- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 9, 2002

The American women are showing up their male counterparts as the 35th Chess Olympiad heads into the home stretch in the Slovenian city of Bled.

The U.S. women Jennifer Shahade, Irina Krush, Camilla Baginskaite and Elena Donaldson have performed superbly, upsetting perennial powers China and Georgia and giving Russia all it could handle. With three rounds to go in Bled, the American women stand in fifth place, with an 8-2-1 record and with Georgia and China slugging it out for the gold.

The U.S. men's team, by contrast, languishes in 35th place, its 5-4-2 record leaving it behind such chess "powers" as Finland and Bangladesh. Veterans Larry Christiansen, Boris Gulko, Yasser Seirawan and Joel Benjamin anchor a team that seems to be in desperate need of some fresh talent.

On the men's top boards, Hungary, with GMs Peter Leko and Judit Polgar, is giving perennial champ Russia a dogfight, although former world champ Garry Kasparov has thus far been unbeatable for the Russians.

The 14-round event ends tomorrow.

There's a fine line between inspiration and desperation, and Shahade manages to stay on the right side of things in a critical upset of China's Wang Pin in Round 5, helping the American women to a 2-1 match win. White's ability to find the winning sacrifice in the game's critical position is helped by the fact that all the prosaic alternatives lose quickly.

The Sicilian Poisoned Pawn variation has lost none of its toxicity, despite decades of analysis and conflicting verdicts from such greats as Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. Black can't avoid some highly uncomfortable moments, but if she can consolidate, the pawn often proves decisive.

Thus Shahade's 13. Kh1 Nc4 14 f5!?, striving for an open game at all costs. The battle rages over Black's porous king-side, and after 24. Rg6 hxg2+ 25. Rxg2 Qd8, Wang Pin is two pawns to the good but has ceded her opponent a huge lead in development.

Black is one move away from consolidating after 26. Bh5+ Ke7 27. Qe2 b5, with the nasty threat of seizing the long diagonal (28. Qxe5? Bb7 wins). But Shahade sacrifices a piece to stay on the attack and carries the day.

Thus: 28. Bf3 e4 (see diagram) 29. Nxe4!! (both forced and forceful, as Black's king will be carved up by the White queen and bishop along the diagonals) fxe4 30. Qxe4.

Black would seem to be able to hold here, but it's not that easy; if 30…Ra7, White has 31. Qh4+ Ke8 32. Bh5+ Rf7 33. Bxf7+ Kxf7 34. Rf3+ Ke8 35. Qh5+ Ke7 (any flight to the queen-side with 35…Kd7 costs the queen on 36. Rd3+) 36. Qf7+ Kd6 37. Rd3+, winning.

But the game's 30…Bd7 only clots up the defense even more, allowing 31. Qb4+ Kf6 (Ke8 32. Bh5 is a long-range mate, while 31…Kf7 32. Bh5+ Kf6 33. Rf3+ Ke5 34. Qc5+ Ke4 35. Re2+ Be3 36. Rexe3 mate requires just a few more moves) 32. Qh4+ Kf7 (sallying forth with 32…Kf5 is no better: 33. Re2+ Kd6 34. Rd3+ Kc7 35. Qg3+ Kb6 26. Qf2+ Kc7 37. Rxe6 Bxe6 38. Qc5+ Kb8 39. Rxd8+ Rxd8 40. Qb6+ Kc8 41. Qb7 mate), hoping for shelter on the kingside.

But now 33. Bh5+ Kf8 34. Rf3+ forces resignation, as there's nothing left to save after 34…Qf6 35. Rxf6+. Wang Pin gave up.

Top seed IM Larry Kaufman of Potomac had an easy time of it in last weekend's eighth annual Northern Virginia Open, winning all five games to take sole first by a half-point ahead of master Odalapo Adu. About 65 players competed.

