Царские подарки

Hundreds of games between the world's strongest players will be played at the World Rapid and Blitz Championships in St. Petersburg. These players are capable of creating the most complicated struggle even being dramatically short on time. Alas, it is impossible to review such riches in a short express format, therefore we will proceed with simple and eye-friendly examples that are labeled easily. Let us begin with the two points generously given away by the World Champion in the first two rounds.
Let us begin with the two points generously given away by the World Champion in the first two rounds.

A. Tukhaev – M. Carlsen
Magnus gained an early advantage, but then the Ukrainian grandmaster started defending very resourcefully. The World Champion kept looking for winning chances as persistently as usual, and managed to trade his queen for two rooks, avoiding the perpetual. In the diagrammed position he could keep torturing his opponent for quite a while, however, took a bit more time than could afford, and forfeited the game.

In the next round game with the talented young Uzbek player Shamsiddin Vokhidov Carlsen yielded to emotions by making a childish opening choice (1.e4 e5 2.Qh5), however, as soon as the outline of the game began to look more normal, the Norwegian sacrificed a pawn and obtained excellent compensation.

M. Carlsen – S. Vokhidov
The knight misses a chance to become a battle hero: 20.Ne8! The b8-rook cannot be moved away from the attack, because in this case the other one would be lost: 20...Ra8 21.Nxg7 Kxg7 22.Bxh6+. Magnus possibly overestimated the following resource: 20...Bb7 21.Qxb8 Bxg2, however, the knight could shine in this line as well: 22.Nxg7! Qg4 23.Qxe5 or 22...Kxg7 23.Bxh6+ Kxh6 24.Qxf8+ Kh7 25.Rfe1, and there is no perpetual.

Alas, the fate awaiting this brave warrior in the actual game was very different.

20.f3 Bb7 21.Rae1?! Rfc8 22.Bc3? Bf8!
After 23.Qxe5 Qxe5 24.Bxe5 d6 White is down a piece. As there are no other viable retreat squares, out of sheer desperation Magnus gave the queen away: 23.Nb5 Bxd6 24.Nxd6 Qe6 25.Nxc8 Rxc8. It did not affect the result.

The King's March

G. Sargissian – I. Nepomniachtchi
During the latest dozen of moves Black transferred his king from g6 on the queenside via d5, and then he rejected the е6-е5 break.

Now 67.Bb4 is absolutely critical for White, however, the three-time Olympiad champion did not sense the danger.

67.Kc4? Ba5 68.Rb1 (other retreats of the rook allow the immediate exchange sacrifice) 68...Bd2! Zugzwang.

69.Rd1 Rxa3! White resigns. On 70.bxa3 there is 70...b2 71.Rb1 Kxa3, while after 70.Rxd2 Ra1 there is no adequate defense against a check from c1.

Vacating the lines

B. Gelfand – S. Novikov
The computer does not approve White's 39.c5!?, claiming it deprives him of an advantage. The machine sees the tactical idea behind this move, of course, and finds the only but sufficient defense – 39...Rg8.

The game continued by the innocent 39...dxc5?, to which Boris Gelfand replied by 40.Rh4! Bxh4 41.f6+ Kh8 42.Rg7! Black resigns, as he is getting mated.

The Trap

V. Artemiev – A. Firouzja
29.Bf2? The bishop had to retreat along the other diagonal – 29.Bc3.
29...Be4. Attacking the с2-pawn, but not just that...
30.Bd3 g5! The rook has no place to go. The Iranian confidently converted an exchange.

The Open File

Undisputed possession of an open file is a great good. It often creates the right conditions for a decisive invasion.

V. Popov – A. Grischuk
43...Qh8 44.Qc3. 44.Qxa5 is also hopeless – 44...Rg3 45.Qe1 Qh3 46.Rh1 Rxh1 47.Rxh1 Qg2.

44...Rg3 45.Ke1 Rxf2! 46.Kxf2 Qh2+ 47.Ke1 Rxg1, and Alexander Grischuk eventually won the game.

The Back Rank

G. Guseinov – Y. Geller
30.Nxe6? This tempting attempt to utilize the back rank weakness could backfire. After 30.Qxd5 Bxd5 31.c6 White enjoys an advantage. However, Black fails to utilize the mistake by 30...h6? The game continued to a drawn rook ending, where Black blundered transposition to a pawn ending that was lost for him.

He could emphasize White's own problems with the back rank by the energetic 30...e3!, and now 31.Qxd5 Bxd5 32.Nd4 (otherwise there is ...е3-е2) 32...Rf2 33.Kg1 (avoiding a discovered check on the long diagonal) 33...Rxg2+ 34.Kf1 Rf2+ 35.Kg1 (35.Ke1 Bc4! mates) 35...Rd2 wins a piece and the game.

A long move…

…was not played in the following queen ending.

D. Dubov – Yu Yangyi
It looks like White's choice is limited to abandoning the passed pawn or allowing the perpetual. Perhaps Daniil Dubov also came to the same conclusion, and a draw was agreed after 56.Qe1 Qxb7. However, 56.Qh1! could solve both problems. After 56...Qxf2+ 57.Kh3 Qb6 58.Qd5+ Kf6 59.Qe4! (threatening Qf4+) the passed pawn queens inevitably.

The Stalemate

Our final item is an endgame tragicomedy.

M. Matlakov – S. Karjakin
Sergey lost the thread in an innocent-looking queen endgame, and in the diagrammed position White wins easily by 85.f4. However, Maxim aimed for another line, getting into the trap laid by his elusive opponent.

85.e6+ Kh7 86.exf7? (86.Qe4!) 86...Qe5+! 87.Qxe5. Draw.
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