How does any player set about taming Daniil Dubov? It is plain for everyone to see how bold and explosive his play can be.
Malcolm Pein’s Daily Telegraph chess column examines a game in which a more experienced player manages to ride the waves of the tactics before finding a way through the complications to obtain a winning advantage.
Malcolm Pein on…Taming Daniil Dubov
The three favourites, Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So, all qualified comfortably for the knockout stage of the Airthings Masters on Chess24.com. The target score to ensure certain qualification for the quarter-finals was 6.5/11 or +2, and the leading trio scored just that, with Ian Nepomniachtchi and Teimour Radjabov making half a point less.
Levon Aronian, with his dog Ponchik by his side, got through with a 50 per cent score. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Daniil Dubov only scored 5/11, but edged out Pentala Harikrishna and Alexander Grischuk on tie-break. David Anton and Anish Giri also failed to make the cut.
The preliminaries were not terribly interesting, with 54 draws and 12 wins for White; Black did not get a look-in. As Dubov finished eighth and Carlsen first, they play in the quarter-finals, a dream pairing for the spectators.
Another great opening idea from Dubov. Black secures two pawns for the sacrificed knight, while the white king is unsafe. Dubov is doing well before he gets too creative.
I. Nepomniachtchi – D. Dubov
King’s Indian 15+10
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0–0 6.Be3 Nc6!? 7.d5 Ne5 8.f4 Neg4 9.Bd2 Nh6 10.h3 e6 11.dxe6 Bxe6 12.g4 Re8 13.Nf3 (Dubov planned 13.g5 Nxe4!! 14.Nxe4 Nf5 15.Nf3 Bxc4 16.Bxc4 Rxe4+ 17.Be2 Bxb2, which is good for Black and 15.Kf2 Bd4+ 16.Kg2 d5! can’t be bad either) 13…Bd7 14.g5 Nxe4!
15.gxh6 Bxh6 16.Nxe4 Rxe4 17.f5 Qf8 18.0–0 Rae8 19.Bd3 (Perhaps 19.Rf2!? Bxf5 20.Bd3) 19…Re3!? (19…Be3+ 20.Bxe3 Rxe3 looks at least as good with Qh6 and Bc6 to come) 20.Bxe3 Bxe3+ 21.Kg2 Bc6 22.Qe1 g5!? (Also 22…Qg7!? 23.Qg3 (23.Rb1 g5!) 23…Qxb2+ 24.Kh1 Qc3 25.Rad1 Bh6!) 23.Qg3 Bf4 24.Qg4 Re3 25.Rad1 Qg7 (Dubov gets carried away; 25…Qe8 26.Rf2 f6! was the way to achieve h7–h5 and this is completely unclear) 26.Rf2 Qh8 27.Qh5! Qg7 28.Kf1! Bg3
Test Your Strength
How did Nepomniachtchi force transition to a winning endgame?
Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer to today’s puzzle.
29.f6! (Not 29.Qxg5 Bxf2; Blackfights on after 29.Nxg5 h6 30.Rf3 Bxf3 31.Nxf3 Qxb2 32.Qg4+ Qg7) 29…Qxf6 30.Qxg5+ Qxg5 31.Nxg5 h6 32.Nxf7 Kg7 33.Nd8 Bxf2 34.Kxf2 Rf3+ 35.Ke2 Rxh3 36.Rf1 Rh2+ 37.Ke3 Rxb2 38.Ne6+ 1–0