- The Washington Times - Friday, October 29, 2004

Ukraine is cruising to a gold medal in the men’s biennial Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Spain, while the U.S. women’s team is also on track to win a top prize.

Anchored by veteran GM Vassily Ivanchuk on first board, the undefeated Ukrainians are poised to dethrone longtime champ Russia, having already defeated the Russian team in their individual encounter. An upset loss to Georgia on Wednesday put the Russians even further behind.

The U.S. men’s team is in sixth place with a round to go and is unlikely to medal.

However, with former women’s world champ Susan Polgar on first board, the American women’s squad is faring much better, in a tie for second place behind the powerhouse Chinese team.

With nearly 230 teams competing, the crowded playing hall at Calvia offers a wealth of intriguing games and dramatic matches in every round. The U.S. men suffered a painful loss to India in round 4 when Pittsburgh GM Alexander Shabalov wound up on the short side of a wild, mistake-filled affair against 18-year-old GM Pentyala Harikrishna.

Shabalov obtains a typically doubled-edged position out of this QGD Semi-Slav, his command of the long diagonal offsetting White’s strong kingside play. The punctuation marks really start flying, however, after 25. Bb2 Rd4 26. Bxe6 Nxg2? (missing White’s threat; needed was 26…Rf8 27. Bxd4 cxd4 28. Rb3 d3! 29. Rxb7 Ne2+ 30. Kh1 Qxb7) 27. f6!, and suddenly Black’s king is in serious trouble.

Trying to keep the f-file closed, Shabalov tries 27…g5 28. f7 Nf4 29. Bd5 Qxd5, when White had a put-away volley with 30. Re8+ Rxe8 31. fxe8=Q+ Kg7 32. Bxd4+ cxd4 33. Qg3 Qh1+ 34. Kf2 and Black threats fizzle. Instead, Harikrishna returns the favor with 30. Bxd4+? cxd4 31. Re8+ Kg7 32. f8=Q+ Kg6 33. Qf3 (Qg3 Ne2+ 34. Rxe2 Qh1+ 35. Kf2 Rxf8+ 36. Ke1 Rxf1+) Qxf3 34. Qg8+ Kh6.

White still obtains a won game on 35. Rxf3! Rc1+ 36. Kf2 (Rf1?? Nh3 mate) Rc2+ 37. Kf1 Bxf3 38. h4 Bg2+ 39. Ke1 Nd3+ 40. Kd1 Rc1+ 41. Kd2, escaping to safety. But the comedy of errors hasn’t fully played out.

Thus: 35. Re6+? (see diagram) Kh5?? (Ng6!, with pieces hanging all over the board, would have actually won for Black; e.g. 36. Rxf3 Rxg8 37. Rh3+ Kg7) 36. Qxh7+ Kg4 37. Rxf3 Bxf3 38. Qd7!, and the attack on the rook and the looming discovered check finally decide things. Facing 38…Rc1+ (Rc7 39. Qxc7 Nxe6 40. Qg3+ Kf5 41. Qxf3+) 39. Re1+ Kh4 40. Rxc1, Shabalov resigned.

The never-dull Spanish GM Alexei Shirov pulled off the latest in a career of tactical marvels in his game against French GM Laurent Fressinet in Calvia. The Spaniard’s use of his knights is a thing of beauty.

As usual, Shirov chooses an ultra-sharp opening line, casually offering up material for the attack: 12. f4 Ng6 (Bxe2? 13. fxe5 wins a piece) 13. Bxg4 Nxg4 14. Nf5 Nh4! (the craven 14…Bf8 15. Rg1 Nf6 16. 0-0-0 gives White a strong pull) 16. 0-0-0!, leaving the knight hanging on g7 and inviting a fork on f2.

Bad now would be 16…Kxg7 17. Ne4 Kg8 [Be7 18. Bc3+; 17…Qe7 18. Bc3+ Kf8 19. Rxd6 Nxe3 20. Qd3 Nd5 21. Bxh8] 18. Rhg1 h5 19. h3, but Black is still on the ropes after the game’s 16…Nf2 17. Ne4! Nxd1 (perhaps best; if 17…Nxh1, then 18. Be1! Kxg7 19. Rxd6 Qe7 20. Qc3+ f6 [Kg8 21. Nf6+ Kf8 22. Nd5! wins] 21. Rxf6 Kg8 22. Qb3+ Kg7 23. Bc3 is crushing, but 17…Nxe4 18. Qxe4 Qe7 might have been worth a look) 18. Rxd1 Be7 19. f5!, adding fresh tinder to the bonfire.

