- The Washington Times - Friday, December 3, 2004

The 64-player U.S. Championship tournament is heading into the final rounds, with New York GM Alexander Stripunsky clinging at midweek to a slim lead with a pack of contenders a half-point back.

The big news of the tournament is the return of Brooklyn GM Gata Kamsky to competition. Once one of the top players in the world, Kamsky has been out of the game for more than five years and still is working off the rust. He scored one win (over IM Yury Lapshun) and five draws in his first six games, against players he once would have dismissed easily.

The tournament’s early sensation was California IM Dmitry Zilberstein. While scoring several upsets over higher-rated players, Zilberstein pulled off one of the best attacking games of the year against Massachusetts GM Alexander Ivanov. The analysis here relies heavily on post-mortem notes provided by the justifiably proud winner.

Black’s 10. Na3 0-0!? 11. axb5 axb5 12. Nxb5 exd4 13. cxd4 Bg4 is a well-known pawn sacrifice in this Ruy Lopez line. The innocuous-looking 15. Bc2?! proves to be a costly inaccuracy after 15…Qd7! (eyeing both the loose knight on b5 and the king-side) 16. Nc3 Bxf3 17. gxf3 (Qxf3? Nxd4) Qh3 18. Be3 (see diagram).

White seems solid enough despite his busted king-side, but Ivanov may already be lost on the startling 18…Re5!! 19. Re1 (dxe5 Nxe5, and the coming 20…Nxf3+ is crushing) Rh5 20. Bf4 Rh4! 21. Bg3 Nh5!!.

The beautiful moves come in bunches. If now 22. Bxh4, 22…Nf4 mates on g2. Black exploits the e5 square yet again on the game’s 22. Re2 Ne5! 23. Rd2 (dxe5 Nxg3, and neither pawn can recapture) Nf4 24. Bxf4 (Qf1 Nxf3+ 25. Kh1 Qxh2+! 26. Bxh2 Rxh2 mate) Nxf3+ 25. Qxf3 Qxf3, winning two pieces for the queen.

Ivanov twists and turns, but the outcome is never in doubt. Black simplifies down to a won rook-and-bishop ending, and after 50. Bh4+ Kf8 51. Bf6, White gave up.

• • •

Hometown favorite GM Pentyala Harikrishna is the 2004 world junior champion, edging Armenia’s Tigran Petrosian and Zhao Jun of China in the title tournament in Cochin, India. The 18-year-old Harikrishna is India’s first world junior champ since Viswanathan Anand, now one of the world’s top players, won in 1987.

On the women’s side, front-runner Elisabeth Paehtz of Germany suffered a last-round upset, allowing Russia’s Ekaterina Korbut to take the title.

Petrosian, who shares the name of Armenia’s greatest player, former world champion Tigran Petrosian, defeated Russian GM Evgeny Alekseev in one of the best battles of the event, a seesaw struggle all the way up to the final endgame trick.

After some lengthy shadowboxing, White gets down to business with 30. g4 Bb7 31. f5!, the weak dark squares around on Black’s king-side his primary target. But Alekseev’s king proves an elusive prey, even when facing mate on the move.

After 33. f6+ Kg8 34. Qh4 Bxe4!, the ominous 35. Qh6 is met by 35…Nf3+! 36. Kf1 (Bxf3?? Qg3+ 37. Kf1 Qxf3+ 38. Kg1 Qg2 mate) Nd2+ 37. Kf2 (Ke2? Bf3+! 38. Ke3 [Bxf3 Qh2+ 39. Kd1 Nc4+ 40. Kc1 Qxb2 mate] Qc5+ 39. Kf4 Qd6+ 40. Ke3 Nf1+! 41. Rxf1 Qd2+ 42. Kxf3 Rd3+ 43. Kg4 Qxg2+ 44. Kf4 Qg3+ 45. Ke4 Re8 mate) Qc5+ 38. Re3 Qf8 39. Qxf8+ Kxf8 40. Bxe4 Rd6, and Black is probably a bit better.

