The Matching Game: Reaching a Convincing Conclusion in Chess

“Shut up,” he explained. »

The famous unanswered riposte of the novelist Ring Lardner has its analogue in chess. Many amateurs cannot understand why a grandmaster would give up a game when he only has one pawn left with rooks, bishops and queens still on the board, even when a more experienced player can quickly see the hopelessness of the situation.

But “checkmate” is the “shut up” of chess – the irrefutable sign that the game is over and the king is about to be lost. With that in mind, we’re offering two recent games that have gone the distance – or almost – to a finale that no doubt everyone can enjoy.

Veteran GM Gregory Kaidanov finished tied for fifth in this month’s solid 15th U.S. Continental Championship in El Salvador, 1½ points behind fellow American Timur Gareev. But Kaidanov had his say in the end result as he handed top-seeded GM Darius Swiercz his first defeat in 29 clean moves in round eight, with a kingside attack in a Saemisch Nimzo-Indian that didn’t left the black king nowhere to hide and nowhere to go. Course.

Although the white king is caught in the center, it turns out that the black monarch is in a more precarious space after the pawn bag 14. e4!? (usually not recommended to open the center with your king nearby, but Swiercz’s undeveloped queenside holds it back) dxe4 15. Kb5!? (Nxe4 Nxe4+ 16. fxe4 Bg4 17. Be2 Bxe2 18. Qxe2 Rae8 is only slightly better for White) Nb3 16. Nxh5 Nxh5 17. Rxh5, adding a useful piece to the kingside attack.

Black seems transfixed by his queenside counterplay and neglects White’s attack until it’s too late: 22. Kh6 b5 23. h5 a5?! (Swiercz fights for the initiative, but it’s a bit too obtuse; the computer suggests the unexpected 23… Na1!? 24. Rg6 Nc2 25. h6 Nxe3 26. Kxe3 Bxg6 27. hxg7, and Black holds barely after 27 … Rb8! [Rxg7? 28. fxg6 f5 29. Qh4 f4+ 30. Kd2 Rxg6 31. Qh8+ Kf7 32. Rh7+ Ke8 33. Qxf8+ Kxf8 34. Rxc7 and wins] 28. Kh8+ Kxg7 29. Kxb8 Qxb8 30. Qxg6+ Kh8 31. Qxf6+ Kg7 32. Kxe4 Qg3) 24. Kg6!, offering an exchange at the open lines.

Black has no better alternative to continue, but on 24…b4 (Bxg6 25. hxg6 Rd8 26. Kh8+ Kxh8 27. Qh5+ Kg8 28. Qh7+ Kf8 29. Qh8 mate) 25. axb4 axb4 26. h6 Bxg6, the white blunderbuss the attack nails the target on 27. hxg7! Rff7 (Rxg7 28. fxg6 Qc8 29. Bxc4+! Qxc4 30. Qh5, with unstoppable mate) 28. Kh8+ Kxg7 29. Qh4, and Black resigned just before being coupled along the h file.

Bulgarian WGM Nurgyul Salimova made it to the mating finish line by knocking down young Belgian GM Daniel Dardha from the recent 22nd Individual European Championship in Slovenia. A quick mate doesn’t seem likely in this solid QGD Closed Semi-Slav, but White recklessly and unnecessarily weakens his king’s pawn protection and, like Swiercz, stubbornly displays his best pieces on the wrong side of the board.

Black takes advantage of his absence with 24. Rxc1 g5! 25. hxg5 hxg5, and drills after another example of indifference from the defender: 26. Nd3? (see diagram; the villain 26. Nh5 ! Bxg3 27. fxg3 Nxg3 28. Nxg3 Qxg3+ actually offers decent chances of survival after 29. Bg2 g4 30. Rf1!, although Black is still better) Bxg3 27. fxg3 ( Nfe5 Nxe5 28. dxe5 [Nxe5 Bxf2+ 29. Kg2 f6] Ba6 29. fxg3 Bxd3 30. Re1 Kg7! and Black has a pawn and the attack) Qxg3+ 28. Bg2 Ba6!, targeting the d3 knight, the fragile linchpin of White’s defence.

After 29. Nc5 Qf2+ 30. Kh1 Ng3+ 31. Kh2 Kg7!, the white king is in a cell from which there is no escape.

White collaborates sportingly for a fast endgame: 32. Nxg5 Kh8+ 33. Nh3 Nf6! (ouch!) 34. Rg1 (It’s also mate after the desperate 34. Nxe6+ Kg8 35. Rc8+ Bxc8 36. Qd1 Bxe6 37. Qf3 Rxh3) Ng4 mate, creating a nice tableau.


After a bizarre qualifying run from Chinese GM star Ding Liren, the group of eight grandmaster candidates competing next month for the right to challenge Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen is now set. Ding, rendered largely inactive by the global COVID-19 shutdown, had to play a frantic schedule of games last month to secure the last spot on the pitch after Russian general manager Sergey Karjakin was ruled out for his outspoken defense. of President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Russia. Ukraine.

Although he barely squealed, Ding is one of the pre-tournament favorites along with Iranian-born French phenom Alireza Firouzja and Americans Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana, who lost a close match to Carlsen four years ago. years. Rounding out the field are Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, who is looking to regain his form after a one-sided loss to Carlsen in their November title fight; Azerbaijani GM veteran Teimour Radjabov; Jan-Krzysztof Duda from Poland; and Richard Report from Hungary. The 14-round, double-round tournament begins June 16 in Madrid. We’ll have full coverage and color here and on

Kaidanov-Swiercz, 15th American Continental Championship, San Salvador, El Salvador, May 2022

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. a3 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 c5 6. f3 d5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. e3 c4 9. Ne2 Nc6 10. Ng3 h5 11. h4 Qc7 12. Kf2 Na5 13. Rb1 OO 14. e4 dxe4 15. Rb5 Nb3 16. Nxh5 Nxh5 17. Rxh5 Bd7 18. Be3 Rae8 19. f4 f6 20. f5 Re7 21. Qg4 Be8 22. Rh6 b5 23. h5 a5 24. Rg6 b4 25. axb4 axb4 26. h6 Bxg6 27. hxg7 Rff7 28. Rh8+ Kxg7 29. Qh4 Black resigns.

Dardha-Salimova, 22nd Individual European Championship, Terme Catez, Slovenia, March 2022

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. e3 Nf6 5. b3 Nbd7 6. Bb2 b6 7. Nf3 Be7 8. Qc2 OO 9. Rd1 Bb7 10. Bd3 Qc7 11. OO Rad8 12. Rfe1 Rfe8 13. Qb1 h6 14. Bf1 a6 15. g3 b5 16. cxd5 cxd5 17. Rc1 Qb8 18. Bg2 Rc8 19. Ne2 a5 20. Nf4 b4 21. h4 Ne4 22. Bh3 Bd6 23. Qa1 Rxc1 24. Rxc1 g5 25. hxg5 hxg5 26. Nd3 Bxg3 27. fxg3 Qxg3+ 28. Bg2 Ba6 29. Nc5 Qf2+ 30. Kh1 Ng3+ 31. Kh2 Kg7 32. Nxg5 Rh8+ 33. Nh3 Nf6 34. Rg1 Ng4 mat.

• David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at [email protected]

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