Malcolm Pein on…’Winning Ugly’

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Today’s column from Malcolm Pein of the The Daily Telegraph continues his coverage of the Skilling Open and he shows the World Champion ‘winning ugly.’

Games between World Champion Magnus Carlsen and Candidate Anish Giri always have an edge to them and it was always going to be a big clash between them at the Skilling Open.

The first position presents a very difficult puzzle. Can you see how Giri could have won the game?

Winning Ugly

Magnus Carlsen admitted he had to ‘win ugly’ as he defeated Anish Giri 2.5-1.5 in the the first leg of Skilling Open, the opening event of the Champions Chess Tour on Chess24.

Carlsen was completely lost in the first of the best-of-four-game match, but survived. Two more draws followed, in which the balance was not disturbed, although it was Giri who had very slightly the better of both.

Carlsen found that little bit extra in the fourth and decisive game when he unveiled what looks like some very deep opening preparation and sacrificed a pawn for piece activity. Giri appeared to panic and Carlsen ramped up the pressure to such an extent that he gobbled four pawns in successive moves and the game was won. Giri has to win the return match to stay in the competition.

What Did Black Miss?

Giri Misses Win Against Carlsen

Carlsen – Giri, Game 1

Black to play and win

Not at all easy of course. Carlsen survived after 27…Qxe3+? 28.Qxe3 Rxe3 29.Re1!  What should Black have played instead of 27 …Qxe3+?

A Giri – M Carlsen

Giuoco Piano, 15+10

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0–0 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.c3 h6 7.Nbd2 0–0 8.Re1 a5 9.Nf1 Be6 10.Bb5 Ne7 11.d4 Ba7 12.dxe5 Ng4 13.Be3 Nxe3! (13…Nxe5 14.Bxa7 Rxa7 15.Nd4 with an edge for White, Jakovenko-Svidler Bundesliga 2017-18) 14.Nxe3 dxe5 15.Nxe5 Ng6! 16.Nxg6 fxg6 17.Qxd8 Raxd8 (Black’s rooks and bishops are probing a2, d2 and f2) 18.Re2 (Not 18.Bc4?? Bxc4 19.Nxc4 Bxf2+) 18…Bxe3 19.fxe3? (If 19.Rxe3 Rd2 20.Re2 Rfd8 21.Rae1 Bxa2 but 19.Rxe3 Rd2 20.Re2 Rfd8 21.Kf1 Rd1+ 22.Rxd1 Rxd1+ 23.Re1 holds as 23…Rxe1+ 24.Kxe1 Bxa2 25.Kd2 is better for White) 19…Kf7 20.Ba4 Ke7 21.h3 (21.Bb3 Bg4) 21…Bc4 22.Rc2 Rd3 23.Re1 Kd6! 24.Bb3 Ba6! 25.Rcc1 Ke5 26.Rcd1 Rfd8 27.Rxd3 Bxd3 28.Kf2 Rd6 29.Bd1 Bc4 30.b3 Rd2+ 31.Kg3 Be6 32.Rf1

Carlsen - Giri Ending

 23…Rxa2 33.Bg4 Bxb3 34.Rf8 Kxe4 35.Rc8 Kxe3 36.Rxc7 Bd5 37.Bf3 Bxf3 38.gxf3 Rb2 39.Rxg7 Rb6 40.c4 Kd4 41.Rc7 a4 42.c5 Ra6 43.Rxb7 Kxc5 44.Rc7+ Kb6 45.Rc1 a3 46.h4 a2 47.Ra1 Ra4 48.f4 h5 49.Kf3 Kc5 50.Ke3 Kd5 51.Kf3 Ke6  0–1

Highlight the text below this line to reveal the answer to today’s puzzle.

Answer: 27…Be2! wins after 28.Qxc7+ Ka7 29.Rc2 Qxe3+ 30.Kb1 Bd3 31.Ka1 Bxc2 32.Qxc2 Qxf3; 28.Qxc7+ Ka7 29.Rh1 Bxf3 30.gxf3 Rg2 31.Rc2 Rg1+ 32.Rxg1 Qxg1+ 33.Kd2 Qxe3+ 34.Kd1 Qe1#; 28.Rc2 Rxg2! 29.Rxg2 Qf1+ 30.Kd2 Qd1+ 31.Kc3 Qd3+ 32.Kb4 a5+ 33.Kxa5 Qb5# or 33.Ka4 Qb5+ 34.Ka3 Qb4#

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