- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 9, 2002

Another amazing performance by Garry Kasparov and another impressive one by Ruslan Ponomariov are the highlights so far of the year's first top-flight event.

With three rounds to go in the Linares SuperGM Tournament in Spain, Kasparov holds a half-point lead over Ponomariov, India's Viswanathan Anand, and Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk in the 7-player field. The Russian former world champ has defeated England's Michael Adams and Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain, and has never been in danger of losing in the Category 20 event.

Ponomariov, the Ukrainian teen-ager who just won FIDE's version of the world title, has given a good accounting of himself in his first elite event. He lost early to Adams but got revenge against the Englishman in the rematch and stands at plus-1 after 10 rounds. His penultimate-round game today with White against Kasparov could determine the tournament.

Kasparov displayed some classic power chess in his game with Vallejo Pons, who put up a good fight but was simply worn down by the Russian.

In a Sicilian, Black's eccentric knight maneuver 12. 0-0 0-0 13. Rc1 Ne5?! (usually this knight is traded off on d4 as Black tries to enforce either …d6 or …d5; now the d-pawn will be stuck on its home square for the rest of the game, with dire consequences) invites 14. f4!, seizing a lasting initiative since 14…Nxc4? 15. Bxc4 Qxc4 16. Nb1! Qa2 17. Rf2 Qa1 18. Nb3 runs the Black queen to ground.

Kasparov sacrifices his b-pawn to build up a strong kingside attack, aided by a powerful bishop on b2, but Vallejo Pons fights back with some energetic queenside play, and the tension crests with 30. Bb2!? Nb4 31. Rd2.

Black would love to swap down here, but the position is full of land mines. If now 31…Nxd3 32. Rxd3 Qxc4, White has 33. Nxh7!! Qxd3 34. Qg6, with a winning attack; e.g. 34…Rf7 35. Ng5 Kf8 (Rbf8 36. Qh7 mate) 36. Nxf7 Nxf7 37. Qxg7+ Ke8 38. Qg8 mate. And a move later, 32…Nxd3 33. Rxd3 bxc4 loses to 34. Bxg7! Kxg7 35. Rg3 Rf6 36. Nf7+ Kf8 (Ng4+ 37. hxg4 Rxf7 38. gxf5+ Kf8 39. Qh6+ Ke8 40. Rg8+ and mate next) 37. Qxh6+!! Rxh6 38. Nxh6, and mate with the rook-knight battery is unavoidable.

GM Sergei Shipov thinks Black's last chance was 33…bxc4! 34. Bxc4 Nd5, with chances to defend, but in time trouble, Black falls into a stifling bind after 33…Nxd3? 34. Rxd3 Nf7 35. Rg3 Nxg5 36. Rxg5 Rf7 37. Qe5! Qf8 38. cxb5 (finally winning back the pawn) h6 39. Rg3 Kh7 40. Bd4.

The White pieces flood the Black position and the end is just a matter of time. Vallejo Pons speeds things up with a final blunder, allowing a clever queen sacrifice: 47. Ra4 Be4? (see diagram; 47…Bd5 makes White work a little more for the win) 48. Qxe6!! Qh4 (still the Black d-pawn can't move: 48…dxe6 49. Rxf7, and the coming discovered checks on g7 will decide) 49. Qxf7 Qxf4+ 50. Kg1.

One clear kill is 50…Qg3 51. Qxg7+ Qxg7 52. Bxg7 Kxg7 53. Rxd7+. Black resigned.

In his win over Adams, Ponomariov risked something even Kasparov has not dared taking on the Englishman's feared Ruy Lopez Marshall Attack.

Perhaps the game's most heavily analyzed opening line, the Marshall is not for the faint of heart or light of theory. The White offer of the exchange with 17. Nd2 Bf5 18. f3!? is the state-of-the-art way to blunt the furious Black attack.

In the supersubtle maneuvering that follows, White continually seeks to give up material, and Black just as doggedly refuses the offer.

