- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

If grandmasters are intent on making a draw, the great Soviet champion Mikhail Tal once observed, even flamethrowers can’t make them want to fight.
  The notorious “grandmaster draw,” a short, dreary splitting of the point between two gladiators too tired, too bored or too scared to fight, has long been a problem for the game. American GM Maurice Ashley decided to do something about it.
  Inspired in part by the a rash of short draws on the top boards in the final round of January’s U.S. Championships in Seattle, Ashley is sponsoring a Category 10 round-robin tournament at the Marshall Chess Club in New York with a twist: Draw offers can’t be made before Move 50.
  Those who do take shorter draws at the ongoing Generation Chess International Tournament lose 10 percent of their prize money, and the grandmasters in the field have to forfeit a tenth of their appearance fees. (The money goes to a chess charity.) Organizers say those opting for bloodless draws may not be invited back to future events.
  The result: Through Thursday’s Round 7, 24 of the 35 games (68 percent) were decisive, including all 10 games played in Rounds 4 and 5. The tournament also has produced a wealth of intriguing endgames in positions where in different circumstances, the players might have been tempted to make peace.
  With two rounds to go, University of Maryland Baltimore County IM Eugene Perelsteyn has set a blistering pace at 6-1, 1 points ahead of GMs Jaan Ehlvest and Larry Christiansen and Brooklyn master Irina Krush. Perelsteyn still must play some of his closest pursuers, but he already has notched a grandmaster norm at the event.
  Ehlvest made the 50-move mandate irrelevant in his game against FM Stephen Muhammad, wrapping up the point in slightly more than half the time. In a King’s Indian Saemisch, Black makes one careless defensive move and never recovers.
  Black rarely wins short KID games, in a defense that relies on a potent counterattack after surviving White’s first assault, but the opening puts a premium on accuracy for the defender, for one slip can be fatal. Black appears to be holding on up through 17. b3 Nxe2+ 18. Nxe2 Nc6 19. f4, but now shoring up the defenses with 19…Qd7 20. Rf3 f6 21. Rh3 Rf7 22. f5 Ne5 looks more prudent.
  Muhammad tries instead 19…f6?!, weakening his king’s shield, and Ehlvest pounces immediately with 20. e5! Rf7 (fxe5? 21. Bxg6! hxg6 22. Qxg6+ Kh8 23. Rd3 is winning) 21. Be4, and suddenly Black is in major difficulties.
  Tougher might have been 22…f5 23. Bd5 Bxd5 24. Nxd5 Nc6 25. e5 Rg7, although White has a huge bind. But on the game’s 22…Qd7 (too late now) 23. f5! Rg7 (fxe5 24. fxg6 Rxf1+ 25. Rxf1 e6 26. gxh7+ Kh8 28. Rf8+ Rxf8 29. Qxf8 mate) 24. exf6 exf6 25. Nd5 Rf8 (Bxd5 26. Bxd5+ Kh8 27. Be6 also wins) 26. fxg6 Qe6 (see diagram), all resistance collapses after White’s 27. Rxf6!.
  Now 27…Rxf6 (Qxe4 28. gxh7+ Qxh7 29. Ne7+! Kh8 [Rxe7 30. Rf8 mate] 30. Rxf8+ Rg8 31. Rxg8 mate) 28. Nxf6+ Qxf6 29. gxh7+ Kf7 30. Qxf6+ Kxf6 31. h8=Q is hopeless for Black. As there was no pecuniary penalty for resigning early, Muhammad gave up.
  U.S. GM Alexander Onischuk may have wished he had offered a draw, grandmaster or otherwise, at a critical point in the just-concluded fourth Anatoly Karpov International Tournament in Poikovsky, Russia, held to honor the great Russian former world champ.
  Onischuk was very much in the hunt in the 10-player Category 16 event when he met tail-ender Andrei Obodchuk, a Russian master, in the penultimate round. But the field’s lowest-ranked player pinned an upset loss on Onischuk, who faded to fifth in the tournament at 5-4, a point behind co-winners Peter Svidler of Russia and Joel Lautier of France.
  This Botvinnik Slav line, featuring a White piece sacrifice on Move 9, is one of the most intensely analyzed variations this side of the Marshall Gambit. This game only leaves the beaten track around 17. Be3 0-0-0 (Bxg2?? 28. Nc7+) 18. Nxa7+!? (0-0? Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Qh3+ 20. Kf3 [Kg1 Qxh2 mate] Ne5+ is crushing), when Onischuk as White leaves his knight out on a limb in a bid to fuel the attack.
  On 20. a3 (Nb5 Qc6! forks the knight and the rook on h1) Qe4! 21. Ke2 Bh6!, White can’t retrieve the knight with 22. Nb5 because of 22…Ne5! 23. Nd6+ Rxd6 24. Qxd6 Qf3+ 25. Kd2 Qxf2+! (ouch) 26. Kc1 Bxe3+ 27. Kb1 Qf5+ 28. Ka2 b3 mate. White trades queens and ends up with four pawns for his piece, but the coordinated Black pieces methodically pick off White’s extra material.
  With the Black knight and two rooks threatening to weave a mating net around the White king, Onischuk has no time to exploit his pawns: 31. Re7 Nd3+ 32. Kg5 Rg6+ 33. Kf5 (Kh4 Rh8 mate) Rxe7 34. fxe7 Re6 35. c6 Rxe7 (very precise; 35…Kxc6? 36. Rxc4+ Kd5 37. Rc7 Nxb2 38. e8=Q Rxe8 39. Rd7+ Kc6 40. Rxf7 leaves White with whatever winning chances there may be) 36. Kf6 Rc7.
  When the Black knight plants itself at d5, Obodchuk’s rook is free to go pawn-hunting, and the end is near. The desperate 43. g5 would fall short to 43…Rg3 44. Rxd5 Kxd5 45. Kxf6 Rg2 46. g6 Rxb2 47. g7 Rg2 48. Kf7 c3 49. g8=Q Rxg8 50. Kxg8 Ke5, winning easily.
  After 43. Kf7 Rg3 44. Rd4 Kc5 45. Re4 Rg2, the White b-pawn must fall and with it any hopes of saving the game. Still five moves short of 50 moves, Onischuk resigned.
  Generation Chess International Tournament,
  New York, April 2003

