Master Challenge #2: Puzzles from the Games of Vugar Gashimov

Master Challenge #2: Puzzles from the Games of Vugar Gashimov

NM SamCopeland

There has been many wonderful tributes to GM Vugar Gashimov during the memorial tournament in his honor in Shamkir. It is always sad when such an artist passes at a young age. Fortunately, in chess, the games always remain as a lasting legacy to a player's brilliance. The games of creative players such as Gashimov may inspire chess players for centuries. Personally, as a Benoni player, I was very inspired by GM Gashimov's succesful defense of the opening against the very strongest in the world. It is players such as Gashimov that inspire me to believe that even in the computer age there will always be new and complex positions to explore.

As a tribute to Gashimov's creative play, I have selected 5 puzzles from his games for a second Master's Challenge ( Some of these positions may be challenging for masters and better, some are quite a bit simpler. In any case, I believe there may be rewards for most players in thinking about the positions and trying to evaluate the position and identify some of the key ideas at play in the position. There should also be value to all players in playing through the solutions, but I encourage you to at least try to solve the problems before revealing the solution.

For each problem, I have awarded a total of 5 points for various insights. These are simply to identify the most important insights in the position. Best of luck!

NOTE: Points and relevant annotations are in the comments. Click the question mark at the bottom right of the board to reveal them.



Problem 1: GM Gashimov seemed to be a master of the rook lift. He played several exciting attacking games where early involvement of his rooks was key to his succes. Here, he is on tilt against GM Kempinski and he has played the attractive 22. Qa6. How should GM Kempenski respond and what is the correct evaluation of the ensuing position?



Problem 2: Another exciting rook lift game. What is the best move for White, and what is the correct evaluation of the position? (You may wish to reveal the solution after the first move. Alternatively, you may play guess the move with GM Gashimov.)



Problem 3: Again, GM Gashimov is on tilt. He has just played an interesting king activation with Kh4 and Kg5 and things are looking rough for GM Movsesian. What is GM Movsesian's best defense, the justifying variation, and the correct evaluation?



Problem 4: What is Black's best move and how should the game conclude?



Problem 5: Here GM Gashimov has managed to put maximum pressure on GM Francisco Vallejo Pons in a R+N vs. R endgame. There are several natural moves to consider here. GM Pons chose an incorrect one. What is a correct defense for White and what is an incorrect defense? Note that it should not be possible to find all the variations (although they are interesting and instructive to play over), but it should be possible to identify the correct and incorrect choices. (You may click to reveal the annotations once you believe you have the answer.)