The quiz solutions will appear next week with entries open until Wednesday. This position didn’t make it into the final cut. If 21 Qh4 Rfd8 the black king escapes. How can White improve on this (solution at the end)?
The first top-class tournament of the year will get under way next weekend in Wijk aan Zee, with round one on Saturday. As ever, it consists of a gradated series of events, with the top two, the Masters and Challengers, formidable in different ways: the Masters simply because it’s so strong; the Challengers because you have to win it to get into next year’s Masters.
That feat was achieved last year by the Indian grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi, who despite now being rated 2701 is seeded 13th out of 14 in an event headed by six of the world’s current top 10: Magnus Carlsen (1), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (3), Ding Liren (4), Anish Giri (5), Vladimir Kramnik (7) and Viswanathan Anand (8). One of Wijk’s charms is that with a field of 14 there is room for some slightly weaker players, which creates a good proportion of decisive games. And the bottom seed, the young Dutchman Jorden Van Foreest, who is rated a “mere” 2614, will have to fight for his life.
This is an extremely busy period in the chess calendar, with numerous open tournaments including Hastings, which resulted in a six-way tie for first, including Daniel Gormally; the Rilton Cup in Stockholm won by Tamir Nabaty from Israel; and a strong tournament in Burlingame in California near to San Francisco: the Bay Area Open won by Lê Quang Liêm from Vietnam and Russian Andrey Stukopin.
Opens always throw up some nice miniatures (games of 25 moves and less) and I enjoyed these, which I picked up from Tuesday’s edition of Mark Crowther’s splendid weekly digest the Week in Chess (TWIC 1261, see theweekinchess.com). Normally it’s the stronger player who prevails in miniatures, but here American grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky was put to the sword by a Venzuelan IM. Daniel Naroditsky v Felix Ynojosa Bay Area Open 2019 Sicilian 3 Bb5
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 e6 4 0-0 Nge7 5 d4 5 Re1 a6 6 Bf1 is more common or earlier 4 Bxc6 before Black can recapture with the knight. 5...cxd4 6 Nxd4 Qb6 7 Nxc6 bxc6 8 Be2 Ng6 9 Nc3 Be7 10 Na4 Qc7 11 c4 c5 12
f4 0-0 13 Be3 Bb7 14 Nc3 f5! This nice pawn thrust softens up the long white diagonal for the b7 bishop.
15 exf5 If 15 e5 Nh4 16 Rf2 Black is comfortable and might after preparation even play for ...g5 later to attack on the g file.
15...Nh4! 16 fxe6 16 Rf2 Nxf5 is also better for Black. 16...Nxg2 17 Nb5 Qb6 Certainly not 17... Qc6? 18 Bf3 and White will win. 18 Bc1 dxe6 19 Bf3 Rad8 20 Qe2 Bxf3 21 Rxf3 Nh4 22 Rh3 Diagram 2
Black has played simply but extremely effectively and now included the queen in the attack.
22...e5! 23 Nc3 If 23 fxe5 Qg6+ 24 Rg3 Qe4! 25 Be3 (25 Qxe4 Rd1+ leads to mate) 25… Nf3+ 26 Kh1 Rd2 splat! 23...exf4 24 Nd5 Rxd5 25 cxd5 Qg6+ 26 Kf1 Bf6 27 Bxf4 Bd4 28 Qe6+ Qxe6 29 dxe6 Rxf4+ Here the game finished. This may look premature but Black has a big material advantage and is winning easily. Perhaps White lost on time rather than resigning?
Diego Flores v Javier Matamala Zicosur Open 2019 Symmetrical English 1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 g3 g6 5 Bg2 Bg7 6 d4 cxd4 7 Nxd4 0-0 8 0-0 a6 9 c5 Qc7 10 Na4 e5? 10...Rb8 is perfectly playable.
11 Nb3 Rd8 12 Nb6 Rb8 13 Bg5 Ne7 If 13...d5 14 Bxf6 Bxf6 15 Nxd5 Rxd5 16 Qxd5 Be6 White has a winning material advantage but at least Black gets some pieces out. 14 Qd6! Qxd6 15 cxd6 Nc6 16 Nc5 h6 17 Bxf6 Bxf6 18 Bh3 Nd4 If 18...Bg7 say 19 Bxd7 Bxd7 20 Ncxd7 wins material. 19 e3 Ne6 20 Bxe6 fxe6 Or 20 .... dxe6 21 d7 21 Ne4 Bg7
22 Rac1 What a picture! Black is paralysed while White doubles rooks on the c file and then removes the c8 bishop so he resigned.
In diagram 1, after 21 Rh8+ Bxh8 (or 21...Kxh8 22 Qh4+) 22 Qh4 there was no way to prevent mate since if 22... Rf8moves 23 Qh7+ Kf8 24 Qxh8 mate.