Malcolm Pein On…Haria Holding the Flag


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Difficulties with quarantine and travel restrictions have limited English participation in the forthcoming FIDE World Cup to just one player. It will be left to IM Ravi Haria to carry the flag. The tournament is being held at Sochi on the Black Sea coast and play begins tomorrow. Doubtless wishing to secure some over-the-board match practise in the leadup to his world championship match in November, Magnus Carlsen has decided to play. The main prize, a place in the 2022 Candidates tournament, is irrelevant to Carlsen. Should he lose to Ian Nepomniachtchi in Dubai, he will still be seeded into the next Candidates. Haria failed to qualify from the European Hybrid tournament last month but put in a fine showing, defeating German GM Falko Bindrich 2-0. We have already seen Haria’s brilliant game with the black pieces. He secured match victory as follows:

R. Haria – F. Bindrich
Sicilian Bb5+

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.a4 a6 5.Be2 Ngf6 6.Nc3 b6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 Bb7 9.0–0 e6 10.Rd1 Qc7 11.Be3 Be7?! (11…Ng4! – RH. Prevents Nf3-d2-c4 and after 12.Bg5 h6 13.Bh4 Nge5 the game is unclear) 12.Nd2 0–0 13.Nc4 e5 (13…d5 14.exd5 Nxd5 15.Nxd5 Bxd5 16.Bf4 Qc6 17.Ne3 keeps an edge) 14.Qd2 Rfd8 (Not 14…Nxe4? 15.Nxe4 Bxe4 16.Nxd6 or if 14…Bxe4 15.Nxe4 Nxe4 16.Qb4 Nec5 17.Bxc5! dxc5 18.Qc3 White’s activity and light-square control gives him the advantage – RH) 15.f3 Rab8 16.a5? (After 16.Bf2! – RH, Black has no constructive moves and d5 will soon be under White’s control after Nc4-e3) 16…b5 17.Nb6 Bc6 18.Ncd5 Bxd5 19.Nxd5 Nxd5 20.exd5 Rdc8? (20…Bf6! intending e5–e4 was much better) 21.Rac1 Qd8? (21…Qb7 obstructs what follows) 22.b4! (c2-c4 will expose the a6 pawn. Black is in serious trouble)

22…h6 23.c4 bxc4 24.Bxc4 Ra8 25.Be2 Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Bg5 27.Bxg5 hxg5 28.Rc6 e4 (Desperately seeking counterplay. Haria mops up) 29.fxe4 Ne5 30.Rxa6 Rc8 31.b5 Rc5 32.Bf1 g4 33.b6 Qc8 34.Ra7 Kh7 35.Qf2 g6 36.b7 1–0

Giri-Firouzja, Goldmoney Asian Rapid Preliminaries on Chess24. White to play and win material (to see the answer, highlight the space below the diagram):

Answer: Rxf4 exf4 30.Qd5 1-0 White threatened d7-d8 and Qxd4

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