- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2004

With a sensational 26-move draw against Russian world titleholder Vladimir Kramnik, India’s Viswanathan Anand has taken a one-point lead with just three rounds to go in the superstrong Corus Chess Tournament, which concludes tomorrow in the Dutch city of Wijk aan Zee.

Anand is still unbeaten in the 14-grandmaster, Category 19 Group A event, which figures to be one of the strongest of the year. After a subdued start, the tournament’s three sections have produced some epic battles, including a 182-move (sic) draw in the Group B fight between rising U.S. junior star Hikaru Nakamura and Chinese GM Zhu Chen.

You’ll forgive us if we don’t offer a full analysis of Nakamura-Zhu, but today’s first game is almost as rare: a loss by the nearly invulnerable Kramnik, his second setback of the event. Doing the honors is Great Britain’s No. 1, Michael Adams, who finds a critical resource in a sharp position to upend the champ.

White’s 15. Nxf4 Be6 16. Bh5! is an original and attractive idea, voluntarily surrendering bishop for knight in exchange for real positional pressure. The complications intensify on 24. Bc5 Bg5? (the wrong way — Adams preferred 26…f6 27. Bd6 d4) 25. Qf2 Nxd3 (Bxc1 26. Bxb4 d4 [Bh6 27. Qxf7+ Kh8 28. Nxd5] 27. Qxf7+ Kh8 28. Rxc1 dxc3 29. Bxc3 Qg5 30. Rf1 and all White’s pieces are well placed) 26. Qxf7+ Kh8 27. Bd4 Bh6 28. Rcd1 dxe4.

Kramnik expected 29. Bg1?! Qh5 with real pressure but underestimated his own back-rank vulnerability on 29. Ba7! Re7?! (29…Rf8 30. Qxf8+ Qxf8 31. Rxf8+ Rxf8 32. Nxe4 Ne5 looks much more defensible) 30. Qf5 Ra8 31. Nxe4! Rd7 (of course not 31…Rxa7?? 32. Qf8+ and mate next) 32. Bb6! Qe8 33. a5, and White consolidates his positional edge.

More forcing might have been 34. Rf3 Nc5 35. Rxd7!; e.g. 35…Nxe4 (Nxd7 36. Nd6 Qe7 37. Qd5+ Kh8 38. Nf7+ Kg8 39. Nxh6+ and wins) 36. Qd5+ Kh8 37. Qxb7. But Adams’ edge is still clear on the game’s 34. Qg4 Kh8 35. Rf8+! Qxf8 36. Qxd7 Ne5 37. Qxb7.

With time control looming and in desperate need of counterplay, Kramnik almost inevitably leaves himself open for a final knockout: 39. Nd5 h5?! 40. b4 Qg8 41. Bc5 Qb8 42. Qe4 (threatening 43. Rd5 Qf8 44. Rxe5 Bxe5 45. Qxe5+ Kh7 46. Bd4 Qf1+ 47. Kh2 Rg8 48. Qe7+ Kh6 49. Nf7+, winning easily) Kh7 43. Rd5!, and the pressure on Black’s center proves intolerable.

Moving the attacked knight with 43…Nc6 invites 44. Rxh5+ Bh6 45. Nf7 Kg7 46. Rxh6 Kxf7 47. Qxg6 mate. Black resigned.

Another world champion was crowned this month as Austrian Tunc Hamarat clinched a clear first in the 16th world postal chess championship, organized by the International Correspondence Chess Federation. Hamarat has an 11-4 score with a game to play in the tournament and can’t be caught.

Hamarat’s best game from the event may have been his powerful demolition of fellow postal GM Rudolf Sevecek of the Czech Republic. Our annotations here rely in part on an analysis of the game by correspondent IM Junior Tay for Chess Today.

Tay notes that the game tracks a 1988 game in Brussels between Dutch GM Jan Timman and Hungarian star Lajos Portisch up through Move 30(!). Portisch, who had Black, varied with 30…Qc7 and won in another 13 moves after White ill-advisedly sacrificed the exchange on 31. Nc1 Bc8 32. Rc6 Qe7 33. d6?! Qd7 34. Qxc5 Bb7.

