Power chess

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

GRENKE Chess Classic 2019
Karlsruhe/Baden Baden
April 18-29, 2019

Final Standings

1. Grandmaster (GM) Magnus Carlsen NOR 2845, 7.5/9

2. GM Fabiano Caruana USA 2819, 6.0/9

3-4. GM Arkadij Naiditsch AZE 2695, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2773, 5.0/9

5-7. GM Viswanathan Anand IND 2774, GM Levon Aronian ARM 2762, GM Peter Svidler RUS 2735, 4.5/9

8. GM Francisco Vallejo Pons ESP 2693, 4.0/9

9-10. GM Georg Meier GER 2628, IM Vincent Keymer GER 2516, 2.0/9

Average Rating: 2724 Category 19

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

Before we go to our main topic I’d like to point out the name of IM Vincent Keymer, the last-placer. You might be wondering what a mere IM with a rating of 2516 is doing in the company of such elite chessplayers. The answer is that he had qualified for it. Alongside the Chess Classic there was the GRENKE Chess Open. Keymer won it in a great upset last year and qualified to play in the main event. This year the winner of the Open was the German #3 Daniel Fridman who took the top honors. There were seven other grandmasters who tied for first: Anton Korobov, Andreas Heimann, Samvel Ter-Sahakyan, Gukesh, Matthias Bluebaum, Alexander Donchenko and Tamas Banusz.

Anyway GM Daniel Fridman (the husband of the American WGM Anna Zatonskih) had the best tiebreak score and was declared the tournament winner with the option to participate in the Grenke Chess Classic next year. This is in addition to the first prize of €13,000.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way it is time to show you another powerful win by the current world chess champion Magnus Carlsen.

Several years ago Cadogan Books came up with “Chess Secrets,” a series of books which uncover the mysteries of the most important aspects of chess strategy, attack, opening play and gambits, classical play, endgames and preparation. In each book the author studies a number of great players from chess history who have excelled in a particular field of the game and who have undeniably influenced those who have followed.

There was a book on “Heroes of Classical Chess.” According to its introduction these “heroes” play “classically direct” chess, a universality of play that embraces all styles. These so-called heroes are: Akiba Rubinstein, Vassily Smyslov, Bobby Fischer, Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen. By the way, I think the publishers did the great Paul Keres an injustice here, for he is the one who is synonymous with the term “universal player” and even Bobby Fischer acknowledged that.

Then another book came out on the “Giants of Strategy” showcasing the games of Vladimir Kramnik, Anatoly Karpov, Tigran Petrosian, Jose Capablanca and Aron Nimzowitsch.

Next in the series were the “Great Attackers,” i.e., Garry Kasparov, Mikhail Tal and Leonid Stein.

Then there were the “Giants of Innovation,” Wilhelm Steinitz, Emmanuel Lasker, Mikhail Botvinnik, Victor Korchnoi and Vassily Ivanchuk. Followed by the “Great Chess Romantics” Adolf Anderssen, Mikhail Chigorin, Richard Reti, Bent Larsen and Alexander Morozevich.

And then the last volume came out: “The Giants of Power Play” Veselin Topalov, Yefim Geller, David Bronstein, Alexander Alekhine and Paul Morphy. What the heck is “power play”? It is the art of putting opponents under constant pressure. The methods of doing so are numerous, including gaining rapid development in return for material to build up an initiative, preparing powerful opening ideas in advance, or even developing completely new opening systems.

Magnus Carlsen is not known for his opening erudition, usually his goal is to get a playable middlegame and from there to outplay his opponent. But once he does get a plus in the opening there is no one more capable than him to bring it home. The following game is a prime example.

Carlsen, Magnus (2845) — Aronian, Levon (2761) [D39]
Grenke Classic 2019 Karlsruhe/Baden Baden (7.3), 27.04.2019

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4

This is the Vienna Variation of the Queen’s Gambit, sort of the halfway point between QG Accepted and QG Declined.

5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 c5 7.Bxc4

White can also continue 7.e5 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qa5 9.exf6 Bxc3+ (9…Qxg5? 10.Qa4+ Nc6 11.Nxc6 Bxc3+ 12.bxc3 Bd7 13.Qb4! the threatened mate on e7 ensures that White keeps his extra knight. Dreev,A (2689)-Landa,K (2550) INT 2004 1–0 23) 10.bxc3 Qxg5 11.fxg7 (11.Qa4+ Nd7 12.fxg7 Qxg7 13.Qb4 a5 14.Qd6 Qe5+ 15.Qxe5 Nxe5 takes the queens off the board and leaves the position equal. In fact, in the game Lputian, S (2540) vs Yudasin, L (2480) from Lvov 1987, they agreed to a draw here immediately) 11…Qxg7 and now White has either Qf3 or Qd2, in both of which we can look forward to an uncompromising battle.

