Malcolm Pein reports on Radjabov’s great start in the final of the Airthings Masters tournament in his Daily Telegraph chess column today.

Radjabov’s form has been excellent in this tournament, as we found out in yesterday’s column.

Malcolm Pein on…Radjabov’s Great Start

Teimour Radjabov took the first leg of the final of the Airthings Masters on Chess24 when Levon Aronian became too ambitious in game four and sacrificed a pawn unsoundly.

Radjabov gradually exploited his extra pawn in the Berlin Wall endgame from one of those positions that are now all too familiar. Black has most of his pieces on the back rank and it doesn’t matter a jot.

L. Aronian – T. Radjabov
Ruy Lopez Berlin Wall

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Bd7 10.Rd1 Kc8 11.g4 Ne7 12.Ng5 Be8 13.f4 c5 (13…h6 14.Nf3 f5 15.Kg2 Bd7 16.Kg3 fxg4 17.hxg4 h5 led to a brilliant win for Black in Adams vs McShane British KO 2018)

14.Nc3 b6 (Black prepares Kc8-b7. Someday his rooks might even connect)

15.f5 Nc6 16.Bf4 Nd4 (The first sortie provokes an error)

17.Kf2? (17.e6 f6 18.Nf7 Bxf7 19.exf7 Bd6 20.Bxd6 cxd6 21.Ne4 is fine for White as he will win Black’s d-pawn back even if f7 falls)

17…h6! (Aronian may have been beguiled by 17…Nxc2 18.Rac1 Nd4 19.Nd5 h6 20.Nxf7! Bxf7 21. Rxd4! Unfortunately for him there is an intermezzo)

18.Nf3 Nxc2 19.Rac1 Nb4 (Black’s position is solid and knight retreats to safety)

20.a3 Nc6 21.Nd5 Ne7 22.Ne3 Nc6 23.f6 (23.Nd5 Kb7)

Heading for the Berlin Endgame

23…Bd7 24.b4 g5 25.Bg3 Be6 (Black’s unchallenged light bishop is a strong piece in the Berlin Defence endgame)

26.Rd3 Kb7 (A simple move but very strong. By defending c6 Black threatens to take on b4. White deals with that, but in doing so he loses the d-file)

Radjabov's Great Start

27.Rdc3 Rd8 28.Nf5 a5 29.b5 Na7 30.a4 c6 31.bxc6+ Nxc6 32.Ke2 Nb4 33.Rd1 Rxd1 34.Kxd1 Nd5 35.Ra3 c4 36.Nd6+ Bxd6 37.exd6 Rd8 38.Be5 Nb4 39.Bg3 Nd3 40.Nd4 Bd7 41.Kd2 Re8 42.Nc2 Nc5 43.Re3 Ne4+ 44.Kc1 Nxg3 45.Rxg3 Re6 46.Rc3 Rxf6 47.Rxc4 Rxd6 48.Kb2 Rd3 0–1

Test Your Strength

Black to Play and Win

For today’s puzzle, it’s Black to play and win material.

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

1…Nxh3+! 2.gxh3(2.Rxh3 Qxh3 3.f4 Qh6! or 3.gxh3 Nf3+)2…Qg5+! 0-1 If 3.Kh1 Nf3! wins the queen or 3.Bg2 Nf3+! Adamia – Pantsulaia, Gaprindashvili Cup, Tornelo 2020.

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