- The Washington Times - Friday, January 27, 2006

He’s at the bottom of the cross table, but American GM Gata Kamsky could have a critical say in who finishes on top in the elite Corus A Tournament winding up in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands.

Kamsky, returning to elite chess after a lengthy break, scored his only win so far in the Category 19 event with a Round 6 victory over Indian GM Viswanathan Anand, one of the pre-tournament favorites.

The stunning upset left Anand with an uphill climb to overtake chief rival Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, whom he meets in the penultimate round today. Through Wednesday’s Round 10, Topalov was alone in first at 71/2-1/2, a half-point clear of Anand. England’s Michael Adams and Israeli Boris Gelfand were another point behind at 6-4, while Kamsky was last in the 14-grandmaster field at 21/2-71/2.

Topalov, who won FIDE’s world title tournament in October, has been playing like a champ in Wijk aan Zee. In Tuesday’s ninth round, he demolished Ukrainian teenage star Sergey Karjakin from the Black side of a sharp Sicilian Sveshnikov battle.

Both sides have their chances in the early going, but White appears to lose the initiative for good on 25. Qg3?! Nf5 26. Qg4, starting a string of queen moves that only help Black improve his pieces.

Topalov just proves better in the tactical crunch: 31. Bb1 Rxc3! 32. Qg4 (the paradigm-shifting 32. Nxc3!? Bxe4 33. Rxd6 Nf3+ 34. Kf1 Qe7 35. Rd7 Qb4 36. Bxe4 Rf8 37. Bxf3 Qxc3 still leaves Black with the better game) h5 33. Qe2 Qg5 34. f4 (Nxc3?? Qxg2 mate) Rxf4!, inviting 34. Nxf4 Nf3+ 36. Kf1 (Kh1 Qxf4! threatens mate on h2) Nxd2+ 37. Qxd2 Qxf4+ 38. Qxf4 exf4, and if 39. Rxd6, Black wins with 39…Rc1+.

Karjakin tries 35. Kh1 (see diagram), only to be confronted with a signature Topalov sacrificial touch — 35…Nxg2!! 36. Qxg2 (there’s no salvation in 36. Nxc3 Rh4! 37. Kh2 [Ne4 Nf4 38. Qe1 Rxh3+ 39. Rh2 Qg2 mate] Rxh3+! 38. Kg1 [Kxh3 Qh4 mate] Ne3+ 39. Kf2 Qg3 mate) Rg3 (Qh4!, piling on h3, may be even quicker) 37. Nxf4 (Qh2 Qh4 is definitely lethal) Bxg2+ 38. Nxg2 Rxh3+.

White gets two rooks for the queen and two pawns but can never organize an effective defense.

After 42. Rc6 (Kf1 Qc1+, while 42. Kh2 Rh3+! 43. Kg1 [Kxh3 Qg3 is mate again] Qc1+ 44. Rf1 Qc5+ picks off the rook) Qg4 (and not 42…h3?? 43. Rc8+ Qd8 44. Rxd8 mate) 43. Bf5 Rxg2+ 44. Rxg2 Qxf5, White cannot hold out much longer. On 49. Rg5 (Rxe4 Qf3+ 50. Kxh4 Qxe4+) e3 40. Kxh4 g6, Karjakin gives up in light of variations such as 51. Ra2 Qf2+! 52. Rxf2+ exf2, and the pawn can’t be stopped.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County star Pascal Charbonneau has achieved his third and final grandmaster norm, winning the Category 10 Winter FIDE International in Chicago earlier this month with an undefeated 6-3 score.

The title is largely a formality for Charbonneau, who has proved his strength at the board with several Canadian national championship wins and with his work as an anchor on the winning Baltimore Kingfishers’ entry in last year’s inaugural U.S. Chess League season.

Charbonneau took a critical point in Chicago from UMBC alum IM Eugene Perelshteyn, surviving some early pressure from White in a Sicilian Dragon and nicely timing the switch from middlegame to endgame.

