- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 28, 2002

The Russian national championship is a much reduced affair from the days when Soviet legends such as Mikhail Botvinnik, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian and Boris Spassky regularly took part.

The best Russian players today, including world champion Vladimir Kramnik and former champs Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, routinely skip the event.

Still, the field of the 55th Russian championship, which ended in a victory for GM Alexander Lastin earlier this month in Krasnodar, made up in depth what it lacked in firepower, with a slew of grandmasters in the field and a rich collection of quality games.

The most spectacular of those games may have been the stunning queen sacrifice IM Vladimir Nevostrujev pulled off against 16-year-old GM Alexander Riazantsev, a concept that in daring and imagination stands comparison with sacrifices by the legendary Soviet great Rashid Nezhmedtinov.

Coming out of the Benko Gambit-like opening, Black's 10. dxe6 dxe6 11. Ne4 (see diagram) Nxe4!!? (White probably anticipated 11…Qxd2+ 12. Nxd2 Nxa6, when Black has only marginal compensation for the gambit pawn) looks at first like a typographical error, as Nevostrujev simply hangs his queen on a5.

But after 12. Qxa5 Bxb2, Black has a knight for the queen, menaces the rook on a1 and the bishop on g5 and also threatens to win the queen back immediately with 13…Bc3+. As in many Nezhmedtinov games, it's impossible to give an objective evaluation of the position, but White's defense isn't eased by the complete lack of king-side development.

Still, a queen's a queen, and White now might have tried 13. Bf6!? Bxf6 14. Rc1 Bxa6 15. Nf3, with real prospects for untangling his game. Riazantsev instead tries to hold on with 13. Ne2 Bxa1 14. Bh6 Bxa6!? (Black seems incapable of making the expected move; on 14…Re8 15. Qa4 Nf6 16. a7 Nbd7 17. Bf4 Bb7 18. Qd1 Be5 19. Bxe5 Nxe5 20. Nf4, White has stabilized) 15. Bxf8 Nc6 16. Qc7, but with 16…Nb4!, Black ignores his material deficit to go after the king.

The defensive chore proves too much for White on 17. Bh6 Be5 (Bb5!, with the idea of checking on a4, may be even stronger; e.g. 18. Ng3 Bc3+ 19. Kd1 Nxf2+ 20. Kc1 Nxa2+ 21. Kb1 Nb4 22. Bxb5 Ra1 mate) 18. Qd7 Nd3+, when the last chance to save the game was the craven 19. Qxd3! Bxd3 20. f3 Bxe2 21. Bxe2 (Kxe2 Rxa2+ 22. Kd3 Nf2+ wins) Bc3+ 22. Kf1 Rxa2 23. g4 Nd2+ Kf2 Bg7, when Black is better, but it's still a contest.

Instead, Black's gamble pays off on 19. Kd1? Rb8! 20. Nd4 (now 20. Qxd3 Nxf2+ 21. Kd2 Bxd3 22. Rg1 Rb2+ wins for Black) Rb1+ 21. Ke2 (or 21. Kc2 Rb2+ 22. Kd1 Nc3 mate) Ne1+ 22. Nb5 (Qb5 cxd4! 23. Qxa6 Nc3+ 24. Kd2 Rd1 mate) Nc3+. Since the only flight square, 23. Kd2 allows the elegant 23…Rd1 mate, White resigned.

Eduard Gufeld, a prolific writer on the game and one of the most colorful grandmasters of the last half-century, died Monday in a Los Angeles hospital two weeks after suffering a massive stroke. He was 62.

The Ukrainian-born Gufeld wrote more than 100 books on openings, endings and everything in between. His victims over the chessboard included Soviet world champions Spassky, Tal and Vassily Smyslov, and he served as trainer and coach to Georgian women's world champ Maya Chiburdanidze.

He moved to California with the breakup of the Soviet Union, winning the U.S. senior championship and earning a living through writing, teaching and giving lectures on chess.

His outsized, occasionally volcanic temperament at the board didn't always earn him friends and admirers here, but "de mortuis nil nisi bonum," and all that. Whatever his personality quirks, his attacking, adventurous style of play, very different from the more cautious style of many of his Soviet contemporaries, won him many admirers. Those qualities were on display in one of his first games after arriving in the United States, a 1989 New York Open win over U.S. GM Sergei Kudrin.

