- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 2, 2002

Last weekend's Northern Virginia Chess Classic at the Dulles Hyatt produced a four-way tie for first, with GMs Igor Novikov and Alex Wojtkiewicz sharing the honors with local IM Eugene Meyer and FM Rodion Rubenchik, all at 4-.
Novikov and Meyer drew in the final round, while Wojtkiewicz was defeating Potomac IM Larry Kaufman and Rubenchik upset Enukhb Tegshsuren, the third highest-rated entrant in the 89-player field.
The early rounds are not usually the place to find good games in a Swiss event, but Class B player Ted Udelson gave Meyer a terrific fight in the very first round before finally succumbing.
We don't have room to do justice to the head-spinning complications in this game, but credit Udelson with forcing White's hand with 15. Qe2 Qb6 16. f4 Ba3! (17. Bxa3 Qxd4+ looks fine for Black), inducing Meyer to sacrifice a full rook for an attacking bind with 17. Ba1!? Bxc1 18. fxe5 Bxd2 19. exf6 Bb4 20. fxg7. White banks on his active pieces, the cramping g7-pawn and the weakness at f7 as compensation.
The wide open center gives both sides opportunities to err. Meyer notes that the tempting 25. Qxb4? allows 25…Qxb4 26. Nxb4 Bxf1 27. Bxe5 Bxg2+ 28. Kxg2 a5!, winning the knight after 29. Nc2 Rd2+. Again, if Black tries to save his queen with 26…Qb5, White answers with 27. Nf6+ Kxg7 28. Rf4! Be6 29. Nd5+ Kf8 30. Nxb4, with a rook, bishop and knight for the queen.
Things finally clarify on 27. Nxb6 Bxg2+ 28. Kxg2 axb6 29. Kf3. White is up just a pawn and the button on g7 is doomed, but White's king arrives at f5 just in time to seal the endgame win. The Black f-pawn falls and the White king invades deep into the Black rear.
With his queenside pawns about to fall, Udelson resigns. It's a game that does credit to both players.

