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Chess

Magnificent Magnus

31 January 2015

9:00 AM

31 January 2015

9:00 AM

Magnus Carlsen has won first prize in the elite Tata Steel tournament at Wijk aan Zee, Holland. Leading scores out of 13 were Carlsen 9, then Giri, So, Ding Liren and Vachier-Lagrave all in hot pursuit half a point behind. This week’s puzzle shows a crucial variation from one of Carlsen’s best wins. The player who made the greatest mark, apart from the world champion, was 20-year-old Anish Giri, who is maturing into a truly dangerous prospect, notching up himself a four-game winning streak. I kick off this week with a Giri victory from London against a former world champion.
 
Giri-Kramnik: London Classic Rapidplay 2014
 
In this last example from the Rapidplay, the former world champion Vladimir Kramnik takes opportunism a bridge too far. Spotting a tactical opportunity to win a pawn, he fails to realise that White’s compensating counterplay permits an attacking tsunami which later sweeps away his own kingside fortifications. 17 … Nxh3 18 Bxh3 g4 19 Bg2 gxf3 20 Bxf3 Bxc4 21 Kg2 Kg7 22 Rh1 Rh8 23 Rh4 Nf8 24 Qd2 Black’s h-pawn is a chronic weakness. 24 … Ne6 25 Qc3 Bb5 26 Rah1 Kf8 27 Bg4 Bc6 28 Bxe6 Qxe6 29 b5 Cleverly breaking through on both sides of the board. 29 … Bxb5 30 Rxh6 Rxh6 31 Rxh6 Qg4 32 f3 Qg7 33 Qxc7 a6 34 Qxd6+ Kg8 35 Rh5 Black resigns

Next here is the promised conclusion to Anand’s subtle demolition of Britain’s leading grandmaster, which sealed Anand’s trophy at the London Classic.
 
Adams-Anand: London Classic 2014
 
This was the game which clinched Anand’s first place. White should play 28 f4 with a small advantage but continued over-optimistically and inadvertently permitted Anand to demonstrate the truth of the Steinitzian dictum that the king is a strong piece. 28 e6 fxe6 29 Nxc5 Ke7 30 Nb3 Kd6 31 Kf3 Kd5 32 Kf4 Kc4 33 Nc1 Nxa5 34 Kg5 Nb3 35 Ne2 b4 36 Kxh5 a5 White resigns


Carlsen’s result at Wijk aan Zee marks a welcome return to form. He has not increased his rating since February last year, nor won first prize in a tournament since April. His victory against Anand in the world championship in December was marred by missed opportunities on both sides. What marked out Carlsen’s Wijk aan Zee performance was a six-game stretch of victories, including wins against Caruana, Aronian and Radjabov. This was a great performance.

I have often extolled the virtues of world no. 2 Fabiano Caruana, but he is going to have to watch out for Giri.


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