Raymond Keene


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Four important events have taken centre stage over the past few weeks. These were tournaments in Shenzen (won by Ding Liren), Zurich (won by Hikaru Nakamura), Karlsruhe (which witnessed a massive triumph for Lev Aronian, who came in ahead of Magnus Carlsen) and Shamkir. In this last, the local matador Shakhriyar Mamedyarov seized the laurels ahead of the former world champion Vladimir Kramnik and the current world no. 2 Wesley So. This week, an overview of these four competitions.

Aronian–Vachier-Lagrave: Grenke Chess Classic, Karlsruhe 2017

(see diagram 1)

Although material is level, Black’s extra queenside pawn is useless. Aronian now finds a way to decisively activate his kingside pawn majority. 36 f5 gxf5 37 Bxh5 fxe4 38 Rxd7+ Kxd7 39 Bxf7 Bg7 40 e6+ Bxe6 41 Bxe6+ Kxe6 42 Kd2 Black resigns Black is helpless against the plan of Bd8, Bxa5, Bb6 and a5 etc.

Nakamura–Nepomniachtchi: Korchnoi Tournament, Zurich 2017

(see diagram 2)

White has a structural advantage on the queenside and now combines this with a probe against Black’s king to stretch his opponent’s resources to breaking point. 27 Qg5 Nxc4 28 Bxc4 e5 29 h4 The plan of 29 Rcd3 and Qf6 is also very strong. 29 ... Kg7 30 h5 h6 31 Qe3 Rd8 32 Rxd8 Qxd8 33 hxg6 fxg6 34 Qxc5 Qb6 35 Bb5 Black resigns

Ding Liren–Yu Yangyi: Shenzhen 2017

(see diagram 3)

All White’s pieces are more active than their black counterparts. Basic chess strategy says that when you have an advantage in activity you must look for a way to attack. Ding Liren now accomplishes this swiftly and efficiently on the kingside. 42 g4 Be7 43 gxh5 Bxh4 44 hxg6 fxg6 45 Rd6 Bf6 46 Re6 Qf8 47 Bb4 Qh8 48 Nxe5 Nxe5 49 Rxf6 Qh5 50 Bc3 Ra7 51 Qf4 Black resigns