Scintillating attack helps Russia win online Olympiad gold
As some traditional over-the-board tournaments come back to life, fear of COVID-19 still proves too strong for the Biennial Chess Olympiad, given the logistics and security challenges of hosting up close of 200 open and female teams from all over the world. .
Still, the FIDE â2021 Online Olympiadâ is proving to be a decent second best alternative, with 155 national teams competing in quick matches that resulted in knockout qualifiers from eight countries. In a nice twist, the six-player teams are balanced with at least two female stars and two junior players under 20.
Anchored by general manager Jeffery Xiong and Ray Robson, the American team had a fiery run, upsetting India in the semi-finals before losing the gold medal in last week’s final against Russia.
Russia’s strong female contingent – GM Kateryna Lagno, Aleksandra Goryachkina and former GM female world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk – proved crucial to the victory, with Kosteniuk’s brilliant victory over eight-time American champion Irina Krush.
Krush upset Indian general manager Humpy Koneru in their quick semi-final match, but ran into a combinatorial buzz against Kosteniuk. Those who play the Sicilian Richter-Rauzer are used to living on the edge, but here Krush fails to find the answer to White’s brutal push to the king’s wing.
After 13. Re3 (White’s plan is easily summed up – checkmate) Kg8 14. f4 d5 !, Krush enters the classic Sicilian liberation move which should give Black equality, but she seems to underestimate the danger. which is always hiding in the position: 17. fxe5 Bc5?! (safer was 17â¦ Bc7 18. Kb1 Qg5 19. Bd3 Kb8, evenly) 18. Rh3! (a piece offering Black would have been wise to refuse) Qg5 + 19. Kb1 dxc4 ?! 20. Ce4 Qxe5 (Qxg2 seems to be less than 21. Rxh7 +! Rxh7 22. Nf6 + Kh8 [Kg7?? 23. Qxg2+] 23. Qh5 + Kg7 24. Qh7 + Kf8 25. Qh6 + Qg7 26. Qd8 + Re7 27. Qxg8! Qg1 +! [Qxh6 28. Re8 mate] 28. Rxg1 Bxg1 29. Qd2 Bc5 30. Da5! Bd6 31. exd6 + Kxf6 32. Qd8 + Kf5 33. d7, and Black has no more tricks) 21. Rh1 f5 (see diagram; on 21â¦ Qg7 22. Qg5 Qh6 23. Rxg8 + Kxg8 24. Nxc5, Black is in a bad stalemate), and now the Russian star is giving a clinic on how to exploit an overworked defender.
Three consecutive star shots close the competition: 22. Ng5! Qc7 (Qx2 allows 23. Rxh7 checkmate, while 22â¦ Qg7 23. De5 !! leaves Krush in the same pickle as in the game) 23. De5 +! Rg7 (Qxe5 24. Rxh7 is mat again) 24. Rd8 +! (the final indignity for the harassed black queen; Krush plays things sportingly until the end) Qxd8 25. Rxh7 + Kg8 26. Qxg7 mate.
He once had a reputation for not always playing his best in front of the home crowd, but Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen put an end to that for good with his third consecutive victory at the last EY Norway tournament in Stavanger, Norway. Carlsen’s strong second-half performance in the GM six-way round robin was made even more enjoyable by the fact that he beat Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi twice in the Armageddon playoffs after the two shot their matches at classic time checks, gaining at least one psychological before their next world title match in November.
France-based young Iranian GM Alireza Firouzja also enjoyed a solid second half in the event to overtake Hungarian leader GM Richard Rapport for second place. The final round match between the two rising superstars was one of the most intriguing of the event, with 18-year-old Firouzja finding a turn sacrifice on the chessboard which led to a complex but ultimately successful mating attack .
It’s a sharp Sicilian Rossolimo line that Firouzja makes even more clear with 10. d4 cxd4 11. Qxd4 !!? (Da4 + Nc6 12. Nd5 was another way of fighting for initiative; White calculates that he will win back the knight and get a raging attack in compensation for the lost trade) Nc2 12. De4 Nxa1 13. Bf4 Be6 14 Rxa1 Rc8, and Rapport is far, far from disentangling its underdeveloped king side.
The tactics run much deeper than we can discuss here, but White’s persistent efforts to open the attack lines are paying off on 16. Nxe5 f6 ?! (g6 has been suggested here, with 16â¦ Rxc4 !? 17. Qxc4 Qxd5 18. Qxd5 Bxd5 19. Tc1 Fe6 20. Tc7, with a little clear play) 17. Nf3 Bxd5 18. nxd5 Rc5 19. d6! Qd7 (the black plan 19â¦ e5 would have been hit by 20. b4 !! Kb5 21. a4! Kb6 22. Nxe5! Fxe5 23. Qxe5 + Kf7 24. Qd5 + Kg6 25. g4 !, with crushing mate threats) 20. b4! , forcing the tower to give up its defensive post in fifth place.
There are still twists and turns before White wins the point: 22. Qd4 e5 23. Qd5 + Kg6 24. Bxe5! Rxd6 (bxe5 25. Nf3! – a powerful retreatâ Bxd6 26. Nxe5 + and wins) 25. Bxd6 Bxd6 (matter is again equal, but Rapport has not completely escaped the pressure of White) 26. De4 + Kf7 27 Qd5 + Kg6 28. g3! (careful play – the hasty 28. Nf5? Bxh2 + 29. Rxh2 Qxf5! [Qxd5?? 30. Ne7+] saves the game for Black) h6 29. Rd1 T8 (Rd8 30. Ce6 wins, but the pinned black bishop will soon prove fatally vulnerable) 30. Nf3! Re6 31. Ch4 + Kh7 32. Qd3 +! (one last minefield avoided: 32. Nf5 ?? Re5! holds), and Black resigns as on 32â¦ Kg8 33. Nf5, the bishop cannot be saved.
Kosteniuk-Krush, Russia-USA Match, FIDE Online Olympiad, September 2021
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Dd2 Fe7 8. OOO a6 9. Nxc6 bxc6 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. Bc4 OO 12. Rhe1 Kh8 13. T3 Tg8 14. f4 d5 15. De2 Bd6 16. e5 fxe5 17. bxe5 Bc5 18. Rh3 Qg5 + 19. Rb1 dxc4 20. Ce4 Qxe5 21. Rh5 f5 22. Cg5 Dc7 23. De5 + Tg7 24. Td8 + Dxhd7 + 25.g 26 . Qxg7 mate.
Firouzja-Rapport, 9th EY Norway tournament, Stavanger, Norway, September 2021
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Nc3 Nd4 5. e5 Nxb5 6. Nxb5 Nd5 7. OO a6 8. c4 Nb4 9. Nc3 d6 10. d4 cxd4 11. Qxd4 Nc2 12. Qe4 Nxa1 13. Bf4 Bb6 14. Rxa1 Rf8 15. Nd5 dxe5 16. Nxe5 f6 17. Nf3 Bxd5 18. cxd5 Tc5 19. d6 Qd7 20. b4 Rf6 21. T1 Rf7 22. Nd4 e5 23. Qd5 + Rg6 24. Bxe5 Txd6 26. De4 + Rf7 27. Qd5 + Kg6 28. g3 h6 29. Td1 Te8 30. Nf3 Re6 31. Ch4 + Kh7 32. Qd3 + Black resigns.
â¢ David R. Sands can be reached at 202 / 636-3178 or by email at [email protected]