- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

It was said of the famous football coach Don Shula that "he could beat your'n with his'n or he could beat his'n with your'n."
Ukrainian-born GM Alexander Onischuk, 26, now based in the United States, performed perhaps the closest equivalent chess can offer during the just-completed Third International Karpov Tournament, played in the Siberian city of Poikovsky.
Against Belarusan GM Aleksej Aleksandrov in Round 1, Onischuk defended the Black side of a Rubinstein Nimzo-Indian and won in fine style. Four rounds later, Onischuk found himself playing the White pieces in the very same opening against talented Brazilian GM Giovanni Vescovi. Onischuk proceeded to sacrifice a bishop and a rook, smashing through in just 25 moves.
Both victories were critical to Onischuk's fine tournament. In one of the best results of his career, he finished alone in first in the Category 16 event, a half-point ahead of Russian GMs Sergei Rublevsky and Vadim Zvjaginsev at 6-3.
In the Round 1 encounter, Aleksandrov selects a quiet development scheme, apparently content to keep his forces close to home and hope his opponent overextends himself. Onischuk posts his knights aggressively but must take care that White's coiled setup does not spring to life.
Onischuk refuses to back down, and his space advantage soon makes itself felt on 17. b3 (beginning the counterattack on Black's center) Rc8 18. bxc4 Rxc4 19. Rb3 Qd7! (a highly annoying attack on the a-pawn) 20. Bd3 Qxa4! (forced in a way, as 21 Rc8 allows 22. Bb5, while 21 Nc3 22. Nxc3 Bxd3 23. Qxd3 bxc3 24. Rxc3 Qxa4 25. Ra3 Qd7 26. Rfa1 is pleasant for White). Black dares his opponent to take the offered exchange, giving Onischuk a trio of dangerous passed pawns on the queenside.
Accepting the sacrifice with 22. Bxc4 dxc4 23. Rb1 b3 might have been White's best practical chance, for he is overmatched in the tactical sequence following 22. Nf4?! Rc3 23. Rxc3? (Rb1 at least keeps the contest interesting for a while) Qxd1 24. Rxd1 Nxc3 25. Rd2 (Ra1 g5! 26. Bxf5 gxf4 27. exf4 b3 28. f3 b2 29. Rf1 Ra8 30. Bc2 Ra1, winning a piece) Ra8!, winning a critical tempo because of the threat of mate after 26 Ra1+.
The powerful Black b-pawn and the lack of coordination of White's rook and knight decide the game: 26. h4 Bxd3 27. Nxd3 (Rxd3 Ra2 28. g4 Rc2 29. Kg2 b3 and the pawn will cost White a piece) b3 28. Rb2 Ra1+ 29. Kh2 Rb1 30. Rd2 (Kg3 Rxb2 31. Nxb2 b5!, followed by 32 Na4 breaks the White knight's blockade on b2) Rd1! 31. Rb2 (desperation, as 31. Rxd1 Nxd1 is equally hopeless) Rxd3.
A piece down in a hopeless position, Aleksandrov resigned.
Facing the same defense from the other side of the board, Onischuk in Round 5 adopts a much more open setup. He accepts an isolated d-pawn in exchange for fluid piece play and the possibility of a kingside attack. With 13. Qb3 Bxc3 14. Rxc3!, Onischuk even passes up an opportunity to repair his pawn structure to bring another piece into the action.
Vescovi after the game praised White's surprising decision to retreat his knight with 15. Nd2!. The knight bolsters the White bishop on c4, can quickly rejoin the attack via e4 and, most important, clears the third rank for the rook to shuttle over to the kingside.
"I could not perceive all the variations," Vescovi said, "so I decided to take a risk with 15h6." Both players agreed this was the losing move, but it took some scintillating play by Onischuk to prove the point.
Thus: 16. Bxh6! (tearing open the Black kingside, though it does not at first glance appear that White has enough pieces in the vicinity to make it count) gxh6 17. Rh3 Rxc4!? (eliminating any nasty bishop sacrifices on e6, but he might have tried 17Nh7 18. Qe3 Ng5 19. Rxh6 Qe7 20. f4 Nh7 Bd3 f5 22. Rg6+ Kh8 23. Rxe6 Qg7 24. g3, when White still holds the edge) 18. Nxc4 Kg7 19. Qg3+.
Black tries to cover up, but one more timely sacrifice undermines the defense 21. Nd6 Qb8 (see diagram) 22. Rxe6!! (the critical follow-up, which deflects the pawn guarding g6) fxe6 23. Rg3+ Ng4 (Kh8 24. Qg6 Rg8 25. Nf7 mate) 24. Rxg4+ Kf6 25. Qh7. Facing 25Qxd6 26. Qg7+ Kf5 27. Qg6 mate, Vescovi resigned.

It won't clear up the world title mess, but one of the year's most eargerly awaited tournaments gets under way today in Prague. Russian Vladimir Kramnik, holder of one version of the world crown, headlines a field of 32 of the world's top players in a rapid-chess knockout event.
In the field are no less that four other players who have held at least one version of the disputed crown Russians Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and Alexander Khalifman, and Viswanathan Anand of India. Seattle's Yasser Seirawan, seeded into Kasparov's group, is the lone American in the field.
Play continues through May 5. We'll track the proceedings in upcoming columns.

Third Karpov International Tournament, Poikovsky, Russia, April 2002
1. d4Nf617. b3Rc8
2. c4e618. bxc4Rxc4
3. Nc3Bb419. Rb3Qd7
4. e30-020. Bxb4axb4
5. Bd3d521. Bd3Qxa4
6. cxd5exd522. Nf4Rc3
7. Nge2Re823. Rxc3Qxd1
8. Bd2c524. Rxd1Nxc3
9. a3Bxc325. Rd2Ra8
10. Bxc3c426. h4Bxd3
11. Bc2Nc627. Nxd3b3
12. 0-0a528. Rb2Ra1+
13. a4Nb429. Kh2Rb1
14. Bb1Ne430. Rd2Rd1
15. Be1b631. Rb2Rxd3
16. Ra3Bf5White resigns

Third Karpov International Tournament, Poikovsky, Russia, April 2002
1. d4Nf614. Rxc3Qe8
2. c4e615. Nd2h6
3. Nc3Bb416. Bxh6gxh6
4. e30-017. Rh3Rxc4
5. Bd3d518. Nxc4Kg7
6. Nf3c519. Qg3+Kh7
7. 0-0cxd420. Qd3+Kg7
8. exd4dxc421. Nd6Qb8
9. Bxc4b622. Rxe6fxe6
10. Bg5Bb723. Rg3+Ng4
11. Re1Nbd724. Rxg4+Kf6
12. Rc1Rc825. Qh7Black
13. Qb3Bxc3resigns

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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