Malcolm Pein on…Tata Steel’s Decisive Games


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Today’s Daily Telegraph chess column returns to the action of the Tata Steel Masters, as Malcolm brings news of five decisive games.

Not for the first time in this event, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave discovers that poison can be deadly.

Malcolm Pein on…Tata Steel’s Decisive Games

A stirring seventh round with five decisive games saw Jorden van Foreest take a share of the lead of the Tata Steel Masters at Wijk aan Zee. The 21-year-old, whose great great grandfather was a three-time Dutch champion, made a quietly impressive start, drawing with Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, before scoring his first win which we saw yesterday.

Van Foreest was quick to exploit errors by Aryan Tari and reached 4.5/7, a score he was joined on by round seven winners Giri, Caruana and Alireza Firouzja.

Caruana was virtually gifted a point by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who persists with the Sicilian Najdorf, but seems unwilling to play the critical lines, which he may need to deploy in the unfinished Candidates tournament.

Deadly Poison

F. Caruana – M. Vachier-Lagrave
Sicilian Najdorf Poisoned Pawn

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.Be2 (A sideline, 10.f5 and 10.e5 are standard) 10…Nc6 (10…Nbd7 and 10…Be7 are the main lines) 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 exd5??

F. Caruana – M. Vachier-Lagrave

(13…cxd5 14.0–0 is unclear, there is only one game in my database from 1997. See board left) 14.e6!! f6 (After 14…fxe6 15.f5! exf5 16.0–0 Black’s three extra pawns are of no help as Bh5+ and Re1+ or Rb3-e3+ follow. If 14…fxe6 15.f5! e5 16.0–0 when Bh5+ follows and Black cannot develop as if 16…Be7 17.Bxe7 Kxe7 18.Qg5+; If 14…Bxe6 15.f5 Bxf5 16.0-0 Be4 17.Rb7 with a winning attack while 14…Bxe6 15.f5 Bd7 16.Rb3-e3+ wins)

15.Bh5+ Kd8 (Black’s position is a complete wreck and he only has his queen in play. If 15…g6 16.Bxf6 Rg8 17.Rb3 Qa4 18.Bf3) 16.Bh4 d4 17.Bf2 Qc3 (White’s next cements the e6 pawn and he can win as he chooses)

18.f5 Qxd2+ 19.Kxd2 c5 20.Bf3 Ra7 21.g4 g6 22.Bh4 Be7 23.Rb6 h5 24.h3 Ke8 25.Bg3 Rc7 (White is playing with an extra king)

26.Kd3 hxg4 27.hxg4 Rxh1 28.Bxh1 gxf5 29.gxf5 Bf8 30.Kc4 Rh7 31.Be4 Be7 32.Bxd6 Bxd6 33.Rxd6 Bb7 34.Bxb7 Rxb7 35.Rxa6 Rb2 36. Kxc5 Rxc2+ 37.Kxd4 1–0

Test Your Strength

White to Play and Win

White to play and win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

61.Rd7 1–0 If the knight moves Rf7#.

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