Young Nihal Sarin had a bittersweet week. The 14-year-old lost a match narrowly to Vassily Ivanchuk (1.5-2.5) in the ciudad de León. Ivanchuk was upset in the finals by Parham Maghsoodloo. But Sarin cracked third spot in the qualifiers for the World Chess-960 tournament, which means he will be playing for that title in the newly instituted world Chess
Chess-960 (also called Fischerandom, after the late world champion who codified it) uses randomised starting positions with the constraints that the bishops must be placed on squares of both colours and the king must be placed in-between the rooks. That offers 960 legal opening setups inclusive of the normal one, with (often weird) castling options on offer. There’s some evidence that certain start positions lead to an accelerated initiative for white compared to the normal, which is a situation that hasn’t yet been dealt with in sporting terms.
The Diagram, White to Play (White: Nepomniachtchi Vs Black: Giri, GCT Zagreb 2019) looks promising for white. He played 13. Nxh7!? Kxh7 14. Qh5+ Kg8 15. Bxg6 Rf6 Forced so far. Giri said later that engines might evaluate this as good for white until depth is reached.
Play continued 16. Qh7+ Kf8 17. Bh6 Rxg6 18. Qxg6 Bxh6 19. Qxh6+ Ke8 20. b4 Na4 21. Na3 Kd7! Black’s king is safe and he takes over after 22. c4 bxc4 23. Nxc4 Ba6 24. Rac1 Nb6 25. Nxb6+ axb6 26. Rfe1 Bb7 27. Qe3 b5 28. a3 Bd5 29. Rc3 Qg8 30. Qh3 Qg7 31. Rec1 Bc4 32. Re1 Qd4! 33. Rf3 Qd2 34. Rb1 Nd5 35. Qg3 Be2 36. Rfb3 Bd1! (0-1). A good example of defence turning into counter-attack.
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player