- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2003

We have an embarrassment of riches this week, with two top-level tournaments on which to report, involving many of the world's best players.
The annual superGM tournament in Linares, Spain, attracted its usual complement of elite players, with rival world titleholders Vladimir Kramnik and Ruslan Ponomariov, former titleholders Viswanathan Anand and Garry Kasparov, and top contender Peter Leko all competing in the stratospheric Category 20 event, a seven-player double round-robin that winds up next week.
Leko was setting the early pace, but the big news out of Linares was Kasparov's stunning loss with White to 15-year-old Teimour Radjabov, like Kasparov a native of Baku, Azerbaijan. Kasparov, who had not lost a game in Linares dating back to 1997, missed a shot in a complex middle game that cost him a piece, and the new "beast of Baku" was able to bring home the point.
Meanwhile, the Hrokurinn Chess Club of Reykjavik, Iceland, fielded a fine collection of grandmasters for a Category 15 round-robin event that wound up Thursday. Spanish GM Alexei Shirov had a fine 7-2 result to win the event ahead of Polish GM Bartolomiej Macieja and Dutch GM Ivan Sokolov. The Reykjavik field also included Swiss veteran Viktor Korchnoi and English stars Michael Adams and Luke McShane.
Ponomariov has been distracted by a protracted battle with international chess authorities over a plan to reunite the world championship, a battle that apparently was just settled on the eve of Linares.
Perhaps as a result, "Super Mariov" got off to a rocky start at Linares, losing three of his first five games. Anand handled the young Ukrainian in impressive fashion in the first round, nursing a slight positional advantage through a long middle game before a tactical flurry in the ending wrapped up things.
Kramnik spearheaded the revival of the Ruy Lopez Berlin (3…Nf6) and players have learned not to bother with an early frontal assault against Black's solid defensive wall. Anand is happy to pocket the space advantage ceded by Black and uses his advanced pawns and two knights to keep Ponomariov's minor pieces bottled up.
Things come to a head on 42. Na6 c4 43. Nc5! (bxc4?! bxc4 44. Nxc4 Bb5 45. Nxa5 Bxa6 46. Nb3 wins a pawn but frees the Black bishop and looks drawish) Bc8 44. bxc4 bxc4 45. Ne4 Bd7 46. Nc5 Bc8 47. e6!!
Anand finds a pretty combination even with most of the pieces long gone. If now 47…fxe6, White has lines like 48. f6! Ne8 (Nf5 49. Nxc4 Nd4 50. Nd6 is strong) 49. Nxc4 Nc7 50. Nd6 Na6 51. Nd3 Bd7 52. Nf4 Nc5 53. Ng6+ Kg8 54. f7+ Kh7 55. f8=Q e5 56. Qh8 mate.
But declining the pawn offer only induces White to offer another, securing a killer passed pawn after the game's 47…c3 48. e7+! Ke8 (on 48…Kxe7 49. f6+ Kf8 50. fxg7+ Kxg7 51. Ne4 Be6 52. a3, White collects the c-pawn, and his a-pawn will decide) 49. f6 Ne6+ 50. Nxe6 Bxe6 51. Kf4. The protected passed pawn paralyzes Black's game.
Ponomariov tries a few tricks (accepting the Trojan bishop with 53. Nxg4?? c2 wins for Black), but his cause is hopeless. In the final position, one winning path is 64…f4 65. Nh5 f3 66. Ng3 Kf4 67. Nf1 f2 68. Kb6 Kf3 69. a4 Ke2 70. Nh2 f1=Q 71. Nxf1 Kxf1 72. a5 and wins. Black finally gave up.
Paradoxically, the temperature was considerably hotter at the board in Iceland when the incandescent Shirov took on Adams in the marquee game from Hrokurinn. In a 3. Bb5 Sicilian, the players launch ferocious opposite-wing attacks, Black leaves a rook en prise for the game's last 14 moves, and it's still hard to say with certainty what was happening at the game's critical juncture. In other words, a typical Shirov game.
We can't even pretend to have the space to do this game justice, so let's just cherry-pick a couple of critical junctures. (The players in their postmortem said they felt White missed several winning tries.)
After 32…Nd3+! (this may or may not be sound, but Black will get mated if he doesn't roll the dice here) 33. cxd3 Qxb3 34. Qg2! (defending b2 and attacking on the g-file) Bf7, Adams could have tried 35. Rf1 Bh6+ 36. Kb1 Qxd3+ 37. Ka1, hoping to hide in the corner until his Black counterpart is run to ground. But Black may have enough resources to save things on 37…Rxe4! 38. Rxe4 Rb4 39. Rxf6+! Kxf6 40. Qf2+ Ke7 41. Rxe5+ Kd8 42. Qf6+ Kc7 43. Qe7+ Qd7 44. Qxd7+ Kxd7 45. Rxc5 Rxa4+ 46. Kb1, petering out into an improbable draw.
Anything more controversial will be the verdict on the diagrammed position after 35. Rg6 (stopping the check at h6) Qxd3 36. Rxe6+ Ke7. Is White winning, losing or something in-between?
The critical lines: a) 37. Rf2 Bh6+ 38. Ng5 Rxc4 39. Rc2 Rxb2 40. Kxb2 Rb4+ 41. Kc1 (Ka1? Qa3+ 42. Ra2 Qc3+ 43. Rb2 Rxa4+ 44. Kb1 Qxe1+) Qa3+ 42. Kd1 Rd4+ 43. Ke2 (Rd2 Qxa4+ 44. Ke2 Rxd2+ 45. Kxd2 Qa2+ wins the queen) Qd3+ 44. Kf2 Qxc2+ 45. Kg1 Qxg2+ 46. Kxg2 Rxh4, winning for Black; and b) 37. Nd2 Kxf6 38. Qxc6+ Bd6 39. Bxd4 Qxd4 40. Qxd6+ Qxd6 41. Ne4+ Ke7 42. Nxd6 Kxd6, with a problematic endgame.
Adams, under pressure throughout the game, takes a disastrous third road: 37. Bxd4?? (finally accepting the offered rook) Rb1 mate. A bit of a letdown after the previous fireworks, but sometimes audacity is its own reward.

