Following on from yesterday’s update on the Skilling Open chess tournament, Malcolm Pein turns the attention of his Daily Telegraph chess column to Ian Nepomniachtchi’s endgame woes.
There is a tricky puzzle for you to solve and a fabulous checkmating attack to enjoy.
Malcolm Pein on…Nepomniachtchi’s Endgame Woes
Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So won the first set against Ian Nepomniachtchi and Hikaru Nakamura respectively in the semi-finals of the Skilling Open on Chess24. Nepomniachtchi admitted afterwards he had forgotten some analysis he had actually looked at with Carlsen, when he was on the champion’s analytical team during the World Championship match against Vishy Anand.
Trailing 0-1, Nepomniachtchi outplayed Carlsen a couple of times, but on each occasion failed to convert a won endgame. The Russian was philosophical afterwards, commenting:’ As I think Lasker said, the most difficult thing in chess is to win a winning position. So that’s something I surely need to master before tomorrow’s match.’
M. Carlsen – I. Nepomniachtchi
Gruenfeld Defence 15+10
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bd2 Bg7 6.e4 Nxc3 7.Bxc3 0–0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.d5 Bxf3 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.gxf3 (Not 12.Qc3+? e5! 13.dxe6+ Qf6) 12…Ne5 13.0–0–0 c6 14.Bh3 (14.Qc3 f6 15.Bh3 cxd5 (15…Qd6!) 16.exd5 Nf7 was Anand – Carlsen WCC, Game One, Sochi, 2014) 14…Kg8 15.Qc3 Qb8? (15…Qc7 16.f4 Nd7 17.Bxd7 Qxd7 18.dxc6 Qc7 19.Kb1 bxc6 20.f5 Rad8 is playable)
Now it is White to play and win (the answer is at the end of this blog post).
Wesley So outmanoeuvred Hikaru Nakamura and launched a fine attack against a weakened kingside. We join the game as So is just about to play his 33rd move.
33.h4! gxh4 34.Qg4 Kf8 35.Bxf6! gxf6 36.Qxh4 Kg8 37.Re2 Re5 38.Re3 Rxf5 39.Rh3 Rg5 40.Qh8+ Kf7 41.Rh7+ 1–0
Nakamura resigned because 41…Kg6 42.Rh6+ Kf7 43.Qxf6+ Ke8 44.Rh8+ forces mate.
Highlight the space below this line to unveil the answer to today’s puzzle.
Answer: 16.d6! (Not 16.f4 Ng4! and if 17.Bxg4 Qxf4+) 16…exd6 17.f4 (The knight is trapped) 17…Re8 18.Rhe1 a5 19.Kb1 a4 20.fxe5 Rxe5 21.f4 Rc5 22.Qf6 a3 23.b3 Rh5 24.Rxd6 Qe8 25.Be6 fxe6 26.Red1 1–0