SANDS: Kamsky knocked out of world contention

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American champion Gata Kamsky is out of the world-title hunt, falling 2-0 to Israeli GM Boris Gelfand in a blitz playoff Monday in their FIDE candidates semifinal match in Kazan, Russia. After the two drew all four games at classical time controls, Kamsky won the first rapid playoff game only to see Gelfand bounce back with the black pieces to square things, forcing the blitz playoff.

Gelfand now meets Russian GM Alexander Grischuk - who upset compatriot and former world champ Vladimir Kramnik, also in a blitz playoff - in a six-game classical match that starts Thursday. Grischuk and Kramnik also drew all four of their games, as well as both rapid playoff contests. The ultimate winner/survivor of the Kazan drawfest wins a date with world champion Viswanathan Anand of India for a title match in 2012.

Among the plethora of draws (there were just two decisive results in the 16 quarterfinal games), some of the split points actually featured fighting chess. The best of last week’s action came in Game 3 of the Kamsky-Gelfand classical match, when both players missed chances for a decisive breakthrough.

Although Gelfand is a world-class Sicilian Najdorf expert, White’s offbeat 8. h3 Be6 9. Qf3 line clearly throws him off his stride. Black wins a pawn with 15. c3 Nbxd5!? 16. Bd2! (Rxd5?! Qc6 17. Bg2 e4! wins material), but his shaky king after 19. Kb1 Qc6 20. Qh3 d5 21. Be2 Nc4 22. Bc1 Nf6 23. Rhe1 gives White ample compensation.

Several annotators said Kamsky missed a clear breakthrough on 28. Bd3 Qh5?! (misplacing the queen; 28…Qd7 was safer), when 29. Bxc4! Rxc4 (dxc4 30. Nc5) 30. Qb6! puts heavy pressure on Black’s game.

Andersson-Cifuentes after 23...Rae8.

Enlarge Photo

Andersson-Cifuentes after 23…Rae8. more >

In mounting complications and rising time pressure, it is Black’s turn to miss a trick on 35. Qc7 Bf2 (play is reaching a critical point, with White still having to justify his sacrificed pawn) 36. Rf1?! (Rg1! Bxg1 37. Rxg1 h5 38. Be3 Kg8 39. Nd6 Rf8 40. Qc5 Rh7 41. Bd4, with complex play) e3 37. Bxe3? (Qd6+ was tougher) Nxe3 38. Ne5, when 38…Qh5! holds on to the extra material, keeps the f7-square under surveillance and allows Black to consolidate.

Instead, after the game’s 38…Qf5? 39. Qc5+ Kg7 40. Qxe3! (Kamsky displays amazing cool in zeitnot, but this pin tactic would not have worked with the Black queen on h5) Rxe5 41. Qxf2 Qxf2 42. Rxf2 Rhe8, and, astonishingly, material is dead even heading into the double-rook ending. By 53. a5 Kf6 54. Kd3 Re7, neither side can make headway and the draw was a just result.

Speaking of too many draws, “Grandmaster Chess Strategy: What Amateurs Can Learn from Ulf Andersson’s Positional Masterpieces” (New In Chess, 223 pages, $24.95) arrived in the mailbag for review last week. The super-solid Swedish grandmaster, once ranked in the world’s top five, had a reputation as a tough man to beat, but one whose games sometimes lacked fighting spirit.

While the book mostly features Andersson’s defensive and positional masterpieces, authors Jurgen Kaufeld and Guido Kern have unearthed some hidden attacking gems from the Swede’s career, including today’s speculative queen sacrifice taken from the 1984 Olympiad in Greece.

In a wide-open QGA, Andersson as White goes on the attack with 15. Rh5 Be7 16. e4 0-0 17. e5 Qb7 18. e6! g6?! (weakening the dark squares) 19. exf7+ Rxf7 20. Re5 Nc4 21. Re6 Bf6 22. Bh6!, already eyeing the queen offer to come.

