- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 4, 2002

Two favorites and an upstart tied for first as the Arlington Chess Club's George Mason Open had an auspicious premiere last weekend.

A healthy total of 94 players made it to George Mason University's Arlington campus for the event. Tying for first were pre-tourney top seeds IM Eugene Meyer and FM Stanislav Kriventsov, along with Class A player Daniel Pomerleano.

Meyer and Kriventsov won their first four games before quickly drawing their head-to-head matchup in Round 5. Pomerleano took a first-round bye and then reeled off four straight wins, including a back-from-the-dead victory over master Phil Collier in the final round, to finish at 4½-½, as well.

The list of class prize winners: Expert Alex Passov, Paul Yavari, Ruixin Yang and Harry Cohen; Class A Daniel Arceo and Jason McKinney; and Class B Ted Udelson. Thanks again to Mike Atkins for directing the event and for supplying us with some games from the event.

The tournament featured a Cain-and-Abel subplot as Meyer in Round 4 was paired against his brother, master John Meyer. Both were 3-0 at the time, and all fraternal feelings had to be put aside with the tournament hanging in the balance.

The positional punch of the Benko Gambit is such that players are finding increasingly inventive ways to decline the pawn. Here John Meyer as White ignores the Black b-pawn offer as he quickly builds up an imposing pawn center.

By 8. e5 dxe5 9. Bxc4, Black's pawns are a mess, but he has real middle-game compensation in the open central files and a powerful long diagonal for the light-squared bishop. The unbalanced position contains many tactical trapdoors; e.g. 13…Nc2? 14. Qxc2 Qd4+ 15. Kh1 Qxa1 16. Bb2 Qxa2 17. b4 traps the Black queen, while 16. Rxe5? would allow 16…Ne3 17. Qc1 Nxc4 18. bxc4 Bxd2 19. Qxd2 Nxf3+!, winning the White queen.

White's 18. Bc1 is perhaps an admission that Black's piece pressure is starting to hurt, but the natural 18. Ne4 Qh6 19. Rc1 Nf4 still leaves White's defenses under heavy strain, as in lines like 20. Nd6? Bxf3! 21. gxf3 Qg5+ 22. Kf2 Nh3+ 23. Kf1 Qg1 mate. Black could repair his doubled pawns after 18…Nf4 19. Bxf4, but prefers to keep the attacking lines open with the rook recapture.

The strain becomes unbearable on 20. Re3 (better might be 20. Qc1 Rcf8 21. Rf1 [Kh1? Nxf3! 22. gxf3 Rxf3! 23. Qxg5 Rf1 mate] h5, though Black's initiative is clear) Rd8 21. Bd3 (see diagram; if 21. Qe1, then 21…e4! [Nc2?! 22. Rxe5 Qh4 23. Bxe6+ Kh8 24. Qc3 Nxa1 25. Qxa1 is unnecessarily messy] is very powerful: 22. Nxe4 [fxe4 Nc2 and the White rook can't get to e5] Bxe4 23. Rxe4 [fxe4 Nc2 24. Bxe6+ Kh8 25. Rg3 Qf6] Nxf3+ and wins) Rxf3! 24. Rxf3 (gxf3 Qxe3+ 23. Kf1 Nxf3, with too many threats to counter) Nxf3+ 23. Kh1 e4!.

With lines like 24. gxf3 exf3! 25. Qc2 Rxd3! 26. Qxd3 Qd2! 27. Qf1 (Qxd2 f2+ 28. Ne4 Bxe4 mate) f2+ 28. Qg2 f1=Q+ 29. Rxf1 Qxg2 mate on the horizon, John Meyer gave up.


It's down to two at the elite Eurotel World Chess Trophy rapid knockout event, as India's Viswanathan Anand and Russian Anatoly Karpov are the last two standing in the 32-player field. Karpov has been the story of the event, making it to the finals as many higher-rated players were falling by the wayside.

Despite his decade as champion starting in 1975, Karpov was very much an afterthought when play began in Prague a week ago. Many predicted an all-Russian "K-K" final, but one between Garry Kasparov, the man who dethroned Karpov, and Vladimir Kramnik, the man who dethroned Kasparov.

