Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Crossing a Minefield
The year 2021 was a difficult one for public events due to the Covid pandemic. Strict lockdowns went into effect early in Dec-2020 in many countries because the number of Covid cases dramatically rose. Governments strongly recommended working from home. Schools closed, as well as restaurants, cinemas and non-essential shops, and amateur sport activities ceased. However professional sport events continued but in empty stadiums.
Major chess tournaments fell into the latter category including the prestigious Tata Steel Chess one that took place in January-2021. This only applied to the Masters’ Section that had “top sport” status. So without the challenger and amateur section and also the public, the normally packed hall was virtually empty. However, the quiet environment stimulated creativity and chess fans enjoyed beautiful games online.
One of them was the game played by Fabiano Caruana and Andrey Esipenko in round 5. What started as an English Opening, became a permanent ambush for the Russian player who needed to be alert after each move.
Traps in this game have resemblances with those already seen in these series. For example, the first offer of the knight as bait resembles the ‘Fishing Pole’. While the last one when Caruana traps Esipenko’s bishop is similar to the ‘Noah’s Ark Trap’.
As already mentioned in other posts, when players know and understand the patterns of traps, they are able to quickly identify the appropriate conditions to set them thus creating a minefield.
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