- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

Hungary’s Peter Leko has won the first major event of the year, besting a 14-grandmaster field in the Category 19 Corus A Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. Leko was the only undefeated player in the field, edging pre-tournament favorite Viswanathan Anand of India by a half-point and handing Anand his only loss in the tournament.

The final tally: Leko 8-4; Anand 8-5; Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) 7-5; Judit Polgar (Hungary), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Michael Adams (England) and classical world champion Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) 7-6; Loek Van Wely (Netherlands), Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine) and Lazaro Bruzon (Cuba) 6-6; Peter Svidler (Russia) 6-7; Nigel Short (England) 5-7; Alexander Morozevich (Russia) 4-8; and Ivan Sokolov (Netherlands) 3-9.

The winner of the second-tier Corus B event is traditionally invited to play in the elite tournament the next year. Teenage Ukrainian GM Sergey Karjakin earned the upgrade with an impressive 9-3 score.

Karjakin lost a match recently to new U.S. champion Hikaru Nakamura, but he bounced back with a number of attractive wins in Holland. Veteran Bosnian GM Predrag Nikolic, once one of the world’s top players and still a dangerous foe, put up a tough fight before losing to some imaginative youthful tactics.

The clotted center of the Winawer French often produces a slow, intricate middlegame, and this game is no exception. Nikolic as Black after 23. Nh3 (Nxf7? Rhf8 24. Bxh6 gxh6 25. Qf6 Nd8 26. Qxh6 Nxf7 doesn’t appeal to White) Raf8 24. Bxh6 Rxh6 25. Qe3 Rfh8 26. Rhg1 g6 27. hxg6 Rxg6 28. Nf4 Rgh6 seems to have the edge, with good pressure on both sides of the board.

Black activates his bishop with a temporary pawn sac: 30. Nh5 f5! 31. exf6 Bg6! (Bxh5? 32. Bxh5 Rxh5 33. Rg7+ Kc8 34. f7 Rf5 35. Rg8+ Nd8 36. Qxf5 Rxg8 37. Qxe6+ Nxe6 38. fxg8=Q+ Nd8 39. Qxd5 is winning for White) 32. Rac1 Kb7 33. Nf4 Be4, recovering the pawn three moves later.

But perhaps trying for too much in the position, Black errs just after time control: 40. Qxc4 Qa5 41. Nd3 Nxd4? (looks attractive, but this leaves the Black king in the lurch) 42. Rf1!, when 42…Rxf1 43. Rg7+ is curtains.

Best now was 42…Nf5!, with a likely draw on 43. Rg7+ Nxg7 44. Rxf8 Qg5+ 45. Kd1 Qg1+ 46. Kd2 Qg5+, as 47. Rf4?? Ne6 wins for Black. But Nikolic misses another nasty shot and it’s game over.

Thus: 42…Rc8? 43. Rg7+ Kb8 44. Rf8!! (lethal; if 43…Rxf8 or 43…Qf5, 44. Qc7+ wins on the spot, and on 44…Rdc6, White wins with 45. Rxc8+ Rxc8 [Kxc8 46. Qg8 mate] 46. Qxd4) Nf3+ 45. Ke2! Ng1+ 46. Ke3 Rxd3+ 47. Kxd3, and the hopeless material deficit led Nikolic to resign.

A “chessic tour de force.” That’s how Sy Samet, captain of the D.C. Chess League’s Arlington Passed Pawns, described today’s second game, won by the Pawns’ Tim Hamilton against fellow expert Edgar De Castro of the D.C. Black Knights last month. Our analysis relies heavily on the winner’s own post-mortem.

Hamilton, one of the area’s best tacticians, finds an apparently new idea with 7. Qd2 h6 8. Bh4!?, which works out well when Black castles kingside and proceeds to weaken his own defenses to chase the bishop away with the time-comsuming 10…g5?!.

The fun really begins on 14. 0-0-0 e6 (Hamilton notes that 14…g3?! 15. Qe2 Nf4 16. Qf3 gxh2 17. Nxf7 Rxf7 18. Qxf4 Kg6 20. h5+ wins the bishop for White) 15. Qe2 Nf6 (both players later thought 15…Qxh4 was the critical line, but White can keep things bubbling with lines like 16. Kb1 g3 17. Nf3) 16. d5! (down in material but ahead in development, White plays energetically) Qc8 17. Nxf7!.

