- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2003

Considering that we’re talking about a movement that’s more than 80 years old, it really is time to find a new term for the “hypermoderns.”

The insights of the great hypermoderns remain valid: flexible development schemes, long-range control of the center, the hidden power of seemingly weak pawn structures. Yet it’s difficult to think there is anything hypermodern about a movement whose chief exponents, including Reti and Nimzovich, were born when Queen Victoria was on the throne and the Wright brothers still hadn’t taken off at Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Fittingly, some classic hypermodern ideas got a workout at the recent U.S. Senior Open, held last weekend in Wilmington, Del. GM Boris Gulko, long one of the country’s strongest players at any age, blitzed the 28-player field with a 6-0 score to take the crown, reserved for players 50 and older.

In a key matchup against FM Igor Fayvinov in Round 5, the 56-year-old Gulko employs the quintessentially hypermodern Pirc Defense, setting up a slow positional war in which not much seems to happen for long stretches of the game. In the first 21 moves, Black advances only a single pawn as far as his own fourth rank, keeping his powder dry as he waits for White to declare his intentions.

On 21. Bd3 Ng6 (eyeing f4 and forcing the White knight back to the h5 square) 22. Nh5 c5, Black gets in the first central break and obtains an ever-so-slight initiative, which he will enjoy for the rest of the contest.

Black seems so intent on a slow positional buildup that he appears to overlook the tricky 26…Nxg4! 27. fxg4 Bxd4 28. cxd4 Bxb5, snaring a pawn. But Fayvinov himself plays so modestly, apparently happy with equality, that he eschews sharper lines such as 31. Nh5!? Bf8 32. g3 Qc7 33. f4.

The problem with intricate rear-guard maneuvering is that one small oversight can spoil 20 moves of solid preparation. Gulko’s bishop pair gives him only a slight edge when White makes his first tactical blunder of the game: 43. Bb3 (threatening 44. Nc4, hitting the queen and the d-pawn) Rdc8 44. Nc2 Be5 45. Nb4? (see diagram) Rxc3!.

Now 46. bxc3 Bxc3+ 47. Kb1 Qxb4 48. Qf2 Ba4 49. Rb2 Bxb2 50. Qxb2 Bb5 wins a clean pawn, but White gets into more trouble trying to avoid the main line — 46. Nd3 Rxd3! (the corollary: now White’s weak b2 and the Black domination of the long diagonal tell) 47. Rxd3 a5! 48. Rc1 Rxc1+ 49. Qxc1 Bb5.

White’s best chance now was 50. Qe3! Qc6 51. Rd1 a4 52. Rc1 Qa6 53. Bc2 Bf4, when Black recovers the exchange with advantage. But the game’s 50. Rd1? leads to a quick demise on 50…a4!, when it’s hopeless after 51. Bc2 a3 51. Qd2 (Kb1 entombs the queen and costs a full rook on 51…Bf4 52. Rd2 Qa5!) Bd3! 53. Bxd3 Bxb2+ 54. Kb1 Bc3+ 55. Kc1 Bxd2+, winning. Fayvinov resigned.

Maryland master Denis Strenzwilk was kind enough to send along several games from the Senior Open, and his reward is to have one of his losses published here. Actually, against a top-quality opponent, Potomac IM Larry Kaufman, Strenzwilk puts up a spirited fight in a highly complex game that features a piece sacrifice on Move 6.

In one of the sharpest Ruy Lopez Exchange lines, my Modern Chess Openings prefers 10. d4 Bd6 11. hxg4 hxg4 12. Nh2 Rxh2 13. Qxg4 Qh4 14. Qxh4 Rxh4 15. Nf3 Rh5, with dynamic equality. Strenzwilk as White bravely chops off the bishop and lives to tell about it: 10. hxg4!? hxg4 11. Nh2 g3 (Bc5!?, with the threat of 12…Qxf2+ 13. Kh1 Rxh2+! 14. Kxh2 Qh4 mate, also looks strong; e.g. 12. Ndf3 [Qe2 g3 is winning] gxf3 13. Nxf3 Nh4 and the attack keeps coming) 12. fxg3 Bxc5+ 13. Kh1 Rxh2+ (Qf2?! 14. Re2 Qxg3 15. Ndf3 0-0-0 16. Qe1 Qg4 17. Be3, and White is holding).

