It is time for another major instalment of Malcolm Pein’s Daily Telegraph chess columns. This time even the World Champion himself, Magnus Carlsen, makes an appearance and, as usual, there are plenty of opportunities to test your strength.

Win on Demand

MOHAMMAD Tabatabaei of Iran took his match at the World Cup against Armenian Haik Martirosyan to a tie-break after persistent pressure with black paid dividends and produced that rare commodity, a win on demand.

Martirosyan had plenty of time on the clock when he blundered; the ability to grovel for a long time is an important skill in chess, not one I’ve ever been able to acquire.

Martirosyan – Tabatabaei

Martirosyan – Tabatabaei, (5.2)

Position after 57.Kf1-e2 Nf3; White should hold the draw, as there is no pathway for the black king to penetrate. Something like 58.Kd1 d3 59.Nc4 Ng5 60.Ke1 or 58.Kd1 Ne5 59.Ke2 suffices. If 58.Kd1 dxe3 59.fxe3 only eases White’s task.

58.Nxf3?? gxf3+ 59.Kd2 d3 60.Ke1 Ke5 (The proximity of Black’s protected passed pawn to the queening square allows a beautiful win) 61.Kd1 Kf5 62.Kd2 Kg4 63.Kd1 Kh3 64.Ke1 Kg2! 65.g4 d2+! 66.Kxd2 Kxf2 67.g5 Kg1 0–1 After 68.g6 f2 69.g7 f1Q 70.g8Q+ Qg2+! 71.Qxg2+ Kxg2 72.Ke2 Kg3 Black will gain the opposition by force and win the e3 pawn with 73.Ke1 Kf3 74.Kd2 Kf2, or 73.Kd1 Kf3 74.Kd2 Kf2.

The match between Sergey Karjakin and Maxime Vachier- Lagrave was always going to be close. There were five draws, before Karjakin won the second Blitz game:

M. Vachier-Lagrave – S. Karjakin
FIDE World Cup (5.6)
Jobava London System 5+3

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 a6 (Preventing Nc3–b5 and a pretty useful move in general) 5.Nf3 cxd4 6.exd4 Bg4 7.Be2 Nc6 8.Ne5 Bxe2 9.Nxe2 e6 10.c3 Be7 11.h4!? h5 12.Nd3 Ne4 13.Ng3 Bxh4? (13…Nxg3 14.fxg3 gives White a chance to play on the f-file) 14.Nxe4 dxe4 15.Nc5 Be7 16.Rxh5 Rxh5 17.Qxh5 Qd5 18.Qxd5 (18.Qh8+ was possible) 18…exd5 19.Nxb7 g5 20.Bd6 Ra7 21.Bxe7 Rxb7 22.Ba3 f5 (White is a pawn up, but he has problems coordinating his forces while Black’s pawns are mobile) 23.Ke2 Rh7! 24.Bc5 f4 25.b4 Rh2 26.a4 (26.Rg1 Ne7 27.a4 Nf5 28.b5 axb5 29.axb5 Kd7 Black is better) 26…Rxg2 27.Kf1 f3 28.b5

Test Your Strength

M. Vachier-Lagrave – S. Karjakin

Black to play and win

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28…e3!! 29.fxe3 Na5! 30.Ba3 (30.bxa6 Nc4 31.a7 Nxe3+ 32.Ke1 Re2#) 30…Nb3 31.Rd1 (31.Rb1 Nd2+) 31…axb5 0-1 32.axb5 Nd2+ 33.Ke1 Re2#.

Keen Queen

An early move of the queen is usually frowned upon, but like most rules in chess, there are exceptions. Putting the queen on e2 at an early stage is often seen in the King’s Indian Attack, or employed as an off-beat counter to the French Defence on move two.

In this game from the FIDE World Cup, it is part of an Anti- Sicilian set up. One point of Qd1-e2 is to get a white rook to d1 quickly, this is most often seen in lines of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted when the rook can support the thrust d4-d5. Here the rook supports d2-d4 and as a result, White secures a queenside pawn majority and opens up the game before Black is properly developed.

