- The Washington Times - Friday, November 11, 2005

There’s no “i” in “team,” and there was no “USA” among the winners at the World Team Championships that just wrapped up in the Israeli city of Beer Sheva.

With a last-round 3- victory over the front-running Chinese men’s team, Russia claimed another gold medal in the event. The American team, which featured GMs Boris Gulko, Gregory Kaidanov, Alex Onischuk, Alexander Goldin and Ildar Ibragimov, finished fifth in the nine-team field.

The Americans got off to a rough start with a Round 2 loss to the powerful Ukrainian squad, with U.S. top board Onischuk (himself a recent emigre from Ukraine) losing a difficult struggle with veteran GM Vassily Ivanchuk. Onischuk escapes disaster at several stages in the contest, only to falter at the tail end of a tricky king hunt.

Lasker’s Defense (4…Be7) in the Queen’s Gambit Declined all but ensures a slow, positional game. Onischuk as Black gets in the freeing 14. Bxc4 e5, but accepts a weak c-pawn after 15. d5 Nb6!? (c5 16. Rd1 Nf6 17. d6 Qd7 gives Black a queen-side pawn majority, but the White d-pawn disrupts his game) 16. dxc6 bxc6. Black can’t hold the pawn in the long run but angles for counterplay along the open queen-side as White brings his prey to heel.

Black may have gotten into trouble trying to rectify the material imbalance too quickly: 29. Qa1 Be6 30. Nf3 Bxb3?!, when more prudent was 30…Qe8! 31. Rc5 f6 32. Rxb5 Rxb5 33. Nd2 Bxb3. There follows 31. Rc8+ Rxc8 32. Rxc8+ Kh7 33. Qa8! (the queen’s long-range attacking abilities are on full display here, as the Black king suddenly finds himself in mortal peril) Rd5 (Bd5? 34. Rh8+ Kg6 35. Qa6+ Qe6 36. Qxb5) 34. Qb8 Ba4 35. e4, when 35…Rd1+ 36. Kh2 Qf6 loses to 37. Rh8+ Kg6 38. Nxe5+ Kh5 39. g4+ Kh4 40. Kg2!, with the brutal threat of 41. Nf3+.

Perhaps in time pressure, White misses the put-away after 38. Qg8 Rb1+ 38. Kh2 Bd7, when 39. Rh7! looks decisive; e.g. 39…Qf6 40. Rxg7+! Qxg7 41. Nxe5+ Kf6 42. Nxd7+ Kg6 43. Nf8+ Kf6 44. e5 + and wins.

Black lives to fight out a pawn-down ending with what look like good drawing chances.

But Ivanchuk pumps new life into things with a piece sacrifice that flushes out the Black king: 43. Ra8 Ke7 44. Qg8 Qf4+ (see diagram) 45. g3! (the only winning try) Qxf3 46. Qd8+, when Black’s king must flee down the board as 46…Ke6?? 47. Ra6+ leads to mate.

Even as he chases the king, White must take care of his own defenses; recovering the piece with 49. Qxd7?? loses at once to 49…Qxf2+ 50. Kh1 Rb1+ 51. Qd1 Rxd1 mate. But after a long tightrope walk, it is Onischuk who loses his balance.

Thus: 51. Qxe5+ Kc2?? (Kd2!, looking to escape via e1, appears to hold the draw on 52. Ra2+ Ke1 52. Ra1+ [Qa1+ Qd1 54. Qe5 Qf3 is equal] Kxf2 54. Qc5+ Re3 55. Ra2+ Kf1 56. Ra1+ Kf2) 52. Ra2+ Kc1 53. Qa1+ Rb1 54. Qd4!, and Black resigns before facing 54…Rb7 55. Qd2+ Kb1 56. Qc2 mate. A tough loss for Onischuk.

China’s 3- win over the U.S. team five rounds later killed any Yankee hopes.

In the blowout, young Chinese GM Ni Hua disposed of New York GM Ildar Ibragimov in summary fashion in a sharp Ruy Lopez Exchange. In a highly unbalanced position, Ni’s queen proves stronger than Black’s knight, rook and bishop, given the shaky state of Black’s king.