7…cxd4 8.Nxd4

A mistake is 8.Qxd4. There will follow 8…Qxd4 9.Nxd4 Nxe4 Black is simply a pawn up.

8…Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.Bd2!?

For some reason no one has ever played this before. The usual lines are:

10.Bb5+ Nbd7 11.Bxf6 Qxc3+ 12.Kf1 gxf6 13.h4 and;

10.Bxf6 Qxc3+ 11.Kf1 gxf6 (not 11…Qxc4+ 12.Kg1 and Black is in a quandary as to how to meet White’s threat of Rc1) 12.Rc1 Qa5 13.h4. In both cases we have a very complicated game with chances for both sides.


The critical line is 10…Nxe4 11.Qg4 Nxd2 12.Qxg7 Nxc4 (12…Rf8 13.Kxd2; 12…Qxc3? 13.Qxh8+ Kd7 14.Bb5+ Nc6 15.Ke2 White is clearly winning) 13.Qxh8+ Ke7 14.0–0 Nd7 Black has two pieces for the rook but his king is in the center of the board. This is probably easier to play for White, and obviously part of Magnus’ preparation so Aronian avoids going into it.

11.Qe2 e5 12.Nb3 Qc7 13.0–0 Bg4 14.f3 Rc8 15.Bd5

The tactic 15.Bxf7+ Qxf7 16.fxg4 does not win a pawn for Black can come back with 16…Qc4! and win the pawn on e4.

15…Nxd5 16.exd5 Bh5 17.c4!

This pawn cannot be taken because after 17…Qxc4 18.Rfc1! the threat of a back rank mate forces Black to give up his queen. Now, with his passed pawn on d5 well-protected it is clear that White has the advantage.

17…Nd7 18.Rfc1

Now threatening to push his c-pawn to c5.

18…b6 19.a4 a5

Aronian’s game goes steadily downhill and it is not clear where his mistake was committed. Some annotators pointed to this move as the error as now the b6–pawn is weakened and Carlsen soon zeroes in on it. I am not so sure that is right. Methinks that when Magnus is as dominant as this whatever move you make will give him something to pounce on!

20.Qf2 Qd6 21.Be3 Bg6 22.Qd2!

Carlsen prevents Black’s maneuver of …Bd3 followed by …Qg6 and …h7–h5 and he has now got something going on the kingside.

22…f6 23.Qb2 Rc7 24.Nd2 Nc5 25.Qa3 Rd8 26.Rc3

Watching out for …Nd3.


This attempt to lash out backfires on Aronian. He is in that sort of position where the best course of action is just to wait around and see what White does.

27.Re1! e4 28.fxe4 fxe4 29.Bxc5 Rxc5

Taking the queens off the board with 29…Qxc5+ 30.Qxc5 would make it harder for Black to defend his weaknesses. After the game Carlsen said that he will just “put the rook on the b-file and bring the king to e3 — it should be at least very bad for Black.”

30.Nxe4 Qe5 31.Rce3 Rcc8 32.h3!

Just a waiting move to illustrate how helpless Black is.


[32…Rxc4 33.Nd2 wins the exchange for White]

33.Nd2! <D>


White’s rooks will be penetrating down the e-file. Black’s position surprisingly collapses quickly.

33…Re8 34.Re7! Rxe7 35.Rxe7 Qd8

Or 35…Qc5+ 36.Qxc5 Rxc5 (36…bxc5 37.Ra7) 37.Rb7 Carlsen wins the b6–pawn and wins with his passed d-pawn. Black can try to counter against the c4–pawn, but 37…Bd3 38.d6! Bxc4 39.d7 costs Black his bishop]


The threat is 37.Qe6+ Kh8 38.d6 Qg8 39.Qe5 Rd8 40.d7 and then Nd2–f3–d4–e6.


[36…Bf7 37.Qe5 followed by Nd2–e4–d6]

37.Re6 Rc5 38.Qb3 1–0

On Thursday we will take up the Ivory Coast Rapid/Blitz chess tournament, the first event in this year’s Grand Chess Tour. It is still part of Magnus Carlsen’s great show of force and remarkably he has dropped the Berlin Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6) and replied with the Sicilian every time he had Black and his opponent played 1.e4.

Great games to play over! Don’t miss it!


Mr. 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 for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.