- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2004

For a chess journalist, the just-completed Corus Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, presents an embarrassment of riches. It had a wealth of story lines, subplots, surprise endings and great games.

In the elite Group A section, India’s Viswanathan Anand won a record-tying fourth title and perhaps passed also-ran Vladimir Kramnik of Russia as the second-highest-rated player in the world, behind Garry Kasparov. Anand finished at 81/2-41/2, a half-point ahead of Peter Leko of Hungary and Michael Adams of England.

Kramnik, whose three defeats at Wijk were more than he typically loses in a year, could only manage an even 61/2-61/2 score in the Category 19 event.

In the Group B section, we could focus on rising U.S. junior star Hikaru Nakamura, who finished with three wins and two draws to tie for fourth at 71/2-51/2 in his best international performance to date. Nakamura even pinned a loss on Group B winner GM Lazaro Bruzon of Cuba, who graduates to the elite section with his first-place finish.

The best story of all may have come in Group C, where 13-year-old Norwegian phenom Magnus Carlsen dominated the Category 9 competition with a first-place 101/2-21/2 result, earning his first grandmaster norm in the process. Carlsen astonished the assembled masses in Wijk with his assured play and some brilliant tactics, dropping only one game.

Anand’s win over Russian Evgeny Bareev in Round 8 was just one of several masterpieces he fashioned at Corus, employing his legendary calculating skills to fantastic effect. Some of the variations Anand foresaw in this game almost beggar belief.

Against Bareev’s French Defense, Anand effortlessly builds up a beautiful attacking formation, even allowing his king-side pawns to be wrecked for the sake of open lines.

The payoff comes on 19. Bh7+ Kf8 (Kh8 20. Nf7 mate was not to be considered) 20. Nxf7!! (brave and necessary, as no other move keeps the White initiative) Kxf7 21. Qg6+ Kf8 22. Qxg7+ Ke8 23. Re1?! (Anand later said the redeployment 23. Bc2! was more accurate.) Rd6 24. Qh8+ Bf8 25. Bg6+ Ke7. Black’s pieces are tied in knots, but it isn’t a simple matter for White to smash through.

Bareev defends tenaciously, and a fascinating psychological moment comes on 26. Rhg1 Rb6 27. Bf5!, with the threat of 28. Rg7+! Bxg7 29. Qxg7+ Kd8 30. Qxf6+, winning.

Best now, according to Anand, was the “messy” 27… Qf4!, after which he gave the following mind-boggling line: 28. Rg7+! Kd6! (Bxg7 29. Qxg7+ Kd8 30. Qxf6+ Kc7 31. Qe7+ Kb8 32. Rg1 Rc6 33. Rg8+ Rc8 34. Rxc8+ Kxc8 35. Bxe6+ Kb8 36. Bd5 Qc7 37. Qf8+ Qc8 38. Qxc8+ Kxc8 39. Bxa8) 29. Rxe6+ Kd5 30. Rd7+ Nxd7 31. c4+! Qxc4 (Kxc4 32. Re4+) 32. Qg8!! Rxb2+! 33. Kxb2 Bg7+! (Rb8+? 34. Rb6 is check, while 33…Qb4+ 34. Kc2 Qc4+ 35. Kd1 Qd4+ 36. Ke2 allows the king to escape) 34. Re5+ Kxe5 35. Qxc4 Kxf5+ 36. Kc2, which Anand thought drawish because the Black king can’t find shelter. Amazing.

Instead, Black tries 27…Kf7?, betting on a repetition with 28. Bg6+ Ke7 29. Bf5. But White’s 29. Bc2!, seeking new avenues of attack, undermines Black’s hopes. Now 29…Qf4 falls short to 30. Rg7+ Bxg7 31. Qxg7+ Kd6 32. Qf7! Re8 33. Rd1+ Kc6 (or 33…Ke5 34. Qc7+ Rd6 35. Qxd6 mate) 34. Be4+ Kb5 (Nd5 35. Qxf4 and the knight is pinned) 35. c4+ Kxc4 (Ka6 36. Rd3 mates along the edge of the board) 36. Bd3+ Kd5 37. Bb5+, winning.

