Malcolm Pein on…The Power of the Pin
In the absence of Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, no player was able to assert their authority at the Grand Chess Tour Paris Rapid. After the second day of three, the American duo of Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So shared the lead with Muscovite world title contender Ian Nepomniachtchi on just 7/12.
Nepomniachtchi suffered his first defeat in the last game of the second day, as Maxime Vachier-Lagrave finished spectacularly.
Test Your Strength
White to play and win
I. Nepomniachtchi – L. Aronian
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxc4 c5 (Black stakes his claim in the centre before White plays d2–d4) 7.Ne5 (Securing the two bishops before Black can play Bd7–c6) 7…Qc8 8.b3 Nc6 9.Nxd7 Qxd7 10.Bb2 Be7 11.0–0 Rc8 12.Rd1 0–0 (Theory suggests these positions are level, but White’s bishop pair may come to life) 13.Nc3 a6 14.Rac1 b5 15.Qf4 h6 (15…Rfd8 16.d3 e5 gaining more space and containing the bishops looks fine. If 17.Qe3 Nd4! 18.Qxe5 b4 19.Na4 Ng4 20.Qe4 f5! is good for Black) 16.d3 Rfd8 17.Qd2 Qa7 18.e3! Qb6 19.Qe2 (White gradually prepares d3–d4) 19…Nb4 20.a3 Nbd5 21.Nxd5 Nxd5 22.d4 Nf6 23.dxc5 Rxd1+ 24.Rxd1 Bxc5 (White has achieved his objective and now 25.Qf3 Be7 26.b4 intending Qb7 was good and if 26…Rc2 27. Qa8+ Kh7 28.Be4+. Nepo goes for a direct attack)
25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Qh5 Bxa3 27.Rd7 Rf8 28.Be4 f5
29.Qxh6!! fxe4 30.Rd5!! (The e6 pawn is pinned to the queen) 30…Qxe3 31.Qxe3 exd5 32.Qg5+ Kh8 33.Qxd5 f5 34.Qd4+ Kg8 35.b4 Bc1 36.Qb6 Rf7 37.Qxa6 e3 38.Qc8+ picking up the bishop so 1–0
Highlight the space below this to reveal the answer.
26.Nd7!! 1-0 If 26…Rxd7 27.Qf8+ Rd8 28.Rxc5+ Kd7 29.Qf7#; 26…Nh3+ 27.Kg2 makes no difference; 26…Ne4+ 27.Rxc5+ Nxc5 28.Nxb6+ axb6 29.Qc7#; 26…Qxb2 27.Rxc5#.