- The Washington Times - Friday, September 19, 2003

It hasn’t been a good summer for the world’s major chess organizations. FIDE, the international chess federation, finds its hopes of ending a decade of division over the men’s world title in tatters after both semifinal matches ran into serious problems.

Ukrainian Ruslan Ponomariov, who holds the official FIDE crown, refused last month to sign his contract to play former world champ Garry Kasparov. FIDE officials say they plan to go ahead with another edition of its much-criticized knockout championship tournament, which Ponomariov won two years ago but which few top players believe produces a worthy world champion.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Kramnik, who wrested the crown from Kasparov in 2000 but is not recognized by FIDE, must scramble to attract a new sponsor for his semifinal bout with Hungary’s Peter Leko. The British media company that had been backing Kramnik has gone belly up.

Much good work, especially by Seattle GM Yasser Seirawan, now is in danger of going to waste. The rival claims for the chess championship, breaking a tradition of greatness stretching from Emanuel Lasker through Bobby Fischer to Kasparov, have been disastrous for the game. Given the hardening positions of the key players, it’s hard to be optimistic about the near future.

Separately, the U.S. Chess Federation, which for years has been plagued by management turnover and shaky finances, has announced yet another reorganization of its national office in New Windsor, N.Y. USCF President Beatriz Marinello announced last month that 17 staffers have been let go, and a financial task force has instituted changes to boost cash flow and improve accounting systems.

USCF officials say the pared-down staff will focus on a few priorities, including improving the monthly Chess Life and increasing Internet-based services for members.

• • •

Uncle Sam is no superpower on the chessboard.

After a surprising second-place showing in last year’s event, a U.S. military team finished far back in the pack at the 14th NATO Championships, held earlier this month in the Danish town of Hoevelte. A strong German contingent dominated the event, with German FM Christian Seel sharing individual honors with Norwegian expert Harald Borchgrevink.

Expert Douglas Taffinder was the top U.S. finisher, landing in a tie for 22nd place, but his defenses failed to hold in his game against Danish master Rene Ole Nielsen from the NATO event. Nielsen’s gambit poses the classic military question — materiel or mobility — and Black learns to his sorrow that heavier firepower is of no use if you can’t deploy it in the field.

In a Closed Sicilian that comes to resemble a Smith-Morra Gambit, Black is up two pawns after 8. Bxb2 exd5, but suffers from a severe deficit in development. Taffinder would have been happy to return his ill-gotten gains with 9. Qxd5?! d6 10. 0-0 Nc6 11. exd6 Qxd6 12. Re1+ Be6 13. Qxd6 Bxd6 14. Bxg7 Rg8 15. Bf6 Kd7, with comfortable equality, but Nielsen instead presses his attack with 9. 0-0! Be7 10. Nc3.

Black for some reason avoids the freeing …d6, and when he wastes a couple of tempos (both 13…Rb8 and 14…Kh8 do improve Black’s prospects) the game abruptly gets away from him. One final oversight allows White’s knights to go wild, producing a picturesque final mate.

Thus 15…Bf8?? (Black wants to shore up g7, but forgets the bishop must stay at e7 to prevent the second White knight from joining the fun) 16. Ng5! Qa5 (Kg8 17. Nf6+! gxf6 18. Ne6+ Kh8 19. Nxd8, winning) 17. Nxf7+ Kg8 18. Nh6+ Kh8 19. Nf6! Re7 (if either knight is taken, it’s 20. Qg8 mate) 20. Qb3!.

White revives the threat of 21. Qg8 mate, and Black’s only defense allows the two knights to administer the final blow instead: 21…d5 21. exd6 Be6 (see diagram) 22. Qxe6! (simple but satisfying) Rxe6 23. Nf7 mate!.

The game between Norwegian expert Tommy Indbryn and English Class A player Glen Parker is more of a war of attrition, but even simple positions can contain a touch of poison. Outranked by several hundred points, Parker seeks refuge in a series of trades, evidently playing for the draw.

We’re already down to a queen-and-bishop ending by 22. b4 Rxd1+ 23. Qxd1 Qd7, but White’s 24. Qd6! poses awkward problems for Parker. He has less space than his opponent, and allowing the queen to remain deep in his territory only emphasizes his cramp.

Black decides to give White a protected passed pawn with 24…Qxd6 25. exd6, but he should have immediately moved to collar the dangerous passer with 25…Kf8 26. Be4 h6 27. h4, although White still has a comfortable edge.

But on 25…f6?, Indbryn finds the inspired 26. b5! Bd7 (cxb5 27. Bxb7! Bxb7 [Bd7 28. c6] 28. d7) 27. Bxc6!!. The White pawns are irresistible after 27…bxc6 28. b6! axb6 (a6 29. b7 and 28…Bc8 29. bxa7 won’t alter the outcome) 29. cxb6 Bc8 30. d7 Bxd7 31. b7, and the pawn will queen. Parker resigned.

U.S. hopes for a rebound in future NATO championships look bleak, as the military alliance’s expansion will bring such chess powers as Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria into the fold in the coming years.

14th NATO Championships, Hoevelte, Denmark, September 2003

Nielsen Taffinder

1. e4 c5 13. Qf4 Rb8

2. c3 Nf6 14. Qg3 Kh8

3. e5 Nd5 15. Rac1 Bf8

4. d4 cxd4 16. Ng5 Qa5

5. Nf3 e6 17. Nxf7+ Kg8

6. Bc4 dxc3 18. Nh6+ Kh8

7. Bxd5 cxb2 19. Nf6 Re7

8. Bxb2 exd5 20. Qb3 d5

9. 0-0 Be7 21. exd6 Be6

10. Nc3 0-0 22. Qxe6 Rxe6

11. Nxd5 Nc6 23. Nf7 mate

12. Qa4 Re8

14th NATO Championships, Hoevelte, Denmark, September 2003

Indbryn Parker

1. d4 Nf6 15. Ne5 Rad8

2. c4 e6 16. g4 Bc8

3. Nf3 Bb4+ 17. g5 Nd7

4. Bd2 Bxd2+ 18. c5 Qc7

5. Nbxd2 d5 19. f4 Nxe5

6. g3 0-0 20. dxe5 Rxd1

7. Bg2 Nbd7 21. Rxd1 Rd8

8. 0-0 c6 22. b4 Rxd1+

9. Qc2 Re8 23. Qxd1 Qd7

10. e4 dxe4 24. Qd6 Qxd6

11. Nxe4 Nxe4 25. exd6 f6

12. Qxe4 Qb6 26. b5 Bd7

13. Qc2 Nf6 27. Bxc6 Black

14. Rad1 Bd7 resigns


David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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