Malcolm Pein on…Caruana’s Fine Start

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The FIDE Candidates Tournament finished yesterday and we now know that Ian Nepomniachtchi is Magnus Carlsen’s next challenger for the title of World Chess Champion. Malcolm Pein begins his coverage of the key moments and games from the tournament in today’s Daily Telegraph chess column, with the emphasis on Caruana’s fine start.

Malcolm Pein on…Caruana’s Fine Start

Fabiano Caruana moved back into contention when the Candidates Tournament resumed. The former title challenger defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a game that had everything.

A deep opening novelty involving a sacrifice of three pawns and a piece was met by tenacious defence. MVL navigated huge complexity to escape into an endgame and set up a fortress, before erring in the sixth hour.

F. Caruana – M. Vachier-Lagrave
Sicilian Najdorf Poisoned Pawn

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.e5 h6 11.Bh4 dxe5 12.fxe5 Nfd7 13.Ne4 Qxa2 14.Rd1 Qd5 15.Qe3 Qxe5 16.c3 (16.Be2 is the mainline) 16…Bc5 17.Bg3 Qd5 18.Bc4!!

Caruana's Fine Start

18…Qxc4 19.Bd6 Nf6! 20.Nxc5 Nd5 21.Qe5 Rg8 22.Ndxe6 (All played instantly) 22…fxe6 23.Nxe6 Qxc3+ 24.Qxc3 Nxc3 25.Nc7+ Kf7 26.Rd3 Ne4? (26…Ra7! 27.Rxc3 Kg6! 28.0–0 Kh7 29.Bc5 b6 should be a draw) 27.0–0+ Kg6 28.Nxa8 Nc6 29.Nb6 Rd8 30.Nxc8 Rxc8 31.Ba3 Rc7 32.Rf4 Nf6 33.Bb2 Ne7 (Black must allow a weakening. If 33…Ng8 34.h4 Kh7 35.h5) 34.Bxf6 gxf6 35.h4 h5

36.Rg3+ Kf7 37.Rg5 Rc1+ 38.Kh2 Ng6 39.Rf2 Nxh4 40.Rxh5 Ng6 41.Rh7+ Ke6 42.Rxb7 Ne5 43.Rb6+ Rc6 44.Rxc6+ Nxc6 45.Kg3 Kf7! (Preventing penetration, not 45…Ne5 46.Kh4 Kf7 47.Kh5) 46.Rc2 Nb4 47.Rd2 Nc6 48.Kf4 Kg6 49.Rd6 Ne5 50.Rxa6 Nf7 51.Ke4 Nh6 52.Ra5 Nf7 53.Ra3 Nd6+ 54.Kf4 Nf5 55.Rd3

Test Your Strength

F. Caruana – M. Vachier-Lagrave

How can Black control the key squares and maintain a blockade?

55…Nh6? (Mate in 43 moves – Tablebase) 56.Rg3+! Kf7 (56…Kh7 57.Ke4 zugzwang 57…Kh8 58.Rg6) 57.Ke4 Ng8 58.Kf5 Ne7+ 59.Kf4 Nd5+ 60.Kg4 (60.Kf5! Ne7+ 61.Ke4 Ng8 62.Ra3 Kg6 63.Rb3 Ne7 64.Rb5) Kg6 61.Kf3+ Kf7 62.Ke4 Ne7 (62…Nc7! heads for g7 via e6) 63.Kf4 Nd5+ 64.Kf5 Ne7+ 65.Ke4 Ng8 66.Rh3 Kg6 67.Ra3 Kf7 68.Kf4 Nh6 69.Rg3! Ng8 70.Kg4! Ne7 (70…Kg6 71.Kh4+ Kh7 72.Kh5 Ne7 73.Rf3!! Kg7 74.Ra3 Nf5 75.Ra7+) 71.Kh5 Nd5 72.Rf3 Ke6 (72…Ne7 73.g4 Kg7 74.Rb3 Kf7 75.Kh6 Nd5 76.Rf3 threat g4–g5 wins) 73.g4! Ke5 74.Kg6 1–0

If 74…Nf4+ 75.Kf7 Ke4 76.Rf1 Ke5 77.Rf2 Ke4 78.Kxf6.

Highlight the space below to reveal the answer.

55…Ng7= covers e6, f5 and h5.

If 56.Rd6 Ne8 57.Ra6 Ng7 58.g4 Kf7 59.Ra7+ Kg6 60.Rd7 Kh6 holds.

Play Through the Game

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