- The Washington Times - Friday, February 25, 2005

It may be a first in the game’s history — a chess tournament in which the world champion is the lowest-rated player in the field.

The annual elite invitational in the Spanish city of Linares got under way this week. Four of the world’s five highest-rated players are in the seven-man field, led by world No. 1 Garry Kasparov of Russia and No. 2 Viswanathan Anand of India.

Perhaps the hottest player coming into Linares was Hungary’s Peter Leko, who won the Corus Chess Tournament in Holland last month after nearly beating world classical champion Vladimir Kramnik in a 14-game match in November.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov, the Uzbek GM who won FIDE’s world championship knockout tournament in a major upset last summer, checked in at Linares as the lowest-rated player. Linares should prove a potent test of the Uzbek’s credentials as a world champ.

He got off to a solid start with draws in the first two rounds, including a split point with Kasparov in Thursday’s Round 2.

• • •

Local chess lost a friend last week. Frederick G. “Ted” Vosburgh, who died Feb. 16 of pneumonia at age 100, interviewed Franklin D. Roosevelt; served in the Army Air Forces in World War II; and worked for nearly four decades at the National Geographic magazine, retiring as its editor.

Ted was also a stalwart of the annual National Press Club chess championships, winning the coveted Albert W. Fox trophy on several occasions. He was always a perfect gentleman at the board and played a mean Stonewall Defense. He will be missed.

• • •

Many of the big names who didn’t rate an invitation to Linares could be found this month in Moscow. The fourth annual Aeroflot Open boasted more than a third of the world’s top 100 grandmasters and will almost certainly rate as the strongest open event of the year.

Five of those grandmasters wound up in a tie for first at 61/2-21/2: Russians Andrei Kharlov and Alexander Motylev, Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, Vladimir Akopian of Armenia and Israel’s Emil Sutovsky.

Sutovsky took the title on tiebreaks, a just result because he played some of the most scintillating games in the event. His best effort was his sacrificial dissection of Russian Valery Filippov in a Rossolimo Sicilian.

When Filippov unwisely weakens his kingside, the Israeli GM pounces with 15. Qb3 g5?! 16. Nxg5! hxg5 17. Bxg5 Be6? (looks solid but 17 … Nc6 might have been the better try) 18. Rxe6!! fxe6 19. Qxe6+ Rf7. White has collected a trio of pawns for his sacrificed rook, and Black’s king will have no rest for the rest of the game. More important, Black has no answer to the simple plan of 25. Rxe8+ Kxe8 26. h4! (Bxf7+ Qxf7 27. Qxf7+ Kxf7 is less convincing) Kf8 27. h5!, pushing the passed kingside pawns.

Black’s 28. Be6 Ne5?! is a measure of his desperation, but no better was 28 … Qe8 29. h6 Bh8 30. h7 Rf6 (Rg7 31. Qf6+ Rf7 32. Qxh8 mate) 31. Qxf6+ Bxf6 32. Bxf6 Qxe6 33. h8=Q+, leaving White three pawns to the good.

White simplifies down to a dead-won ending on 36. Qd4+! Qxd4 37. cxd4 Ke7 38. d5!, forcing Black to resign. Even though Filippov will have the outside passed pawn, his king can’t handle White’s d- and h-pawns; e.g. 38 … Kf7 39. d6 b5 40. d7 Ke7 41. h6, and wins.

In today’s second game, also from the Aeroflot, Russian GM Pavel Smirnov misses an early put-away volley in his game against Azerbaijan’s Gadir Guseinov. Dominating from almost the start of this King’s Indian (Guseinov’s idea to trade off the critical light-squared Black bishop is a curious one), White could have started making dinner reservations after 32. c7! Qb7 33. Bxf6 Rxb5 34. Qxb5! Qxb5 35. c8=Q, winning easily.

