The Lindores Abbey Rapid is the second leg of the Magnus Chess
Tour. It started with a 12-player RR. The quarterfinal qualifiers are Hikaru Nakamura (7.5), Sergey Karjakin (7), Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So, Yu Yangyi, Ding Liren (all 6), Dubov (5.5) and Levon Aronian (5.5). Carlsen has lost thrice during the RR — to Dubov (again), Duda and Yu.
Sooner than pick on the many good games played in these events, the diagram, WHITE TO PLAY, is selected from an insane position Nihal Sarin posted recently on Instagram. Sarin played it in a blitz game and apparently won trivially. But the best play is fascinating and this is a terrific exercise. I don’t think anybody could solve it in blitz though!
In the Nihal Challenge as this position is being called, White is down two pieces with a very strong attack. He continued with the forcing 1.Qg6+!! and black must capture because otherwise 2. Ng5 is an easy win. Black plays 1. —fg6. How does white continue?
White plays 2. Ng5+ Kh6. Forced again [ In the game, black tried 2. — Kg8?? 3. f7+ Kh8 4. hg6# and 2.—Kh8 3. hxg6 Kg8 4. f7# is similar]. Now white has perpetual with 3.Nf7+ Kh7 and Ng5+.
But he can try to win with 4. hxg6+ Kxg6 5. Nh8+ Kg5 6. Rd4!! Threatening Rh5# This enters the realms of fantasy as black hands back material with 6.—Qxa2+! 7. Kxa2 Rxc2+ 8. Kb1 Rh2! 9. Rh2 Bd3+ 10. Rxd3.
How do you evaluate this? As IM Sagar Shah explained in an analysis that drew on Sarin’s examination, this is really the critical position for a serious player to analyse. After a wild set of forcing lines, black is slightly down material but his king is more or less safe. According to Shah, white should win here but it’s definitely not trivial.