- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2003

Go away for a couple of weeks and the news really piles up. The rest of the world may take vacations in August, but it’s the busy season for chess players.

A very good year got even better for Pittsburgh GM Alexander Shabalov when he took the 455-player U.S. Open, held earlier this month in Los Angeles, with an undefeated 10-2 score. The Latvian-born Shabalov thus scored a rare double, having won the 2003 Closed U.S. Championship held in Seattle in January.

Shabalov defeated co-leader GM Artashes Minasian of Armenia in the final round to finish alone on top.

Maryland GM Aleksander Wojtkiewicz finished in a five-way for second, a half-point behind the winner. Also at 91/2-2 1/2 were GMs Gregory Kaidanov, Sarunas Sulskis, Leonid Yudasin and IM Ricardo de Guzman. Kaidanov, based in Kentucky, set the early pace but unwisely took a half-point bye in the 12th and final round, allowing Shabalov to slip into first.

Two other U.S. champions were crowned late last month in events held at the World Chess Hall of Fame in Miami.

California IM Varuzhan Akobian is the new U.S. junior champion, topping a field restricted to players younger than 20. The 19-year-old Akobian, one of the country’s most promising talents, scored seven wins and two draws to outpace runner-up IM Dmitry Schneider of New York by two full points. Rockville master John Rouleau, playing in his first elite event, had a bit of a tough time, finishing at the bottom of the cross table with a 21/2-71/2 result.

Akobian felt his best game came in the very first round, when he thoroughly outplays North Carolina FM Matthew Hoekstra, finishing up with a nicely coordinated mating attack.

After 11. Bxe7 Qxe7 12. f4, the pawn on e5 hampers the Black defense and Hoekstra must react quickly to avoid being overrun. But his 12…f5!? 13. exf6 gxf6 14. Rf3 Rf7 15. Rg3+ Rg7 16. Qh5! Rxg3 17. hxg3 f5 creates new holes in his king-side, with the h-file and the squares e5 and g5 beckoning to the White forces.

White sacrifices a pawn on 20. Ne5 Nd7 21. g4! Nxe5 22. fxe5 Qxe5 23. Qd8+ in order to get his queen deep inside enemy lines. Black’s queen-side development deficit proves crucial in the game’s deciding sequence: 29. Kf3 Qd2 (hoping to create a diversion with the double attack on rook and bishop) 30. Qd8+ (Re3? d4 31. cxd4 cxd4 32. Qd6+ Kf7 33. Qxd4 Bb7+, and Black wins material) Kf7 31. Bb5!, ignoring the rook to launch a decisive attack on the Black king.

Now 31…Qxe1 leads to mate on 32. Be8+ Kf8 (Kg7 33. Qe7+ Kh6 34. g5 mate) 33. Bh5+ Kg7 34. Qe7+ Kg8 (Kh6 35. Qg5 mate) 35. Qf7+ Kh8 36. Qf8 mate, but Black’s desperate 31…Ba6 32. Qd7+ (good enough, though 32. Be8+ Kf8 33. Qf6+! Kxe8 34. Rxe6+ Kd7 35. Re7+ Kc8 Qf8 mate was marginally more efficient) Kf8 33. Qd6+ Kg7 34. Qe5+ Kf8 35. Qf6+ fares no better.

As White will capture the e-pawn with check and then pick off the bishop on a6, Hoekstra resigned.

Also in Miami, Californians Matthew Ho and Alen Melikadamian finished in a tie for first in the 2003 U.S. Cadet Championship, held for players 16 and younger, with Ho receiving the title on the basis of his better tie-breaks. Northern Virginia expert Riuxin Yang tied for fourth in the six-player field at 2-3.

Moldavian GM Viktor Bologan scored a sensational upset in the Category 18 Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Germany earlier this month. The field in the six-grandmaster double round robin included Russian world champion Vladimir Kramnik and super-GMs Viswanathan Anand of India and Peter Leko of Hungary.

Bologan raced out to a 41/2-1/2 start, highlighted by consecutive upsets of Anand and Leko, and held on in the event’s second half for a 61/2-31/2 final tally, a point ahead of Anand and Kramnik.

Anand made things interesting and obtained a measure of revenge with a Round 8 triumph over Bologan, which also happened to be the event’s most sensational game. Anand had prepared a piece sacrifice in a heavily analyzed Caro-Kann line. Bologan refuses the offer but finds himself on the defensive for the balance of the game.