M. Vachier-Lagrave –E. Moradiabadi
FIDE World Cup 2021 (2.2)
Sicilian Defence

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.Qe2 d5 6.exd5 Nxd5 7.0–0 Be7 (After 8… Bf6 9.Nc3 0–0 10.Ne4 b6? 11.Nxf6+ Qxf6 12.c4! Nc7 13.d4! cxd4 14.Bf4! White was winning in So-Mastrovasilis, Online Olympiad, 2020) 8.Rd1 0–0 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Nxd4 11.Rxd4 Bf6 12.Rd1 Qc7 13.c4! Nb6 (Black fared no better in Adams-Polgar, London Chess Classic, 2012, after 13…Nb4 14.Nc3 a6 15.Bf4 e5 16.Be3 Be6 17.Nd5 Nxd5 18.cxd5 Bf5 19.d6 Qd7 20.Bb6 Rac8 21.Bc7 Bg4 22.Bf3 h5 23.Rac1 Rfe8 24.Bxg4 hxg4 25.Qe4 Bg5 26.Rc5 Bd8 27.Qxb7 Re6 28.Rdd5 Rf6 29.Qxa6 Qf5 30.Qe2 Qb1+ 31.Rd1 Qxa2 32.Rxe5 Bxc7 33.Re8+ Rxe8 34.Qxe8+ Kh7 35.dxc7 Qa7 36.Qe4+ 1–0) 14.Na3! Bd7 15.Bf4 e5?! (As in Adams-Polgar, the weakening of d5 proves to be a serious matter)

M. Vachier-Lagrave –E. Moradiabadi

16.Be3 Rad8 17.c5 Nc8 18.Nb5 Qb8 19.Nc3! Rfe8 20.Nd5 Be7 21.Rd2 Be6 22.Rad1 (White can play for b2–b4–b5 or attack with Qh5. Black falls on his sword) 22…Rd7

Test Your Strength

M. Vachier-Lagrave –E. Moradiabadi

White to play and win

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23.Nf6+! 1–0 23…Bxf6 24.Rxd7 Bxd7 25.Rxd7 is overwhelming, for example, 25…b5 26.Rb7 Qa8 27.Qxb5 Rf8 28.Rxf7 or 25…Re7 26.Rd8+

Tie-break Terror

THE WORLD Cup reached the quarter-final stage on Thursday. Magnus Carlsen defeated Etienne Bacrot in leg one and Sam Shankland continuing his glorious run by outplaying Sergey Karjakin. In the round of 16, six of the matches went to tie-breaks, with Magnus Carlsen struggling to overcome the stubborn resistance of Andrey Esipenko in an eight-game thriller.

Two fairly quiet Classical games were followed by two more draws at Rapid. When Carlsen won game five, played with 10 minutes and a 10-second increment, few expected the 19-year-old Russian to win on demand, but he did. Carlsen was only able to assert his authority when the contest went to Blitz as he won 2-0.

A. Esipenko – M. Carlsen
Giuoco Piano 5+3 (5.8)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.0–0 h6 7.Re1 0–0 8.h3 a6 9.a4 Ba7 10.Nbd2 Re8 11.b4 Be6 12.Bxe6 Rxe6 13.Qc2 Qd7 14.Nf1 d5 15.Be3 Bxe3 16.Nxe3 Ne7 17.Rab1 Rd8 18.a5 Ng6 19.c4 c6 20.Red1 Nf4 21.Nf5 g6!!

A. Esipenko – M. Carlsen

22.Nxh6+ Kg7 23.Ng4 (23.Nxf7 Qxf7 24.Ng5 Qe7 25.Nxe6+ Nxe6 26.exd5 Nd4 27.Qd2 Nh5 28.dxc6? Nf4 followed by Qg4 is a winning attack. 28.Qe3 is better, but Black is doing well after Nh5–f4) 23…Nxg4 24.hxg4 Ree8 (There was an immediate win 24…dxe4 25.dxe4 Rd6!! 26.Rxd6 Qxg4 27.g3 Qxf3 28.gxf4 Rh8 and mates; Another pretty line: 24…dxe4 25.dxe4 Rd6 26.Rxd6 Qxg4 27.Ne1 Rxd6 28.f3 Qg5 29.Rd1 Qg3 30.Rxd6 Qxe1+ 31.Kh2 Ne2) 25.Nh2! (Trying to defend against the coming attack down the h-file) 25…Rh8 26.f3 dxe4 (26…Rh7!? 27.g3 Ne6) 27.dxe4 Qe7 28.Rxd8 Qxd8 29.g3 (The computer’s 29.Qb2! appears to survive 29…Qd3 30.Qxe5+ Kh7 31.Qxf4 Qxb1+ 32.Nf1; 29.Qb2 Nd3 30.Qc3 Qh4 31.Qxd3 Qxh2+ 32.Kf1 Qg3 33.Kg1! Rh2 34.Qc2 Qh4 35.Kf1 – miraculous) 29…Qd4+! 30.Kh1 (Now it’s over. If 30.Kf1 Rxh2 31.Qxh2 Qd3+ 32.Kg1 Qxb1 or 32.Kf2 Qc2+) 30…Nd3 31.Qe2 Qxc4 32.Rd1 Rd8 33.Rf1 Qxb4 34.f4 exf4 35.gxf4 Qxa5 36.g5 Nc5 37.Qb2+ Kg8 38.Ng4 Nxe4 39.Nh6+ Kh7 40.Qh2 Rd2 41.Qh4

