Qxb2?? 10.Na4] 10.Bf2 Qc7 11.Qf3 Nbd7 12.0-0-0 b5 13.g4 g5!? An interesting way to fight for the black squares on the kingside. 14.h4 [14.e5? Bb7] 14...gxf4 15.Be2 [15.g5 Ne5 16.Qxf4 would leave a roughly even complicated game.] 15...Rg8 16.Rdg1? Looking for a knock out on the kingside. More circumspect would be. [16.g5 hxg5 17.hxg5 Rxg5 18.Rh8+ Rg8 19.Rxg8+ Nxg8 20.Qxf4] 16...d5! Diagram


This accurately timed aggression in the center allows Black to take the initiative. 17.exd5 Ne5 18.Qh3 exd5 19.Re1 Kf8 A Najdorf player must get used to having his/her king in the center. Black's initiative is more than compensation for this. 20.Nf5 Bxf5 21.gxf5 Bc5! White will be left with critical black squared weakenesses if he trades these bishops. Black has taken full control of the game. 22.Qf1 d4 23.Nb1 Ne4 24.Bf3?! [24.Bd1 would hold out longer] 24...Nxf2 25.Bxa8 Diagram


25...Ned3+! 26.Kd2 Nxe1 27.Qxf2 d3 28.Qxe1 Be3+ A crushing win as Black against one of the world's most solid players. 0-1


(3) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2758) - Anatoli Vaisser (2531) [A04]
French Team Championship Saint-Quentin FRA (4.1), 27.05.2014

1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 d6 3.e4!? An interesting offbeat line against the Dutch Defense. 3...e5 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.exf5 Bxf5 Now White opens up the game with the black king a little exposed due to the missing f-pawn. 6.d4 Diagram


6...exd4 7.Nxd4 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Nf6 9.Bc4 c6 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bh4 d5 Diagram


12.0-0-0! Be7?! [12...Kf7] 13.Rhe1 0-0?! Probably 13...Kf8 was necessary, though unpleasant. Now MVL sets up a tactical avalanche. [13...dxc4? 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Qxf6] 14.Qe5! Bg4?! 15.f3 Bd6 Diagram


16.Nxd5! cxd5 [16...Bxe5 17.Nxf6+ Kh8 18.Rxd8 Raxd8 19.Nxg4] 17.Rxd5! Bxe5 18.Rxd8+ Kh7 19.Bd3+ g6 20.Rxa8 There is no way out for Black. White picks up several pawns and his pieces swarm in. 20...Bf4+ 21.Kb1 Rxa8 22.Bxf6 1-0


GM Nick de Firmians Column

2020 Candidates Match

The Candidates Tournament – Rounds 1-3

By GM Nick de Firmian

In the midst of this corona virus 2019 (COVID-19), we chess players have the one high-profile sporting event left in the world. No basketball, baseball, football or soccer to entertain you, but a high-stakes, bitterly-fought battle to become the one challenger. The players appear to be totally immersed in the tournament, with their nerves on edge for the seriousness of the event. So I suggest that you simply enjoy this event and put your worries aside for a while!

The first round began with surprising loses from two of the three most solid players in the world. Anish Giri went down with the white pieces against Ian Nepomniatchi and Ding Liren lost (also with White) against his countryman Wang Hao. (I must note that Paul Whitehead predicted a good result from the under-appreciated Wang Hao.)

Grischuk has drawn three favorable positions, but the game that has kept the tournament close was the third round matchup between the pre-tournament favorites Fabiano Caruana and Ding Liren. Ding was reeling after losing the first two games and a loss to Caruana may have ruined his chances. Fabiano went for the knock-out punch with an early pawn sacrifice, but this was like hunting a wounded tiger. I would have suggested to tread carefully with and give Ding his proper respect. A draw would have left Fabiano well ahead of his rival and not put him behind on the first tie-break (head to head).


