Malcolm Pein on…Antipov’s Withdrawal


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The Russian Championship Superfinal is the subject of today’s Daily Telegraph chess column, which includes news of Mikhail Antipov’s withdrawal.

Malcolm also provides an extra puzzle on which to test your strength. If you have been following our Checkmate Monday series then your bank of checkmate patterns may come in useful for both puzzles.

Malcolm Pein on…Antipov’s Withdrawal

The Russian Championship Superfinal lost one of the 12 participants when Mikhail Antipov tested positive for Covid before the seventh round and took no further part.

I wish Antipov a swift recovery. He wasn’t having a good event and was on 2/7 when forced to withdraw. His play here against the tournament leader produces an original position after only nine moves, but 6.a3 does not prove very useful. Virtually every conceivable move against the Najdorf has been tried including; 6.h4, 6.Rg1 and even 6.Bd2 played by GM Lucas van Foreest recently, the point of which I have been unable to grasp.

M. Antipov – I. Nepomniachtchi

Sicilian Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.a3 e5 7.Nf3 h6 (Black prevents Bg5, after which White might dominate the d5 square) 8.Bc4 Be6 9.Bb3 Nc6 10.0–0 Rc8 11.h3 Be7 12.Nh2 (Fighting for d5 by aiming to exchange the black knight on f6 but rather slow) 12…0–0 13.Ng4 Nxg4 14.hxg4 Bg5! (Exchanging the bad bishop. Black is already doing well)

M. Antipov – I. Nepomniachtchi

15.Nd5 Nd4 16.c3 Bxc1 17.Rxc1 Nxb3 18.Qxb3 Bxg4 19.Qxb7 Rb8 20.Qxa6 Rxb2 21.Rb1 Be2 22.Qc6 (22.Qa7! Rd2 23.Rfe1 Qg5 24.Qe7 Qg4?? is the second puzzle) 22…Rd2 23.Rfe1 Qg5! (Bf3 and if g3 then Qh5 is a threat, White gives up material) 24.Rxe2 (24.Ne3 Bf3 25.Qd7 Qh4 26.Rf1 Rd8 27.Qh3 Qxh3 28.gxh3 Rc8 is no better) 24…Rxe2 25.Qxd6 Re8 26.Qd7 Re6 27.g3 Qh5 28.Kg2 Kh7 29.Qd8 Qg4 30.Rb4 Rg6 31.Ne7 0-1

Test Your Strength

Antipode Resigns

For today’s first puzzle, why did White resign?

A second puzzle; White to play and win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answers.

First Puzzle: 31…Qxg3+ 32.Kh1 Qg1#

Second Puzzle: 25.Qxf8+ Kxf8 26.Rb8+

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