- The Washington Times - Friday, November 26, 2004

The 57th Russian national championship tournament, now under way in Moscow, lost a little of its luster when classical world champion Vladimir Kramnik and former titleholder Anatoly Karpov proved last-minute no-shows.

But there’s still a lot of interest in the Moscow tournament, with Garry Kasparov, another former champ, competing in the event for the first time in more than a decade. Kasparov is taking on a new generation of Russian stars, including GMs Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk and Alexander Morozevich.

Kasparov has been giving the fans their money’s worth, sharing first at midweek with Grischuk while having played one less game than his rival.

Morozevich, who many thought might win his first national title, stumbled badly out of the gate, with just two points in his first six games. Against veteran Russian GM Alexey Dreev, Morozevich mishandled the opening and fell victim to a classic Sicilian counterattack.

White gets no attack out of this Richter-Rauzer variation, and his odd queen maneuvers in the early middle game (15. Qe3 and 17. Qd3) waste further time. By 27. Rd3 b5 28. Qc1 e6 (Dreev is in no hurry; 28…Rxc3!? 29. bxc3 Rxc3 30. Rxc3 Qxc3 31. Ka2 Qc4+ 32. Kb1 b4 is a more aggressive route to the same end) 29. Re1 d5, Black dominates both the c-file and the long diagonal.

The breakthrough comes quickly: 30. Re2 (see diagram) b4! 31. Nxa4 (31. axb4 Rxb4 puts unbearable pressure on the White king; e.g. 32. Nd1 Rcb8 33. c3 Rb3 34. Rc2 a3 35. g4 axb2 36. Rxb2 Rxb2+ 37. Nxb2 Qg6!) bxa3 32. Rxa3 (Nb6 Rb4) Ra8 33. Nb6 Rxa3 34. Nxc4 dxc4, when Morozevich can’t capture on a3 because of 35…Qa1 mate.

White packs it in after 35. Re4 Ra4 36. c3 Qf5, as saving the pinned rook with 37. Qe3 allows 37…Bxc3! 38. bxc3 Qb5+ 39. Kc2 Qb3+ 40. Kd2 Ra2+ 41. Ke1 Qb1+ 42. Qc1 Qxc1 mate.

• • •

Closer to home, the U.S. championships also got under way this week in La Jolla, Calif. New York GM Gata Kamsky, back after a long absence from the game, is the nominal top seed in the 64-player field, but GMs Alexander Shabalov, Alexander Onischuk and rising star Hikaru Nakamura may be better bets. We’ll have updates on the action in the coming weeks.

• • •

Maryland GM Alex Wojtkiewicz (who is also competing in La Jolla) easily won the 79-player ninth annual Northern Virginia Open earlier this month, held at the Holiday Inn Express in Springfield. He finished with five wins and a last-round draw, a half-point better than IM Oladapo Adu and FMs Boris Privman and Bryan Smith.

The winner’s toughest test might have come against Class A player Keith Melbourne, a longtime local competitor who put up a strong first-round fight before succumbing.

Black sets up a Stonewall pawn center, and as the opening winds down after 14. Nc2 Rac8 15. Nce1 c5, the grandmaster has not achieved much. Wojtkiewicz sharpens the play with a pawn-grubbing expedition by his queen on the queenside but has to watch continually that his queen does not get trapped.

Thus, after 19. Qxa7 Ra8 20. Qb7 Qd6! 21. dxc5 bxc5, 22. Qxb5?! Rfb8 snares the queen and equalizes on 23. Qxb8+ Rxb8. On the game’s 22. Nd4, the tricky 22…Bxd3!? 23. Nxf5! Rxf5 24. Qxa8+ Rf8 25. Qb7 Rb8 26. Qa7 Bxe2 27. Bxe4 Bxd1 28. Rxd1 d4 leads to an unbalanced game.

White only breaks on top after 27. Nf4 d3!? (Rxb3 28. Rxd4 Nb6 29. Nxd5 Nxd5 30. Rxd5 h6 looks very playable) 28. exd3 Ne5 29. Re6 Nf3+ 30. Kg2 Rxb3 31. Nxd5! (less impressive is 31. dxe4 Ng5 [dxe4? 32. Rd8+ Kf7 33. Rd7+ Kf8 34. Ree7 Ng5 35. h4 wins a piece] 32. exd5 Rbb2 33. Nd3 Nxe6 34. dxe6 Re2 and Black may be a little better) Rbb2 32. Rf1.

Black’s attacking array looks dangerous, but it is White who is weaving the mating net: 34. Rc8+ Kh7 35. Nc3 Ra3 36. Nxe4 Nb3? (missing White’s reply, but 36…Nxe4 37. dxe4 Ra7 [Raa2 38. Rf8] 38. Rc5 g6 39. Rcc6 Rg7 40. Rf6 leaves Black helpless) 37. Ng5 mate.

Still on the local beat, the Arlington Chess Club stages its fourth annual Arlington Open on Dec. 4 and 5 at the George Mason University Professional Center at 3401 N. Fairfax Drive in Arlington. The event will be a five-round Swiss, and entrants can obtain a FIDE rating.

More details on the tournament can be found at the club’s Web site, https://members.cox.net/arlingtonchessclub.

57th Russian Championship, Moscow, November 2004


1. e4c519. Nc1Nd4

2. Nf3d620. Nc3Rfc8

3. d4Nf621. N1a2Nxe2

4. Nc3cxd422. Qxe2Qf6

5. Nxd4Nc623. Qe3Be6

6. Bg5Bd724. Nb4Rc4

7. Be2Qa525. Nbd5Bxd5

8. Bxf6gxf626. Rxd5Rac8

9. Nb3Qg527. Rd3b5

10. g3f528. Qc1e6

11. f4Qh629. Re1d5

12. Qd2Bg730. Re2b4

13. 0-0-0fxe431. Nxa4bxa3

14. Nxe4a532. Rxa3Ra8

15. Qe30-033. Nb6Rxa3

16. a3Qe634. Nxc4dxc4

17. Qd3h635. Re4Ra4

18. Kb1a436. c3Qf5

White resigns

Ninth Northern Virginia Open, Springfield, November 2004


1. Nf3d520. Qb7Qd6

2. d4Nf621. dxc5bxc5

3. c4c622. Nd4cxd4

4. Qc2e623. Qxb5Rfb8

5. g3Be724. Qc6Qxc6

6. Bg2Nbd725. Rxc6Rxa2

7. 0-00-026. Bxe4fxe4

8. Rd1Ne427. Nf4d3

9. b3f528. exd3Ne5

10. Ba3Bxa329. Re6Nf3+

11. Nxa3Qe730. Kg2Rxb3

12. Qb2b631. Nxd5Rbb2

13. Rac1Bb732. Rf1Nd2

14. Nc2Rac833. Rc1h5

15. Nce1c534. Rc8+Kh7

16. cxd5exd535. Nc3Ra3

17. Qa3Bc636. Nxe4Nb3

18. Nd3Bb537. Ng5 mate

19. Qxa7Ra8

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

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