Black’s last move is forcing but not decisive, as White gets two full rooks for his queen on 14. Kxh2+ Ke7 15. Qh5 (Nf3?? Rh8+ 16. Nh4 Rxh4+ 17. gxh4 Qxh4 mate) Rh8 16. Qxh8 Nxh8 17. Nf3. The evaluation here is tricky, as the White king remains in a box, but White could have a long-term edge if he can coordinate his rooks. Kaufman immediately initiates invasion threats to keep the White pieces from consolidating.

Although the character of the game is completely different, just as in Fayvinov-Gulko, a moment’s inattention spells disaster for White: 17…Qg6 18. Ng5 (and not 18. Be3?? Bxe3 19. Rxe3 Qh6+, a motif that will recur four moves later) f6 19. Nh3 Nf7 20. Be3 Bxe3 21. Rxe3 Nh6. The threatened fork at g4 is obvious, but White overlooks the tactics involving his loose rook at e3.

Thus: 22. Nf2? (Kg1! Ng4 23. Re2 Qh6 24. Rae1 keeps things interesting) Nf5! (23. exf5 Qh6+ 24. Kg1 Qxe3 25. c3 Qd2 26. Rb1 Qc2 also loses material, but even White’s bailout move can’t save the exchange) 23. Rf3 Nd4 24. Nh3 (Re3 Nxc2 is even more painful) Nxf3+ 25. gxf3.

Even though Black’s marauding queen picks up a crucial queen-side pawn, White still shows plenty of fight. The game might have remained very interesting had White tried 36. Nh5 Qh8 37. Nxg7!, when the knight threatens to land on e6 and Black can’t force a winning ending with 37…Qxg7?? 38. Rxg7 Kxg7 39. Ke3 b5 40. Kd4 a4 41. bxa4 bxa4 42. Kc3, and it is White who scores the point.

But the White king is drawn two critical squares farther from the queen-side on 37. Rxg7+? Kf8!! 38. Kg4 Qxh5+! 39. Kxh5 Kxg7 40. d4 b5 41. e5 a4. Black’s king keeps an eye on the White central pawns, while White’s king has no hope of catching the passed Black a-pawn. Strenzwilk resigned.

U.S. Senior Open, Wilmington, Del., July 2003


1. d4d626. Bb5Qe8

2. e4Nf627. Be2Ba4

3. Nc3g628. Rd2a6

4. Bg5Bg729. Ng3Qe7

5. Qd2h630. Rh1Bg7

6. Bh4g531. Nf1Qc7

7. Bg3Nh532. Ne3Qb6

8. Nge2Nc633. Rc1Kb8

9. f3Nxg334. Qf1Rc7

10. hxg3e635. Ka1Qc5

11. g4Bd736. Bd1Bd7

12. Nd1Qe737. Qe1Rdc8

13. Ne30-0-038. Bc2Qb6

14. 0-0-0Kb839. Rcd1Be8

15. Kb1Ka840. Nb3Rd8

16. c3Rb841. Nd4Nc6

17. Ng3Rhd842. Nxc6+Rxc6

18. Nh5Bh843. Bb3Rdc8

19. Ng3Qf844. Nc2Be5

20. Nc2Ne745. Nb4Rxc3

21. Bd3Ng646. Nd3Rxd3

22. Nh5c547. Rxd3a5

23. Qf2Rbc848. Rc1Rxc1+

24. Rhe1cxd449. Qxc1Bb5

25. Nxd4Ne550. Rd1a4

White resigns

U.S. Senior Open, Wilmington, Del., July 2003


1. e4e522. Nf2Nf5

2. Nf3Nc623. Rf3Nd4

3. Bb5a624. Nh3Nxf3+

4. Bxc6dxc625. gxf3Qh6

5. 0-0Bg426. Rf1Qd2+

6. h3h527. Rf2Qc1

7. d3Qf628. b3Qa3

8. Nbd2Ne729. f4exf4

9. Re1Ng630. gxf4Qxa2

10. hxg4hxg431. Rg2Kf7

11. Nh2g332. f5Qa1

12. fxg3Bc5+33. Nf4Qe5

13. Kh1Rxh2+34. Kg3a5

14. Kxh2Ke735. Kf3Qe8

15. Qh5Rh836. Nh5Qh8

16. Qxh8Nxh837. Rxg7+Kf8

17. Nf3Qg638. Kg4Qxh5+

18. Ng5f639. Kxh5Kxg7

19. Nh3Nf740. d4b5

20. Be3Bxe341. e5a4

21. Rxe3Nh6White resigns

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washingtontimes.com.



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