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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

6th Vugar Gashimov Memorial
Shamkir, Azerbaijan
March 30-April 10, 2019

Final Standings (All Grandmasters)

1. Magnus Carlsen NOR 2845, 7.0/9

2-3. Ding Liren CHN 2812, Sergey Karjakin RUS 2753, 5.0/9

4-6. Teimour Radjabov AZE 2756, Alexander Grischuk RUS 2771, Viswanathan Anand IND 2779, 4.5/9

7-8. Veselin Topalov BUL 2740, David Navara CZE 2739, 4.0/9

9. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AZE 2790, 3.5/9

10. Anish Giri NED 2797, 3.0/9

Average Rating: 2778 Category 22

Time Control: 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 60 minutes for the next 20 moves, then 15 minutes play-to-finish with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move starting move 61.

Magnus Carlsen put in a really marvelous performance in the Vugar Gashimov Memorial, not only in terms of points scored but also the high quality of play. Here are two good ones which deserve a place in the next edition of his best games.

The great tactician Alexei Shirov used to puzzle his readers when he claimed that his strength is in the endgame. Isn’t his name synonymous with a kingside attack? But he makes a great point — in the endgame there is no room for “positional considerations” or “strategical planning” — you have to calculate all lines to the very end, and that is where your tactical skill is needed.

The following game is a nice illustration of that.

Navara, David (2739) — Carlsen, Magnus (2845) [B33]
Gashimov Memorial 2019 Shamkir (3.3), 02.04.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5

The main line of the Sveshnikov is 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 by a factor of around 10 to 1; the move used in the game, 7.Nd5 is a far second. In his 2018 World Championship Match in London Magnus Carlsen turned to the Sveshnikov in four of the seven games where he had Black, and all four times his opponent Fabiano Caruana responded 7.Nd5.

7…Nxd5 8.exd5 Nb8

[In game 8 and 10 of their match Carlsen played the text move. In games 12 and 14 he tried 8…Ne7]

9.a4 Be7 10.Be2 0–0 11.0–0 Nd7 12.Kh1 a6 13.Na3 a5!

Black usually pushes …f7–f5 here and goes for a kingside assault. Carlsen’s idea is to play …a5 then …b6 before moving over to the kingside. That way it would be that much harder for White to get anything going on the queenside.

14.f4 f5 15.Nc4 b6 16.Ra3 exf4 17.Bxf4 Nc5 18.Re3?

A mistake. He should have played 18.Rg3 to prevent …g7–g5.

18…g5! 19.Rxe7

This was Navara’s intention, and after 19…Qxe7 he has 20.Bxd6. What he had forgotten was that after 19…gxf4 (instead of …Qxe7) his rook is stranded on e7.

19…gxf4! 20.Re6 Nxe6 21.dxe6 Bxe6 22.Rxf4 Bxc4 23.Bxc4+ Kh8

His mistake on the 18th move has already cost the exchange. The Czech GM (Grandmaster) has no choice but to try and complicate the position.

24.g4?! Qf6 25.c3

[25.Rxf5 Qxb2]

25…Qe5 26.Qf1 Rae8 27.gxf5 Rf6 28.Qf2 Qc5 29.Kg2 Qc6+ 30.Kh3 Qc5 31.Kg2 Qxf2+ 32.Rxf2 Re4 33.Be6 Rxa4 34.Kf3 Kg7 35.Rd2 Kh6 36.Rxd6 Kg5 37.Rd8 Rh6 38.Rg8+ Kf6 39.Rb8 Rxh2 40.Rxb6 Kg5 41.f6 Rf4+ 42.Kg3 Rhf2 43.Rb5+ Kxf6 44.Bg4 a4 45.c4 Kg6 46.c5 <D>



The point is to make the c3 square available for his rook later to stop the c-pawn.

By the way, in the post-game conference the two players revealed that they both calculated that 46…h5 was only a draw: 47.Bxh5+ Kxh5 48.c6+ Kg6 49.c7 R4f3+ 50.Kg4 Rf8 51.Rb8 (51.Rb6+? Kg7 52.Rb8 Rc2) 51…R2f4+ 52.Kg3 Rf3+ 53.Kg2 (53.Kg4?? R8f4#) 53…Rf2+ 54.Kg1! (54.Kg3? Kg5! threatening …R8f3 checkmate. Now if 55.Rb5+ R2f5 the queening pawn on c7 is stopped 56.Rb8 Rf3+ 57.Kg2 Rf2+ 58.Kg1 Kh4 59.c8Q Rf1+ 60.Kg2 R8f2#) 54…Rf1+ 55.Kg2 R1f2+ draw;

In reality, as GM Aryan Tari shows, there is a flaw in the reasoning. Black still wins after 46…h5 because 47.Bxh5+ Kxh5 48.c6+ Black can bring his king to 48…Kh6! instead and now 49.c7 R4f3+ 50.Kg4 Rf8 51.Rb8 Rg2+! 52.Kh4 (it does not matter if the king goes to h3 or h4) 52…Rgg8! and the queening pawn is stopped as well.