However, Adams might have waited a move too long, for his young opponent breaks on top with 23. Bb2 Bb4?! 24. Re5!, getting the rook out of harm's way and setting up some trades that de-fang the Black attack.

Adams' pieces continue to buzz around the White king, but it is the White d-pawn that proves the most dangerous weapon on the board. With 34. Rac1 Nxc5 35. bxc5, White gets a pair of connected central passers, while repairing the damage on his queenside pawns.

Ponomariov consolidates definitively with 37. d7 Rh4! 38. Qg2! (gxh4 Bf3 39. Ng2 Bxg2 40. Qxg2 Qe3+ 41. Kh1 Qxc1+ 42. Qg1 also probably wins, but is far messier) Bf3 39. Qxh3 Rxh3 40. Kf2 g4 41. Nf1!, covering all the defensive bases.

Black has no answer now to the d-pawn and has to surrender a piece. In the end, after 44…Rh5 45. Bh4, Black is down a pawn for a piece and now the c-pawn is ready to roll. Adams gave up.

GMs Alex Shabalov and Julio Becerra shared first place in the third annual Millennium Chess Festival in Virginia Beach last weekend. The tournament, organized by Tom Braunlich and Rodney Flores, attracted over 200 players. It has quickly established itself as one of the best regional events on the calendar.

We'll have games and a fuller report on the event next week.

Former two-time U.S. champion Patrick Wolff, who recently moved to the area, will be giving a lecture and simultaneous exhibition at the Arlington Chess Club the night of March 22.

Wolff will play either White or Black and has agreed to allow participants to select the first few moves, if they wish, so they can try out their favorite openings against a top GM.

The cost is $20. Contact the club at 703/534-6232 for more information or to reserve a board.

Linares SuperGM, Linares, Spain, March 2002

KasparovVallejo Pons

1. e4c526. h3Kg8

2. Nf3e627. Kh2Ne7

3. d4cxd428. Nd6Bxd6

4. Nxd4a629. exd6Nc6

5. c4Nf630. Bb2Nb4

6. Nc3Qc731. Rd2b5

7. a3b632. Rc1Qe8

8. Be3Bb733. Qe2Nxd3

9. f3Nc634. Rxd3Nf7

10. Be2Rb835. Rg3Nxg5

11. b4Be736. Rxg5Rf7

12. 0-00-037. Qe5Qf8

13. Rc1Ne538. cxb5h6

14. f4Ng639. Rg3Kh7

15. Bd3Ba840. Bd4Bd5

16. Qe2Kh841. b6Rf6

17. e5Ng842. Rcc3Rf7

18. Qh5a543. Rc7Be4

19. Ndb5Qc644. Rb3Bd5

20. Rc2axb445. Rb5Bb7

21. axb4Bxb446. Ra5Qd8

22. Ne4f547. Ra7Be4

23. Ng5Nh648. Qxe6Qh4

24. Kh1Bc549. Qxf7Qxf4+

25. Bc1Qc850. Kg1Black


Linares SuperGM, Linares, Spain,

Ponomariov Adams

1. e4e524. Re5Bxc2

2. Nf3Nc625. cxb4Bg6

3. Bb5a626. Rc5Re8

4. Ba4Nf627. Nf1Rad8

5. 0-0Be728. d5Nd7

6. Re1b529. Ne3h5

7. Bb30-030. f4h4

8. c3d531. f5hxg3

9. exd5Nxd532. hxg3Bh5

10. Nxe5Nxe533. d6Re4

11. Rxe5c634. Rac1Nxc5

12. d4Bd635. bxc5Kh7

13. Re1Qh436. Bf6Rg8

14. g3Qh337. d7Rh4

15. Re4g538. Qg2Bf3

16. Qe2Nf639. Qxh3Rxh3

17. Nd2Bf540. Kf2g4

18. f3c541. Nf1Rh5

19. Qf2c442. d8=QRxd8

20. Bc2h643. Bxd8Rxf5

21. b3cxb344. Ne3Rh5

22. axb3Rfc845. Bh4Black

23. Bb2Bb4resigns

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

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