Malcolm Pein on…Shankland’s Success


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Malcolm Pein on…Shankland’s Success

The Prague International Chess Festival went ahead this month, featuring a 99-player Open and headlined by an eight-player Masters Group.

Sam Shankland returned to the 2700 club as he racked up an impressive 5.5/7 for a 2905 performance. Shankland outplayed Jan-Krzysztof Duda, but otherwise the Polish number one shone too as he finished a clear second. In contrast, local hero David Navara was far from his best and the surprise winner of Wijk aan Zee, Jorden van Foreest, was also unable to win a game.

Shankland met the English Opening with a modern twist on the reversed Sicilian Dragon, Fabiano Caruana’s 6…Bc5!?. This is fully playable in part because 7.Nxe5 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Nxe5 9.d4 Bd6 10.dxe5 Bxe5 is fine for Black.

D. Navara – S. Shankland

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Bc5!? 7.0-0 0-0 8.d3 Re8 9.Bg5!? Nxc3 10.bxc3 f6 11.Bc1 (Having induced a small weakening, White regroups) 11…Be6 12.Bb2 Bf8 13.Qc2 Qd7 14.Rfd1 Qf7!

D. Navara – S. Shankland

Heading for the kingside and adding further force on the a2-g8 diagonal. Now 15.d4 Bc4 16.d5 Na5 17.e4 b6 would offer Black a decent blockade, but Navara’s choice is too ambitious. 15.e4? Na5! 16.Nd2 (Played to avoid 16.d4 Nc4) 16…Rad8 17.d4 c6 (An instructive moment. White’s centre looks impressive, but he can’t do anything with it) 18.f4 exf4! 19.gxf4 f5 (Black continues to restrain and neutralise White’s aggressive intent) 20.e5 c5 21.Nf3 Be7 22.Kh1 Nc4 (Beginning a powerful invasion) 23.Qe2 Qh5 24.a4 Nb6 25.dxc5 Bxc5 26.Qb5? (In any case, Black was clearly better as we can see from 26.a5 Rxd1+ 27.Rxd1 Nd5 28.Nd4 Qxe2 29.Nxe2 Ne3) 26…Be3 27.Rxd8 Rxd8 28.a5 Nc4 29.a6 bxa6 30.Qxa6 Bd5! 31.Rd1 The bishop on d5 is pinned and 32.Rxd5 threatened.

Test Your Strength

D. Navara – S. Shankland: Black to Play and Win

The bishop on d5 is pinned and 32.Rxd5 threatened.
How did Black deal with these issues and win?

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

31…Bd2! (31…Nd2! is an immediate game-ender) 32.Bc1 Kh8! (Threatening 33…Bxf3+ now that Qxc4 won’t be check) 33.Rxd2 Nxd2 34.Qa5? (Even after 34.Nxd2 Bxg2+ 35.Kxg2 Qg4+ 36.Kf2 Qxf4+ 37.Kg2 Qg4+ 38.Kf2 Qh4+! 39.Kg2 Qe1 Black should be winning) 34…Rd7 0-1

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