TNM Round 2 Report
by Abel Talamantez
It is hard to believe that in a 28-player 1800+ section, representing the largest top section for our TNM since we resumed live play this year, we have only one perfect score after just two rounds! This is indeed the case, as IM Elliott Winslow is the only player with a perfect 2/2 score. Half point bye requests and drawn games of undefeated players have put Winslow in control of the tournament very early. David Askin tried to grind out a win against Daniel Wang in the final game of the evening, but he could not find the break he needed, allowing Wang to hold the position. It was a Cal-Stanford battle between Nathan Fong and Lucas Lesniewski, in which Fong got the win, defeating Lucas who had been on a tear lately, winning the Carroll Capps Memorial just the week before. There are still many games left, as six more rounds will be played to close out the year.
Adam Mercado (playing white in the picture on the left) gets ready to make a move against Aaron Craig. Daniel Wang (white) held his position agaonst David Askin.
In the under 1800 section, 10 players remain undefeated in the 48-player section, with favorite Adam Mercado among them. We welcome many new players in this section, with some getting their first tournament experience through our TNM.
We had a two very special guests delivering the lecture prior to the start of round 2. World Junior Champion GM Evgeny Shtembuliak and GM Pasha Vorontsov from Texas Tech were in town and they graciously came down to visit. It was a dynamic lecture that was very well received by those in attendance. They both also had the pleasure of getting the Mechanics' tour from the living legend himself, IM John Donaldson who was also there that evening.
Their lecture was about “move search algorithm." To get a pdf of “move search algorithm,” send a message to evgeny.shtembuli[email protected].
GM Pasha Vorontsov and GM Evegeny Shtembuliak pose for a quick picture in front of the MI demo board. IM John Donaldson shows them both the chess annex and the stories behind the pictures.
Here are some games from the round, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian
(1) Heidari,Ako (1955) - Winslow,Elliott (2252) [B42]
MI Nov-Dec TNM 1800+ San Francisco (2.1), 09.11.2021
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 This flexible move was also Bobby Fischer's favorite in this position. 5...Bc5 6.Nb3 Be7 7.0-0 d6 8.Nc3 [White could consider 8.c4 with a Maroczy Bind like position.] 8...Nf6 9.Be3 Nbd7 10.f4 b5 [10...Qc7!?] 11.e5!?N
[White starts the action immediately. There are many other slower moves that have been played instead. 11.a3; 11.a4; 11.Qf3 Bb7 12.a3 Rc8; 11.Qe2; 11.f5] 11...dxe5 12.Qf3 Rb8 13.f5 Bb7 14.Qg3 e4?
[14...exf5! 15.Bxf5 g6 16.Bxd7+ Nxd7 17.Rad1 should be a little better for Black; 14...0-0 15.fxe6 fxe6 16.Qh3 Kh8-/+ 17.Qxe6 (17.Nd2 Qc7 18.a4 Bb4! (18...Bd5 19.axb5 axb5 20.Ra7 Rb7 21.Nxb5 Qc8=)
) 17...b4 18.Na4 Bd5 19.Qh3 is also a small edge] 15.fxe6 fxe6 16.Be2
[16...0-0 17.Nd4 Qe8 18.Nxe6 Rf7+/-] 17.Rad1 Rc8
[17...b4!?] 18.Nd4 Qc7 19.Qh3 Nf8 20.Bh5+ g6 21.Bg4 Qc4 22.Bxe6+ Nxe6 23.b3
White is breaking through! 23...Qxc3 24.Qxe6+ Ke8
[25.Rxf6!+- a huge +- 25...Bd5 (25...Rf8 26.Rxf8+ Kxf8 27.Nf5)
26.Qxd5 Qxe3+ (26...Bxf6 27.Nf5 Qc6 28.Nd6+ Kd8 29.Qf7)
27.Kh1 Bxf6 28.Qe6+] 25...Bd5! 26.Qe5 Qc7!=
Wily Winslow escapes again! 27.Bxf6?!