The White knights come into their glory on 23. Nc5 h6 (the threat was 24. Nd7+ Kg8 25. Rg1 Ng6 26. Nf5 h5 27. Ne7+ Kh7 28. Nxg6 fxg6 29. Qxg6 mate) 24. Nf5 Ng6 (also insufficient was 24…Rd8 25. Nd7+ Rxd7 (Kg8 26. Ne7 mate and 25…Ke8 26. Ng7 mate are pretty twins) 26. Rxd7 Nxf5 27. Qxf5! Qxf5 28. Rd8 mate) 25. Nd7+ Kg8 (Ke8 26. e4! [Nd6+ Kxd7 27. Nxb7+ Qd5 is less conclusive] Kd8 27. Qb3! Kc7 [Qc7 Nb6+ Ke8 29. Nxa8 Qc8 30. Qxb7! Qxb7 31. Ng7+ Kf8 32. Rd8 mate] 28. Qg3+ Kc8 29. Nd6+ Kxd7 30. Nxb7+, winning the queen) 26. Ne7+.

One more knight hop proves decisive: 26…Kh7 27. Nxg6 fxg6 28. Ne5!, threatening mate on g6 and clearing the d-file for the rook. With 28…Qxe5 (Rhg8 29. Rd7+ Kh8 30. Nf7+ Kh7 31. Ng5+ Kh8 32. Rh7 mate) 29. Rd7+ Kg8 30. Qxg6+ on tap, Fressinet resigned.

Congratulations to West Point cadet David Jacobs, co-winner of the 45th annual U.S. Armed Forces Open, held Oct. 9 through 11 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Jacobs, an expert, tied for first in the 83-player event with Malaysian Sgt. Ahmad Ismail at 41/2-1/2 and is the first cadet to take the top individual prize.

The tournament prizes were generously shared among the various services, with the Air Force winning the top team honors. The Navy won the event’s consultation match, while a Coast Guard cadet, Class D player Greg Vera, took the best-performance prize with a 3-2 score and a 150-point ratings gain over the long weekend.

Army Maj. David A. Hater, a stalwart of the Armed Forces event, and Navy Capt. Tom Belke organized, directed and also played in the tournament, with Hater finishing in a nine-way tie for third at 4-1.

36th Chess Olympiad, Calvia, Spain, October 2004


1. d4d520. Ba3Rac8

2. c4c621. e6fxe6

3. Nf3Nf622. Rae1Qc6

4. e3e623. f5Nf4

5. Nc3Nbd724. Re3Kh8

6. Qc2Bd625. Bb2Rd4

7. Be20-026. Bxe6Nxg2

8. 0-0dxc427. f6g5

9. Bxc4b528. f7Nf4

10. Bd3Qc729. Bd5Qxd5

11. e4e530. Bxd4+cxd4

12. dxe5Nxe531. Re8+Kg7

13. Nxe5Bxe532. f8=Q+Kg6

14. f4Bxc333. Qf3Qxf3

15. bxc3c534. Qg8+Kh6

16. c4bxc435. Re6+Kh5

17. Bxc4Bb736. Qxh7+Kg4

18. e5Nd537. Rxf3Bxf3

19. Qf2Rfd838. Qd7Black


36th Chess Olympiad, Calvia, Spain, October 2004


1. d4d515. Nxg7+Kf8

2. c4c616. 0-0-0Nf2

3. Nc3Nf617. Ne4Nxd1

4. Nf3e618. Rxd1Be7

5. e3Nbd719. f5Qb6

6. Qc2Bd620. f6Bb4

7. g4dxc421. Bxb4+Qxb4

8. Bxc4e522. a3Qa5

9. Bd2exd423. Nc5h6

10. Nxd4Ne524. Nf5Ng6

11. Be2Bxg425. Nd7+Kg8

12. f4Ng626. Ne7+Kh7

13. Bxg4Nxg427. Nxg6fxg6

14. Nf5Nh428. Ne5Black


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

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