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Chess

This week featured multiple open tournaments and one team match. Evgeny Najer won the European Open in Jerusalem. The Russian GM scored 8.5 from 11 in a very strong Swiss system tournament. Second-fourth was a tie between David Navarra, Mateusz Bartel and Denis Khismatullin (all 8) and 5-26 was a monster tie with 22 players scoring 7.5. The untitled Ilya Iljiuhenok (Russian with a 2550 Elo rating) was one of them.

Apart from an excellent prize fund of Euro120,000 plus, there were 24 seats in the World Cup at stake. Navarra set the early pace but he was then overtaken by Ian Nepomniachtchi. The latter had a terrible finish – losing to Navarra in round 9 and then to Bartel, who smashed him in the last round. The event was well supported and organised with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the prize distribution.

Vassily Ivanchuk won the Vladimir Petrov Memorial Rapid in Jurmala, Latvia. Petrov (1907-43) died in a Gulag after being arrested following the Soviet annexation of the Baltic republics in 1940. Ivanchuk scored 9/11 to outdistance Sergey Karjakin, Boris Gelfand, Richard Rapport, Shakhriyar Mamedaryov, etc.

Li Chao won the Cappelle La Grande Open. Cappelle is played in the town of Dunquerque, which is better known to military historians under its Anglicised spelling. Li tied for first with Vladimir Onischuk (both 7.5/9). The large Indian contingent landed “off the money” with Vidit Gujrathi, Sandipan Chanda and G N Gopal tied at 6.5.

In Hyderabad, Olympiad gold medallists, China, played bronze medallists, India, in a match that should ideally become a regular fixture. It was dead-even until round five. Then the Chinese pulled ahead and increased the lead.

The eight rounder eventually went 18-14 (game points) to the Chinese with the match points 11-5 in China’s favour. So they comfortably won the Komati Reddy Prateek Reddy Trophy and the Rs 6 lakh prize money with the Indians receiving Rs 4 lakh. P Sasikiran was in bad form, scoring only two points from his eight games and Baskaran Adhiban also had a poor score with 2.5. In contrast, none of the Chinese had a minus score.

The DIAGRAM, WHITE TO PLAY (Denis Khismatullin Vs Pavel Eljanov, Jerusalem 2015) is bound to make the anthologies. Black’s king is very exposed. But white’s rook hangs and he must deal with back rank issues. 44.Kg1!! Qxd1+?! The engines say 44…Rd5 45.Kh2!! Kf6 46.e4 Rc5 47.Qd6+ Kg7 48.Rxd3 Rxc6 49.Qe5+ Rf6 50.Rf3 Qc6 is good for white but not a forced win.

45.Kh2 Rxc6 46.Qe7+ Kh6 47.Qf8+ Kg5 48.Qxf7! This is a forced win black defended with 48.- Rf6 49.f4+ Kh6 50.Qxf6 Qe2 51.Qf8+ Kh5 52.Qg7 h6 53.Qe5+ Kh4 54.Qf6+ Kh5 55.f5 gxf5 56.Qxf5+ Kh4 57.Qg6 (1-0)

The checkmate threats are Qxh6,g3,Qg4, etc.