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But For the Grace of Caissa

Chess is the most annoying game ever created. You can have the world chess champion or even the odd FIDE challenger on the ropes and a million ways of making wonderful sweet chess brilliant wins against them but fluff it up in one move, actually in a half-move. Chess is super annoying like that.

In the Grenke Chess Classic 2018, the case in point, Hou Yifan played a combative Petroff from the black side against an almost reticent Fabiano Caruana. The Women's #1 has a clear edge which she is looking to convert. The endgame position is very promising for her but needs some inspired moves followed by technique. So after Hou Yifan's last move 63...Ke3 it is clear her strategy has to be the simple but irresistibly winning idea of getting the Black King on the dream square of d2 and throw anything at the White King to overload it, redirect it and clear the c file of white pawns and march the black pawn home.

Fabi presumably saw this too and presumably the form of the unbelievably innocuous but incredibly bad 64.Bb7. A move so bad that computers all over the world were juggling double digit evals for a winning advantage for black. However the humans all over the world thought they saw Fabi fighting for a draw valiantly with a rear guard attack on the black pawns.

As you know doubt know if you are a chess fanatic that Hou Yifan missed the unbelievable Spielmann-esque line 64...Kd2 (disdain for material the hallmark of the Austrian genius), White is like wtf ok 65. Bxa6. And then black hits hard and fabulously with 65...Ne3+!!! The point being the Knight is untouchable since 66.cxd3 is disastrous as 67...d4!!! and white is lost. White's retreat with 66.Kc1 only allows black to win in another way with 66...Ne1 and 67...Nxc2 to come and only one player will survive, and it's not white.

Closer to the British Isles in Jersey, the Polar Capital Open 2018. Alina L'Ami was barnstorming a group of strong GMs and highly rated IMs. On board 2 with a magnificent 2nd place in sight she was winning with black against IM Alan Merry who had also had a good tournament.

Alina got herself a corker of a position, with lots of dramatic looking lines leading to a draw with careful play and exact play by white. This is Carlsen country. The move 25...g4! was very very practical play.

28...Ng3+ adds more petrol to the fire but Merry has a fire extinguisher handy with 29.hxg3 hxg3 30.Kg2

Black can get her rook out of the pin with a handy Qd7 and rook anywhere. But white has counterplay for the material lost the h file where the hapless bishop on h6 is the prime target.

Things are finely balanced now and Alina needs to come up with a great move to fend off the white threats on the h file and dark squares infiltration of black's King's position. Alina played 33...Rb1 and Merry closed out the game with 34.Bd4. Caissa strikes again.

Alina missed 33...Qg7 forcing Merry to find the fire extinguishing 34.Qxf4. However the sting in the tail was that 34.Rh4 and 34.Rh5 look plausible but are totally lost for white.

Why did Fabiano's conservative play and Alina's dynamic play not allow them to see the moves that would have rewarded their efforts but Caissa chose to give Fabi a draw and Alina a painful loss.

Caissa the goddess of chess blessing the beautiful game with Triumph and Disaster but treating those two impostors just the same.

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