Chess and music have often been linked and Malcolm explains the importance of Piano practice.
Malcolm Pein on…Piano Practice
The venerable Giuoco Piano remains popular with the elite and was even seen on the top two boards in round 11 at the Tata Steel Masters. Magnus Carlsen appeared to gain an early edge as White against tournament leader Anish Giri, but mishandled it after which the local Dutch hero was able to make a fairly comfortable draw.
The opening also featured in a clash between two of the players sharing second, Alireza Firouzja and Fabiano Caruana. The latter stood better, but missed a resource in the run-up to the time control at move 40, allowing the 17-year-old to go a pawn ahead before the world number two rallied to hold the draw.
Esipenko Loses Ground
Jorden van Foreest was quickly a piece up and eventually defeated Pentala Harikrishna to join the chasing pack on 7/11, half a point behind Giri, but the sensation of the tournament, Andrey Esipenko, lost ground after being outplayed by Aryan Tari.
A. Tari – A. Esipenko
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.0-0 Nf6 6.Re1 Bd7 7.c3 g6 8.d4 Bg7 9.Nbd2 0-0 10.Bc2 Nh5
11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Nf1 Nf4 13.Ne3 Kh8?! (Too optimistic. 13…Be6 was necessary when White is only a touch better after 14.g3 Qxd1 15.Nxd1 Nh5 16.Ne3 Nf6 17.b4) 14.Nd5! Ne6 (Sub-optimal, but 14…Nxd5? 15.exd5 picks off e5) 15.h4!? (White should be the faster after 15.b4 f5 16.a4) 15…h5? (Black never shakes off White’s typical Lopez grip after this. 15…f5 16.exf5 gxf5 17.Ng5 h6 looks risky, but was viable) 16.Be3 f6 17.b4!
(As 17…f5? 18.exf5 gxf5 19.Ng5 would be devastating, Black lacks counterplay while White expands) 17…Ne7 18.Qe2 Nc8 19.c4 Qe8 20.c5 a5 21.a3 Na7 22.Bb3 Nb5 23.Bc4?! (23.a4! Nbd4 24.Bxd4 exd4 25.Qd2 was the way to maintain a large advantage) 23…axb4 24.axb4 Rxa1? (24…Rd8 and …c6 had to be tried) 25.Rxa1 f5? 26.exf5 gxf5 27.Ng5! Nxg5 28.hxg5 f4 Black had been relying on this, but what tactical shot had he overlooked?
Test Your Strength
White to play and win
Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.
29.Ra8! (29.Nf6! Bxf6 30.Ra8! also works, but not 29.Bd2? Nd4) 29…Qg6 (if 29…Qxa8? 30.Qxh5+ Kg8 31.Ne7# and even 29…f3 30.Rxe8 fxe2 31.Rxf8+ Bxf8 32.Bxe2 is hopeless) 30.Rxf8+ Bxf8 31.Bd2 Na3 (31…Nd4 32.Qxe5+ Bg7 33.Qe7 wins too) 32.Bd3 Qxg5 33.Qe4 1-0