- The Washington Times - Friday, January 28, 2005

The Corus A Chess Tournament, the first elite event of the year, is in the homestretch with Hungary’s Peter Leko clinging to a half-point lead over Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov, England’s Michael Adams and a hard-charging Viswanathan Anand of India with three rounds to go.

The 14-player invitational has been one of the most unpredictable super-GM tournaments in memory, with at least two decisive results in each of the first 10 rounds. Bulgaria’s Topalov has been contributing more than his fair share, with six decisive results in his first 10 games.

Topalov got the tournament off to a flying start with a brutal 20-move wipeout of classical world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, one of Kramnik’s worst losses ever. Even Topalov’s losses have been memorable — he fumbled away a won game against Hungary’s Judit Polgar on Wednesday, giving up the lead he had held for much of the event.

Topalov’s win over Cuba’s Lazaro Bruzon in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, was one of the most scintillating attacking games produced this year. Bruzon, the lowest-rated player in the field, got off to an excellent start with upsets of England’s Nigel Short and Russian Alexander Morozevich. But Topalov simply outplays him from the Black side of a King’s Indian Attack.

Against Black’s Botvinnik English setup, White should have challenged the Black center with 9. a3 d6 10. b4. On the game’s 9. Na3?! d6 10. Be3 b6 11. Qd2 Bg4 12. h3 Bxf3! 13. Bxf3 Qd7 14. Bg2 f5, Black has an easy game and a clear plan to attack the kingside.

Topalov, after the game, called 19…Kh8?! an inaccuracy, as Bruzon’s alert 20. Qa4! reconnects the White queen to the struggle over the f4-square and gives Black new concerns about his own queenside. But Black correctly plunges ahead with his attack, gaining a clear initiative.

Thus: 24. d4 N5g6 25. dxc5 bxc5 26. Rf1 (grabbing the pawn is ill-advised; e.g. 26. Qxa7 f4 27. Qxc5 Nf5 28. gxf4 Nxf4 29. Rf2 Qh4, when winning for Black are both 30. Rxf4 Qxf4+ 31. Kg1 Rg8 32. Qf2 Rxg2+ 33. Qxg2 [Kxg2 Ne3+ 34. Kg1 Rg8+ wins the queen] Rg8, and 30. Raf1 Nxh3 31. Bxh3 Qg3+ 32. Kh1 Qxh3+ 33. Kg1 Rg8+ 34. Rg2 Qxg2 mate) f4! 27. gxf4 Nf5, and the two knights create havoc on the White kingside.

Black busts it open after 28. Qxa7 Qh4 (Nxf4? is premature, Topalov later said, because of 29. Rxf4 Qd6 30. Ref2 Ne3 31. Nb5 Qe5 32. Qc7! breaking the pin) 29. Qxc5?! (tougher was 29. Rf3 Nxf4 30. Ref2 Ne3 31. Qxc5 Ng4+ 32. Kg1 Nxf2 33. Qxf2, with some chances of holding the game) Nxf4 30. Rd2 (Ref2 Nxh3! 31. Rxf5 Nf4+ 32. Kg1 Ne2 is mate) Nxh3!.

Now 31. Bxh3 loses to 31…Qg3+ 32. Kh1 Qxh3+ 33. Kg1 Rg8+ 34. Kf2 Rde8 35. Rg1 Qh4+ 36. Kf3 (Kf1 Re1 mate) Rg3+ 37. Kf2 Qf4 mate, but the game’s 31. Qc7 proves no more effectual after 31…Rd6! (cutting off the queen and threatening to swing the rook over to the kingside) 32. Nc2 (Rxf5 Nf4+ 33. Kg1 Qe1+ 34. Kh2 [Bf1 Rg6+ 35. Rg2 Rxg2+ 36. Kh1 Qxf1 mate] Rh6+ 35. Bh3 Rxh3 mate) Qg3+ 33. Kh1 Rh6!.

White will be down a rook and more after 34. Qxg3 Nxg3+ 35. Kh2 Nxf1+ 36. Bxf1 Rxf1 37. Rxd5 Nf4+, cleaning house. Bruzon resigned.

