- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 22, 2002

There is a doctor in the house, and he's a grandmaster, too.GM Alex Sherzer, the pride of Fallston, Md., is back in the area, having completed his medical studies in Hungary. Playing in his first local event in years, the 31-year-old Sherzer scored a respectable 4-2 in last weekend's George Washington Open.

Once he shakes off the rust, Sherzer should recapture the form that made him one of the country's most promising young players in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Sherzer's return only partially overshadowed a fine performance by young Massachusetts IM Eugene Perelshteyn, who defeated 2001 GWO winner John Meyer in the final round to finish alone in first at 51/2-1/2. Finishing in a tie for second in the 84-player event at Alexandria's Mount Vernon Best Western were FMs Stanislav Kriventsov and Yevgeniy Gershov.

Daniel Malkiel won the top expert prize, and Kebadu Belachew, who always seems to be in the hunt for a class prize, was the highest-scoring Class A player, both at 41/2-11/2. Other class winners: Top B Ettie Nikolova; Top C Christian Leppert; Top D Curtis Davis, Kevin Butler, Jared Cassaza, Gary Gillespie and Kevin Clark; and Top Under 1200 Eric Kangas.

Sherzer bolted out of the gate with three quick wins, but his typically aggressive play backfired against the sturdy defense of Potomac IM Larry Kaufman in Round 4. From the White side of a Sicilian Najdorf, the grandmaster sacrifices two pawns for the initiative but never gets enough compensation for his material investment.

On 24. Nd4 Qc5 25. Qh4 Qh5, Black's threats to trade down quickly sap White's hopes of a king-side attack. On 26. Qf4 (Qxh5 Nxh5 27. Nxb5 [Rf5 Rc5 holds nicely] d5, Black remains a valuable central pawn to the good) e3! 27. Rde1 (Qxe3? Qxh2+! wins the exchange after 28. Kxh2 Ng4+ 29. Kh1 Nxe3) Re8 28. Rxe3 Rxe3 29. Qxe3 Qxh2+! 30. Kxh2 Ng4+, Kaufman steers for an ending in which only Black has realistic winning chances.

Still, rook-and-knight endings are notoriously tricky, and White makes things as difficult as possible for his opponent. Black must constantly watch his back rank (32…Nxc2?? 33. Nxc2 and the knight can't be recaptured because of 34. Re8 mate) and the passed White b-pawn emerges as a potent threat.

A critical decision is White's 37. b4!?, jettisoning the c-pawn, when 37. c3 g5 38. b4 deserves a long look. In the end, on 51. Nc6 Rxb6+ 52. Kxb6 Nxg2, Kaufman must give up his rook for the pawn, but he has four pawns as compensation, and the White king is fatally far from the action.

In the postmortem, although the computer program Crafty rated 55. Nc6+ as dead equal, Sherzer noted that 55…Kf5 56. Nb4 h3 57. Nxd3 Nxd3 58. Rxd3 g4 is a bust for White.

The final moves were played in a mutual time scramble, but Kaufman's battalion of pawns proves too powerful. A final White oversight only speeds his demise: 59…h2 60. Ke3? (losing, but so does everything else) Ng2+ 61. Kf3 Nxe1+ 62. Kxg3 h1=Q 63. Nxd3 Qf3+ 64. Kh4 Qg4 mate.

Meyer could not repeat last year's triumph, but he played one of the event's most powerful attacking games while handing Kriventsov his only loss of the tournament.

There's not much subtle in this Sicilian, as the players line up opposite-wing pawn storms in hopes of a quick knockout. Meyer's king remains uncastled for a long time, and White tries to take advantage with 16. Nb3 Qc7 17. Nc5!?, trading off the fianchettoed Black bishop since 17…Bxc5 18. Bxc5 Qxc5?? 19. Qd8 is mate.

But White's multiple knight moves take time, and Kriventsov is the first to blink with the retreat 28. Qg4 Qc6 29. Qe2 (gxf7+ Rxf7 30. Rhf1? Rxd4! wins on the spot) fxg6 30. Bxg7! Rc2! (Kxg7?! 31. Rxd7 Qxd7 32. Qxc4 Rf3 33. Ne2 Bf6 34. Nc1 Qd2 allows the clever defense 35. Qc7+ Kg8 36. Rh2!).

