- The Washington Times - Friday, June 4, 2004

Ukrainian superstar Vassily Ivanchuk has won the fifth European individual championships, edging Bosnian GM Predrag Nikolic in a playoff after the two finished 9-4 in Antalya, Turkey.

Ivanchuk, the event’s top seed, recovered from a shocking first-round loss to Bulgarian IM Julian Radulski. Nineteen-year-old Czech GM David Navara was the surprise front-runner for much of the tournament, only to fall to Nikolic in the final round to finish a half-point back.

Digging out from his first-round debacle, Ivanchuk displayed powerful form in working back into contention. Finnish GM Tomi Nyback was simply outclassed by the winner positionally and tactically in their Round 8 matchup.

In a QGD Slav, White’s 8. Bg2 c5 9. d5?! begins a sharp central battle that only leaves Ivanchuk on top. After 14. Bxc4 0-0 15. Nf5 Bxf5 16. Qxf5 Qd4!, the Black pieces already dominate the board.

On 18…Qb4+ 19. Kf1 (Qd2 Qe4 20. f3 Qc6, and Black is ready to get his queenside rolling) c4 20. Kc2 Bf6!, the White queenside is immobilized for the balance of the game. As Nyback struggles to relieve the pressure on his b-pawn, Ivanchuk quickly activates his own pawn majority.

The telling blow is a logical culmination of all that has gone before: 28. Qe4 Qb3 28. Qc2 Qa2! 29. Bd2 (see diagram; on 29. b3, Black has 29…Qa8+! 30. Kg1 c3 31. Ra1 Qc6 32. Bf4 [b4 Qc4 33. Rab1 Ra8, infiltrating] b5, and the passed c-pawn paralyzes White’s game) c3!. Now 30. bxc3 allows the cute 30…Rxd2!, winning a piece while giving up the queen with 30. Bf4 cxb2 31. Qxc8 Rxc8 32. Rxc8+ Kh7 leaves White facing 33. Rd1 b1=Q, winning.

Black wins rather trivially on the desperate 30. Bxc3 b4, pinning and winning the piece. After 31. Ra1 Qd5+ 32. e4 Qe6, White can no longer delay the inevitable and resigns.

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There’s some very sad news to pass along: Virginia IM Richard Delaune, a four-time state champion and winner of numerous area and national events, passed away May 29 from a heart attack at the too-young age of 49. We’ll have more on Delaune’s fine career and a game or two in next week’s column.

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The FIDE women’s world championship knockout tournament is down to the two finalists, and for the first time since 1999, neither hails from China. Bulgarian WGM Antoaneta Stefanova and Russian Ekaterina Kovalevskaya have just begun the four-game final, having survived five rounds of knockout matches in the 64-woman field in Elista, Russia.

The Chinese have dominated the women’s game (except when Hungary’s Polgar sisters condescend to play in female-only events) in recent years, but Xu Yuhua, the last Chinese woman in the competition, was ousted by Indian prodigy Humpy Koneru in the quarterfinals. Koneru, despite having one of the great first names in the game, was herself sent packing by the veteran Kovalevskaya a round later in a mild upset.

With a spot in the finals at stake, the Indian teenager was more than a bit unlucky in her first game against the Russian. Koneru, playing Black, dominated much of the play in this complex Sicilian Kan middle game. Her 27. Qd1 exd5 29. c5 d4! grabs the advantage, driving a stake into her opponent’s game and inviting 29. Nxd4?! Qe5 30. Bf4 Qxd4+ 31. Qxd4 Nxd4 32. Bxb8 Rxb8 33. Bxa6 Nxf3+ 34. Kh1 Bxc5!, when the bishop is immune because of 35. Rxc5?? Rb1+ and mate to follow.