After 19. Bd4 Bh6 20. Rhe1 (my Fritz program offered up the cheeky 20. Nxg6!?, when 20…Bxd2?? 21. Nxe7 is a pleasing mate, but 20…fxg6 21. Qxh6 Rf7 22. Rc1 Bd7 is perfectly playable for Black) Re8 21. Bf6 Qd8 22. Qe2, Perelshteyn has decent pressure on the Black position, but no clear breakthrough.

Charbonneau breaks the bind in an extended tactical sequence: 24…Bxg4! (not winning material, but setting up an ending in which Black has much the better chances) 25. fxg4 exf6 26. Rxe8+ Rxe8 27. Qxb4 Qxb4 28. Rxb4 Re1+ 29. Kc2 Rh1 30. h3?! (perhaps too passive; 30. Ne2 Rxh2 32. Kd3 Rh3+ 32. Kc4 Be3 33. Kb5 offered more counterchances) Rh2+ 31. Kc3 Kg7.

Taking stock, White’s three-to-one queen-side pawn edge looks dangerous, but it is Black’s king-side pawns that prove more mobile. The White knight, meanwhile, proves a poor defender and a burden to the rest of his forces.

Black’s edge becomes patent after 32. Ra4 Bxf4 33. Rxf4 Rxh3+ 34. Kc4 g5 35. Rd4 h5 36. gxh5 f5!, ignoring the harmless h-pawn in order to get his pawns rolling.

The conclusion: 37. b4 g4 38. b5 Rxh5 39. a4 g3 40. Rd1 Rh4+ 41. Kd3 (Kb3 f4 42. a5 f3 43. b6 axb6 44. axb6 f2 45. b7 Rh8 46. Kb4 g2 and wins) Rxa4 42. Ke3 Rg4; two pawns down and no closer to getting a passed pawn on the queen’s wing, White resigned.

Corus A Tournament, Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, January 2006


1. e4c526. Qg4Rc5

2. Nf3Nc627. Rad2Bc8

3. d4cxd428. Qe4Bb7

4. Nxd4Nf629. h3Nh4

5. Nc3e530. Bd3Rf5

6. Ndb5d631. Bb1Rxc3

7. Bg5a632. Qg4h5

8. Na3b533. Qe2Qg5

9. Nd5Be734. f4Rxf4

10. Bxf6Bxf635. Kh1Nxg2

11. c3Bg536. Qxg2Rg3

12. Nc20-037. Nxf4Bxg2+

13. a4bxa438. Nxg2Rxh3+

14. Rxa4a539. Kg1Rg3

15. Bc4Rb840. Rf2Kg8

16. Ra2Kh841. Rxd6h4

17. Nce3Bxe342. Rc6Qg4

18. Nxe3Ne743. Bf5Rxg2+

19. b3f544. Rxg2Qxf5

20. exf5Nxf545. Rcg6Qf7

21. Nd5Bb746. R6g4Qf6

22. 0-0Rc847. Kh2Kf7

23. Qd3Nh448. Kh3e4

24. Rd1h649. Rg5e3

25. Qg3Nf550. Kxh4g6

White resigns

Winter FIDE Invitational, Chicago, January 2006


1. e4c522. Qe2Rb8

2. Nf3d623. Rd4Qb6

3. d4cxd424. Qd2Bxg4

4. Nxd4Nf625. fxg4exf6

5. Nc3g626. Rxe8+Rxe8

6. Be3Bg727. Qxb4Qxb4

7. f3Nc628. Rxb4Re1+

8. Bc40-029. Kc2Rh1

9. Qd2Bd730. h3Rh2+

10. 0-0-0Rb831. Kc3Kg7

11. Bb3Na532. Ra4Bxf4

12. g4b533. Rxf4Rxh3+

13. Nde2b434. Kc4g5

14. Nd5Nxb3+35. Rd4h5

15. cxb3Nxd536. gxh5f5

16. exd5Qa537. b4g4

17. Kb1Rb538. b5Rxh5

18. Nf4Bc839. a4g3

19. Bd4Bh640. Rd1Rh4+

20. Rhe1Re841. Kd3Rxa4

21. Bf6Qd842. Ke3Rg4

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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