Greetings Chess Players. My name is Chris Torres and this is my daily chess musing for Thursday, April 22 2021.

Another day of the fight to challenge Magnus Carlsen concludes! Ian Nepomniachtchi continues to dominate the standings with Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Anish Giri all sharing second place behind him by a point. Let’s take a look at today’s games!

The two Russians battled it out, ending with Nepo defeating Aleeksenko with good opening strategies. ( A bit of gossip if that’s your thing) Aleeksenko has been accused, by some in the chess community, of losing the game on purpose since Nepo is at the top of the tournament. They claim that the two Russians want a Russian playing Magnus Carlsen, so they are working together in this way.

Currently the standings are: 1 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2 Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri 5 Wang Hao, Alexander Grischuk 7 Ding Liren, Kirill Alekseenko Tomorrow Nepo will play Caruana in a crucial pairing. There are just 4 more rounds left!


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All pictures of the players and games are from the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020-2021 website @ https://en.candidates-2020.com/

[Event “FIDE Candidates 2020”]
[Site “Yekaterinburg RUS”]
[Date “2021.04.21”]
[Round “10.1”]
[White “Caruana, Fabiano”]
[Black “Ding, Liren”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2805”]
[BlackFideId “8603677”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “C88”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “Ruy Lopez”]
[Variation “closed, anti-Marshall 8.a4”]
[WhiteElo “2842”]
[WhiteFideId “2020009”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.a4 b4
9.a5 d6 10.d3 Be6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.c3 Rb8 13.Nbd2 Rb5 14.d4 bxc3 15.bxc3 exd4
16.cxd4 Qc8 17.Ba3 Nxa5 18.Qc2 c5 19.e5 dxe5 20.dxc5 Nc6 21.Ne4 Nxe4 22.Rxe4
Rd8 23.Rae1 Bf6 24.h4 h6 25.R4e3 Rd5 26.g4 Qe8 27.Kg2 h5 28.g5 Be7 29.Nxe5
Bxc5 30.Bxc5 Rbxc5 31.Qg6 Qxg6 32.Nxg6 e5 33.f4 Rd2+ 34.R3e2 Rxe2+ 35.Rxe2
Nd4 36.Re4 Rc2+ 37.Kf1 Rc1+ 38.Kf2 Rc2+ 39.Kf1 Rc1+ 40.Kf2 Rc2+ 1/2-1/2

[Event “FIDE Candidates 2020”]
[Site “Yekaterinburg RUS”]
[Date “2021.04.21”]
[Round “10.2”]
[White “Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime”]
[Black “Giri, Anish”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2763”]
[BlackFideId “24116068”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “B33”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “Sicilian”]
[Variation “Pelikan (Lasker/Sveshnikov) variation”]
[WhiteElo “2767”]
[WhiteFideId “623539”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5
Nb8 9.c4 Be7 10.c5 Na6 11.cxd6 Bxd6 12.Bc4 O-O 13.O-O Nc7 14.Nxd6 Qxd6 15.Qf3
b6 16.Rd1 Bb7 17.Bg5 h6 18.Bh4 b5 19.Bb3 Na6 20.Qe2 Nc5 21.Qxb5 Nxb3 22.axb3
Rfb8 23.f3 a6 24.Qa5 Rc8 25.Qa3 Qb6+ 26.Bf2 Qb5 27.d6 Qd7 28.Qa4 Bc6 29.Qh4
Re8 30.Rac1 Rac8 31.Rc4 Re6 32.Bc5 Rg6 33.Qf2 Re8 34.Re1 e4 35.fxe4 Rg4 36.h3
Rgxe4 37.Rexe4 Rxe4 38.Rxe4 Bxe4 39.Qe2 Bb7 40.b4 Qc6 1/2-1/2

[Event “FIDE Candidates 2020”]
[Site “Yekaterinburg RUS”]
[Date “2021.04.21”]
[Round “10.3”]
[White “Wang, Hao”]
[Black “Grischuk, Alexander”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2777”]
[BlackFideId “4126025”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “C11”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “French”]
[Variation “Steinitz variation”]
[WhiteElo “2762”]
[WhiteFideId “8602883”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Nce2 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.f4 Be7 8.Nf3 f6
9.Be3 O-O 10.g3 Qb6 11.Qd2 cxd4 12.Nfxd4 Nc5 13.exf6 Bxf6 14.Nb3 Ne4 15.Qd3
Qc7 16.Bg2 Nd6 17.Bf2 Nc4 18.Qc2 Ne7 19.O-O e5
{ so we pick things up on move 20 for white. } 20.fxe5
{ Hao threatens Grischuk’s bishop. } 20…Bf5
{ Grischuk threatens Hao’s Queen. } 21.exf6
{ and Wang Hao takes the bishop anyways! } 21…Bxc2
{ Grischuk gobbles up the white queen. } 22.fxe7
{ Absolutely stunning play by Wang Hao. } 22…Rfe8
{ Grischuk could not play Qxe7 because: } ( 22…Qxe7 23.Bxd5+ Kh8 24.Bxc4
{ and white would actually have a material advantage. } ) 23.Nf4
{ Incredibly, at this point, Grischuk is only up by a point in material.
Magnus Carlsen commented, “I think having an extra queen is pretty nice.”
However, Wang Hao used his remaining pieces to full effect and finished with a most interesting draw against Alexander Grischuk. }
23…Nb6 24.Nxd5 Nxd5 25.Bxd5+ Kh8 26.Nd4 Qd7 27.c4 Bg6 28.Ne6 Rxe7 29.Rae1
Bf7 30.Nxg7 Bxd5 31.Rxe7 Qxe7 32.Nf5 Qf8 33.Bd4+ Kg8 34.cxd5 h5 35.d6 Kh7
36.Ne7 Qe8 37.Rf6 Rd8 38.Bc3 Rxd6 39.Rxd6 Qxe7 40.Rd4 Kg6 41.a3 Qe3+

