- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2003

A young Azerbaijani grandmaster dominated, but two Americans turned in strong supporting performances at the just-concluded World Youth Championships in Halkidiki, Greece.

In the premier boys’ under-18 division, 17-year-old Azerbaijani GM Shakhiriyaz Mamedyarov lapped the field with an undefeated 10-1 result. With fellow junior GMs Teimour Radjabov, 16, and Gadir Guseinov, 17, also on the rise, Azerbaijan looks set to be a chess powerhouse for decades to come.

U.S. masters Aaron Pixton and Joshua Friedel never challenged Mamedyarov, but both picked up an IM norm in Greece. Pixton went 8-3, holding the winner to a draw in their individual game and losing just once, while Friedel picked up his norm with a 7-4 result.

The only other U.S. entrant to score well was New York expert Katharine Pelletier, who finished in a tie for eighth in the girls’ under-14 division with a fine 7-3 result in her first international event.

Pixton’s best effort came against Israeli FM Shay Porat. Pixton, as White, stripped the Black king of his best defender and then aggressively exploited the vacuum.

In this Torre Attack, the exchange after 9. Ne5 Nxe5 10. dxe5 Nd7 11. Bf4 defines the rest of the play. White’s pawn on e5 deprives the Black knight of the defensive post at f6, and Pixton jealously reinforces the salient pawn as he readies his king-side attack.

White’s 17. cxd5 Bxd5 18. e4!? is a double-edged idea, cutting off more Black pieces from the king-side but also closing some very promising lines for the attacking side as well. It takes an exchange sacrifice for Pixton’s gamble to pay off.

Thus: 23. Ng5 Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 Rd8 (see diagram; Black understandably seeks exchanges, as his queen-side majority would prove potent in any endgame) 25. Rd6!, crossing up the defense.

Accepting with 25…Bxd6? 26. exd6 Qd7 27. Be5 Rf8 28. Bf6! brings the killer threat of mate on h8 with the queen. But Black’s position remains under heavy pressure even on the game’s 25…Bg7 26. Qh4 Rxd6 27. exd6 Qd7 28. e5, when White obtains a protected passed pawn and his bishop on c2 receives a new lease on life.

With threats looming against the weak points at f7 and g6, Pixton finishes matters in style with 28…Nd3 29. Bxd3 cxd3 30. Qh7+ Kf8 31. Ne4!!, offering up the kinght to prepare the lethal threat of 32. Bh6.

There’s no good defense: 31…f5 (Bxe4 32. Bh6 Bxh6 [Ke8 33. Qg8+ Bf8 34. Qxf8 mate] 33. Qh8 mate is too easy, while 31…g5 32. Nf6 Bxf6 33. exf6 sets up the inescapable 34. Qh8 mate) 32. Nf6! Bxf6 33. Bh6+ Bg7 34. Qh8+ Kf7 35. Qxg7 Ke8 36. Qf8 is mate. Porat resigned.

The naturally aggressive tendencies and the wide range of skill levels on display at elite youth events often make for a wealth of entertaining games. In the boys’ under-16 division, FM Vassily Papin of Russia found a novel way to exploit the old weakness of the f2 square in a scintillating win over Kazakhstan master Rauan Mankeyev.

In a Closed Sicilian, White’s hopes for a king-side attack never materialize, while Black’s counterplay in the center slowly gathers force. After 22. h4?! Rxh4 23. Qe2 (Rxg5+? hxg5 24. Qxg5+ Kf8 25. Qxh4 Rxd3 26. Qh8+ Ke7 leads nowhere) Qc5 24.Qc2Qd4, Black has managed to hold onto the extra pawn, and his pieces are better placed.

Mankeyev makes a bid for complications by sending his queen on a foraging mission, but in the process, he leaves himself open to an unusual combinational shot: 25. Qa4? Rh1+!! (an inspired idea whose prime purpose is to draw the White king away from the defense of the f-pawn) 26. Kxh1 Qxf2.

Both White rooks are hanging, and the castle on g3 must stand guard against mate on g2. But 27. Ree3 doesn’t hold things together following 27…Rd4! (with the threat of 28…Rh4+ 29. Rh3 Qxg2 mate; 28. Qc2 is inadequate because of 28…Rh4+ 29. Rxh3 Qxe3! 30. Rxh4 Qe1+ 31. Kh2 Qxh4+ 32. Kg1 Qe1+ 33. Bf1 Qxe5, with a winning endgame) 28. Be4 Rxe4 29. Rxe4 30. Qb3 Re1+.

Even giving back the piece can’t save matters as Black has an amusing pinwheel mate on the forced sequence 31. Kh2 Qg1+ 32. Kh3 Qh1+ 33. Kg4 Qh4+ 34. Kf3 Qf4 mate. Mankeyev resigned.

Indian GM Viswanathan Anand won his second top-flight rapid tournament in as many weeks, defeating Bulgarian GM Veselin Topalov in the finals of a 16-grandmaster knockout event in Crete earlier this week.

And FIDE, the international chess federation, apparently has decided on a new world-title process in which Garry Kasparov, the world’s highest-rated player, will meet a challenger from a proposed knockout elimination tournament sometime next spring. Ukraine’s Ruslan Ponomariov, the organization’s nominal reigning champ, has feuded with FIDE officials over the championship cycle and apparently is frozen out of the new process.

World Youth Championships, under-18 boys, Halkidiki, Greece, November 2003

PixtonPorat

1. d4e617. cxd5Bxd5

2. Nf3Nf618. e4Bc6

3. Bg5Be719. h5b5

4. Nbd2d520. hxg6hxg6

5. e30-021. Nf3c4

6. Bd3Nbd722. Bc2Nc5

7. 0-0c523. Ng5Rxd1+

8. c4b624. Rxd1Rd8

9. Ne5Nxe525. Rd6Bg7

10. dxe5Nd726. Qh4Rxd6

11. Bf4Bb727. exd6Qd7

12. Qh5g628. e5Nd3

13. Qh3a629. Bxd3cxd3

14. Rfd1Qc730. Qh7+Kf8

15. Qg3Rfd831. Ne4Black

16. h4Bf8resigns

World Youth Championships, under-16 boys, Halkidiki, Greece, November 2003

Mankeyev Papin

1. e4c516. dxe5Rd8

2. c3Nf617. Qc2g6

3. e5Nd518. Re3Kg7

4. d4cxd419. Rae1Rd4

5. Nf3e620. Rg3g5

6. cxd4b621. Qd2Rhd8

7. Nc3Bb722. h4Rxh4

8. Bd3Nxc323. Qe2Qc5

9. bxc3d624. Qc2Qd4

10. 0-0Nd725. Qa4Rh1+

11. Re1h626. Kxh1Qxf2

12. Ba3Qc727. Ree3Rd4

13. c4dxe528. Be4Bxe4

14. Bxf8Kxf829. Rxe4Rxe4

15. Nxe5Nxe530. Qb3Re1+

White resigns

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


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