Paris leg, Grand Chess Tour
July 27–August 2, 2019
Final Standings, Rapid
1. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 6.5/9, 2. Alexander Grischuk, 6.0/90, 3-4. Ian Nepomniachtchi, Viswanathan Anand, 5.5/9 5-6. Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Fabiano Caruana, 4.5/9, 7. Hikaru Nakamura, 4.0/9, 8-9. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Daniil Dubov, 3.5/9, 10. Anish Giri, 2.5/9
Time Control: 25 minutes play-to-finish with a 10 second delay (not increment) starting move 1
Final Standings, Blitz
1-3. Viswanathan Anand, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Hikaru Nakamura, 10.5/18, 4-5. Ian Nepomniachtchi, Fabiano Caruana, 10.0/18, 6-8. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, 8.0/18, 9. Anish Giri, 7.5/18, 10. Daniil Dubov, 7.0/18
Time Control: Five minutes play-to-finish with a three-second delay (not increment) starting move 1
Combined Overall Standings (Rapid results count double)
1. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 21.0/36
2. Viswanathan Anand, 20.5/36
3-4. Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi, 20.0/36
5. Jan-Krzysztof Duda, 19.5/36
6. Fabiano Caruana, 19.0/36
7. Hikaru Nakamura, 18.5/36
8. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 15.0/36
9. Daniil Dubov, 14.0/36
10. Anish Giri, 12.5/36
The Grand Chess Tour is comprised of five rapid/blitz tournaments and two classical (Croatia which took place last June and Sinquefield Cup which starts August 15) events. The twelve full tour participants will play in both classical events as well as in three of the five rapid/blitz tournaments.
There have so far been three legs of the Grand Chess Tour: Ivory Coast (Rapid/Blitz), Croatia (Classical Chess) and Paris (Rapid/Blitz). The current over-all standings are as follows:
1. Magnus Carlsen (two events), 33 Grand Chess Tour (GCT) points, total prize winnings, $127,500
2. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (three events), 25 GCT points, $70,000
3. Wesley So (two events), 22 GCT points, $75,000
4. Ian Nepomniachtchi (three events), 18 GCT points, $42,333
5. Fabiano Caruana (two events), 16 GCT points, $48,000
6. Hikaru Nakamura (three events), 14 GCT points, $40,000
7. Viswanathan Anand (two evens), 13 GCT points, $35,000
8. Ding Liren (two events), 13 GCT points, $29,833
9. Levon Aronian (one event), 11 GCT points, $35,000
10. Sergey Karjakin (two events), 8.5 GCT points, $20,500
11. Anish Giri (two events), 8 GCT points, $24,833
12. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (two events), 6 GCT points, $17,500
Wesley So is doing well so far. He was fourth place in Ivory Coast rapid/blitz ($15,000) and second place in Croatia ($60,000). Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is currently ahead of Wesley in Grand Chess Tour (GCT) points but he has already played in three events against Wesley’s two.
This August there will be two more legs:
Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, August 8-15, 2019, Saint Louis, Missouri USA
Sinquefield Cup (Classical), August 15-30, 2019, Saint Louis, Missouri USA
Both events will be hold at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Saint Louis, Missouri. Wesley will not be playing in the Rapid & Blitz but will see action in the Sinquefield Cup. We all hope that Wesley can keep up his good form there.
OK, time now to look at some exciting games from Paris.
Alexander Grischuk played one of the three best games of his career during the rapid section, according to himself.
Caruana, Fabiano (2819) — Grischuk, Alexander (2766) [C54]
GCT Paris Rapid (9.2), 29.07.2019
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 d6
The days of the Petroff and then the Berlin are over — nowadays everybody and their cousin plays the Italian Game and, more specifically, the Giuoco Pianissimo (Giuoco Piano with d3).
6.0–0 a6 7.a4 Ba7 8.Re1 0–0 9.h3 Be6 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.b4 Nh5 12.Ra2 Qe8 13.Na3 Nf4 14.Bxf4 Rxf4
[14…exf4?! is not so good as it allows 15.d4 which blocks and g1–a7 diagonal and leaves his a7–bishop out of play. If he tries to open up the center with 15…e5 then 16.b5 axb5 17.axb5 Na5 (17…Nd8? 18.Qb3+ Ne6 19.Nc2! the awkward positions of Black’s bishop and knight gain White a piece) 18.Qd3 with both black pieces stuck in the corner the first player is doing very well indeed]
15.Nc4 Qg6 16.b5 Raf8!
