- The Washington Times - Friday, July 2, 2004

California GM Walter Browne played a grand total of 28 games on his recent successful foray into the local chess scene last month, winning 23 and drawing four while capturing the 35th annual Virginia Open and conducting a simultaneous exhibition at the Arlington Chess Club.

So it may seem a trifle unfair to offer Browne’s only loss, but we don’t want to deny 10-year-old Darwin Li his moment of glory. The Northern Virginia Class C player was, in fact, on his way to defeat in his simul game against Browne, but he hung in long enough to collect the only full point the grandmaster would give up.

In a QGD Tarrasch, Li as Black is already in deep trouble after 9. Bxf3 Nxd4 10. Bxd5 Qa5?! (Be7 11. Bxf6 Bxf6 12. Qa4+ b5! 13. Nxb5 0-0 14. Bxa8 Qxa8 15. 0-0-0 [0-0?? Nxe2 mate] Nxb5 16. Qxb5 Rb8 17. Qc4 Rxb2 gives Black plenty of compensation if White wants to be greedy) 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. e3 Nc6 13. Bxc6+ bxc6 14. Qf3 Qb6 15. 0-0-0, when his shattered pawns and shaky king are both hard to defend.

When Browne stuffs up the Black king-side with 17. Qe4+ Kf8 18. Qf5!, entombing Li’s rook and bishop, it’s hard to conceive how White can lose in just 10 short moves.

But a moment’s lapse — while White was conducting nearly two dozen other games — costs Browne dearly: 21. Rd7 Rb8 (see diagram) 22. Rxf7+?? (Na4 wins trivially, as the queen can’t leave the a5-d8 diagonal; e.g. 22…Qb5 23. Rd8+ Rxd8 24. Rxd8+ Ke7 25. Qe7 mate) Kxf7 23. Rd7+ Kf8 24. Qe6.

White has an unstoppable mate. Unfortunately for him, it’s Black’s turn to move, and Li makes the most of it: 24…Qxb2+ 25. Kd1 Qa1+ 26. Ke2 Rb2+ 27. Rd2 (White may have missed that the escape route 27. Kf3 Qh1+ 28. Kf4 Rxf2 mate escapes nothing) Rxd2+ 28. Kxd2 Qb2+.

The checks run out after 29. Kd1 Qxc3 30. Qc8+ Kf7 31. Qd7+ Kg6, so White resigned.

• • •

Two favorites and two dark horses remain in the hunt as the FIDE world-title knockout tournament in Tripoli, Libya, has reached the semifinals.

Top seed Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria is playing Uzbek GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov, while co-favorite Michael Adams of England pairs off against Azerbaijani teenage sensation Teimour Radjabov. The winners meet in a four-game final starting next week for the international chess federation’s half of the disputed crown.

Topalov’s play in Libya cannot be praised too highly, as he has scored an astounding nine wins and a draw in winning his first five knockout matches. He saved his most sensational play for last, with a brilliantly orchestrated sacrificial win against Russia’s Andrei Kharlov to clinch a semifinal berth.

What makes the game even more impressive is that Topalov, having won the first game of the two-game set, needed just a draw to advance.

Needing to make something happen, Kharlov as White takes a risk with 16. Rad1 Bf8 17. g4!?, but the Russian probably never dreamed he was creating an attacking target for Black with the king-side thrust.

Black’s 21. Be3 h5!? is a remarkably provocative move, and he follows it up with a startling piece sacrifice: 22. f4 Nxg4! 23. hxg4 Bxg4.

The rest of the game is a bit hard to analyze. Black has two pawns for his piece, but his more potent, less nebulous compensation comes in the fact that White has no useful plan while Black can steadily improve his game. Breaking open the center, which White could have done repeatedly in the game, only aids Topalov’s attack.

When White does show signs of breaking through, Topalov just ups the sacrificial ante with 29. Nd4 (d5 was an interesting alternative) Rxe4! 30. Nxe4 Nxe4 31. Bxe4 fxe4. The one White move that deserves clear censure is 38. Nb5?, for the knight will be marooned on the queen-side for the rest of the game.

