- The Washington Times - Friday, January 21, 2005

The year has gotten off to a flying start — both on and off the chessboard.

In a welcome break from some recent draw-heavy elite events, the annual Corus Chess Tournament now under way in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, has produced some real fighting chess. Through the first four rounds this week, the 14-grandmaster, Category 19 Corus A event already has produced a number of first-class duels and upsets.

In round 2 alone, Indian GM Viswanathan Anand, winner of the past two Corus events, and classical world champion Vladimir Kramnik went down to defeat, Anand to Hungary’s Peter Leko and Kramnik in 20 shocking moves (playing White) to Bulgarian star Veselin Topalov.

After Thursday’s round 5, Leko and England’s Michael Adams shared the lead at 31/2-11/2, but there’s still a lot of chess left to be played.

Away from the board, former world champion Garry Kasparov, still the world’s top-ranked player, dropped a bombshell Wednesday, announcing he was pulling out of the oft-postponed FIDE world championship match with Uzbek GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

Kasparov’s decision could torpedo a three-year effort to reunify the disputed world title. FIDE (and almost no one else) recognizes Kasimdzhanov as its world champion, while Kramnik defeated Kasparov in a legitimate match in 2000 after Kasparov broke with the world chess organization.

Kasparov’s pique is understandable: FIDE has proven chronically unable to organize and find sponsors for its marquee matches and has a long track record of confusing and outright distorted public statements on its intentions.

“Over the past 21/2 years, unification matches have been scheduled four times and each time the deadlines have come and gone while the financial guarantees were ignored,” Kasparov said in an open letter this week.

“Four times I have put my life on hold to schedule three months for preparation, play and recuperation. The loss of earnings is easy to understand, but the hidden damage is psychological.”

The ex-champ, still the game’s most charismatic figure, said the “last straw” was when he was forced to forgo playing in the Corus tournament because of a now-postponed FIDE title match in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“It breaks my heart to watch such a great event from the sidelines,” he said. “It hurts me, and I believe chess is poorly served as well.”

Amen — but Kasparov might have had the grace to admit that it was his decision to break with FIDE in 1993 in search of a bigger payday for his title match with England’s Nigel Short that ignited the game’s civil war in the first place.

All of which leaves us with less room than usual for today’s two games, both from the Corus A event.

Short, at 39 the oldest competitor, scored a fine win over the mercurial Russian Alexander Morozevich. Morozevich can be a world-beater one day and a patsy the next, and has had a disastrous 1/2-31/2 start in Wijk aan Zee.

In a Philidor, Morozevich as Black first sacrifices his d-pawn, then gives up the exchange in an effort to generate attacking chances. Black’s two bishops pointed at the White king look fearsome, but Short keeps the position under control and launches his own counterattack along the g-file.

The two White rooks come in handy in the game’s cute conclusion: 40. Re1 Rf8 (see diagram) 41. Qf4! Rg8 (Rxf4 42. Re8+ mates) 42. Rxg8+ Bxg8 43. Re5!, cutting off the Black bishop. Since 43…Bxe5 44. Qxe5 mates the cornered king, Black resigned.

Anand had been invincible in recent years in Wijk aan Zee, but Leko gets the better of him in today’s second game, a Sveshnikov Sicilian. Black’s 22…f4!? is new, and White rejects the more active 22. Rxe6 Rxe6 23. Qxd5 Qxd5 24. Nxd5 with good play.

Despite White’s pawn advantage, Anand was looking for a draw when he blundered with 25. Ra7 d4 (Black’s central pawns are very scary) 26. Ba6? Bxg2!. Now 27. Rxe7? Qg6! is suicide, while Anand’s intended 27. Qb3+ Bd5 28. Nxd5 leaves White with no good discovered check after the simple 28…Rxa7.

Leko obtains a bind after 27. Bc4+ Kh8 28. Ra6 Qc5 29. Kxg2 f3+ 30. Kh1 Qxc4, and even a White exchange sacrifice two moves later doesn’t change the evaluation.

At an opportune moment, Leko shifts to a dead-won rook-and-pawn ending on 54. Nf6+ Rxf6! 55. Rxf6 Ke5 56. Rh6 Rg8+ 57. Kh3 e3!. Since the pawn will queen on 58. Rxh7 exf2, Anand gave up.

We’ll have more on Corus next week.

Corus A Chess Tournament, Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, January 2005


1. e4e523. Qh4f4

2. Nf3d624. Bb5Qe5

3. d4exd425. Bxe8Rxe8

4. Nxd4Nf626. Qf2f5

5. Nc3Be727. exf5Qxf5

6. Bf40-028. Nb2Bd5

7. Be2Re829. Nc4f3

8. Qd2Nc630. gxf3Bc5

9. 0-0Bf831. Qg3+Kh8

10. f3a632. Rd2a4

11. Nxc6bxc633. Rg2Bd4

12. Rad1Be634. Qg4Qd3

13. Na4a535. Nd2Rg8

14. b3Qb836. Qh3Rf8

15. c4d537. Qh6Re8

16. cxd5cxd538. Qh5Re5

17. Bg5dxe439. Qg4Rf5

18. Bxf6gxf640. Re1Rf8

19. fxe4Qb441. Qf4Rg8

20. Qf4f542. Rxg8+Bxg8

21. Bd3Qd4+43. Re5Black

22. Kh1Bd6resigns

Corus A Chess Tournament, Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, January 2005


1. e4c530. Kh1Qxc4

2. Nf3Nc631. Rc6Qb5

3. d4cxd432. Rd6e4

4. Nxd4Nf633. Rxd4Bxd4

5. Nc3e534. Qxd4+Qe5

6. Ndb5d635. Qxe5+Rxe5

7. Bg5a636. Nc2Rb8

8. Na3b537. Ne3Rc5

9. Bxf6gxf638. h3Rxb2

10. Nd5f539. c4Rg5

11. c3Bg740. Kh2Kg8

12. exf5Bxf541. h4Rg6

13. Nc20-042. Kh3Kf7

14. Nce3Be643. Nf5Rc2

15. Bd3f544. Ne3Rd2

16. 0-0Ra745. c5Ke6

17. a4Ne746. c6Rg8

18. Nxe7+Rxe747. c7Rc8

19. axb5axb548. Kg3Rxc7

20. Bxb5d549. Kf4Rd4

21. Ra6f450. Ra1Rf7+

22. Nc2Bc851. Kg3Rd8

23. Ra8Qd652. Ra6+Ke5

24. Nb4Bb753. Ng4+Kd5

25. Ra7d454. Nf6+Rxf6

26. Ba6Bxg255. Rxf6Ke5

27. Bc4+Kh856. Rh6Rg8+

28. Ra6Qc557. Kh3e3

29. Kxg2f3+White resigns

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



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