- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cue the chorus of “Sunrise, Sunset.”

In one more sign that kids grow up fast these days, 17-year-old prodigy GM Anish Giri had what for him rates as a novel experience: losing to a younger player. At the 13th European Individual Championship now under way in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the reigning Dutch national champ fell to 15-year-old fellow prodigy GM Ilya Nyzhnyk from Ukraine. Some are already billing the game, the first over-the-board clash of the two wunderkinds, as a sneak preview of the 2020 world championship match.

In an Open Catalan (with a slew of tricky transpositions), Nyzhnyk as White wins back his gambited pawn, but Caruana obtains a perfectly defensible position, with some good squares for his knights as White struggles to get his bishop pair free. But the sense of lurking danger that usually is so highly developed in grandmasters utterly fails Black here, as he badly underestimates the power of White’s h-pawn thrust.

After 20. h5 Nd3 (f5 21. exf6 Nxf6 22. Qh4 h6 seems perfectly adequate) 21. h6 f5?! (and now safer would be 21. … g6 22. Bd2 Qe7 [not 22. [EnLeader] Nxb2? 23. Bxd5 Qxd5 24. Bb4 Ra8 25. Qf4 Qd7 26. Qf6 and wins], with an equal game) 22. exf6 Rxf6? (the last chance to maintain equality was 22. … Nxf6 23. Qg5 Nd5) 23. Bxd5! Rxf1+ (Qxd5?? 24. Qxg7 mate) 24. Kxf1 Qf7+ 25. Bf3! Nxc1 26. d5!, Black’s position is suddenly on the verge of collapse, as 26. … exd5 loses to 27. Kg2! (unpinning the bishop) Nd3 28. Qc8+ Qf8 29. Bxd5+ Kh8 30. Qxf8 mate.

Grabbing both a pawn and a strong initiative, the young Ukrainian plays the finale with impressive precision, not allowing his higher-ranked opponent any chance of sneaking back into the contest: 26. … Nd3 27. dxe6 Qe7 28. Bd5! Kf8 (Nb4 29. e4 Qf6+ [Nxd5 30. exd5 Qf6+ 31. Qf4 Kf8 32. Qxf6+ gxf6 33. d6 is a won ending for White] 30. Qf4 Kf8 31. e7+ Kxe7 32. hxg7 Nxd5 [Qxg7 33. Qc7+ Kf6 34. Qd6+ Kg5 35. Qxb4] 33. g8=N+! Kf7 34. Nh6+ Ke7 35. exd5, and White emerges a piece ahead) 29. Qxg7+, and Black resigned, as 29. … Ke8 (Qxg7 30. hxg7+ Kxg7 31. e7 and the pawn queens) 30. Be4 Qxe6 31. Qh8+ Ke7 32. Qxh7+ Kd6 33. Bxd3 cxd3 34. Qxd3+ is hopeless.

Razuvaev-Farago after 19...Bxh4.
Razuvaev-Farago after 19…Bxh4. more >

With seven rounds to go in Plovdiv, English GM Gawain Jones and German GM Arkady Naiditsch are part of a group of 10 players all at 5-1 in the wide-open tournament.

He was one of those players not well known on the international circuit, but who was highly appreciated in his native land as a competitor, journalist, organizer and coach. Russian GM Yuri Razuvaev, who died last week after a lengthy illness at age 66, inspired an impressive number of tributes and eulogies from friends and compatriots for his many and varied contributions to the game.

His coaching resume was particularly impressive, working with a roster of players that included at various times world champions Anatoly Karpov and Vladimir Kramnik and women’s titleholder Alexandra Kosteniuk, while managing the juggernaut Soviet teams that won gold at the Olympiad and European team championships.

Russian-born U.S. GM Boris Gulko, who left the old Soviet Union under not the happiest of circumstances, has written a fond and admiring remembrance of his old colleague for the Russian Chess News website.

Razuvaev was no slouch over the board, with notable wins over players such as Efim Geller, Nigel Short and (a very young) Garry Kasparov. At a 1979 tournament in Dubna, Russia, Razuvaev (who won the event a year earlier) captured the best game prize for his fine attacking win against Hungarian GM Ivan Farago.

As in the previous game, White in this QGD Semi-Tarrasch signals his aggressive intentions with an h-pawn push against the Black king, and once again Black is not up to the defensive demands of the position. Black’s 13. h4 Na5 14. Ng5 h6?! (better was 14. … g6 15. Bd2 Rc8) merely creates a target for White’s coming sacrifices.

Razuvaev doesn’t need to be invited twice, but his ensuing attack contains some subtle points: 16. Nh7! Re8 (Qc7!? 17. Bxh6 gxh6 18. Qxh6 f5 19. c4! Nxc4 20. Rxe6! Bxe6 21. Nxf8 Rxf8 22. Qxe6+ Kg7 23. Bxc4 is also strong for White) 17. Bxh6! (a familiar idea in these positions, but White had to chart out the follow-up sacrifice as well) gxh6 18. Qxh6 f5 19. Re3 Bxh4 (see diagram), apparently stopping for the moment the nasty rook check along the g-file.

But White has too much invested to back off now: 20. Rg3+!! Bxg3 21. Qg6+ Kh8 22. Nf6+ (the point of the rook sacrifice, as now the Black bishop does not control f6) Bh2+! (Qe7 23. Qh6+ and mate next) 23. Kh1!, sidestepping 23. Kxh2?? Qc7+ 24. Kg1 Re7 25. Bxf5 exf5 26. Nxd5 Qd7 27. Nxe7 Qxe7, and Black survives.

On 23. … Qxf6 (White had to foresee that 23. … Bxg2+ 24. Kxh2! [Kxg2? Rg8] Qc7+ 25. Kxg2 Rg8 26. Rh1+ doesn’t save Black) 24. Qxf6+ Kg8 25. Kxh2, Razuvaev has a winning material edge and his attack against the harried Black king is far from spent. In the final position, after 30. Rh8+ Kf7 31. Qh5+, Farago resigns as 31. … Rg6 32. Rxe8 wins a full rook.

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