- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2012

For two weeks and two days starting late next month, the Rockville Hilton will be the chess epicenter of the country as Maryland Chess Association officials plan five major events in the space of 16 days, including a strong open tournament featuring former U.S. champion Gata Kamsky and Potomac-based former world senior champ GM Larry Kaufman.

Organizers are billing the ambitious “chesstravaganza” as the Maryland Chess Summer, kicking off the festivities with the 2012 U.S. Cadet Championship for the country’s top under-16 talents from July 21 through 23. Past winners of the Cadet have included Maryland GM Alex Sherzer and world junior champion GM Tal Shaked. The winner of the eight-player invitational wins a full four-year ride to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

The centerpiece of the banquet will be the Washington International, a nine-round Swiss event boasting a $17,000 guaranteed prize fund and an opportunity for local players to qualify for international master and grandmaster norms. Players must have a FIDE rating of at least 2,100 to enter, and a major blitz tournament will be offered on the side.

In addition to Kamsky and Kaufman, early entries include GMs Alex Onischuk, Timur Gareev and Mikheil Keklidze. Play begins on July 28 and runs through Aug. 1.

Concurrent with the International, the MCA has organized a round-robin for some legendary veterans of the game, including former multiple U.S. champs Lev Alburt, Boris Gulko and Gregory Kaidanov. The Platonov Memorial Tournament is being organized in honor of GM Igor Platonov, the noted Soviet grandmaster and coach who died in 1994.

More details on all these events and accommodations at the Rockville Hilton are available at the Maryland Chess Association website, www.mdchess.com. Sponsorship and financial support opportunities also are available for those looking to support a major new date on the local chess calendar.

Breaking news - With a last-round win over English GM Luke McShane Monday, top-ranked GM Magnus Carlsen has won the seventh Mikhail Tal Memorial Tournament in Moscow. The young Norwegian, the only undefeated player in the star-studded field, finished a half-point ahead of U.S.-born Italian GM Fabiano Caruana after Caruana lost his last-round game to world No. 2 GM Levon Aronian of Armenia.

The fighting quality of the play in Moscow was impressively high, with even rarely defeated stars such as Aronian and former world champion Vladimir Kramnik suffering multiple losses. Russian GMAlexander Morozevich, who at the tournament’s midpoint was a full point ahead of the field, refused to play it safe and came to grief against American champion Hikaru Nakamura in a double-edged struggle.

In a Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Morozevich as White gins up a very dangerous initiative by sacrificing a pawn and then trying to break down Black’s kingside defenses: 19. Be4 Bxe4 20. Qxe4 b6?! (Nakamura later admitted he underestimated White’s coming f-pawn push) 21. Nc3 0-0 22. c6 Nb8 (better might be 22. … Nc5 23. Bxc5 bxc5 24. Rd7 Nf5 25. Qc4) 23. f5!, and suddenly White’s queen, bishop and rook threaten to weave a mating net around the Black king.

The game’s critical moment may have come on 24. Bg5 Qe8 (see diagram), when after 25. Rd8!? (the move Nakamura expected) Qxd8 (Qxc6? 26. Rxb8!) 26. Bxd8 Rxd8 27. Nb5 a6 28. Nxc7 a6, the computers come up with the astonishing 29. Na8!! Nxc6 30. Nxb6 Ncd4 31. Kb1, and White retains his edge.

As White tries to crack open the g-file, Black has just enough time to organize a saving counterattack, aided by a critical White mistake: 36. Rd2 c4 37. Ka2 a5 38. Qd1? (putting the queen on the worst possible square; 38. Ka1 kept things in balance) c3! 39. bxc3 Ne3! (attacking the queen and relocating to d5 with tempo) 40. Qe2 Nd5 41. Qd3 (Qc4 Qa4! 42. Qxa4 Nxc3+ 43. Ka1 Rb1 mate) a4!, and the threat to invade with the rook via b3 will prove decisive.

In the final position, the trade of queens will leave White facing the loss of either his a-pawn or e-pawn; Morozevich resigned.

In soccer it might be called a “friendly.” Top players from Georgia and Azerbaijan engaged in a bilateral “Friendship Match,” with the Azeris coming out on top by a cumulative score of 14 1/2-10 1/2. Azeri GM Shahkriyar Mamedyarov led the way with a 4-1 individual score, including a nice queen sacrifice win against Georgian GM Konstantine Shanava.

White wastes no time castling in a bid to get his kingside attack rolling, and Shanava never recovers from the early onslaught. Black tries to counter White’s piece sacrifice with an interpolated attack on the queen, but Mamedyarov finds another way to part with his leading lady: 16. Bc3 Qe5 17. Qd3! Nxd5 18. Nf3 Bf5 19. Qxd5!, clearing the way for a devastating windmill attack aimed at g7.

The finale: 19. … Qxd5 20. Rxg7+ Kh8 21. Rf7+ Be5 22. Bxe5+ Kg8 23. Rg7+ Kh8 24. Rg5+, and Black resigned facing heavy material losses.

Morozevich-Nakamura, Tal Memorial, Moscow, June 2012

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bxc4 Nb6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Ne2 Bg4 8. f3 Be6 9. Nbc3 Qd7 10. Ne4 Bd5 11. Nc5 Qc8 12. a3 e6 13. Qc2 Bxc5 14. dxc5 Nd7 15. f4 Bxg2 16. Rg1 Bf3 17. Be3 g6 18. O-O-O Ne7 19. Be4 Bxe4 20. Qxe4 b6 21. Nc3 O-O 22. c6 Nb8 23. f5 Nxf5 24. Bg5 Qe8 25. Qf4 f6 26. Bxf6 Qxc6 27. Kb1 Nd7 28. Ne4 Nc5 29. Nxc5 bxc5 30. h4 Rf7 31. h5 Rd7 32. hxg6  h6 33. Rxd7 Qxd7 34. Qf3 Rb8 35. Rd1 Qe8 36. Rd2 c4 37. Ka2 a5 38. Qd1 c3 39. bxc3 Ne3 40. Qe2 Nd5 41. Qd3 a4 42. Rb2 Rxb2+ 43. Kxb2 Qb8+ 44. Kc1 Qb3 45. Qa6 Qxc3+ 46. Kd1 Ne3+ 47. Ke2 Qc4+ 0-1.

Mamedyarov-Shavana, Friendship Match, June 2012

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 dxc4 8. g5 Nd5 9. Bxc4 e5 10. Bd2 O-O 11. Nxd5 cxd5 12. Bxd5 exd4 13. Nxd4 Qxg5 14. Qf5 Qe7 15. Rg1 Nb6 16. Bc3 Qe5 17. Qd3 Nxd5 18. Nf3 Bf5 19. Qxd5 Qxd5 20. Rxg7+ Kh8 21. Rxf7+ Be5 22. Bxe5+ Kg8 23. Rg7+ Kh8 24. Rg5+ Black resigns.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at dsands@washingtontimes.com.