We haven’t the space to do justice to this classic Anand attack, but the soundness of the novelty 13. Qh3 Rg8 14. Re1!, walking right into the pawn fork, seems beyond dispute; e.g. 14…g4 15. Qxh6 gxf3 16. Rxe6+!! fxe6 17. Qxe6+ Kf8 18. Bh6+ Rg7 19. Bg6!, and Black must lose material in lines such as 19…Bxh2+ 20. Kh1 fxg2+ 21. Kxg2 Nf6 22. Qxf6+ Kg8 23. Bxg7 Qxg7 24. Qd8+ Qf8 25. Qxf8+ Kxf8 26. Kxh2.

Bologan declines the offer, but must accept a second, even more stunning sacrifice after 21. Rad1 Bb7? (see diagram; the weakness at e6 now becomes terminal) 22. Rxe6!! (with the cute threat of 23. Be7+ Kg8 [Ke8 24. Bf6+ fxe6 25. Qxe6+ Kf8 25. Qe7+ Kg8 27. Qxg7 mate] 24. Rg6! fxg6 25. Qe6+ Kh7 26. Bxg6+ Kh6 27. Bg5 mate) fxe6 23. Be7+! Kxe7 24. Qxg7+ Kd6 25. Nxd4.

Black is up a rook, but his exposed king can hardly survive the coordinated White onslaught. Anand misses a putaway (Chessbase.com’s Miguel Greengard notes that 26. Nb5+ Kc6 [Kd5 27. Bf1 Ke4 28. Qg4+ Ke5 29. Qg5+ Ke4 30. Bd3 is mate] 27. Be2! Rad8 28. b4! wins; e.g. 28…Qxb4 29. Qg3 Rc8 30. Nxa7+ Kc5 31. Qd6 mate), but the arduous defense brings on an almost inevitable oversight by Bologan.

The finale: 33. Nh4 Rg8? (Bxe4 34. Qxe4 Rd8 makes White work harder) 34. Ng6+ Kd8 35. Qf7 Re8 36. Bd3!, and the nasty threat of 37. Bb5 induces Black to pack it in. If 36…Bc6, White has 37. Nf8! Re5 38. Nxd7 Re1+ 39. Kh2 Bxd7 40. Qf6+ Re7, and the paralyzed Black pieces can’t stop the passed g-pawn.

U.S. Junior Championship, Miami, July 2003


1. d4Nf619. Qh4Qg7

2. Nf3e620. Ne5Nd7

3. Bg5c521. g4Nxe5

4. c3d522. fxe5Qxe5

5. e3Nbd723. Qd8+Kf7

6. Nbd2Be724. Kf2f4

7. Bd3b625. Re1Qf6

8. 0-00-026. Qc7+Kf8

9. Ne5Nxe527. exf4Qh4+

10. dxe5Nd728. g3Qh2+

11. Bxe7Qxe729. Kf3Qd2

12. f4f530. Qd8+Kf7

13. exf6gxf631. Bb5Ba6

14. Rf3Rf732. Qd7+Kf8

15. Rg3+Rg733. Qd6+Kg7

16. Qh5Rxg334. Qe5+Kf8

17. hxg3f535. Qf6+Black

18. Nf3Nf6resigns

Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting 2003, Dortmund, Germany, August 2003


1. e4c619. Qg4c5

2. d4d520. Bxg5cxd4

3. Nc3dxe421. Rad1Bb7

4. Nxe4Nd722. Rxe6fxe6

5. Ng5Ngf623. Be7+Kxe7

6. Bd3e624. Qxg7+Kd6

7. N1f3Bd625. Nxd4Qc5

8. Qe2h626. Bf5Qe5

9. Ne4Nxe427. Nf3+Qd5

10. Qxe4Qc728. Qg3+Ke7

11. 0-0b629. Rxd5Bxd5

12. Qg4g530. Qg5+Kd6

13. Qh3Rg831. Qf4+Ke7

14. Re1Bf832. Be4Rh5

15. Qf5Bg733. Nh4Rg8

16. h4Kf834. Ng6+Kd8

17. Qh3Rh835. Qf7Re8

18. hxg5hxg536. Bd3Black


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

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