Six Super Games

Information overload. That’s how I feel right now, with two major international events – the FIDE Grand Prix and Grand Chess Tour – going on, and with the dizzying number of other, less famous but “still plenty strong” tournaments that start one after another, in an incessant chain of chess moves. It’s an amazing time to be a chess fan, with the live streams, daily pgn downloads, and Monday game bundles from The Week in Chess, but it’s also very, very hard to keep up with everything. I struggle with it, and it’s (literally) my job to stay on top of current chess events! So every now and again it’s worth slowing down to appreciate some of the brilliant chess that is being played around the world. Today we’ll look at six games from recent and on-going events, talking a bit about the tournaments in which they were played, but really focusing on the chess itself. We begin with two stunning efforts from the Grand Chess Tour Superbet Rapid and Blitz in Bucharest. Stunners from Anand and Aronian

courtesy STLCC

The Bucharest stop of the 2019 Grand Chess Tour is half over, with the days of rapid play completed. Wild card entrant Anton Korobov is the surprise leader after 9 rounds, holding a two point (wins are worth two points, draws one) lead over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Anish Giri, and Levon Aronian as the blitz portion looms. Korobov’s play has been one of the key stories of the event, but two games – Artemiev-Anand from Round 1, and So-Aronian from Round 8 – dazzled fans and commentators alike. Both are worth your attention.

Artemiev-Anand (photo Lennart Ootes)

[pgn] [Event "Superbet Rapid 2019"] [Site "Bucharest ROU"] [Date "2019.11.06"] [Round "1.4"] [White "Artemiev, Vladislav"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A08"] [WhiteElo "2731"] [BlackElo "2757"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2019.11.06"] [EventType "rapid"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 c5 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. O-O g6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 7. Nb3 Nc6 8. Nc3 e6 9. a4 (9. e4 d4 10. Na4 O-O 11. c3 dxc3 12. Nxc3 e5 {½-½ (44) Nakamura,H (2781)-Anand,V (2782) London 2017}) 9... O-O 10. a5 Re8 11. Re1 Rb8 12. Bf4 e5 13. Bg5 d4 14. Ne4 Bf5 15. a6 b6 16. Nxf6+ Bxf6 17. Bxc6 Bxg5 18. Bxe8 Qxe8 {Black gives up the exchange for two central pawns and the bishops.} 19. h4 Bh6 20. c3 Rc8 (20... dxc3 $5 21. e4 $1 (21. bxc3 $2 Rd8 {and the queen has no squares!}) 21... Rd8 22. Qc2 Bg4 {and Black has a big edge.}) 21. Nd2 ( 21. cxd4 $2 Bc2 $1) 21... e4 (21... Qb5 22. Qb3 {(forced?)} Qxb3 23. Nxb3 Bc2 24. Nc1 Bd2 25. Rf1 dxc3 26. bxc3 Bxc3 $13) 22. Nf1 dxc3 23. bxc3 e3 $1 24. Qa4 {White can't take the pawn, but this doesn't solve his problems either.} (24. Nxe3 $2 Bxe3 25. fxe3 Qxe3+ 26. Kg2 Be4+ 27. Kh3 Rxc3 $19) (24. fxe3 $2 Bxe3+ 25. Nxe3 Qxe3+ {transposes to 24.Nxe3}) (24. f3 $5 Bg7 25. Rc1 Bxc3 26. Rxc3 Rxc3 27. Qd4 Rc5 {is equalish}) 24... Bd7 25. Qd4 exf2+ 26. Qxf2 Rxc3 27. Rad1 Bf8 28. Qf4 Bb5 (28... h5 29. Qd2 Rc7 $17) 29. Kh2 (29. e4 $5 {may have been Artemiev's last chance, although Black is still better.}) 29... Bxa6 30. Ra1 Bb7 31. Rxa7 Qc6 {Threatening mate on h1.} 32. Ne3 Bd6 $1 (32... Rxe3 {(trying to remove the defender) fails to} 33. Rxb7 Qe6 34. Rf1 $11) 33. Qd4 Rxe3 { Now it works due to the two-fold attack on g3!} 34. Rxb7 Bxg3+ 35. Kg1 Qxb7 36. Qd8+ ({If} 36. Qxe3 Bxe1) 36... Kg7 37. Qd4+ Re5 0-1 [/pgn]