However, Karpov had other ideas, disposing of British former title challenger Nigel Short in Round 1 and then manhandling Kramnik in their two-game elimination match. Next to fall were Russian GM Alexander Morozevich and Spain's Alexei Shirov, setting up the final showdown with Anand. Kasparov, in the other half of the draw, was eliminated by Ukraine's Vassily Ivanchuk in a speed playoff in the quarterfinals.

Ranked only 14th in Prague field, Karpov showed early on that he was not to be underestimated in his very first game with Short. The Englishman makes a strange slip in a tricky but well-analyzed opening, and the former champ makes him pay.

Short's blunder is surprising because he pioneered this sharp 10…Qa5 line in the Rubinstein Nimzo-Indian in his 1993 title match against Kasparov in London. As John Henderson noted on the "Week in Chess" Web site (www.chesscenter.com/twic/twic.html), Short himself was careful to castle first with 12…0-0 before initiating further hostilities in London.

On 12…Nxc3? 13. Qxf5! Ne4+ 14. Nc3!, now the threat of 15. Qc8+ stops Black's attack in its tracks, leaving Karpov free to go after his opponent's poorly guarded king.

Short never recovers: 14…0-0 15. Bd3 Nc6 (Bxc3+ 16. Bxc3 Nxc3?? 17. Qh7 mate) 16. 0-0 Rfe8 (Nxe5 17. Nxd5 Nxd3 18. Qxe4 Nxc5 19. Qxb4 picks up a clear pawn) 17. Nxe4. If now 17…Nxe5, Black's exposed king spells disaster 18. Nd6 Nxd3 (Qc7 19. Qh7+ Kf8 20. Qh8+ Ke7 21. Qxe5+ Kf8 22. Qh8+ Ke7 23. Nf5+ wins a piece) 19. Qxf7+ Kh8 20. Nxe8 Rxe8 21. Qxe8+ Kg7 22. Qd7+ Kg6 23. Qxd5 and wins.

Black's 17…dxe4 18. Bxe4 (threatening 19. Qh7+ Kf8 20. Bd6+ Ne7 21. Qh8 mate) Rxe5 (Nxe5 19. Qh7+ Kf8 20. Qxh6+ Kg8 [Ke7 21. Qd6 mate] 21. Bh7+ Kh8 22. Bc2+ Kg8 23. Qh7+ Kf8 24. Qh8+ Ke7 25. Qxe5+ Kf8 26. Qxg5) fares no better, as 19. Qh7+ Kf8 20. Qxh6+ is deadly.

After 20…Ke8 (Kg8 21. Bh7+ Kh8 22. Bg6+ Kg8 23. Qh7+ Kf8 24. Qxf7 mate; or 20…Ke7 21. Qd6+ Ke8 22. Bxc6+ bxc6 23. Qxe5+ Kd7 24. Rfd1+ Bd2 25. Qd6+) 21. Bxc6+ bxc6 22. Qh8+, White would have his choice of which rook to capture on his next move. Short resigned.

We'll have a report on the Karpov-Anand match in next week's column.


George Mason Open, Arlington, April 2002

J. MeyerE. Meyer

1. d4Nf613. Ng3Bb7

2. c4c514. Bb2Nd5

3. d5b515. Re1Bg5

4. f3bxc416. Nde4Rc8

5. e4d617. Nxg5Qxg5

6. Nd2e618. Bc1Nf4

7. dxe6fxe619. Bxf4Rxf4

8. e5dxe520. Re3Rd8

9. Bxc4Nc621. Bd3Rxf3

10. Ne2Be722. Rxf3Nxf3+

11. 0-00-023. Kh1e4

12. b3Nd4White resigns


Eurotel World Chess Trophy, Game/25, Prague, April 2002

KarpovShort

1. d4Nf611. Nge2Bf5

2. c4e612. Be5Nxc3

3. Nc3Bb413. Qxf5Ne4+

4. Qc2d514. Nc30-0

5. cxd5exd515. Bd3Nc6

6. Bg5h616. 0-0Rfe8

7. Bh4c517. Nxe4dxe4

8. dxc5g518. Bxe4Rxe5

9. Bg3Ne419. Qh7+Kf8

10. e3Qa520. Qxh6+Black

resigns


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

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