- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

He just won the world championship, but now he faces the real test. Ukrainian teen-ager Ruslan Ponomariov participates in his first super-GM event in Linares, Spain, fresh from his January triumph in the FIDE world title knockout tournament.
The seven-GM, double round-robin event includes the man the 18-year-old Ponomariov defeated for the title, fellow Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk, as well as such formidable talents as former world champ Garry Kasparov of Russia, Viswanathan Anand of India, Michael Adams of England and Alexei Shirov of Spain. Play began yesterday and continues through March 10.
Ponomariov is undoubtedly a rising star, but he managed to win the FIDE title without ever really taking on many of the game's top players. It will be interesting to see how he fares in Spain.

Edmar Mednis, the Latvian-born U.S. grandmaster who died last week of pneumonia at age 64, will be missed. While perhaps never a first-rank talent over the board, the New Yorker was one of the most lucid and graceful writers on the game, especially its opening phase.
Mednis' columns for Chess Life on the opening were a model of instructional clarity for the average player, avoiding long dreary strings of variations for simple prose explanations of the pluses and minuses for both sides of various opening ideas.
An example: In his underrated 1975 book "How Karpov Wins," Mednis considers the King's Indian Reversed line 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b5 3. c3 Bb7 4. a4 a6 5. e3?!, noting, "Botvinnik gives this an exclamation mark but his reasoning is unclear to me.
"It is hardly ever right to confuse opening systems and that is what White does here. Surely 2. g3 means that the king's bishop will be fianchettoed. Not to do that must require an exceptional reason and the simple attack on the b-pawn is no such reason. The net result is that the white squares in general and particularly those on the kingside are seriously weakened. In the end, this factor will be decisive."
Mednis earned the grandmaster title in 1980 and was a 2000 inductee into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.
Not particularly known as an aggressive player, Mednis could attack when the situation called for it. Against Hungarian GM Laszlo Vadasz in Budapest in 1976, Mednis dealt the tournament winner his only loss with a well-timed sacrifice.
In his own annotations, Mednis condemns Black's 8. Ne4 Nb4?! as too ambitious, and rightly accepts the challenge when Black seeks complications after 11. Nfg5! d5?! (see diagram) 12. Ng3!! Nc2+ 13. Kf2 Nxa1. Mednis said he felt the Black knight would never get out alive, and that, after 14. Nxf5 gxf5 15. Bd3!, White had a very powerful attack at the cost of an exchange.
If now 15…e6 16. g4 h6, Mednis planned 17. gxf5! hxg5 (exf5 18. Qh5 hxg5 19. Bxf5 Re8 20. Rg1! f6 21. e6 Qe7 22. fxg5 Nc4 23. gxf6 Qxf6 24 Bh6 Re7 25. Bxg7 Rxg7 26. Qh7+! Kf8 28. Qh8+ Ke7 29. Rxg7+ Kd6 30. Rd7 mate) 18. f6! Bxf6 19. Qh5 Re8 20. fxg5! Bg7 21. Ke2! Re7 22. Rf1 Kf8 23. g6 Ke8 24. Bg5 Kd7 25. Bxe7 fxg6 26. Qxg6 Qh8 27. h4, and "in a practical sense, White is not down material and will win easily."
Instead, Vadasz goes down meekly on 15…h6 16. Bxf5! e6 (hxg5? 17. Qh5 Re8 18. e6! leads to mate) 17. Bh7+ Kh8 18. Bb1 f5? (Qe7 19. Qd3 f5 20. exf6 Bxf6 21. Nxe6, followed by the eventual capture of the knight on a1, also wins for White, but his task would be harder) 19. Nxe6 Qe7 20. Nxf8 Rxf8 21. Bd3.
White comes out two pawns to the good and Black has no counterplay. Vadasz strings it out a few more moves, but his game is hopeless.

