Zurich has been the scene for the latest clash between the titans of chess. Over a mere four days in February, six elite grandmasters contested no fewer than three fast-time-limit all-play-all tournaments, with combined results leading to an overall victory for Hikaru Nakamura, fresh from his triumph in Gibraltar. Zurich was what might be termed a boutique competition, but action-packed nonetheless. Even an apparently unperturbed Sepp Blatter was observed in the VIP enclosure, perhaps following up the theories expounded in the book Football and Chess: Tactics Strategy Beauty (Hardinge Simpole), which identifies similarities between the games.
Nakamura-Aronian: Opening Blitz, Zurich 2016
18 Bxh6 Nakamura spots vulnerability in the black camp. If now 18 … gxh6 19 Bxd5 Qxd5 20 Nf6+ netting the black queen. Aronian of course sees through this elementary trap, but the fact that a vital defensive pawn has been ripped away from the fortifications around his king ultimately leaves him defenceless. 18 … Nxc3 19 Nxc3 gxh6 20 Ne4 Be7 21 Nh2 Nd4 22 Ng4 Kg7 23 Nxe5 Qf5 24 Ng3 Qg5 25 Nxf7 Qg6 26 Nxd8 Bxd8 27 Rxe8 Black resigns
Anand-Nakamura: Opening Blitz, Zurich 2016
(see diagram 2)
25 Rd1 A subtle strategic concept. With the black pieces huddled on the queenside, Nakamura cannot afford to trade rooks and let the White queen penetrate his ramparts. But ceding control to White’s rook is equally calamitous. 25 … Re8 26 Ng5 e6 27 Rd7 Qxa5 28 Nce4 Bc8 29 Rxf7 h6 30 Rxg7+ Kxg7 31 Nf3 Nd5 32 Bxh6+ Kh7 33 Nd6 Re7 34 Bf8 Rg7 35 Bxg7 Kxg7 36 Bxd5 Black resigns
Kramnik-Giri: Zurich 2016
Kramnik’s forthcoming ‘sacrifice’ demonstrates the power of an invading pair of rooks. 41 Qxc8 Rxc8 42 Rxc8 Qd2 43 R1c7 Qxb2 44 Rxf7+ Kg8 45 Rxe8+ Kh7 46 Bd5 Black resigns Black’s position is hopeless, e.g. 46 … Qd4 47 Be6 Kg6 48 Rg8.
In other news, Nigel Short has won convincingly in Bunratty. Next week, we look ahead to the Oxford vs Cambridge annual Varsity Match.
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