- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

American GM Arnold Denker, who died of brain cancer Jan. 2 at the age of 90, labored

under a couple of handicaps during his long and accomplished career.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Denker had to work for a living. He entered his chess prime just as World War II was starting and just as the Soviet chess juggernaut was picking up speed.

Still, Denker packed a lot of achievements into his nine decades, including the 1944 U.S. title, multiple championships of the Marshall Chess Club, and a distinguished record as a chess administrator and promoter. His work with young players is remembered in the annual Denker Tournament of High School Champions, held in conjunction with the U.S. Open.

The New Yorker never cracked the top ranks of the world’s elite, but for a while, he was clearly just below the top rung. At the fabled 1946 Groningen tournament in Holland, the first major postwar event, Denker was tied for third at the halfway point with a superb 7-3 score before eventually fading to 10th.

He left us a string of wonderful attacking games, including his personal favorite, played at the outset of his career. Playing against Harold Feit in a 1929 scholastic tournament, the 15-year-old Denker used a sacrificial onslaught to reap a quick point.

Denker claimed later that this was the first time he had ever seen the Dutch Defense. Nevertheless, he handles the positional requirements beautifully, opening lines against Black’s underdeveloped game with 10. e4! 0-0 (h6 11. Ne6 Bxe6 12. dxe6 fxe4 [f4 13. gxf4 exf4 14. e5] 13. Bxe4 c6 14. Bg6+ Kf8 15. f4! yields a strong attack) 11. f4! exf4 12. Bxf4 fxe4 13. Ncxe4 Nxe4 14. Bxe4!, offering up a piece for the attack.

White already has strong threats on the Black king; e.g. 14…g6? 15. Nxh7! Kxh7 16. Qh5+ wins for White, as does 14…h6 15. Ne6 Bxe6 16. dxe6 c6 17. Bxh6! gxh6 18. Qh5. Feit accepts the sacrifice with 14…Bxg5 15. Qh5 Rxf4! (best; both 15…h6 16. Bxg5 Qxg5 17. Rxf8+ Kxf8 18. Rf1+ and 15…Bh6 16. Bxh6 gxh6 17. Qxh6 win for White) 16. Qxh7+ Kf7 17. Bg6+ Kf6 (see diagram) 18. Rxf4+! Bxf4 19. Qh4+ Bg5, hoping for 20. Rf1+? Kxg6 and wins for Black.

But Denker is just warming up: 20. Qe4!! (a quiet, unanswerable move, putting the Black king in a vise) Be3+ 21. Kh1 (Qxe3?? Kxg6) Bh3 (to block the rook check) 22. Rf1+!! (anyway).

Since 22…Bxf1 23. Qf5+ Ke7 24. Qf7 is mate, Black tries 22…Kg5, only to meet with 23. Bh7!!, clearing g6 for the queen. With either 24. Qg6 mate or 24. Qh4 mate on the horizon, Black resigned.

The venerable Hastings Chess Congress, which dates back 120 years, adopted a radically new format this year. Organizers switched from a round-robin to a knockout competition, and players with White were given 70 minutes and those playing Black 90 minutes for the first 40-move time control. Both sides then had 20 minutes to finish the game.

Russian GM Vladimir Belov managed to figure it all out, defeating Polish GM Bartosz Socko in the two-game final. Earlier, Belov dismissed Irish-based IM Rashid Ziatdinov in a nip-and-tuck affair decided by a long diagonal.

Facing the classic Ruy Lopez Spanish torture, Ziatdinov as Black does a good job challenging the White center with 27…b4 28. gxh6 Bh8 29. Bb2 c5!. On 31. e5 cxd4!? 32. fxg4 Bxe5 33. Qd3 (White can also try to hold the extra material with 33. Nf1 Bg3 34. Qxe8 Rxe8 35. Rxe8 Bf2+ [Qxc2 36. Bxd4 Kxh6 looks better for White] 36. Kxf2 Qxc2+ 37. Re2 Qxb3) Bxg3 34. Qxd4, Black recovers his piece, but Belov obtains a clamp on the long diagonal.