Ibragimov manages quickly to achieve a key strategic aim on the Black side of this opening, undoubling his queen-side pawns with 9…b4 10. Qe2 0-0-0 11. cxb4 cxb4. But White immediately hits back in the center, and the game veers off into a sharp tactical skirmish: 12. d4 exd4 13. Ncxd4 c5 14. Rd1!? (a true speculative sacrifice, banking on open lines to the Black king to compensate for the piece) cxd4 15. Rxd4 Qxd4!? (matching White’s audacity, as lines like 15…Qe7 16. Bg5 f6 17. Rc1+ Kb8 18. Bf4+ Ka8 19. Rc6! Ka7 20. Qe3 Bxc6 21. Rd7+ Ka8 22. Qa7 mate show the power of White’s attack) 16. Nxd4 Rxd4.

Black gets a rook and two minor pieces for just a queen and two pawns, but his material edge doesn’t compensate for his exposed king. White already wins back at least the exchange on 18. Rc1+ Nc6 19. Qe3 Bc5 (rook retreats such as 19…Rd7 and 19… Rd8 invite 20. Qb6) 20. Qh3+ (and not 20. Rxc5?? Rd1+) Kd8 21. Be3.

With Black’s piece huddled ineffectively on the queen-side, Ni eviscerates Black’s king-side and starts his own pawns rolling. When Ibragimov tries to counter that idea, he leaves his own defense vulnerable.

The end comes on 30. Qd5 Bb8 (White’s threat was 31. Bd6 Re1 32. Qc5 mate) 31. Bxb8 Nxb8 32. Qd8+, and either Black’s rook or knight will be lost. Ibragimov resigned.

Last weekend’s Northern Virginia Open in Springfield ended in a four-way tie for first. GM Alex Wojtkiewicz and FMs Bryan Smith, Ilye Figler and Boris Privman all finished at 4- to share the big money. We’ll have highlights and a game or two in the coming weeks.

World Team Championships, Beer Sheva, Israel, November 2005

IvanchukOnischuk

1. d4Nf628. h3R4b5

2. c4e629. Qa1Be6

3. Nf3d530. Nf3Bxb3

4. Nc3Be731. Rc8+Rxc8

5. Bg5h632. Rxc8+Kh7

6. Bh40-033. Qa8Rd5

7. e3Ne434. Qb8Ba4

8. Bxe7Qxe735. e4Rb5

9. Rc1Nxc336. Rh8+Kg6

10. Rxc3c637. Qg8Rb1+

11. Be2Nd738. Kh2Bd7

12. 0-0Re839. Qh7+Kf6

13. Qc2dxc440. Rg8Ke6

14. Bxc4e541. Qxg7Qf6

15. d5Nb642. Qg3Rb5

16. dxc6bxc643. Ra8Ke7

17. Rc1Nd544. Qg8Qf4+

18. Rb3a545. g3Qxf3

19. Qe4a446. Qd8+Kd6

20. Ra3Bd747. Ra6+Kc5

21. Bxd5cxd548. Qe7+Kc4

22. Qxd5Rab849. Ra4+Kc3

23. Rac3Bg450. Ra3+Rb3

24. b3axb351. Qxe5+Kc2

25. axb3Rb452. Ra2+Kc1

26. Ne1Rd853. Qa1+Rb1

27. Qa5Rdb854. Qd4Black

resigns

World Team Championships, Beer Sheva, Israel, November 2005

NiIbragimov

1. e4e517. Bf4Ne7

2. Nf3Nc618. Rc1+Nc6

3. Bb5a619. Qe3Bc5

4. Bxc6dxc620. Qh3+Kd8

5. 0-0Qd621. Be3Re8

6. Na3b522. Qxh7Ba7

7. c3c523. Qxg7Rdxe4

8. Nc2Bb724. Qf6+Kc7

9. a4b425. Bf4+Kb6

10. Qe20-0-026. h4Re1+

11. cxb4cxb427. Rxe1Rxe1+

12. d4exd428. Kh2Re6

13. Ncxd4c529. Qxf7Re7

14. Rd1cxd430. Qd5Bb8

15. Rxd4Qxd431. Bxb8Nxb8

16. Nxd4Rxd432. Qd8+Black

resigns

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

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