Instead, Guseinov crawls off the canvas after 32. Qa8? Nxd5! 33. Qxb8 (c7? [exd5 Rxb5 34. Qxb8 Rxb8 35. g3 is marginally better for White] Qxa8 34. Rxa8 Nxc7 35. Nxc7 Rxc7 36. Bd8 Rc1+, and Black has a slight edge) Rxb8 34. exd5 Rxb5.

We should be grateful for Smirnov’s inaccuracy, for it sets up a remarkable finish featuring an unusual under-promotion.

Both sides have dangerous passed pawns, but White has just enough of an edge left to preserve the win on 55. g6 d3 56. g7 e2+ 57. Kf2 Re8+ (see diagram; no points now for 58. c8=Q?? e1=Q+ 59. Kg2 Re2+ 60. Kf3 Re3+ 61. Kf4 Qg3+ 62. Kf5 Re5+ 63. Kf6 Qg5 mate) c8=N+!!, the only move that wins.

The finale: 58 … Rxc8 (Kc6 59. Ne7+ Kd6 60. g8=Q; or 58…Kc5 59. Ne7 Kc4 60. g8=Q Rxg8 61. Nxg8 Kc3 62. Ke1) 59. Rf8! Rc1 60. Rd8+, and Guseinov resigned. After 60…Ke7 61. Re8+! Kxe8 61. g8=Q+ Kd7 [Ke7 63. Qg5+] 62. Qg4+ Ke8 63. Qe4+ Kd7 [Kf7 64. Qf4+] 65. Qxd3+, White collects the pawns and wins easily.

4th Aeroflot Open, Moscow, February 2005


1. e4c520. Re1a6

2. Nf3Nc621. Ba4Nc6

3. Bb5g622. Bb3d5

4. c3Nf623. Bxd5Kf8

5. e5Nd524. Qg6Re8

6. 0-0Bg725. Rxe8+Kxe8

7. d4cxd426. h4Kf8

8. cxd40-027. h5Qd7

9. Nc3Nxc328. Be6Ne5

10. bxc3d629. dxe5Qd1+

11. exd6exd630. Kh2Bxe5+

12. Bg5Qc731. f4Bxf4+

13. Re1h632. Bxf4Rxf4

14. Bf4Ne733. Qh6+Ke7

15. Qb3g534. Qxf4Kxe6

16. Nxg5hxg535. Qe4+Kd6

17. Bxg5Be636. Qd4+Qxd4

18. Rxe6fxe637. cxd4Ke7

19. Qxe6+Rf738. d5Black


4th Aeroflot Open, Moscow, February 2005


1. d4Nf631. Qxa5Qb8

2. c4g632. Qa8Nxd5

3. Nc3Bg733. Qxb8Rxb8

4. e4d634. exd5Rxb5

5. Be20-035. Rc3Rb8

6. Nf3Bg436. Bf2e4

7. Be3Nfd737. Bd4Rf7

8. d5Na638. Rc4e3

9. Nd4Bxe239. Kf1Bg7

10. Qxe2Nac540. Rac1Bxd4

11. b4e541. Rxd4Kg7

12. Nc2Na642. Re4Rf5

13. 0-0f543. Re7+Rf7

14. f3Nf644. Rxf7+Kxf7

15. c5f445. Rc4Kf6

16. Bf2Nb846. c7Rc8

17. a4Rf747. Rxf4+Ke5

18. Na3Bf848. Rf7h6

19. Nc4g549. g4Kxd5

20. b5b650. Re7Kc6

21. c6a551. h4d5

22. bxa6Nxa652. g5hxg5

23. a5b553. hxg5Kd6

24. Nxb5Rg754. Rf7d4

25. Nb6Rb855. g6d3

26. Nc3g456. g7e2+

27. Bh4cxb657. Kf2Re8

28. Qxa6gxf358. c8=N+Rxc8

29. Rxf3bxa559. Rf8Rc1

30. Nb5Rb660. Rd8+Black


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

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