Feeding the flames

by Jonathan Speelman
3/7/2021 – In this week’s column, Jon Speelman looks deeply into “a real fire fight” in which 18-year-old Arseniy Nesterov came out on top after a terrific battle. In the game, the aggression was mutual and included extended hand-to-hand fighting!

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A real fire fight

[Note that Jon Speelman also looks at the content of the article in video format, here embedded at the end of the article.]

When things kick off in a game of chess, the explosion generally lasts for just a few moves — or at least, without any real evidence, that’s my impression. But there are occasional games in which the violence runs and runs.

When this does occur, the most common scenario is probably a long attacking battle in which one player aims blows at the other’s head and the other finds heroic ways to defend.

But sometimes the aggression is mutual with extended hand-to-hand fighting, and today’s game is very much in this mould. It comes from the final round a week ago of the Moscow Open, which was won on tiebreak by Ivan Rozum ahead of six others.

One of the six was 18-year-old Arseniy Nesterov, who came out on top after a real fire fight!


16.d5! This and the next move scream out to be played to destabilise Black before his queenaside attack lands — 16...exd5 17.e6!


Arseniy Nesterov, Christian Rios

Arseniy Nesterov (right) at the 2019 Voronezh Masters — here facing IM Christian Rios

To finish up, a small tactical position I thought of earlier in the week. It’s fairly banal, but carries a small twist.


How to play the Ruy Lopez with Qe2

To avoid theory battles in well-known lines against Ruy Lopez (Berlin, Open Variation or the Marshall Attack), Sergey Tiviakov invites you into the world of an extraordinary early queen move for White: Qe2 – elegant, effective and easy to learn!


Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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