Friday, October 15, 2004

We’re thinking locally and globally this week, with news of a new city champion and the possibility of a new world champion, as well.

Northern Virginia master Andrew Samuelson vaulted past several higher-rated players to win last weekend’s Oscar Shapiro D.C. Open at Gonzaga High School. Samuelson upset masters John Meyer and Oladapo Adu, then drew with master Alex Barnett in the final round for a 31/2-1/2 score, half a point ahead of Barnett. Sal Rosario, undefeated with three draws and a win, retained his title as D.C. champ for being the highest-scoring city resident.

Tournament director Mike Atkins writes that it was a good weekend for the juniors, with 13-year-old Alisa Melekhina, a Class A player, taking the Under-2200 section with a perfect 5-0 score. Expert Thomas Murphy, a point back at 4-1, is the new D.C. amateur champ, again as the highest-scoring city resident in the section. Juniors Elissa Beale and Jared Defibaugh shared the Under-1600 Reserve section title, both at 4-1, while the Under-1200 Booster section saw another tie for first, between Arman Khojandi and Vishal Erabelli.

Samuelson’s critical third-round win over Adu was a sterling example of power chess, as White holds serve in the opening, steadily increases his positional edge and finally achieves a crushing mating attack.

This 6. Bc4 Sicilian line was an old favorite of Bobby Fischer’s but is now a rare visitor to tournament chess. Samuelson’s 10. f4 Nc6 (Qa5 11. c3 saves the knight) 11. f5 e5 12. Nf3 Be7 13. Bg5 Qc7 14. Bxf6! is strategically impeccable, weakening Black’s hold on d5 and saddling him with a bishop that will prove far inferior to the White knight.

In many Sicilian lines, Black’s backward d6-pawn proves surprisingly hardy, but in this game, the pawn becomes a constant defensive liability.

After 22. Qxd5 0-0 (Rxb2?! 23. Qc6+ Ke7 24. Qxa6 works better for White, as Black’s king is caught in the center) 23. b3 Rb5 24. Qd3, Black might have been better advised to try to push through…d6-d5 with 24…Rd8 25. Rfd1 Qb7 26. Rc2 d5 27. Rcd2 h6. Instead, on 24…Re8?! 25. Rc4 h6 26. Rd1 Rd8 27. Qc2 Kh7 (d5? 28. exd5 Rbxd5 29. Rxd5 Rxd5 30. Rc8+) 28. Rd5! Rxd5 29. exd5, White trades one advantage for two others as he now takes over the c-file and establishes e4 as a new base of operations.

Black’s bid to break the bind predictably leads to disaster: 36. Qc4 e4?! (preferring a quick suicide to slow strangulation; 36…Rd8 37. Ne4 Be7 38. a3 Bf6 39. Ra6 is equally dreary for Black) 37. Nxe4 Be5 38. f6+! Bxf6 (Kh7 [Kg6 39. Qc2 and the discovered check will be devastating] 39. Rc8 Qb7 40. Nxg5+! Kg6 [hxg5 41. Qd3+ Kh6 42. Rh8 mate] 41. Rg8+! Kxf6 42. Qf1+ Bf4 43. Qxf4+ Ke7 44. Qxf7 mate) 39. Rc8 Qa7 (Qb4 falls to the clever 40. Qxb4 axb4 41. Rg8+!! Kxg8 42. Nxf6+ Kf8 43. Nxd7+) 40. Nxf6 Kxf6 41. Qc3+ Ke7 42. Qh8!.

Black can’t stave off mate. Adu resigned.

Meanwhile, the classical world-title match between Russian champion Vladimir Kramnik and challenger Peter Leko of Hungary is nearing the finish line in Brissago, Switzerland. With Thursday’s draw, Leko leads by a point with just two games to go. The challenger’s stunning win in a Ruy Lopez Marshall Attack a week ago may prove the difference in the match.

FIDE, the international chess federation, announced this week that its claimant to the world title, Uzbek GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov, and former titleholder Garry Kasparov will square off in a $1.2 million match starting Jan. 7 in the United Arab Emirates. The winner is then supposed to play the Kramnik-Leko winner sometime next year to end an 11-year dispute over who is the real world champion.

And speaking of Kasparov, we have an extraordinary game of his on tap from the just-concluded 20th European Club Cup in Izmir, Turkey, won by the Paris-based NAO Chess Club. Kasparov scored only 50 percent in six games in Turkey, but his draw against NAO top board GM Michael Adams of England will surely rank as one of the most remarkable games of the year.

We’ll weasel out on any deep analysis, pausing only to note that Black manages to sacrifice a knight and White a rook just in the first 14 moves of a rather staid Nimzo-Indian line. Kasparov’s king walk from e1 via f3 to h2 is a unique method of hand-castling, and his nick-of-time defense on 21. Nf3 Be4 22. Qxc7! Bxf3 23. Qxf7+ Kh8 24. Qxf3 is a thing of beauty.

Just as Adams takes a decisive material lead with 26. Bf1 Qxa1, White sacrifices a rook for perpetual check with 27. Rxh6+ gxh6 28. Qf6+, a just result given the ingenuity shown by both sides.

• • •

Today’s diagram, which we ran here two weeks ago, comes from the recent World Chess Solving Competition in Halkidiki, Greece, won by veteran English GM John Nunn. The solution: 1. Ra5!, threatening no direct mate, but leaving Black with a nasty case of zugzwang; e.g. 1…c5 2. Nd6 mate; 1…Nf5 Bxf5 mate; 1…Qa1 2. Bg2 mate; 1…Rb4 2. Qe8 mate; 1…Rd4 2. Re5 mate; 1…d5 2. Qe6 mate; and 1…Rxa5 2. Qc4 mate.

Oscar Shapiro D.C. Open, Washington, October 2004


1. e4c522. Qxd50-0

2. Nf3d623. b3Rb5

3. d4cxd424. Qd3Re8

4. Nxd4Nf625. Rc4h6

5. Nc3a626. Rd1Rd8

6. Bc4e627. Qc2Kh7

7. Bb3b528. Rd5Rxd5

8. 0-0b429. exd5Qb5

9. Na4Bd730. Qe4Qb6

10. f4Nc631. Rc2a5

11. f5e532. g4g5

12. Nf3Be733. Kg2Kg7

13. Bg5Qc734. Nd2Rd7

14. Bxf6Bxf635. Rc6Qb8

15. c3Rb836. Qc4e4

16. cxb4Rxb437. Nxe4Be5

17. Nc3Ne738. f6+Bxf6

18. Rc1Bc639. Rc8Qa7

19. Kh1Qb840. Nxf6Kxf6

20. Nd5Bxd541. Qc3+Ke7

21. Bxd5Nxd542. Qh8Black


20th European Club Cup, Izmir, Turkey, October 2004


1. d4Nf615. Bb20-0

2. c4e616. Kg3h6

3. Nc3Bb417. h4Re8

4. Qc2d518. Kh2Qxf2

5. a3Bxc3+19. Bxa1Bf5

6. Qxc3Ne420. Qxb7exd4

7. Qc2Nc621. Nf3Be4

8. e3e522. Qxc7Bxf3

9. cxd5Qxd523. Qxf7+Kh8

10. Bc4Qa5+24. Qxf3Qxh4+

11. b4Nxb425. Kg1Qe1+

12. Qxe4Nc2+26. Bf1Qxa1

13. Ke2Qe1+27. Rxh6+gxh6

14. Kf3Nxa128. Qf6+Draw


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

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