Raymond Keene

Musical chairs | 17 May 2018

Musical chairs | 17 May 2018
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Chess, the musical by Sir Tim Rice and the male half of ABBA, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, runs at the London Coliseum until 2 June. I cannot recommend it more highly, especially for chess enthusiasts who recall the defections, alcoholism, protests, match terminations and paranormal interventions of the age of Tal, Spassky, Fischer, Korchnoi, Karpov and Kasparov.

The current generation of championship aspirants seems remarkably free of such controversy. In November, clean-living Fabiano Caruana challenges equally clean-living Magnus Carlsen in London for the world title.

Their recent exploits in Shamkir and St Louis indicate that after the next round of musical chairs, Carlsen will retain the sole seat at the chess Olympus.

Caruana-Izoria: US Championship, St Louis 2018

(See diagram 1)

Caruana suffered the following reverse in St Louis. Having just played his king to d7 he was doubtless expecting to pick up the black d-pawn when a draw would be the natural result. However, he was in for a shock. 71 ... Nxc4! 72 Kxc6 Na5+ 73 Kxd6 The point is that after 73 Kc7 Nxb7 74 Kxb7 h4 the pawns cannot be stopped, e.g. 75 Nc4 h3 76 Nd2 Kf4 77 Nf1 d5 and the knight is unable to deal with both pawns. Caruana’s move doesn’t save the game either. 73 ... Nxb7+ 74 Kd5 Kf4 75 Nc4 h4 76 Nd2 h3 77 Nf1 Nd8 78 Kd4 Nf7 79 Kd5 Ne5 80 Kd4 Ng4 81 Kd3 Kf3 White resigns

Caruana-Onischuk: US Championship, St Louis 2018

(See diagram 2)

Here Black should play 15 ... Nc6. 15 ... Bxa2 16 Rxa2 e4 17 Bxf6 Qxf6 18 Rxe4 Rxe4 19 dxe4 Rd8 20 Qe2 Nc4 21 c3 Bc5 22 Ra1 g6 23 e5 Qc6 24 Ng3 Re8 25 b3 Nb6 26 Ra5 Bf8 27 Qxb5 Qxb5 28 Rxb5 Ra8 29 h4 Black resigns

Giri-Carlsen: Vugar Gashimov Memorial, Shamkir 2018

(See diagram 3)

Carlsen has built up steadily against White’s weakened kingside. 36 Ng5 Qe8 37 Rb3 Bxg5 38 Rxg5 Ne6 39 Rg4 Rxg4 40 fxg4 Qd8 41 Rh3 Qd5+ 42 Kg1 Qe4 43 Qb4 Rf6 White resigns If necessary Black will create a bolthole with ... h6 after which the white centre and kingside will fall apart.