- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2003

Man. Machine. Why can’t we all just get along? In yet another rematch with a silicon foe, former world champion Garry Kasparov is taking on an upgraded version of the German program Fritz in a four-game match that got under way this week in New York.

Kasparov, still the highest-rated player in the world, took the fight to the computer in the first game, winning an exchange and building up a dangerous initiative. But some poky play by the human and the computer’s accurate counterattacking defense forced Kasparov to permit a draw by perpetual check after 37 moves.

Thursday’s Game 2 proved a complete disaster for Kasparov, who overlooked a simple pin in a level position, dropped a pawn and had to concede after 39 moves. Thus the human finds himself in big hole with two games to go. The winner of the match, which winds up Tuesday, gets $200,000.

As if the pressure of upholding humanity’s pride were not enough, Kasparov is being forced to don oversized “virtual reality” sunglasses and do his calculations on a floating 3-D image of a chessboard as a nod to match sponsor X3D Technologies Corp. The Russian admitted that adjusting to the technology, which required him to call out moves, was a bit of a struggle.

On the local scene, Maryland-based GM Alex Wojtkiewicz took a clear first place in the 35th Virginia Open, held last weekend in Quantico. FM Rodion Rubenchik (who drew with the winner) and NM Stan Fink (who nearly beat the winner in a hard-fought game) tied for second a half-point back at 4-1.

In the Under-1900 Amateur section, Richard Frazer, William Carroll and Santy Wong all finished at 41/2-1/2, with Frazer taking the title on tie-breaks. Some 110 players competed in the two sections. We’ll have more details and a game or two from the Open next week.

Maryland native Mark Diesen was one of the brightest young American stars to emerge in the wake of Bobby Fischer’s 1972 world title match in Reykjavik, Iceland. One of the area’s strongest players, Diesen stunned the chess world in 1976 by winning both the U.S. junior and the world junior crowns.

Those proved to be the highlights of his early career, however, and soon he was surpassed by a crop of younger U.S. stars and largely dropped from the scene.

Diesen, now living in Texas, has become more active in recent years, winning the Texas state title in 2001 and repeating this year in Dallas. Texas Knights, the publication of the Texas Chess Association, recently ran several games annotated by the champ from this year’s event, including today’s first game against master Andrew Whatley.

White’s Colle-Zukertort system, in which White advances his b-pawn instead of his c-pawn, is a modest opening that can contain a real sting.

Black appears to get his lines crossed, first angling for an aggressive central response with 8…e5, but then ceding his opponent a major development edge with 9. Nc3 Bg4 (already nasty is 9…exd4? 10. exd4 cxd4 11. Nb5 Qb8 12. Re1+ Be7 13. g3 Bg4 14. Bf4 Qd8 15. Nc7+) 10. d5 Nb8? (Diesen says Black had to stay aggressive with 10…Nb4) 11. Nb5 Qd8.

With two Black pieces returned to their home square, White’s 12. Qa4! is already decisive. All insufficient, according to the winner, were a) 12…Nbd7 13. d6 Rc8 14. Nxe5! Nxe5 15. Nc7 mate; b) 12…Nfd7 13. d6! Na6 14. Nxe5 Be6 15. Be4, with a dominating position; c) 12…e4 13. d6! Nc6 (Bxd6 14. Nxd6+ Kf8 15. Bxe4 Qxd6 16. Bxb7) 14. Nc7+ Kd7 15. Ne5+ Kxd6 16. Nxf7+; and d) 12…Bxf3? 13. Nd6+ Ke7 14. Nxf5 mate!

Whatley’s 12…Bd7! was relatively best, but after 13. Nxe5 a6 14. Nxd7 Nbxd7 15. Nc3, White has won a clear pawn, and his two bishops and development edge make for a winning advantage.

On 18. f4 0-0 19. e5, one of Black’s knights must fall, and it’s all over five moves later. In the final position, 24…Rxb3 25. Bxe5 Rxb1 26. Rxb1 Ne4 27. Bxg7 Kxg7 28. Bxa6 leaves nothing to play for. Whatley resigned.

In an age of Deep Blue-level accuracy and exploding advances in technical knowledge about both the opening and the endgame, it’s still nice to run across a world-class swindle once in a while, especially when the mark is a world-class player himself.

In recent play from the Bundesliga, the strong German chess league, Hungarian GM Zoltan Almasi grabbed a poisoned pawn in his game with Russian champ Peter Svidler and lost a miniature.

In one of the oldest and most heavily analyzed openings of all, Almasi fails to sense the danger in Classical Ruy Lopez after 13. Nxd4 Re8 14. Bg5!, baiting the trap. Simply 14…h6 (removing the back-rank mate threat) 15. Bf4 c5 16. Nf5 c4 17. Ba2 Bf8 18. Nxd6 Bxd6 19. Qxd6 Qxd6 20. Bxd6 Nxe4 would have given Black a perfectly playable game.

But Almasi evidently thought his opponent missed a trick and pounced with 14…Nxe4?? 15. Nxe4 Bxe4 16. Rxe4 Bxg5 (see diagram).

Now on the tepid 17. Qf3 Rxe4 18. Qxe4 Rb8, Black keeps his ill-gotten gains. But White had prepared 17. Qg4!, a double attack that forces instant resignation.

The bishop and the queen are attacked and 17…Qxg4?? allows 18. Rxe8 mate. Even on 17…Ne6 18. Nxe6 fxe6 19. Rxe6 Kh8 20. Rxe8+ Qxe8 21. Qxg5, Black’s material deficit is insurmountable. Almasi resigned.

2003 Texas State Championship, Dallas, May 2003

Diesen Whatley

1. d4 Nf6 13. Nxe5 a6

2. Nf3 e6 14. Nxd7 Nbxd7

3. e3 c5 15. Nc3 g6

4. Bd3 d5 16. Rb1 Qb8

5. b3 Nc6 17. e4 Bg7

6. 0-0 Qc7 18. f4 0-0

7. c4 dxc4 19. e5 Nxe5

8. bxc4 e5 20. fxe5 Qxe5

9. Nc3 Bg4 21. Ne2 b5

10. d5 Nb8 22. Qb3 bxc4

11. Nb5 Qd8 23. Bxc4 Rab8

12. Qa4 Bd7 24. Bf4 Black


German Bundesliga, November 2003

Svidler Almasi

1. e4 e5 10. a3 Qd7

2. Nf3 Nc6 11. Nc3 Nd8

3. Bb5 a6 12. d4 exd4

4. Ba4 Nf6 13. Nxd4 Re8

5. 0-0 Be7 14. Bg5 Nxe4

6. Re1 b5 15. Nxe4 Bxe4

7. Bb3 0-0 16. Rxe4 Bxg5

8. h3 Bb7 17. Qg4 Black

9. d3 d6 resigns

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

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