- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 16, 2002

In a sign of the vitality of the local chess scene, we're starting to attract a higher class of losers. Tournament organizer Michael Atkins notes that last month's Northern Virginia Classic boasted two grandmasters, five 2400-plus players and 22 entrants rated expert or above in the 87-player Open section.
The third annual edition of the Millennium Chess Festival, held March 9-10 in Virginia Beach, featured six GMs and WGM Martha L. Fierro, by far the strongest field the tournament has attracted.
Pittsburgh GM Alex Shabalov was one of the Virginia Beach elite contingent, and he wound up sharing first place with fellow GM Julio Becerra. Virginia master Daniel Miller gave Shabalov a good battle before falling in Round 2, offering a promising sacrifice forcing the grandmaster to play some careful defense before he finally took charge.
Shabalov is a world-class attacker, so Miller cannot be faulted in this Queen's Gambit for trying to steal a march on his opponent with the early offer of the exchange for a pawn: 15. Qf3 h6 16. Qh3 hxg5!?, getting the half-open h-file and some real attacking chances as compensation.
White's development lags badly after 21. Qg3 Nxe4 22. Qxg4 Rh8, but Black has a problem of his own. His exposed king allows White to catch up and launch his own attack.
Miller's efforts to keep his attack alive allow Shabalov to turn the tables: 27. Rae1 g5?! (Re8 is more solid, but Black has to justify his material deficit) 28. Nxe6! Kxe6 29. Bxg5!, deflecting the bishop guarding e5 and presenting all kinds of defensive challenges for Black.
Shabalov is in his element, neatly combining offense and defense to set up an entertaining show of sacrificial fireworks: 29…Kf7 (the simplifying try 29…Bg7 30. f4 Qxg2+ 31. Qxg2 Bxg2 32. Kxg2 Ndf7 33. h4 is a win for White) 30. f4 Nd7 32. Rf2! (taking the time to defend g2, as the Black king has no time to flee) Ne8.
White's 32. Qg4! looks like an oversight but actually is the start of an inspired combination: 32…Bd4 (see diagram; White at first appears to have overlooked this simple pinning move) 33. Bg6+!! (giving up a piece to draw the king into the open; if now 33…Qxg6, 24. Qxd7+ Kf8 25. Qxd4 neatly erases the pinning bishop) Kxg6 34. f5+.
The retreat 34…Kg7 loses prettily to 35. Bf6+!! Kf8 (Kxf6 36. Qg6 mate) 36. Rxe8+! Kxe8 37. Qg6+ Kf8 38. Qg7+ Ke8 39. Qe7 mate. But Miller's 34…Kf7 also can't save the game after 35. Re7+ Kf8 36. Qxd4 Ndf6 37. Bxf6 Nxf6 (Rg8 38. Rxe8+ Qxe8 [Kxe8 39. Qd8+ Kf7 40. Qe7 mate] 39. Bg5! Bc6 [Rxg5 40. Qf6+ picks off the rook] 40. Qf6+ Qf7 41. Qd6+ Kg7 42. Qh6 mate) 38. Re8.
Black's queen and knight are both attacked and his defensive wall has disintegrated. Miller resigned.
Millennium class winners included: Under 2000 Robert A. Walker and Jason McKinney 4-; Under 1600 Mark D. Bland 5-0; and Under 1300 Jonathan P. Motley 4-.

Last month's U.S. Amateur Team East event, the best team tournament in the country, attracted the usual hordes to Parsipanny, N.J., with a near-record 253 four-player teams involved. Grandmasters and Class E players often pair up in the event, where the only limitation is that the average rating of the four players be under 2200.
The surprise winners were the budding Weeramantry family dynasty, playing as "Weera-family." Dad Sunil Weeramantry, a FIDE master, held down second board, while stepsons Hikaru and Asuka Nakamura played first and third boards, respectively. With Michael Ellenbogen on Board 4, the 19th-seeded team had the only perfect 6-0 record in the event.
The coveted best team name prize this year went to "Enron 401(k) No Perpetual Check."
The East champs will play the winner of the three other regional events for the U.S. team title later this year.

