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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

FIDE Grand Swiss 2019
Douglas, Isle of Man
October 10–21, 2019

Final Top Standings (All are GM)

1–2. Wang Hao CHN 2726, Fabiano Caruana USA 2812, 8.0/11

3–8. Kirill Alekseenko RUS 2674, Levon Aronian ARM 2758, David Anton Guijarro ESP 2674, Magnus Carlsen NOR 2876, Hikaru Nakamura USA 2745, Nikita Vitiugov RUS 2732, 7.5/11

Total of 154 participants: 133 GM, two WGM, 16 International Master.

Time Control: 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, followed by 15 minutes play-to-finish with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move starting move 1.

Jeffery Xiong is one of the new heroes of American chess. In September 2015, at the age of 14, he was awarded the title of International Grandmaster by the World Chess Federation (FIDE). He followed this up by winning the US Junior Championship the following year. In September, Xiong played in the FIDE World Cup. Although he was seeded no. 31st he made it to the quarter-finals (final 8) by upsetting Anish Giri and Jan-Krzysztof Duda.

So how did he do in the FIDE Grand Swiss tournament? The bare score is three wins, one loss and seven draws for 6.5/11, which landed him in 32nd place — in other words not so good. As I expected his opponents adjusted to his new status as a legitimate 2700+ player and no longer tried to wipe him off the board – they would now play solidly and accept the draw willingly if the resulting middle game positions are equal — something they would normally play on against a young upstart who should be beaten and his points taken away.

This means it is now harder for Jeffery Xiong to play for a win as his opponents are already wary of him. Anyway I am sure this is only a temporary setback and once Xiong makes his own internal adjustments the successes will start coming in again.

During the World Cup Jeffery sought to always complicate the positions where he hoped to outplay his opponents. Here in the Grand Swiss he faced India’s Baskaran Adhiban in the second round, a tactical monster who quite cleanly out-calculated him in an Open Spanish.

Xiong, Jeffery (2708) — Adhiban, Baskaran (2639) [C82]
FIDE Grand Swiss Douglas ENG (2.9), 11.10.2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.c3 Bc5 10.Qd3

Going into the Dilworth Variation with 10.Nbd2 0–0 11.Bc2 Nxf2 12.Rxf2 f6 is something that Adhiban might have planned. Theoretically white should be better but in practice Black gets an attack and a lot of swindling chances. Xiong prefers to be the one to do the attacking.

10…0–0 11.Be3 Bxe3 12.Qxe3 f5

In the Open Spanish Black usually has a weakness on c5 and to address that Black players usually go for 12…Ne7 13.Nbd2 Nf5 14.Qe2 (14.Qf4 g5 15.Qg4 Nfg3 loses the queen) 14…Nxd2 15.Qxd2 c5 and Black is ok.

13.exf6 Qxf6 14.Nbd2 Nxd2 15.Qxd2

Black still has a weakness on c5 but in exchange for that his pieces are actively placed. This is exactly Adhiban’s type of position.

15…Kh8 16.Rfe1

[16.Bxd5? Rad8]

16…Rad8 17.Nd4 Bg8 18.Bc2 Ne5 19.b4

Fixes the weakness on c5 but now Black gets the c4–square. I would say that Black gets the better deal.

19…Nc4 20.Qe2 a5! 21.Qf3

[21.a3 gives Black the chance for 21…Nxa3! 22.Rxa3 axb4 23.Ra7 (23.cxb4? Qxd4 Black is clearly better) 23…Rde8 24.Qf1 bxc3 25.Nxb5 c5 Black’s pawns on the queenside are looking very dangerous]

21…Qb6! 22.Qg3? <D>


Losing — White had to play 22.bxa5! Nxa5 first before 23.Qg3 you will soon see why.

22…axb4 23.Nf5 Qf6 24.cxb4 d4

Next Black intends …Nb2 followed by …d4–d3.

25.Ne7 Be6 26.Nc6 Rd6 27.Na5 Bf5!

After the bishops are exchanged the Black passed pawn on d4 gets even more dangerous.

28.Bxf5 Qxf5 29.Nb3 d3 30.Rad1 d2 31.Re7?

Loses quicker. Going passive though with 31.Rf1 Re8 does not give any real chances to survive. Black will go Qf5–d5 and Rd6–g6 to force the exchange of queens, then the second player will move against White’s weak pawns. Boring technique, but a full point nevertheless.

31…Rg6! 32.Nd4 Qf6 33.Re6 Qxd4 34.Rxg6 Qe4! Attacking the g6 rook and also threatening …Qe1+ and mate. White resigns. 0–1

Let’s now look at some young talents from India. I had already introduced you to Grandmaster Nihal Sarin last Tuesday. He has a nice easy style which shows great talent.

Nihal, Sarin (2610) — Zatonskih, Anna (2422) [D58]
FIDE Grand Swiss (5.66), 14.10.2019

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 e6 3.c4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.e3

The main line goes 7…0-0 8.Rc1 c6 9.Bd3 Nd7. Zatonskih (the wife of GM Daniel Fridman and a strong International Master in her own right — she is a 4-time US Women’s Champion) knew this, of course. She pondered for some time over this position before playing 7…b6. Probably just wanted to try something new.

