- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2012

They can analyze complex positions 15 moves deep, memorize reams of opening variations and endgame theory, rattle off the moves of games played a decade ago — but they can’t remember to set their clocks an hour ahead.

Seven players — including four international masters from Georgia — forfeited their Round 6 games at the European Individual Championship last week in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, because they forgot to adjust their clocks correctly for daylight saving time and showed up too late for their games. Apparently, Georgia is one country that does not spring forward and fall back, but the time shift was mentioned prominentlyin the tournament literature and in verbal warnings from organizers.

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, the event’s No. 2 seed, probably wishes he had overslept as well. In what could be a modern record, the Azerbaijani star racked up consecutive forfeits in Rounds 8 and 9, first for arriving at his board just seconds after the round started (the European Chess Union imposed a “zero tolerance” rule for tardiness at the beginning of the year) and then for agreeing to a 19-move draw despite a special tournament rule barring draws before Move 40 without permission of the arbiters.

Luckily, enough players in the very strong 368-player field managed to play out their games, with Russian GM Dmitry Jakovenko defeating front-runner Laurent Fressinet of France in the final round to take the title. Despite their time-management tribulations, two of the Georgians IM Shota Azaladze and FM Davit Lomsadze managed to notch grandmaster norms in the event.

One of the EIC’s more entertaining games came far away from the leaders’ boards, with Ukrainian WFM Elena Cherednichenko running into an attacking buzz saw from young Serbian FM Novak Cabarkapa. White makes an early ill-advised pawn grab and pays heavily for her greed.

Cherednichenko-Cabarkapa after 16...Rxc7.
Cherednichenko-Cabarkapa after 16…Rxc7. more >

White’s 5. b4!? takes this tame Colle System into some uncharted territory, and Black reacts aggressively to the odd White setup. With her king still in the center, Cherednichenko makes an ill-advised pawn grab, walking into some very nice tactics from Black: 15. Nb2?! (Qd2 Nd7 16. h4 Qg4 kept the balance, although it doesn’t solve White’s king dilemma) Bxa2 16. Rxc7?! (see diagram) Nc6! 17. Rxb7 (best now might be 17. h4 [bxc6? Qa5+ 18. Qd2 Qxc7] Qd8 18. b6 [Rxb7? Na5 traps the rook] Nxd4! 19. exd4 Bxd4 20. Bb5 Qf6 21. Qe2 Qxb6, though Black remains clearly in charge) Nxd4! 18. exd4 e3!, blowing open the White king position.

White’s game may be beyond salvation, but Cabarkapa finds some nice shots to put his opponent away 19. f3 (f4 Qxf4 20. Nd3 Qh4+ 21. g3 Qe4 skewers White’s rooks) e2! 20. Bxe2 Qxg2 21. Rf1 Bxd4, and White can’t meet the threat of 22…Bc3+ with 22. Rc7 because of 22…Rad8 23. Nd3 Bb3 24. Qd2 Bf6, and the looming 25…Bh4+ is deadly.

The finale features one last baby “sacrifice” to force resignation: 23. Qd2 Rad8! 24. Qxb2 Bb3 (with the threat of 25…Rd1 mate) 25. Re7 Rxe7 26. Bxe7 Rd1+ 27. Bxd1 Qxb2 28. Bxb3 axb3 29. Bb4 (b6 Qe5+ 30. Kd2 Qxe7) Qc1+ 30. Ke2 Qxf1+!, and White resigns as the pawn can’t be stopped after 31. Kxf1 b2.

This just in — the Texas Tech Knight Raiders won their second consecutive President’s Cup in the collegiate chess “Final Four,” played over the weekend in Herndon. The University of Maryland-Baltimore County, a multiple winner of the event, came up just short, tying for second with archrival University of Texas-Dallas, a half-point behind the winners. New York University finished fourth. Defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton was once again the sponsor and host for the team tournament

The multinational champs were anchored by German GM Georg Meier, a freshman finance major, on top board, and boasted a roster that included players from Iran, Israel, Hungary and Brazil. We’ll have details and some action from the tournament in the coming weeks.

A pair of Texas young guns are this year’s co-winners of the Frank P. Samford Jr. Chess Fellowship, the two-year stipend designed to give the country’s most promising talents the time, coaching and resources they need to develop their game. GM Alejandro Ramirez, Costa Rica’s only grandmaster and a graduate of the University of Texas, and Uzbekistan-born GM Timur Gareev, currently studying at the University of Texas-Brownsville, will share the honors.

Past winners for the stipend, now worth $42,000 a year, have included inaugural winner GM Joel Benjamin, GM Gata Kamsky and current U.S. No. 1 Hikaru Nakamura, the only American in the world’s top 10.

Gareev, now 24, shared the 2007 Uzbekistan national title before coming to the United States for his studies. He has quickly established himself as a tough competitor with several nice tournament wins to his credit. At the 2009 World Open, he held his own in a sharp encounter with one of the country’s most experienced and successful Swiss tournament stars, GM Alex Stripunsky.

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