Greetings Chess Players. My name is Chris Torres and this is my daily chess musing for Saturday, April 24 2021.

Round 11 had two decisive games and two draws which is a welcome turn of events. Ian Nepomniachtchi continues to lead with half a point over Anish Giri. Meanwhile, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Lost ground after succumbing to Grishick. Giri and Ding Liren’s game was action-packed! For Giri, today’s win allowed him to gain ground on Nepo and pull ahead of the three way tie from previous rounds since Caruana drew his game and MLV lost. Let’s examine the 2 decisive games from this rounds.

The standings after round 11 are:

Ian Nepomniachtchi 7

Anish Giri 6.5

Fabiano Caruana 6

Alexander Grischuk 5.5

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 5.5

Wang Hao 5

Kirill Alekseenko 4.5

Ding Liren 4

As always, I recommend visiting https://en.candidates-2020.com/about for more information and live broadcast links of this year’s tournament. However, if your schedule doesn’t allow you to stay up all night watching the event live, I humbly advocate coming to my YouTube channel to see recaps of the day’s excitement in my daily chess musings.


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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 “2021.04.23”]
[Round “11.1”]
[White “Nepomniachtchi, Ian”]
[Black “Caruana, Fabiano”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2842”]
[BlackFideId “2020009”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “C47”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “Four knights”]
[Variation “Scotch, 4…exd4”]
[WhiteElo “2774”]
[WhiteFideId “4168119”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5
O-O 9.O-O Bg4 10.f3 Bh5 11.Bg5 Qd6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.dxc6 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Qxc3
15.Be4 Bg6 16.Qd7 Rad8 17.Qxc7 Qc5+ 18.Kh1 Bxe4 19.fxe4 Rc8 20.Qd7 Qxc6
21.Qxa7 Qxe4 22.Rfe1 Qxc2 23.a4 Qc5 24.Qxc5 Rxc5 25.a5 Ra8 26.a6 h5 27.Reb1
Kh7 28.Rb6 Ra7 29.Kg1 Rc2 30.h3 f6 31.Ra3 Kg6 32.Kh2 h4 33.Ra1 Rc4 34.Kg1 Rc2
35.Ra4 Rd2 36.Rg4+ Kf7 37.Rxh4 Ra2 38.Rb7+ Rxb7 39.axb7 Rb2 40.Ra4 Rxb7
41.Kh2 1/2-1/2

[Event “FIDE Candidates 2020”]
[Site “Yekaterinburg RUS”]
[Date “2021.04.23”]
[Round “11.2”]
[White “Alekseenko, Kirill”]
[Black “Wang, Hao”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2762”]
[BlackFideId “8602883”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “C55”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “Two knights defence (Modern bishop’s opening)”]
[WhiteElo “2698”]
[WhiteFideId “4135539”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 h6 5.c3 d6 6.Nbd2 g5 7.Nf1 g4 8.N3d2 d5
9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Ne3 Nxe3 11.fxe3 Na5 12.O-O Nxc4 13.Nxc4 Bg7 14.e4 h5 15.Ne3
Qd6 16.Qb3 O-O 17.Qc2 b6 18.Bd2 Ba6 19.c4 Rad8 20.Nd5 Bc8 21.Rae1 f5 22.exf5
Bxf5 23.Bb4 c5 24.Bc3 Be6 25.Qd2 Rxf1+ 26.Rxf1 Bxd5 27.cxd5 Qg6 28.Qd1 Rxd5
29.Qa4 Rxd3 30.Qxa7 Rd8 31.a4 Rf8 32.Rxf8+ Bxf8 33.Qb8 Qb1+ 34.Kf2 Qf5+
35.Ke2 Qe4+ 36.Kf2 Qf4+ 37.Kg1 Qc1+ 38.Kf2 Qf4+ 39.Kg1 Qe3+ 40.Kf1 Qd3+
41.Kf2 Qf5+ 42.Ke2 Qc2+ 43.Kf1 Qd1+ 44.Kf2 Qxa4 45.Qxb6 Qc2+ 46.Kf1 Qf5+
47.Ke2 h4 48.Qb3+ Kh7 49.Qd5 Bg7 50.Qxc5 Qe4+ 51.Kf1 Qd3+ 52.Ke1 h3 53.gxh3
Qe4+ 54.Kf1 Qd3+ 55.Ke1 Qe4+ 1/2-1/2

