Malcolm Pein on…So Striking Back

We take another trip to the Opera Europe Rapid tournament in today’s Daily Telegraph chess column to see Wesley So striking back against Magnus Carlsen after an early defeat. 

Malcolm Pein on…So Striking Back

Wesley So’s second victory over Magnus Carlsen in a Meltwater Tour event on Chess 24 came on Valentine’s Day at the Opera Europe Rapid. So took the second set of the match after the first had been drawn 2-2. Carlsen won the first game, but So struck back in game four.

W. So – M. Carlsen
Opera Euro Rapid KO Final (4)
Giuoco Piano 15+10

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 d5 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 0–0 10.Be3 Bg4 11.h3 Bh5 12.Qc2 Bg6 13.Qb3 Ne7 14.0–0 c6 15.Bd3 Nf5 16.Qc2 Nxc3 17.bxc3 Nxe3 18.fxe3 Bxd3 19.Qxd3 f6 20.c4 (20.Rab1 was the move So gave in a recently released course he produced for Chessable) 20…Bc7 (20…fxe5 21.Nxe5 Qd6 intending c6–c5 looks close to equal and if 22.c5? Bxc5!) 21.cxd5 Qxd5?!(Black’s structure is irretrievably damaged after this, although Black is on the defensive after 21…cxd5 22.Qb5 fxe5 23.Nxe5 Bxe5 24.Rxf8+)

Yasser Seirawan Winning Chess Endings

22.exf6 gxf6 (22…Rxf6 23.e4 Qd7 24.e5 Rff8 25.Qb3+ Qd5 26.Qxd5+ cxd5 27.Rab1 Bb6 28.Rb5 Rad8 29.a4 with a strong initiative) 23.e4 Qd7 24.Rad1 Rad8 (24…Kh8! 25.Nh4 Qd6!) 25.Nh4 Kh8 (Better 25…Qd6 26.Nf5 Qh2+ 27.Kf2 Qf4+ 28.Ke1 Qg5 29.Rf2 followed by Kf1 when the inconvenience to White is temporary and his dominating knight and superior structure remain the salient factors) 26.Nf5 c5 27.d5 Be5 28.Rb1 b6 29.Qc4 Rfe8 30.Kh1 Bd4 31.Rf4! Rxe4! 32.Rxe4 Qxf5 33.Rbe1 Rxd5?? (After 33…Be5! Black is very solid and the biggest weakness on f6 well defended. White is better but it would be hard work to win. For example, after 34.Qd3 Qg6 35.a4 Rd7) 34.Rg4 h5 35.Re8+ Kh7 36.Re7+ Kh8

Test Your Strength

So Strikes Back

White to play and win

The warning signs were there for Carlsen in game one.

Carlsen Misses Best Move

He has just played the automatic 11.a3? How could So have secured a clear positional advantage?

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answers.

Answer One: 37.Qc1! 1-0 Also 37.Qb5 Rd8 38.Rxd4! or 37.Qb5 Rd7 38.Rxd7 hxg4 39.Re7.

Answer Two: 11…Nc5! and if 12.Qxb4?? a5 13.Qb5 Bc6 traps the queen or after 11…Nc5 12.Qc2 Be4 13.Qd1 (13.Qd2 Nb3) 13…Bxc3+ 14.bxc3 White’s queenside is in ruins.

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