By 37. Rf1 h5 38. Qg3 Rbc8, Black has survived the first onslaught, but an inaccuracy allows Petrosian to reload: 39. Re7 Rd6?! (hanging the rook out to dry; more forcing seems 39…Nxb2 40. Qf4 Rd1! 41. Rxd1 [Qh6 fails again, this time to 41…Rxf1+ 42. Bxf1 Qc6+ and 43…Qxf6] Nxd1 42. Qh6 Nf2+ 43. Kh2 [Kg1?? Ng4+] Qd6+ 44. Kg1 Qxf6) 40. Rf5! Qxf5 41. Qxd6 Rf8 42. Rd7 (threatening 43. Qxf8+! Kxf8 44. Rd8 mate) Nf2+ 43. Kh2 Re8 44. Rxf7!, stealing a critical pawn as 44…Kxf7? 45. Bd5+ Re6 46. Qe7+ Kg8 47. Qg7 is mate.

White still has to endure a slew of queen checks, but Petrosian’s king reaches safe harbor finally on a3. The threat of mate on g7 forces Black to trade queens, and a final minitactic seals the pawn ending for White: 62. f7 Kg7 63. f8=Q+!, drawing the Black king to the back rank. Since White queens now with check on 63…Kxf8 64. a5 g4 65. a6 g3 66. a7 g2 67. a8=Q+, Alekseev finally called it a day.

U.S. Championships, San Diego, November 2004

Ivanov Zilberstein

1. e4 e5 27. Nd5 Re6

2. Nf3 Nc6 28. Ra3 Qh5

3. Bb5 a6 29. Kg2 Ree8

4. Ba4 Nf6 30. Bf4 c6

5. 0-0 b5 31. Rh3 Qg4+

6. Bb3 Bc5 32. Rg3 Qh4

7. a4 Rb8 33. Bg5 Qxg3+

8. c3 d6 34. hxg3 cxd5

9. d4 Bb6 35. exd5 Ba5

10. Na3 0-0 36. Rd3 Rxb2

11. axb5 axb5 37. Bd1 Be1

12. Nxb5 exd4 38. Be3 Ra8

13. cxd4 Bg4 39. Kf1 Bb4

14. Ra4 Re8 40. Bg4 Rb1+

15. Bc2 Qd7 41. Kg2 Ra2

16. Nc3 Bxf3 42. Bf4 Ra3

17. gxf3 Qh3 43. Rxa3 Bxa3

18. Be3 Re5 44. Be2 Kf8

19. Re1 Rh5 45. g4 Ke7

20. Bf4 Rh4 46. Kf3 Bc1

21. Re2 Ne5 47. Bd3 Ra1

22. Re2 Ne5 48. Bg3 Ra4

23. Rd2 Nf4 49. Bxh7 g6

24. Bxf4 Nxf3+ 50. Bh4+ Kf8

25. Qxf3 Qxf3 51. Bf6 and

26. Bg3 Rh6 White resigns

43rd World Junior Championship, Cochin, India, November 2004

Petrosian Alekseev

1. Nf3 c5 33. f6+ Kg8

2. g3 Nc6 34. Qh4 Bxe4

3. d4 cxd4 35. Rxe4 Qc5+

4. Nxd4 g6 36. Kh1 Nd3

5. Bg2 Bg7 37. Rf1 h5

6. Nb3 d6 38. Qg3 Rbc8

7. Nc3 Nf6 39. Re7 Rd6

8. 0-0 0-0 40. Rf5 Qxf5

9. h3 Be6 41. Qxd6 Rf8

10. e4 a5 42. Rd7 Nf2+

11. a4 Rc8 43. Kh2 Re8

12. Nd5 Ne5 44. Rxf7 Ne4

13. Nd4 Bd7 45. Rg7+ Kh8

14. Re1 Re8 46. Bxe4 Qxe4

15. c3 e6 47. Re7 Qc2+

16. Ne3 Qb6 48. Kg3 h4+

17. Qe2 Red8 49. Kf3 Qf5+

18. f4 Nc6 50. Ke2 Rf8

19. Nb5 Na7 51. Rh7+ Kxh7

20. Nxd6 Qxd6 52. Qxf8 Qe4+

21. e5 Qc7 53. Kd2 Qd5+

22. exf6 Bxf6 54. Kc1 Qh1+

23. Ng4 Bg7 55. Kc2 Qe4+

24. Be3 b6 56. Kb3 Qd5+

25. Qf2 Rb8 57. Ka3 Qc5+

26. Bd4 Nc6 58. Qxc5 bxc5

27. Bf6 Bxf6 59. b4 cxb4+

28. Nxf6+ Kg7 60. cxb4 axb4+

29. Ne4 Bc8 61. Kxb4 g5

30. g4 Bb7 62. f7 Kg7

31. f5 exf5 63. f8=Q+ Black

32. gxf5 Ne5 resigns

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

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