Black even moves his king up the board to assist in the final assault, only underscoring White’s helplessness.

Even giving back material doesn’t ease White’s plight after 43. Rgg2 Qf7 (still playing for the win as 43…Bh3 44. Qc1 Bxg2 45. Rxg2 g4 46. Kh2 is safe for Black) 44. fxg5 Bf3 45. Rh2 Bxh2+ 46. Rxh2, because Black has yet another tactical shot up his sleeve with 46…Rf4!! 47. Bxf4 Qxf4.

White has all manner of weak squares around his king and finally cracks under the defensive strain: 48. Rg2? (Qh3! Qxg5+ 49. Kf2 Qd2+ 50. Kf1 Qd1+ 51. Kf2 Qd2+ 52. Kg3 Qg5+ holds the draw, but, again, White needs a win) h4! (decisive; even down a rook, Black’s attack can’t be parried) 49. Qe1 e3 50. Rh2 (the threat was 50…Bxg2 51. Kxg2 Qg4+ 52. Kh1 e2 53. Na3 h3 54. Qf2 e1=Q+ 55. Qxe1 Qg2 mate) Qxg5+ 51. Kf1 h3.

It’s over after 52. Qb1+ (Nd6 Bg2+ 53. Ke2 [Kg1 Be4+ 54. Kf1 Bd3+] Kf6 54. Nb5 Qh5+ 55. Kxe3 Qe5+ 56. Kd2 Qxh2 and wins) Be4 53. Qb2 Bd3+. Kharlov resigned before Black could apply the clincher with 54. Re2 (Ke1 Qg1 mate) Qg2+ 55. Ke1 Qg1 mate.

A game that rates as an instant classic.

Simultaneous Exhibition, Arlington Chess Club, Arlington, June 2004

BrowneLi

1. d4d515. 0-0-0Rb8

2. c4e616. Rd2Bg7

3. Nc3Nf617. Qe4+Kf8

4. Nf3c518. Qf5Re8

5. cxd5exd519. Rhd1h5

6. g3Nc620. h4c4

7. Bg2Bg421. Rd7Rb8

8. Bg5Bxf322. Rxf7+Kxf7

9. Bxf3Nxd423. Rd7+Kf8

10. Bxd5Qa524. Qe6Qxb2+

11. Bxf6gxf625. Kd1Qa1+

12. e3Nc626. Ke2Rb2+

13. Bxc6+bxc627. Rd2Rxd2+

14. Qf3Qb628. Kxd2Qb2+

White

resigns

FIDE World Championships, Tripoli, Libya, June 2004

TopalovKharlov

1. e4e528. Rc4Rae8

2. Bc4Nf629. Nd4Rxe4

3. d3c630. Nxe4Nxe4

4. Nf3Be731. Bxe4fxe4

5. 0-0d632. Rc3d5

6. a40-033. Rg3Bd6

7. Re1Nbd734. Be3Qd7

8. Nc3Nc535. c3Rf8

9. d4exd436. Rf1b6

10. Nxd4a537. Rf2c5

11. Bf4Ng438. Nb5Bb8

12. Be2Nf639. Rfg2g5

13. Bf3Re840. Rf2Kg7

14. Qd2g641. Qc1Kg6

15. h3Nfd742. Qf1Rf5

16. Rad1Bf843. Rgg2Qf7

17. g4Qb644. fxg5Bf3

18. Bg2Ne545. Rh2Bxh2+

19. b3Qb446. Rxh2Rf4

20. Nde2f647. Bxf4Qxf4

21. Be3h548. Rg2h4

22. f4Nxg449. Qe1e3

23. hxg4Bxg450. Rh2Qxg5+

24. Qc1f551. Kf1h3

25. Rd4Qb652. Qb1+Be4

26. Qd2Qc753. Qb2Bd3+

27. Bf2Re6 White

resigns

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

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