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Pillsbury’s play

IM Malcolm Pein IM Malcolm Pein
September 18, 2023


ALEXANDER Grischuk triumphed at the Tata Steel India Blitz Open in Kolkata. The Russian world number 18 racked up a healthy 12/18, losing only once to Arjun Erigaisi, while defeating the Indian’s compatriots, Vidit Gujrathi, Dommaraju Gukesh and Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, as well as Vincent Keymer and the winner of the Rapid event, which preceded the Blitz, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov and Praggnanandhaa tied for second, a point behind Grischuk and half a point ahead of Erigaisi, with Vachier-Lagrave only fifth on 9.5/18. Grischuk pursued the initiative whenever possible, always a good policy at blitz. Here he utilises the plan of Ne5 and f2-f4, an aggressive manoeuvre known from the games of Harry Pillsbury.

A Grischuk – D Gukesh
Queen’s Gambit Declined 3+2


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Bg5 d5 4.e3 Be7 5.Nc3 0-0 6.Qc2 h6 7.Bh4 Nbd7 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 c6 10.Nf3 Re8 11.0-0 Ne4 12.Bxe4 Bxh4 13.Bh7+ Kh8 14.Bd3 Be7 15.Rae1!? (Eschewing Minority Attack plans with b2-b4)
15...Nf6?! (15...Bd6 16.e4 dxe4 17.Nxe4 Bc7 18.Bc4 Rf8 was much more solid in Martirosyan – Harikrishna, Prague 2023, although White remains slightly better) 16.Ne5! Kg8 17.a3 Bd6 18.f4! a5 19.h3 c5 20.Qf2 Be6 21.g4!?

(With control of the position, thanks to the strong knight on e5, White is able to expand further)
21...Rf8?! (21...cxd4 22.exd4 Rc8 minimises the danger, threatening Bxa3)
22.Kh1 Rc8 23.Rg1 cxd4 24.exd4 Ne4!?
(24...Bxa3? 25.g5 gives White a crushing attack)
25.Nxe4 dxe4 26.Bxe4 Bxe5 27.dxe5 Bd5 28.Qg2 Bxe4 29.Qxe4 Qb6?!
(Black has stabilised the position at the cost of a pawn and would have had definite drawing chances after 29...b5!)
30.g5! hxg5 31.Rxg5 Qc6 32.Qxc6 Rxc6 33.Reg1 g6 (33...Rg6! 34.Rxg6 fxg6 35.Rg4 Kf7 was a better defence)
34.f5 Kh7 35.e6! fxe6 36.fxg6+ Kg7 37.Rh5 Rh8 38.Rxh8 Kxh8 39.Kh2
(39.Rg5! Kg7 40.h4 Rc1+ 41.Kg2 Rc2+ 42.Kg3 Rxb2 43.h5 should be winning)
39...Kg7 40.h4 Rc5 41.Kh3 b5?

How did White now force the win?

See the Answer

Simplification: 42.Rg5! Rxg5 43.hxg5 Kxg6 44.Kg4 e5 45.b3 (White is winning by a tempo)
45...a4 46.b4 e4 47.Kf4 e3 48.Kxe3 1-0

©Telegraph Media Group Limited 2023

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