Greetings Chess Players. My name is Chris Torres and this is my daily chess musing for January 21, 2021. 

Did you know today is a Palindrome Date. It’s true. See 1/21/21 reads the same forward and backwards. If you know when the next palindrome day will be, let us know in the comments.

Also, today was a great day for chess in Wijk ann Zee. In round five of the 2021 Tata Steel Chess Tournament, Nils Grandelius defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to retake sole possession of first place. Grandeliius’ game was the only victory of the day and finished with a beautiful tactical flurry. In fact, let’s take a closer look at some of the grandmaster level tactics displayed before MVL’s resignation.

I recommend visiting TataSteelChess.com for more information, player interviews and live broadcasts of this year’s tournament. 

Photos from © Jurriaan Hoefsmit – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021

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[Event “83rd Tata Steel Masters”]
[Site “Wijk aan Zee NED”]
[Date “2021.01.21”]
[Round “5.1”]
[White “Carlsen, Magnus”]
[Black “Donchenko, Alexander”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2668”]
[BlackFideId “24603295”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “B90”]
[EventDate “2021.01.16”]
[Opening “Sicilian”]
[Variation “Najdorf, Byrne (English) attack”]
[WhiteElo “2862”]
[WhiteFideId “1503014”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.h3 Nc6
9.Qf3 Rc8 10.O-O-O Na5 11.Bg5 Be7 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Nd5 Bg5+ 14.Kb1 h5 15.Be2
h4 16.Nxa5 Qxa5 17.Qb3 Qc5 18.Bg4 Qc4 19.Bxe6 fxe6 20.Nb6 Qxb3 21.axb3 Rc6
22.Nc4 Ke7 23.Rd3 Rf8 24.f3 Bf4 25.Rhd1 Rd8 26.c3 Rd7 27.Kc2 Rd8 28.Na5 Rc7
29.b4 Rdd7 30.Kb3 Rd8 31.Nc4 Rc6 32.Na3 d5 33.b5 Rcd6 34.bxa6 bxa6 35.Ka4 Rb8
36.b4 Rc6 37.Kb3 Rbc8 38.Ra1 Rc4 39.Ra2 a5 40.bxa5 Rb8+ 41.Kc2 Rc5 42.Nb1
Rbb5 43.exd5 exd5 44.a6 Ra5 45.Rxa5 Rxa5 46.c4 Rxa6 47.cxd5 Ra2+ 48.Kb3 Rxg2
49.Nc3 Rg3 50.d6+ Kd7 51.Ne4 Rxh3 52.Kc4 Rh1 53.Kd5 Rc1 54.Nc5+ Ke8 55.Ke6
Rxc5 56.Ra3 Rc8 57.d7+ Kd8 58.dxc8=Q+ Kxc8 59.Ra1 h3 60.Rh1 h2 61.Kf5 g5
62.Kg4 Kd7 63.Kh3 Ke6 64.Kg2 Kf5 65.Kh3 e4 66.fxe4+ Kxe4 67.Kg4 Ke3 68.Rxh2
Bxh2 69.Kxg5 1/2-1/2

[Event “83rd Tata Steel Masters”]
[Site “Wijk aan Zee NED”]
[Date “2021.01.21”]
[Round “5.2”]
[White “Firouzja, Alireza”]
[Black “Van Foreest, Jorden”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2671”]
[BlackFideId “1039784”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “D02”]
[EventDate “2021.01.16”]
[Opening “Queen’s pawn game”]
[WhiteElo “2749”]
[WhiteFideId “12573981”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 Bf5 4.c4 e6 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.Nh4 dxc4 7.Nxf5 exf5 8.Qa4
Bd6 9.Qxc4 O-O 10.Bg2 c6 11.Qd3 g6 12.O-O Re8 13.Rb1 Nb6 14.b4 a6 15.a3 Qd7
16.Bg5 Nfd5 17.Nxd5 Nxd5 18.Rbe1 Bc7 19.Bd2 h5 20.Bg5 Kg7 21.Rc1 Bd8 22.Bd2
Bf6 23.e3 h4 24.a4 Nc7 25.Rfd1 Rad8 26.Be1 Rh8 27.Qb3 Qe6 28.Rd3 Rd7 29.Rb1
Rhd8 30.Qc2 Rh8 31.Rdd1 Rhd8 32.Qb3 Rh8 33.Rdc1 Re8 34.Qxe6 fxe6 35.b5 axb5
36.Ba5 hxg3 37.hxg3 e5 38.axb5 Nxb5 39.d5 e4 40.dxc6 bxc6 41.Rxc6 Re5 42.Bb4
Rc7 43.Ra6 Re8 44.Bf1 Nc3 45.Rb3 Rec8 46.Ba5 Rc6 47.Ra7+ Kh6 48.Kg2 Nd5
49.Ba6 Rh8 50.Bb7 Rh7 51.Bxc6 Rxa7 52.Ra3 Bc3 53.Bxd5 1/2-1/2

