- The Washington Times - Friday, July 4, 2003

After tennis star Bjorn Borg broke through as an international champion in the mid-1970s, suddenly a whole flock of Swedish players emerged in his wake, winning major titles. One pioneer helped transform Sweden into one of the game’s powerhouses.

Judging from the just-concluded World Junior Championships, something similar is under way in Azerbaijan and India, the birthplaces, respectively, of former world titleholders Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand. Nine of the top 20 finishers in the event, held in the ancient Azeri city of Nakhchivan, were from those two countries, a sign that the two nations will be major powers on the international scene for decades to come.

Azeri teenage GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov pleased the hometown fans and justified his top rating in the event by winning outright with a 10-3 score, a half-point ahead of GM Sergei Azarov of Belarus. Fellow Azeris Kadir Guseinov and Vugar Gashimov were in a five-way tie for third, while young Indian superstars Surya Ganguly and Pentyala Harikrishna both finished in the top 10.

American hopeful IM Dmitry Schneider, who finished in a tie for 11th with a 7-5 score, experienced firsthand the skills of the new junior champ, losing a sharp struggle to the 17-year-old Mamedyarov in Round 5. Mamedyarov handled a wickedly complex tactical battle with impressive sangfroid, concluding with a powerful attack against the Black king.

In one of the most aggressive Queen’s Gambit lines, White after 8. Be2 Na6 9. Ba5 is already threatening mate on the move with 10. Qd8. Schneider doesn’t back down, eschewing the conventional 9…Bd7 10. Nf3 Nf6 11. 0-0 0-0 for the provocative 9…f6!? 10. Qd8+ Kf7 11. 0-0-0 e5, threatening to win the queen with 12…Bf5+.

Black goes pawn-hunting, but eventually must give up his queen for a rook and mess of pawns: 14. Ne2 Qxf2 15. Rhf1 Qxg2 (the intriguing 15…Nxd3!? 16. Rxf2 Nxf2 17. Qc7+ Ne7 18. Re1 keeps the g-file closed, a major consideration later on) 16. Qc7+ Ne7 17. Rg1, when 17…Qf3 leads to grief after 18. Rxg7+! Kxg7 19. Qxe7+ Kh6 (Kg8 20. Bxh7+ Rxh7 21. Rd8 mate) 20. Bd2+ Kh5 21. Qf7+ Kh4 22. Be1+ Kg4 23. Qg7+ Kh5 24. Ng3+ Kh4 25. Qh6+ Kg4 26. h3 mate.

Black is not lost, but finds himself under heavy pressure following 19. Qd6 b6 (to meet the White threat of 20. Bb4 Ng6 [Re8 21. Bxh7 g6 22. Qd3 f5 23. Bxg6+! hxg6 24. Qxf5+ Kg7 25. Qxg6+ Kh6 26. Qh6 mate] 21. Bxg6+ hxg6 22. Qe7+ Kg8 23. Qe8+ Kh7 24. Qxg6+ Kg8 25. Qxf6) 20. Bb4 c5 21. Be4! (see diagram).

The rook is trapped but 21…Rd8! 22. Rxg7+ Nxg7 23. Qxd8 Bb7 24. Qd3 Rd8 25. Qxd8+ Bxe4+ 26. Kc1 cxb4 offered some survival chances. Instead, Black walks into an exchange sacrifice that strips his king of any defensive shield: 21…Bb7? 22. Bd5! Bxd5 (Nxd5 23. cxd5 Nd4 24. Qd7+ Kf8 25. Rxg7 Nxe2 26. Qe7 mate) 23. cxd5 Ng5 24. Rxg5! fxg5 25. Qe6+ Kf8 26. d6 Ng6 27. Bd2! (the Black rook on h8 is useless as the White pieces rush in) Re8 28. Qf5+.

Lines like 28…Kg8 29. d7 Rd8 30. Bxg5 Rb8 31. Qe6+ Kf8 32. Ng3 h5 33. Nf5 c4 34. Nd6 Rb7 35. Qf7 mate showed the hopelessness of the situation; Schneider resigned.

One scary footnote to Nakhchivan: Azerbaijan’s best young player, 15-year-old GM Teimour Radjabov, didn’t even play in the tournament, having already graduated to top-flight adult events.

We always like a spirited — if imperfect — struggle, and today’s second game easily fills the bill.