[27.Qxc7 Rxc7 28.Bxf6 Rf8 29.Bxe7 Rxf1+ (29...Rxe7)
30.Kxf1 Kxe7 (30...Rxe7?? 31.Nxb5)
31.Nxb5 axb5 32.Rxd5 Rxc2 33.Rxb5 Rxa2 34.Re5+ Kf6 35.Rxe4 Rb2 36.Rb4 g5=] 27...Qxe5 28.Bxe5 Rf8 29.Rxf8+ Kxf8 30.c3 Bf7
[>=30...Ba8] 31.Kf2?(+) Rc5 32.Bf4 Rxc3-+ 33.Be3 Ke8 34.Ne2?! Rc2 35.Rd4?! Rxa2 36.Rxe4 Kd7 37.Rd4+ Kc8 38.Rd3 Rb2 39.Rc3+ Kd7 40.Bf4 Bxb3 41.Rc7+ Kd8 42.Ke3
[42...Rc2 43.Rxe7 Kxe7 44.Nd4 Rc3+ (44...Rc4)
45.Ke4 Ba2] 43.Rc3 Bxf4+ 44.Nxf4 Bc4 45.Kd4 g5 46.Nh5 Rxg2 47.h3 Rd2+ 48.Ke5 Rd3 49.Rc1 Rxh3 50.Nf6 Kc7
[50...a5] 51.Nd5+ Kb7 52.Nf6 Kb6 53.Rg1 h6 54.Ra1 a5 55.Kd4 a4 56.Nd7+ Ka5 57.Nc5 a3 58.Nb7+ Kb6
[58...Kb4] 59.Nd6 Rd3+ 60.Ke5 Rd5+
White resigns. A great opening and active attack from Ako. He nearly took out the IM. 0-1
(2) Estolas,Brandon (2003) - Clemens,Kristian (1954) [A13]
MI Nov-Dec TNM 1800+ San Francisco (2.3), 09.11.2021
1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Nbd7 5.cxd5 Safe play by Brandon, but it frees Black's position so there are no worries. 5...exd5 6.0-0 Bd6 7.Nc3 c6 8.d3 0-0 9.e4 This active move hits the center and makes room for the white pieces there. 9...dxe4 10.dxe4 Qc7 11.Nd4 a6 This is a little slow and White gains more control of the center. 11...Rd8 is a little better. 12.f4 Bc5 13.Be3 Nb6 14.Nc2 Bg4 15.Qe1 Be7 16.h3 Bc8?! [16...Be6] 17.b3 a5 18.Qf2 Nfd7 19.a4! A nice move to stop Black's activity on the queenside. 19...Re8 20.Rac1 Bd8 21.Nd4 Qd6 22.Rfd1 White has all the pieces in play and Black is operating on just 3 ranks. 22...Qf8
23.Nf5 Bc7 24.Nb5! Bd8 25.Nbd6 Re6 26.e5 g6
You don't even want to know how good the computers rate White's game here! (Oh all right: +7 or so.) So what did he miss? 27.Nd4
[27.Nh6+! Qxh6 28.f5 is best, even if it lets Black get clever with 28...Qxe3 29.Qxe3 gxf5 30.Qf4 Nxe5 31.Nxc8 (still +7)] 27...Rxd6 28.exd6 Nd5 29.Bxd5 cxd5 30.Nb5 Nf6 31.Bc5
Slipping, to "only" +3. [31.Nc7 Bxc7 32.dxc7 followed by lining up on the long diagonal towards Black's king.] 31...Bd7
[32...Qh6] 33.Nxd5 Ne4? 34.Qe3
[34.Ne7+! Bxe7 35.dxe7 Qe8 36.Qe3 should win easily] 34...Nxc5 35.Ne7+! Kg7 36.Nxc8 Ne6 37.Nb6 Bc6 38.Rxc6 bxc6 39.Nd7
With all the bones crunching it's amazing Black can lift a piece. 39...Qe8 40.Qc3+?
[40.Nc5 is best, White is just cleaning up and should claim soon...] 40...f6
White is still winning but it's starting to be problematic. 41.Qxc6
The only move that gets "+-" from Stockfish
Kristian seizes his opportunity. What an annoying move to face. 42.Rxd4?!