What Hamarat had in mind on 30…Qc7 remains a secret, but his response to Black’s 30…Kg7 is energetic and inspired: 31. Ng3 Bb6 32. Ng5! (apparently trading off one of Black’s worst-placed pieces, but White plans to augment his dominance of the a-file with a king-side attack, and the Black knight was in the way) Qd8 33. Nxh7 Kxh7 34. f4!.

Sevecek is ill-positioned to handle the pressure on both sides of the board, and things quickly become critical: 38. Nh2 Bd8 (gxf5 39. exf5 Qxd5? 40. Qg5+ Kf8 41. f6 Rd8 42. Qh5! Ke8 43. Rd1, and if the Black queen leaves the d-file, it’s 44. Qh8 mate) 39. Ng4 Rh8 40. Ra7 Bc7 41. Rf1 f6 42. fxg6 Bxg4 43. hxg4 Ra8 44. Rb7 Rhb8 (see diagram).

With Black’s king all but abandoned, White doesn’t even bother with his attacked rook: 45. g5!! Rxb7 46. gxf6+ Kxg6 47. Qh3! Qxf6 (desperation; also losing are 47…Rh8 48. Qg4+ Kf7 49. Qg7+ Ke8 50. f7+ Kd7 51. f8=Q+ Qe7 52. Qgxe7 mate; 47…Qxf6 48. Rxf6+ Kxf6 49. Qxh4+; and 47… Kf7 48. Qxh4 Rg8 49. Qh7+ Kf8 50. f7 Rg7 51. Qh8+ Ke7 52. Qe8 mate) 48. Rxf6+ Kxf6 49. Qxh4+.

At postal’s leisurely pace, Black has all the time he needs to see that, despite nominal material equality, his cause is hopeless: 49…Kg6 (neither 49…Kf7 50. d6! Bxd6 51. Qh7+ Ke6 52. Qxb7 nor 49…Kg7 50. Qe7+ Kg6 51. d6 changes the grim equation) 50. Qg4+ Kf6 51. Qe6+ Kg5 52. Qe7+ Kh6 53. d6 wins the bishop and the game. Sevecek gave up.

Corus Chess Tournament (Group A), Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, January 2004


1. e4c523. Qd2d5

2. Nf3d624. Bc5Bg5

3. d4cxd425. Qf2Nxd3

4. Nxd4Nf626. Qxf7+Kh8

5. Nc3a627. Bd4Bh6

6. Be3e628. Rcd1dxe4

7. Be2Be729. Ba7Re7

8. a4Nc630. Qf5Ra8

9. 0-00-031. Nxe4Rd7

10. f4Qc732. Bb6Qe8

11. Kh1Re833. a5Kg8

12. Bf3Rb834. Qg4Kh8

13. Qe1e535. Rf8+Qxf8

14. Nde2exf436. Qxd7Ne5

15. Nxf4Be637. Qxb7g6

16. Bh5Nxh538. h3Bg7

17. Nxh5Qa539. Nd6h5

18. Nf4Bc440. b4Qg8

19. Nd3Qd841. Bc5Qb8

20. b3Bxd342. Qe4Kh7

21. cxd3Bf643. Rd5Black

22. Rc1Nb4resigns

16th ICCF World Correspondence Championship, 1999-2004


1. e4e526. Ne2Bd7

2. Nf3Nc627. Ra7Qc8

3. Bb5a628. Bxc5dxc5

4. Ba4Nf629. Qe3Bd8

5. 0-0Be730. R7a6Kg7

6. Re1b531. Ng3Bb6

7. Bb30-032. Ng5Qd8

8. c3d633. Nxh7Kxh7

9. h3Nb834. f4Bc8

10. d4Nbd735. R6a2Qd6

11. Nbd2Bb736. f5h4

12. Bc2Re837. Nf1Kg7

13. Nf1Bf838. Nh2Bd8

14. Ng3g639. Ng4Rh8

15. a4c540. Ra7Bc7

16. d5c441. Rf1f6

17. Bg5h642. fxg6Bxg4

18. Be3Nc543. hxg4Ra8

19. Qd2h544. Rb7Rhb8

20. Bg5Be745. g5Rxb7

21. Bh6Nh746. gxf6+Kxg6

22. Ra3Rb847. Qh3Qxf6

23. Rea1Bc848. Rxf6+Kxf6

24. axb5axb549. Qxh4+Black

25. Be3Bf6resigns

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

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