Malcolm Pein on…Nepomniachtchi’s Huge Step
Russian number one Ian Nepomniachtchi took a huge step towards claiming a shot at the world title when he won a fifth game to reach 8/12 at the Candidates tournament and remain half a point clear with two to play.
Nepo ground down Wang Hao with black from a level position, although the Chinese GM, who is completely out of contention, resigned in a position where resistance was still possible.
Wang Hao looked disillusioned afterwards: “After move 40, I started to play like a 2200 player,” he said.
Anish Giri scored a fantastic victory to stay in touch with the leader as he defeated Fabiano Caruana with black to end the American’s hopes. The Dutchman is effectively a full point behind, because he lost to the leader in the first round, and individual results is the first tie-break.
The Caro-Kann in Action
M. Vachier-Lagrave – K. Alekseenko
Caro Kann Fantasy
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 dxe4 4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.c3 Nf6 7.Bc4 Qc7 8.dxe5 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Qxe5 10.Bf4! Qh5 (10…Qxe4+ 11.Qxe4+ Nxe4 12.Nd2 Nxd2 13.Kxd2 is very good for White who plays Kd2-c2 and brings his rook to the centre) 11.Nd2 Nbd7 12.0–0–0 Nb6 13.Bb3 Be7 14.Rhg1 Qxf3 (White’s active bishops and rooks give him a big advantage. Black would not survive 14…0–0 15.g4 Qg6 16.h4) 15.gxf3 g6 16.Nc4 Nxc4 17.Bxc4 b5 18.Bb3 Nd7 (Giving up a pawn, but if 18…0–0 19.e5 Nh5 20.Be3 Rfd8 21.e6)
19.Bxf7+ Kxf7 20.Rxd7 Ke6 21.Rc7 Rhc8 22.Rxc8 Rxc8 23.Be3 a5 24.Kd2 a4 25.f4 Rd8+ 26.Ke2 Rf8 27.Kf3 Rd8 28.Rc1 c5 29.c4 b4 30.Ke2 Rd7 31.Rd1 Rxd1 32.Kxd1 (Black loses because he has two weaknesses; the c5 pawn and the f5 square, which must be controlled)
32…Bf8 33.Kc2 Be7 34.b3 a3 35.Kd3 Bf8 36.Bf2 Be7 37.Ke3 Bd8 38.Kf3 Be7 39.Kg4 h5+ 40.Kf3 Bf8 41.Bh4 Bd6 42.e5 Bc7 (If 42…Bf8 43.Ke4 Bg7 44.Bd8 Bf8 45.Bc7 Be7 46.Bd6 Bxd6 47.exd6 Kxd6 48.h3 Ke6 49.h4 Kd6 50.f5) 43.Ke4 Ba5 44.Bg5 Bb6 45.Bh6 1-0 45…Bc7 46.Bf8 Bb6 47.Bd6 Ba7 48.Bc7 Kd7 49.Ba5 Ke6 50.h3 is zugzwang.
Test Your Strength
Caruana-Giri. What was Black’s winning blow?
Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.
45…Nxg2! 0-1 If 46.Qxg2 Qxe3+ or 46.Rg3 Qc1+ 47.Kxg2 (47.Qf1 Rh1+) 47…Qh1#.