A win by an unsound combination, however showy, fills me with a sense of artistic horror.
— Wilhelm Steinitz, world champion 1866-1894
Yes, yes, Mr. S., you may want to avert your eyes from today’s column, featuring two games marked by multiple blunders, missed opportunities, undeserving winners and a whole lot of fun for the spectators.
GM Alex Wojtkiewicz, Maryland’s highest-rated player, successfully defended his Maryland Open crown at the University of Maryland’s Stamp Union in College Park last weekend. Wojtkiewicz, a native of Poland, went 4- to win the 37-player open section ahead of IM Rashid Ziatdinov and master Yevgeniy Gershov.
Thanks to the Maryland Chess Association’s Denis Strenzwilk for passing along the results and the score of today’s first game.
Ziatdinov’s hopes for first were ruined by Massachusetts expert Kimani Stancil, whose aggressive play right from the start is ultimately rewarded with a bad oversight from the higher-rated player.
White is already inviting complications with 8. Nxd4 Nc5 9. Nf5?, when Black can survive 9…Nxa4 10. Nxg7+ Kf8 11. Bh6 Kg8 12. Qg4 Nxe5.
Black chooses the safer course with 10. g6, but Stancil is determined to attack with 11…Bh6 Re8 12. Be3 Nxa4 13. Nh6+ Kg7 14. Qxa4 Nxe5 15. f4 Nc6 16. f5!?. Ziatdinov again reacts calmly with 16…Bf6 (Bg5 17. f6+ Bxf6 [Kxh6?? 18. Qh4 mate] 18. Nxf7 [Qf4 Rxe3! 19. Qxe3 Bd4] Kxf7 19. Qf4 gives White some pressure) 17. Bd2 d5 18. Nc3 Nd4.
White’s forces already have left the trenches, so retreat is pretty much unthinkable. Stancil on19. Nxf7!? b5! (Kxf7? 20. fxg6+ Kxg6 [hxg6 21. Qxd4] 21. Rxf6+ Qxf6 22. Qxe8+ wins) 20. Nxb5! (digging the hole deeper, but Black’s two bishops leave him better on 20. Nxd8 bxa4 21. Ne6+ Nxe6 22. fxe6 Bxe6 23. Nxa4) Qd7.
Pressure mounts for both sides: 21. fxg6 (double-edged is 21. Bh6+ Kxf7 22. fxg6+ Kxg6 23. Rxf6+ Kxf6 24. Qxd4+ Kg6 25. Qd2 Qg4 26. Nxc7 Re2 27. Qxd5) Qxb5? (Black’s first inaccuracy, as 21…Ne2+ first seems potent: 22. Kh1 Qxb5 23. Bh6+ Kxg6 24. Rxf6+ Kxf6 25. Rf1+ Ke7 26. Qa3+ Kd7 27. Qf3 Nd4 defends and wins) 22. Bh6+ Kg8 (Kxg6 23. Rxf6+ Kxf6 24. Qxd4+ Ke7 25. Re1+ Kd7 26. Ne5+ Kd6 27. a4 Qb6 28. Bf8+! Rxf8 29. Nc4+ wins the queen) 23. Qxb5 axb5 24. Rxf6 hxg6 25. Raf1.
White has emerged from the frenzy a pawn to the good, and his pieces still buzz around the Black king. Perhaps tired of walking a tightrope for so long, Ziatdinov loses his balance on 26. Ng5 Ne6?? (c6 looks solid) 27. R1xf5!, winning a piece and the game.
After 27…gxf5 26. Rg6+ Kh8 29. Nxe6 Ra6, the pin is easily broken on 30. Bg7+ Kh7 (Kg8 31. Bd4+ Kf7 32. Rg7+ Kxe7 33. Rg6+ Kd7 34. Rxa6 also wins for White) 31. Rh6+ Kg8 32. Rh8+ Kf7 33. Rxe8 Rxa2 34. Rc8 Kxe6 35. Rxc7. Black played on a few more moves before resigning a hopeless endgame.
A 40-board match earlier this month between teams from St. Petersburg and Moscow follows in a great tradition of urban rivalries in chess.
The French Defense got its name from a storied London-Paris match of 1834. The late, great Washington Plumbers were the first and only champions of the National Chess League in 1976, a competition that very much deserves to be resurrected.
With grandmasters and strong IMs on both rosters, Moscow pulled out a tight match by a final score of 43-36.
One of the most contested points in the two-round affair came in the game between FM Ruslan Kashtanov of St. Petersburg and Moscow IM Vladimir Dobrov. White’s sacrificial bravery deserved better, but when he failed to find the right follow-up, his own defenses crumbled quickly.