Test Your Strength

A. Esipenko – M. Carlsen

Carlsen said afterwards he nearly played 41…Qd5?? Why would this have led to an Armageddon game?

41…Kg7! 42.f5 Qd5 43.f6+ Nxf6+ 0–1

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

If 41…Qd5?? 42.Nf5+ Kg8 43.Ne7+ wins.

Carlsen Cruises to Semis

MAGNUS Carlsen eased into the semifinal of the World Cup, where he will play Jan-Krzysztof Duda, after a 2-0 victory over Etienne Bacrot. Duda overcame Santosh Vidit in a highly complex game in which both sides promoted a pawn. Duda promoted first and, with his opponent’s king exposed, a long tactical sequence forced the win.

Vladimir Fedoseev just got past Mohammad Tabatabei when the latter blundered in a drawn endgame.

Sergey Karjakin won on demand against Sam Shankland to force a tie-break. The King’s Indian Attack is an ideal set-up for this must-win situation. The computer may say Black is doing well in the opening, but complete accuracy is required and it is White who is attacking the king.

Quarter-final results: Carlsen 2-0 Bacrot; Duda 1.5-0.5 Vidit; Fedoseev 1.5-0.5 Tabatabaei; Karjakin 1-1 Shankland, tie-break.

S. Karjakin – S. Shankland

1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.Ngf3 Be7 5.g3 a5 6.Bg2 a4 7.a3 c5 8.0–0 Nc6 9.Re1 0–0 10.e5 Nd7 11.Nf1 b5 12.h4 Bb7 13.h5 (Black can allow h5–h6, but the modern preference is to prevent it) 13…h6 14.Bf4 Qb6 15.Qd2 Rfc8 16.g4 Qd8 (Black could have considered 16…Nd4 when a capture gives Black some play down the c-file. For example, 17.Nxd4 cxd4 18.g5 Qa5 19.Qc1 hxg5 20.Bxg5 Bxg5 21.Qxg5 Rxc2 22.h6 g6 23.Nh2 Qd2 spoils the fun) 17.N1h2 Ra6 (I’m suspicious of this move. 17…b4 18.g5 hxg5 19.Nxg5 Ndxe5 20.h6 is a mess) 18.Kh1 b4 19.Rg1 Nf8 20.axb4 cxb4 21.d4 Na5?! (21…a3! was essential to limit White’s rook on a1, then if 22.b3 Nh7 23.Bf1 Raa8 24.g5 hxg5 25.Nxg5 Nxg5 26.Bxg5 Bxg5 27.Rxg5 Nxd4! holds; 21…Nh7 22.Bf1 Raa8 23.g5 hxg5 24.Nxg5 Nxg5 25.Bxg5 Bxg5 26.Rxg5 Nxd4 27.Bd3 is crushing; everyone comes to the party) 22.g5! Nc4 23.Qc1 hxg5 24.Bxg5 b3 (If 24…Bxg5 25.Nxg5 Nxb2 26.Bf1! a3 27.Ng4 b3 28.Nf6+ gxf6 (28…Kh8 29.Nxf7#) 29.Nxe6+ and mates) 25.Bxe7 Qxe7 26.Bf1 a3 27.Rxg7+!! Kxg7 28.Ng4 f5 (28…axb2 29.Qh6+ Kg8 30.Nf6+ Qxf6 31.exf6 bxa1Q 32.Qg7#) 29.exf6+ Qxf6 30.Nxf6 axb2 31.Qg5+ Kf7 32.h6 Ng6 33.Nh4 bxa1Q (33…Rg8 34.h7 Rg7 35.Nxg6 bxa1Q 36.h8N# – would have been entertaining, see below)

S. Karjakin – S. Shankland Variation for Checkmate

Test Your Strength

S. Karjakin – S. Shankland

In the game, White delivered mate in three. How?

