Malcolm Pein on…MVL Topping the Tour

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave overhauled Ian Nepomniachtchi on the fifth and final day to take first at the GCT Rapid & Blitz in Zagreb. MVL is one of the world’s best Blitz players and secured first with a round to spare to take home $37,500 (£27,000). He now leads the tour overall, half a point ahead of Wesley So.

Nepomniachtchi won the nine-round Rapid, staged over the first three days, scoring 11/18, a point ahead of MVL and Vishy Anand. With nine more points to play for on day five, MVL was just half a point behind and racked up 6.5/9 to finish with 23/36, comprising 11 wins and just two losses over 27 games.

Anand’s performance at the age of 51 was remarkable, as he had endured a long enforced absence from the board. The ‘Tiger from Madras’ ended second overall on 21/36, with Anish Giri third on 20.5/36. Garry Kasparov’s participation was a disaster, as he was evidently unprepared and rusty. He scored just 2.5/18.

V. Anand – J. K. Duda
Caro Kann 3+2

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 h5 5.Bd3 Bxd3 6.Qxd3 e6 7.Nf3 Qa5+ 8.Nbd2 Nh6 9.0–0 Be7 (9…Nf5 is standard) 10.c4 Nf5 11.g3 Na6 12.b3 Rd8 13.Bb2 c5!? 14.cxd5 Nb4 15.Qe4 Nxd5 16.Nc4 Qa6 17.dxc5 Bxc5 18.Kh2 (Avoiding Nxg3!) 18…b5 (Black is fine after 18…Nb6 19.Nxb6 Bxb6, not 19…Qxb6?! 20.Qa4+ Qc6 21.Qxc6+ bxc6 22.Rac1) 19.Ncd2 Nb4 20.Qe2 Nc2?

V. Anand – J. K. Duda

(20…0–0 21.Ne4 Be7 22.Nf6+! gxf6? 23.exf6 Bd6 24.Ng5 wins; 20…Nd3 was playable. See board left) 21.Ne4! Nxa1 22.Nxc5 Qc6 23.Rc1 (The black knight is trapped in the corner) 23…0–0 24.Ne4 Qb6 25.Rxa1 Rc8 26.Nfg5 g6 27.Nf6+ Kg7 28.Nd7 1–0

A. Korobov – J. K. Duda
Slav Defence 3+2

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Bg5 Ne4 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.a3 (7.e3 Qa5+ picking up the loose bishop would be unfortunate) 7…Be6 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.e3 Qd5 10.h4 (10.Bf4 Na5 11.Rb1 Rc8 12.Ne2 Qa2 13.Rc1 Nc4 14.Nc3 looks like the critical line) 10…Na5 11.Qb4?! (11.Rb1 or 11.Rd1) 11…Bd7! 12.Rc1

Test Your Strength

A. Korobov – J. K. Duda

Black had prepared a strong move here. What was it?

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

12…e5 13.Qc3 h6 14.dxe5 (14.b4 hxg5 15.bxa5 exd4 16.exd4 Rc8 followed by Rxh4 is very good) 14…hxg5 15.Rd1 Qc5 16.Qxc5 Bxc5 17.b4 Bb6 0–1

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