- The Washington Times - Friday, April 2, 2004

Local Chambers of Commerce worldwide, take note: Host a chess tournament, and you

put yourself on the map.

It’s an odd but recurring theme in chess history that some of the game’s biggest events have taken place in some of the most obscure places. Cambridge Springs, Pa., and Lone Pine, Calif., achieved a small measure of immortality simply for staging famous tournaments. Internationally, such blue-highway locales as Linares, Spain; Hastings, England; and Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, rank above Madrid, London and Amsterdam in the chess player’s mental atlas.

Now we can add to the list the tiny Russian town of Poikovsky in the region west of Siberia, which this month hosted a Category 18, 10-grandmaster round-robin tournament named in honor of former Russian world champion Anatoly Karpov.

Rising Russian star Alexander Grischuk took first on tie-breaks over compatriot Sergei Rublevsky after both finished at 6-3.

Russian GM Vadim Zvjaginsev made the Poikovsky gathering memorable with a spectacular victory over fellow Russian Vladimir Malakhov, whose 2,700 rating was seriously dented by his 11/2-71/2 result. Zvjaginsev, a marvelous attacker, finished this spirited struggle with a sparkling queen sacrifice, which left his opponent helpless.

The once-ubiquitous King’s Indian is a rare visitor to top-level chess today, a pity considering the sharp battles this opening can produce. Malakhov as White plays for queen-side pressure, while Black looks for a central counterstrike.

Zvjaginsev seizes the dynamic high ground with a farseeing exchange sacrifice — 18. Nxe4 dxe4 19. Bxa5 Nf5! (Qb7 20. Nc4 Rb8 21. b4 Nf5 22. a4 plays to White’s strengths) 20. Nc4 Qb8 21. Bxd8 Rxd8, betting that the Indian bishop on g7 and the open d-file will provide long-term compensation for the rook.

White’s queen-side passed pawns look menacing, but first, he must contend with Black’s powerful piece play; after 22…Be6, the natural 23. Qc2 leads to difficulties on 23…Nd4 24. Qxe4 Qb5 25. Rfc1 f5 26. Qd3 e4 27. Qe3 Nxe2+ 28. Qxe2 Bxc4 29. Qxc4+ Qxc4 30. Rxc4 Bxa1, winning.

White passes up a chance to trade off the light-squared bishops, and his offer to trade on 28. Bc4 comes too late: 28…Nf3! 29. Qe2 (gxf3?? Qh3 30. fxe4 Qxh2 mate) Nxh2 30. Bxd5 cxd5.

Now 31. Rfe1 Nf3! 32. Rxd5 (Rf1 Qg4! wins) Rxd5 33. Qxe4 Nxe1 34. Qxd5 Qf5 is much better for Black, but the game continuation is even more painful for White on 31. f3 Nxf1 32. Rxf1 e3 33. c6 d4, and the Black central pawns reach critical mass.

Zvjaginsev’s 37. Qxe3 Qg4! is the start of a beautiful closing conception, one that lures the White queen to a perfectly useless square as her mate is mated: 38. Rb1 Qh4+ 39. Kg1 Qh2+ 40. Kf1 Qh1+ 41. Qg1 (see diagram) e3!! 42. Qxh1 (what else?) e2+ 43. Kg1 d2!.

With mate unavoidable after 44. c7 (White’s extra queen has no useful place to go) e1=Q+ 45. Rxe1 dxe1=Q mate, Malakhov resigned.

The 13th annual Melody Amber Tournament, a combined blindfold and rapid chess event featuring many of the world’s top players, wrapped this week in Monte Carlo, Monaco. World titleholder Vladimir Kramnik and fellow Russian Alexander Morozevich tied for first in the combined standings with cumulative 141/2-71/2 scores. Morozevich won the blindfold half of the contest with an 81/2-21/2 result, while India’s Viswanathan Anand took the rapid tournament (71/2-31/2) while finishing third overall.

GM Francisco Vallejo Pons has had a tough go in the elite field, finishing dead last with a 31/2-181/2 result. The young Spaniard did record a highlight, however, with a brilliant win over reigning Russian national champion Peter Svidler with Black in a Round 4 rapid (Game/25) encounter.

Svidler’s king-side attack in this Najdorf Sicilian never gets going, and after 24. Qb4 Bf5+ 25. Ka1?! (Nxf5 Qxf5+ 26. Ka1 Na6 27. Qd4 Qd7 looks more palatable for White) Rfb8! 26. Qxc5 Nc4!, Black generates all kinds of threats against the cornered White king.

The second knight is off-limits, as 27. Qxc4? Rxa3+! 28. bxa3 b2+ leads to mate. Yet Svidler misses his last best defensive chance on the game’s 27. d6 Rxa3+ 28. Qxa3 (forced) Nxa3 29. dxe7?, when 29. Nxf5! Nc2+ 30. Kb1 Qxf5 31. Bxd6 32. Bxd6 Ne3 33. Ne2 Rc8 34. Nd4! (Ng3 Qf2!) Qg6 35. Rc1 Re8 36. Ka1 Ra8+ 37. Ba3 Nxg2 38. Re5 offers at least a puncher’s chance of survival.

Instead, Black finishes off matters neatly on 29…Nc2+! 30. Nxc2 Qa4+, and White gives up in the face of 31. Na3 Qxa3+! 32. bxa3 b2+ 33. Ka2 b1=Q mate.

5th Karpov Tournament, Poikovsky, Russia, March 2004


1. Nf3Nf623. Qe1Nd4

2. c4g624. Na5Qc8

3. Nc3Bg725. Rd1Bh6

4. e4d626. Kh1Bf4

5. Be20-027. a4Bd5

6. 0-0e528. Bc4Nf3

7. d4Nc629. Qe2Nxh2

8. d5Ne730. Bxd5cxd5

9. Nd2a531. f3Nxf1

10. a3Bd732. Rxf1e3

11. b3c633. c6d4

12. Bb2Qb634. Rd1Bg3

13. dxc6bxc635. f4e4

14. Na4Qc736. Nb3d3

15. c5d537. Qxe3Qg4

16. Nb6Rad838. Rb1Qh4+

17. Bc3Nxe439. Kg1Qh2+

18. Nxe4dxe440. Kf1Qh1+

19. Bxa5Nf541. Qg1e3

20. Nc4Qb842. Qxh1e2+

21. Bxd8Rxd843. Kg1d2

22. b4Be6White resigns

13th Melody Amber Rapid/Blindfold Tournament, Monte Carlo, March 2004


1. e4c516. f4exf4

2. Nf3d617. Bxf4Nc5

3. d4cxd418. Bg2b3

4. Nxd4Nf619. cxb3axb3

5. Nc3a620. a3d5

6. f3e521. Nd4Nd6

7. Nb3Be622. exd5Bg4

8. Be3Be723. Rde1Qd7

9. Qd20-024. Qb4Bf5+

10. 0-0-0Nbd725. Ka1Rfb8

11. g4b526. Qxc5Nc4

12. g5b427. d6Rxa3+

13. Ne2Ne828. Qxa3Nxa3

14. Kb1a529. dxe7Nc2+

15. Nbc1a430. Nxc2Qa4+

White resigns

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

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