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02 Mar

Big Match, Big Apple

The long-awaited news was finally made public yesterday, with New York City being officially announced as the venue for Magnus Carlsen’s next world title match, that will take place 11-30 November, at a yet-to-be announced specific venue. This will be the first time in more than two decades, and the fourth time in the past century that the World Chess Championship has been held in the world media and financial capital of the Big Apple. 

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Although the site has not been announced as yet, Agon - the independent company that organises world championship matches for governing body, Fide - say they are currently in discussions with a number of top Manhattan locations. “Ideally,” said Agon CEO Ilya Merenzon, “we’d like to take over retail spaces along Broadway - we have about five or six locations on the shortlist - so people can walk in and see [the match] through glass.”

The last time a World Championship match was held in NY was in 1995, when Garry Kasparov defended his title against Vishy Anand in a 20-game match on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center. Though Merenzon said that some of the match sponsors have already been confirmed, he declined for now to identify them, but added that he is in sync with Magnus and his management team’s desire to be associated with American companies.

The match will also be broadcast live on Agon’s website, WorldChess.com. According to the site, the championship will comprise of 12-games (plus speed tie-breaks, if tied in a 6-6 draw) with a prize of “at least $1 million” going to the winner. Carlsen’s opponent will be decide by the winner of the upcoming  Candidates’ Tournament - Vishy Anand, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Veselin Topalov, Anish Giri, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler and Levon Aronian - that gets underway this weekend in Moscow, Russia.

The news was announced just as another major chess event got underway in Moscow, as the latest mega-Swiss hit the runaway with the Aeroflot Open and a departure lounge cram-packed full of top-rated grandmasters, with the field headed by Boris Gelfand, himself a former world title challenger. One of the key moments came as early as round two, as we witnessed a 2600+ top grandmaster dramatically being grounded by Chinese grandmaster Wen Yang - and all thanks to a rare bird in the Closed Sicilian, that was once the calling card of former World Champion Boris Spassky.

GM Wen Yang - GM Vladislav Artemiev
Aeroflot Open A, (2)
Closed Sicilian
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.g3 b5 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.d3 e6 6.Nh3 It may look a bit puzzling, the knight being developed here on h3, but this was in fact a big favourite of former World Champion Boris Spassky, who played the Closed Sicilian with 6. Nh3 in many big Candidate matches, and indeed even against Tigran Petrosian during their 1966 World Championship match. In general, the idea is that the knight will support the pawn when it goes to f4. In some cases the knight could go to f2 or perhaps f4 (after f4-f5). 6...d6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.f4 Nc6 9.Be3 Be7?! Perhaps perplexed by the rarity these days of 6.Nh3 in the Closed Sicilian, Black immediately errs, not realising another reason for 6.Nh3 is the possibility of exploiting the pin on the bishop on b7. The useful waiting move with 9...Rb8 was  wiser, because with the bishop on b7 defended, this would have made an early e5 for White impossible to play. And with ...Rb8 being the sort of standard Black plan in such lines, it isn't really a waste of time, as it forces White to declare his hand first before deciding how to react. 10.e5! Immediately exploiting the pin on the bishop on b7, as Black can't take twice on e5. 10...dxe5 11.fxe5 Nd7 12.Qg4 g6 There's no other option, as 12...Rg8? falls even more dramatically to 13.Rxf7! Kxf7 14.Qh5+! g6 15.Qxh7+ Rg7 16.Rf1+ with a crushing position. 13.Rxf7!! (See Diagram) Crashing right through the Black defences. Artemiev is probably right now looking at his database and a whole load of games from the 1960s by this guy called "Spassky", to see what to do against the rare bird of 6.Nh3. 13...Kxf7? Loses more or less on the spot. Black's only hope of some sort of struggle was with 13...Ncxe5 14.Qxe6 Bxg2 15.Kxg2 Nxf7 16.Nd5 0-0 Forced, otherwise Re1 and Bg5 is crushing. 17.Nxe7+ Kg7 18.Nf4 Nfe5 19.Qd6 and Ne6 is going to leave White with a big material advantage. 14.Rf1+ Ke8 15.Qxe6 Ndxe5 If 15...Qc7 16.Nd5 Qxe5 17.Nf6+! Qxf6 (If 17...Nxf6 18.Bxc6+ wins the queen.) 18.Rxf6 Nd8 19.Bxb7 Nxe6 (If 19...Nxb7 20.Rf7 Black can resign.) 20.Rxe6 Kf7 21.Bd5! and White's winning. 16.Ne4 Qc7 17.Nf4 Bringing one more piece to the party, as John Nunn was fond of saying. With Black's king paralysed in the middle of the board, Yang has the tie to casually brings another piece into the attack, with the big threat now being Nd5. 17...Bc8 The only hope was 17...Kd8 but after 18.Nxc5 Bxc5 19.Qf6+! Kc8 20.Qxh8+ Nd8 21.d4! Bxg2 22.Nxg2 Nef7 23.Qxh7 Bd6 24.Qxg6 White will have four good pawns for the piece and Black's king still wandering about in the wilderness looking for shelter. 18.Nf6+ Kd8 19.Qd5+ Qd6 If 19...Bd6 20.Ne4 quickly wins. 20.Bxc5! 1-0 It's hopeless, as after 20...Qxd5 the threat isn't to take on e7+, but instead the little matter of 21.Bb6#!

0 Comments March 2, 2016

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