Malcolm Pein on…Giri’s Edge at the Tata Steel Masters


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Today’s Daily Telegraph column continues Malcolm Pein’s coverage of the Tata Steel Masters.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen is a little off the pace this time but Candidate Anish Giri is showing fine form.

Malcolm Pein on…Giri’s Edge

A remarkable round at the Tata Steel Masters saw tail-ender Alexander Donchenko quickly build up a huge position as Black against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who remains out of form. The 22-year-old German number two squandered his advantage and somehow managing to lose a drawn queen ending to give the French number one his first win.

Magnus Carlsen also remains disappointed with his general form, losing a pawn early on to Fabiano Caruana before being able to set up a blockade and draw. With three rounds to go, the world champion languishes on 5.5/10, a point behind Caruana and teenagers Alireza Firouzja and Andrey Esipenko, who won again to see his rating cross the magical 2700 barrier. That trio share second, half a point off the new leader Anish Giri, who tortured Radoslaw Wojtaszek.

The Ruy Lopez in Action

A. Esipenko – D. Anton Guijarro
Ruy Lopez

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.Bd2 Bg4 9.c3 Bh5 10.Re1 Na5 11.Bc2 c5 12.h3 0-0 13.Bc1 Nc6 14.Nbd2 d5 (The ideal central counterstrike) 15.Nf1 d4 16.Ng3 Bg6 17.Bd2 Rc8 18.Rc1 Re8 19.Qe2 Bf8 20.Qf1?! Qd6 21.Rcd1 Qd7 22.Nh4! (Getting back on track with a thematic manoeuvre) 22…Qd8 23.Ngf5 Nd7 24.Qe2 Qf6 25.Rc1 Nb6 26.c4?! (Overly optimistic) 26…bxc4 27.dxc4 Rb8 28.g3 Nb4 29.Bb1 Nc8 30.Nxg6 (Not ideal, but Black is also better off positionally after 30.b3 a5) 30…hxg6 31.Nh4 Qe6 32.Kg2 Nd6 33.Nf3 Be7? (33…a5! would have been very comfortable for Black) 34.a3 Nc6 35.b4

A. Esipenko – D. Anton Guijarro

Breaking free and now Black needed to find 35…Rec8 36.Bd3 Nb7 37.Rb1 cxb4 38.axb4 a5! to maintain a rough balance. 35…cxb4? 36.c5! Nb5 37.axb4 Bf6 38.Bd3 (White’s unopposed light-squared bishop is just too strong) 38…Nc3!? 39.Bxc3 dxc3 40.Bc4 Qe7 41.Rxc3 Rxb4 42.Bd5! Nd4 43.Qxa6 (The extra passed c-pawn is also a must useful asset) 43…Qc7 44.Nxd4 exd4 45.Rc2 g5 46.Qd3 Be5 47.Ra1 Qe7 48.Ra6 Rf8 49.c6 Rbb8 50.Rca2 Rbc8 51.Ra7 Rc7 52.Rb7 g6 53.Qd2 Rfc8 54.Rxc7 Rxc7 55.f4 is on, but White found something even stronger. What?

White to Play and Win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

55.h4! gxh4 (otherwise hxg5 and f4 or 55…Bf6 56.hxg5 Bxg5 57.Qxd4) 56.Qh6 1-0 Qxg6+ follows.

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