Greetings Chess Players. My name is Chris Torres and this is my daily chess musing for Monday, April 26 2021.

Greetings Chess Players. My name is Chris Torres and this is my daily chess musing for Monday, April 26 2021. Thirteen was the lucky number for Ian Nepomniachtchi who managed to clinch victory by drawing his round 13 game with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The tournament leader offered third place MVL a draw after noticing that second place Anish Giri was lost against Alexander Grischuk. So, after more than a year since the FIDE Candidates began, we now know Magnus Carlsen’s challenger and his name is Ian Nepomniachtchi.

The most dramatic game for round 13 was definitely the battle between Alexander Grischuk and Anish Giri as Grischuk’s victory ended Giri’s dream of playing in the next World Championship Match. Let’s take a closer look at how that game played out.

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 this 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 “2021.04.26”]
[Round “13.1”]
[White “Wang, Hao”]
[Black “Caruana, Fabiano”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackElo “2842”]
[BlackFideId “2020009”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “B22”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “Sicilian defence”]
[WhiteElo “2762”]
[WhiteFideId “8602883”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.d4 cxd4 6.cxd4 d6 7.Bc4 Be7 8.O-O O-O
9.a3 Bd7 10.Bxd5 exd5 11.Nc3 Be6 12.Bf4 Nc6 13.exd6 Bxd6 14.Bxd6 Qxd6 15.Re1
Rac8 16.Qd3 f6 17.h3 Bf7 18.Rac1 Qd7 19.Nh2 Rfe8 20.Rxe8+ Rxe8 21.Nf1 g6
22.Ne3 Kg7 23.Na4 Qd6 24.Nc3 h5 25.Rd1 a6 26.Rc1 h4 27.Rd1 Na5 28.b4 Nc4
29.Nxc4 dxc4 30.Qd2 Bd5 31.b5 Bf7 32.bxa6 bxa6 33.a4 g5 34.d5 Bg6 35.Re1 Qf4
36.Qd1 Bc2 37.Qa1 Re5 38.Rxe5 Qxe5 39.a5 Kg6 40.Kh1 Be4 41.d6 Bc6 42.Qb2 Qxd6

[Event “FIDE Candidates 2020”]
[Site “Yekaterinburg RUS”]
[Date “2021.04.26”]
[Round “13.2”]
[White “Nepomniachtchi, Ian”]
[Black “Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2767”]
[BlackFideId “623539”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “A15”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “English opening”]
[WhiteElo “2774”]
[WhiteFideId “4168119”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.Bg2 g6 5.d4 Bg7 6.d5 Na6 7.Nc3 Nc5 8.O-O O-O
9.Qc2 a5 10.Rd1 Ne8 11.Bf4 Nd6 12.b3 Re8 13.Be5 e6 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Rab1 e5
16.Nd2 f5 17.a3 Qf6 18.b4 axb4 19.axb4 Na6 20.e4 f4 21.Ne2 fxg3 22.fxg3 c5
23.bxc5 Nxc5 24.Rxb6 Qd8 25.Rdb1 Qc7 26.Nc3 Rf8 27.R6b2 Ba6 28.Nd1 Rab8
29.Rxb8 Rxb8 30.Rxb8 Qxb8 31.Qb2 Qxb2 32.Nxb2 Nc8 33.Kf2 Nb6 34.Bf1 d6 35.Ke3
Kf6 36.Be2 Ke7 37.Nb1 Bc8 38.Nc3 Bd7 39.Bd1 Be8 40.Bc2 Bd7 41.Bd1 Be8 42.Bc2