(1) Vachier-Lagrave,Maxim - Ding,Liren [C88]
Candidates, 18.03.2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 One of the anti-Marshall lines. Nowadays players on the white side of the Ruy Lopez prefer now to allow Marshall's positional pawn sacrifice 8. c3 d5! 8...Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Qd7 11.Nc3 Rfe8 12.Bd2 Nd8 13.Nd5!? Nxd5 14.exd5 Diagram


This is an interesting position for the opening. MVL accepts the doubled pawn on d5, which blocks his light squared bishop. It has the powerful effect though of restraining Black's center and minor pieces. 14...c5 15.a4 f5?! This aggressive move seems to weaken the kingside squares. Safer was a less commital move such as [15...Qc8 or; 15...f6] 16.axb5 axb5 17.Rxa8 Bxa8 18.c4 Nf7 19.cxb5! g5?! once again this aggression causes weakenesses. 20.Nh2 Kg7 21.Bc4 Kg6 22.g4! Nh6 23.Qf3 Bd8 24.Qg2 f4?! 25.b4! Bb6 26.Qe4+ Kg7 27.bxc5 dxc5 28.Nf3 Nf7 29.Bc3 Diagram


White's pieces are a picture of activity. Both bishops are aimed at the kingside where Black has weakened himself. MVL continues to pile on the pressure. 29...Bc7 30.b6! Bb8 31.Qf5 Qxf5 32.gxf5 Kf6 33.Nd2! Rd8 34.d6! Rxd6 35.Rb1 Nd8?! Diagram


[35...Bb7 36.Ne4+ Bxe4 37.dxe4 is better, but a miserable position] 36.b7! Bxb7 37.Ba5 1-0


(2) Giri,Anish - Nepomniachti,Ian [A33]
Candidates, 17.03.2020

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 e6 6.g3 Qb6 An aggressive line against the English Opening, hitting White in the center immediately. This is risky though as it neglects development. 7.Ndb5 Ne5 8.Bf4 Nfg4 9.e3 a6 10.h3 Diagram


Both sides try to disrupt the opponent's plan with threats. 10...axb5 11.hxg4 Nxc4 12.Rc1 More usual is 12. Qb3. Giri tries something new. 12...d5 13.b3 Bb4! 14.bxc4 Ra3 15.Be5 f6 16.Bd4 Qa5 Black will win the piece back. 17.Be2 Bxc3+ 18.Rxc3 Rxc3 19.Kf1 b4! the exchange is less important than king saftey and the initiative here 20.g5 e5 21.Bxc3 bxc3 22.gxf6 gxf6 23.Qb1?! [Here White starts to go wrong. He could maintain equality with 23.cxd5 Bf5 24.Bd3!] 23...Qc7 24.Qd3 b5! 25.Qxc3 bxc4 26.e4 dxe4 27.Rh4 Be6 28.Rxe4 0-0 29.Bxc4 Kg7! the pin on the c-file will cost White material 30.Qb3 Rb8 Diagram


31.Bxe6 the best try [31.Qa4 Rb1+ 32.Kg2 Bd7 33.Qc2 Qb7 will win Black the exchange] 31...Rxb3 32.Rg4+ Kf8 33.Bxb3 White is trying to hold the ending rook and bishop against queen. With three pawns each that's a difficult task. 33...Qc1+ 34.Kg2 Qc6+ 35.Kg1 h5 36.Rg8+ Ke7 37.Rg7+ Kd6 38.Rh7 Qf3 39.Rh8 e4 40.Rd8+ Ke7 41.Bd1 Qc3! 42.Rd5 h4 43.gxh4 f5 Diagram


