Ding Liren of China, 23, and Wesley So of the United States, 22, are both in the world’s top 10, so a recent four-game match between the two of them was interesting and significant. Only one of the games was decisive – a victory by Ding in Game 3. It was not only impressive, it was theoretically important as it was in a line that has become popular recently.
Coming up with new ideas in new openings is not the only way to succeed or improve. Julio Ernesto Granda Zuniga, a 49-year-old Peruvian grandmaster, has always been considered a very talented, “natural” player for his ability to outplay even elite opponents in non-standard positions. But he has recently surged to a new career high. On the strength of his crushing victory in the Llucmajor Open, where he scored 8½ out of 9, his rating on the live rating list is 2699.3. If he can pick up another rating point, he will probably become the oldest players ever to surpass the 2700 mark for the first time at such a relatively advanced age.
Here’s one of his wins from the Llucmajor Open. It isn’t really a model game, but it does show his fondness for slightly offbeat positions and his ability to handle them better than his opponents – even very strong opponents.
Finally, here’s a game with something old (and also something new). The European Individual Chess Championship is underway, and after Round 7, Czech grandmaster David Navara is tied for first with Ernesto Inarkiev or Russia, each with 6/7. Navara has been in excellent form, as is evident from his impressive victory over Zurab Sturua of Georgia in Round 4. The players revisited a line of the Nimzo-Indian that has been considered dangerous for Black since the famous game between Mikhail Botvinnik and Jose Capablanca from the AVRO tournament in 1938, and this game only confirmed the general impression. Sturua tried an idea that had enjoyed some recent (relative) popularity, but Navara was ready with a strong idea that hadn’t been tested in prior games between top players and won convincingly.
Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at ChessLecture.com. Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.
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