Raymond Keene

Sergey’s sensation

Sergey Karjakin, who in 2002 became the world’s youngest-ever grandmaster at the age of 12 years and seven months, has won the Moscow Candidates tournament and has earned the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen for his world title later this year. It was thought the match would take place in New York, but given Karjakin’s victory it would not be surprising if it was relocated to Moscow.

The full scores in the Candidates tournament were as follows (out of 14): Karjakin 8½; Caruana and Anand 7½; Giri, Aronian, Nakamura and Svidler 7; Topalov 4½. The field was exceedingly close, except for Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov, the former Fidé World Chess Federation champion, who lagged behind. In fact, the winner of the tournament was ultimately decided when Karjakin and Caruana, jointly in the lead, fought a battle to the death in the final round.

We join the game just as White launches what turns out to be a decisive attack after Caruana eventually blunders.

Karjakin-Caruana: Fidé Candidates, Moscow 2016

30 e5 Rxe5 Of the four ways of capturing this pawn, this is the best. The other three fail as follows: 30 … fxe5 31 Qh7+ mates quickly; 30 … dxe5 31 Rc4 wins and 30 … Qxe5 31 Rc4 gives a very strong attack. 31 Rc4 Rd5 32 Qe2 Qb6 33 Rh4 Re5 Safer is 33 … Rxd1+ 34 Qxd1 Qe3 35 Qxh5 Qe1+ 36 Kb2 Qe5+ 37 Qxe5 dxe5 38 Rxb4 f5 when, in spite of losing a pawn, Black’s pawn phalanx gives him the better chances. 34 Qd3 Bg2 Black’s idea is to consolidate by means of … d5, shutting out White’s bishop followed by … Be4, activating his own on a powerful central square.

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