Raymond Keene


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My two previous articles dwelt on Richard Réti’s introduction of the so-called hypermodern systems. Characterised by the double fianchetto of White’s bishops, Réti swept to victory with his invention against both Bogolyubov and Capablanca, as detailed in my columns. A fortuitous coincidence with the publication of Réti: Move by Move by Thomas Engqvist (Everyman Chess) was the victory by the young Hungarian Richard Rapport against world champion Magnus Carlsen at the recent Tata Steel tournament at Wijk aan Zee in Holland.

The tournament was won by the resurgent former Philippine, now USA grandmaster, Wesley So, who appears to have become invincible in his latest competitions. With his victories in the St Louis Sinquefield Cup, the London leg of the Grand Tour, a gold medal in the Olympiad and now Wijk aan Zee, So seems to be positioning himself as the natural challenger for Carlsen’s crown.

Rapport-Carlsen: Wijk aan Zee 2017; Réti Opening

1 Nf3 d5 2 b3 Bf5 3 Bb2 e6 4 d3 h6 5 Nbd2 Nf6 6 c4 c6 7 g3 Be7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Nbd7 10 a3 a5 11 Qb1 Bh7 This is a classic position from the Réti Opening. Indeed, the black formation was introduced by Emanuel Lasker in his game as Black against Réti himself at New York 1924, the tournament where Réti’s Opening truly hit the headlines. 12 b4 axb4 13 axb4 Qb6 14 Bc3 Rxa1 15 Qxa1 Bxb4 (see diagram 1) White can sacrifice his b-pawn with impunity, since he will easily regain it and invade the black camp with his rook. The strategic point of White’s play is to try, as far as possible, to restrict the activity of Black’s bishop on h7. 16 Bxb4 Qxb4 17 Rb1 Qd6 18 Rxb7 e5 19 d4 In the light of my previous comment this thrust might seem odd. However, although Black’s bishop has now been apparently liberated it is biting on thin air. Its pseudo-activity is more than compensated by White’s increased mobility. 19 ... exd4 20 Nxd4 c5 21 N4b3 d4 22 Bh3 (see diagram 2) 22 … d3 Apparently powerful but after White’s reply, the black bishop is once again biting on granite. 23 e3 Ne5 The best chance was 23 ... Rb8 to reduce White’s attacking units. 24 Bg2 Rc8 25 f4 Neg4 26 e4 Black’s pieces have found themselves in a terrible tangle and White now wins material. 26 ... Re8 27 e5 Nxe5 28 fxe5 Rxe5 29 Rb6 Qe7 30 Rb8+ Ne8 31 Bc6 White deals with Black’s threats by ignoring them. The following transaction leaves Black hopelessly behind on material. 31 ... Re1+ 32 Qxe1 Qxe1+ 33 Nf1 Black resigns