Chess

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The Independent Culture
In the last round of the Monarch Assurance Open on the Isle of Man, the top seed, Vladeslav Tkachiev, needed to win against Andrew Ledger to overtake his opponent and take first prize. He achieved it in a controlled attacking style culminating in a neat finish.

In the diagram position, after Black's 31st move, White had tied his opponent down but still needed to find a way to deliver the fatal blow. An obvious and strong plan is to go after the Q-side pawns with Bb7 or Ra7, but Tkachiev found a far more incisive way to finish the game.

Stage one - drive the rook from g8: accomplished with 32.d4 Qh6 33.d5 exd5 34.Bxd5 Rf8.

Stage two - cut out any nonsense with Qc1+: achieved with 35.g3 (giving the king a secure hiding place on g2).

Stage three - exploit Black's back-rank problems: 35...g5 36.Rf7! Rc8 (36...Rxf7 37.Qb8+! forces mate) 37.Qc7! Re8 (37...Rxc7 38.Rf8 mate) 38.Qe7! Rg8 39.Rf8 resigns. Here are the full moves of the game, a good illustration of how a top grandmaster can keep enough tension and strategic complexity in a position to play for a win without risk:

White: Vladeslav Tkachiev

Black: Andrew Ledger

1 e4 c6 21 Qf4 f6

2 Nc3 d5 22 exf6 Nxf6

3 Nf3 Bg4 23 Qe5 cxd3

4 h3 Bxf3 24 cxd3 Nxe4

5 Qxf3 Nf6 25 Bxe7 Qxe7

6 d3 e6 26 Re4 Rfd8

7 Qg3 Nbd7 27 Rxd4 Rxd4

8 Be2 b5 28 Qxd4 Rd8

9 a3 Qb6 29 Qe5 a6

10 0-0 g6 30 Rc1 Qxh4

11 Bf4 Be7 31 Rc7 Rg8

12 Bf3 0-0 32 d4 Qh6

13 Rfe1 Rac8 33 d5 exd5

14 h4 Kh8 34 Bxd5 Rf8

15 Re2 d4 35 g3 g5

16 Nb1 c5 36 Rf7 Rc8

17 Nd2 c4 37 Qc7 Re8

18 e5 Ne8 38 Qe7 Rg8

19 Ne4 Ng7 39 Rf8 resigns

20 Bg5 Qd8

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