The World Chess Cup online qualifiers are underway this week, and such is the competitive strength of these knock-out matches that England’s five grandmaster and master entrants all faced much higher ranked opposition in the very first round.

Ravi Haria, 22, a London University student who is advancing towards the GM title, was the only survivor into the second round as he impressively defeated his German opponent 2-0. White’s board control led to a winning passed b7 pawn, and Black resigned due to 36..Qb8 37 Ra8! Qxb7 38 Qh4+ and Qh8 mate. 

Haria’s next match is still harder, against Russia’s Ernesto Inarkiev who was European champion in 2016, but who is best known for his involvement in a bizarre rules controversy with Magnus Carlsen, the world champion, in 2017.

The Haria v Inarkiev two-game match can be viewed free and live online on Wednesday (1pm start) and Thursday (noon start). If they are level at 1-1, a speed play-off will decide.

The World Cup proper starts in Sochi, Russia, in July. England will be represented there by the No1, Michael Adams, and by one of David Howell, Gawain Jones and Luke McShane. In theory, the English players can aim to reach the final and eventually a match for the global crown. Realistically, their target will be the second or third round.

Although England’s grandmasters and masters have had limited success in online play during the pandemic, they are among the most successful commentators.  Howell and England’s No1 woman Jovanka Houska appear daily on, Jones comments live while he plays amateurs, while Simon Williams and Lawrence Trent have their own online shows.

Puzzle 2421

Teimour Radjabov v Vladimir Fedoseev, Tata Steel Wijk 2019.  Black to move and win.  Apparently both sides will queen, so how did Fedoseev do it?

Click here for solution

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