  1. d4Nf615. Qxh6Nd4
  2. c4g616. Bb1Ne5
  3. Nc3Bg717. b3Nxe2+
  4. e4d618. Nxe2Nc6
  5. f30-019. f4f6
  6. Be3b620. e5Rf7
  7. Bd3a621. Be4Na5
  8. Nge2Nfd722. Nc3Qd7
  9. Qd2c523. f5Rg7
  10. 0-0Nc624. exf6exf6
  11. Bc2Bb725. Nd5Rf8
  12. Rad1Rc826. fxg6Qe6
  13. dxc5bxc527. Rxf6Black
  14. Bh6Bxh6resigns
  Fourth Karpov International Tournament,
  Poikovsky, Russia, April 2003

  1. d4d524. Kxe3Kxa7
  2. c4c625. axb4+Kb6
  3. Nc3Nf626. Rc1Rde8+
  4. Nf3e627. Kf4Ne5
  5. Bg5dxc428. bxc5+Kb5
  6. e4b529. Rc2Rxh2
  7. e5h630. Ra7Rh6
  8. Bh4g531. Re7Nd3+
  9. Nxg5hxg532. Kg5Rg6+
  10. Bxg5Nbd733. Kf5Rxe7
  11. exf6Bb734. fxe7Re6
  12. g3c535. c6Rxe7
  13. d5Qc736. Kf6Rc7
  14. Bg2b437. f4Nb4
  15. Nb5Qb638. Rd2Kxc6
  16. dxe6Qxe6+39. f5Nd5+
  17. Be30-0-040. Kg7f6+
  18. Nxa7+Kb841. Kg6Rb7
  19. Bxb7Kxb742. g4Rb3
  20. a3Qe443. Kf7Rg3
  21. Ke2Bh644. Rd4Kc5
  22. Qb1Qxb145. Re4Rg2
  23. Rhxb1Bxe3White resigns
  David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]washingtontimes.com.


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