Linares SuperGM Tournament, Linares, Spain, February 2003
1. e4 e533. Kh4Bd7
2. Nf3Nc634. Nd5+Kf8
3. Bb5Nf635. Nd6Ne8
4. 0-0Nxe436. Nc4b5
5. d4Nd637. Nce3Ng7
6. Bxc6dxc638. Kg5Bc6
7. dxe5Nf539. Nc7a5
8. Qxd8+Kxd840. f5gxf5
9. Nc3Be741. gxf5Bd7
10. Rd1+Ke842. Na6c4
11. Bg5Bxg543. Nc5Bc8
12. Nxg5Ke744. bxc4bxc4
13. Rd3h645. Ne4Bd7
14. Nf3g646. Nc5Bc8
15. Rad1Ng747. e6c3
16. h3Be648. e7+Ke8
17. Nd4Rad849. f6Ne6+
18. f4Bc450. Nxe6Bxe6
19. R3d2c551. Kf4Kd7
20. Nf3Nh552. Ke5Bg4
21. b3Rxd253. Kd4Bd1
22. Rxd2Be654. Kxc3Ba4
23. Ne2c455. Kd4Ke6
24. Kf2cxb356. Nd5Kf5
25. cxb3c557. Kc5Ke5
26. g4Ng758. a3Ke6
27. Nc3h559. Nc7+Kxf6
28. Kg3hxg460. e8=QBxe8
29. hxg4Rd861. Nxe8+Ke6
30. Rxd8Kxd862. Kb5Ke5
31. Ng5Ke763. Kxa5f5
32. Nge4b664. Ng7Black

Hrokurinn Chess Tournament,
Reykjavik, Iceland, February 2003

1. e4c520. Qg2Rhd8
2. Nf3Nc621. f3Bh3
3. Bb5e622. Qf2 Bf5
4. Bxc6bxc623. Nce4Qd7
5. b3Ne724. g4Be6
6. Bb2Ng625. Nc4hxg4
7. h4h526. fxg4Bxc4
8. e5d627. dxc4Nf4
9. exd6Qxd628. Qf3a5
10. Qe2f629. a4Qb7
11. Qe4Kf730. g5Rb8
12. Nc3e531. gxf6gxf6
13. 0-0-0Be732. Rg4Nd3+
14. d3Be633. cxd3Qxb3
15. g3Rad834. Qg2Bf8
16. Rhf1Bh335. Rg6Qxd3
17. Rg1Bg536. Rxf6+Ke7
18. Rde1Qe637. Bxd4Rb1 mate
19. Nd2Rd4
David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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