[Event “83rd Tata Steel Masters”]
[Site “Wijk aan Zee NED”]
[Date “2021.01.21”]
[Round “5.3”]
[White “Anton Guijarro, David”]
[Black “Tari, Aryan”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2625”]
[BlackFideId “1510045”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “C67”]
[EventDate “2021.01.16”]
[Opening “Ruy Lopez”]
[Variation “Berlin defence, open variation”]
[WhiteElo “2679”]
[WhiteFideId “2285525”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5
8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Be7 10.Nc3 Nh4 11.Nxh4 Bxh4 12.Be3 h5 13.Rad1+ Ke8 14.Ne4
Bf5 15.Ng5 Rf8 16.Rd4 Bxg5 17.Bxg5 f6 18.exf6 gxf6 19.Bh4 Kf7 20.Rf4 Kg6
21.Re1 Bxc2 22.Re6 Bf5 23.Re3 Bb1 24.Rg3+ Kh7 25.Bxf6 Rf7 26.Rg5 Kh6 27.Be5
Raf8 28.Rxf7 Rxf7 29.f4 h4 30.Rg4 Kh5 31.Bg7 Rf5 32.Bc3 Bxa2 33.Be1 a5
34.Rxh4+ Kg6 35.Bc3 a4 36.Be5 b5 37.Rh8 b4 38.Rb8 c5 39.Rb5 b3 40.Rxc5 Rxe5
41.Rxe5 a3 42.bxa3 b2 43.Rb5 b1=Q+ 44.Rxb1 Bxb1 45.Kf2 Bc2 46.g4 c5 47.Ke3
Kf6 48.Kd2 Ba4 49.h4 Bd7 50.f5 Ba4 51.Ke3 c4 52.Kf4 c3 53.g5+ Kf7 54.Ke3 c2
55.Kd2 Kg7 56.h5 Bb3 57.Kc1 Ba4 58.Kb2 Bb3 59.Kc1 Ba4 60.Kb2 1/2-1/2

[Event “83rd Tata Steel Masters”]
[Site “Wijk aan Zee NED”]
[Date “2021.01.21”]
[Round “5.4”]
[White “Giri, Anish”]
[Black “Harikrishna, Pentala”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2732”]
[BlackFideId “5007003”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “D20”]
[EventDate “2021.01.16”]
[Opening “QGA”]
[Variation “3.e4”]
[WhiteElo “2764”]
[WhiteFideId “24116068”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 e5 4.Nf3 exd4 5.Bxc4 Nc6 6.O-O Be6 7.Nbd2 Bd6 8.Qb3
Qd7 9.Qxb7 Rb8 10.Qa6 Nge7 11.a3 O-O 12.b4 Bg4 13.Bb2 Bf4 14.Rfe1 Qd6 15.g3
Bh6 16.e5 Qd7 17.Bf1 Ng6 18.Bg2 Rb6 19.Qf1 a5 20.b5 Bxd2 21.Nxd2 Ncxe5 22.a4
Bf5 23.Ne4 d3 24.Rad1 Rd8 25.Bc3 Nc4 26.Nd2 1/2-1/2

