Chess has followed football and Formula1 in stripping Russia of the right to host its flagship team event, the 150-nation Olympiad, which was scheduled for Moscow in July. India, where the game has boomed with a profusion of teenage talents, has submitted its guarantee of $10m to the global chess body Fide.

Fide has also ended its backing from Russian state sponsors including the gas supplier Gazprom, the fertiliser giant PhosAgro, and the mining firm Nornickel.

However, Nigel Short, who is effectively Fide’s acting president in current conditions, stated that the organisation’s budget had expanded fivefold to more than €13m since its new administration led by Arkady Dvorkovich took over in 2018, and that its current programmes would not be affected by the absence of Russian backing.

Russian and Belarus players will be prohibited from competing with national flags, while the 2016 world title challenger Sergey Karjakin, who has made public statements justifying the invasion, is being referred to Fide’s disciplinary commission. Karjakin is also being ostracised by top tournaments. Norway Chess in Stavanger, which he has won twice, announced his exclusion.

Five Russian grandmasters, playing under the Fide flag, are currently competing as individuals at Belgrade in the Fide Grand Prix. The final Grand Prix leg in Berlin also looks likely to be played normally, but the problem event is the eight-player Candidates at Madrid in June, for which the controversial Karjakin is qualified.

Meanwhile, Norway’s world champion Magnus Carlsen sails on, defeating both Covid and his old rival Ian Nepomniachtchi en route to a 4.5-2.5 final victory in the online $150,000 Airthings Masters, the opening event of the 2022 $1.6m Meltwater Champions Tour.

Just as in their classical world title match in Dubai, the Russian, who had tweeted his opposition to the war in Ukraine, held his own well for five games then collapsed at critical moments.

2459 

John Emms v Chris Ward, British championship 2015. White to move and win. Material is level in this pawn endgame, and at first glance the position is blocked with no way through. Can you find White’s instructive winning plan?

Click here for solution

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