Malcolm Pein returns to the FIDE Candidates Tournament in today’s Daily Telegraph column, with an excellent game featuring Anish Giri, The Flying Dutchman.

Malcolm Pein on…The Flying Dutchman

Anish Giri led the pursuit of Ian Nepomniachtchi after a classy win over an out-of-form Ding Liren in round 11 of the Candidates. The 26-year-old Dutch number one outplayed China’s top player to put himself in contention and supplant his opponent as world number three on the live rating list.

With three games remaining, the battle to become Magnus Carlsen’s challenger is now between the leading trio of Nepomniachtchi on 7/11, Giri 6.5 and Fabiano Caruana with 6. Caruana was frustrated by Nepomniachtchi who neutralised an aggressive pawn sacrifice by returning the pawn to reach a level ending.

Giri was subjected to years of ridicule after he drew all 14 games at the 2014 Candidates Tournament in Moscow. A player who can combine being hard to beat with the occasional victory has a recipe for success in all-play-all tournaments and particularly in match play. Giri has sharpened his approach, in recent years.

The Ruy Lopez in Action

A. Giri – Ding Liren
Ruy Lopez Delayed Exchange

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.d3 Bd6 8.Nbd2 Be6 9.Nb3 Qe7 10.Na5 0–0–0 11.Qe2 Bg4 12.c3 c5 13.a3 c6 14.b4 Bc7 15.Nb3 Nd7 16.h3 Bh5 17.Be3 f5!! (A superb pawn sacrifice. The battle lines have been drawn, both sides strive to open a file on the enemy king) 18.Bxc5 Qf7 19.Rab1 g5 (After 19…fxe4! 20.Qxe4 Nf6 21.Qf5+ Qd7 22.Qxd7+ Rxd7 White cannot hang onto his extra pawn, for example 23.Rfd1 Nd5 24. Rbc1 Nf4) 20.exf5 g4? 21.Ng5 Qxf5 22.h4! (The knight on e4 will dominate proceedings) 22…b6 (After 22…h6 23.Ne4 g3 24.Qc2 gxf2+ 25.Rxf2 Qg4 White’s better placed pieces and superior mobility facilitate an instructive breakthrough 26.b5! axb5 27.c4! bxc4 28.Qxc4 Rhg8 29.Qa4 and Black cannot defend b7) 23.Ne4!

The Flying Dutchman

23…bxc5 (23…g3! 24.Qb2 gxf2+ 25.Rxf2 Qg4 26.Na5 Nb8! holds but 26.Be7 Rde8 27.Bg5 h6 28.Be3 is better) 24.bxc5 Nf6?! (After 24…Nb8 25.Qb2 Kd7 26.Rfe1 Rhe8 Black can try and run the king to g7) 25.Nd6+ Bxd6 26.cxd6 Rxd6 27.d4 c5 28.Nxc5 Re8

Test Your Strength

A. Giri – Ding Liren

White to play. What is the most clear cut win here?

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

29.Qc4 1-0 White threatens a discovered check and if 29…Kd8 30.Nb7+ Ke7 31. Nxd6 Kxd6 32.dxe5+ Qxe5 33.Qxa6+ Ke7 34.Rfe1 or 29.Qc4 Rc6 30.d5 Rc7 31.Qxa6+ Kd8 32.Qd6+.

Play Through the Game

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