Both kings are in mortal peril in this Sicilian after 20. bxc4 Qxa4 21. Nxe6 Qxa2, but Kashtanov strikes first with 22. Nxg7+ Kf7 23. Qh5+! (on 23. Nf5, Black has a draw in hand with 23…Qa1+ 24. Kd2 Qc3+, or can make life interesting with lines like 23…Rxc4 24. Nxd6+ [Rxd6 Ne5! 25. Rd4 (Qh5+ Ng6) Qa1+ 26. Kd2 Rxd4+ 27. Nxd4 Qc3+ 28. Kd1 Rd8 29. Qf2+ Kg8 is winning for Black] Bxd6 25. Rxd6 Rhc8! 26. Rd7+ Kg8! [Ke8?? 27. Qh5+ Kxd7 28. Qf7+ Kd6 29. e5+ Kxe5 30. Qf6 mate] 27. Kd1 Qb1+ 28. Bc1 Rxc2 29. Qe3 Rxc1+) Kxg7 24. Bd4+ Ne5. (See diagram.)
White’s gamble would have paid off instantly now on 25. Bxe5+! dxe5 (Kg8 26. Qh6 Qa3+ 27. Bb2 Qe3+ 28. Kb1 Kf7 29. g6+ hxg6 30. Qxe3) 26. Qh6+ Kf7 27. Rhf1+ Ke8 (Kg8 28. Qe6+ wins) 28. Qh5 mate. Kashtanov still could have taken the point after his 25. Qh6+? Kf7 26. Bxe5 b3. (the best practical chance; 26…dxe5 27. Rhf1+ Ke8 28. Qh5 is mate again), when very strong would have been 27. Rd2! Rhf8 28. Qh5+Ke6 (Kg8 29. g6! leaves Black defenseless) 29. Bh3+, forcing 29…as 29…Kxe5 30. g6+ Kf4 31. Rf1+ Ke3 32. Qe2 is mate.
But 27. Rhf1+? Ke8 28. Qh5+ Kd8 29. Bb2? (Rd2 Rxc4 30. Bb2 was tougher) kicks the game away, as Black goes decisively on the attack: 29…bxc2 30. Rxd6+ (Kxc2 Rxc4+ 31. Kd3 Qb3+ 32. Ke2 Rc2+ 33. Rd2 [Ke1 Qe3+] Rxd2+ 34. Kxd2 Qxb2+ 35. Kd3 Qxg2 wins) Bxd6 31. Qh6 Qb1+ 35. Kd2 Bb4+ 33. Bc3 Bxc3+ 34. Kxc3 c1=Q+.
With the prospect of 35. Rxc1 Qxc1+ 36. Kd4 Qd2+ 37. Ke5 Rc5+ 38. Kf6 Qf4+ 39. Kg7 Qf8 mate running the White king to ground, a disappointed Kashtanov gave up.
Maryland Open, College Park, May 2003
1. e4e521. fxg6Qxb5
2. Nf3Nc622. Bh6+Kg8
3. Bb5a623. Qxb5axb5
4. Ba4Nf624. Rxf6hxg6
5. 0-0Be725. Raf1Bf5
6. d4exd426. Ng5Ne6
7. e5Ne427. R1xf5gxf5
8. Nxd4Nc528. Rg6+Kh8
9. Nf50-029. Nxe6Ra6
10. Qg4g630. Bg7+Kh7
11. Bh6Re831. Rh6+Kg8
12. Be3Nxa432. Rh8+Kf7
13. Nh6+Kg733. Rxe8Rxa2
14. Qxa4Nxe534. Rc8Kxe6
15. f4Nc635. Rxc7f4
16. f5Bf636. Rb7Ra1+
17. Bd2d537. Kf2Rc1
18. Nc3Nd438. Rxb5Rxc2+
19. Nxf7b539. Kf3Black
St. Petersburg-Moscow Match, St. Petersburg, May 2003
1. e4c518. b3Rc8
2. Nf3Nc619. Bg2Nc4
3. Nc3d620. bxc4Qxa4
4. d4cxd421. Nxe6Qxa2
5. Nxd4Nf622. Nxg7+Kf7
6. f3Qb623. Qh5+Kxg7
7. Nb3e624. Bd4+Ne5
8. Qe2a625. Qh6+Kf7
9. g4Be726. Bxe5b3
10. g5Nd727. Rhf1Ke8
11. Be3Qc728. Qh5+Kd8
12. 0-0-0b529. Bb2bxc2
13. f4Bb730. Rxd6+Bxd6
14. f5b431. Qh6Qb1+
15. Na4Nce532. Kd2Bb4+
16. fxe6fxe633. Bc3Bxc3+
17. Nd4Qa534. Kxc3c1=Q+
David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.