Out of a hypermodern Sokolsky's Opening, White emerges after 16. a4 Qb6 17. d4 with a classical space advantage, a solid pawn center and real attacking prospects on the king-side. Kudrin is already feeling the pressure after 21. Raf1 Nc7 22. h4, when 22…Ne6 23. Bh3 Rae8 24. Rxf7! Rxf7 26. Bxe6 wins material.

Black tries to blunt White attack with 22…f6?! 23. exf6 Rxf6 24. Rxf6 Bxf6 25. Bf4, but his 25…Na6? pulls a piece away from the defense and lands Kudrin in immediate trouble after 26. Qe6+ Kh8 27. Qf7, when White already threatens 28. Be5! Rg8 (Bxe5 29. Qf8+ Rxf8 30. Rxf8 mate) 29. Bxf6 gxf6 30. Qxf6+ Rg7 31. Re1! Nc7 32. Rc7, with mate to come.

Gufeld may have missed a TKO with 28. Bxh6!, when 28…Bxd4+ (Qc7 29. Rxf6 gxf6 30. Qxf6+ Kg8 31. Qg6+ Kh8 32. Bf4 Rg8 33. Be5+ Rg7 34. Qxg7+ Qxg7 35. Bxg7+ Kxg7 36. g4, with an easy endgame win) 29. cxd4 Qxd4+ 30. Kh2 gxh6 31. Rf6 Qe3 32. Rg6 wins. But White still finds a way in on 28. Rf2!? c5 29. Bg5! Bxg5 (hxg5 30. Qh5+ Kg8 31. Bxd5+, with mate to come) 30. hxg5 cxd4 31. gxh6 Qxh6 32. Rf4!, threatening to pin the Black queen with 33. Rh4.

White skillfully handles his queen and rook in the ensuing attack, never giving his opponent a chance to breathe: 32…g5 33. Rf6 Qh7 34. Qe6! (renewing the threat to pin) Nc7 35. Qe5! (now setting up a devastating discovered check) Qg7 36. Rh6+.

The White bishop on g2 joins the attack, and Kudrin simply can't cope: 37. Bxd5+ Nxd5 38. Qxd5+ Kf8 (Qf7 39. Rh8+! Kg7 40. Rh7+!) 39. Qd6+ Kf7 40. Qe6+ Kf8 41. Rf6+. Since 41…Qxf6 42. Qxf6+ Kg8 43. Qxg5+ Kf7 44. Qd5+ is plainly hopeless for Black, Kudrin gave up.

55th Russian Championships, Krasnodar, Russia, September 2002


1. d4Nf612. Qxa5Bxb2

2. c4g613. Ne2Bxa1

3. Nc3Bg714. Bh6Bxa6

4. Bg5c515. Bxf8Nc6

5. d5b516. Qc7Nb4

6. cxb5a617. Bh6Be5

7. e3Qa518. Qd7Nd3+

8. Qd20-019. Kd1Rb8

9. bxa6e620. Nd4Rb1+

10. dxe6dxe621. Ke2Ne1+

11. Ne4Nxe422. Nb5Nc3+

White resigns

New York Open, New York, June 1989


1. g3d522. h4f6

2. Bg2Nf623. exf6Rxf6

3. d3c624. Rxf6Bxf6

4. Nd2Bf525. Bf4Na6

5. e4Bg626. Qe6+Kh8

6. f4Bh527. Qf7h6

7. Ngf3Qb628. Rf2c5

8. h3Bxf329. Bg5Bxg5

9. Qxf3e630. hxg5cxd4

10. Nb3a531. gxh6Qxh6

11. Be3Qb4+32. Rf4g5

12. c3Qb533. Rf6Qh7

13. e5Nfd734. Qe6Nc7

14. Qe2Nc535. Qe5Qg7

15. Nxc5Bxc536. Rh6+Kg8

16. a4Qb637. Bxd5+Nxd5

17. d4Be738. Qxd5+Kf8

18. 0-00-039. Qd6+Kf7

19. f5exf540. Qe6+Kf8

20. Rxf5Na641. Rf6+Black

21. Raf1Nc7resigns

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

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