Topalov’s 20-move demolition of Kramnik was not the best miniature played at Corus. In the Category 7 Corus C event, Dutch GM Herman Jonkman sacrificed a knight and a rook to checkmate compatriot IM Leon Pliester in the same number of moves.

An ill-advised pawn grab sets Black on the path to ruin in a Caro-Kann: 12. Bd2 Qb6 13. 0-0-0 Qxd4?! (not fatal, but very dangerous in practical terms with the uncastled Black king) 14. Bc3 Qa4 15. Kb1 Nb6 16. Nxf7! Kxf7 17. Bxf6, presenting Pliester with a dilemma how to recapture.

Unattractive is 17…gxf6 18. Rhe1 e5 (h5 19. Qxe6+ Kg6 20. Ne4 Bg7 [Nd5?? 21. Rxd5!] 21. Re3 Rh6 22. Rg3+ Kh7 23. Qf7 Rg8 24. Nc5 Qxh4 25. Ne6 wins) 19. Qh5+, as a) 19…Ke6 20. Rxe5+! fxe5 21. Qg6+ Ke7 22. Nf5 mate; b) 19…Kg8 20. Qg6+ Bg7 21. Nh5 Rh7 22. Nxf6+ Kf8 23. Nxh7+; and c) 19…Ke7 20. Nf5+ Ke6 21. Rxe5+! Kxe5 (fxe5 22. Qg6 mate) 22. Ng7+ Ke4 23. Qf5 mate all win for White.

Black stays in the game with 17…Kxf6! 18. Rhe1, but now the mandatory follow-up was 18…Kg6!, when White’s best appears to be a perpetual check with 19. Qxe6+ Kh7 20. Qf5+ (Ne4 Qc4!) Kg8 21. Qe6+.

Pliester instead defends with 18…Re8??, only to run into 19. Qf3+ Kg6 (see diagram) 20. Rxe6+!!, and Black has no defense. On 20…Kh7 (Rxe6 21. Qf5 mate), Jonkman wins easily in lines like 21. Qf5+ Kg8 22. Rxe8 Qb4 23. Nh5 Nd5 24. Rxd5! cxd5 25. Nf6+ Kf7 26. Qe6+ Kg6 27. h5+ Kg5 28. Qe5+ Kh4 29. Qg3 mate. Black gave up.

Look up “heartbreak” in the dictionary, and you’re like to find today’s diagram, taken after White’s 150th(!) move of the Corus B game between Bulgarians IM Ivan Cheparinov and Antoaneta Stefanova, the women’s world champion. For the past 60 moves or so, Black has been trying to convert her positional edge, but she kicks it away with both players nearing exhaustion.

In check, Black takes the wrong escape route with 150…Ke4?? (Kc3! 151. Re8 Bd6+ 152. Bd5+ 153. Kg1 g3 puts Black on the verge of a knockout) 151. Re8 Kf5 152. Bxg4+! Kg5 153. Rxe6 Bc3 154. Rc6 Bb4 155. Bd1# and Black resigned. Ouch.

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


1. e4c518. Qc2Qg6

2. Nf3e619. Kh2Kh8

3. d3Nc620. Qa4d5

4. g3g621. fxe5Bxe5

5. Bg2Bg722. Bf4Qf6

6. c3Nge723. Bxe5Nxe5

7. 0-00-024. d4N5g6

8. Re1e525. dxc5bxc5

9. Na3d626. Rf1f4

10. Be3b627. gxf4Nf5

11. Qd2Bg428. Qxa7Qh4

12. h3Bxf329. Qxc5Nxf4

13. Bxf3Qd730. Rd2Nxh3

14. Bg2f531. Qc7Rd6

15. exf5gxf532. Nc2Qg3+

16. f4Rad833. Kh1Rh6

17. Re2Qe6White resigns

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


1. e4c611. Qe2Ngf6

2. d4d512. Bd2Qb6

3. Nd2dxe413. 0-0-0Qxd4

4. Nxe4Bf514. Bc3Qa4

5. Ng3Bg615. Kb1Nb6

6. h4h616. Nxf7Kxf7

7. Nf3e617. Bxf6Kxf6

8. Ne5Bh718. Rhe1Re8

9. Bd3Bxd319. Qf3+Kg6

10. Qxd3Nd720. Rxe6+Black


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



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