08 Apr

Left At The Altar

Just when we were all looking forward to next week’s Altibox Norway Chess Tournament, and in particular the big clash between World Champion Magnus Carlsen and his new title challenger, Sergey Karjakin, there came the shock announcement midweek that the recent Moscow Candidates’ victor had dramatically pulled out of the Stavanger super-tournament at the eleventh hour.  


The Russian said that he needed the time to fully recover from the strain of playing in the Candidates’, and now also needed the extra time to start preparing for his upcoming title match with Carlsen in New York in November. Karjakin’s manager, Kirill Zangalis, said that the final decision was Karjakin’s, and Karjakin’s alone.

Strangely, there’s a lot of recent bad feeling with Karjakin and the Stavanger tournament. Twice he was the winner of the tournament, but last year, when it became part of the Grand Chess Tour circuit, the Russian wasn’t asked to return to defend his title, but instead was offered and subsequently declined an invite to participate in a qualifier for the tournament.


Altibox announced today that Karjakin’s place will now be taken by Li Chao, the Chinese No.2 and current World No. 15, who had to make a more personal decision to pull out of another major event to play at such short notice in the tournament - he postponed his wedding! But there’s no need to postpone a wedding in such super-tournament circumstances, as Englishman Glenn Flear will famously testify to.

Photo © | Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam (New In Chess) - Li Chao and (we hope!) his understanding fiancee!

Flear had his greatest career success at London 1986 in the Phillips & Drew Kings tournament when, competing as a very last-minute substitute due to an illness and out-rated by an illustrious field which included Boris Spassky and Nigel Short, he shocked the chess world by winning first prize outright. It proved to be one of the all-time great tournament upsets - and even more so considering that the dates coincided with his planned wedding, he and his wife of now 30-years, Christine, were married on the mid-event rest-day with all the players in the tournament invited to their nuptials!

IM Glenn Flear - GM Jim Plaskett
Philips & Drew Kings, 1986
Old Indian, Tartakower/Wade variation
1.Nf3 d6 2.d4 Bg4 3.e3 Nf6 4.Be2 c6 5.0-0 Nbd7 6.b3 e5 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Bb2 Qc7 9.Nbd2 e4 10.Nd4 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Bd6 12.h3 0-0-0 13.Nc4 Ne5 14.Nxd6+ Qxd6 From an innocuous opening, White has emerged with a nagging advantage due to the strong bishop on b2 that causes all the trouble for Black down the long diagonal. 15.Rfd1 Qc7 16.Nf5! Forcing a further weakening on the long diagonal. 16...g6 17.Ng3 c5 18.Rxd8+ Rxd8 19.Rd1 The bishop on b2 controls the outcome of the game - and rightly, Flear goes about exchanging off the rooks to exploit his advantage. 19...a6 20.Rxd8+ Kxd8 21.Qd1+ Ke7 22.Nxe4!! (See Diagram) This unexpected tactic decides the game - White wins a critical pawn, as he easily recoups his sacrificed piece and exchanges queens down to a very favourable ending. 22...Nxe4 23.Qd5 Nf6 24.Qxe5+ Qxe5 25.Bxe5 Nd5 26.a3 White has an easy task in winning the endgame - he's a pawn ahead and his bishop dominates the knight. 26...Ke6 27.Bb2 b5 28.Kf1 f5 29.Ke2 a5 30.Kd3 Nb6 31.Bg7 Kd5 32.f3 What White intends is to play e4+ and use his passed e-pawn to win. 32...c4+ 33.Kc3! Keeping the pawns linked together makes the endgame win easier for White. 33...cxb3 34.cxb3 Nd7 35.Bd4! Controlling all the squares for the knight: b6, c5, e5 and f6. Black is forced now to move his knight further down the board and away from the action. 35...Nb8 36.Bb6 Nc6 37.a4 With the Black a-pawn now fixed on a dark square, the knight is now has to stay on c6 to defend the pawn. The rest of the game now shows wonderful technique from Flear in pushing home his clear advantage for the full point. 37...b4+ 38.Kd2 It's all down to a king and pawn ending scenario now, and the little matter of triangulation to d3 for the White king to move up the board. 38...Kd6 39.Kd3 Kd5 40.f4 h6 41.h4! Nb8 Black has simply run out of moves. If now 41...h5 42.g3 forces 42...Kd6 43.Kc4 followed by Kb6 and then Bxa5. 42.Bxa5 Na6 43.Bb6 h5 44.g3 Nb8 45.Bd8 Nc6 46.Bc7 1-0

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