- The Washington Times - Friday, May 4, 2007

The U.S. Chess Federation this week extended a free lifetime membership to a Virginia Tech chess player credited with helping save the lives of some of his classmates in the shooting rampage that killed 32 on the campus April 16.

Derek O’Dell, president of Tech’s chess club, was in a German class that Monday morning when Seung-hui Cho burst into the classroom. Instructor Jamie Bishop and several students were killed instantly, and O’Dell was shot in the wrist before Cho moved on to other classrooms on the floor.

The killer returned shortly, apparently looking for survivors, but O’Dell and two fellow students blocked the door by stacking tables against it. Investigators say Cho fired about a dozen shots into the door seeking to get in but was unsuccessful. He later committed suicide.

O’Dell, from Roanoke, is a Class C player who has studied with former Virginia champion Rusty Potter. In addition to the lifetime membership, the USCF has offered the Tech sophomore a free room and complimentary entry fee to this summer’s U.S. Open in Cherry Hill, N.J. A full account of the incident, written by the Arlington Chess Club’s Mike Atkins, can be found on the USCF Web site at www.uschess.org.

• • •

It might be billed as the immovable object meeting the immovable object.

There weren’t many fireworks in the eight-game rapid match last week between Russian world champ Vladimir Kramnik and Hungarian super-GM Peter Leko in the Hungarian town of Miskolc, won by Kramnik by a score of 41/2-31/2. Leko and Kramnik are known as two of the most solid players in the game, extremely hard to beat and extremely risk-averse.

Still, there were some subtle positional beauties in Kramnik’s Game 5 win, which gave him a two-point lead and pretty much sealed the contest.

This English line is a Kramnik specialty, allowing Black free piece play but saddling him with permanent pawn weaknesses. The game’s star move might be the unexpected 17. Rc1 Kb7 18. Ke1!!, putting off normal development to prepare a trade of minor pieces.

As White slowly unwinds his game, the weakness of Black’s pawns begins to tell. But Kramnik misses the put away (both 37. Rb2+! Rb4 38. Rxb4+ Nxb4 39. Rxe5 Rc2+ 40. Kf3 and 38. Rg6!, paralyzing Leko’s position, would be close to winning), and Black shows excellent fighting spirit in clawing his way back into the game.

But just when a tricky draw was in sight, Black’s defense falters: 47. Rg6+ Kf5 48. Rf6+ Kg5 49. Rd6 (no better is 49. Re6 Kf5 50. Rd6 e4+ 51. Kg3 Ra1 52. f3 Rg1+ 53. Kh3 Nf4+ 54. exf4 exf3 55. Rf6+ Ke4, with a draw) Rf8+?, when the minitactic 49…Nc5! 50. Nxe5 Rf8+ 51. Ke2 Rxf2+! 52. Kxf2 Ne4+ 53. Kf3 Nxd6 produces a book draw.

A nice finesse collects the point after 50. Kg3 e4 51. Rd5+ Rf5 52. f4+!, transforming the weak backward pawn into a powerful passer as 52…exf3 loses the Black knight. It’s over quickly on 52…Kg6 53. Rd4 Nc5 54. Ne5+ Kg7 55. Rc4 Nd3 56. Nxd3 exd3 57. Rd4, and the last Black pawn falls; Leko resigned.

• • •

New York WIM Irina Krush is adding some impressive scalps to her resume recently. At a strong open tournament in Gibraltar in January, she upset top seed GM Vladimir Akopian of Armenia and seven rounds later knocked off Swiss legend GM Viktor Korchnoi, inspiring a memorably unsportsmanlike display from the curmudgeonly loser.

She was at it again in the just-concluded Category 12 Gausdal Chess Classics in Norway, won by budding Norwegian superstar Magnus Carlsen. Krush, the second-lowest-rated player in the field, finished a respectable 41/2-41/2, including another impressive win over veteran Russian GM Alexey Dreev.

Dreev as White gets very little out of this Queen’s Gambit Accepted, and he is outplayed in the tactical skirmish that essentially decides the contest: 18. gxf3 Ne5 19. Rh5?! (superficially active, but the rook is more liability than asset here; better was 19. f4, as on 19…Rc5 20. Nc3 Nc6 21. e5, it is Black’s rook that looks out of place) Rc5! 40. f4 Nd3+ 21. Kd2 (see diagram; unfortunately for White, 21. Bxd3 would hang the rook on h5) Nxf2! 22. Rxc5 Nxe4+ 23. Kc2 Nxc5.

Black’s combination nets two clear pawns, as now 24. Nxa7 Ra8 25. Nb5 Rxa2 only worsens White’s plight.

Krush stays on the attack, and White’s attempts at counterplay only backfire. By 33. Ne3 Nac5 (also strong was 33…Ndxb2 34. Ng4+ Ke7 35. f5 Rd6) 34. Bg2 h5 35. Kc3 Rd6 36. Nxc4 (desperation) Na4+ 37. Kb3, Krush has a bounty of winning lines to choose from, including 37…Rd4 38. Ne3 Nc1+ and 37…Ndc5+ 38. Kb4 bxc4. Dreev resigned before Black could make her selection.

Rapid Match, Game 5, Miskolc, Hungary, April 2007


1. Nf3Nf630. h4Kb6

2. c4c531. g5hxg5

3. Nc3Nc632. hxg5fxg5

4. g3d533. Rg1Rc8

5. d4cxd434. Rd2Nc6

6. Nxd4dxc435. Rxg5a4

7. Nxc6Qxd1+36. bxa4Rxa4

8. Nxd1bxc637. Nd6Rc7

9. Bg2Nd538. Ne8Rca7

10. Ne3e639. Nxg7Ra2

11. Nxc4Ba640. Rxa2Rxa2+

12. b3Bb4+41. Kf3Kc5

13. Bd2Bxd2+42. Nf5Nb4

14. Nxd2Nb443. Ng3Kd5

15. Kd10-0-044. Ne4Ra8

16. a3Nd545. Nf6+Ke6

17. Rc1Kb746. Ng4Nd3

18. Ke1e547. Rg6+Kf5

19. e3Kb648. Rf6+Kg5

20. Bf1Bb549. Rd6Rf8+

21. Bc4f650. Kg3e4

22. Ke2Rd751. Rd5+Rf5

23. Rc2a552. f4+Kg6

24. Rhc1Ne753. Rd4Nc5

25. Bxb5cxb554. Ne5+Kg7

26. a4Rhd855. Rc4Nd3

27. axb5Kxb556. Nxd3exd3

28. Ne4Ra757. Rd4Black

29. g4h6resigns

Gausdal Chess Classics, GM-A Group, Gausdal, Norway, April 2007


1. d4d520. f4Nd3+

2. Nf3Nf621. Kd2Nxf2

3. c4dxc422. Rxc5Nxe4+

4. Qa4+Nc623. Kc2Nxc5

5. Nc3Nd524. Bf3a6

6. e4Nb625. Nc3Rd8

7. Qd1Bg426. Rg1Rd3

8. d5Ne527. Be2Rd4

9. Bf4Ng628. Re1Kf6

10. Bg3e529. Bf3h6

11. dxe6Qxd1+30. Nd1Nd3

12. Rxd1fxe631. Re2Na4

13. Be2Bd632. a3b5

14. Nb5Bxg333. Ne3Nac5

15. hxg3Ke734. Bg2h5

16. Nxc7Rac835. Kc3Rd6

17. Nb5Bxf336. Nxc4Na4+

18. gxf3Ne537. Kb3and 19. Rh5Rc5White


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



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