[Event “FIDE Candidates 2020”]
[Site “Yekaterinburg RUS”]
[Date “2021.04.26”]
[Round “13.3”]
[White “Alekseenko, Kirill”]
[Black “Ding, Liren”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackElo “2805”]
[BlackFideId “8603677”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “C54”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “Giuoco Pianissimo”]
[WhiteElo “2698”]
[WhiteFideId “4135539”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 d6 6.O-O O-O 7.h3 h6 8.Re1 a5 9.b3
Bb6 10.Nbd2 Be6 11.Nf1 d5 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Qc2 Qf6 14.Ng3 Qg6 15.Kh2 Rad8
16.Ba3 Rfe8 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.Rxe5 c6 19.Bxd5 Rxd5 20.Rxd5 Bxd5 21.c4 Be6
22.Re1 Rd8 23.Ne4 Bc7+ 24.Kh1 Qh5 25.Re3 Qe5 26.Ng3 Qa1+ 27.Kh2 Qf6 28.Bb2
Qg6 29.Kh1 Bb6 30.Rf3 Bc7 31.Bc3 b5 32.Qe2 bxc4 33.bxc4 a4 34.Qe3 Qg5 35.Qe1
Qg6 36.Qe3 Qg5 37.Qe1 Qg6 38.Qe2 a3 39.Bb4 Rb8 40.Qe1 Rd8 41.Qc3 h5 42.Bxa3
h4 43.Ne2 Bf5 44.Nd4 Be4 45.dxe4 Qxe4 46.Rd3 Be5 47.Bc5 Rb8 48.Bb4 Rxb4
49.Qxb4 Qxd3 50.Nf3 Qf1+ 51.Ng1 Bd4 52.Qb8+ Kh7 53.Qf4 Bxf2 54.Qf5+ Kh6
55.Qf4+ Kg6 56.Qg4+ Kf6 57.Qf4+ Ke6 58.Qe4+ Kd6 59.Qf4+ Kc5 60.Qe5+ Kxc4
61.Qe4+ Kb5 0-1

