29 December 2018

Arabian Passers

Final day of King Salman Rapid World Championship reviewed by Maxim Notkin

Being capable of making a clear distinction between sporting and creative sides, I dare to say that neither Daniil Dubov nor Ju Wenjun, the 2018 World Rapid Champions, were trying to stun the public and their opponents with brilliant ideas. They skillfully maintained the pressure, made almost no mistakes, and cleverly utilized the opportunities given to them.


The following game from the penultimate round that largely decided the outcome of the Open Section can suit as an excellent example.


Swift Counterattack


Wang Hao – D. Dubov


Having gone nowhere with his queenside actions, Wang Hao forgot that the opponent may also have ambitions.

30.Rb5?! Qf7 31.Rb6? These two free tempi was everything Dubov needed to create lethal threats.

31...Bh6! Intending to push the e-pawn.

32.Qd1 Be3 33.Qf1 Qh5! White defended against the check from f2, however, the queen is about to be replaced with the rook. On34.Rb3 there is34...Rf7.

34.Rxe6. In order to parry34...Rf7 by35.Rf6.




Attacking both the bishop and the e2-pawn.

35.Kh1 Rxb2. After 35...Rxe2? 36.Re8+ White survives, but one cannot argue with an extra piece.

36.Re5 Qf7 37.Rf5 Qe6 38.Re5 Qd7 39.Qf6 Rb1+. Checkmating ong1. White resigns.


Carlsen's Magic


The 14th World Champion wins a trademark endgame.


MCarlsen – DAndreikin


The game was taking a very sleepy course, and the sudden change of gears took Dmitry off guard.

45...Kf6? 45...Ne5 was necessary, planning to attack the queenside pawns with the knight. After46.Ng7+ Kd5 47.Nxh5 the king takes this mission upon himself:47...Ng6+ 48.Kg5 Nxh4! 49.Kxh4 Kc4, and White has no material left to play for a win. 

46.Ng3 Kg6 47.b3! Unlike his opponent, Magnus assigns the roles correctly. Black is unable to stop the White's king from breaking through the queenside.

47...Nh6 48.Ke5 Ng4+ 49.Kd6 Ne3 50.Kc7 c5 51.Kxb7 c4 52.b4!



52...Nd1. 52...Nc2 53.Kb6 Nxa3 54.Kc5 is also hopeless for Black.

53.Ne2. White grabbed on b5 with the king, and his passed a-pawn finished the race earlier than Black created a counterpart on another flank.

One should note, however, that the art of passed pawn trickery had its chosen – the UAE grandmaster Salem.


Passed Pawn


SSalem – AGoganov



48...Kf5? Looks like Black improves the control over the queening square of the passed pawn. After48...Rf3 the game should end in a draw.

49.Rf7+ Kg4 50.Rxf4+! Kxf4 51.g6+. It came through!

However, this tragicomedy is nothing compared to the one that ruined the tournament for Ian Nepomniachtchi.


I. Nepomniachtchi SSalem


Black's position had been slightly better for a while, but after the mistake committed a couple of moves back, his king got under fire. Now White can win quickly by 62.Qd8+ Kxe6 63.Qe8+ Kf6 64.Rf7#or62...Ke5 63.Ra5. Yet, the move made by Ian does not spoil much, as the computer gives it the evaluation of +10 as well.

62.Rf7+ Ke5 63.e7 Nxe7 64.Rxe7+ Kd4 65.Qa1+ Kc4 66.Qc1+. This check looks better if 66.Rc7! Qxc7 is included.

White kept pushing the black king around, but failed to deliver mate, and then, upon missing a very subtle winning opportunity on the move 80, suddenly found himself under a very unpleasant check.



