So leads Yank brigade to dom­i­nance in Lon­don

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - DAVID R. SANDS

The just-con­cluded Eighth Lon­don Chess Clas­sic fea­tured an elite field of play­ers from around the world, but it was the Amer­i­cans who pro­vided most of the drama and the fire­works.

The U.S. “Big Three” of GMs — Fabi­ano Caru­ana, Wes­ley So and Hikaru Naka­mura — have al­ready made his­tory by bring­ing home the Olympiad gold medal in Septem­ber for the first time in four decades. All three shone again in Lon­don, with So tak­ing first out­right with an un­de­feated 6-3 score, Caru­ana a half-point back in sec­ond and Naka­mura in a three-way tie for third with ex­world champs Vladimir Kram­nik of Rus­sia and Viswanathan Anand of In­dia at 5-4.

So, who cap­tured the mul­ti­tour­na­ment Grand Chess Tour with his win, played some beau­ti­ful chess in Lon­don, but it was com­pletely over­shad­owed by Caru­ana’s epic queen sac­ri­fice against Naka­mura in their Round 6 game. Naka­mura — whose only other loss was to So in Round 1 — bounced back with a bril­liancy of his own against France’s Maxime Vachier La­grave, us­ing the same Si­cil­ian Na­j­dorf open­ing that Caru­ana had just em­ployed against him.

Let’s pick up the ac­tion with Caru­ana’s amaz­ing win. Both play­ers had ap­par­ently deeply an­a­lyzed this com­plex line through 17. Qxf4 Nexg4 18. Bxg4 e5 (see di­a­gram) 19. Qxf6!!? Bxf6 20. Nd5 Qd8, when White can re­store ma­te­rial equal­ity with 21. Nc6!? (the Black queen is trapped) Bxg4 22. Nxd8 Bxd8, with an un­clear end­ing. In­stead, White of­fers a true po­si­tional sac­ri­fice with 21. Nf5!! Rb8?! (Bxf5 22. Bxf5 was also playable, but White has a fear­some bind) 22. Nxf6+ Qxf6.

Pol­ish GM Michal Kransenkow, an­a­lyz­ing the game on ChessBase. com, con­tends Caru­ana now had a com­plex win start­ing with 23. Nxd6+! Ke7 24. Bc5!!, but White’s 23. Rxd6 Be6 24. Rah1 0-0 25. h5 still gives him an at­tack with never flags, de­spite the ma­te­rial deficit. One last er­ror by the hard-pressed de­fender gives Caru­ana the point.

Thus: 28. Bf5 Qe7? (Rhe8 was needed here to shore up e6) 29. b5 Qe8 30. Nxf7+! Rxf7 31. Rxe6 Qxb5 32. Rh6+, and Naka­mura re­signed fac­ing hope­less lines such as 32... Kg8 33. Rg1+ Rg7 34. Be6+ Kf8 35. Bc5+! Qxc5 36. Rh8+ Ke7 37. Rxg7+ Kd6 (Kxe6 38. Rh6 mate) 38. Rxb8 Kxe6 39. Rb6+! Qxb6 40. Rg6+ and wins.

All credit to Naka­mura — he re­bounded with Na­j­dorf bril­liancy of his own against Vachier-La­grave, this time play­ing the White pieces. We pick it up from to­day’s di­a­gram, where Black is des­per­ately try­ing to gin up some coun­terthreats with his king un­der heavy fire. Play con­tin­ued 29...Rg5!? (one last trick; Black gets a per­pet­ual af­ter 30. Qxg5?? Qa4+ 31. Kb1 Qc2+) 30. Qxd6+! Kg8 (Ke8 31. Rxe6+ will mate quickly) 31. Rg1!, block­ing 31...Ra5+ by pin­ning the rook.

White fin­ishes in style: 31... Qa4+ 32. Ba3 Rxg1 33. Rxg1+ Kh7 34. Qd3+ Kh6 35. Rg6+!! Kxh5 (fxg6 36. Qxg6 mate; 35... Kh7 36. Rf6+ Kg7 37. Rxf7+!! Kxf7 38. Qg6 mate) 36. Rg1 f5 37. Qf3+, and Black has to give up his queen just to de­lay check­mate; VachierLa­grave re­signed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.