Thursday 30 March 2017

Playing chess at a high level requires good physical form and steady nerves. There are few tournaments in which these qualities are more in demand than in the FIDE World Cup, which is in progress in Baku, Azerbaijan. 128 players started in this knockout event, but only the two finalists will earn places in the next Candidates tournament. Most of the favourites have made it to the third round, with the notable exceptions of Gelfand and Aronian. Round 3 will be very tough - for example, Kramnik is facing Andreikin, whom he defeated in the final of the previous Chess World Cup in 2013. Here is an interesting game from the opening round:

Playing chess at a high level requires good physical form and steady nerves. There are few tournaments in which these qualities are more in demand than in the FIDE World Cup, which is in progress in Baku, Azerbaijan. 128 players started in this knockout event, but only the two finalists will earn places in the next Candidates tournament. Most of the favourites have made it to the third round, with the notable exceptions of Gelfand and Aronian. Round 3 will be very tough - for example, Kramnik is facing Andreikin, whom he defeated in the final of the previous Chess World Cup in 2013. Here is an interesting game from the opening round:

G. Guseinov - Matlakov

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6

3.Nc3 a6 4.d4 cxd4

5.Nxd4 b5 6.Bd3 Qb6

7.Nf3 Nc6 8.0-0 Qb8

9.Re1 Bb7 10.Bg5 Bd6

11.Qd2 h6 12.Bh4 Nge7

13.Bg3 Ng6?

Leaving one's king in the centre for too long is risky; Black should have played 13...Bxg3 14.hxg3 d6 instead.

14.a4 b4 (D)

15.Nd5! exd5?

Some gifts are better left untouched - Black would still have a solid enough position had he played 15...Ra7!.

16.exd5+ Nce7

17.Bxg6 fxg6 18.Qd4! Rg8

19.Ne5 Qa7 20.Qxa7?

It was better to play 20.Qd3 or 20.Qg4, with a winning attack.

20...Rxa7

21.Nc6 Bxg3?

Here Black missed a clever defence in 21...Kf7!, as after 22.Bxd6 Nxc6 23.dxc6 Bxc6 24.Bxb4 Rb7 White would still have to work hard to convert his advantage into a full point.

22.Rxe7+ Kf8

23.Rxd7 1-0

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