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March 21, 2013

In foresight: What is white’s best move?

— The winner of the 2013 Candidates Chess Tournament plays the reigning World Chess Champion Vishy Anand later this year for the title.  The Candidates Tournament consists of the world’s top eight players and runs from March 15 to April 1.  After the first four of 14 total rounds, the anticipated winner Magnus Carlsen is tied with Levon Aronian for first with Peter Svidler on their heels.  

This week’s position is from Carlsen’s fourth round victory against Alexander Grischuk. Carlsen is white; Grischuk, black. Grischuk is aiming to overrun white’s king-side with his advancing e4 and f5 pawns. Carlsen disrupts Grischuk’s aim while finding a good square for his d2 knight.  With this hint in mind please try to find white’s best move.

Black’s queen targets the d6-h2 diagonal. The control of this diagonal prepares the advance of its f5 pawn to f4. Carlsen knocks the queen off this diagonal by advancing his c4 pawn to c5, attacking the black queen. This pawn advance also makes c4 available for its d2 knight.

Grischuk retreated his queen to g6, as he still hopes for a king-side assault. Carlsen hopped his d2 knight to c4.  

The white knights are poised to soon capture black’s a5 pawn. Grischuk replied by swinging his knight onto f6.  The black knight eyes d5 from which the knight supports a pawn advance to f4. Carlsen blocked the f5 pawn’s path by moving to his e3 bishop to f4. Grischuk then maneuvered his knight to d5, attacking the bishop.   Carlsen simply defended the bishop and its hold on f4 by moving his queen to d2.

 Carlsen has stymied Grischuk’s menacing intent on the king-side, while Carlsen’s knights are now ready to dance on black’s pawns on the queen-side.  

Carlsen has a knack for making complex positions look simple –- so often he finds clean and simple moves that only seem clean and simple in hindsight. In foresight, however, I expect Carlsen to win the Candidates Tournament and wrest the world championship crown from Vishy Anand later this year. 

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