White finally throws away the win, which *was* still there: [42.Qb7! musters various defensive resources to squelch Black's threats: 42...Qe2 43.Ne5+! Kh8 44.Rxd4 Qe1+ (44...Qe3+ 45.Kh2 Qxd4 46.Nf7+ Kg8 47.Nxd8)
45.Kh2 fxe5 46.Rc4!+-] 42...Qe1+ 43.Kg2
[43.Kh2 Qf2+ 44.Qg2 Qxd4=] 43...Qe2+ 44.Kh1 Qf1+ 45.Kh2 Qf2+ 46.Kh1
[46.Qg2 Qxd4 is just equal] 46...Qf1+ 47.Kh2 Qf2+ 48.Kh1
Game drawns by repitition. Brandon had a monster position, but Kristian kept fighting and slipped away. 1/2-1/2
(3) Fong,Nathan (2032) - Lesniewski,Lucas (1855) [D02]
MI Nov-Dec TNM 1800+ San Francisco (2.4), 09.11.2021
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 c6 4.Bg2 Bg4 5.c4 e6 6.Qb3 Qb6 Good solid opening play from both sides. 7.Nc3 Nbd7 8.Bf4 Be7 9.h3 Bh5 10.g4 Bg6 11.c5 Qxb3 [Black could also choose the middlegame with 11...Qa6 The endgame is just equal though.] 12.axb3 h5 13.g5 Ne4 14.h4 Nxc3 [14...f6 may be a little more active] 15.bxc3 Be4 16.Bh3! White is getting a little pressure now. 16...Nf8 17.0-0 Bxf3 18.exf3 f5!? Going for a locked up kingside. It does leave the e6 pawn backward. 19.Bg3 Ng6 20.f4 Bd8 21.Kg2 Kf7 22.Kf3 Bc7 23.Ke3
There are some ridiculous pieces here, but White manages to make it work out. 23...Rhb8 24.Rfb1 b5?!
[24...a5= looks loose but in fact locks it down.] 25.Ra6! Ne7 26.Rba1
But why can't White just take on a7 then? 26...Rb7?!
[26...Ke8 27.Rxa7 Rxa7 28.Rxa7 Kd7 29.Kd3 Nc8 30.Ra1 Rb7 Snug as a bug.] 27.Bf1
[27.Kd3 followed by Re1 gets a higher evaluation but still isn't clear at all.] 27...g6 28.f3 Ke8 29.Be1 Kd7 30.Bd2 Kc8 31.Kd3 Kd7 32.Kc2 Nc8 33.Bd3 Rab8
How to break through? 34.Re1 Ne7 35.Rea1 Nc8 36.Kb2 Bd8 37.Bc2 Bc7 38.Re1 Ne7 39.Rea1 Nc8
40.Bb1 Bd8 41.Kc2 Bc7 42.Kd3 Bd8 43.Bc2 Bc7 44.Re1 Ne7 45.Rea1 Nc8
[46...bxc4+ 47.bxc4 dxc4+ 48.Kxc4 Ne7 49.Kd3 Nd5 50.Ba4 Ne7 51.Re1 Rb1=] 47.Bd1
and now: it's a win for White... 47...Bd8 48.Be2 Bc7 49.Kc2 Ra8 50.Bd3 dxc4??
Perhaps Black missed the tactics this walks into. [50...Ne7] 51.Bxc4 Ne7 52.Re1 Nd5
[Or 53.Rxe6!] 53...Kxc6 54.Rxe6+ Kd7 55.Bxd5 Rb5 56.Rxg6
And Black's pawns turn out to be the vulnerable ones. There is no hope here to Lucas resigned. 1-0
(4) Riese,Kayven (1900) - Porlares,Teodoro (1746) [B14]
MI Nov-Dec TNM 1800+ San Francisco (2.7), 09.11.2021
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 The Panov-Botvinnik Attack is good for players who like open positions with attacking chances. Other variations of the Caro-Kann can be extemely solid for Black. 4...e6 5.Nf3 Nd7?! This gives White some good posibilities. The standard 5...Nf6 is preferable. 6.Nc3 Ngf6 7.a3 Be7 8.c5 a6 This doesn't help much. White will be getting nice mobile queenside pawns soon. 9.Bd3 Qc7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Re1 b5 [11...b6 may be a little better, but Black has trouble on the queenside in any case] 12.b4 Re8 13.Bg5 Bb7 14.Bh4 Bf8 15.Ne5 [15.Bg3 is a good alternative] 15...g6 [15...Nxe5 16.dxe5 Nd7 17.Qg4 g6] 16.f4 Bg7 17.Qf3 Nxe5 18.fxe5 Nd7 19.Rf1 Rf8
keeping an eye on the e6 pawn 20...Rae8 21.Bg3 Nb8 22.a4!
remembering there is also good play on the queenside. 22...bxa4 23.Rxa4 Rc8 24.Rfa1 Nc6 25.Qg4 Ra8
26.b5 axb5 27.Nxb5 Rxa4 28.Rxa4 Qd7 29.Qd1 Rb8 30.Nd6 Nd8 31.Ra7 Ra8 32.Qa1 Rxa7 33.Qxa7 Bc6
Clearly White has a strong position with the knight on d6. Can Black hold? 34.Qb8 Bf8 35.Be1 Be7 36.Ba5 Kg7 37.Ba6 Bg5 38.Kf2 f5 39.g3 Qe7 40.Qc7 Qxc7 41.Bxc7 Kf8 42.Nc8?!
