- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2003

One of the best spectacles in local chess takes place today at the U.S. Chess Center downtown with the 14th annual D.C. Action Championship. The six-round, Game/30 event has become a magnet for top players, with grandmasters and strong masters routinely entering the field.

Play gets under way at 11:30 a.m., and the swift-action format means a new champion will be crowned by about 9 or so tonight. Action chess is perhaps the most fan-friendly format there is, and there’s no charge for spectators.

The Chess Center is located at 1501 M St. NW. Call 202/857-4922 or check the Web site at www.chessctr.org/DCAction.htm for details.

Popular chess writer Bruce Pandolfini writes a regular instructional column in Chess Life on what’s known as “solitaire chess.” The idea is simple: Take a famous and instructive game, cover up half of the game score and win points for selecting the correct moves made by the winner.

My solitaire score on today’s first game, won by Los Angeles Times’ chess columnist and IM Jack Peters, would have been miserably low, for almost every move by both players after the irregular opening defies expectations. Master Pieta Garrett holds her own in a very complicated position, but Peters eventually steers his way to a clear — and crushing — finale.

The game comes from the traditional Lina Grumette Memorial Day Classic, a longtime fixture on the California chess calendar. Peters finished in a tie for third behind Russian master Vladimir Mezentsev.

White wants no part of Peters’ Benko Gambit, and the game quickly steers into uncharted waters: 4. Bg5 Ne4 5. Bf4 g5!? 6. Be5 f6 7. Bg3. Having made an early demonstration on the king-side, Black switches suddenly to the queen-side, snatches a pawn and establishes his queen at a dominating post on e5.

Unfortunately, the queen is Black’s only developed piece, and White gets some quick counterplay on 13. Qc2!? d6!? (Qxg3+ 14. Kd1 d6 15. Rxh7 Rxh7 16. Qxh7 is, like much of this perplexing game, hard to evaluate) 14. e4 f5 (Qxg3+ 15. Kd1 Nd7 16. Ne2 Qf2 [Qe5?? 17. Nc4 traps the queen] is also perverse) 15. Bb5+ Bd7 16. Bxd7+ Nxd7 17. Ne2, and Black doesn’t get the g-pawn after all.

On 17…Nb6 18. Rh5!? (another surprise — 18. Nc4 Nxc4 19. Qxc4 Bg7 seems more natural) fxe4 19. Nxe4 Qxd5 20. Rxg5 Qf7 21. Qb2! Rg8 22. Qb5+ Nd7 23. Qc6, the White queen mimics the Black queen’s earlier invasion, and White has equalized. The unstable position of the two kings makes for some delicate tactics, as it isn’t clear which side will benefit when the position opens up.

Garrett takes a commendably aggressive tack, but it misfires badly on 25. Rcd1 Kf8 26. Nxd6?! (not losing, but Black would still be sweating on 26. Nxc5 Nxc5 27. Rxc5 Qxa2 28. Qc7) exd6 27. Rxd6 Rg6! 28. Qc7 (Rxd7 Rxd7 29. Qxd7 Qxd7 30. Rxd7 Rg7 is roughly equal) Re8!, and the open e-file will prove fatal to White.

Tougher now would have been 29. Rxg6 (29. Qxd7? Qxd7 30. Rxd7 Rge6 31. R1d2 Bxd2+) Qxg6 30. Qxd7 Qc2 31. Qd3 Qxa2 32. Qf5+ with a double-edged game, because it’s over in a heartbeat on 29. Rxd7? Qc4!, and the counterattack on e2 is decisive.

White is losing much more than the exchange on 30. R1d2 Bxd2+ 31. Rxd2 Qc1+! (the pinned White knight is proving worse than useless) 32. Rd1 Rxe2+! 33. Kxe2 Re6+ 34. Kf2 Qc2+, and White will be mated in lines such as 35. Kg1 Qxd1+ 36. Kh2 Rh6 mate. Garrett resigned.