[pgn] [Event "Superbet Rapid 2019"] [Site "Bucharest ROU"] [Date "2019.11.08"] [Round "8"] [White "So, W."] [Black "Aronian, L."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C50"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2772"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "2019.11.06"] [EventType "rapid"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 d6 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 Bb6 8. a4 Ng4 $5 {New. Is it just an invitation to repeat moves?} 9. Rf1 Kh8 {No! Aronian prepares the thematic ...f7-f5 break by removing his king from the diagonal.} 10. h3 Nh6 11. b4 a6 12. Bb3 f5 13. Nbd2 Qf6 14. Ra2 (14. Nc4 $5 { is likely an improvement, i.e.} f4 15. Nxb6 cxb6 16. d4 $5 Qg6 17. Kh1 { and perhaps White keeps an edge.}) 14... a5 15. b5 Nd8 16. Nc4 fxe4 17. dxe4 Bc5 18. Bg5 {This looks like a reasonable move, but Aronian has seen deeper. (But doesn't it force the Black queen where it wants to go anyway?)} Qg6 19. Bxd8 Bxh3 (19... Rxd8 $2 20. Ncxe5 $1 {and Black can't recapture as the queen takes the loose rook on d8.}) 20. Bg5 Bg4 $1 {The threat, of course, is ... Bxf3 when White's position folds like a house of cards.} 21. Ncd2 Rxf3 $1 22. Nxf3 Rf8 23. Nxe5 (23. Qd2 {tries to give back a piece to survive, but after} Bxf3 24. g3 Rf4 $3 {all hope is lost.} 25. Bxf4 (25. Qxf4 exf4 26. Bxf4 Qh5) 25... Qh5 {and mate is imminent}) 23... Qxg5 24. Nxg4 Nxg4 25. Be6 Ne5 26. Kh1 (26. Bh3 Nf3+ 27. Kh1 Qh6 {and ...g7-g5-g4 (or ...Ng5) is looming}) 26... Qh4+ 27. Kg1 (27. Bh3 Rf3 $3 28. gxf3 Qxh3+ 29. Kg1 Nxf3+ (29... Ng6 $1 {leads to forced mate}) 30. Qxf3 Qxf3) 27... Rf6 28. Bh3 g5 $1 29. Qd5 g4 30. Qxb7 gxh3 31. Qc8+ (31. gxh3 Rg6+ 32. Kh2 Nf3+ 33. Kh1 Qxh3#) 31... Kg7 32. Qxh3 Nf3+ 33. Kh1 Rh6 (33... Rh6 34. Rd1 (34. Qxh4 $2 Rxh4#) 34... Qf4 $19) 0-1 [/pgn]
Two days of blitz chess remain, and with such a tightly packed field, the tournament is still entirely up for grabs. CLO will have a full story on the event next week after its completion. Dubov’s Dandy The Russians took both team golds at the 2019 European Team Championships, but one wonders whether Daniil Dubov will be asked back to the next Russian team. It’s not that he had a bad result – on the contrary, his 5.5/7 gave him a performance rating of over 2800! – but will his hair-raising, devil-may care style will endear him to team captains?! Dubov gave notice of his intent in Round 1 with this daring novelty in the Anti-Marshall.
[pgn] [Event "22nd European Teams"] [Site "Batumi GEO"] [Date "2019.10.24"] [Round "1.4"] [White "Bjerre, Jonas Buhl"] [Black "Dubov, Daniil"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C88"] [WhiteElo "2506"] [BlackElo "2699"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "46"] [EventDate "2019.10.24"] [WhiteTeam "Denmark"] [BlackTeam "Russia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "DEN"] [BlackTeamCountry "RUS"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. a4 {Played to avoid the Marshall Gambit, which occurs after 8.c3 d5.} d5 $5 { And yet Dubov plays it anyway! Bjerre had to be shocked to see this.} 9. exd5 Na5 10. Nxe5 Nxb3 11. cxb3 Bb7 12. Nc6 Bxc6 13. dxc6 Bc5 14. d3 Bxf2+ 15. Kxf2 Qd4+ 16. Be3 Ng4+ 17. Kf3 Nxe3 18. Rxe3 Rae8 19. Re2 Qf6+ 20. Kg3 g5 21. Rf2 Qd6+ 22. Kh3 Qh6+ 23. Kg4 Qh4+ 0-1 [/pgn]
While other games, notably his Round 6 draw with Alexander Moiseenko, gave further evidence of his creativity in the opening, his Round 7 victory over Rasmus Svane has to be seen to be believed.

