Chess

Prodigy

14 October 2017

9:00 AM

14 October 2017

9:00 AM

Twelve-year-old Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa scored a sensational result in the recent Isle of Man Masters. At the age of ten years and ten months, he achieved the extraordinary distinction of becoming the youngest official international master in the history of chess. The youngest ever grandmaster is last year’s world championship challenger Sergei Karjakin, who was elevated to the chess peerage when he was 12 years and seven months old. Praggnanandhaa now has five months in which to break that record.

In the Isle of Man Praggnanandhaa scored a respectable 50 per cent (4½/9) and notched his first win against a grandmaster rated 2700+ — the former British champion David Howell. Here is Praggnanandhaa’s amazing victory.


Praggnanandhaa-Howell: chess.com Masters, Isle of Man 2017; Caro-Kann Defence

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 The most celebrated game with this line was Capablanca’s great victory with Black against Nimzowitsch at New York 1927. Interestingly, many commentators are now comparing Praggnanandhaa’s style with that of Capablanca. 3 … Bf5 4 Nf3 Nimzowitsch-Capablanca went 4 Bd3 Bxd3 5 Qxd3 e6 6 Nc3 Qb6 7 Nge2 c5. A wilder alternative is 4 h4 as in Tal-Pachman, Bled 1961. 4 … e6 5 Be2 Ne7 6 0-0 c5 7 c4 dxc4 8 Na3 Nbc6 9 Nxc4 Nd5 10 dxc5 Highly unusual. Normal is 10 Bg5 as in So-Dziuba, Reykjavik 2013. The move chosen by White unduly eases the process of Black’s development. 10 … Bxc5 11 Bg5 Qc7 12 Rc1 0-0 13 Qb3 h6 14 Ne3 Bxe3 15 Bxe3 Nxe3 16 Qxe3 Qb6 This offer to trade queens leaves Black with smashed pawns but it also means that his queen’s rook gains immediate access to the fray. 17 Qxb6 axb6 The position is equal. 18 a3 Be4 19 Nd2 Nd4 20 Rfe1 Bd5 21 Bd3 Rfd8 22 Rc3 g5 23 Ne4 Bxe4 24 Rxe4 Ra5 25 b4 Rad5 26 Bc4 R5d7 27 Bf1 Nf5 28 g3 Rd1 29 Kg2 Ra1 30 Bd3 Kg7 31 h4 (see diagram 1) 31 … gxh4? Missing White’s coming intermezzo. After 31 … Ne7 the position remains completely equal. 32 Rg4+ Kh7 33 Bxf5+ exf5 34 Rxh4 Black now suffers from weak pawns in all sectors of the board. 34 … Re8 35 Rc7 Kg7 36 Rxb7 Rxe5 37 Rxb6 Rxa3 38 Rbxh6 Re4 39 Rh7+ Kg8 40 Rh8+ Kg7 41 R8h7+ Kf8 42 Rh8+ Ke7 43 Rc8 Rb3 44 Rc4 Re5 45 Rh7 Rb5 46 Rc7+ Ke6 47 Rh6+ f6 48 Rc6+ Ke5 49 Rhxf6 R3xb4 50 Rfe6+ Missing the coup juste. White can force the win with an accurate move for which see this week’s puzzle. 50 … Kd4 51 Rcd6+ Rd5 52 Rxd5+ Kxd5 53 Re2 (see diagram 2) 53 … f4 A terrible howler after which Black is lost. With 53 … Rb7 54 f4 Rf7 the endgame is a technical draw. 54 g4 Now Black’s situation is hopeless. 54 … Rb3 55 f3 Rb8 56 Re4 Rf8 57 Kf2 Rf7 58 Ke2 Rf6 59 Kd3 Rf8 60 Ra4 Rb8 61 Rxf4 Rb3+ 62 Ke2 Ke5 63 Rf5+ Kd4 64 Kf2 Black resigns

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