44.Rxf5 Giri evaluates the ending as lost if Black keeps the pawn duo. He tries for a fortress by giving up the bishop 44...Qe1+ 45.Kg2 Qxd1 46.Rg5 [46.Re5+ Kf6 47.Rxe4 Qd5 48.f3 is a winning ending for Black. If the white f-pawn could remain on f2 he could make a fortress, but the small advance to f3 gives the queen enough room to maneuver.] 46...Qa1 47.Rg4 Qb1 48.Rg3 Qxa2 49.Rh3 Qd5 50.Kf1 Qd1+ 51.Kg2 Qg4+ 52.Rg3 Qh5 Black could take the h-pawn now, but it will fall for sure anyway. 53.Ra3 Qd5 54.Kg1 Kf6 55.Rg3 Qd1+ 56.Kg2 Kf5 57.Rg5+ Kf4 58.Rg3 Qd5 59.Kf1 Qd2 60.Kg2 Qd1 61.Re3 Kf5 62.Rg3 Kf6 63.Rh3 Kg6 64.Rg3+ Kh5 65.Rh3 Qb1 66.Re3 Kxh4 67.Rg3 Kh5 68.Rh3+ Kg4 69.Rg3+ Kf4 70.Re3 Qd1 71.Ra3 Ke5 72.Rg3 Kd4 73.Re3 Diagram


How does Black break the blockade on the third rank? 73...Qd3! Black will get a winning king and pawn ending after either 74. Rxd3 exd3 or the threatened 74...Qxe3. Giri resigned. 0-1


(3) Ding,Liren - Caruana,Fabiano [D17]
Candidates, 19.03.2020

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 Bb4 8.Nxc4 0-0 9.Kf2 e5!? Diagram


What a move from Cauana! Sacrificing a pawn with Black early in the opening. This is clearly his preparation and thus backed up with heavy computer analysis. Yet it is a risky move where Black must play with great energy to justify to loss of the pawn. That is fine if you are feeling like Tal, but you must play with great energy. 10.Nxe5 Bc2 11.Qd2! c5 12.d5 Bb3 13.e4 Re8 14.Qf4 c4 sacrificing a second pawn to open lines against the white king. Fabi is putting pressure on Ding, yet he is up to the task. Just because Ding lost his first two games doesn't mean he isn't a great defender. 15.Nxc4 Nbd7 16.Be3 Nf8 17.Bd4 Ng6 18.Qf5 Bxc4 19.Bxc4 Qc7 20.Be2 Bc5 21.Bxc5 Diagram


21...Qxc5+?! [21...Re5! is a Tal like move that gives extra life to Black's position. These moves are necessary if one plays these on the edge positions. Two pawns down can easily drift to a lost position without really energetic follow-up. 22.Qh3 Nf4 23.Qh4 Ng6 24.Qg3 Nh5 hastles the white queen, which may provoke it to be sacrificed.] 22.Kf1 h6 23.Rd1 Qb6 24.Rd2 Qe3 25.Rc2 a6 26.Qh3 b5 27.Qg3 b4?! [27...Rec8 gives Black more hope] 28.Nd1 Qb3 29.Rd2 Qxa4 30.Qf2 Qd7 31.g3 Qh3+ 32.Kg1 a5 33.Qd4 Nh5 34.Nf2 Qd7 35.f4 Diagram


White has emerged from the backward development and has gotten the central and kingside pawns rolling. Black has gotten one pawn back, but the situation is hopeless against the central roller. Caruana sacrifices a piece in desperation. 35...Nhxf4 36.gxf4 Nxf4 37.Kf1 Qd6 38.Rg1 f6 39.Bb5 Re7 40.b3 Rf8 41.Rc2 Ne6 42.Qe3 Ng5 43.h4 Nf7 44.Rc6 Qb8 45.Qc5 Qd8 46.Rxf6 Kh8 47.Rf5 Diagram


The position is more than hopeless, but the stakes are so high that Caruana plays to the bitter end. 47...Rc7 48.Bc6 a4 49.bxa4 b3 50.Rg3 b2 51.Rb3 Nd6 52.Rxf8+ Qxf8 53.Rxb2 Qf4 54.Rb8+ Kh7 55.Qc2 Re7 56.e5+ Nf5 57.Qe4 Qc1+ 58.Kg2 g6 59.Rb3 Caruana finally resigned. Just like that Ding is right back in the tournament. 1-0


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