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[pgn] [Event "22nd European Teams"] [Site "Batumi GEO"] [Date "2019.10.31"] [Round "7.4"] [White "Dubov, Daniil"] [Black "Svane, Rasmus"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2699"] [BlackElo "2592"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2019.10.24"] [WhiteTeam "Russia"] [BlackTeam "Germany"] [WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"] [BlackTeamCountry "GER"] 1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 b6 7. Qc2 Ba6 8. O-O-O $5 dxc4 9. Ng5 Nc6 10. a3 g6 11. h4 {Hyper-aggressive play by Dubov thus far.} Bd6 $6 (11... Nd5 {is the engine choice, when Black is solid.}) 12. g3 Qe7 ( 12... Bxf4 13. gxf4 {shows the value of White's super-active pieces. If} h5 14. Bg2 $1 Bb7 15. d5 $1) 13. h5 e5 {Logical enough, breaking in the center as a response to a flank attack. But the dynamics are all in White's favor.} 14. hxg6 (14. Nxh7 $5 Nxh7 (14... Kxh7 $2 15. hxg6+ Kg8 16. g7 $1 Kxg7 $2 17. Qf5 { leads to mate}) 15. hxg6 fxg6 16. Bg2 $1 (16. Qxg6+ $6 {immediately is less good}) 16... Bb7 17. Qxg6+) 14... hxg6 15. Bg2 exf4 (15... Bb7 $2 16. Nd5 $1 Nxd5 17. Bxd5 {with a huge attack}) 16. Bxc6 $5 (16. gxf4 $1 {would be crushing. White is going to dominate the open h-file, and Black has no counterplay at all despite being a full piece up.}) 16... fxg3 17. Kb1 { Dubov can take time to safeguard his king as Black has to spend a tempo defending the a8 rook.} Rad8 18. f4 $5 (18. fxg3 $5) 18... Bc8 (18... Qxe3 $2 19. Nd5 Nxd5 20. Bxd5 {and Black will have to shed material to prevent the threatened 21.Qxg6!}) 19. Rde1 Kg7 20. Nd5 $1 {Keeping the attack going by removing a defender.} Nxd5 21. Rh7+ Kg8 22. Rxf7 $5 Rxf7 (22... Nc3+ {is the computer's try to save Black's game, but this may only equalize:} 23. bxc3 Rxf7 24. Qxg6+ Kf8 25. Qh6+ Rg7 26. Bd5 Bf5+ 27. e4 $1 {and things are messy.}) 23. Qxg6+ Kf8 24. Qh6+ Rg7 25. Bxd5 Ke8 (25... Bf5+ 26. e4 $1) 26. Qh5+ Kd7 27. Qh3+ Ke8 28. Qh5+ Kd7 29. Be6+ $1 {After repeating moves to gain time on the clock, Dubov goes for it!} Kc6 $2 (29... Qxe6 $1 {is the only move that survives.} 30. Nxe6 Kxe6 {and White's activity and central pawns make up for the material deficit.}) 30. Qf3+ Kb5 31. Bxc4+ Ka5 (31... Kxc4 $2 32. Qc6+ { and mate follows}) 32. Qd5+ Bc5 (32... c5 33. b4+ $1 $18) 33. b4+ Ka4 34. Qg2 { (threatening 35.Qc2+ Kxa3 36.Qb3 mate)} Bxb4 35. Qc6+ Kxa3 36. Bb3 $3 {Believe it or not, this is the only move that wins!} Bd7 37. Qc1+ Kxb3 38. Qc2+ Ka3 39. Qa2# 1-0 [/pgn]

