CHESS#1285

Ten rounds into the Tata Steel, there is a three-way tie at the top in the Masters. Anish Giri, Magnus Carlsen and  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are all on 7 points. Vladimir Kramnik (6.5) follows and Viswanathan Anand (6) is a half-point behind Kramnik. Wesley So and Sergey Karjakin (5.5 each) are also on plus scores. Adhiban Baskaran (3) is in poor form.

The three leaders have “plus four” scores and plus five will probably be enough to win. It’s up to  the leaders now to maintain momentum. Carlsen-Mamedaryov and Anand- Mamedyarov are two critical encounters. Kramnik has an outside chance to win if he can wipe out tailenders in his last three games. 

 
Giri has led from the start winning his first two games. He’s won every time he’s got a significant edge, including taking key points against Kramnik and Mamedyarov. Carlsen is making a trademark come-from-behind surge. He won an incredible game against Gawain Jones after blundering a piece out of the opening. 

Shakh has played his usual dynamic chess with a sequence of insane positions, where he’s won five times and lost once. Kramnik has been steady except in that loss to Giri. He won a big game against Anand. Apart from that one loss, Anand has also looked good. 

The Challengers is also headed for a photo-finish. Vidit Gujrathi and Anton Korobov (7 each) lead with four players trailing them at 5.5 each. Korobov-Vidit is yet to be played and that could be the decider for the top spot. Harika (4) trails but she’s outperforming her rating. 

 
The Tradewise Gibraltar Open has started. It features Levon Aronian, Hikaru Nakamura and Vassily Ivanchuk among other top players. There’s a large Indian contingent, including the two prodigies, R Praggnanandhaa and Nihal Sarin, who are both seeking their second GM norms.

In the Diagram, BLACK TO PLAY, ( White: Carlsen Vs Black: Gawain Jones, Tata Masters 2018) black is a straight piece ahead after a blunder by the world champion. Simply 22. — g5 keeping the king-side closed or 22.—Bf8 keeps a winning edge. 

Instead, Jones played 22. — Qb6 ?! 23.g5! hxg5 ? [ 23.— Bf8 OR 23.— Rb8 both look good] 24.Qa3 Rb8 25.b3 Qd8 26.Qxa7 [The tide has turned — white’s winning now] Play continued 26.— gxh5 27.Rxh5 Rg6 28.Rxg5 Rxg5 29.Nxg5 Qc8 30.Rg1 Ra8 31.Qb6 Ra6 [The cross pins on d5 are horrible].  

 
Carlsen is utterly ruthless once he gets on top. He finished with 32.Qc5 Qd7 33.Ne4 Kh8 34.Qf2 Qe7 35.Bxa6 Bxa6 36.Qh2+ Kg8 37.Qh6 Qa7 38.Qe6+ Kf8 39.Rg5 Ne3 40.Qd6+ Kf7 41.Nc5 Bc8 42.Rxg7+ (1–0).  The forced 42.— Kxg7 43. Qxe5+ K- 44. Qxe3 is very convincing. This is a miraculous comeback against a very strong player. As they say, good players are usually lucky.

Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player


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