[Event “FIDE Candidates 2020”]
[Site “Yekaterinburg RUS”]
[Date “2021.04.21”]
[Round “10.4”]
[White “Nepomniachtchi, Ian”]
[Black “Alekseenko, Kirill”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “2698”]
[BlackFideId “4135539”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “A13”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “English”]
[Variation “Neo-Catalan accepted”]
[WhiteElo “2774”]
[WhiteFideId “4168119”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 e6 3.Bg2 d5 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.Qa4+ Nbd7 6.Qxc4 a6
{ [%cal Gb7b5,Gc8b7]Alekseenko plays a6 with a plan to follow with pawn to b5, pushing white’s queen and then placing his bishop on b7 to combat white’s bishop on g2. }
{ Nepo places the queen on c2 so black will not get to play pawn to b5 with
initiative. Now black will not be able to place his bishop on the important
h1-a8 diagonal. } 7…c5
{ So Alekseenko plays c5 instead. But what happens had he decided to
continue with pawn to b5? } ( 7…b5 8.Ne5
{ [%csl Rc8][%cal Gg2a8] Threatening to take black’s rook with the bishop. But also, this means that black’s bishop on c8 is stuck. }
) 8.Nc3 { [%csl Gd8,Yc8][%cal Gd8c7] } 8…Be7 $2
{ This seemingly innocent move seems to be the source of black’s later
troubles. Instead of playing Be7 here, I suggest that the player with the
black pieces should instead play Qc7 as the queen on c7 can support black’s light quared bishop on b7. }
( 8…Qc7 9.O-O b6 10.d4 Bb7
{ and black’s bishop is able to safely be posted on the important h1-a8
diagonal. Now if: } 11.Bf4 Bd6 12.dxc5 Qxc5 13.Be3 Qc7
{ results in a roughly equal position. } ) 9.O-O O-O 10.d4 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Qc7
12.Rd1 Rd8 13.Be3
{ This position is more tactical than it appears. For instance: } 13…Nb6 (
{ If nack plays Ng4 trying to exchange pieces white has a nasty surprise. }
14.Nd5 $1 Qxc2 15.Nxe7+ Kf8 16.Nxc2 Nxe3 17.Ng6+ hxg6 18.Nxe3
{ [%csl Gb7,Gd7][%cal Gg2a8,Gd1d8]and material may be even but white has a big advantage in force that can actually be used. Additioanlly black needs to specnd time solving problems asthe b7 pawn and d7 knight are pinned so there is no easy way to develop the bishop on c8. }
) 14.Rac1
{ all of white’s pieces are nicely deployed. The same can not be said about
black who bishop on c8 lacks purpose. } 14…e5 15.Nf5 Bxf5
{ With this necessary exchange, black gives up on contesting white’s
control of the h1-a8 diaganol. } 16.Qxf5 Nc4 17.Bg5 Rxd1+ 18.Nxd1
{ [%cal Gc1c7]Neop keeps the pin on the black knight. } 18…Rd8 19.Bxf6 Bxf6
20.Be4 { [%cal Ge4h7,Gc1c7] Adds signifigantly to blacks’s trouble. }
20…Qa5 21.Nc3 { [%cal Gf5h7]of course, Qxh7 would also win. } 21…Kf8
22.Nd5 b5 23.Qxh7 Rxd5 24.Bxd5 Qd2 25.Rxc4 bxc4 26.e4 Qxb2 27.Qh8+ Ke7 28.Qc8
Qb6 29.Qxc4 Qb5 30.Qc7+ Qd7 31.Qc5+ { Alekseenko resigns as, } 31…Qd6
32.Qa7+ Qd7 33.Qxa6
{ picks off the pawn on a6 and Nepomniachtchi has an easy path to victory.
But before we end the round 10 recap, let me show you my favorite play in
the tournament thus far contained in the game between Wang Hao and Alexander Grischuk. }

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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