CHESS #1348

Magnus Carlsen won the Gashimov Memorial at Shamkir with an amazing 2988 performance. It was his fourth win in four appearances. He scored 7 from 9 rounds, winning five games with a combination of strong opening prep, sharp tactics and his usual superb technique. 

Ding Liren and Sergey Karjakin (both 5) trailed Carlsen to share second-third. Alexander Grischuk, Viswanathan Anand and Teimour Radjabov all scored 50 per cent (4.5). Anand suffered two losses against Karjakin and Carlsen, that sandwiched his two wins versus Anish Giri and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. 

After six rounds, Karjakin and Carlsen shared first place. Carlsen proceeded to win his last three games, beating Giri, Karjakin and Grischuk in succession. He eventually won with a round to spare but he went for a win in the last round anyhow. 

Carlsen wiped out Giri and Karjakin with middlegame attacks, grafted a win in a difficult rook ending against Anand, and tied Grischuk hand and foot in a complex endgame. In its own way, each of those games was a masterpiece. 

Carlsen jumps to 2861 in the live ratings with this victory — that puts him 45 Elo ahead of #2 Fabiano Caruana. He set his own personal “record” in the process, going 50 classical games without loss. This is at least the sixth time he has hit the 2900-plus performance mark in a given classical event, which is way better than anyone else has managed. He plays the Grenke Classic which starts on April 20, so he has little recovery time. 

At the Dubai Open, Maxim Matlakov, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Lê Quang Liêm, Yuriy Kuzubov, Eduardo Bonelli Iturrizaga, Vahap Sanal, Aleksandar Indic and P Iniyan shared first – eighth place (all scored 7 from 9). Iniyan scored a GM norm.  

A lot of Indians are playing at two popular events — the Bangkok Open, and at the Gamma Reykjavik Open. Jan Gustafsson (5/5) leads in Bangkok after five rounds. There’s a 10-way tie at 3.5 points after four rounds in the Gamma. 

The Diagram, White to Play (White: Carlsen Vs Black: Grischuk, Shamkir 2019) is a great example of a positional pawn sac. Carlsen played 29.Be3! exf4 30.gxf4 Rxe4 31.Bb1. The engines reckon 31. Rfe1 is stronger but it’s similar to human eyes. White has the bishop pair and more control of space, especially light squares. There are even mating threats if Bg6, Re8 combine. 

Black defended with 31.—Re7 32.Rfe1 f5 [The engines offer 32. —Nb8 33. Kf3 Nc6 34. Bf2 Rxe2 35. Rxe2 Ne7 but even that is good for white.] 33.Bxf5 Nf6 34.Kf3 Nd5 35.Rd2 Rd8 36.Be4 Red7 37.Red1 Nf6 38.Rxd7 Nxd7 39.Rd6 (1-0). If 39.—Ke7 40. Rxa6 Bb8 41. Rg6 Kf8 42. a6 is crushing. 

Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player

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