- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 10, 2002

Russian-born GM Yevgeny Najer, an adopted son of New Jersey, used his home-field advantage to good effect in the just-concluded 2002 U.S. Open in Cherry Hill, N.J., finishing in a tie for first with French GM Gennady Zaitshik with an 8-1 score.

Najer raced out of the blocks with seven straight wins, while Zaitshik needed late-round wins over IM Mikhail Zlotnikov and Florida junior star Bruci Lopez to claim a share of the top prize. Young Rockville master John Rouleau had an excellent Open, losing only for Potomac IM Larry Kaufman on his way to a 7-2 score and a tie for 10th place in the country's most prestigious open event.

We'll have more details and some action from Cherry Hill in the coming weeks.

•••

The story line may be getting a little old, but Swiss GM Viktor Korchnoi apparently never will.

Korchnoi, 71, long ago cemented his position as the best senior player the game has ever known, continuing to play world-class chess and compete at the top levels against players five decades younger. The recent Biel Chess Festival grandmaster invitational, won by red-hot Israeli GM Ilya Smirin, found Korchnoi still able to teach his junior rivals a thing or two.

Against Spanish GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, who at 19 is the tournament's youngest competitor, the wily Korchnoi managed to squeeze a lot out of a little, nursing the tiniest of advantages into a winning pawn ending.

The French has always been a Korchnoi favorite, and here Black easily equalizes in a queenless middle game. When Vallejo Pons misplaces a rook, Black seizes a nagging initiative that White never quite manages to neutralize: 32. Nc4 Bf6 33. Ra2?! (a preparation for the doubling on the a-file that never comes off; 33. Nxf6 gxf6 34. Nd2 Nd6 35. Ne4 Nxe4 36. Rxe4 leaves a draw in sight) Nd6 34. Nexd6+ cxd6 35. d5 Re7 (exd5? 36. Rxe8 Rxe8 37. Nxd6+) 36. Rd1.

With White's rook on a2 singularly misplaced, Black seizes the central high ground after 36…exd5 37. Rxd5 Kc6! 38. Rd2 d5 39. Ne3 d4! 40. Rxd4 Rxd4. The Black rook is markedly superior in the rook ending after 43. Nxd4+ Rxd4, and Korchnoi puts on a clinic in the exploitation of small advantages.

White's doubled b-pawns demand constant vigilance, and Black's threat to create an outside passed h-pawn induces Vallejo Pons to weaken his kingside with 52. f4. That's just the opening Black needs to force a winning king-and-pawn ending: 52…Re3 53. Rc7 (passive defense with 53. Rg2 Kb4 is hopeless) f5 54. Rc7+ Kd5 55. Rc3 (Rd7+ Ke4 56. Rb7 Rxg3 57. Rxb6 Kxf4 58. b4 axb4 59. Rxb4+ Kf3 60. Rb3+ Kg4 61. Rxg3+ Kxg3 62. b4 f4 63. b5 f3 64. b6 f2 65. b7 f1=Q 66. b8=Q Kxh4 wins for Black) Rxc3+! 56. Kxc3 Ke4.

Black may have calculated this out to the very end, recognizing that the White's awkward king position will prove fatal. In the final position, 64. b7 h1=Q 65. b8=Q Qa1+ 66. Kb6 Qxb2+ 67. Kc7 Qxb8+ 68. Kxb8 Kxf4 is a basic win for Black. Vallejo Pons resigned.

•••

A strong contingent of Indian players is adding a little spice to the 2002 British Championships, now under way at the English city of Torquay. Among the players in the hunt at Torquay are GMs Pentala Harikrishna and Krishnan Sasikiran.

British IM Nicholas Pert upended one of the South Asian challengers, Sura Sekhar Ganguly, in a fine attacking game, employing to perfection a line of the Queen's Gambit Accepted that world champ Vladimir Kramnik has used so effectively.

British IM and chess columnist Malcolm Pein notes that White's 14. Qh4!? is a new move here, as Pert clearly has no intention of hiding his aggressive inclinations: 14…g6 15. d5! (always the key move in this variation; now both 15…Nxd5 16. Nxd5 Bxg5 17. Nxg5, threatening mate, and 15…exd5 16. Rae1 Nc6 17. Rxe7! Nxe7 18. Bxf6 Re8 19. Re1 are bad for Black, so ) Bxd5 16. Ne4 Bxe4 17. Bxe4 Ra7 (Nxe4? 18. Bxe7 Qd5 19. Rad1 wins the exchange) 18. Rad1 Nd5 19. Rfe1.