81...d5+ 82.Qe5 (82.Re5 Re1 wins for Black) 82...Qxe5+ 83.Rxe5 b3. The pawn that spent 33 moves on b4, begins to walk. White's situation is already precarious. He would be happy to give a bishop for his pawn, but his pieces are poorly coordinated and only stand in each other's way. For instance,84.Rxd5 does not work: 84...Rc2+ 85.Bg2 b2 86.Rd1 Rc1 87.Rd7 b1Q 88.Rb7+ Kc5 89.Rxb1 Rxb1, and Black wins.

84.Bxd5 b2 85.Ba2? 85.Be4 was necessary, and after85...Re1 86.Re6+ Ka5 87.Re5+ Kb4 88.Kg2! b1Q 89.Bxb1 Rxe5 90.Kf3 White is in time to kill the opponent's last remaining pawn byBf5 and Kf4-g5.




Somehow this passed pawn will cost White both of his pieces.

86.Re6+ Kc5 87.Re5+ Kb4 88.Re4+ Ka3 89.Bb1 Rxb1 90.Re8 Ra1 91.Ra8+ Kb3 92.Rb8+ Kc3 93.Kg2 b1Q. White resigns.


In the last round Salem also created a passed pawn on b4, however, Dmitry Jakovenko masterfully defended a difficult position, and the passed pawn failed to reach the back rank. The back rank was better used by the queen that was already on the board.


The Long Move


DJakovenko – SSalem


36.Rh7! Qxd3 37.Rf7+ Kg8 38.Qh1! Black resigns.


Under Direct Fire


FAmonatov – ASarana



23.Nd7! Bxh2? On23...Qxd7 there is24.Rxg7+! Kxg7 25.Rg1+ with a mate. However, the text-move does not prevent this devastating idea. Black had to accept losing an exchange and move on with, say,23...f5.

24.Nf6+ Kh8 25.Rxg7! Kxg7 26.Qg4+! Kh6 (26...Kxf6 27.Rf1+) 27.Qh5+ Kg7 28.Qg5+. The simplest, although one could be more spectacular with 28.Qxh7+!? Kxf6 29.Rf1+ Kg5 30.Rf5+ Kg4 31.Qh5+ Kg3 32.Qf3+ Kh4 33.Rh5# or 32.Rf3+ Kg2 33.Qh3+ Kh1 34.Rf1#, as neither of these lines requires much sophistication.

28...Kh8 29.Qh6. Black resigns.


Fork, Distraction, Interposition


None of these happened.


SKhanin – BSavchenko



Black played 50...Bh3, which proved insufficient for a win. The square is right, but the piece is not: 50...Qh3! (attacking the с3-pawn and the f1-rook) 51.Qxc4 (protecting them both) 51...Be2!!, and after52.Qxe2 Black takes onс3, while 52.Rxe2 is met by taking on f1.


Sacrificing the Queen


Two outstanding grandmasters from St. Petersburg are co-authoring this section.


J.-K. Duda – PSvidler


The ending was difficult, but defensible. It was also boring. Peter lacked the patience to stand still, so he decided to land the queen on the opponent's ground, and missed the return train.

35...f6? 36.Rf5! 37.f3 is lethal, and the only defense 36...g5 is lethal for Black's own king: 37.Rxf6 Qxh5 38.e5. Black resigns.


IKovalenko – KSakaev


Had Black covered the back rank by 32...Rd8, he wouldn't have to worry about the outcome.

32...Qc7? 33.Qxh6+! With the obvious finale 33...gxh6 34.Nf6+ Kg7 35.Rg8#.


The Soul of Chess


FAmonatov – EInarkiev



Some fragments exist for observation only. Words only do them harm. All I can say it Black's victory was fair and just.

32...e3 33.b4 f4 34.a4 f3 35.b5 axb5 36.axb5 e2 37.b6 Rd6 38.b7 Rb6+ 39.Rb2.



39...Rxb7 40.Rxb7 f2 41.Rb8 Rxc7 42.Rxc7+ Ke6 43.Rb6+ Kd5 44.Rd7+ Kc5.


45.Rdd6 e1Q+ 46.Kb2 Qe2+ 47.Kb3 Qf3+ 48.Ka4 f1Q.