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Daily puzzle: my pick of wonderful moves from 2016

January 3, 2017

 

I will start the New Year with a fairly random selection of moves seen during 2016: skewed to the last few months, since I only thought of making such a selection in December, and then had to try to recall some of my favourite moments.

Today, quite extraordinarily, I am picking another move from the same game as I selected yesterday, played in the fabulous sixth round of the equally fabulous 2016 London Chess Classic.

Furthermore, the move played wasn’t the best (per the engines/in the cold light of analysis) but for sheer imagination, what can I say?

So: today, if you don’t know the position (i) try to work out the best move; (ii) try to work out the actual move played, or, alternatively, list out all the candidate moves that you would consider if you were playing White.

 

White to play and win
caruananakamura3
Caruana v Nakamura, London Chess Classic 15/12/16.
 

Solution

1 b5?!?!

caruananakamura4

Incredible: what class to think of such a move. I would never have even considered it.
Question: what is the purpose of b5?
Before reading on, pause and try to work out the purpose of the move.
I watched the game live, on playchess.com, and was so puzzled that I took a screenshot and stored the position to look at later. Then, that evening, Jonathan Rowson gave the explanation on Twitter:
jonathanrowson
Later, I saw further commentary (not sure where). The move is prophylactic, aimed against both the Rb8-Qb4 assault on b2 but also weakening, perhaps, any Qb4-e1+ mechanism (e.g. by playing b2-b3).  Caruana apparently mistook the position of one of White’s rooks in a long line of analysis after the engine’s choice 1 Nf7+!! which wins, and preferred to improve that move by prefacing it with prophylaxis.
Extraordinary.
For the game continuation, see my Cloud Database , or see Chessbase.com

FEN

1r3r1k/4qp2/p2Rb2N/4pB1P/1P2P3/4B3/1PP5/2KR4 w – – 0 29

ChessBase Cloud
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