Good news. Fabiano Caruana will be coming to London this December to participate in the sixth London Classic. This will be a great privilege for the London audience since Caruana is, in my opinion, now creating the best, most exciting, most aggressive and most accurate chess that we have seen since the glory days of Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. In Standpoint’s current issue, Dominic Lawson, former editor of The Spectator, praises ‘Caruana’s astonishing and seemingly natural ability to calculate’ combined with his ‘immense aptitude for hard work’.
This week’s game between Caruana and a former Fidé (World Chess Federation) champion ranks as one of the most impressive I have ever seen. To outplay such an illustrious opponent from a virtually symmetrical opening, to gradually encroach on his territory and to conclude with the magnificent flourish of a sensational sacrificial mating sequence is little short of chessboard perfection.
Caruana-Ponomariov: Dortmund 2014; Petroff Defence
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 d6 4 Nf3 Nxe4 5 Nc3 Nxc3 6 dxc3 Be7 7 Be3 Nc6 8 Qd2 Be6 It seems natural to strive for exchanges with 8 … Ne5. However, after 9 0-0-0 Nxf3 10 gxf3 White’s open lines more than compensate for his smashed pawn structure, e.g. 10 … Be6 11 Qd4 as in Dominguez-Wang, Khanty-Mansisk 2010. 9 0-0-0 Qd7 10 Kb1 Bf6 11 h3 h6 12 b3 a6 13 g4 0-0-0 14 Bg2 g5 15 Nd4 The positions are virtually identical but the zariba of pawns around White’s king lend him extra protection. Meanwhile White’s light-squared bishop aims ominously at the black monarch. 15 … Nxd4 16 cxd4 d5 17 f4 The key to White’s advantage. White has this possibility for a breakthrough which Black cannot match. 17 … gxf4 18 Bxf4 h5 19 g5 Bg7 20 Rde1 h4 21 Be5 Rdg8 22 Qf4 Qd8 23 Bf1 Kb8 24 Bd3 Bc8 25 Kb2 Bxe5 26 Rxe5 Caruana has manoeuvred cleverly to dominate the dark squares and deflect Black’s pieces into a defensive posture on the kingside. But like the Duke of Marlborough at the Battle of Blenheim, Caruana plans to land a decisive blow elsewhere, once Black’s forces have been distracted. 26 … Rg7 27 a4 a5 28 Ka2 Ka7 29 Qd2 Kb8 30 Qf4 Ka7 31 Rhe1 Bxh3 32 Rh1 Bc8 33 Rxh4 Rxh4 34 Qxh4 b6 34 … c6 is better. 35 Qh6 Rg8 36 Qc6 Be6 37 g6 Rg7 38 gxf7 Bxf7 (see diagram 1) 39 Re7 An amazing, beautiful finish. 39… Qxe7 40 Ba6 Kxa6 41 Qa8 checkmate
Next month the rematch for the world title begins in Sochi, with Magnus Carlsen defending against the former champion Viswanathan Anand. As his final act of public preparation before this important contest, Anand narrowly achieved victory in a small but powerful tournament in Bilbao. He cannot, though, have been particularly delighted with his loss against Levon Aronian, a variation of which forms the topic of this week’s puzzle.
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