The overall scores of the exceedingly strong combined rapid and blitz tournaments in St Louis were as follows: 1. Aronian 24½;
2= Karjakin and Nakamura 21½; 4. Nepomniachtchi 20; 5= Dominguez, Caruana and Le 16½; 8. Kasparov 16; 9. Anand 14; 10. Navara 13. As an indication of the elite nature of this competition, the bottom-placed contestant, David Navara from the Czech Republic, succeeded in defeating former world champion Garry Kasparov and Sergei Karjakin, the outright winner of the blitz section.
Karjakin-Navara; St Louis Blitz 2017;
1 e4 c6 2 Nf3 More usual is 2 d4. 2 ... d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nf6 Against the variation chosen by White this knight challenge is eminently feasible. In the variations emanating from 2 d4, some doubt can be cast upon Black’s willingness to disrupt his own pawn formation by developing the white king’s knight on e2. Here, of course, that option is no longer available. 5 Nxf6+ exf6 6 Bc4 Bd6 7 Qe2+ Be7 A loss of tempo but Black plans to bring his king’s rook to e8 when White in turn will have to waste time with his queen. 8 0-0 0-0 9 d4 Bd6 The bishop returns to an important diagonal. It is instructive to observe how White seems to suffer from problems based on possible alignment of Black’s dark-squared bishop and his queen in the b8-h2 trajectory. 10 c3 Na6 11 Qc2 Re8 12 Nd2 Nc7 13 Bd3 g6 14 Ne4 Bf8 15 Bd2 f5 16 Ng3 Nd5 17 Rfe1 Be6 (see diagram 1) 18 Nf1 White appears to be bereft of a plan. Instead of this retreat and the feeble weakening move that follows, White should store up energy with 18 Rad1. 18 ... Bd6 The bishop returns to its natural post. 19 h3 Nf4 Even more aggressive is 19 ... Qh4. 20 Bxf4 Bxf4 21 Nd2 Bd5 22 Rxe8+ Qxe8 23 c4 Be6 24 Nf3 Qd7 25 Rd1 Rd8 26 Qa4 a6 27 Qb4 Bb8 28 Be2 Qc7 Now Black’s queen and bishop are ideally aligned. 29 b3 g5 A bold attack but Black’s king is so well surrounded by a hedge of pawns that he can do this with impunity. 30 Qd2 f6 31 g3 f4 32 g4 h5 33 Qd3 hxg4 34 Nxg5 (see diagram 2) White may have been relying on this since 34 ... fxg5 fails to 35 Qg6+. However, Black’s next is a complete refutation. 34 ... Bc8 35 Ne4 If 35 Qg6+ Qg7 leaves White with a hopeless endgame. 35 ... f3 36 Bxf3 gxf3 37 Nxf6+ Kh8 38 Kf1 Bxh3+ 39 Ke1 Qe7+ 40 Kd2 Qxf6 41 Kc1 Bf4+ 42 Kb2 Rxd4 43 Qc3 Rd2+ White resigns
The Fidé world cup is underway in Tbilisi, Georgia. With the participation of Magnus Carlsen and a host of leading grandmasters, this must be one of the strongest knockout tournaments ever seen. Two players are due to go through to the Candidates tournament, which will decide Carlsen’s next challenger. The UK is represented by Michael Adams, Gawain Jones and David Howell.