- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003

The war in Iraq has claimed another victim, if you can believe the organizers behind the now-scrubbed match between Russian Vladimir Kramnik and Hungary’s Peter Leko, a match critical to the delicate negotiations to reunite the world chess title.

The London-based Einstein Group announced Monday that it was unable to raise the estimated $1 million-plus prize fund from sponsors for the Kramnik-Leko match planned for this summer. It said market uncertainty in the wake of the war “effectively undermined global commercial confidence to the point that no potential sponsor was willing to commit sufficient funds towards this match for us to feel secure in proceeding.”

The winner of the Kramnik-Leko match was to play the winner of the match between former world champion Garry Kasparov and Ukraine’s Ruslan Ponomariov, who holds the International Chess Federation (FIDE) crown, in an effort to end a division over the world championship dating back to 1993.

The unification match, which was supposed to be held by the end of the year, was to be followed by a revived cycle of candidates’ matches and an end to the confusion, rivalries and lost sponsorship opportunities the game has endured for the past decade.

Einstein’s spotty financial and marketing record may mean it is out as a player in the negotiations, but Carsten Hensel, the agent for both Kramnik and Leko, told the Chessbase Web site (www.chessbase.com) this week he had confidence that the match would be held before the end of the year, with the reunification title match pushed back to early 2004.

Let’s hope so.

• • •

The world title may be in flux, but two longtime fixtures on the chess scene went ahead as usual this month.

Peruvian GM Julio Granda Zuniga, showing little rust from a long sabbatical from competition, won the 38th annual Capablanca Memorial Elite tournament in Havana, an event made famous by Bobby Fischer’s participation by telephone in the 1965 tournament, owing to the embargo on trade with Cuba. (Fischer finished second to former Soviet world champ Vassily Smyslov.)

Veteran Chilean GM Ivan Morovic Fernandez, who finished third, won an exciting seesaw battle with Cuban GM Walter Arencibia, throwing away a strong advantage and then clawing his way back into the game when his opponent blundered in turn.

The players castle on opposite wings in this QGD Slav and Arencibia as White seems poised to strike first after 21. a4 bxa3 22. Rxa3 Bxe5 23. Nd2 Bd4 24. Rb3, with heavy queen-side pressure. But Black unexpectedly counters with 24…Nf4! 25. Qg4 (Rxb6 Nxe2+ 26. Bxe2 axb6 wins the exchange) Bxf2+ 26. Kh1 Qc6, with heavy pressure on the long diagonal.

Black wins material on 28. Qxg7 Rhc8 29. Bd2 Bxe1, but fumbles the follow-up after 31. Qg3 Qd7 32. Nd6 Rd8 33. Nb5 Rc5? (Rc1!, when 34. Nxa7 fails to 34…Qc7! [Kxa7? 35. Bf2+ Ka8 36. Ra3+ wins] 35. Qf2 Rxe1 36. Qxe1 Kxa7) 34. Nxa7! Qc7 35. Ra3, with the Black king suddenly in real trouble.

Unexpectedly put on the defensive, Black reacts with the hasty 36…Rxb5?! (Qxg3 37. Bxg3+ Kc8 38. Nd6+ Rxd6 39. Bxd6 Rc1 40. Kg1 Kd7 preserves some edge for Black) 37. Bxb5 Nf4 38. Bf1 e5 39. Qe3, and White now owns a comfortable edge.

But Arencibia hands the advantage back right after time control, missing a shot on 41. Bf2 Rd1 (see diagram) 42. Rc3?, when the prudent 42. h3! keeps Black down. Morovic Fernandez pounces with 42…Bxg2! (Qa5 43. Ra3 Qc6 gives White at least a draw), as the Black queen is immune because of the threat of 43…Rxf1 mate.

White never recovers: 43. Be1 Qb7 44. Qc5 (Rb3 Nh3+ 45. Qxh3 Bxh3 46. Rxb7+ Kxb7 47. Bxh3 Rxe1 is hopeless for White) Nh3+ 45. Rxh3 Bxh3 46. Bxh3 Rxe1+ 47. Kf2 Ra1 48. Qd6+ Ka7, and Arencibia resigned.