FIDE world champ Ruslan Ponomariov has held his own in the early going at the superstrong Linares tournament, but the toughest tests for the Ukrainian teen-ager are yet to come.
Ponomariov, under enormous scrutiny as he plays in the strongest event of his life, beat fellow Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk and then lost to English GM Michael Adams in his first two games. In Round 3, he survived a trip to Planet Shirov, holding the ultra-imaginative Spanish GM Alexei Shirov to a draw in a hard-fought affair involving a rook sacrifice and a perpetual check.
Still to come for the young Ukrainian were dates with Indian GM Viswanathan Anand and former world champ Garry Kasparov.
Against Shirov, Ponomariov as White avoids the usual 3. d4 in this Sicilian, opting for a more positional game, but Shirov characteristically finds ways to sharpen the play.
Most of the minor pieces are gone by 11. Bxd5 h6 12. Bxf6 Qxf6, but it is Ponomariov who makes the game's most interesting choice with 14. Bc4 0-0 15. Kf1!? The natural idea here is 15. 0-0-0, but that all but invites Black to launch a queenside rush with the pawn sacrifice 15…b5!?. White's move clears e1 for the rook and is the most efficient setup, but, as the game shows, it isn't without risk.
White's 18. Qe2 (Qa5?! b6 19. Qxa7 Rfe8 would be grist for Shirov's mill) Rfe8 19. Qe4 keeps pressure on the e-pawn and relieves the rook on h1 of guard duties on the h-pawn. Black immediately tries to tempt White from his fortress with sacrifices.
Thus: 19…Nb6! 20. Bb3 (again the better part of valor, as 20. Qxb7 Nxc4 21. dxc4 Rd2 22. Re2 [f3? Qg6! 23. g4 Qxc2 leads to mate] Rd1+ 23. Re1 Rxe1+ 24. Kxe1 Qf4 25. Qd5 Qc1+ 26. Qd1 Qxb2 looks much better for Black) Rd4!? 21. Qxb7 c4 22. dxc4 e4!, and now the White queen and bishop are cut off from the action.
White now might have tried 23. c3 Rd7 24. Qa6 Rd2 25. Re2, but things get dicey in lines like 25…e3!? 26. c5 Red8 (threatening 27…Rd1+ 28. Bxd1 Rxd1+ 29. Re1 Qxf2 mate) 27. f3 Qg6! 28. g4 (cxb6? Qb1+ 29. Re1 Rf2+ 30. Kg1 Qxe1+ 31. Kh2 Rxg2+! 32. Kxg2 Qf2+ 33. Kh3 Qxf3+ 34. Kh2 Rd2+ leads to mate) Qb1+ 29. Kg2 Qxb2 30. Rhe1 Rxe2+ 31. Rxe2 Rd2 32. Bd1 Nd5 33. Qc8+ Kh7 34. Qf5+ Kg8 35. Qxd5 Rxe2+ 36. Bxe2 Qxe2+ 37. Kg3 Qf2+ 38. Kf4 e2 39. Qa8+ Kh7 40. Qe4+ g6 and wins.
Ponomariov's growing reputation as an unflappable defender may have played into Shirov's decision to split the point. The game reaches a crisis on 23. Kg1 Rd7! (driving the queen to an even worse square before invading) 24. Qa6 e3 25. fxe3 (see diagram). John Henderson, writing on the This Week in Chess Web site (www.chesscenter.com/twic/twic.html) claims a convoluted win here for Black with 25…Rd2 26. Rf1 Qc6, the main variation being 27. Rh2 Qc5 28. Kh1 Rxe3 29. Qb5 Rf2!!, leading to paralysis in the White camp.
Black's 25…Rxe3 is showy but only good enough for a draw after 26. Rxe3 (going for more with 26. Qa5? backfires on 26…Qd4 27. Rxe3 Qxe3+ 28. Kh2 Qf4+ 29. Kh3 Rd4 30. g3 [Qh5 g6] Qg4+ 31. Kh2 Qe2+ 32. Kh3 Rd2 33. Rg1 g5! 34. hxg5 Qh5 mate) Rd1+ 27. Kh2 Qxh4+. Since 28. Rh3 Qf4+ 29. g3?? allows 29…Qf2 mate, White has to allow the perpetual.
In this week's other major international event, former world champ Anatoly Karpov clings to a half-point lead after six rounds at a Category 18 invitational in Cannes, France, ahead of Israel's Boris Gelfand and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
Northern Virginia Chess Classic, Herndon, February 2002
1. c4c621. Qc4Re7
2. Nf3d522. Kh1Rdd7
3. b3Nf623. e5Rxe5
4. Bb2Bf524. Nxc6Bd3
5. g3h625. Nxe5Bxc4
6. Bg2e626. Nxd7Bxf1
7. 0-0Be727. Nxb6Bxg2+
8. d30-028. Kxg2axb6
9. Nbd2Nbd729. Kf3Be7
10. cxd5exd530. Ke4f6
11. Nd4Bh731. Kf5Kxg7
12. e4dxe432. Ke6Bc5
13. dxe4Re833. Bxf6+Kg6
14. Rc1Ne534. a4Bg1
15. Qe2Qb635. h3h5
16. f4Ba336. Bd8Bf2
17. Ba1Bxc137. g4hxg4
18. fxe5Bxd238. hxg4Be3
19. exf6Bb439. Kd7Black
20. fxg7Rad8resigns

Linares SuperGM, Linares, Spain, February 2002
Ponomariov Shirov
1. e4c515. Kf1Rad8
2. Nf3Nc616. Re1d5
3. Nc3e517. exd5Nxd5
4. Bc4d618. Qe2Rfe8
5. d3Be719. Qe4Nb6
6. Nd2Bg520. Bb3Rd4
7. h4Bxd2+21. Qxb7c4
8. Bxd2Nf622. dxc4e4
9. Bg5Be623. Kg1Rd7
10. Nd5Bxd524. Qa6e3
11. Bxd5h625. fxe3Rxe3
12. Bxf6Qxf626. Rxe3Rd1+
13. Qd2Ne727. Kh2Qxh4+
14. Bc40-0Draw agreed

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

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