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34.Qxg6+ Ke7 35.Qg7+ Kd6 36.Qd7# 1–0

Karjakin’s Comeback

SERGEY Karjakin completed his comeback to eliminate Sam Shankland from the FIDE World Cup and reach the semi-final. Karjakin had to win on demand for a second time in game four after Shankland won the first tie-breaker. We pick up Shankland – Karjakin after 37.Qc5-d6!:

Shankland – Karjakin

37…Qxd6 (Black has no choice, if 37…Nd5 38.Bxd5 cxd5 39.Qf6+ Kg8 40.e6 wins; 37…Nd5 38.Bxd5 Qxd5+ 39.Qxd5 cxd5 40.Kf3 Kf8 41.Ke3 Ke7 42.Kd4 Ke6 43.a5 b3 44.f3 is zugzwang or here 40…f6 41.Kf4 Kf7 42.exf6 Kxf6 43.b3 b6 44.f3 creates an outside passed pawn) 38.exd6 Ne6 39.Bxc6!

Test Your Strength

White Can Win

For today’s first puzzle, how does White win after 39…bxc6?

39…b6 40.Bd5 Nc5 41.Kf3 Kf6 42.b3 (White intends to march his king to b5) 42…g5 43.hxg5+ Kxg5 44.Ke3 f5 45.Kd4 1–0

Karjakin won the second Rapid game, before closing out the match with a 2-0 win in games played with ten minutes plus a ten second increment.

Karjakin’s victory raises the prospect of a rematch with Carlsen, the pair contested the world title in 2016. Karjakin takes on fellow- Russian Vladimir Fedoseev in the semi final, Carlsen faces Polish number one Jan-Krzysztof Duda who has eliminated Alexander Grischuk and Santosh Vidit.

Fedoseev just got past Mohammad Tabatabei when the latter blundered in a drawn endgame with 77…Rb3xg3??.

Test Your Strength

Fedoseev- Tabatabei

White to play

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Answer One: 39…bxc6 40.a5 Nc5 41.a6 Nxa6 42.d7.

Answer Two: 78.Be5+ Kc6 79.Ra6+ 1-0 After 79…Kd7 80.Rd6+ Ke7 81.Rxe6+ Kxe6 82.f5+ Kxf5 83.Bxg3 Kg4 84.Be1 White rounds up the a-pawn and wins as his h-pawn promotes on the same coloured square as his bishop.

Kosteniuk’s Super Six

ALEXANDRA Kosteniuk triumphed at the FIDE Women’s World Cup held alongside the FIDE World Cup for the first time in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi.

Kosteniuk pocketed $50,000 (£36,000), as she overcame in-form compatriot Aleksandra Goryachkina, who recently qualified for the Russian Superfinal after tying for second in the Russian Higher League.

Kosteniuk won all of her six matches without the need of a Rapid tie-break and 37-year-old’s greater experience counted for more than Goryachkina’s extra hundred Elo points. Goryachkina, 22, should have won a dramatic opening game and never looked like winning the return with Black.

A. Goryachkina – A. Kosteniuk

A. Goryachkina – A. Kosteniuk

33.Ng5! Qxf2+? (33…Qg6 34.Qxg6 hxg6 35.Be4 or 33…h6 34.Nh3 Qf5 was grim, but a better practical try, relying on the c-pawn) 34.Kh2 Qc2 (If 34…Qf5? 35.Be4 Qf2+ 36.Kh3!) 35.e4 h6 36.Nf7+? (36.Rd1! wins followed by Rd6, or Rd7 and Qg6, or if 36…Qb2 37.e5) 36…Kg8 37.Qd5? (Hoping for 37…Kh7? 38.e5, but 37.Re2! Qd1 38.Bh3! Rxf7 39.Be6 Qf1 40.Rd2 would still have left Black in trouble) 37…c3! 38.Nxh6+ Kh7 39.Nf7 Qf2 (39…Qd2!? 40.e5 Qxd5 41.Bxd5 Bd3 forces White to defend carefully) 40.Ng5+? (40.Qh5+ Kg8 41.Nh6+! Bxh6 42.Qxh6 draws, and if 42…Qxe1 43.Qg6+ or 42…Rf6 43.Qh5) 40…Kg6! 41.Rh1 Qd4? (The calm 41…Qe3 42.Nh3 c2! should win) 42.Nh3! Qxd5 43.exd5 Bh6 44.Re1 Bd3 45.Nf4+! Bxf4 46.gxf4 Rxf4 47.d6 Rxa4 48.Bxb7 Rd4 49.Kg3 Bf5! 50.Bf3 c2 51.Rc1 Kf6 52.Kf2 Ke5 Kosteniuk has created some pressure, and now Goryachkina cracks.