[Event “83rd Tata Steel Masters”]
[Site “Wijk aan Zee NED”]
[Date “2021.01.21”]
[Round “5.5”]
[White “Caruana, Fabiano”]
[Black “Esipenko, Andrey”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2677”]
[BlackFideId “24175439”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “A29”]
[EventDate “2021.01.16”]
[Opening “English”]
[Variation “four knights, kingside fianchetto”]
[WhiteElo “2823”]
[WhiteFideId “2020009”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Nd5 e4 6.Nh4 d6 7.Bg2 O-O 8.O-O g5
9.d4 h6 10.Ne3 gxh4 11.a3 Ba5 12.b4 Bb6 13.c5 h3 14.Bh1 dxc5 15.dxc5 Qxd1
16.Rxd1 Bxc5 17.bxc5 Re8 18.Bb2 Ne5 19.Rd4 Neg4 20.Rf1 a5 21.a4 Ra6 22.Nxg4
Bxg4 23.f3 Be6 24.fxe4 Nd7 25.Ba3 Ne5 26.Rb1 b6 27.cxb6 Rxb6 28.Rxb6 cxb6
29.Bd6 Bb3 30.Bc7 Re6 31.Bf3 Nxf3+ 32.exf3 Rc6 33.Bf4 h5 34.Kf2 Rc2+ 35.Rd2
Bxa4 36.Rxc2 Bxc2 37.Bc7 a4 38.Bxb6 Bd1 39.Bc5 Kg7 40.Ke3 1/2-1/2

[Event “83rd Tata Steel Masters”]
[Site “Wijk aan Zee NED”]
[Date “2021.01.21”]
[Round “5.6”]
[White “Grandelius, Nils”]
[Black “Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “2784”]
[BlackFideId “623539”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “B97”]
[EventDate “2021.01.16”]
[Opening “Sicilian”]
[Variation “Najdorf, Poisoned pawn variation”]
[WhiteElo “2663”]
[WhiteFideId “1710400”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2
9.Rb1 Qa3 10.f5 Be7 11.fxe6 Bxe6 12.Nxe6 fxe6 13.Bc4 Nbd7 14.Bxe6 Nc5 15.Bb3
Rc8 16.O-O Nxb3 17.Rxb3 Qc5+ 18.Be3 Qc4 19.Rf4 Qe6 $2
{ MVL first innacuracy. } ( 19…Nh5 20.Rf3 Nf6
{ the best move for black and a draw offer through repitition } 21.Rxb7
{ but white doesn’t have to repeat moves. } 21…Qxc3 22.Qxc3 Rxc3 23.Rb8+
Bd8 24.Bb6 Rxf3 25.Rxd8+ Ke7 26.Rxh8 Rc3
{ at this level should be a draw anyways. } ) 20.Rxb7
{ and Nils punishes the mistake by taking a pawn and a nice advantage. }
20…O-O 21.h3 Rb8 22.Ra7 Ra8 23.Rxa8 Rxa8 24.Nd5 Rb8 25.c4 Bd8
{ A second innaccuracy for MVL. better something like: } ( 25…Nxd5 26.exd5
Qg6 27.Qf2 h5 ) 26.Qf2 Nd7 27.Bd4 Bg5 28.Rf5 Bh6 29.Kh2 Rc8 30.Qg3 g6
{ Can you spot Nils Grandelius winning line. Try to write down as much of
your own calculations as you can. I will give you ten minutes and then we
will compare notes. As always, if you finish early, fast forward to the point in the video when the clock is no longer present on the scree. }
31.Qh4 $1
{ Grandelius plays 31. Qh4 which is brilliant and accurate. Let’s break it
down. } 31…Bf8
{ MVL chooses repositioning his bishop rather than taking the rook because:
} ( 31…gxf5 32.exf5 Qe8 ( 32…Qxf5 33.Ne7+ { [%cal Ge7g8,Ge7f5] } ) (
32…Qf7 33.Ne7+ Kf8 34.Nxc8
{ the rooks falls and that’s just the beginning. For instance, if black
plays Bd2… } 34…Bd2 35.Qd8+ Qe8 36.Bg7+ Kxg7 37.Qxe8 { is painful. } )
33.Ne7+ { Ne7 anyways. } 33…Kf7 34.Nxc8 Qxc8 35.Qxh6 Qxc4 36.Qxd6 Ke8
{ defending the knight } 37.f6 { threatening mate. } 37…Qf7
{ stops the mate but bleeds more material. } 38.Qxa6 Qd5 39.Qe2+ Kd8 40.Qe7+
Kc8 41.Be3 { and white is easily winning. } ) 32.Rf6
{ White’s piece placement is Just brutal. [%cal Gf6e6,Gf6g6,Gd5f6,Gd4f6] }
32…Qe8 ( 32…Nxf6 33.Nxf6+ Kf7 34.Qxh7+ Bg7 35.Ng4
{ [%cal Gh7f7,Gd4g7] and black must part ways with the pinned bishop because: }
35…Rg8 36.Nh6+ { [%cal Gh6g8,Gh6f7,Gh7f7,Gh7g7] } 36…Ke8 37.Bxg7 Rf8
38.Bxf8 Qe5+ { black can try for the perpetual but: } 39.g3 Qb2+ 40.Kg1 Qd4+
41.Kf1 Qxc4+ 42.Kf2 Qd4+ 43.Kf3 Qf6+ 44.Kg4 Qe6+ 45.Kg5 Qe5+ 46.Kxg6 Qe6+
47.Kg7 Qd7+ 48.Kh8
{ and black has run out of checks that do not involve his queen leaving the
board forever. } ) 33.Rxf8+ Qxf8 ( 33…Nxf8 34.Ne7+ Kf7 35.Qf6# ) (
33…Kxf8 34.Qh6+ Kf7 35.Qg7+ Ke6 36.Nf4# ) 34.Ne7+ Kf7 35.Nxc8
{ MVL resigns because: } 35…Qxc8 36.Qxh7+ Ke8 37.Qxg6+ Kd8 38.Qg8+ Kc7
39.Qxc8+ Kxc8 { is easily winning for white. } 1-0

