Chess Column: Passed pawns must be pushed in battle XX

May 14—By Alan Kantor

National Master

Fresh off his taking first in the World Championship Candidates en route to challenging GM Ding Liren for the World Championship title, GM Dommaraju Gukesh was back on the road in another tournament. This time he took on GM Yi Wei

White: GM Dommaraju Gukesh (2764)

Black: GM Wei Yi (2755)

Superbet Poland Rapid (2024) (rapid) (8), Warsaw, Poland, May-10-2024

Sicilian Defense: Alapin Variation. General (B22)

1. e4 c5 2. c3

The Alapin Variation of the Sicilian Defense is one of the "anti-Sicilian" openings White can play against 1. ... c5. A solid opening, the Alapin is a well-respected way of bypassing the extensive theory of other Sicilian lines. The Alapin is a popular opening among club-level players, with grandmasters also often using this opening.

2. ... Nf6 3. e5

White drives Black's knight away from his defensive perch on the f6-square.

3. ... Nd5 4. Nf3 d6 5. Bc4 Nb6 6. e6

White attempts to disrupt the kingside but Black stays calm.

6. ... Bxe6

Not 6. ... Nxc4 7. Qa4+ Nc6 8. exf7+ Kxf7 9. Qxc4+ and Black is better.

7. Bxe6 fxe6

White makes it tough for Black to get his bishop out by crowding the area with pawns.

8. d4 cxd4

9. 0-0 Nc6

10. Ng5

The knight jumps in where the jumble of pawns are. When White caused weaknesses in Black's position, its time to take advantage of it.

10. ... Qd7

11. cxd4 g6

Black attempts to get the bishop yet.

12. Re1 e5

Attempting to free himself ...

13. d5

... as White tries to keep the file closed.

13. ... Nd4 14. Be3

White has the idea to ruin Black's position by trying to more pawn weaknesses.

14. ... Bh6

The bishop does double duty by attacking the knight and staring down the c1-h6 diagonal.

15. Bxd4 Bxg5 16. Bxb6 axb6 17. Nc3 0-0

The two sets of doubled pawn weaknesses are offset by the good white knight and bad black bishop.

18. Ne4 Bh6 19. a4 b5

Black tries to trade off one of the doubled pawns and get the queen into the action.

20. a5

And White tries to keep the file closed keeping the doubled pawns on the board.

20. ... Qc7

With the queen staring down the c-file without any opposition while also attacking the a-pawn, Black gains more of an advantage.

21. b4 Qc4

More pressure!

22. Rb1 Rac8

More ownership of the c-file.

23. Re2 Qd4

With Black's position, he adds to it by trading queens and watch as he creates a passed pawn.

24. Qxd4 exd4

"Watch the pawn!"

25. g3

White creates luft to eliminate back rank weaknesses.

25. ... d3 26. Ree1 Rf5

Now the f5-rook joins the fray.

27. f4

Cutting off the diagonal from the bishop.

27. ... Rxd5 28. Rec1

White tries to oppose rooks but Black has an answer ...

28. ... Rc2

Rooks love the seventh rank.

29. Nf2 g5

Trying to open the diagonal to help control more squares.

30. Re1

As White struggles to gain activity, Black initiates a one-two punch ...

30. ... d2 0-1


Solution from SOLVE IT #64: 1. Qf7+ Kh8 2. Qf8+ Rxf8 3. Rxf8+ Rxf8 4. Rxf8 mate..

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