13 Mar

Summit Surge

In the 16th century, it was Spain vs. Italy. By the mid-19th century, it was France vs. England. After World War II is was the Soviets vs. USA, first by radio then face-to-face. Then in the middle of the 20th century, it was the mighty Soviets vs. the rest of the world in two epic showdowns. These were all regarded as the ultimate in team chess rivalries.

After 26.Bh6!

But after a long lapse, summit chess re-emerged once again in 2001 to capture everyone’s imagination, as China took on the USA in their first-ever summit match, that was held in Seattle and organized by the Seattle Chess Foundation, the forerunner of America’s Foundation for Chess, with sponsorship coming mainly from local firm Boeing.

The Chinese viewed this as an important step in developing chess relationships with different countries and cultures, and it went a long way to developing their young squad into a potential Olympiad gold-medal winning team. Now, the 21st-century summit showdown features the rising rivalry between the Asian superpowers of China and India - and they met last week in the 2nd China-India Summit Match held in Liaocheng, also known as the Water City, in the western Shandong province.

It was contested over a four-round Scheveningen team event, where each player plays against each opposing team member. Despite leading superstars being absent on both sides, there was, nevertheless, two strong teams: Team India: Ganguly, Sethuraman, Abhijeet Gupta and Karthikeyan Murali; Team China: Wei Yi, Bu Xiangzhi, Lu Shanglei and Zhou Jiancha.

Wei Yi powerhouses China to victory.

But China, the 2014 Olympiad champions, continue to prove to be the dominate force in team chess, and they easily crushed their Asian rivals by a score of 10-6, with the result greatly influenced by China’s teenage tactical ace, Wei Yi, whose unbeaten score of 3/4 contributed greatly to his team’s emphatic victory

GM Wei Yi - GM Murali Karthikeyan
2nd China-India Summit, (3)
Sicilian Taimanov
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.Be2 There's a little game of cat-and-mouse going on in the opening, but we soon get to a mainline Sicilian Taimanov. 4...Nc6 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Qc7 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Be3 Bb4 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Qd4 c5 11.Qc4 0-0 12.Na4 White's idea is to target Black's central pawns if the push forward too early; also, it attempts to exploit Black's bishop on b4. 12...d6 If you push forward with 12...d5 then 13.exd5 exd5 14.Qf4 Qc6 (There's no relief even with the exchange of queens, as White's pieces are ideally placed to hit the hanging pawns on c5 and d5: 14...Qxf4 15.Bxf4 c4 16.Nb6 Ra7 17.Bf3 Be6 (17...d4? 18.Nxc4!) 18.Rad1 c3 19.bxc3 Bxc3 20.Nxd5 Nxd5 21.Bxd5 and White has a big advantage.) 15.Bf3! and suddenly Black's hanging pawns on c5 and d5 begin to look vulnerable. And there's no time to take the knight on a4, as 15...Qxa4 16.Bxc5! and already Black's game is in ruins. 13.a3N This is a novelty/new move seen here, as previously play had gone 13.e5 d5 14.Qf4 Nd7 15.c3 Ba5 16.b4 Bb6 17.Nxb6 Qxb6 18.Bd3 Qc7 19.Qh4 1-0 (40) as in Sazikowski-Neiksana, Warsaw 2016. So obviously the Beijing silicon number-crunchers have something new in mind. 13...Bd7 The critical line is no doubt 13...Ba5 14.e5! looking to break up Black's pawns, so White will have a queenside pawn majority. Karthikeyan looks to avoid We Yi's home-prep, but he soon comes unstuck with the same idea as in the previous note. 14.e5! Bb5 A serious mistake would be 14...dxe5? 15.axb4 Bb5 16.Qxc5 Qxc5 17.Bxc5 Bxe2 18.Rfe1 Bb5 19.Bxf8 and White is winning. 15.Qh4 dxe5 Black still can't play 15...Bxe2? 16.exf6 Qd8 (the only way to stop White mating with Qg5-h6) 17.Nb6! Qxf6 18.Qxf6 gxf6 19.axb4 Bxf1 20.Kxf1! leaving White with a won ending. 16.axb4 Bxe2 17.Rfe1 It's simple play here from Wei Yi, and it leaves Black's game in ruins as the weak pawns on a6, c5 and e5 soon get easily picked off. 17...Bb5 18.Nxc5 Nd7 19.c4! Bc6 20.Nxa6 Qb7 21.Qg3! f5! Karthikeyan, to his credit, is at least making a fight of it, and now White has to stop ...f4. 22.Nc5! Qxb4? Black cracks in a difficult position. His best hope was with the bold - though ultimately futile - try of 22...Nxc5!? 23.Bxc5 Rf6 24.f3!? Rg6 25.Qxe5! Bxf3 26.g3 Bh1 (If 26...h5 27.Rxa8+ Qxa8 28.Be3 h4 29.Bf4 and White has all the threats covered, and now threatens the rapid push up the board of his passed queenside pawns.) 27.Rxa8+ Qxa8 28.Re2 Qa1+ 29.Kf2 and again, White has all the bases covered and now ready to push home the queenside pawns. 23.Nxe6 Rf7 24.Rxa8+ Bxa8 25.Ra1 Bc6? Ultimately the losing blunder.  Instead, 25...Be4 offered better resistance, for obvious reasons we'll soon discover. 26.Bh6! Qxb2 The dilemma in defending with g6 is the mistake of 25...Bc6? as after 26...g6 27.Nd8! forks the rook and bishop. 27.Rf1 e4 28.Nd8 The knight fork quickly wins the game now. 28...Rf8 29.Nxc6 Qf6 30.Qc7 Nc5 31.Ne7+ 1-0

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