[Event “83rd Tata Steel Masters”]
[Site “Wijk aan Zee NED”]
[Date “2021.01.21”]
[Round “5.7”]
[White “Wojtaszek, Radoslaw”]
[Black “Duda, Jan-Krzysztof”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2743”]
[BlackFideId “1170546”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “D41”]
[EventDate “2021.01.16”]
[Opening “QGD”]
[Variation “Semi-Tarrasch, 5.cd”]
[WhiteElo “2705”]
[WhiteFideId “1118358”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 cxd4 8.cxd4
Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 O-O 11.Bc4 Nc6 12.O-O b6 13.Rad1 Bb7 14.Qf4 Qf6
15.Qg4 Rfd8 16.d5 exd5 17.Bxd5 Ne5 18.Nxe5 Bxd5 19.Rxd5 Rxd5 20.exd5 Qxe5
21.Qd7 Qe8 22.Qc7 Qb8 23.Qe7 Qf8 24.Qb7 Qc8 25.Qe7 Qf8 26.Qb7 Qc8 27.Qe7 Qf8

Published by chessmusings

Chris Torres is a nationally renowned scholastic chess coach working in the San Francisco Bay Area. His classes have attracted players of strengths ranging from rank beginners to world champions. A chess professional since 1998, Chris is widely recognized as one of the main driving forces behind the explosion in popularity and sudden rise in quality of scholastic chess in California. Chris Torres served as the President of the Torres Chess and Music Academy from 2005-2020 and currently is recognized as a correspondence chess master with the United States Chess Federation. Since 1998 Chris Torres has taught 6 individual national champions as well as led multiple school teams to win national championship titles. In addition, Chris Torres has directed and taught at 10 different schools which have been California State Champions at chess. In 2011 and 2012, several former and current students of Chris Torres have been selected to represent the United States at the World Youth Chess Championships. Mr. Torres’ hobbies include playing classical guitar and getting his students to appear on the national top 100 chess rating lists.

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