- The Washington Times - Friday, October 1, 2004

Russian Vladimir Kramnik got off to a dream start in his first defense of the classical world championship title, defeating Peter Leko of Hungary with the black pieces in the very first game. The long, demoralizing loss was followed by three draws that gave Kramnik a 21/2-11/2 lead in the 14-game match now under way in Brissago, Switzerland.

When upsetting Garry Kasparov for the title in 2000, Kramnik’s Ruy Lopez Berlin Defense proved an unassailable fortress the champion could never breach. Against Leko, the champ has opted for another pet defense, the Petroff’s, earning 11/2 points in the defense’s first two outings.

Defying some pre-match predictions, the two solid players were ready to mix it up right from the opening bell. In Game 3, Leko would vary with 16. c4 Qe4 17. Be3, but Kramnik’s 17…Qc2! (Bf6 was the normal move here) surprised White, who thought long and hard before making peace with 18. d5 Na5 19. Nd4 Qxd1 20. Rexd1 Bd7 21. Bd2 Bf6 22. Bxa5 Bxd4 23. Rxd4 Rxe2, and the players agreed to a draw.

Game 1’s 17. Be3 Na5!? 18. c4 Nxc4 19. Bxc4 Qxc4 leads to an unbalanced game where Black is virtually forced to surrender his queen for two rooks after 20. Nd2 Qd5 21. Nxe4 Qxe4 22. Bg5 Qxe1+ 23. Qxe1 Bxg5 24. Qa5 Bf6 25. Qxa7.

Both sides have chances in the resulting position. But Kramnik demonstrates that Black’s well-coordinated rooks leave him in little danger of losing, while his last queen-side pawn becomes a tower of strength after 25…c5! 26. Qxb7 Bxd4 27. Ra2 c4 28. Re2 Red8 29. a4 c3.

Leko is soon forced to give up his rook for the passed pawn, but White still might have held the draw but for a little tactical trick: 42. Qh6 Rxa4 43. h5 R4a5 44. Qf4? (White had to take the g-pawn and hope to harry Black’s king with checks) g5 45. Qf6 h6! (the move White may have missed; now 46. Qxh6?? R8a6 neatly traps the queen, while Miguel Greengard on the ChessBase.com Web site notes that 46. f4 Ra3+ 47. Kf2 Ra2+ 48. Kf3 R8a3+ 49. Ke4 Ra4+ 50. Ke3 R2a3+ 51. Ke2 Rb3 also favors Black) 46. f3 R5a6. With his king suddenly secure, Kramnik can focus on winning the White f-pawn.

The pieces literally fall into place on 59. Qb2+ Raf6 60. Qe5 Rxf3, and the endgame after 62…Raf2+ 63. Kg3 R2f3+ 64. Qxf3 Rxf3+ 65. Kxf3 Kf6 is hopeless for White. Leko resigned.

• • •

Today’s diagram is a mate-in-two problem from the recent 47th World Chess Solving Competition held in Halkidiki, Greece, won by veteran English GM John Nunn. The answer to the problem, composed by British problemist Alain White, will be given next week. World-class solvers are expected to find the solution in seven minutes or less.


• • •

Tennessee IM Ron Burnett is the inaugural winner of the State Champion of Champions online tournament, sponsored by the U.S. Chess Federation, America’s Foundation for Chess and the Internet Chess Club (www.chessclub.com). The event brought together 38 reigning state champs through the magic of the Internet for a blitz preliminary event and a four-man final the weekend of Sept. 18 and 19.

Burnett, who earned the final qualifying spot in December’s U.S. championship tournament, defeated Connecticut master Edward McHugh in the two-game finals, using a sharp sacrificial line of the Sicilian to earn the decisive point.

White offers two knights in two moves early on, with the second sacrifice leading to a decisive edge.

