Raymond Keene

Judgment of Paris

This year’s Grand Chess Tour started in Paris, continues in Leuven (Belgium) and will go on to St Louis and then London. The Paris and Leuven legs are speed events, while St Louis and London revert to chess played at classical time limits.
In Paris world champion Magnus Carlsen won the rapidplay section, fell back in the blitz but eventually triumphed in a tie-break to be the overall winner against the French grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. He netted $31,250 for his efforts. The first extract this week shows the decisive phase of Carlsen’s play-off decider.
Carlsen–Vachier-Lagrave: Paris tie-break 2017
(diagram 1)
The white rook keeps the dangerous black a-pawn under guard and now his further advance on the kingside proves decisive. 47 g4 Rd8+ 48 Ke4 Ke8 49 g5 Bf8 50 Kf5 Rd2 51 Ra8+ Rd8 52 Rxd8+ Kxd8 53 g6 a2 54 g7 Bxg7 55 fxg7 a1Q 56 g8Q+ Kc7 57 Qg3+ Kd7 58 Qxh3 Qg7 59 Kf4+ Kc7 60 Nf5 Qb2 61 Qh7+ Kc8 62 Qg8+ Black resigns
In the blitz section, Carlsen lost a remarkable total of six games, but by winning eight he still reached the play-off against Vachier-Lagrave. Carlsen’s loss to Caruana was a comedy of errors.
Caruana–Carlsen: Paris blitz 2017
(diagram 2)
White’s following thrust, opening up the kingside, should be decisive. 39 g6 fxg6 40 fxe6 g5 41 Rf7 Qc8 42 Qf3 Bg6 43 Re7 Nxe5 44 Qf2 White blunders. 44 Bxe5 g4+ 45 Qxg4 Rxg4 46 Rxg7+ Kf8 47 e7+ Ke8 48 Rg8+ wins. 44 … Qd8 Black blunders in return. 44 … Qc3, threatening 45 … Rh4 mate, is decisive. 45 Rxg7+ This simple tactic is the final turnaround. Now White wins easily. 45 … Kxg7 46 Bxe5+ Kg8 47 Bxd4 Qd6 48 Qf6 g4+ 49 Kxg4 Black resigns
So–Nakamura: Paris blitz 2017
(diagram 3)
White’s next move leads to a swift demolition of the black kingside.

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