• • •

Just four years old, the men’s Individual European Chess Championship is already proving to be one of the strongest Swiss events in the world. This year’s fourth running of the event, now under way in Silivri, Turkey, features a massive 164 grandmasters and dozens of international masters as well.

Although boasting just two 2,700-plus super-GMs (Ukraine’s Vassily Ivanchuk and young Russian GM Alexander Grischuk), the Silivri event includes the cream of Europe’s talent pool. Through Wednesday’s Round 5, 10 players, including England’s Luke McShane and Georgian Zurab Azmaiparashvili, shared the lead at 4-1.

GM Andrei Kharlov, paired against fellow Russian GM Mikhail Kobalia in Round 3, used a daring knight leap to initiate a decisive material-winning combination. Kharlov grabs a clear space advantage in this Botvinnik English (a system I highly recommend), using his knight and central pawns to provoke weaknesses around the castled Black king.

The payoff comes on 27. Qh4 Bf5 28. Ng5 h6 (see diagram) 29. Nh7!!, plunging deep into the Black king’s bastion. Declining the offer with 29…g5 30. fxg5 Bxh7 still leaves Black under heavy pressure; e.g. 31. Be4! Bxe4 32. Rxe4 Rd6 33. g6 Re6 34. f7+ Kh8 35. Rxe6 Nxe6 36. Qf6+ Ng7 37. Rf4!, when Black is helpless against the idea of Rf4-h4-xh6 mate.

Taking the knight brings fresh problems for Kobalia on 29…Kxh7 30. Re7 Kh8 31. Rg7! h5 32. Qg5!, forcing Black to give up his queen for the rook to stop mate on h6. With 38. Qxe7 Nxf4 39. Bxc6 Rf8 40. Qxc5, Black has a rook and minor piece for the queen but has no answer for White’s two central passed pawns.

With 49. d5 Rxa2 50. d6, the pawn duo will cost Black at least a piece and perhaps more; Kobalia resigned.

Lina Grumette Memorial Day Classic, Los Angeles, May 2003


1. d4Nf618. Rh5fxe4

2. c4c519. Nxe4Qxd5

3. d5b520. Rxg5Qf7

4. Bg5Ne421. Qb2Rg8

5. Bf4g522. Qb5+Nd7

6. Be5f623. Qc6Rd8

7. Bg3Qa5+24. Rd5Bh6

8. Nd2bxc425. Rcd1Kf8

9. f3Nxg326. Nxd6exd6

10. hxg3c327. Rxd6Rg6

11. bxc3Qxc328. Qc7Re8

12. Rc1Qe529. Rxd7Qc4

13. Qc2d630. R1d2Bxd2+

14. e4f531. Rxd2Qc1+

15. Bb5+Bd732. Rd1Rxe2+

16. Bxd7+Nxd733. Kxe2Re6+

17. Ne2Nb634. Kf2Qc2+

White resigns

4th European Championships, Silivri, Turkey, June 2003


1. c4Nf626. exf6g6

2. Nc3e527. Qh4Bf5

3. g3Bb428. Ng5h6

4. Bg20-029. Nh7Kxh7

5. e4Nc630. Re7+Kh8

6. Nge2d631. Rg7h5

7. 0-0Bc532. Qg5Qxg7

8. h3Re833. fxg7+Kxg7

9. d3Nd434. Re1Re8

10. Be3Nxe2+35. Re7+Kg8

11. Qxe2c636. Qf6Ne2+

12. Bxc5dxc537. Kh2Rxe7

13. f4exf438. Qxe7Nxf4

14. gxf4Nd739. Bxc6Rf8

15. Qf2Nf840. Qxc5Rf7

16. Rad1Ne641. Bd5Nxd5

17. e5Nd442. Qxd5Kg7

18. Ne4Qe743. c5Re7

19. b4b644. h4Re2+

20. bxc5bxc545. Kg1Rc2

21. Nd6Rd846. c6Kf6

22. Rde1f647. d4Rd2

23. Qh4Qf848. Qe5+Kf7

24. Ne4Nf549. d5Rxa2

25. Qf2Nd450. d6Black


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



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