Chess Sizzles in St. Louis

World Champion Magnus Carlsen meets Ding Liren in Saint Louis, home of American Chess.  Blitz chess play is fast becoming the popular brand for all classes of players and, in this struggle, the world champion meets a Chinese rival who has attained great results in a series of rapid play with differing time controls.

The world champion enters this one with a line used by Karjakin in their title match in which the black defense chooses again the Morphy Defensive set-up against the Ruy Lopez.

l. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Bb5 a6  4. Ba4  Nf6  5. O-O  Be7  6. d3  b5  7. Bb3  d6  8. a3  O-O  9. Nc3  Na5  10. Ba2  Be6  11. b4!  B:a2  12. R:a2  Nc6  13. Bg5 Qd7

An original type position for Black emerges from previous tested ideas for the defense. Certainly this fits into my square/count theory as the Queen takes up an excellent post eyeing the white square diagonals. Earlier was tried 13…Nd7 where Maxime Vachier-Lagrave  got a promising position in the Palma de Mallorca FIDE Grand Prix after 14, Bd2 Nf6 15. Re1.+=.

14. B:f6  B:f6  15. Nd5  a5!  Again this fits into my game examples where I launched …a5 with good counter-play. Black decides to eliminate the outpost Nd5.

16. c4  Ne7  17. Rc2!! N:d5

A rather deep think. Interesting might be 17…b:c4 to muddy the position but that d5 Knight looks menacingly well posted.

18. c:d5  a:b4  19. a:b4  Ra4 20. Qd2 Rfa8 21. Rfc1  Bd8.

It looks like Carlsen has space with those strong central pawns digging into the enemy camp. It is enough to give the nerves a work-over.  Who ever said chess was not exciting? White now eliminates one of the squares on that diagonal and gives the King a safe haven.

22. h3  Ra1  23. R:a1  R:a1+ 24.Rc1 Ra4  25. d4!  e:d4?!

This lets Black get play with the Bishop. But as the game goes, perhaps 25…f6 to keep the position solid was another idea.

26. N:d4  Bf6 27. Nc6!  Qc8?

Played to protect the b-pawn.  It loses immediately however, to….

28. e5!

Once again the Aron Nimsowitsch’s classic work MY SYSTEM shows itself. Beware the pawn free to move! threats.

28. … d:e5  29. d6!  Ra8  30. Ne7+ B:e7  31. d:e7

Although Black is a pawn up, there is no answer to Rd1 and Qd8.

Carlsen won the several game varied t/c battles.

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