Already two pawns to the good, Black offers up a piece for a powerful mating attack on 40. Qe3 Rxh2! 41. Qxf4 Rg2 42. Rd1 a5. Moving the attacked knight with 43. Ne2? loses at once to the impressive 43…Rg1+! 44. Nxg1 Qg2+ 45. Ke1 Bb4+ 46. Rd2 Bxd2+ 47. Qxd2 Qxg1+ 48. Ke2 (Bf1 g6 49. Qd8+ Kg7 50. Qd6 h2 51. Qe5+ Kh7 and the h-pawn decides) Qg2+ 49. Ke1 Qxd2+ 50. Kxd2 h2, while 43. Ne4 also loses to 43…Rc2 44. Ng3 h2 45. Qg4 Qxg4 46. fxg4 Rxc4.

But Black overlooks that after the game’s 43. Rd3 a4?? (simply taking the knight with 43…Rxg3 44. Bxf7+ Qxf7 45. Qxg3 Qc4 46. f4 a4 leaves Black with the better game) 44. Ne2, the shot 44…Rg1+ now falls short to 45. Nxg1 Qg2+ 46. Ke1 Bb4+ 47. Kd1 (this escape square wasn’t available in the previous variations) Qxg1+ 48. Kc2 h2 49. Qxf7+ Kh7 50. Qh5 mate. Perhaps toughest now would have been 44…Kh7 45. Qh4+ Qh6 46. Qxh6+ gxh6 47. f4 Rh2 48. Bxf7 Bc5 49. Bd5, but White still holds the edge.

Instead, Koneru’s game falls to pieces on 44…Rg5?! 45. Bxf7+! Qxf7 46. Qxg5 h2 47. Kg2 Qc7 48. Qd5+ Kh7 49. f4 Qb6 50. Rh3+ Kg6 51. f6+ Kf6 52. Qe6+, and the queen trade effectively kills Black’s chances of staying in the game. With the elimination of the Black a-pawn on 55. Nxa4, Koneru’s last hope for counterplay is snuffed out. Down a piece in a hopeless ending, she gave up four moves later.

Fifth Individual European Championship, Antalya, Turkey, May 2004


1. d4d517. Bd3Nxd3+

2. Nf3Nf618. Qxd3Qb4+

3. c4c619. Kf1c4

4. Nc3dxc420. Qc2Bf6

5. a4Bf521. Kg2Rfd8

6. Nh4Bd722. Rb1a6

7. g3e623. Be3b5

8. Bg2c524. Rhc1h6

9. d5exd525. h4Rac8

10. Nxd5Nc626. axb5axb5

11. Qc2Nxd527. Qe4Qb3

12. Bxd5Nb428. Qc2Qa2

13. Qe4+Be729. Bd2c3

14. Bxc40-030. Bxc3b4

15. Nf5Bxf531. Ra1Qd5+

16. Qxf5Qd432. e4Qe6

White resigns

FIDE Women’s World Championships, Semifinals, Elista, Russia, May 2004


1. e4c531. Nxd4Nxf4

2. Nf3e632. gxf4Ng6

3. c4a633. Nf5Bxc5+

4. Nc3d634. Kf1Qb6

5. d4cxd435. Rxd8+Rxd8

6. Nxd4Nf636. Qc2Bf8

7. Be2Be737. Bc4Nxf4

8. 0-00-038. Qb3Qg6

9. Be3Qc739. Ng3Rd2

10. f3Nbd740. Qe3Rxh2

11. Qd2Re841. Qxf4Rg2

12. Rfc1b642. Rd1a5

13. a4h543. Rd3a4

14. a5bxa544. Ne2Rg5

15. Nb3h445. Bxf7+Qxf7

16. Nxa5h346. Qxg5h2

17. g3Ne547. Kg2Qc7

18. Na4Bd748. Qd5+Kh7

19. Nb6Rab849. f4Qb6

20. Nxd7Qxd750. Rh3+Kg6

21. Ra2Red851. f5+Kf6

22. b4d552. Qe6+Qxe6

23. exd5Bxb453. fxe6Bd6

24. Qd4Qc754. Nc3Kxe6

25. Nb3Nc655. Nxa4Kf5

26. Qd3Be756. Nc3g5

27. Qd1exd557. Ne2Be5

28. c5d458. Rb3Kg4

29. Bf4Ne559. Ng3Black

30. Rd2Nh5resigns

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

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