The winner, Russian GM Alexander Riazantsev, wound up in a tie for first in last month’s Master Open in the Russian city of Voronezh. His victim here is the veteran Ukrainian IM Eldar Gasanov.

In a Saemisch King’s Indian, Gasanov as Black gets in the first shot with 16. 0-0-0 Rxf1! 17. Rhxf1 Nxc4 18. Qd3 Be6, removing a key White piece, obtaining a pawn and bishop for the rook and threatening to set his central pawns rolling against the insecure White king. Riazantsev is so impressed with the concept that he sacrifices right back with 19. Rf6! Bxf6 (declining the offer with 19…Qc8!? 20. Bg1 d5, pressing the attack, was worth a long look) 20. gxf6 Nc8 21. Bg5 Qb6 22. f7+!?, hoping to open lines of his own to the Black monarch.

Better might have been 26…Nd7 27. h4 a5 28. h5 a4 29. Na1 d5, with a strong initiative, for White gets real counterchances on 26…Qe7!? 27. h4 Nd7 28. h5. Although 32…Nxc5 (instead of Gasanov’s 32…Qh2) looks strong, things remain murky in such delicate lines as 33. Nf6+ Kh8 34. Nxd5 cxd5 35. Qf7! (Qxd5 Rc8!) Ne6 36. Rf1 (Qxe6? Qf2!, stopping 37. Qf6+, attacking the rook and threatening mate, wins) Rg8 37. Qxe6 Qd8 38. Rf7.

With a series of harassing queen checks, Black has at least a draw in hand; e.g. 36…Qb1+ 37. Bc1 Bxe4 38. Qxe4 Qxe4 39. Nf6+ Kf7 40. Nxe4 Rb8, with an equal ending. But he blunders away the game trying for more than the position offered.

Thus: 37…Qa1+ (Qxe4+ 38. Qxe4 Bxe4 39. Nf6+ Kf7 40. Nxe4 Rb8 is sturdier) 38. Kf2 Qd4+ 39. Kg3 Nd6??.

Black’s reliance on the pin proves fatally misplaced, allowing a picturesque mating configuration: 40. Nxd6!, and Gasanov resigns since 40…Bxf3 41. Nf6+ Kh8 42. Nf7 is mate.

This near-death experience helped Riazantsev to a 7-2 final score, tied with master Valentin Arbakov in the 110-player event.

World Junior Championships, Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, June 2003

Mamedyarov Schneider

1. d4 d5 15. Rhf1 Qxg2

2. c4 e6 16. Qc7+ Ne7

3. Nc3 c6 17. Rg1 Qxg1

4. e4 dxe4 18. Rxg1 Ne6

5. Nxe4 Bb4+ 19. Qd6 b6

6. Bd2 Qxd4 20. Bb4 c5

7. Bxb4 Qxe4+ 21. Be4 Bb7

8. Be2 Na6 22. Bd5 Bxd5

9. Ba5 f6 23. cxd5 Ng5

10. Qd8+ Kf7 24. Rxg5 fxg5

11. 0-0-0 e5 25. Qe6+ Kf8

12. Bd3 Qf4+ 26. d6 Ng6

13. Kb1 Nc5 27. Bd2 Re8

14. Ne2 Qxf2 28. Qf5+ Black


7th Voronezh International Chess Festival, Voronezh, Russia, June 2003

Riazantsev Gasanov

1. d4 Nf6 21. Bg5 Qb6

2. c4 g6 22. f7+ Bxf7

3. Nc3 Bg7 23. Rf1 Qb7

4. e4 0-0 24. Nd1 N8b6

5. Be3 Nc6 25. Qf3 Be6

6. f3 e5 26. Bh6 Qe7

7. Nge2 d6 27. h4 Nd7

8. d5 Ne7 28. h5 Qh4

9. Qd2 Nd7 29. Rg1 d5

10. g4 f5 30. Nf2 dxe4

11. g5 a6 31. Nxe4 Bd5

12. Nc1 c6 32. Nbc5 Qh2

13. Nb3 fxe4 33. Rg2 Qh1+

14. fxe4 Nb6 34. Kc2 Qa1

15. dxc6 bxc6 35. Nxd7 Qxb2+

16. 0-0-0 Rxf1 36. Kd1 Qd4+

17. Rhxf1 Nxc4 37. Ke1 Qa1+

18. Qd3 Be6 38. Kf2 Qd4+

19. Rf6 Bxf6 39. Kg3 Nd6

20. gxf6 Nc8 40. Nxd6 Black


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

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