To celebrate the first globally recognised International Chess Day today, 20 July, leading chess personalities, including the FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, the former world champion triad of Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik and Hou Yifan, plus multi-time candidate Levon Aronian all took part in a high-level virtual event – “Chess for Recovering Better”.
The event was also attended by United Nations and government officials, permanent missions to the UN – include H.E. Mr Mher Margaryan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Armenia to the UN, and Melissa Ruth Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications – representatives of civil society, academia, and other relevant stakeholders.
The aims of the meeting of minds were to look at ways to provide a platform to discuss the unique capabilities leveraged by chess in supporting social cohesion, equality, and inclusion, with a focus on COVID-19 response and recovery efforts for building back better. It was broadcast live by the UN, and also at FIDE’s YouTube Channel where it can still be viewed.
And on the eve of the latest high-profile online event from the $1m Magnus Carlsen Tour, the Legends of Chess, held online at Chess24.com, over-the-board ’real chess’ returned once again at the weekend with a scaled-down version of the summer chess classic, the Biel Festival in Switzerland getting underway. There’s plenty of strict COVID safety measures in place, the biggest being a perspex screen strategically placed between the players, and a gap at the bottom to make their moves on the board.
Biel, though, has also learned a thing or two from the many innovative ideas coming from the online events we’ve seen run during the lockdown. With a break in tradition for this long-established festival, the eight-player marquee GM tournament is split into three events: Rapid (counting double points for a win, 1 point for a draw), Classical (4 points for a win, with 1.5 points for a draw) and a double round of Blitz (standard scoring) to finish off the tournament, with all three formats counting for the overall winning score.
The new young German hope, 15-year-old Vincent Keymer – trained by former world championship challenger Peter Leko – got off to a flying start with three wins in the rapid to take the early lead – but not to be outdone, the Polish top seed, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, also hit a winning streak that included a crucial win over the German teenager to now carry a two-point lead over his nearest rivals over to the classical.
1. Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland) 12/14; 2-3. Pentala Harikrishna (India), Vincent Keymer (Germany) 10; 4. Michael Adams (England) 8; 5. Arkadij Naiditsch (Azerbaijan) 5; 6-7. David Anton (Spain), Romain Edouard (France) 4; 8. Noel Struder (Switzerland) 3.
Photo: It’s the crunch match-up between leaders Wojtaszek and Keymer | © Biel Chess Festival
GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek – GM Vincent Keymer
Biel GM Rapid, (6)
English Opening, Flohr-Mikenas Attack,
1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 The über-aggressive Flohr-Mikenas Attack, named after the Czech player Salo Flohr, and Lithuanian master Vladas Mikenas, who blazed a trail with this sharp line during the pre-war and post-war periods. It had a Renaissance again in the 1980s by being championed by Garry Kasparov, Viktor Kortchnoi, Tony Miles and Yasser Seirawan. 3…d5 Back in the 1980s, popular was 3…c5 that led to a complicated pawn sac after 4.e5 Ng8 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Nxe5 where White has a lot of space and active piece-play for the pawn. 4.cxd5 In 2005, Hikaru Nakamura once again raised interest in the Flohr-Mikenas Attack with his bizarre bishop-blocking treatment 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.Nf3 c5 8.Bd3! and good attacking chances. 4…exd5 5.e5 Ne4 6.Nf3 Bf5 7.d3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 c5 9.d4 It’s now a sort of French/Caro-Kann Defence set-up, the difference being Black does not have the e6-pawn to bolster the pawn centre. 9…c4 10.a4 Just stopping any idea Black might have of further expanding with a …b5. 10…Nc6 11.Be2 Be7 12.0-0 0-0 13.Ne1! Wojtaszek finds the telling knight manoeuvre of Nf3-e1-c2-e3 that will hit the vulnerable d5 pawn and restrict Keymer’s play. 13…f6 And the correct call from Keymer, who now also senses he must open the game up to create counter-attacking chances. 14.exf6 Bxf6 15.Nc2 Qd7 The critical queen move had to be 15…Qa5!? 16.Qd2 Rad8 17.Ne3 Be4 with both sides having attacking and counter-attacking chances. 16.Ne3 Be6 17.Ba3 Rfe8 The immediate 17…Be7 looked the better call. 18.Ng4 Be7 19.Bxe7 Qxe7 20.Bf3 Wojtaszek relentlessly builds up the pressure on the weak d5-pawn. 20…Bxg4 The young German GM is caught between a rock and a hard place with how best to defend d5 – also possible was 20…Rad8 and trying to huddle his pieces together, but after 21.Re1 Qc7 22.Qd2 White just has too much space and attacking options. Rather than that, Keymer opts to seek exchanges to try to get some relief. 21.Bxg4 Qd6 22.Rb1 Rab8 Black would like to quickly get his knight to a5 and come into b3 to stop the White rook’s influence on the b-file but after 22…Na5 23.Rb5! Black is in trouble, as 23…a6 24.Rxa5 b6 25.Rxd5! Qxd5 26.Bf3 Qa5 27.Bxa8 Rxa8 28.Qe1! and White has a big advantage. 23.Bf3 Now the major threat is Rb5 hitting the vulnerable d5-pawn – and with it, Black has to waste more time preventing this. 23…a6 24.Rb6! Re7 25.Qb1 Qd7 26.Qc1! Now the plan is Qg5, Rfb1 and h3, or even Qf4 with the idea of Rd6 if Black plays …Na5. Either way, the twin threats of the pawn weaknesses on b7 and d5 will be telling. 26…Qd8 27.Qb2 Qd7 28.Qa3 Rd8? And from here, Keymer collapses under the pressure. His only try to hang on was with 28…Rf8! (threatening …Rxf3 and good saving chances) 29.Bd1 Rf6 and with his more active pieces, Black stands a good chance of saving the game. 29.h3 Wojtaszek opts for safety-first, but now was the time to be brave with the tactical blow 29.Bxd5+! Qxd5 30.Rxc6 Qxc6 31.Qxe7 Re8 32.Qg5! where now 32…Qxa4 33.Qd5+ Kh8 34.Qxb7 Qb3 35.Qf3 and White should be winning. However, in such situations, creating a little air for the king is always a good call. 29…Kf8? Keymer has totally lost the plot now, as the self-pin only compounds his problems when the tactic does come. 30.Rfb1 Na5 Desperately defending b7 and hoping for …Nb3 to ease the pressure on the b-pawn. As bad as the position was now, the only slim chance Keymer had was voluntarily heading to the endgame sans a pawn, with 30…Qd6 31.Qxd6 Rxd6 32.Rxb7 Rxb7 33.Rxb7 Na5 34.Rb8+ Kf7 35.Bd1 Re6 36.Kh2 but White should easily find a way with his better-placed pieces to win a second pawn. 31.Re1 Nc6 32.Bxd5! 1-0 [see diagram] Keymer resigns, as now the tactic is just killing. After 32…Qxd5 33.Rxc6 Qd7 34.Rxc4 the two pawn advantage wins easily, especially as a set of rooks and the queens look set to also come off.