Malcolm Pein on…Sure-Fire Shak
It was steady as she goes for Shak Mamedyarov as he headed straight for a known drawing line against Anish Giri’s Grunfeld Defense to maintain his full point lead going into the ninth and final round of the Grand Chess Tour’s Superbet Chess Classic at Bucharest.
Mamedyarov’s nearest pursuers were unable to win in the eighth round and so Mamedyarov only needs to draw his final game with black against back-marker Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to win the tournament and move to the top of the GCT standings.
The highlight of the day was Levon Aronian’s winning idea against the surprise of the event Bogdan-Daniel Deac, in what appeared to be a drawn endgame. Deac, from the host nation, was a last-minute replacement for Richard Rapport.
Position after 57.Ne5-d3:
White was hoping that his well-placed knight and blockade would ensure the draw, despite the two-pawn deficit. If 57…Kc2 58.Nc5 Kd1 59.Nxe6 Ke1 the black king gets to g2 and wins the g3 pawn to force the win. However White can do better with 59.Kf2 Bf7 60.Nd3 and there seems no way through. For example, 60…Kd2 61.Nc5 h4 62.gxh4 e5 63.fxe5 Bd5 64.Kg3 Ke3 65.e6 f4+ 66.Kxg4 f3 67.e7 Bc6 68.Nd3 Kxd3 69.e8 and 70.Kxf3. Aronian found a way to progress by sacrificing his h-pawn to create a passed g-pawn. The game continued: 57…h4 58.gxh4 g3 59.Ne5 (Intending to support his h-pawn, but 59.Nc1 followed by Ne2+ and Ng1 holds) 59…Bh5 60.Nd7
60…e5!! 61.Nxe5 (61.fxe5 f4+ 62. Kxf4 g2) 61…Kc2 62.Nd3 Kd1 0-1 Zugzwang, if 63.Kd4 g2 or knight moves Ke1.
Test Your Strength
Sadler-Svidler from ECF’s charity Blitz.
Black to play and win
Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.
36…Nb3+! 0-1 If 37.axb3 Ra8. 36…Ra8 is also good.