Other prizewinners included: Top A Harry Cohen and Chris Bush, 4-1; Top B Alexander Kane, 3½-1½; Top C Tyler Cook, Julien Scharl and Patrick Ray, 3-2; Top D Beau Horner and Glenn Shelton, 2½-2½; and Top Under 1200 Erik Schaeffer 1½-3½.

Bush has my sympathies for his last-round matchup with the tournament winner, as Kaufman crushed me in even more dismissive fashion when I tried this QGD line against him in a D.C. Chess League game a few seasons back. Still, White's winning method is a pleasure to watch, including an unusual attack on the weak f7 square and a number of instructive combinational touches.

(Bush, it should be noted, had an excellent tournament, upsetting three experts before hitting the Kaufman wall.)

White's 11. 0-0-0 Bb7 12. g4!? already signals his ultra-aggressive mood, and Black earns some style points for at least trying to stick to his queen-side counterplay idea. But the White king-side buildup proceeds at an alarmingly rapid pace, and just one inaccuracy (15…cxd4 16. exd4 Rc6 at least tries to establish a defensive trench along the sixth rank) opens the floodgates.

Kaufman alertly pounces on 15…Nh5? (removing a critical defender from h7 and g8) with 16. Bh7+ Kh8 17. Bg8!, attacking the vulnerable f7 point from behind, while inviting 17…Kxg8?? 18. Qh7 mate. White picks up the exchange on 17…Ndf6 18. Nxf7+ Rxf7 19. Bxf7 Nxf4 20. exf4, but his bag of tactical tricks is by no means exhausted.

Not one for grinding out an endgame win, White attacks the still vulnerable king with 21. Qf5 cxd4 22. Rd3! Ng8 (dxc3 23. Rh3+ Nh7 24. Qxh7 mate) 23. Rxg7! (insult piled on injury, as the king is now totally exposed) Qh4 (Kxg7 24. Rg3+ Kf8 [Kh8 25. Qh5+ Nh6 26. Qxh6 mate] 25. Rxg8+ Ke7 26. Qe6 mate) 24. Rg4 Qxh2 25. Rh3+! (one more shot, this time winning the queen) Qxh3 26. Rxg8+ Rxg8 27. Qxh3+ Kg7 28. Bxg8 Bxf4+ 29. Kc2.

With an overwhelming material deficit, Black decides to call it a day.

35th Chess Olympiad, Bled, Slovenia, October 2002

ShahadeWang Pin

1. e4c518. Rg4h3

2. Nf3d619. fxe6fxe6

3. d4cxd420. e5dxe5

4. Nxd4Nf621. Nb3Nxb3

5. Nc3a622. Rxb3Bh6

6. Bg5e623. Qd3f5

7. f4Qb624. Rg6hxg2+

8. Qd2Qxb225. Rxg2Qd8

9. Rb1Qa326. Bh5+Ke7

10. Bxf6gxf627. Qe2b5

11. Be2h528. Bf3e4

12. 0-0Nd729. Nxe4fxe4

13. Kh1Nc530. Qxe4Bd7

14. f5Be731. Qb4+Kf6

15. Rf3Qa532. Qh4+Kf7

16. Rg3h433. Bh5+Kf8

17. Rg7Bf834. Rf3+Black


Northern Virginia Open, Dulles, November 2002


1. d4d516. Bh7+Kh8

2. c4c617. Bg8Ndf6

3. Nf3Nf618. Nxf7+Rxf7

4. Nc3e619. Bxf7Nxf4

5. Bg5Nbd720. exf4Bd6

6. cxd5exd521. Qf5cxd4

7. e3Be722. Rd3Ng8

8. Qc2h623. Rxg7Qh4

9. Bf40-024. Rg4Qxh2

10. Bd3b625. Rh3+Qxh3

11. 0-0-0Bb726. Rxg8+Rxg8

12. g4Rc827. Qxh3+Kg7

13. g5hxg528. Bxg8Bxf4+

14. Nxg5c529. Kc2Black

15. Rhg1Nh5resigns

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide