- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2005

He started strongly, but reigning U.S. GM Hikaru Nakamura came up short at the end in one of his first major international tournaments since winning the U.S. championship last year at age 16.

The New Yorker held the lead at the Category 16 Biel Chess Festival grandmaster invitational with a plus-two score after seven rounds, only to fade with three losses in the final three rounds. Nakamura, who finished second in the Category 13 Sigeman & Co. Tournament in Sweden in May, ended up fourth in the six-grandmaster field at 41/2-51/2, 11/2 points behind Israeli veteran Boris Gelfand and 19-year-old Ukrainian star Andrei Volokitin.

Nakamura, now 17, remains one of the most promising talents to come on the U.S. chess scene in many years. With a few more strong events under his belt, he should be taking home a number of top prizes.

The play in Biel showed just how hard it is to win an elite event in chess these days. Nakamura’s slide began with a Round 8 loss to French GM Christian Bauer, who at the time was sitting in last place with a minus-three score.

In a Meran Semi-Slav, Bauer as White offers a pawn on his 11th move, and Black’s position quickly becomes fragile after 14. Rh4! Nef6 15. Ne5 Nd5 (cxd4?? 16. Nxf7! Kxf7 17. Qxe6+ Kg6 18. Rg4+ Kh5 19. Qh5+ g5 20. Qxg5 mate) 18. Qxg7 0-0-0 19. Qe5, when 19…Qc7 offers no relief after 20. Qxc7+ Kxc7 21. a3!, cracking open the queen-side.

Nakamura tries 19…Ba6, but White breaks decisively on top with 20. Bxd5 exd5 21. Rxb4! Bb5 (Reh8?? 22. Rb8 mate) 22. c6! Qxc6 23. Be3 Rhe8 24. Qf4, with the nasty threat of 25. Rc1. Black recovers his piece after 24…d4 25. Qf5+ Kb7 26. Qxb5+ Qxb5 27. Rxb5+ Ka3 28. Rb3! (the cleanest way) 28. dxe3, only to land in a lost ending after 29. Rxe3 Rxe3+ 30. fxe3 Rb8 b3.

White’s king-side is wrecked, but he is two pawns to the good, and his queen-side majority by itself seals the win. In the final position, lines like 41…Rg7 42. Rb8+ Kf7 43. Rb7+ Kg8 44. Rxg7+ Kxg7 45. b5 are hopeless for Black; Nakamura resigned.

• • •

Closer to home, we have some intense action from the D.C. Chess League summer season, now under way.

Northern Virginia expert Tim Hamilton is one of the area’s best tacticians, with a number of beautiful attacking games to his credit. Employing his trademark 1. Nc3, he knocked off strong young D.C. master Andrew Samuelson in a league match earlier this month. Our notes here rely heavily on annotations Hamilton passed along.

White avoids the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, and the opening evolves into an Alkehine’s Defense. Black’s provocative 14. Be3 Ng4!? (developing on an open line with 14…Rb8 looks solid) leads White to offer a highly promising exchange sacrifice: 15. Nf3 Nxe3 16. fxe3 Bb6 17. Nxd4! Bxa5 18. Bb5+ Kf8 19. Qf3 Rb3 20. 0-0, with the half-open f-file and the weak e6 and f7 squares as compensation.

Black defends well, but White’s pieces continually find active posts. Hamilton recovers his investment with interest on 31. e5 c5 32. h5! Bxh5 33. Bd3+ Kg8 (on 33…Bg6, Hamilton planned 34. Rxf7!, winning in lines like 34…Rxf7 35. Qxg6+ Kg8 36. Qxf7+ Kh8 37. Ne8 Rxe8 38. Qxe8 mate) 34. Qh4 (winning a piece because of the double attack on h5 and e7, but the fight is not over) Rdd7 35. Qxh5.

The real fireworks begin on 39. Kh2 Kf8 40. Nf6! Ra7 (gxf6 41. Bh7! wins, as does 40…Rd8 41. Re4 Qf2 42. Nf7+ Kg8 [Ke8 43. Bb5+] 43. Qg4) 41. Re4 Qf2 42. Qg4.

Toughest now, according to Hamilton, was 42…gxf6 43. Qh5 fxe5 44. Qxh6+ Ke8, and White has to find 45. Qh8+ Kd7 46. Qxe5 f5 (f6 loses brilliantly to 47. Rxd4+ Ke8 48. Rd8+!! Kxd8 49. Qb8+ Kd7 50. Bb5 mate) 47. Rxd4+ Ke8 48. Qh8+ Kf7 49. Rh4 Qe3 (Kg6 50. Rg4+ Kf7 51. Qg7+ Ke8 52. Bb5+ Red7 53. Rc4 wins) 50. Rh3 Qe1 51. Rh6 Qa1 52. c3!, cutting off the queen and winning major material.

Black instead tries 42…Ra1? (see diagram), overlooking White’s main threat: 43. Qxg7+!! Kxg7 44. Rg4+, and Black gave up as both 44…Kf8 and 44…Kh8 allow 45. Rg8 mate.

Hamilton got the point, but Samuelson’s team took the July 8 match as the Arlington Argyles defeated Hamilton’s Arlington Passed Pawns, 4-1. The 2005 summer-league play concludes Sept. 9.

Biel Chess Festival, Biel, Switzerland, July 2005


1. d4d522. c6Qxc6

2. c4c623. Be3Rhe8

3. Nc3Nf624. Qf4d4

4. e3e625. Qf5+Kb7

5. Nf3Nbd726. Qxb5+Qxb5

6. Bd3dxc427. Rxb5+Ka6

7. Bxc4b528. Rb3dxe3

8. Bb3b429. Rxe3Rxe3+

9. Ne2Bd630. fxe3Rb8

10. Ng3Bb731. b3Rg8

11. e4Bxg332. Kf2Rg6

12. hxg3Nxe433. Rh1h6

13. Qe2c534. Rh4Kb6

14. Rh4Nef635. Rf4f6

15. Ne5Nd536. Rf5Kc7

16. dxc5Nxe537. Kf3Kd8

17. Qxe5Qd738. Kf4Ke8

18. Qxg70-0-039. b4Kf8

19. Qe5Ba640. a4Ke8

20. Bxd5exd541. Rb5Black

21. Rxb4Bb5resigns

D.C. Chess League, Arlington, July 2005


1. Nc3Nf623. Nc6Re8

2. e4d524. Nxa7h6

3. exd5Nxd525. h4Qc5

4. Bc4Nb626. Nb5Kh7

5. Bb3Nc627. Qg3c6

6. a4Nd428. Nd6Re7

7. Ba2Bf529. d4Qa5

8. d3e630. e4Rd8

9. a5Nd731. e5c5

10. a6bxa632. h5Bxh5

11. Bc4Ne533. Bd3+Kg8

12. Bxa6Bc534. Qh4Rdd7

13. Ra5Qd635. Qxh5Qxc3

14. Be3Ng436. Rf4cxd4

15. Nf3Nxe337. Rg4Qd2

16. fxe3Bb638. Ne4Qe3+

17. Nxd4Bxa539. Kh2Kf8

18. Bb5+Kf840. Nf6Ra7

19. Qf3Rb841. Re4Qf2

20. 0-0Bxc342. Qg4Ra1

21. bxc3Bg643. Qxg7+Kxg7

22. Bc4Kg844. Rg4+Black


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



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