[42.Bc8! Ke7 43.Bxd8+ Kxd8 44.Nf7+ Kxc8 45.Nxg5 should be an easy with with good knight and extra pawn] 42...Ke8 43.Bd6 Nb7 44.Na7 Kd7 45.Bb8 Na5?
[45...Bc1 has much better chances to hold the game] 46.Bc8+ Ke7 47.Bd6+
Black loses material now 47...Kf7
[47...Kd8 48.Bxe6 is certainly lost also] 48.Bc7!
48...Nc4 49.Nxc6 Be3+ 50.Ke2 Bg1 51.h4 Bh2 52.Kf2
A bishop up should be easy for White but Teodoro fights to make it hard. 52...f4 53.gxf4 Bxf4 54.Nd8+ Ke7 55.Nxe6 Be3+ 56.Ke2 Bg1 57.Nf4 Bxd4 58.Nxd5+ Ke8 59.e6 Bxc5 60.Nf6+ Ke7 61.Nxh7 Nd6 62.Bd7 Nf5 63.Bf4 Nd4+ 64.Kd3 Nxe6 65.Bxe6 Kxe6
It is still quite winning for White but you must know how to checkmate with bishop and knight vs. king. 66.Ke4 Kf7
[66...Bf2 67.Ng5+ Ke7 68.Nf3 Bxh4 would jump right to the test.] 67.Ng5+ Kg8 68.Bg3 Ba3 69.Kd5 Kg7 70.Ke6 Bc1 71.Nf7 Ba3 72.Be5+ Kh7 73.Bf6 Bb4 74.Bg5 Be1 75.Nd6 Kg7
Back in the hole. [76...Kh6 draws. Mind you, Black was running on 0:04 plus the delay for quite a few moves now.] 77.Kf7?
[Here's one winning plan: 77.Bg5 Kg7 78.Ne8+ Kf8 79.Nf6 Kg7 80.Ng4 Bg3 81.Ke7 Be1 82.Bf6+ Kg8 83.Ne5 Kh7 84.Nd3 Bg3 85.Bg5 Kg8 86.Nf4 It is the right bishop and rook pawn pair!] 77...Bb4?
[77...Kh6 draws again. You'd think he'd play this with 1 second left!] 78.Ne4
Back on track! 78...Be1
[Now 78...Kh6 79.Bg5+ Kh5 80.Nf6#!] 79.Bg5 Bb4 80.Nf6+ Kh8
[Forget that pawn! Checkmate! 81.Bh6 Bf8 82.Kxf8 g5 83.Bg7#] 81...Be1 82.h5 Bb4 83.h6 Bf8 84.h7 Bh6 85.Ne4 Bg7
[85...Bxg5 86.Nd6! Bf6 87.Nf7#] 86.Be7
[86.Nd6!] 86...Bd4 87.Ng5 Ba1 88.Nf7# 1-0
(5) Barreyro,Romeo (1649) - Suarez,Sebastian (1474) [A03]
MI Nov-Dec TNM u1800 San Francisco (2.16), 09.11.2021
1.f4 d5 2.b3 g6 3.Bb2 Nf6 A good line for Black against Bird's Opening. 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.e3 c5 6.Be2 Nc6 7.0-0 0-0 8.Ne5 Nxe5 9.fxe5 Nd7 10.d4 The position offers even chances. 10...e6 [10...Nb8! would be a good alternative] 11.Nc3 a6 12.Bg4 b5 13.Ne2 Qb6 White has a nice central pawn chain of d4,e5. Romeo plays for tactics though instead of just maintaining it. 14.Nf4 cxd4 15.Bxd4 Qc7
A lot of action! Objectively it's not quite enough for the knight though. 16...fxe6 17.Bxe6+ Kh8 18.Rxf8+ Nxf8 19.Bxd5 Bb7 20.Bxb7 Qxb7 21.Qf3
[21...Rb8! would keep the White e-pawns isolated and Black would have a clear edge.] 22.gxf3 Ne6 23.c3 Rd8 24.Rd1 b4?!