It was foreordained. Former world champ Garry Kasparov's lucky number has always been 13 and wouldn't you know his Round 13 opponent at the just-concluded superGM tournament in Linares, Spain, was co-leader and newly crowned FIDE champ Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine.
The young lion couldn't handle the old bull as Kasparov regally disposed of his teen-aged rival to clinch yet another first at Linares.
Ponomariov, who had comfortably held a draw with White against Kasparov in Round 6, surprised his opponent with the French Defense as Black, but proved less comfortable with the opening's nuances (8…Nd7?! 9. Bb5 gives White by transposition a comfortable line from the Closed Sicilian) and soon felt heavy pressure.
Like Miller, Kasparov sacrifices a pawn, but his initiative proves enduring. Critical is 19. Rd3 a6 20. Rh3!, when English annotator Malcolm Pein noted that 20…Qe5 (axb5? 21. Qxh7+! Rxh7 22. Rxh7+ wins) 21. Be8+! Kxe8 22. Qg7 Rf8 23. Rxh7 Qd6 24. Qxg6+ Kd8 25. Qh5 is dominating for White.
Ponomariov defends well, but 24…e5?! proves too loosening and White breaks through in a time scramble. After repeating moves, Kasparov delivers the kill with 24. Qh6 Be6 35. gxf5 (opening the h5-e8 diagonal for the bishop because 35…Bxf5 loses to 36. Bc4+ Ke8 37. Qf4 Rc8 38. Bb5+ Kf8 39. Rd7 Qe6 40. Qh6 wins) gxf5 36. Be2! Qf6 37. Bh5+ Ke7 38. Rxe6+!.
In the face of the hopeless 38…Kxe6 (Qxe6 39. Qg7+ Qf7 40. Qxf7 mate) 39. Rd6+ Kxd6 40. Qxf6+ Kd7 41. Qxh8, Ponomariov resigned. The Linares scorecard: Kasparov 8-4; Ponomariov 6-5; Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Michael Adams (England), Viswanathan Anand (India) 6-6; Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spain) 5-7; and Alexei Shirov (Spain) 4-6.

Millennium Chess Festival III, Virginia Beach, March 2002
1. d4d520. Ne2Nc4
2. c4c621. Qg3Nxe4
3. Nc3Nf622. Qxg4Rh8
4. e3e623. Nf4Ne5
5. Nf3Nbd724. Qe2Bf6
6. Bd3dxc425. f3Nd6
7. Bxc4b526. Bd2c4
8. Bd3Bb727. Rae1g5
9. 0-0a628. Nxe6Kxe6
10. e4c529. Bxg5Kf7
11. d5Qc730. f4Nd7
12. dxe6fxe631. Rf2Ne8
13. Bc2Be732. Qg4Bd4
14. Ng5Qc633. Bg6+Kxg6
15. Qf3h634. f5+Kf7
16. Qh3hxg535. Re7+Kf8
17. Qxh8+Kf736. Qxd4Ndf6
18. Qh3g437. Bxf6Nxf6
19. Qe3Ne538. Re6Black

Linares SuperGM, Linares, Spain, March 2002
1. e4e620. Rh3Qe7
2. d4d521. Bd3f5
3. Nc3dxe422. g4Qf6
4. Nxe4Nd723. Rd1b5
5. Nf3Ngf624. Be2e5
6. Nxf6+Nxf625. Rhd3Ra7
7. c3c526. Rd6Qg7
8. Ne5Nd727. Qe3Rc7
9. Bb5Bd628. a4e4
10. Qg4Kf829. axb5axb5
11. 0-0Nxe530. Bxb5Qe5
12. dxe5Bxe531. Qg5Qe7
13. Bg5Bf632. Qh6Be6
14. Rad1Qc733. Qf4Bc8
15. Qh4Bxg534. Qh6Be6
16. Qxg5f635. gxf5gxf5
17. Qh5g636. Be2Qf6
18. Qh6+Kf737. Bh5+Ke7
19. Rd3a638. Rxe6+Black

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

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