Tactical shots at the Candidates Chess Tournament 2016 and important news


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First, I have some good news. For chess fans from Hong Kong, I’m going to visit it soon.
GM Igor Smirnov SeminarIf you live in that area, feel free to send me an e-mail – [email protected] We may meet personally, which would be really exciting! See you soon! 🙂
designThe 2016 FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament, which determines the challenger to Magnus Carlsen’s title, is taking place in Moscow. The tournament has already witnessed some good matches, tactical moves and missed chances!

 

Today, we’ll have a look at two decisive games from the first two rounds of the event. The first one was the game played between Anand and Topalov, where the latter missed a tactical blow in the middlegame.

 

Anand – Topalov

Candidates Chess 2016

Black to play

 

Anand’s intention was to take the b7-pawn when he played Qb1-b3 a few moves ago. Meanwhile, Topalov manoeuvred his knight from an inactive place, f6, to a strong square, c5, with Nf6-Nd7-Nc5. Then Anand played 20.Qc6 and the above position appeared.

 

It’s Black’s turn now. Please take this position seriously and try to find the right continuation for Black.

 

Though Topalov is a pawn down, he has a nice compensation – active bishops on two good diagonals, a centralised knight, White’s e4-pawn is under attack and his bishops are on their initial positions (c1 and f1).

 

So how should Black proceed? In the game, Topalov played 20…Nb3, and after 21.Rb1 Nxc1 22.Rxc1, Black had exchanged his good knight (wasting two moves) for a bishop that was taking a nap on the c1-square, and that made the task easier for White.

 

But can you find a better continuation for Black than the move Nb3?

 

Yes, it’s this move 20…Bxf2+! that Topalov missed, which would have created some serious damage in White’s position. White would have to play 21.Kxf2, otherwise his e1-rook is gone!
Candidates Chess 2016

Black to play

 

Again, how would you play here as Black? (Well, you should have calculated for a few moves before playing Bxf2+ :))

 

Yes, Black can bring his queen into the action by playing 21…Qh4+. Again, White has to play the only move available 22.g3. Now the knight joins the battle with 22…Nxe4+! Again, White has to play 23.Rxe4 – otherwise g3 is destroyed. After Black’s 23…Qxe4, the position will look like what is shown below:
Candidates Chess 2016

White to play

 

Even though White has the compensation of two pieces for a rook, Black looks better here because White’s king is enormously exposed and three of the White pieces remain in their starting position.

 

In the initial position, apart from the tactical blow of 20…Bxf2+, Black even had the possibility of playing a silent move, 20…f6 (maybe, a prophylactic move) with an idea of trapping the White queen after moving the rook to e7 (or f8), thereby allowing the h5-bishop to land on the e8-square.
Candidates Chess 2016

White to play

 

However, Topalov missed these good moves and made a blunder by playing 20…Nb3? 21.Rb1 Nxc1 22.Rxc1 Rb8 23.Qxa6
Candidates Chess 2016

Black to play

 

White is two pawns up now and Anand won the game later on.

 

Now let’s move on to the next game, which is from the second round. It was between Karjakin and Nakamura, where the former won by gradually increasing the pressure over his opponent, such that it forced the latter to make a miscalculation and lose the game.

 

Karjakin – Nakamura

Candidates Chess 2016

Black to play

 

The above position appeared after Karjakin played 29.h4, with an idea of gaining space on the kingside. And this tempted Nakamura, as he realised the weakness of g3.

 

Now let me ask you a question: do you think g3 is a real weakness for White? To be more precise, can Black play 29…Nxg3, with the idea of breaking White’s pawn structure?

 

Again, please consider this position seriously and try to calculate this variation.

 

In the game, Nakamura went for it and took the g3-pawn by playing 29…Nxg3? which is a terrible blunder at this level. Before continuing, now that you know 29…Nxg3 is a blunder, imagine you are White and try to prove Nakamura wrong. 🙂

 

I really recommend you to calculate this variation as deeply as you can, and only then continue reading below.

 

After 30.fxg3 Nxd4 31.Bxd4 Bxd4 32.exd4 Qe3+, the following position appears.
Candidates Chess 2016

White to play

 

Now it’s White’s turn and Black is threatening White’s d3-knight and the c1-rook, so White must respond as his king is under check. How would you play here as White? What is the best move?

 

Yes, White has the great move 33.Qf2! Now, Nakamura played 33…Qxd3. Maybe he stopped his calculation here, concluding that he is a pawn up, when he first thought about 29…Nxg3. However, Karjakin has calculated a move further!
Candidates Chess 2016

White to play

 

Can you find the best move for White? It is 34.Rc7!, which creates a strong double attack against which Black has no reply.
Candidates Chess 2016

Black to play

 

I guess now that you would have realised the reason behind the move 33.Qf2 – the foundation of this double attack. 🙂

 

In the game, Naka replied with 34…f5 and after 35.Rxb7 h6 36.Bxd5+ Kh7 37.Bg2 Re2 38.Bf1…
Candidates Chess 2016

Black to play

 

and Black has lost the game.

 

Now, let’s summarise the key ideas based on what we have learned from these two games:

 

  • As I have mentioned in my lessons and courses, in order to find the best move, focus on your opponent’s half of the board and ask yourself “What are the attacking moves I can play there?”. This could have helped Topalov to find the Bxf2 move easily. 🙂
  • Before making any (attacking) move, you need to calculate at least 3-4 moves. Now you know how much calculating just one move ahead of your opponent matters. You may study my course “Calculate till Mate”, which will sharpen your tactical, calculation and visualisation skills.

 

P.S. What is your opinion of the Candidates Tournament? Who is your favourite to win the event, and why? Feel free to comment and discuss below! 🙂
Comments
Comments: 6

Comments 6

  1. Simply, this analysis Jewels, hope you O our teacher to continue the analysis of such a strong games, we learn and enjoy it so much ..

  2. Simply, this analysis Jewels, hope you O our teacher to continue the analysis of such a strong games, we learn and enjoy it so much ..

  3. Pretty surprising that Topalov missed 20…Bxf2+, a move that any experienced club player would be likely to have a look at. I wonder what the psychological explanation might be. Or perhaps he was already in serious time trouble. But even then …
    The Karjakin-Nakamura game offers an excellent illustration of the point that an apparent weakness may sometimes be disregarded (in this case by playing 29.h4) for tactical reasons. A valuable lesson!
    It also brings to mind the rule “When you think you’ve finished your calculation, calculate one more move.”

    1. Yes, it is surprising for Topolov’s level to miss. But might have underestimated the position even after seeing Bxf2+.
      And he is clearly not having a great tournament.

      Prasaadh | Student Support Officer

  4. Pretty surprising that Topalov missed 20…Bxf2+, a move that any experienced club player would be likely to have a look at. I wonder what the psychological explanation might be. Or perhaps he was already in serious time trouble. But even then …
    The Karjakin-Nakamura game offers an excellent illustration of the point that an apparent weakness may sometimes be disregarded (in this case by playing 29.h4) for tactical reasons. A valuable lesson!
    It also brings to mind the rule “When you think you’ve finished your calculation, calculate one more move.”

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