White pounces after 22…Rae8 (see diagram) 23. Rxf6! Rxe2 25. Rxe2, obtaining a rook and minor piece for the queen while maintaining a strong attack. Both sides play well in the ensuing tactics; the authors note that Roberto Cifuentes Parada could have made things even murkier with 29…Rd6!? 30. Re8+ Kg7 31. Nd3 h6 (c4 32. Nf4 Nxf4 33. R2e7+ Qxe7 34. Rxe7+ Kf8 35. Rxh7 Nd3 36. Rc7 is equally unclear) 32. Be7 Rd7 33. Nxc5 Ne3 34. Bf8+ Kf7 35. Re1 Kxe8 36. Rxe3+ Kxf8 37. Ne6+ Kf7 38. Nxc7 Rxc7, though White holds an edge.

The Swedish GM proves stronger in the clutch: 34. Kg2! (a “cool prophylactic move,” according to the authors, and much better than the hasty 34. Rxd5? Qe1+ 35. Kg2 [Kh2?? Qxf2+ 36. Kh1 Qf1+ 37. Kh2 Rc2+ and wins] 35. Kg2 Qe4+) Nf6? (losing - 34…Qb4! was the only move, though White still claims an edge on 35. Ng4! [Rxd5?! Qe4+ 36. Kg1 Qxd5 37. Re7 Rc1+! 38. Bxc1 Qd1+ 39. Kg2 Qxc1 and wins] Kf7 36. Ree2) 35. Re7, and White is weaving a mating net.

The end comes with startling abruptness after 35…Ne8 (Nh5 36. g4 wins prosaically) 36. Rdd7 Qc2 37. Rxe8+!, and Black resigns facing the cooperative checkmate delivered by 37…Rxe8 38. Rg7+ Kf8 (Kh8 39. Nf7 mate) 39. Nd7 mate.

Kamsky-Gelfand, FIDE Candidates Match, Kazan, Russia, May 2011

1. e4 c5  2. Nf3 d6  3. d4 cxd4  4. Nxd4 Nf6  5. Nc3 a6  6. Be3 e5  7. Nb3 Be7  8. h3 Be6  9. Qf3 Nbd7  10. g4 h6  11. O-O-O Rc8  12. Nd5 Bxd5  13. exd5 Nb6  14. h4 Qc7  15. c3 Nbxd5  16. Bd2 Nb6  17. g5 Nfd7  18. gxh6 gxh6  19. Kb1 Qc6  20. Qh3 d5  21. Be2 Nc4  22. Bc1 Nf6  23. Rhe1 Qe6  24. Qh2 Qf5+  25. Ka1 Kf8  26. f3 Bd6  27. Qg1 Bb8  28. Bd3 Qh5  29. Qh1 Ba7  30. Qh3 Re8  31. Bxc4 dxc4  32. Na5 e4  33. Nxc4 Qxf3  34. Qh2 Ng4  35. Qc7 Bf2  36. Rf1 e3  37. Bxe3 Nxe3  38. Ne5 Qf5  39. Qc5+ Kg7  40. Qxe3 Rxe5  41. Qxf2 Qxf2  42. Rxf2 Rhe8  43. Rg1+ Kf8  44. Kb1 Re2  45. Rf4 R8e4  46. Rgf1 Re1+  47. Kc2 R4e2+  48. Kb3 Rxf1  49. Rxf1 Kg7  50. Rf4 Re6  51. a4 Kg6  52. Kc4 f5  53. a5 Kf6  54. Kd3 Re7 1/2-1/2.

Andersson-Cifuentes, Olympiad, Thessalonika, Greece, 1984

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 a6 6. O-O c5 7. Nc3
b5 8. Bb3 Bb7 9. Qe2 Nbd7 10. Rd1 Qb8 11. d5 exd5 12. Nxd5 Nxd5
13. Bxd5 Bxd5 14. Rxd5 Nb6 15. Rh5 Be7 16. e4 O-O 17. e5 Qb7 18. e6
g6 19. exf7 Rxf7 20. Re5 Nc4 21. Re6 Bf6 22. Bh6 Re7 23. Re1 Rae8
24. Rxf6 Rxe2 25. Rxe2 Rd8 26. h3 Nb6 27. Rfe6 Nd5 28. Ne5 Qc7
29. Bg5 Rf8 30. g3 c4 31. Bh6 Rc8 32. Rd2 c3 33. bxc3 Qxc3 34. Kg2
Nf6 35. Re7 Ne8 36. Rdd7 Qc2 37. Rxe8+ 1-0.

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About the Author
David R. Sands

David R. Sands

Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.

At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...

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