Gata Kamsky recently likened Dubov to a young Tal, and on the basis of his play in Batumi, it’s not hard to see why. Can such a style succeed at the highest levels of modern chess? Here’s hoping so. The Kids are Alright The World Junior Championships (New Delhi, India; Oct 15-26) concluded last month, with Texas Tech student Evegny Shtembuliak winning the Open gold and Polina Shuvalova taking the Girls title. CLO readers may recall that Shuvalova also won the U18 section at the World Youth Championships, also held last month in India. While he didn’t finish at the top of the standings, Norway’s Eivind Olav Risting played the game of the tournament, defeating Floryan Eugene in one of the most amazing games I have ever seen. I present it without notes because, in all sincerity, I understood none of it! Take some time this weekend to sit down and play through this game with set and board. It will be worth the effort.

[pgn] [Event "58th World Juniors 2019"] [Site "New Delhi IND"] [Date "2019.10.24"] [Round "10.36"] [White "Risting, Eivind Olav"] [Black "Eugene, Floryan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E71"] [WhiteElo "2289"] [BlackElo "2346"] [PlyCount "135"] [EventDate "2019.10.15"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. h3 O-O 6. Be3 e5 7. d5 Na6 8. g4 Nc5 9. f3 a5 10. Qd2 a4 11. Nge2 c6 12. Ng3 cxd5 13. cxd5 Bd7 14. h4 Qa5 15. h5 Rfc8 16. hxg6 fxg6 17. g5 Ne8 18. Qh2 a3 19. Qxh7+ Kf7 20. Bd2 axb2 21. Rb1 Na4 22. Nd1 Qc5 23. Rh6 Qc2 24. Rxg6 Ke7 25. Rxg7+ Nxg7 26. Qxg7+ Kd8 27. Bb4 Kc7 28. Bb5 Rd8 29. Bxa4 Qxb1 30. Bxd6+ Kxd6 31. Qf6+ Kc5 32. Qe7+ Kc4 33. Bb3+ Kb5 34. a4+ Kb6 35. Qb4+ Kc7 36. Qc3+ Kb8 37. Qxe5+ Ka7 38. Qd4+ b6 39. Qxb2 Qxb2 40. Nxb2 Rh8 41. Nd3 Rh2 42. Ne5 Be8 43. d6 Rb2 44. Bd1 Rg2 45. Nf5 Rxg5 46. f4 Rg2 47. Bf3 Ra2 48. d7 Bxd7 49. Nxd7 Rg8 50. Be2 Rg2 51. Nd4 Rxa4 52. Ne5 Kb7 53. Nef3 Ra1+ 54. Kd2 b5 55. e5 b4 56. e6 Kc7 57. f5 Kd6 58. Ke3 Ke7 59. Bc4 Rg4 60. Ne5 Ra3+ 61. Bd3 Rg8 62. Ke4 b3 63. Nd7 Rg4+ 64. Ke5 Ra5+ 65. Bb5 Rxd4 66. f6+ Kd8 67. e7+ Ke8 68. Ke6 1-0 [/pgn]
While 15 Americans were in Mumbai for the World Youth, only one extended her trip to play the World Junior. Thalia Cervantes Landiero finished in 17th place in the Girls Championship with a score of 7/11. Silicon Genius Our last game does not appear in any of the major databases, nor will it. (Unless Chessbase trawls uschess.org looking for new games!) It comes to us from the Leela Chess user forums, where “vishyvishy” shared a “stunning sac from Leela” that occurred in a private engine tournament. Leela Chess Zero, for those unfamiliar, is an open-source chess engine built on the same principles that undergirded the now-famous Alpha Zero. Like A0, Leela’s chess skill is self-learned, created through the self-play of millions of chess games. Hundreds of chess fans from around the world contribute time on their GPUs to the Leela Chess project to make this happen. In this game, played at a bullet time control of one minute plus a one second increment, Leela offers Stockfish 10 a knight for what seems like nothing. The great strength of self-learning “neural net” engines – “intuition” – shows itself here, and Stockfish quickly comes to rue its ill-begotten feast.
