Luke McShane

Fearless teens

A trio of teenagers dominated the Tata Steel Challengers event, which took place in Wijk aan Zee last month alongside the elite Masters event. Their fearless chess helped them get the better of many more experienced grandmasters. India’s Leon Luke Mendonca, 17, took first place with 9.5/13, and will receive an invitation to the Masters event next year. Joint second on 9/13 were the reigning World Junior Champion Marc’Andria Maurizzi from France (16) and Daniel Dardha (18) from Belgium. These games from the latter two are simply electrifying.

Marc’Andria Maurizzi-Jaime Santos Latasa

Tata Steel Challengers, Wijk aan Zee 2024

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 d5 4 g3 Bb4+ 5 Bd2 Be7 6 Bg2 Nbd7 7 0–0 c6 8 b4 b6 9 a4 The Catalan opening (signified by 4 g2-g3) is solid by reputation, but Maurizzi gives it an aggressive spin. His overriding purpose is to dismantle the wall of pawns (c6, d5, e6) and bring the Bg2 to life. Bb7 10 a5 Ba6 11 Ne5 Qc8 12 Nc3! (see left diagram) Threatening b4-b5, while 12…Bxc4 13 Nxc4 dxc4 14 b5! sees a triumph for the Bg2. Instead Black takes the bait. Bxb4 13 Nxd5 Nxd5 13…cxd5 14 Bxb4 prevents kingside castling forever. The lesser evil was 13…Bxd2 14 Nxf6+ gxf6 15 Nxd7 Qxd7 16 Qxd2, but Black’s position is grim. 14 cxd5 Bxd2 15 Nxf7! Magnificent, and far more incisive than recapturing on d2. Kxf7 16 dxe6+ Kxe6 17 Qxd2 Maurizzi has just one pawn for a knight, but Black’s denuded king cannot survive for long. Kf7 18 Rfc1 Bb5 19 Qa2+ Ke7 20 Qa3+ Kf7 21 Qb3+ Ke7 22 d5 Nc5 23 Qe3+ Kf7 24 Qf4+ Kg8 25 axb6 axb6 26 Rxa8 Qxa8 27 dxc6 h5 28 c7 Qc8 29 Rd1 Bd7 30 Bc6 Rh6 31 Bxd7 Nxd7 32 Rxd7 32…Qxd7 33 Qc4+, so Black resigns

Mustafa Yilmaz – Daniel Dardha

Tata Steel Challengers, Wijk aan Zee 2024

As we join the game, some subtle manoeuvring has enabled White to pick off a weak queenside pawn (see right diagram).

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