Now 17…Rxf7!? 18. dxe6 Re7 19. Rd7 Nc6 20. Rf1 Kh8 leaves both sides with problems to solve, though White’s position is definitely easier to play over the board. De Castro places his bet on 17…Kxf7 18. Rhf1 Re8 19. d6 cxd6 (Kg6!?, suggested by the chess program Crafty, is a wild alternative) 20. Rxf5! d5, breaking the pin and threatening two pieces.

But now comes a hailstorm of sacrifices: 21. Nxd5! exd5 (exf5? 22. Ne7+ Nd5 [Kf8 23. Ng6 mate] 23. Bxd5+ Kf6 24. Qe5 mate) 22. Bxd5+ Kg6 (Kf8 23. Bd6+) 23. Rxf6+!! Bxf6 (Kxf6 24. Rf1+ Kg6 25. Qd3+ Kh5 26. Bf7+ Kxh4 27. Bg3+ Kg5 28. Qg6 mate) 24. Qd3+ Kg7 (see diagram), with White down a rook and challenged to keep his attack alive.

The tempting 25. h5? actually loses to 25…Bg5+ 26. Kb1 Nd7 27. Qg6+ Kh8 28. Be6 Rxe6 29. Qxe6 Nf6, holding everything, but the critical g6 square falls with the inspired 25. Bf7!! Kxf7 (Kh8 26. Qg6 Bg7 27. Bxe8 wins) 26. Qh7+ Ke6.

Black’s toughest defense now is 26…Bg7! (Kf8 27. Bd6+ Re7 28. Bxe7+ Bxe7 29. Qh8+ picks off the queen, and the king falls on 26…Ke6 28. Qe4+ Kd7 29. Rd1+ Bd4 30. Rxd4 mate) 27. Rf1+ Ke7! 28. Qxg7+ Kd8 29. Qf6+ Re7, but White should still prevail on 30. Re1 Qd7 31. Bc7+! (Hamilton also says 31. Bd6 wins) Kxc7 32. Rxe7 Qxe7 33. Qxe7+.

Perhaps tired of the struggle, Black opts for a quicker end: 26…Ke6 27. Rd6 mate, with White three remaining pieces contributing to the kill.

Corus B Chess Tournament, Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, January 2005


1. e4e625. Qe3Rfh8

2. d4d526. Rhg1g6

3. Nc3Bb427. hxg6Rxg6

4. e5c528. Nf4Rgh6

5. a3Bxc3+29. Qf3Be8

6. bxc3Qa530. Nh5f5

7. Bd2Qa431. exf6Bg6

8. Qg4Kf832. Rac1Kb7

9. Qd1Nc633. Nf4Be4

10. Nf3Nge734. Qe3Rxf6

11. Qb1c435. Bxe6Rhf8

12. h4Ke836. Rg4Qxa3

13. h5h637. f3Bxf3

14. g4Kd838. Qxf3Rxe6

15. g5hxg539. Qxd5Rd6

16. Nxg5Ke840. Qxc4Qa5

17. Be2b641. Nd3Nxd4

18. Bg4Bd742. Rf1Rc8

19. Qd1Ng843. Rg7+Kb8

20. Be3Nh644. Rf8Nf3+

21. Kd2Kd845. Ke2Ng1+

22. Qf3Kc746. Ke3Rxd3+

23. Nh3Raf847. Kxd3Black

24. Bxh6Rxh6resigns

D.C. Chess League, Washington, January 2005

HamiltonDe Castro

1. Nc3Nf615. Qe2Nf6

2. d4d516. d5Qc8

3. e4dxe417. Nxf7Kxf7

4. f3exf318. Rhf1Re8

5. Nxf3g619. d6cxd6

6. Bg5Bg720. Rxf5d5

7. Qd2h621. Nxd5exd5

8. Bh40-022. Bxd5+Kg6

9. Bc4Bg423. Rxf6+Bxf6

10. Ne5g524. Qd3+Kg7

11. Bg3Bf525. Bf7Kxf7

12. h4Nh526. Qh7+Ke6

13. Bh2g427. Rd6 mate

14. 0-0-0e6

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

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