Coupled with his control of the f-file, White keeps steady pressure on the Black king for the rest of the game. But Belov’s king is also exposed, and Black finds an intriguing way to challenge the White array with 46…Bd2! 47. Bd4 Bc3.

In time pressure, however, the defensive burden becomes too great for Black: 51. g3 Rc1+?! (the materialistic 51…Rxb3 52. R6f4 Ra3 forces White to deal with his collapsing queen-side) 52. Kh2 Re1? (Rc3, targeting the b-pawn, was needed) 53. g5! Qe5 (it’s too late for 53…Rc1— 54. Qf2! Kh8 55. Rxf7 Bxf7 56. Rxf7 Qc3 57. h7 Rc8 [Rg7 58. Rf8+ Kxh7 59. Qg2!] 58. Bxg6 Rc2 59. Bxc2 Qxc2 60. Qxc2 Rxc2+ 61. Kh3 and the White pawns decide) 54. Rxf7+!.

The cornered Black king can’t survive after 54…Bxf7 55. Rxf7+ Kh8 56. Qa7! (threat: 57. Rh7 mate) Re2+ 57. Kh3! (messier was 57. Bxe2 Qxe2+ 58. Rf2 Qh5+ 59. Kg2 Qg4 60. Qxa5 Qe4+ 61. Kh2 Qe3 62. Rc2 Qxg5) Qe6+ 58. Bf5! Qxf5+ (Rh2+ 59. Kxh2 Qe2+ 60. Kh3 Qh5+ 61. Kg2 Qe2+ 62. Qf2 Qxf2+ 63. Kxf2 gxf5 64. Rxf5 wins) 59. Rxf5 gxf5 60. Qf7.

Because 60…Ree8 61. g6 will cost Black a rook, Ziatdinov resigned.

New York Interscholastics, 1929


1. d4f513. Ncxe4Nxe4

2. Nf3e614. Bxe4Bxg5

3. g3b615. Qh5Rxf4

4. Bg2Bb716. Qxh7+Kf7

5. 0-0Nf617. Bg6+Kf6

6. c4Be718. Rxf4+Bxf4

7. Nc3d619. Qh4+Bg5

8. d5e520. Qe4Be3+

9. Ng5Bc821. Kh1Bh3

10. e40-022. Rf1+Kg5

11. f4exf423. Bh7Black

12. Bxf4fxe4resigns

Hastings Chess Congress, Hastings, England, January 2005


1. e4e531. e5cxd4

2. Nf3Nc632. fxg4Bxe5

3. Bb5a633. Qd3Bxg3

4. Ba4Nf634. Qxd4Rg8

5. 0-0Be735. Rf1Be6

6. Re1b536. Bd3Qe7

7. Bb3d637. Rf6Bh4

8. c30-038. Rf3Rc8

9. h3Nb839. Kh1Qc5

10. d4Nbd740. Qe5Qc7

11. Nbd2Bb741. Qd4Qc5

12. Bc2Re842. Qe5Qc7

13. Nf1Bf843. Qe3Qe7

14. Ng3g644. Raf1Rc7

15. b3c645. Qf4Bg5

16. Bg5h646. Qe5Bd2

17. Be3Qc747. Bd4Bc3

18. Qd2Kh748. Rf6Bxd4

19. Nh2a549. Qxd4Rc3

20. Ng4Nxg450. R1f3Qc7

21. hxg4Rad851. g3Rc1+

22. a4Nf652. Kh2Re1

23. Qe2Bc853. g5Qe5

24. g5Ng454. Rxf7+Bxf7

25. Bd2exd455. Rxf7+Kh8

26. cxd4Bg756. Qa7Re2+

27. Bc3b457. Kh3Qe6+

28. gxh6Bh858. Bf5Qxf5+

29. Bb2c559. Rxf5gxf5

30. f3d560. Qf7Black


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

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