[24...Kg8! gets the king into the game] 25.cxb4 Nxd4?! 26.Rxd4! Rxd4?
This gives White a winning ending with 4 pawns against the bishop. [26...Rc8 makes it hard for White to win] 27.exd4 Bh6 28.Kf2 Kg8 29.a4 Kf7 30.b5 axb5 31.axb5 Ke6 32.Ke2 Bf4 33.h3 Kd5 34.Kd3 Bg3
35.b6! Kc6 36.Kc4 Kxb6 37.Kd5 very nice. Material is equal againt but the active White king and advanced e-pawn win the game 37...Kc7 38.Ke6 Kd8 39.b4 g5 40.b5 Bf2 41.d5 Bd4 42.d6 Bb6 43.Kd5 Kd7 44.e6+ Kd8 45.Kc6 Ba5 46.b6 1-0
SwissSys Standings. Nov-Dec 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: 1800+
SwissSys Standings. Nov-Dec 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: Under1800
SwissSys Standings. Nov-Dec 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: Extra Games
49th Carroll Capps Memorial Report
by Abel Talamantez
Recently 36 players turned out for the 49th Carroll Capps Memorial, with Lucas Lesniewski winning the top section with 4/4, and Pavel Kolesnikov winning the under 1800 section with 3.5/4. The event was USCF rated with a time control of G/45;d5. We want to thank all those who attended and congratulations to the winners. Special shout out goes to Jocelyn Ren and Katherine Sunny Lu for outstanding performances in the under 1800 section, with Ren scoring 3/4 and tying for 2nd place! We look forward to seeing their development in the upcoming years.
There is a great account of the life of Carroll Capps from the Chess Dryad. Special thanks ot Kerry Lawless for maintaining such a rich source of California chess history. To read, click HERE
Final Standings are here:
SwissSys Standings. 49th Carroll Capps Memorial: 1800+
SwissSys Standings. 49th Carroll Capps Memorial: u/1800
The Perfect Gift: Mechanics' Institute Commemorative Chess Set from House of Staunton
Jose Raul Capablanca visited the Mechanics' Institute in 1916, and a famous picture of him playing inside the chess room against AJ Fink shows the pieces that were a symbol of the Mechanics' Institute. The House of Staunton has made a high quality commemorarive edition of their chess set, which is availbale for sale. There is no better gift for a chess enthusiast these holidays, particulalry if you want to support the Mechanics' Institute as 10% of all proceeds from the purchase of this set goes back to the Mechanics' Institute!
To purchase your own set or to get one as a special gift, please follow this link HERE
Thank you for all your support!
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Chess Teasers From Movies
by Abel Talamantez
For this week's edition, we will see a position from Stanley Kubrick's classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The HAL-9000 computer is playing Frank Poole as black and arrived at this position. Black to move and mate in 4. This position was taken from an actual tournament game in Hamburg in 1910 between A. Roesch and W. Schlage. Good luck! Solution is at the end of the newsletter.
Mechanics' Institute Events Schedule
Don't Miss our Exciting Upcoming Events!!
The Mechanics' Institute will continue to hold regular and online events. Here is our upcoming schedule for players:
Mechanics' Institute November/December TNM: FIDE Rated. Nov 2- Dec 21, 6:30PM PT. G/120;d5: https://www.milibrary.org/chess-tournaments/tuesday-night-marathon-2021-nov-dec-person
Mechanics' Institute November Quads: November 13, 3PM PT. 3 Games G/30;d5: https://www.milibrary.org/chess-tournaments/mechanics-championship-quads
Mechanics' Institute Thanksgiving Gobbler Open: FIDE Rated. November 26-28. 6SS G/90+30: https://mechanics-institute.jumbula.com/Tournaments2021/MechanicsThanksgivingGobblerOpenInPersonFIDE
Mechanics' Institute Class Schedule
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Scholastic Chess Bulletin
The scholastic news is covered in a dedicated publication:
Mechanics' Institute Scholastic Chess Bulletin
Scholastic Chess Bulletin #6 is out!
