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Features

February 20, 2014

Movement coordination leads to victory

New World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen won the elite Zurich Chess Challenge this month. This week’s position is from Carlsen’s game against Boris Gelfand. Carlsen is white; Gelfand, black. Carlsen’s next move prepares a rook combination and maximizes the full potential of white’s knight, bishop and rook pair. With this hint in mind, please try to find Carlsen’s next move.

Black’s bishop threatens white’s knight. Carlsen ignored this and maneuvered his rook on f5 to f2. If black now captures the knight, white’s rook steps over to g2 with check.

The black king is forced to retreat away from the rook on h6, which he defends. After the black king moves to f7, white’s rook on b6 snatches black’s h6 rook. White wins the exchange and white’s rooks dominate the board.

Gelfand’s best reply to Carlsen’s moving his rook to f2 is to move his d1 bishop to g4.

The black bishop on g4 defends against the threat of white’s knight moving to f5, forking black’s king and rook on h6. This move also frees the black rook on d8 to check on d1 with devastating consequences for white.

White thus blocks the rook check by moving its knight to d5.

White’s knight and rooks eye black’s f6 rook. Simultaneously, white’s rook on f2 is poised to pin black’s bishop on g4. White’s pieces control the board and white is up three pawns.

This is why Gelfand resigned after Carlsen moved his rook to f2. Gelfand watched the world’s best tie him up in knots with the superb coordination of his pieces.

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