Chess has been called an art, a science, a sport. But sometimes it's just plain hard work.
Lithuanian GM Eduard Rozentalis scored a clear first in the traditional open tournament in Cappelle la Grande, France, edging out a host of strong grandmasters in the 9-round Swiss. Rozentalis earned his first-place money with efforts like his win over Scottish GM Colin McNab.
Working patiently against White's exposed d-pawn, Rozentalis finally wins the pawn with 26…c5 27. d5 exd5 28. cxd5 Nxd5, although Black must survive some anxious moments in the ensuing tactical dust-up. Converting the extra pawn will prove difficult, given Black's doubled, isolated c-pawns that come under immediate attack.
Black opts instead for an attack on the king and must overcome some annoyingly sturdy defense from the lower-rated McNab: 38. Rxc5 (recovering the pawn but exposing the back rank) Qe1 39. Nc3?! (to prevent 39…Ne4, but 39. Rc4! would also have stopped Black's next move) Ng4!, when 40. Qxg4?? Qxf2+ 41. Kh3 Qxh2 is mate.
White is on the run, but refuses to quit the fight: 40. Ne4 Ne3+ 41. Kh3 Qf1+ 42. Kh4, when the tempting 42…g5+? 43. Nxg5 hxg5 falls to 44. Rxg5+ Kf8 45. Qa8+ Ke7 46. Qe4+ Kd7 47. Qxe3.
Again, Black appears to win a rook and the game with 42…Ng2+ 43. Kg4 f5+ 44. Rxf5 gxf5+ 45. Qxf5, but now the threat of perpetual check by the queen forces Black to give back nearly all his hard-won material with 45…Ne3+ 46. fxe3 Qxf5+ 47. Kxf5 Rxh2. After the long tactical sequence begun with 39…Ng4!, Black emerges with only the exchange for a pawn, but it proves just good enough.
The White knight cannot hold his widely scattered pawns, and in the final position, 55. Na7 (Nd8+ Ke7 traps the knight) Rb4+ 56. e4 Rxa4 57. Nb5 c4 will leave White without prospects. McNab resigned.

Budapest, 1976
1. e4d6.17. Bh7+Kh8
2. d4Nf618. Bb1f5
3. Nc3g619. Nxe6Qe7
4. f4Bg720. Nxf8Rxf8
5. Nf30-021. Bd3c5
6. Bd3Na622. Be3cxd4
7. e5Nd723. cxd4Nc4
8. Ne4Nb424. Qxa1Nxe3
9. Be2Nb625. Kxe3b5
10. c3Bf526. Qd1a6
11. Nfg5d527. g3Qf7
12. Ng3Nc2+28. Qc2h5
13. Kf2Nxa129. Rc1h4
14. Nxf5gxf530. Qg2hxg3
15. Bd3h631. hxg3Black
16. Bxf5e6resigns

XVIII Open, Cappelle la Grande, France, February 2002
1. c4e628. cxd5Nxd5
2. Nf3d529. Re8+Kh7
3. b3d430. Qe4+g6
4. e3Nc631. Rxd8Qxd8
5. exd4Nxd432. Rc1Nf6
6. Bb2Bc533. Qf3Rd3
7. g3Qf634. Qc6Rd2
8. Nxd4Bxd435. Qf3Qe7
9. Bxd4Qxd436. Nc3Qe5
10. Nc3Bd737. Na4Kg7
11. Bg2Bc638. Rxc5Qe1
12. Bxc6+bxc639. Nc3Ng4
13. Qf3Ne740. Ne4Ne3+
14. 0-00-041. Kh3Qf1+
15. Rad1Rad842. Kh4Ng2+
16. Rfe1Rd743. Kg4f5+
17. Re4Qf644. Rxf5gxf5+
18. Rf4Qe545. Qxf5Ne3+
19. Re4Qa546. fxe3Qxf5+
20. d4Rfd847. Kxf5Rxh2
21. Kg2h648. a4Kf7
22. Rf4Ng649. g4Re2
23. Re4Qf550. Kf4Ke6
24. Qe2Qf651. Nc3Rb2
25. Qe3Ne752. Nb5c5
26. Ne2c553. Nxa7Rxb3
27. d5exd554. Nc6Rb6
White resigns

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

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