Meyer's 31. Qg4 Bg5! combines attack and defense, stuffing the g-file while hitting the c1-square. With White back on his heels, Black administers the kill with 32…Rf4 33. Qh3 Rff2 34. Rc1 (see diagram) Qxc3!, when 35. bxc3 Rb2+ 36. Ka1 Ra2+ 37. Kb1 Rfb2 is mate.

Black must evade a series of dangerous-looking checks, but on 37. Qf4+ Ke8!, the king finds sanctuary, and 38. Rxc2 (capturing the queen still allows the double-rook mate) Qxc2+ 39. Ka1 Qxb2 is mate. Kriventsov resigned.

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In a replay of one of the most famous chess confrontations of the Cold War, 10 Russian GMs, including current world champion Vladimir Kramnik and former world champs Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, will take on 10 top GMS from the rest of the planet, including FIDE titleholder Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine and India's Viswanathan Anand, in a series of matches.

A World team, with Bobby Fischer holding down second board, barely lost to a team of top Soviet players at the celebrated Match of the Century in Belgrade in 1970.

Closer to home, the 10th annual D.C. Action (Game/30) Championship will be held today at the U.S. Chess Center at 1501 M. St. NW. Play begins at 11:30 in an event that annually attracts one of the area's strongest fields. Call 202/857-4922 for details.


George Washington Open, Alexandria, June 2002

SherzerKaufman

1. e4c533. Nxb5d5

2. Nf3d634. Na7Ra8

3. d4cxd435. Re7Kf8

4. Nxd4Nf636. Rc7Ne3

5. Nc3a637. b4Nxc2

6. Be3e638. b5Nd4

7. a4Nc639. b6Ne6

8. Be2Be740. Rd7Rb8

9. 0-00-041. Rd6d4

10. f4Bd742. Kf2g6

11. Kh1Nxd443. Ke2Ke7

12. Qxd4Bc644. Rc6Kd7

13. Rad1Qc745. Kd3h5

14. Bf3Nd746. Kc4h4

15. Qd2Rfd847. Kb5g5

16. b3Rac848. Rc1d3

17. Qf2b549. Rc3Nf4

18. axb5axb550. Rc4Ke6

19. f5exf551. Nc6Rxb6+

20. Bd4Bf652. Kxb6Nxg2

21. Ne2Bxe453. Rd4Nf4

22. Bxe4fxe454. Nb4Ke5

23. Bxf6Nxf655. Rd7h3

24. Nd4Qc556. Re7+Kf5

25. Qh4Qh557. Re1g4

26. Qf4e358. Kc5g3

27. Rde1Re859. Kd4h2

28. Rxe3Rxe360. Ke3Ng2+

29. Qxe3Qxh2+61. Kf3Nxe1+

30. Kxh2Ng4+62. Kxg3h1=Q

31. Kg1Nxe363. Nxd3Qf3+

32. Re1Ng464. Kh4Qg4 mate


George Washington Open, Alexandria, June 2002

KriventsovMeyer

1. e4c520. h5a4

2. Nf3d621. Be2b3

3. d4cxd422. cxb3axb3

4. Nxd4Nf623. a30-0

5. Nc3e624. Bd4Rac8

6. Be3Be725. Qf4Nc4

7. f3a626. Bxc4Rxc4

8. Qd2b527. g6h6

9. g4Bb728. Qg4Qc6

10. g5Nfd729. Qe2fxg6

11. 0-0-0b430. Bxg7Rc2

12. Nce2d531. Qg4Bg5

13. Ng3Qa532. Bc3Rf4

14. Kb1dxe433. Qh3Rff2

15. fxe4Ne534. Rc1Qxc3

16. Nb3Qc735. Qxe6+Kf8

17. Nc5Nbd736. Qd6+Be7

18. Nxb7Qxb737. Qf4+Ke8

19. h4a5White resigns


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


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