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20 Jul

Fast And Furious

There’s always a buzz of excitement when World Champion Magnus Carlsen sits down beside another world champion - and even more so when the Norwegian is, for once, not the one in the driving seat, with the ‘other’ world champion being the fast and furious legend Sébastien Ogier, the FIA World Rally Champion!

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Carlsen is a keen motorsport fan, and last week he was invited by Volkswagen to join double World Champion Ogier at the company’s famous Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany, and there he got to to don a racing suit and helmet to become Ogier’s co-driver, by going for a spin in his 318 hp Volkswagen Polo WRC. 

After a high-speed blast around the track, and some sideways driving on the handling course, Carlsen was impressed: "It's fantastic how Sébastien masters his car and flings it around the corners," he said. "Chess and rallying have more in common than you would think. They both require utmost concentration and precision. And you always have to look two steps ahead.”

Granted, but when did getting a chess move wrong land you upside down in the trees?

The nearest chess equivalent to that happened to Vladimir Fedoseev against 16-year-old Wei Yi, when both met in the opening round of the Russia-China Yin Zhou Cup match in Ningbo, China. Yet again the Chinese teenager - and future Carlsen rival - was the one to watch, with all five of his games proving to be decisive! He won three - against Fedoseev, Vituggov and Dubov - and lost to Peter Svidler and Maxim Matlakov.

Despite a late Russian rally, China went on to win the Scheveningen team match 14-11; the top-scorers being Bu Xiangzhi (China) and Maxim Matlakov (Russia), on 4/5. In the women’s match, China also emerged victorious, crushing Russia by a score of 15-10.

Vladimir Fedoseev - Wei Yi
Yin Zhou Cup, (1)
Grünfeld Defence, Exchange Variation
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 0-0 9.Be3 Nc6 10.Rc1 Qc7 The Smyslov Variation of the Exchange Grünfeld, named after the 7th World Champion, Vasily Smyslov (1921-2010) 11.h4 Fedoseev's intentions are crystal clear here with this very aggressive move - he's going to meet Wei Yi's Grünfeld head on. 11...Rd8 12.h5 b5 13.Bd5 e6 14.Bxc6 Qxc6 15.hxg6 fxg6 In an ideal world, here you would like to capture towards the centre with 15...hxg6 - but recapturing 15...fxg6 allows the later defensive ploy of ....h5 and no mates down the h-file. 16.f3 a5 17.Kf2 Ba6 18.Qg1 b4 19.Qh2 h5 20.Nf4 Qe8 21.Qg3 bxc3 22.Nxg6? Like rally driving, things can get incredibly 'messy' very quickly, and while this looks an attractive option, in reality it allows Black to turn the tables with a threatening attack. Instead, White really had to be a little more patient (and cautious!) with 22.dxc5!? and if 22...Rd2+ 23.Kg1! and it is difficult to see how Black continues the attack now, as he has to defend his own weak kingside defenses, as after 23...Kh7 24.Qg5 Rad8 (24...Bh6 25.Qxh6+! Kxh6 26.Nxh5+ g5 27.Nf6+ and White's winning.) 25.Nxg6! Rd1+ 26.Kf2 R8d2+ 27.Kg3 Rxc1 28.Qxh5+ Kg8 29.Qh7+ Kf7 30.Ne5+ Kf8 31.Bh6 with a winning attack. 22...cxd4 23.Bf4 Qb5! Suddenly we see just how vulnerable the White king is - and not only that, Black has two very powerful connected passed pawns far down the board. 24.e5? 24.Ne5! was the only move, and the saving move, as 24...Qb2+ 25.Kg1 Rf8 (25...d3 26.Qg6! Qb6+ 27.Kh2 Rf8 28.Kg3! and White's attack is winning.) 26.Rxh5 Ra7 27.Ng4 and White's attack may well be more of a threat than Black's. 24...Kf7 25.Qg5 Qe2+ 26.Kg3 Rd7 27.Rxh5 Qd3! Perhaps this is what Fedoseev had missed? It's still messy, but White's attack is faltering and Black's rooks come into the game - and he still has those powerful passed pawns! 28.Nh4 Rg8 29.Kh2 Bh8 30.Qh6 Bg7 31.Qg5 Bc4 32.Re1 Bf8 33.Qf6+ Ke8 Wei Yi has all the entry points covered, and at the same time as activated all his pieces. 34.Bg5 Be7 35.Qh6 Bf8 36.Qf6 Be7 Not fishing for a draw, simply wasting a couple of moves coming up to the next time control - this is a very good trick to remember if you find yourself in such difficult positions coming up to the time control. 37.Qh6 Bd5 38.Bf6 Bf8 39.Qf4 Qd2 This forces the exchange of queens - and with it, seals White's fate. 40.Qxd2 cxd2 41.Rd1 Bb4 42.Bg5 Rxg5! The pawn on d2 is very powerful. 43.Rxg5 Bxa2 44.Rg8+ Kf7 45.Rb8 Bb3 0-1

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