The hometown favorite fared much better in the 33rd annual Bosnia Grandmaster Tournament in Sarajevo, as Bosnian GM Ivan Sokolov took sole first in a Category 16 event.

We have another good defensive effort by another also-ran — Uzbek GM Rustam Kasimzhdanov, who landed in a three-way tie for second a half-point behind Sokolov’s 6-2.

Great defense rarely gets its due (great attacks are much more fun to annotate), but here the Uzbek GM calmly takes all the material Croatian GM Zdenko Kozul offers and deflates White’s attacking hopes with a few well-timed needle thrusts.

White already has gambited three pawns when he fires his heavy artillery on 33. f5 Nxe5 34. f6 Ng4! 35. Qg1 Ndxf6 36. Rxb7!, when the rook can’t be touched because of 36…Qxb7 37. Nxf6+.

But Black refuses to play passive defense, counterattacking on 37…Qe5 38. Nxf6+ Bxf6 38. h3 (embarrassing the knight, as the only retreat — 38…Nh6? — allows the winning discovered check 39. Bf1+) 38…Qe2! 39. Bh6? (still hoping for a mate that’s long gone, but 39. Bf1 Qf3+ 40. Qg2 Qxg2+ 41. Kxg2 Rxc5! 42. hxg4 Rc2 43. Rd7 Bg5 is equally bleak for White) Nf2+ 40. Qxf2 Rc1+. (a vital in-between check; 40…Qxf2?? 41. Rb8= leads to mate).

Facing 41. Kh2 Be5+, Kozul gave up.

38th Capablanca Memorial Elite, Havana, May 2003

ArencibiaMorovic Fernandez

1. d4d525. Qg4Bxf2+

2. c4c626. Kh1Qc6

3. Nc3Nf627. Nc4Nd5

4. e3e628. Qxg7Rhc8

5. Nf3Nbd729. Bd2Bxe1

6. Bd3dxc430. Bxe1Ka8

7. Bxc4b531. Qg3Qd7

8. Bd3Bb732. Nd6Rd8

9. e4b433. Nb5Rc5

10. Na4c534. Nxa7Qc7

11. e5Nd535. Ra3Kb8

12. Nxc5Nxc536. Nb5Rxb5

13. dxc5Bxc537. Bxb5Nf4

14. Ng5Qc738. Bf1e5

15. 0-00-0-039. Qe3Rd4

16. Qc2Kb840. Kg1f6

17. Re1Rc841. Bf2Rd1

18. Bf1Qb642. Rc3Bxg2

19. Qe2Rc743. Be1Qb7

20. Ne4Bd444. Qc5Nh3+

21. a4bxa345. Rxh3Bxh3

22. Rxa3Bxe546. Bxh3Rxe1+

23. Nd2Bd447. Kf2Ra1

24. Rb3Nf448. Qd6+Ka7

White resigns

33rd Bosnia Tournament, Sarajevo, Bosnia, May 2003


1. d4d521. e4Nde7

2. c4e622. Rd1Rcd8

3. Nf3Nf623. Rxd7Rxd7

4. g3Be724. f4g5

5. Bg20-025. e5Bg7

6. 0-0dxc426. Nd2gxf4

7. Qc2a627. gxf4Rd4

8. a4Bd728. Qf1Nd5

9. Ne5Bc629. Ne4Nce7

10. Nxc6Nxc630. Kh1Rxa4

11. e3Na531. Bd2Ng6

12. Nd2c532. Qf2Rc4

13. dxc5Rc833. f5Nxe5

14. b4cxb334. f6Ng4

15. Nxb3Nd535. Qg1Ndxf6

16. Bd2Nc636. Rxb7Qe5

17. Rab1Qc737. Nxf6+Bxf6

18. Rfc1Rfd838. h3Qe2

19. Qc4Rd739. Bh6Nf2+

20. Be1Bf640. Qxf2Rc1+

White resigns

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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