With all White's pieces on menacing squares, a single Black defensive lapse decides the game: 19…f6 (plugging the hole at f6, but weakening g6 in the process) 20. Bh6 Re8? (Pein prefers 20…Rf7, strengthening the defense along the seventh rank) 21. Qg4! Bf8 (see diagram; if now 21…f5, then 22. Bxf5! exf5 23. Qd4 threatens the rook on a7, the knight on d5 and 24. Qg7 mate) 22. Bxg6!.

Stripping away the king's protection is pretty standard, but White needs a second tactic to undermine the Black position: 22…hxg6 23. Qxg6+ Bg7 24. Rxd5! Qxd5 25. Qxe8+ Kh7 26. Bxg7 Rxg7. The result: White is a pawn up and the Black king is fatally exposed.

One more sacrifice ends the game after 27. Re3 Nc4 28. Ng5+! Rxg5 (Kh6 29. Rh3+ Kxg5 30. Qh5+ Kf4 31. Rh4+ Rg4 32. Rxg4 mate; while taking the knight with the pawn allows 29. Rh3 mate) 29. Qf7+ Kh6 30. Qxf6+ Kh7 (Rg6 31. Rh3 mate; 30…Kh5 31. Rh3+ Kg4 32. f3+ Qxf3 33. Qxf3 mate) 31. Qf7+.

With either 31…Kh6 32. Rxe6+ Qxe6 33. Qxe6+ Rg6 34. Qe2, winning easily, or 31…Kh8 32. Rh3+ Rh5 33. Rxh5+ Qxh5 34. Qxh5+ on tap, Ganguly resigned.


35th Biel International Chess Festival, August 2002

Vallejo Pons Korchnoi

1. e4e633. Ra2Nd6

2. d4d534. Nexd6+ cxd6

3. Nc3Nf635. d5Re7

4. Bg5dxe436. Rd1exd5

5. Nxe4Be737. Rxd5Kc6

6. Bxf6Bxf638. Rd2d5

7. Nf3Nd739. Ne3d4

8. Qd2b640. cxd4Rxd4

9. 0-0-0Bb741. Rxd4Bxd4

10. Qf4Qe742. Nf5Rd7

11. Bc40-0-043. Nxd4+Rxd4

12. Rhe1Nf844. Ra1Rd6

13. g3Ng645. Rf1Re6

14. Qe3Kb846. Kd2Rd6+

15. h4Qb447. Kc2Rg6

16. Bb3h648. Rd1Re6

17. Qe2Qa549. Rd2Re1

18. c3Qh550. Kd3Kc5

19. Nfd2Qxe251. Kc2g6

20. Rxe2h552. f4Re3

21. Rde1Ne753. Rd7f5

22. Nf3Nf554. Rc7+Kd5

23. Nfg5Nh655. Rc3Rxc3+

24. Nd2Bd556. Kxc3Ke4

25. Nc4Kc857. Kc4Kf3

26. Ne3Bxb358. Kb5Kxg3

27. axb3a559. Kxb6Kxh4

28. Ne4Kb760. Kxa5Kg4

29. Kc2Be761. b4h4

30. Ra1Rhe862. b5h3

31. Ree1Nf563. b6h2

32. Nc4Bf6White resigns


Smith & Williamson British Championships, Torquay, England, August 2002

PertGanguly

1. d4d517. Bxe4Ra7

2. c4dxc418. Rad1Nd5

3. e3Nf619. Rfe1f6

4. Bxc4e620. Bh6Re8

5. Nf3c521. Qg4Bf8

6. 0-0a622. Bxg6hxg6

7. Bb3cxd423. Qxg6+Bg7

8. exd4Nc624. Rxd5Qxd5

9. Nc3Be725. Qxe8+Kh7

10. Bg50-026. Bxg7Rxg7

11. Qd2Na527. Re3Nc4

12. Bc2b528. Ng5+Rxg5

13. Qf4Bb729. Qf7+Kh6

14. Qh4g630. Qxf6+Kh7

15. d5Bxd531. Qf7+Black

16. Ne4Bxe4resigns


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


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