Important to get out of the potential pin on the a-file right away. Bad is 16…axb5? 17.axb5 Ne7 due to 18.b6! cxb6 19.Nxd6 Nc6 20.d4! Raf8 21.Nxe5 Nxe5 22.dxe5 White is clearly better.
[17.bxc6? Rxf3 18.cxb7 Bxf2+ wins]
17…Ne7 18.d4 Qf6!
Forcing white to open the g1–a7 diagonal.
19.dxe5 dxe5 20.bxa6 bxa6 21.Qe2 a5 22.Rf1 g5 23.Nc4 Ng6
Black is strongly threatening …g5–g4.
24.Nh2 Qg7 25.Qd3
[25.Nxa5? Rxf2 26.Rxf2 Rxf2 27.Qxf2 Bxf2+ 28.Rxf2 Qd7 White’s pieces are too uncoordinated to match up against Black’s queen]
Targeting e5, although 26.g3 is also possible: 26…Nf3+ 27.Kg2 Nxh2 28.gxf4 Nxf1 29.f5! White may survive, although I admit it looks scary.
26…h5 27.Ngxe5 g4 28.hxg4 hxg4 29.Qg3 Qg5 30.Re2 Kg7 31.Nd3
White is defending with all his might and he is succeeding so far, but both players were also very short of time here.
31…R4f6 32.Qxc7+ R8f7 33.Qe5?
He should have gone back 33.Qg3!
Threatening 34…Nf3+ 35.gxf3 gxf3 and then one of his rooks goes to the go-file.
POSITION AFTER 34.QG3
See if you can spot the winning move.
The king has to leave the g-file.
35.Rb2 Nf3+! 36.gxf3 gxf3
If the king was on the g-file this move would not have been possible.
[37.Qh2 Rg7+ 38.Kh1 Qxh2+ 39.Kxh2 Rh6#]
37…Rg7 38.Qxg7+ Qxg7+ 39.Kf1 Rh6 40.Ke1 Qxc3+ 0–1
[40…Qxc3+ 41.Kd1 Rh1+ 42.Ne1 Rxe1#]
The modern Benoni is a big favorite of mine, although lately there are only a few elite players who wield it once in a while. In faster time controls though it is very playable for Black. Take a look at the following smooth execution by Caruana.
Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (2765) — Caruana, Fabiano (2819) [A70]
GCT Paris Rapid 2019 Paris (8.5), 29.07.2019
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 d6 5.Nc3 exd5 6.cxd5 g6 7.e4 Bg7 8.h3 0–0 9.Bd3 b5 10.a3
A rarity here. The two most common moves are:
10.Nxb5 Re8 (10…Nxe4? is dangerous for Black) 11.0–0 Nxe4 12.Re1 a6 13.Na3 Nf6 with dynamic equality;
10.Bxb5 Nxe4 11.Nxe4 Qa5+ 12.Nfd2 Qxb5 13.Nxd6 Qa6 14.N2c4 Nd7 15.0–0 Ne5 (15…Nb6 16.Nxb6 Qxb6 17.Nxc8 Raxc8 is anothr way to go) 16.Nxc8 Raxc8 17.Nxe5 Bxe5 with some compensation for the pawn.
10…b4 11.Ne2 Re8 12.Qc2 Ba6 13.Nd2 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 Nbd7 15.0–0 a5 16.Ng3 h5 17.Re1 Nb6
Black’s idea is to play …Nfxd5 as the white e4–pawn is pinned against his rook on e1.
18.Re2 Nfd7 19.Nf3
Lots of tactical tricks here. 19.f4 to prevent the Black knight from going to e5 is met by 19…c4! 20.Qf3 (20.Nxc4 Nc5 21.Qc2 b3 the knight on c4 is lost) 20…Nc5 Black is doing very well.
19…Ne5 20.Nxe5 Bxe5 21.Nf1
[21.f4 Bg7 followed by …c4]
21…c4! 22.Qd1 b3 23.Nd2 a4 24.Nf3 c3 25.bxc3
[25.Nxe5 c2 26.Qd3 Rxe5]
25…Bxc3 26.Bg5 Bf6 27.h4 Rc8 28.Qd3 Nc4 29.Rc1 Ne5 30.Nxe5 Rxc1+ 31.Bxc1 Bxe5
Black is clearly winning.
32.g3 Qc7 33.Be3 Rb8 34.f4 b2 35.Qb1 Qc4 36.Kf2 Bd4 37.Bxd4 Qxd4+ 38.Kg2 Rb3 To be followed by …Qc3. White has seen enough. 0–1
Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines 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.