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Magnus Carlsen’s comeback in the second half at the Sao Paulo-Bilbao Masters would have been astonishing if he hadn’t made a habit of late surges. A splendid win against Anand — his first in classical chess — ensured Carlsen would tie Caruana at the least. Caruana managed the equally impressive feat of beating Aronyan to stay neck and neck. The two tied with scorelines of +4,-1, =5 after trading wins with each other. But Carlsen took the tiebreakers 2-0 to defend the title he won last year, by beating Ivanchuk in tiebreakers.
The “Super-Cs”, Carlsen and Caruana, are clearly the future of chess. In the last 12 months, the youngest member of the Top 10, Caruana, has pulled ahead of his peer group. His rating will now climb to the 2,790 level, while Carlsen is on 2,848, just 3 points short of the all-time record.
These two were the only players with plus scores. Aronyan ended at 50 per cent while Anand ended at minus 1 with yet another lacklustre result. Karjakin and Vellejo Pons ended with bigger minus scores.
The next big event was the very strong Euro Club championship, held in Eliat, Israel. This seven-round Swiss, six-board team event saw 34 teams competing. Most of the top clubs had several Super GMs holding down top boards. SOCAR Azerbaijan with Radjabov, Mamedaryov, Topalov, Grischuk, Kamsky, Sutovsky pipped St. Petersburg (Svidler, Lenier Dominguez, Vituigov, Movsesian, Efimenko, Matlakov). Socar and St. P tied with 12 match-points but Socar had the better tie-break. In the women’s event, Monte Carlo (Hou Yifan, Humpy, Muzychuk, Cramling) won with an absolute score of 14 and plenty to spare over second-placed, Mika Yerevan.
THE DIAGRAM, WHITE TO PLAY, (Carlsen Vs Anand, Sao Paulo-Bilbao 2012) is followed by a calm positional idea, which is harder to see than a flashy combination. It’s an equal position 19.e6!? This doesn't guarantee an edge. But it requires exact responses. White cuts the third rank and sets up for a kingside assault.
19...fxe6 20.Nf4 Bxc3 21.Qxc3 d4 22.Qd2 c5 23.Rae1 Ng7 24.g4 Rc6? Black should set up Rf8, Rc8, Qd6. He could start with 24.--Qd6 or 24.-- Rf8. This move makes it tough to defend the kingside and leads to a complete third-rank traffic jam.
25.Nh3! The transparent threat of Qh6, Ng5 is impossible to stop. 25.-- Ne8 26.Qh6 1.70/0 Nf6 27.Ng5 d3? The computers suggest 27.-- Qa6 28. Re5 Qc8 29. Rfe1 Qf8 when white has a big edge after 30. Qxf8 Rxf8 31. Nxe6 but there is wriggle room. 28.Re5 Kh8. Or else 28.--Rd8 29. Nxh7! is brutally efficient. 29.Rd1 Qa6 30.a4 (1–0). One of the rare games where one isn't sure of the errors despite computer analysis.
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player