The position stabilizes on 29…Kf7 30. Rg6 Qf4 31. Reg1 e5 (the threat was 32. Rg7+ Ke8 33. Bg6+ Kd8 34. Qxf8+, with mate to follow) 32. Rg7+! Ke6 31. R1g6 Rab8 34. Qg8+ Kd6 35. Rxf6+! Qxf6 36. Rg6.

Black gets two rooks for the queen, but his uncoordinated pieces and defenseless king prove fatal. In the final position, the White queen-side pawns will help administer mate, and lines such as 48…Ka7 49. f4 exf4 50. Qd7+ Kb6 52. Qd4+ Kc7 52. Qxf6 illustrate Black’s plight. Bareev resigned.

Our second offering contains yet another, slightly more conventional knight sacrifice at f7, but Spain’s Alexei Shirov shows in the follow-up against Dutch GM Ivan Sokolov why he is one of the world’s most feared attackers.

Black selects an aggressive opening and proceeds to play it passively. The retreats with 9…Be6 and 11…Bd7 give White plenty of time to build up against Black’s uncastled king.

Shirov rushes to open lines with 13. f4! exf4 14. Bxf4, and one more loss of time (Shirov later said 14…f6 15. Nf3 Bxh3 16. Nh4 Qg4 17. Qxg4 Bxg4 18. Ng6 Rh7 19. Bxc7 gives White only a small edge) opens the floodgates.

Thus 14…Be7? 15. Qd2 Rd8 (see diagram) 16. Nxf7!. Getting a rook, two pawns and an enduring attack for two minor pieces was an easy call, Shirov later explained.

After 16…Qxf7 17. Bxc7 Qe6 (Nf6? 18. Bxd8 Bxd8 19. e5) 19. Kh1!, the king hides in the corner, and White can attack with impunity.

The finale: 19…Nf6 20. Nc5 Qe7 21. Rad1! Bc8 (Qxc5 22. Rxf6! Bxf6 23. Qxd7+ Kf8 24. Qc8+ wins, as does 21…Bb6 22. e5! Bxc5 23. exf6 gxf6 24. Rfe1 Be6 26. Rxe6 Qxe6 26. Qd8+ Kf7 27. Qxh8) 22. e5 Nd5 23. Ne4 Qxe5 (Bc7 24. Nd6+! Bxd6 25. exd6 Qxd6 26. c4) 24. Rde1 Be7 25. c4 Bb4 26. Nc3.

Black has no more tricks and must lose major material; Sokolov resigned.

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


1. e4e625. Bg6+Ke7

2. d4d526. Rhg1Rb6

3. Nc3Nf627. Bf5Kf7

4. Bg5dxe428. Bg6+Ke7

5. Nxe4Be729. Bc2Kf7

6. Bxf6Bxf630. Rg6Qf4

7. Nf30-031. Reg1e5

8. Qd2Nd732. Rg7+Ke6

9. 0-0-0Be733. R1g6Rab8

10. Bd3b634. Qg8+Kd6

11. h4Bb735. Rxf6+Qxf6

12. Neg5Nf636. Rg6Kc7

13. c3Bxf337. Rxf6Rxf6

14. gxf3c538. Qh7+Kb6

15. dxc5Qc739. Be4Rd6

16. Kb1bxc540. h5a6

17. Rdg1Rfd841. Qf7Rd2

18. Qc2h642. a3Rd1+

19. Bh7+Kf843. Kc2Rd6

20. Nxf7Kxf744. b4cxb4

21. Qg6+Kf845. axb4Rdd8

22. Qxg7+Ke846. Qe6+Rd6

23. Re1Rd647. Qc4Rf6

24. Qh8+Bf848. Qd5Black


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


1. e4e514. Bxf4Be7

2. Nf3Nc615. Qd2Rd8

3. Bb5a616. Nxf7Qxf7

4. Ba4d617. Bxc7Qe6

5. 0-0Bg418. Bxd8Bxd8

6. h3h519. Kh1Nf6

7. Bxc6+bxc620. Nc5Qe7

8. d4Qf621. Rad1Bc8

9. Nbd2Be622. e5Nd5

10. Nb3Qg623. Ne4Qxe5

11. Ng5Bd724. Rde1Be7

12. dxe5dxe525. c4Bb4

13. f4exf426. Nc3Black


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

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