[Event “FIDE Candidates 2020”]
[Site “Yekaterinburg RUS”]
[Date “2021.04.23”]
[Round “11.3”]
[White “Grischuk, Alexander”]
[Black “Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “2767”]
[BlackFideId “623539”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “B23”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “Sicilian”]
[Variation “closed”]
[WhiteElo “2777”]
[WhiteFideId “4126025”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd2 g6 6.b3 Bh6 7.f4 Nf6 8.Bb2 e5
9.Nge2 O-O 10.O-O-O Be6 11.Kb1 a5 12.a4 Qb6 13.h4 Rac8 14.h5 Nxh5 15.g3 Nb4
16.Bh3 Bxh3 17.Rxh3 Bg7 18.g4 Nf6 19.g5 Nh5 20.f5 Rfd8 21.f6 Bf8 22.Ng3 d5
23.exd5 Nxg3 24.Rxg3 h5 25.Qe2 Rc5 26.Rh3 Nxd5 27.Nxd5 Rcxd5 28.Rdh1 Qd6
29.Ka2 Rd1 30.Rxh5 gxh5 31.Rxh5 Rd4 32.Rh1 Rxa4+ 33.Kb1 Qd5 34.Qh5 Qxh1+
35.Qxh1 Rg4 36.Bxe5 Rxg5 $2
{ The first of two key innacuracies. MVL had at least three better options:
} ( 36…a4 37.bxa4 Rxa4 38.g6 Rb4+ 39.Bb2 fxg6 40.Kc1 Rd7
{ Keeps things even. } ) ( 36…b5 37.Bc7 Re8 38.Bxa5 b4 39.g6 Rxg6 40.Qh4
Bd6 { is also equal. } ) ( 36…Re8 37.Bc3 b6 38.Bd2 Re2 39.Qd1 Rgg2 40.Bc1
Ref2 { will be a draw. } ) 37.Qxb7 Rd2 $2
{ and now the second innacuracy. At this level, two innacuracies in two
consecutive moves equals a losing effort. } ( 37…Bb4 38.Bb2 Re8 39.Qc6 Re1+
40.Ka2 Re6 41.Qc8+ Kh7 { should result in a draw. } ) 38.Bc3 Re2 39.Qc8 Rg1+
40.Kb2 Rgg2 41.Bxa5
{ Grischuk takes the key a5 pawn and now only some potential checks stand
between one of his queenside pawns promoting. } 41…Rxc2+
{ Wins a pawn back but also fast forwards to an easy win for white. } 42.Qxc2
Rxc2+ 43.Kxc2 Kh7
{ Black’s king has to step into the wrong direction in order to become
active. } 44.Kd3 Kg6 45.Bc3 { [%cal Gc3f6] Guarding the pawn on f6. }
45…Kf5 46.Kc4
{ and the king is now in place to support the pawn moving to b4. } 46…Ke6
47.b4 Bd6 48.b5 { and MVL resigns as there is no hope left for black. } 1-0

