Ding Liren and cold stand between Carlsen and Lindores Abbey Chess Stars 2019 victory!

by Sagar Shah
5/26/2019 – Yes, you read that right! The two crucial factors that will make Carlsen's task difficult of winning the Lindores Abbey Chess Stars 2019 are Ding Liren, who has fared excellently against Carlsen in recent times and the other being cold. The tournament is being played in a distillery and Magnus is feeling quite cold in there. After three rounds Carlsen and Ding Liren are leading with 2.0/3, Karjakin is on 1½/3 while Vishy is on the last spot with ½/3. A detailed day one report by IM Sagar Shah from the venue.

A dynamic weapon against the QGD - 5.Bf4 A dynamic weapon against the QGD - 5.Bf4

This DVD concentrates on the increasingly popular 5.Bf4 variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined and gives White a dynamic and aggressive weapon against Black's set-up.


Ding and Carlsen in the lead

When the Lindores Abbey Chess Stars 2019 tournament was announced the first question on everyone's mind was — is this tournament going to be serious? The event was announced at a short notice, it was being organized inside a distillery, and there were only six rounds of rapid chess. But as I stood in the playing hall on day one and the proceedings began, I realized that when you get players like Carlsen, Anand, Ding Liren and Karjakin together, you cannot have light-hearted chess! 

The settings inside the distillery, where the players are just a meter away from the washbacks

First of all, all four of them prepare extremely hard in the first phase of the game. Hence, when they begin a duel, it is always a battle that spans across some previous game played, or some new ideas that are home-cooked.

When Powerplay chess and ChessBase India come together! IM Sagar Shah and Daniel King recap day one of the Lindores Abbey Chess Stars 2019

Let's take for example the first round game between Sergey Karjakin and Vishy Anand. Vishy is a now a well-known expert of the Queen's Gambit Declined. He goes for classical lines and in those classical lines which have been played for hundreds of years, he has a modern wrinkle up his sleeve. You cannot just expect to go to the game with no novelty and surprise Anand. But Karjakin is your man for new opening ideas! When the duo sat opposite each other, they literally blitzed out their first 20 moves.


This was the same position that was reached in Mamedyarov - Anand at Wijk Aan Zee in 2018. The Azeri GM had moved his bishop back to h4. Sergey decided to test Anand's sacrifice. Instead of Bh4, he played the move Nxe4. Vishy thought for a while, most certainly trying to recollect his analysis, and played ...a6! After 0-0 xc4 d5 xd5 xd5 f8, Karjakin surprised Anand with ♗f6!


Anand now had a difficult choice to make. His e5 pawn is hanging. He could take on f6 and then after ♘xf6+ ♚g7 ♘xe8 ♜xe8 ♖xe5, play this position where White has a rook and two pawns for two minor pieces. Objectively Black should be able to hold this, but in a practical game, White's play is much easier. Vishy decided to avoid this variation and instead went for ♜ac8. Karjakin consolidated his position and was cruising towards victory. But just when it seemed all over, he made an error, which allowed Anand back into the game.


With seconds ticking down Vishy had to find the move ...♜e7. This would have pinned the knight and would have given Black excellent drawing chances. But when you are low on time, there could be nothing more natural than taking the pawn with ...♜xh3. Karjakin replied with 51.♘e5 and White was back again in the driver's seat.


The video of the complete game between Karjakin and Vishy Anand


Karjakin mixed up some ideas at this point. He remembered the line in the Catalan where black can go to g4 with his knight and sacrifice on f2. In fact this is precisely how Sergey had drawn his game against GM Vidit Gujrathi at Tata Steel Chess India in November 2018. But this was a different position and ...♞g4 was a mistake. Instead Karjakin had to go for the move ...♞h5. What he was afraid is that after ...♞h5 ♗e3 his knight would get trapped with g4. While this is a realistic threat and playing ...f5 is possible. Black has a much stronger move at his disposal.


The main point is that after g4 fxe5 gxh5 ♛xh5 Black is a piece down, but has good amount of pawns in return and also excellent coordination. After Sergey missed this, Ding didn't really give his opponent any chances. He found this nice idea of tucking his king back to c1.


At this moment Genna Sosonko, one of the commentators, narrated an interesting story of how Steinitz in the year 1867 came to Dundee, quite near to where the tournament is being played in Lindores, and introduced the move ♔e1-e2 in the King's Gambit. Somehow Ding Liren's king manoeuvre was quite reminiscent of Steinitz's idea.

Ding Liren's defensive play was top-notch after Karjakin's incorrect sacrifice


Magnus Carlsen had a slow start to his campaign at the tournament. He drew his round one game against Ding Liren after getting a clear opening advantage. Against Karjakin, he was surely worse after the opening, but managed to hold on. One of the reasons why Carlsen was not able to give his best on the board was because of the temperature inside the playing hall. Being a distillery, the first thing that has to be ensured is that the air is flowing. This is a pre-requisite when it comes to a distillery. But when it comes to a chess tournament, this can make the players quite cold and uncomfortable. This is exactly what happened to Carlsen. At the press conference he was clearly dejected and said that he didn't enjoy the cold temperature inside the venue. 

A personal heater was arranged but Carlsen was not satisfied

In the third round Carlsen was up against Vishy Anand. Encounters between these two are always exciting. Although Magnus has had an upper hand against Vishy lately, you can never discount the Madras Tiger. After a loss in round one to Karjakin, he drew his game against Ding Liren and seemed to be in good frame of mind for his game against Magnus. After the opening Anand clearly had the upper hand.


The way Anand had played the opening was quite exquisite. He had developed his bishop to b4, dropped it back to d6, then to f8 and had given it a nice spot with g6 and ♝g7. All of Carlsen's pieces are developed, but they lack space. The most precise way for Anand increase his advantage would have been to play his pawn to ...c4. Now the pawn on c5 is no longer weak. True, the d4 square is lost, but it is not the most relevant. The e3 pawn remains weak and also the b2 pawn would become a weakness in the future. Vishy instead played the move ...d4? Perhaps, he didn't expect Carlsen's reply.


After ♘a4, White is no longer worse. Vishy can still hold the balance with accurate play, but he was clearly affected by his error and lost the game quite quickly.


With this win against Vishy, Magnus moved to 2.0/3 and in to the joint lead with Ding Liren

Standings after Round 3


Click or tap any result to open the game in live.chessbase.com

The live commentary is being done by GM Daniel King and GM Genna Sosonko. King's liveliness and Sosonko story telling makes it an enjoyable pair!

There are so many TV screens across the venue. In the below video you can check out the environment of the entire venue!

IM Sagar Shah takes you on a short tour of the venue

So what if your son is a World Champion...

...or world no.3, you would still be quite tensed watching the games!

Carlsen or Ding Liren, who do you think will win the Lindores Abbey Chess Stars 2019? Or do you think Karjakin or Anand can make a comeback today?

A small chat with the youngsters at the venue

All games Round 1-3



Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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