In this issue:
- Monthly Scholastic In-Person Tournament - 2021 October Report with Player Highlight: Justyn Klot
- Chess Enrichment Highlight: Alta Vista School
- Chess Camps on October 11 - Report
- ChessKid Style by Andrew Ballantyne
- Special Event: Halloween Tournament @ Mechanics' Institute on Oct 30
- Understanding Tournaments - Tiebreaks
- Upcoming Tournament Schedule
- Tournament Results & Featured Games analyzed by GM Nick de Firmian
Please click the following LINK to read our latest edition.
Interested in reading the past issues? Click here to see the list of all issues.
All of us at Mechanics' Institute would like to thank you for your support of our scholastic chess programming.
My Chess Books
FM Paul Whitehead
These are the handful of chess books I own right now. The most recent acquisition was John Donaldson’s book on Fischer. John inscribed a personal note to me, but I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to reveal what he wrote.
When I was eighteen years old I owned about 300 chess books, 3/4 of which I’d read or dipped into, or used as reference. The other third I thought I might have gotten to one day, but they were mostly boring opening books (homework) so maybe not. In any case, I loved books (not just chess books) and throughout my life I’ve had various collections. My earliest collection was comics (does that count?), and my last effort was a black and white photography book collection of roughly 300 volumes that took over 20 years to put together.
For me, interests and passions have waxed and waned. Sometimes I wish it were not so, but that’s just the way it is for me. When I took to chess I discarded my comic books as easily as Batman slipped off his mask; and when chess lost its glow, a bookseller, chess master and friend of mine named Max Burkett came over to my house and took the whole lot. I later developed (pun intended) a passion for photography and another book collection was born, flourished, and eventually passed away.
I have written about my ten favorite chess books in previous newsletters here:
I have also written about the adventures(!) of a particular chess book here:
Now I own this rag-tag collection, this mere handful of books. John Donaldson, friend and colleague, reunited me some time ago with Napier’s Paul Morphy and the Golden Age of Chess – my very first chess book. He also dropped that Red Book of Tal’s games into my lap. How could I say no, but thank you, that my collecting days were over? Is this how it starts? A book here, a book there. Before you know it, the bookshelf is groaning with the weight…
But one thing I know for sure is this: if my chess book collection were somehow to grow (and it won’t, I swear!) I will never, ever, put a book on the openings up there. Not interested.
But a nice hardbound copy of Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953, by David Bronstein?
Don’t tempt me.
Nick de Firmian’s Column
The FIDE Grand Swiss tournament in Riga sent Firouzja and Caruana into next year’s Candidates Tournament. It was a defining victory for Alireza Firouzja, who took clear first place with 8/11. Not only did this raise his rating to #5 in the world, it places him in historically elite company as one of only four players to ever qualify for the Candidates while still a teenager. The other three were Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer, and Magnus Carlsen. We should also mention Paul Morphy when we speak of young players taking over the chess world.
Fabiano Caruana was no doubt relieved to capture the second spot with 7.5/11. He (deservedly) edged out Gigoriy Oparin on tiebreak and had the satisfaction of dealing Firouzja his one defeat in the event. Caruana is no doubt gearing up for another challenge for the chess crown. The last Candidates Tournament in Russia was affected by the Covid pandemic, which surely harmed the play of Caruana, Ding Liren and others. As Americans we can take solace that although Caruana didn’t win, he played like a great champion and his determination carried him through this important qualification.
A further six top-finishers – Grigoriy Oparin, Yu Yangyl, Vincent Keymer, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexandr Predke and Alexei Shirov – also qualify into the FIDE Grand Prix, a series of tournaments next on the horizon which will determine the last two qualifying spots for next year’s Candidates Tournament. It was interesting to see Shirov back in the thick of competition. At 49 years old one thinks he may be washed up, yet his sparkling play reminds us of his glories of yesteryear. Many of his old fans will be routing for him to have a great comeback.