Can you imagine going through all of those lines in your head at move 46 when you are already exhausted from the exertions of the past 45 moves?


Both Carlsen and Navara pointed out that 47.c6 Rxb2 48.c7 Rc4 is an easy win for Black

47…h5 48.Rb4

[48.Bxh5+ Kxh5 49.c6+ Kg6 50.c7 R4f3+ 51.Kg4 Rc3 is the point of giving up his pawn on a3]

48…Rf8 49.Bd1 Rd2 50.Bf3 Rd3 51.Rf4 h4+ 52.Kg4 Rxf4+ 53.Kxf4 Rxa3 54.c6 Rc3 55.Bd5 h3 56.Ke5

This endgame has to be calculated all the way to the end.

56…Rc5! 57.Kd6 Rxd5+ 58.Kxd5 h2 0–1

Why did Navara resign? Because he had seen the forced checkmate: 58…h2 59.c7 both sides queen, but it is not a draw! watch: 59…h1Q+ 60.Kd6 Qb7 61.Kd7 Kf5! 62.Kd8 Kf6 63.Kd7 (63.c8Q Qe7#) 63…Ke5 64.Kd8 Kd6 65.c8Q Qe7# Just a beautiful finish.

Karjakin, Sergey (2753) — Carlsen, Magnus (2845) [B33]
Gashimov Memorial 2019 Shamkir (8.3), 08.04.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Ne7

In round 3 (see game above) Magnus used 8…Nb8 against Navara so now he trots out 8…Ne7.

9.c4 Ng6 10.Qa4 Bd7 11.Qb4 Bf5 12.Qa4 Bd7 13.Qb4 Bf5 14.h4 h5 15.Bg5 Qb8 16.Be2

It looks like White is better here. There is pressure against the h5–pawn, making it difficult for Black to castle kingside. Then there is pressure on c7, d6 and e7. This shows the depth of modern opening theory — Magnus’ team has studied the position carefully and figured that White’s pieces can be pushed back and he can get in counterplay.

16…a6 17.Nc3 Qc7 18.g3

He is anticipating Black’s 18…Be7.

18…Be7 19.Be3

See what I mean? If he hadn’t played 18.g3 then Black will now be able to capture the pawn on h4.


This is an important move Black — he needs to set-up an outpost for his knight on e5.

20.0–0 0–0

Black reckons that White’s weak light squares around his king and his monster knight on e5 will fully compensate for the h5–pawn.

21.Bxh5 Ne5 22.Be2 Qd7 23.Qa4 Qc8 24.c5

Forcing the capture of Black’s powerful e4–pawn.


I thought that Black would continue 24…Nf3+ 25.Bxf3 exf3 intending …Bh3–g2 then …Qh3, but this seems to be precisely what Karjakin was going for. After 26.Qf4 Bh3 27.cxd6 Bxd6 28.Qxf3 Bxf1 29.Rxf1 White has a knight and two pawns for his rook and it looks like he has all the play. Black’s light-squared bishop will be heavily missed.

25.Nxe4 c4! 26.Nc3 b5 27.Qd1 b4 28.Na4 Be4

The White king is starting to feel very uncomfortable. The killer …Qh3 is threatened.


[29.Kh2 Qf5 30.Nb6 Rad8 31.f4 Nd3 32.Nxc4 Rxd5 is looking very dangerous for Karjakin, so he avoids it]

29…Qf5 30.f4 Qg6! 31.Bf2 Nd3 32.h5 Qf5 33.Bg4 Qxg4 34.Qxe4 Bd6! 35.Qg2

The alternatives 35.Kh2 and 35.Qxc4 are both met by 35…Nxf4!

35…Rae8 36.Bd4 Qxh5

Black’s plan is to continue 37…Re2 38.Bf2 Rfe8 followed by capturing twice on f2 and then the killer move …Re8–e2.

37.Qf3 Qg6 38.Kh1 Re4 39.Bf2 Rfe8 0–1

Karjakin resigns rather than see 39…Rfe8 A possible finish would have been: 40.Rad1 Nxf2+ 41.Rxf2 (Or 41.Qxf2 Re2 42.Qf3 Qh6+ with mate.; 41.Qxf2 Re2 42.Qf3 Qh6+) 41…Re3 42.Qg2 Qh5+ unfold over the board.

Even the “Minister of Defense” could not withstand Carlsen’s assault.


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), 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.