[Event “FIDE Candidates 2020”]
[Site “Yekaterinburg RUS”]
[Date “2021.04.26”]
[Round “13.4”]
[White “Grischuk, Alexander”]
[Black “Giri, Anish”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “2763”]
[BlackFideId “24116068”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[ECO “E15”]
[EventDate “2020.03.17”]
[Opening “Queen’s Indian”]
[Variation “Capablanca variation”]
[WhiteElo “2777”]
[WhiteFideId “4126025”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6
{ The Queen’s Indian Defense is a solid choice against white’s queen pawn
opening. As in the other Indian defenses, black’s early strategy involves
controling the center with influential pieces rather than the direct occupation of pawns. In this case, black will fianchetto their queen’s bishop
onto b7 to control the light central squares of d5 and e4. } 4.g3
{ [%cal Gf1g2]White prepares to contest the h1-a8 diagonal with a bishop of his own. }
{ [%csl Gd5,Ge4][%cal Gb7e4,Gf6d5,Gf6e4,Ge6d5] The old main line of the Queen’s Indian Defense. When we draw a couple of arrows and highlight squares, black’s hypermodern strategy is easy to understand. }
5.Bg2 Bb4+ 6.Bd2
{ [%cal Gb4d2,Gc7c5,Ga7a5,Gd8e7]White has a spatial advantage but black has nor real weaknesses and plenty of options for the next move including Bxd2, a5, c5 and Qe7 : }
6…c5 { Giri chooses the c5 path. } 7.Bxb4
{ This bishop trade maintains the d4 center pawn. } 7…cxb4 8.O-O O-O 9.Nbd2
d6 10.Qb3
{ Develops the queen with a threat. Grischuk has completed the 3 classical
opening goals of maintaining a center pawn, castling, and unifying rooks. }
10…a5 11.a3 { [%csl Gb4]b4 has become a point of interest. } 11…Na6
12.Rfd1 Qe7 13.Ne1 Bxg2 14.Kxg2 h5
{ Launching the h-pawn here is a known strategy in high-level
correspondence chess but not consistant with Anish Giri’s style of play.
Perhaps a more Giri-like approach would have been: } ( 14…Rfc8 15.Rac1 e5
16.Nc2 Qb7+
{ with black’s pieces nicely organized in an imbalanced but roughly equal
position. } ) 15.Nc2
{ [%cal Gc2b4,Gb3b4,Ga3b4,Ra6b4,Ra5b4]Grischuk ignores this his opponent’s pawn push and continues to add pressure on the very tense b4 square. }
{ With his opponent having more attackers than he had defenders, Giri
wisely captures with the b4 pawn. } 16.bxa3 Rab8
{ Giri places his rook into the same file as Grischuk queen. } 17.e4
{ and Grischuk calmly responds by occupying even more real estate in the
center. } 17…e5 { So Giri challenges white’s pawn center. } 18.Qd3
{ and this is a critical move by white. Alexander Grischuk chooses to
support his center pawns while moving his queen out of the file with Giri’s
rook. A huge strategic mistake here for white would have been to: } ( 18.d5
{ which would freeze white’s pawns, lock out white’s pieces and allow
black’s knight on a5 to jump into action with initiative. } 18…Nc5 19.Qf3
{ not Qe3 as that would invite black’s other knight to threaten white’s
queen by moving to g4. } 19…b5
{ Threatening to open up the b-file for black’s rook. } 20.Ne3 bxc4 21.Ndxc4
Qc7 22.Rac1 Rb3 { [%cal Gb3f3] } 23.Qf5 Nfxe4 24.Qxh5
{ letting the h-pawn fall is defintely worth. } 24…Rfb8
{ gaining a rook battery in the open b-file. So clearly Giri would have
been ecstatic had his opponent 18. d5 instead of Qd3 which is why Grischuk
did not comply. } ) 18…Nc7 19.Rab1 Ne6 20.Rb5
{ An interesting move. It may not look like the best place for a rook since
Nc7 can threaten it. However, if Giri plays Nc7 Grischuk can return the
rook to b1 and from there the position could be repeated for a draw. Knowing that Giri needs a win, this is a clever psychological ploy. }
20…Rfe8 21.h4 g6 22.f3
{ To prevent black from playing Ng4 while supporting the e4 pawn. } 22…Nd7
{ Giri decides against threatening the b5 rook and instead looks to find
another path for his other knight to re-enter the action. } 23.Nf1
{ [%cal Gf1e3,Ge3d5]Grischuk is doing the same thing. This backward looking move is quite clever as it establishes a clear path for the knight to advance to d5. }
23…exd4 24.Nxd4 Ne5 25.Qe2
{ Black could really use a dark squared bishop to help find some
counterplay. Obviously, that’s not happening. The weak pawns on d6 and b6
are terrible liabilities for Giri. Black’s knights may look a little menacing but they are easily blunted with a simple trade. }
25…Nxd4 { So Giri trades. } 26.Rxd4
{ [%cal Gf1e3,Gf1d5]Grischuk doesn’t mind losing control of d4 as long as his knight can still have an outpost square on d5. }
26…Nc6 27.Rd1
{ [%cal Ge2d2,Gb5d5]Moving the rook back to d1 is fine for white and allows for easy piece stacking in the d-file. }
27…Qe6 28.Ne3
{ [%csl Gc4,Gd5,Gf5,Gg4][%cal Ge3d5]Now the knight is just one move away from the powerful d5 outpost. Even where it is, the knight influences many key squares such as c4, d5, f5 and g4. }
28…Ne7 { So Giri logically moves his own knight to guard the d5 square. }
{ and now white’s position is so ideal that black lack’s the ability to
play meaningful moves. } 29…f5
{ Giri forces some action even though his opponent is better prepared for
the battle. } 30.Qxd6 Nc6 31.exf5 gxf5
{ gxf5 is bad but so is trading queens when your opponents piecs are so
much better than yours. But the worst option is taking the knight which
leads to checkmate.. } ( 31…Qxe3 32.Qxg6+ Kf8 33.f6 Qe2+ 34.Kh3 Qe6+ 35.g4
hxg4+ 36.Kg3 { and now there are no more useful checks at blacks disposal. }
36…Rb7 { to guard against the checkmate on g7. } 37.Qh6+ Kg8 38.Rg5+
{ [%cal Rb7g7,Rg8f7,Gh6g7] white can respond to either of black’s options with QG7 mate. }
) 32.Qxe6+ Rxe6 33.Nxf5
{ Grischuk is now two pawns ahead with better piece placement. } 33…Ne5
34.Rd6 Ree8
{ Giri realizing what is at stake plays on with objectively hopefless
shuffling of the black pieces. Nepo seeing that Grischuk would win easily,
agreed to a draw in his own game to secure his victory in the 2020-2021 FIDE Candidates Tournament. }
35.Rd4 Nc6 36.Rd2 Rbd8 37.Rxd8 Rxd8 38.Rd5 Rxd5 39.cxd5 Ne5 40.Nd6 Kf8 41.Kf2
Ke7 42.Nb5 Kf6 43.Ke3 Kf5 44.Nd6+ Kf6 45.Ke4 Nd7 46.Kd4 Ke7 47.Nb5 Kf6 48.Nc3
Kf5 49.Ne4 Kg6 50.g4 b5 51.Nc5 1-0

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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