Thus 11. Bg2 Nb6?! (this appears too casual) 12. Nf5! Qc7 (exf5 13. exf5+ Qe7 14. Bxb7 Qxe2 15. Nxe2 Ra7 16. Bc6+ Nfd7 17. Rhe1 and the exposed Black king leaves White better off) 13. Nd5! exd5 14. e5! (opening the file at all costs; 14…dxe5 15. Bxe5 Qc6 16. Bxf6+ Kd7 17. Bd4 is very pleasant) Ne4 15. exd6 Bxd6 (Qd8!? 16. f3 may be the critical line, but Black’s king problems persist; e.g. 16…f6 17. fxe4 Kf7 18. g5! dxe4 19. Bxe4 Qe8 20. gxf6 gxf6 21. Qh5+ Ke6 22. Ng7+! Kd7 [Bxg7 23. Bf5 mate] 23. Qf5+ Kd8 24. Bxf6+ Be7 25. dxe7+ Kc7 26. Be5 mate) 16. Nxd6+ Qxd6 17. Qxe4+! dxe4 Nd6 21. Bxb7 Nxb7 22. Re1.

White is two pawns to the good, and the rest of the game is an exercise in technique. By 53. Rd8 Ra1+ 54. Kb5, the passed queen-side pawns will decide, and McHugh gave up.

Danneman Classical World Championship, Game 1, Brissago, Switzerland, September 2004


1. e4e534. g4Rd2

2. Nf3Nf635. Kg2Rcd8

3. Nxe5d636. Rxc3Bxc3

4. Nf3Nxe437. Qxc3R2d5

5. d4d538. Qc6Ra5

6. Bd3Nc639. Kg3Rda8

7. 0-0Be740. h4R5a6

8. c4Nb441. Qc1Ra5

9. Be20-042. Qh6Rxa4

10. Nc3Bf543. h5R4a5

11. a3Nxc344. Qf4g5

12. bxc3Nc645. Qf6h6

13. Re1Re846. f3R5a6

14. cxd5Qxd547. Qc3Ra4

15. Bf4Rac848. Qc6R8a6

16. h3Be449. Qe8+Kg7

17. Be3Na550. Qb5R4a5

18. c4Nxc451. Qb4Rd5

19. Bxc4Qxc452. Qb3Rad6

20. Nd2Qd553. Qc4Rd3

21. Nxe4Qxe454. Kf2Ra3

22. Bg5Qxe1+55. Qc5Ra2+

23. Qxe1Bxg556. Kg3Rf6

24. Qa5Bf657. Qb4Raa6

25. Qxa7c558. Kg2Rf4

26. Qxb7Bxd459. Qb2+Raf6

27. Ra2c460. Qe5Rxf3

28. Re2Red861. Qa1Rf1

29. a4c362. Qc3R1f2+

30. Qe4Bb663. Kg3R2f3+

31. Qc2g664. Qxf3Rxf3+

32. Qb3Rd665. Kxf3Kf6

33. Rc2Ba5White resigns

State Champion of Champions Tournament, September 2004


1. e4c528. f4Ra7

2. Nf3e629. f5f6

3. b3b630. Bd4Rc7

4. Bb2Bb731. Rxa5Rfc8

5. Qe2Nf632. c4bxc3

6. Nc3d633. Bb6Rc6

7. d4cxd434. Rxc6Rxc6

8. Nxd4a635. Bd4c2

9. 0-0-0Nbd736. h3h5

10. g4b537. Bc5Nd5

11. Bg2Nb638. gxh5Kh7

12. Nf5Qc739. a4Kh6

13. Nd5exd540. Kxc2Kxh5

14. e5Ne441. Kb2Nf4

15. exd6Bxd642. Be3Nd3+

16. Nxd6+Qxd643. Ka3Rc3

17. Qxe4+dxe444. Rd5Ne5

18. Rxd6Nc845. Bf4Nc6

19. Rd40-046. a5Rxh3

20. Bxe4Nd647. a6Rf3

21. Bxb7Nxb748. Bd6Rf1

22. Re1a549. Ka4Na7

23. Re5b450. Ka5Nc8

24. Rg5h651. Bc5g5

25. Rb5Nd852. fxg6+Kxg6

26. Rdd5Nc653. Rd8Ra1+

27. Rd6Ne754. Kb5Black


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



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