CBM 210: Indo-Uzbek Rivalry and a Chinese star in waiting - A Review

by Nagesh Havanur
12/7/2022 – ChessBase Magazine offers a window to the world of professional chess. Issue #210 contains 7578 recent games, (45 annotated) 12 opening surveys, 9 demo lectures and several exercises for training. Annotators include Anish Giri, Ajun Erigaisi, Gabriel Sargissian, Ivan Sokolov, Luke McShane, Pentala Harikrishna, Pragganandhaa, Maria Muzychuk and Wesley So among others. The icing on the cake is a feature on Ding Liren who will play the world championship match with Ian Nepomniachtchi now that Carlsen has announced that he will not defend the title. Prof. Nagesh Havanur took a closer look.

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ChessBase Magazine 210: A Review by Nagesh Havanur

Even as I write these lines, the World Team Championship has drawn to a close, with China edging out Uzbekistan, Spain and India. A salutary reminder of the strength of Chinese chess players. It’s a pity that two of the best chess teams in the world, China and Russia could not compete in the recent Chess Olympiad. As is known, China did not field its players on account of Covid restrictions and Russia could not participate on account of the FIDE ban with the invasion of Ukraine.

With the absence of Russia and China the main battle was between other contenders, the USA, India, Armenia and Uzbekistan.  As it happened, the experienced USA and Armenia Teams received  setbacks in their matches with young Indian and Uzbek Teams. Thus the scene was set for the decisive encounter between India and Uzbekistan.

India being the host had fielded two teams, "India I" and "India II". Uzbekistan had only drawn the match with "India I" Team. While Vakhidov had prevailed over Sasikiran and Abdusattorov had lost to Harikrishna:

In this issue Harikrishna himself annotates the game:

Abdusattorov-Harikrishna, Chess Olympiad 2022



It’s to the credit of the Uzbek Team that it remained in the race for the first place till it faced "India II" Team in the penultimate round.  Here unfortunately, Sindarov lost to Praggnandhaa and games on other boards were drawn. So only the first board encounter, Abdusattorov-Gukesh remained and it was watched with bated breath by spectators all over the world. Before this round Gukesh rode at wave with (+7,- 0, =1)) vanquishing Shirov, Caruana and Sargissian among others. But anything could happen in a game and coaches, R.B. Ramesh and Ivan Sokolov were understandably anxious.

R.B. Ramesh (front) and Ivan Sokolov during the match Uzbekistan vs India II | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Ivan Sokolov, the coach of the Uzbek Team recaptures the final phase of the game:

Gukesh-Abdusattorov, Chess Olympiad 2022


Now let me draw attention of the readers to a video that they have all seen before:

Gukesh was devastated by this loss, holding himself responsible for India’s descent down the Olympiad Cross-table.  In a subsequent interview he was to narrate how Anand spent time with him after this disaster, sharing his own experience of loss and defeat, bringing him back to his senses.

To return to the Olympiad, I have one reservation. The host nation is allowed to field two teams, a courtesy and privilege conferred by rules. This system gives unfair advantage to the host nation.  In the circumstances it’s a wonder that Uzbekistan survived its matches with Indian I and India II and went on to win Gold.

Anyway, the Ukraine Team won the Women’s Olympiad. Readers may recall that in the previous issue, CBM 209 ran a Special on Anna and Mariya Muzychuk from Ukraine. The sisters did their beleaguered nation proud by leading their team to victory. Both have annotated a game each.

As  Mariya Muzychuk  acknowledged, no less a role was played by their team mates,  especially, Anna Ushenina, 14th Women’s World Champion who scored 7.5 out of 9 points.

Anna Ushenina | Photo/Lennart Ootes/FIIDE

This issue also gives games from Sinquefield Cup including the well-known encounter, Carlsen –Niemann that led to the world champion’s exit from the tournament and the controversy that followed. Now that the matter is in court, let the law take its own course. One unfortunate outcome of the unsavoury development was that the rest of the tournament lost public interest. Not fair to the players, though.

Ding Liren : A star in waiting

This issue also carries a special feature on Ding Liren with 18 annotated games, commentary on his play in middlegame and endgame. The opponents include such illustrious names as, Aronian,  Caruana,Duda,  Mamedyarov and Nepomniachtchi.

 Ding Liren | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour

Here we have room for just one game:

Ding Liren-Caruana, Sinquefield Cup 2019



Opening videos and surveys

There are 3 opening videos in this issue. The first offers an introduction to a new gambit in the English Opening by Daniel King.

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 e4 4.Ng5 c6!?

Currently it has no proper name. As it was introduced by the Indian GM, Adhiban, it makes sense to call the line after him. Note that the game, Vakhidov-Adhiban, Chess Olympiad 2022 with the same line is also analysed by Ivan Sokolov, the coach of the Uzbekistan team. However, his analysis begins only after White is a healthy pawn up on the 23rd move.  No matter, Black was still able to draw with some dangerous counterplay. The second  presents  an analysis  of a line in the Modern Benoni by Mihail Marin. The third is a lecture on the Classical Variation of the Nimzo- Indian by Jan Werle.  Take your pick.

There are as many as 12 opening surveys ranging from the Sicilian to the semi Slav. Among them, I would single out two articles, one on the Dilworth Variation by Robert Ris and the other on the Botvinnik System by Evgeny Postny. Vernon Dilworth (1916-2004) a great chess amateur has not always received his due for his remarkable line in the Ruy Lopez. By way of historical interest here is the game in which it made its debut in correspondence chess. I have also provided an over view of the Open Spanish for readers not familiar with current theory.

David Weir -  Vernon Dilworth, 1941



The other article on the Botvinnik System offers analysis of a rare move 12.h4!? It’s a dangerous move as the pawn threatens to roll forward to h8. However, Black has to take strong measures to create counterplay.  Here is an illustration hidden in Evgeny Postny’s annotations:

Povilas Pakenas- Heri Darmanto



An old  classic remembered

One more feature deserves  mention. It’s the commentary on the game, Fischer – Petrosian Candidates’ 1971 (7) by Dorian Rogozenco. It may be recalled that this game was also discussed in a recent article on the news page.

Besides opening surveys, this issue has standard features on tactics, strategy and the endgame. A new feature continued from CBM 208 is a video lecture on time management by Jan Markos. A practical lesson for serious tournament players.

Summing up

The main database of the issue has 7578 recent games of which 45 are deeply annotated. There is much else in this DVD that deserves to be explored. Apart from the GMs I have already mentioned, the commentators include Anish Giri, Ajun Erigaisi, Gabriel Sargissian,  Luke McShane,  Pragganandhaa,  and Wesley So among others.  A major contribution is made by Ivan Sokolov who has made a commentary on the decisive phase in 8 games. It may be noted that there are more annotated games in the sections on opening theory and training.

Well, practice makes perfect.


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Prof. Nagesh Havanur (otherwise known as "chessbibliophile") is a senior academic and research scholar. He taught English in Mumbai for three decades and has now settled in Bangalore, India. His interests include chess history, biography and opening theory. He has been writing on the Royal Game for more than three decades. His articles and reviews have appeared on several web sites and magazines.


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