CHESS #1350

The Grenke Chess Classic is interestingly poised. After five rounds, Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand (both 3.5) share the lead. It’s been a fighting tournament with several highly entertaining games in every round.  

This might be partly due to the mixed field. There are seven Super GMs, including six from the Top 20, in the ten-person field. There are also three relatively weaker players, including 14-year-old IM Vincent Keymer who qualified for this event by winning the 2018 Grenke Open. The Super GMs are all playing for decisive results, therefore.

Carlsen won from an inferior position in Round one against Vincent Keymer and followed through with a magical endgame versus Francisco Vallejo Pons in Round Two. But he was held to draws by Anand who survived continuous pressure, and then by Fabiano Caruana, and Arkadij Naiditsch. 

Anand won easily enough against Keymer and subsequently outgunned Vallejo Pons in a tactical duel where he took an enormous amount of material, while giving up his queen. Peter Svidler has won a couple of good games and lost an instructive encounter to Levon Aronian. Keymer came close to winning against Caruana before the world No 2 turned the tables. The youngster finally broke through with a win against Georg Meier. 

Pentala Harikrishna shares the lead in the Shenzhen Super GM with Anish Giri (both 5 points from 8 games). Harikrishna has four wins, and two losses, including a loss to Giri. Richárd Rapport and Ding Liren (both 4) share third place. Yu Yangyi and Dmitry Jakovenko are on minus scores.  There’s two rounds to go. Harikrishna ‘s form has been impressive, despite the losses. He’s combined sharp tactics with great endgame technique.

The European Women’s Championship ended with a vast tie. Alina Kashlinskaya had the best tiebreak, ahead of Marie Sebag, Elisabeth Pähtz, Inna Gaponenko and Antoaneta Stefanova (all 8). The Grenke Open had an even bigger tie with eight players sharing first on 7.5/9. Daniel Fridman had the best tie break. Gukesh D was among the top eight — a little luck could have led to the 12-year-old playing the 2020 Grenke Classic! 

The Diagram, White to Play, (White: Harikrishna Vs Black: Rapport, Shenzhen 2019) is like an interesting endgame study. How does White exploit his b6 pawn? White played 41. c4!! The idea is simple once you see it. White intends to push through c6. 

Play continued 41. — dxc4 42. bxc4 cxd4 43. Qxd4 Qe6 44. Qd8 f5 45. Qc7+ Kf6 46. gxf5 Qxf5 [Now 47.Qd6+ is an easier way to implement the idea but Harikrishna plays according to the plan]. White played 47. c5 Qc2+ 48. Kg3 Qd1 49. Qf4+ Ke7 50. Qe5+ Kf7 51. c6! bxc6 52. b7 Qg1+ 53. Kh3 Qf1+ 54. Kg4 Qg1+ 55. Qg3 (1-0). 

Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player

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