Test Your Strength

Forcing and Endgame Win

How might White have forced the exchange of Black’s last pawn to reach rook against rook and bishop?

53.Ke3? Rd3+! (53…Rxd6? 54.Be2 keeps the black king at bay) 54.Ke2 Rxd6 55.Ke1 (55.Ke3 Rd3+ 56.Ke2 Kf4 57.Bh5 Rd8! 58.Re1 Ke5 59.Rc1 Rh8 60.Bf3 Kf4 and …Rh2+ wins) 55…Kd4 56.Bd1 Ke3! 57.Rxc2 (57.Bxc2? Rg6 mates) 57…Bxc2 58.Bxc2 Rd2 (White is quite lost due to her king position) 59.Bf5 Rf2 60.Be6 Rf6 61.Bd5 Rd6 62.Bb3 Rb6 63.Bc2 Ra6 0-1

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

53.Ke1! followed by Bd1! draws – with care – as does 53.d7! Rxd7 54.Bg4!.

The Great Defender

SERGEY Karjakin was the first to advance to the final of the FIDE World Cup and qualify for the 2022 Candidates, as he outplayed fellow-Russian Vladimir Fedoseev in game two of their semifinal.

Karjakin had drawn the first game comfortably with black. The so called ‘Minister of Defence’ always looked at ease in a slightly inferior Queen’s Gambit-type position and sacrificed a pawn to reach a safe rook and pawn endgame. The other semifinal between Magnus Carlsen and Jan-Krzysztof Duda went to a Rapid tie-break.

S. Karjakin – V. Fedoseev
Ruy Lopez Zaitsev

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a3 (Preparing Bb3–c2 and b2–b4 followed by Bb2 and a general queenside advance. Black’s plan of cxd4 followed by Nb4 is prevented. 12.a4 h6 13.Bc2 exd4 14.cxd4 Nb4 15.Bb1 c5 16.d5 Nd7 17.Ra3 f5 was the famous game Kasparov-Karpov WCC Lyon/New York 1990, game 20. Kasparov won) 12…h6 13.Bc2 d5 (The modern solution, exploiting White’s quiet approach) 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Nxe5 Rxe5 16.Nf3 Re8 17.e5 Ne4 18.Bf4 c5 19.a4 f5 (Black strengthens his outpost on e4. Not 19…b4?! 20.c4) 20.h4 (Karjakin pondered for 24 minutes and reached for Harry the h-pawn. Black was all right after 20.Nd2 Qh4 21.Nxe4 dxe4 in Tari-Vidit, Wijk aan Zee 2018) 20…Be7?! (After 20…b4! 21.cxb4 c4 22.Bd2 d4 cannot be permitted and if 20…b4 21.cxb4 c4 22.Nd4 Qxh4) 21.h5 Rf8? (Blitzed out and losing the game. It’s too late for 21…b4 22.cxb4 c4 23.Nd4) 22.axb5 axb5 23.Rxa8 Bxa8 24.e6!

S. Karjakin – V. Fedoseev

(Preparing an invasion by the white knight and preparing to evict his opposite number after which the e6 pawn will become a decisive factor) 24…Re8 25.Ne5 Bg5 26.Ng6 d4? (After 26…Bxf4 27.Nxf4 Qh4 28.Qf3 d4 29.cxd4 Black has no good discovered attack, if 29…Ng5 30.Qg3 is decisive) 27.cxd4 Nxf2 (The good news is that this wins back a pawn. The bad news is that it leads to a completely lost position) 28.Kxf2 Bxf4 29.Nxf4 Qh4+ 30.Kg1 Qxf4

Test Your Strength

How did Karjakin achieve a decisive advantage?

How did Karjakin achieve a decisive advantage?

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

White created connected passed pawns with 31.d5 Qg3 (31…Qd6 32.Bxf5) 32.Re2 Qg5 33.Qd2 1–0

The next anthology of Malcolm’s  Telegraph chess columns will be published here next Monday.

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