7…b6 8.Qc2 Bb7 9.cxd5 exd5 10.0–0–0 0–0 11.Kb1

White now has the standard attack h2–h4, g2–g4, g4–g5, etc.

11…Nd7 12.h4 c5 13.g4 cxd4 14.exd4 Be7 15.g5 h5 16.Bh3 g6 17.Rhe1 Re8 18.Bxd7 Qxd7 19.Ne5 Qe6 20.Nb5 Bd8

[20…Rac8 21.Nc7 Qd6 22.Nxe8 Rxc2 23.Nxd6 wins material for White]

21.Nxf7! Qxe1

[21…Qxf7 22.Nd6 Rxe1 23.Rxe1 Qg7 24.Re6 is winning]

22.Qxg6+ Kf8 23.Qh6+ Kg8

[23…Kxf7 24.Nd6+ Kg8 (24…Ke7 25.Rxe1+) 25.Qg6+ Kh8 26.Nf7#]

24.Qh8+ Kxf7 25.Nd6+ 1–0

Aside from GM Nihal Sarin there is also Praggnanandhaa (born Aug. 10, 2005 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu), the youngest International Master in history (10 years 10 months and 19 days) and fourth youngest person to achieve the title of International Grandmaster. Another Indian talent who is making waves is Gukesh (born May 29, 2006 also in Chennai, Tamil Nadu). He is the second youngest ever to achieve the title of International Grandmaster at 12 years seven months and 17 days.

The last two named players above are from Tamil Nadu — they are Tamils. As you know, Tamils do not have a concept of “family name.” The first part of their name is a patronymic. Pragg’s full name is Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. His given name is Praggnanandhaa and his father’s name is Rameshbabu. Similarly Dommaraju Gukesh’s given name is Gukesh while Dommaraju is his father’s name.

Gukesh is currently rated 2544 but his play is steadily improving and I will not be surprised to see his rating go up to 2600+ by 2nd quarter next year.

Gukesh D. (2520) — Houska, Jovanka (2430) [B12]
FIDE Grand Swiss (6.67), 15.10.2019

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Ne7 6.0–0 c5 7.Na3!?

The 1st Indian prodigy was Mir Sultan Khan, someone who relied on native talent alone with no book knowledge, went to England in 1929, became one of the world’s top players including beating Capablanca, won the British championship three times and represented England on top board in three olympiads. This was a long time ago. Nowadays the child prodigies coming out of India are always well schooled in opening theory. Jovanka Houska has written a well-received book on the Caro-Kann but this does not stop Gukesh from challenging her in a forcing line.

7…Nec6 8.c4 Be4

Both 8…cxd4 and 8…dxc4 are considered very playable. The text move is not so popular but Jovi probably wanted to try out an idea.

9.Nb5 Nd7 10.Bg5 Qb8?

It is better to put the queen on b6. If now White continues as in the game 10…Qb6! 11.Rc1 dxc4 12.Nd2 Bd5 13.Bxc4 cxd4 14.Qh5 (White cannot play 14.Bxd5 because with the queen on b6 Black can reply 14…Qxb5! and the worst is over for Black) 14…Bb4 15.Bxd5 exd5 16.e6 0–0 17.exd7 Bxd2 18.Bxd2 Qxb5= with chances for both sides.

11.Rc1 dxc4 12.Nd2! Bd5 13.Bxc4 a6

[13…cxd4 14.Bxd5 (take note of my comment in the previous variation on move 14. With Black’s queen on b8 white is winning) 14…exd5 15.Re1 Bb4 16.Nd6+ Bxd6 (16…Kf8 17.Nxf7!) 17.exd6+ Kf8 18.Be7+ Kg8 19.Nb3 White has a winning attack]

14.Nd6+ Bxd6 15.Bxd5 exd5 16.exd6 Nxd4

[16…Qxd6 17.Re1+ Kf8 18.dxc5 Qc7 (18…Nxc5 19.Nc4! white penetrates 19…Qc7 20.Ne3 Ne6 21.Nxd5 Qd6 22.Qb3 Nxg5 23.Qxb7 Rb8 24.Rxc6!) 19.Nf3 h6 20.Bh4 Kg8 21.Qxd5 White is a pawn up and completely dominating the position]

17.Re1+ Kf8

[17…Ne6 18.Be7 Qc8 19.Qh5 g6 (otherwise Rxe6) 20.Qxd5 Qc6 21.Qb3 Qb6 22.Qc3 Rg8 23.Qh3 Qxb2 24.Nc4 Qg7 25.Bg5 White threatens Rxe6+. Black’s position is lost — if he tries to avoid the rook sac on e6, say with 25…Kf8, then 26.Bh6 wins his queen]

18.Nf3 Qxd6 19.Be7+ Qxe7 20.Rxe7 Kxe7 21.Nxd4 cxd4 22.Qxd4 Rhc8 23.Re1+ Kf8 24.Qxd5 Nc5 25.b4 Ne6 26.Qxb7 Rcb8 27.Qe4 a5 28.bxa5 Rxa5 29.Qxh7 Rb4 30.Qh8+ Ke7 31.Qxg7 1–0


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant, he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.