Chess

The Observer - The New Review - - Puzzles - by Jonathan Speel­man

Di­a­gram 1

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

Di­a­gram 3

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.

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