- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The University of Maryland at Baltimore County chess powerhouse has another strong recruit in the pipeline.

New Jersey junior master Arthur Shen is the new U.S. cadet champion, edging New York master Michael Bodek on tiebreaks last week at the invitational tournament in Crossville, Tenn., for the top American players younger than 16 last week. Shen, whose elder brother Victor participated in the event two years ago, wins a full ride to UMBC for his victory.

Past winners of the event have included former U.S. champion Tal Shaked and Maryland-born GM Alex Sherzer.

Shen broke strongly from the gate with three straight victories, but Bodek kept pace with 2 1/2 points in his first three games. The New Yorker got off to a flying start with a sharp attacking victory in Round 1 against master Andrew Wang.

This Najdorf Sicilian produces the classic attacks on opposite wings, and it’s not clear that Wang as Black should have lost the race. His 18. h4 Rc8 19. h5 Raa8!? (d5 is the thematic move here, and Black seems fine after 20. Nxd5 [exd5 Bf5 21. Nc1 Bb4] Bxd5 21. exd5 Qxa4) appears to squander a crucial tempo, but even after 20. g6 b5 21. Rdg1 bxa4 22. Qg2!?, the computer suggests Black can survive after 22…fxg6 23. hxg6 h6 24. Bxh6 (Nd2 Qb4 25. Bxh6 a3 26. b3 Qxc3 27. Bxg7 Qb2 mate) axb3 25. Bxg7 bxc2+ 26. Kc1 Nc5! 27. Rh8+ Kxg7.

Bodek-Wang after 22...Bf8.
Bodek-Wang after 22…Bf8. more >

But fortune favors the brave after the game’s 22…Bxf8? (see diagram) Bh6! hxg6 24. hxg6 f6 (also falling short was 24…axb3 25. Bxg7! bxc2+ 26. Kc1 Bxg7 27. gxf7+ Kxf7 [Kf8 28. Qxg7+ Ke7 29. f8=Q mate] 28. Qxg7+ Ke8 29. Rh8+ Bg8 30. Nd5 Qxd5 31. exd5 Nf6 32. Qxf6 and wins) 25. Qh2 Be7 26. Bxg7! Kxg7 27. Qh6+, and Black can’t stop mate. Wang resigned.

The cadet event fell smack in the middle of what will be an insanely busy time on the international chess calendar. Two world-class events are getting under way just this week: the annual Biel International Chess Festival in Switzerland with world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway topping the field and the 39th Dortmund Chess meeting across the border in Germany with former world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and U.S. No. 1 GM Hikaru Nakamura in the six-player premiere event.

Next month will see the strongest Russian national championship tournament in years, with GMs Kramnik, Peter Svidler and Alexander Morozevich competing, while the 112th U.S. Open will wrap up Aug. 7 in Orlando, Fla.

Wait - there’s more. The World Team Championships, featuring powerful teams from 10 nations, began play in Ningbo, China, on Saturday. American star GM Gata Kamsky is anchoring the U.S. squad (which dropped its opening match to Russia by a 3-1 score), while others in the competition include Armenian super-GM Levon Aronian and Ukrainian star Vassily Ivanchuk.

Hungary’s Judit Polgar hasn’t been as active in recent years, but she gave a sterling reminder of why she is universally considered the greatest female player of all time in her wonderful win over Indian GM Surya Ganguly in Ningbo. Channeling the great Soviet world champ Tigran Petrosian, Polgar takes her king on a stroll first to g7, then back over to a6(!), while conducting a masterfully timed attack on both sides of the board.

Without making any obvious errors in this Taimanov Sicilian, Ganguly as White finds himself increasingly boxed in, with his center blocked and Black’s a- and h-pawns proving curiously effective in shutting down his options. The committal 25. a4?! (to forestall a Black …a5-a4) creates a permanent weakness on the b-file, and White may have missed a last chance on 27. Rf1 Nb8, when 28. g4!? hxg3 29. Qg2 Nc6 30. Qxg3 Rh8 at least supplies him a little positional oxygen.

After 28. Nf2?! Nc6 29. Ne4 Rh5 30. Rf3 Rg8 31. Rbf1 Kf8!!, however, Polgar conducts the rest of the contest like a great maestra conducting a symphony orchestra. First the Black king heads to the queenside to guard the a-pawn and maintain the cramp there. Then a powerful rook-rook-queen lineup of the b-file forces Ganguly into total passivity in defense of his b-pawn.

Just when her opponent is locked up on the queenside, Polgar switches back to the kingside with the perfectly timed 48. Kg1 g5! 49. Nh6 (Black is also better on 49. fxg5 Nxe5 50. Nxe5 Qxe5 51. Qc1 f5 52. gxf6 Bxf6) gxf4 50. Bxf4 Bc7 51. Nxf7 Nxe5 52. Bxe5 Bxe5 53. Nxe5 Qxe5 54. Rf8 Qe4 55. Qd2 Rg7!, not allowing 56. Ra8+ Ra7 57. Rax7+ Kxa7 58. Qxa5+ and shifting the heavy pieces back to the kingside for the final assault.

White will finally win the annoying h-pawn, but by then Black’s pawn center has been mobilized to deadly effect: 56. Rf4 Qb7! 57. Rxh4 e5 58. Qe2 (Rh5 Re6 59. Rg5 Rxg5 60. Qxg5 e4 61. Rd2 e3 62. Re2 Qe7 63. Qf5 Re4) Rbg6 59. Rf3 (Rg4 Rxg4 60. hxg4 e4 61. Rd2 e3 62. Rh6+ Ka7, and the pawns cannot be stopped) d3! 60. Qf2 (Qxd3 is suicidal - 60…Rxg2+ 61. Kf1 Rg1+ 62. Ke2 R7g2+ 63. Rf2 Rxf2+ 64. Kxf2 Qg2+ 65. Ke3 Re1+) d2, and White resigns because after 61. Rf6+ Rxf6 62. Qxf6+ Ka7, the twin threats of mate at g2 and 63…d1=Q cannot be met.

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