Tuesday 27 September 2016

Nowadays Russia is not the same chess super-power it once was - the reigning World Champion is Norwegian and China won the last Chess Olympiad.

Published 04/10/2015 | 02:30

Nowadays Russia is not the same chess super-power it once was - the reigning World Champion is Norwegian and China won the last Chess Olympiad.

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But Russia does have more players in the top-20 list than any other country. Two of them - Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin - have reached the final of the 2015 FIDE World Cup in Baku. The winner of their match will receive $96,000, while the runner-up will get $64,000. In addition, both Svidler and Karjakin have qualified for the Candidates tournament.

Svidler, who is well-known to Irish chess fans as he twice won the Bunratty Chess Masters, has won the opening game game of the final:

Svidler - Karjakin

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d5

3.Bg2 e6 4.0-0 Be7

5.d3 0-0 6.Nbd2 c5

7.e4 Nc6 8.Re1 b5

9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Ne4 Bb7

11.c3 a6 12.a4 b4

13.Bg5 f6 14.Bd2 e5

15.Rc1 Rf7 (D)

Black controls more space, but White's forces are better mobilised and Svidler seized the initiative with a timely pawn sacrifice:

16.d4! bxc3?!

It was better to play 16...cxd4 17.cxd4 exd4, keeping the b-file closed.

17.bxc3 cxd4 18.cxd4 Nxd4

19.Nxd4 exd4 20.Qb3! Rb8

21.Rb1 Qd7 22.Rec1

The pin along the b-file caused Black serious pain. Here Karjakin should have played 22...h6, but his impatient move sped up Black's demise:

22...Qe6?

23.Nc5 Bxc5 24.Rxc5 Rd8

25.Ba5! Rd6 26.Qc4! Nc3

27.Rxb7 Qe1+ 28.Bf1 Ne2+

29.Qxe2 1-0

Sunday Independent

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