05 Aug

London Calling

The midsummer plethora of large chess festivals - mainly held throughout Europe - is at an end, and we’re now less than three weeks away from the next mega-elite tournament featuring World Champion Magnus Carlsen, and this will be in America, with the 3rd Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, running August 21 - September 3, being the second leg of the newly-structured Grand Chess Tour supported by Garry Kasparov.


The prize fund for the three events in the 2015 Grand Chess Tour totals over $1m, and features nine elite players in all events: Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Vishy Anand (India), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Fabiano Caruana (USA), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Levon Aronian (Armenia) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France). Each event also features a ‘wildcard’ entry - and for the Sinquefield Cup, it will be the U.S. No.3, Wesley So.

And the concluding event in the Chess Grand Tour will be the 7th London Chess Classic, December 4-13, and earlier this week they also announced their wildcard, and not unsurprisingly, it was the popular and very experienced English and UK No.1 Michael Adams - and he now completes the field, joining Carlsen, Anand, Topalov, Nakamura, Caruana, Giri, Grischuk, Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave for what will be the strongest tournament ever to be held in the UK.

Currently the national UK title, the 102nd British Championship, is taking place at the University of Warwick in Coventry. Defending champions GM David Howell and GM Jonathan Hawkins head the 76-player field - but they’ve both suffered setbacks and find themselves a half point off the pace of leaders GM Nick Pert and GM Danny Gormally on 6.5/8 with three rounds still to play.

Chris Ward - Danny Gormally
102nd British Championship, (5)
Nimzo-Indian Defence
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 The Sämisch variation in the Nimzo-Indian Defence is back in vogue again, mainly because Magnus Carlsen faced some very difficult positions against it during his title matches with Vishy Anand. 4...d5 5.a3 Be7 6.e4 dxe4 7.fxe4 e5 8.d5 0-0 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.Be2 Bc5 Although White has the centre, Black has a lead in development and prospects for his pieces - and this move stops White from safely castling. 11.Bg5 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 a5 Stopping b4. 13.Na4 Another option here is 13.Qc2 and queenside castling. 13...Nbd7 14.Qd2 h6 15.Be3 Bxe3 16.Qxe3 b5! White has missed a nice little tactical finesse that allows Black to quickly breakdown the seemingly strong pawn centre. 17.cxb5 Nxd5! 18.Qf2 If 18.exd5? Qh4+ 19.g3 Qxa4 20.d6 cxd6! (20...e4? 21.Be2 threatens the simple b3 trapping the queen.) 21.Bxa8 Rxa8 and Black has lots of compensation for the exchange: an extra pawn (and b5 weak and soon falling), the pawn center and wonderful outpost potentials for the knight. 18...N5b6 19.Nxb6? This exchange is just plain wrong, as all it does is repair Black's pawns and provides big outposts for his knight, via c5-e6(or b3)-d4. 19...cxb6 20.0-0 Nc5 21.Rfd1 Qe7 22.Rd5 Nb3 23.Rf1 Nd4 In essence, what we are heading for is a thematic 'good knight vs. bad bishop' ending here, with all of Black's pawns on dark squares and White's weak ones - on e4 and b5 - on white squares. All Black has to do is engineer the exchange of queens and rooks. 24.Qg3 f6 25.Bg4 Rad8 26.Rxd8 Rxd8 27.Rc1 Qf7 28.a4? A difficult position, but White perhaps would have been better simply jettisoning the weak pawn on b5 to concentrate on activating his pieces as best he can - this was the only way to try to save the game here. 28...Qa2 29.Qc3? White's last chance was 29.Qa3 as after 29...Qxa3 30.bxa3 winning this will not be so easy for Black, as even although he is structurally much better, the White rook quickly getting to c7 can create realistic saving chances. And note that if 29.Rc7? there's 29...Qb1+ 30.Kf2 Qxb2+ 31.Kg1 Qa1+ 32.Kf2 Kh8 (the reason for this we'll soon see) 33.h3 Ne6! 34.Bxe6 Rd2+ and wins. 29...Qxa4 30.Qc7 Rf8 31.Qxb6 Qb3 Threatening b5, b2 and the little matter of ...Qe3+ winning the rook. 32.Ra1 Qe3+ 33.Kh1 Qxe4 34.Be6+ Kh7 35.Qd6 Nxe6 36.Qxe6 Rd8 (See Diagram) White may have exchanged off the powerful knight, but now Black's major pieces dominate the game. 37.Qc6 The strength of the passed b-pawn is only a mirage: 37.b6? Rd2! 38.Rg1 Rxb2 and the second b-pawn will soon fall. 37...Qe2 38.h3 Rd4 39.b6 Qxb2 40.Rxa5 Rd1+ 41.Kh2 Qf2 42.Qf3 A desperate attempt to exchange queens, as Black did have serious mating threats, one of the prettiest being: 42.Qe4+ f5 43.Qxe5 Qg1+ 44.Kg3 Rd3+ 45.Kh4 g5+ 46.Kh5 Rxh3+! 47.gxh3 Qd1+ 48.Qe2 Qxe2# 42...Qg1+ 43.Kg3 Rf1 44.Qd3+ f5 45.Rxe5 Qf2+ 46.Kh2 Qf4+ 47.Qg3 Rh1+! 48.Kxh1 Qxg3 49.Rb5 f4! 50.Rf5 If 50.b7 f3 easily wins: 51.gxf3 Qxh3+ 52.Kg1 Qg3+ 53.Kf1 Qxf3+ 54.Kg1 Qe3+ 55.Kh1 Qe1+ and Black will pick off the rook with a check on e2 after 56.Kg2 50...Kg6 51.b7 Qe1+ 52.Kh2 Qb4 0-1

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