[Event “FIDE Candidates 2020”]
[Site “Yekaterinburg RUS”]
[Date “2021.04.23”]
[Round “11.4”]
[White “Giri, Anish”]
[Black “Ding, Liren”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “2805”]
[BlackFideId “8603677”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “C85”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “Ruy Lopez”]
[Variation “Exchange variation doubly deferred (DERLD)”]
[WhiteElo “2763”]
[WhiteFideId “24116068”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Bxc6
{ Giri chooses to play the Ruy Lopez Delayed Exchange Variation. D3 is the
most popular move in this position but Giri chooses Bxc6. } 6…dxc6 7.d3 Bd6
8.Nbd2 Be6 9.Nb3 Qe7 10.Na5
{ Ding Liren has a decision to make. Castle queenside or play Rb8 to defend
b7 and then castle kingside. } 10…O-O-O
{ By castling queenside Liren chooses the more agressiv path as both
players are castled on opposite sides. } ( 10…Rb8 11.Qe2 O-O 12.Bg5
{ [%cal Ge6g4,Gh7h6,Gf8e8] and now Bg4, Rfe8 or h6 all seem like reasonable moves for black. }
) 11.Qe2
{ Giri plays with finesse here isntead of launching a thematic castled on
opposide sides pawn storm with a3. For instance: } ( 11.a3 Bg4 12.b4 Kb8
{ where white’s plan would be to disrupt black’s king safety with further
queenside pawn advances. } ) 11…Bg4 12.c3
{ Giri starts his pawn strom with c3, which makes sense. Alternatively: } (
12.h3 { h3 to dislodge the bishop also makes sense. } 12…Bh5
{ [%cal Gg2g4,Ga5c4,Ga2a3] and now g4 to eliminate the pin, Nc4 en route to e3 or starting the pawn storm with a3 all seem like reasonable plans. }
) 12…c5 13.a3 { Anish Giri is trying to open up the queenside. } 13…c6
{ [%csl Rb6,Rd6]Now c6 is played by Liren, which in my opinion, looks a bit off since black is leaving the b6 and d6 squares vulnerable. Perhaps he should have played Qe6 instead. }
( 13…Qe6 { but then Giri would have b4. } 14.b4 Nd7
{ seems like a good defensive maneuver. and then if… } 15.Bg5
{ black has… } 15…f6 16.Bd2 f5
{ creates a very interesting scenario so it is food for thought. } ) 14.b4
{ [%cal Gc7a5,Gd8d3] Attacking white’s knight and uncovering the influence of the d8 rook. }
{ alternatively, Giri could have played could have also tried Nc4 with an
eye on moving it to e3. } 15…Nd7 { adding more protection to c5. } 16.h3
Bh5 17.Be3 f5 { Liren is trying to exploit his pin. } 18.Bxc5
{ Giri takes an extra pawn. It’s worth noting that exf5 would have lead to
trouble for white. } ( 18.exf5 c4
{ [%cal Rd3c4,Ge5e4]creates lots of problems for white since dxc4 is met with e4! }
) 18…Qf7
{ [%cal Gf7b3]Threatening white’s knight. Ding is playing in a very determined way, sacrificing the pawn and gaining the initiative. }
{ Obviously defending the knight but Stay tuned. This move will be very
useful later. } 19…g5 { Ding badly wants to rip apart white’s defenses. }
20.exf5 g4 $2
{ Sad to see such a nice attack by Ding Liren spoiled by a terrible
mistake. Much better was: } ( 20…Qxf5 21.Qe4 Qf4 22.Qxf4 gxf4
{ with roughly even chances. } ) 21.Ng5
{ Giri plays the move Ding overlooked. } 21…Qxf5 22.h4
{ Gives Giri security on the kingside. } 22…b6
{ Giri thought for quite a while here. } 23.Ne4
{ and decided to allow his bishop to be captured. } 23…bxc5
{ Ding Liren probably shouldn’t have oblidged Giri in capturing the bishop
since after white captures back there will be a few nasty moves waiting for
him. } 24.bxc5 Nf6 25.Nd6+
{ [%cal Gd6c8,Gd6f5]The knight fork forces black to part with one of the king’s defender. }
25…Bxd6 26.cxd6 Rxd6 27.d4 $1
{ [%cal Ge2a6,Gb3c5,Gb1b8]D4 is a crucial movesince it opens up the diagonal for the queen to come in with these attacking pieces. White may be a piece down, but there are three attacking pieces and black’s pieces are too far removed from the action to be of assistance. }
27…c5 { [%cal Gd6a6]to defend the a6 pawn. } 28.Nxc5
{ [%cal Ge2b2,Gc5a6,Ge2a6]Obviously increases the pressure on a6 opens the doors for a possible rook and queen battery in the b-file. }
28…Re8 29.Qc4
{ and Ding Liren resigns here as there is no adequate defense to Giri’s
threats. The best continuation may have been: } 29…Kd8
{ stepping out of the file with the queen. } 30.Nb7+
{ [%cal Gb7d8,Gb7d6]but right into a fork. } 30…Ke7 31.Qb4
{ [%cal Gb4e7]and then a pin. So you can understand why Liren resigned. }

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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