(1) Firouzja,Alireza - Howell,David [C54]
FIDE Gand Chess, 08.11.2021
This game was played in the 10th round right after Firouzja had lost to Caruana. Howell was on a hot streak, having won 4 games in a row. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d3 A classical Italian Game. White gets only a minor edge, but the game becomes very complex. 5...h6 6.c3 d6 7.Re1 0-0 8.h3 a5 9.Nbd2 Be6 10.Bb5 Ba7 11.Nf1 Ne7 12.Ng3 c6 13.Ba4 b5 14.Bc2 a4 15.d4 Ng6 16.Be3 Re8
The position looks much like a Ruy Lopez, with the white pawns on e4 and d4. There is still a minor plus for White yet both sides have many possibilities. 17.Bd3 Bb6 18.a3 Qc7 19.Rc1 Ba5 20.Re2 Qb7 21.c4
charging forward. Now finally some captures mus take place. 21...bxc4 22.Bxc4 d5 23.Bd3 exd4
[perhaps Black does better with 23...Nf4!? 24.Bxf4 (24.dxe5 Nxe2+ 25.Qxe2 Nxe4 26.Nxe4 dxe4 27.Bxe4 Bd5)
24...exf4 25.exd5 Bxd5 26.Nf5] 24.Nxd4 Bd7 25.Ndf5 Bc7
[25...dxe4 26.Nd6] 26.exd5 cxd5 27.Bd4
White has a just slight edge now with central squares due to the isolated black d-pawn 27...Be5?!
28.Nxh6+! gxh6 29.Bxg6 Bxg3 30.Rxe8+ Rxe8
[30...Nxe8? 31.Qh5!] 31.Qf3!?
[well played by Howell. The back rank mate stops Firouzja from taking the queen. 31...Bh4 32.Bxf6 Bxf6 33.Qxf6] 32.Bc2! Bb8?!
[32...Be5 33.Bh7+ Nxh7 34.Rxc6 Bxc6 35.Bxe5 Rxe5 36.Qg4+ Kh8 37.Qf4 f6 38.Qxh6 is only slightly better for White; 32...Qxc2 33.Qxg3+ Qg6 34.Qxg6+ fxg6 35.Bxf6] 33.Qxf6 Qxf6 34.Bxf6 Rc8 35.Bc3 d4 36.Bd2!
now White is a pawn ahead in the ending. The question is can he convert it to a win 36...Kg7 37.Bd3 Rxc1+ 38.Bxc1 h5 39.h4 Bc6 40.g3 Bd7 41.Kf1 Be5 42.Ke2 Bg4+ 43.Kd2!
The active white king makes the black d-pawn weak. One may be afraid of checks but there is no real danger with only bishops on the board. 43...Bd7 44.Kc2 Be6?! 45.Bb5 Bb3+ 46.Kd3
now White is winning. Black has trouble defending all the isolated pawns 46...Kg6 47.Bd7 Bd1 48.Bd2 f5 49.Bf4 Bg7 50.Bd6 Bf6 51.Be8+ Kh6 52.Bc5 f4 53.Bxd4 Bd8 54.Kd2 Bb3 55.Be5 fxg3 56.fxg3 Ba5+ 57.Kc1!
White will win a third pawn with 58. Bf4+ and 59. Bxh5. Howell threw in the towell. 1-0
(2) Caruana,Fabiano - Firouzja,Alireza [B12]
FIDE Gand Chess, 08.11.2021
This game was of great importance for Caruana and for the tournament standings. Played in the 9th round, Firouzja was a whole point ahead of the field. If Caruana wanted any chance to qualify for the Candidates he had to win this game. 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 The solid Caro-Kann 3.e5 Caruana plays the aggressive Advance Variation. 3...Bf5 4.h4 h5 5.Bd3 Bxd3 6.Qxd3 Qa5+ 7.Nd2 e6 8.Ne2 Ne7 9.b4! A novelty. Black doesn't want to capture on b4, so seeks a safe ending. 9...Qa6 [9...Qxb4 10.Rb1 Qa5 11.Rxb7 is active for White] 10.Qb3 Nf5 11.Nf3 Nd7 12.a4 Ready to start queenside play. 12...Qc4
Firouzja is forcing the endgame he was seeking, yet Caruana still has some initiative with the advanced pawns. 13.Bd2! Qxb3 14.cxb3 f6 15.0-0 Be7 16.g3 Kf7
[16...fxe5 17.dxe5] 17.Rfe1 fxe5 18.dxe5 Rac8 19.Nf4
Black's pawn struture is solid enough, yet the white pieces are active and there will be b4-b5 happening at some point if Black just sits on the position. 19...d4
[19...c5? 20.Nxd5! exd5 21.e6+ Ke8 22.exd7+ Kxd7 23.Ne5+ Kc7 24.bxc5] 20.Rac1 c5
[perhaps 21...Bd8 would keep White's initiative in check] 22.Nxe7 Nxe7 23.Ng5+ Kg6 24.Rxc8 Rxc8 25.Nxe6 Nc6 26.f4 Kf5
active play from Firouzja, not letting the white knight having a fine central spot 27.Nxg7+ Kg6 28.Ne6 Kf5 29.Ng5 Nc5 30.Nf7
both players continue to prioritize activity. Also reasonable was [30.Rb1!?] 30...Ke6 31.Nd6 Rg8 32.Kg2 Kd5!?