[pgn] [Event "Private Tournament"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.11.03"] [Round "221"] [White "lc0.net.60986"] [Black "Stockfish_10_x64_bmi2"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C03"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "116"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] {The time control for this was 1+1 (one minute plus one second per move.)} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 a6 4. Ngf3 c5 5. Bd3 c4 6. Be2 Nc6 7. c3 b5 8. O-O Bd6 9. e5 Bc7 10. Re1 Nge7 11. Nf1 O-O 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bh4 Qe8 14. Qd2 Nf5 15. Ne3 Rb8 16. Bf6 $5 Nxe3 (16... gxf6 $2 17. Nxf5 exf5 18. Qxh6) 17. Qxe3 Ne7 (17... gxf6 $2 18. Qxh6) 18. g4 b4 19. Bd1 Ng6 {[#]} 20. g5 $6 (20. h4 $5) 20... h5 (20... gxf6 $2 21. gxf6 Kh7 22. Bc2 Rh8 23. Kh1 $1 {and the rook comes to g1.}) (20... Kh7 21. Bc2 bxc3 22. bxc3 gxf6 $2 (22... Bd7) 23. gxf6 Rh8 24. h4 $5) (20... hxg5 21. Bxg5 f6 22. exf6 gxf6 23. Bh6 Rf7 $2 (23... Kf7 $13) 24. Kh1 $1) 21. Nh4 $3 {A full piece... and for what?!?! Part of what makes this so impressive is that Leela (and Fat Fritz, for what it's worth) find this move almost immediately.} Nxh4 {With more time, Stockfish avoids taking. But as this was a bullet game, the engine gets greedy.} 22. Qh3 Nf5 (22... Ng6 23. Qxh5 {and the simple Re3-h3 rook lift is coming.}) (22... gxf6 23. gxf6 Ng6 24. Qxh5 { is mate in four}) 23. Qxh5 bxc3 24. Bc2 $1 cxb2 25. Rab1 {White's threat is Re3 and mate one of two ways. This explains Black's next move, which stops the move, at least for now.} Rb3 26. axb3 cxb3 27. Bd3 ({Black's point is that} 27. Re3 $2 {loses to} bxc2 28. Rh3 cxb1=Q+ $19) 27... Qc6 28. Rxb2 (28. Re3 $6 Qc1+ {and White has to retreat with} 29. Re1 $1 $18) 28... Bxe5 29. Bxf5 exf5 30. Bxe5 {The smoke has cleared, and White is up a rook for two pawns. The attack has also not been fully stopped.} f4 31. Rxb3 Bf5 32. g6 Qxg6+ 33. Qxg6 Bxg6 34. Rb8 Rxb8 35. Bxb8 {The rest is "a matter of technique."} f3 36. Re5 Be4 37. Re7 Bd3 38. Rd7 Be4 39. Be5 f6 40. Bf4 g5 41. Bd2 Kf8 42. Rd6 Ke7 43. Rb6 g4 44. h3 gxh3 45. Bf4 a5 46. Bg3 a4 47. Kh2 Bf5 48. Ra6 Bc2 49. Ra5 Ke6 50. Bc7 Bb3 51. Kxh3 Kf5 52. Kg3 Ke4 53. Bd6 Kxd4 54. Kxf3 f5 55. Kf4 Kc3 56. Be5+ Kb4 57. Ra7 Bc2 58. Ke3 Bd1 1-0 [/pgn]

Leela is currently the dominant neural-net engine available to the public, but another will be released on November 12th. Fritz 17 / “Fat Fritz” is a new engine from Albert Silver and Chessbase, and while the project is rooted in Leela technology, the Fat Fritz engine itself bears important differences. In place of pure self-learning, Silver began by ‘feeding’ Fat Fritz millions of top-level human games, and only then using self-play to grow the network. CLO will have a full review of Fritz 17 next week.

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