Chess

On speed

13 January 2018

9:00 AM

13 January 2018

9:00 AM

Although it does not have the prestige of the Classical World Championship (to be staged in London in November), the Rapid and Blitz championships recently concluded in Saudi Arabia carried not just worthy titles, but an impressive overall prize fund of $2 million. Viswanathan Anand emerged victorious in the Rapid, while Magnus Carlsen dominated the Blitz. The only fly in the ointment was the refusal to grant visas to Israeli players, an omission excoriated by Carlsen. This week, key extracts from play in both championships.
 
McShane-Anand, Riyadh Rapid 2017
(see diagram 1)
 
The veteran new champion strikes with a bolt from the blue against a leading British grandmaster and winner of the recent UK Knockout Championship. 51 … Qh3+! 52 Kxh3 Rh1 mate
 
Karjakin-Esipenko, Riyadh Rapid 2017
(see diagram 2)
 
The defending champion is poleaxed by a blow which would have gladdened the heart of Frank Marshall, who crushed Levitsky with an unexpected Queen sacrifice at Breslau 1912. According to Marshall, his coup was greeted with a shower of gold coins by the onlookers. 22 … Qb3 23 bxc3 23 axb3 Nxb3 is a beautiful mate. 23 … Qxc3+ 24 Bb2 Bxb2+ 25 Rxb2 Qc1+ 26 Rb1 Nc2+ 27 Qxc2 Qxc2 With a queen against just two minor pieces, the position is easily winning for Black. 28 g3 b5 29 cxb5 Rd4 White resigns
 
Carlsen-Karjakin, Riyadh Blitz 2017
(see diagram 3)
 
19 … Be6 19 … g5 would trap the white rook but the weakening of the black kingside allows White to break through with an amazing sacrificial sequence: 20 Rh4!! gxh4 21 Bxh6 Bd7 and now the incredible 22 Bg7!! wins, the main point being 22 … Kxg7 23 Ng5 Rh8 24 Rxf7+. 20 Rh4 f6 21 Qg6 Qf7 21 … Bf7 was the best defensive try. 22 Qg3 Nb4 23 Bxh6 Nxc2 24 Ne5 fxe5 Giving up the queen is hopeless but so is 24 … Qe7 25 Ng6. 25 Rxf7 Rxf7 26 Qg6 Bxa2 27 Bg5 Rff8 28 Rh7 Rf7 29 Bf6 Black resigns

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