[32...Nxb3 33.f5+ Kd5 34.Ne4 Rf8 35.Nf6+ Kc4 36.Bh6 Rh8 37.Bg7 Ra8 38.Ne4 d3 39.e6 Ncd4 40.Rf1 is somewhat better for White in a wild ending] 33.Rb1 Ne4!?
[33...b6] 34.Nxe4 Kxe4 35.Rc1 Kd3 36.Be1 Ke2 37.e6 d3 38.f5 Nd4?
probably the decisive mistake [38...Re8 39.a5 is a little better for White; 38...Rf8? 39.Rxc6! bxc6 40.e7 Re8 41.f6 Kxe1 42.f7 wins] 39.Bxb4 d2 40.Bxd2 Kxd2 41.Rc5
White's three pawns are better than the black knight. 41...Re8 42.Re5 Kd3 43.Kf2 Re7
44.g4! hxg4 45.Kg3 Re8
[45...Nxf5+ 46.Rxf5 Rxe6 47.Kxg4 has excellent winning chances with the passed h-pawn] 46.Kxg4 Nc6
Wonderful play by Caruana! He is a piece down and happy to be a rook down the the monster passed pawns. 47...Ne7
[47...Nxe5 48.Kxe5 and the pawns run down] 48.f6 Ng6+ 49.Kf5 Nxh4+ 50.Kg5! Nf3+ 51.Kf4 Nd4 52.e7 Nc6 53.f7! Rxe7 54.Rd5+
Firouzja resigned as the f-pawn queens. An epic battle showing Caruana is still the leading contender to win the chess crown from Magnus. 1-0
(3) Sargissian - Shirov [D44]
FIDE Gand Chess, 08.11.2021
This is a battle with all guns blazing. No surpise one of the contestants is Alexei Shirov, the author of "Fire on Board." The 49 year old Latvian has been out of the limelight for years, but scored am excellent 7/11 and now still has chances to qualify for the Candidates in the FIDE Grand Prix. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Sargissian plays the old super sharp line from the days of Botvinnik. 5...dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Of course White wins the piece back. Black gets activity and open lines for the pawn sacrificed. 10...Nbd7 11.g3 Bb7 12.Bg2 Qb6 13.exf6 0-0-0 14.0-0 c5 15.d5 b4 16.Rb1 Qa6
[taking the knight leads to terrible trouble - 16...bxc3? 17.bxc3 Qa6 18.Rxb7! Qxb7 19.dxe6 Qb5 20.e7 wins] 17.dxe6 Bxg2 18.e7! Bxf1 19.Qd5!? Bxe7 20.fxe7 Bd3 21.exd8Q+
[21.Qa8+ Nb8 22.exd8Q+ Rxd8 23.Bxd8 bxc3 24.Re1 cxb2] 21...Rxd8 22.Ne4! Bxb1
[22...Bxe4 23.Qxe4 f6 24.Bf4] 23.Nd6+ Kc7 24.Bf4
24...Kb6 [24...Ne5 25.Qxc5+ Qc6 26.Qxe5 is a little better for White] 25.Nxc4+ Kb5 26.Nd6+ Kb6 27.Nc4+ Kb5 28.Nd6+ Kb6 29.Nc4+ Kb5 30.Nd6+ [White decides to repeat rather than venture 30.a4+? Kxa4 31.b3+ (31.Bc7 Nb6 32.Qc6+ Kb3) 31...Kxb3 32.Nd2+ Ka4 33.Qb3+ Ka5 34.Bc7+ Nb6 35.Bxd8 Qd3 with a clear edge] 30...Kb6 1/2-1/2
Solution to Chess in the Movies
...1 Qf3!! (defending the bishop threatening Nh6#. If Bxf3, then Nxf3#) 2. Qh6 gxh6 3. h4 Nh3+ 4. Kh2 Ng4#
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