- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

We start with some calendar notes and a chance for local players to test their skills against one of the country’s best.

New York GM Joel Benjamin, three-time national champion and six-time member of the U.S. Olympiad team, will conduct a simultaneous exhibition and present a lecture next month in conjunction with the Richard K. Delaune Jr. Memorial Tournament.

The simultaneous exhibition and lecture takes place June 16 at 7 p.m. at the Arlington Chess Club; the cost per board is $20. As a bonus, Grandmaster Benjamin will allow participants to choose their color and the opening they want to play, provided the choice is not too outre. (Because Benjamin literally wrote the book on oddball openings, his definition of what is acceptable should be pretty expansive.)

Organizer Mike Atkins will be taking advance entries at the Arlington club over the next few weeks. Checks made out to Mike may also be mailed to P.O. Box 6139, Alexandria, VA 22306 and must be received by June 7 to ensure a board.

The event kicks off the Delaune Memorial, which marks the passing last May of Virginia IM and Arlington Chess Club stalwart Richard Delaune. Benjamin and fellow New York GM John Fedorowicz will be playing in the five-round Swiss event at the Holiday Inn Express in Springfield. Check out https://vachess.org/rkdmemorial.htm for more details.

• • •

With former world champion Garry Kasparov now pursuing a political career in Russia, it’s time for an update on the efforts to resolve the bitter dispute over who is the real world No. 1.

FIDE, the international chess federation, announced this week that it has nailed down plans for a $1 million double-round-robin tournament starting Sept. 27 in Argentina to determine its new titleholder.

The tournament does away with FIDE’s much-maligned knockout format and features a strong lineup of top GMs: India’s Viswanathan Anand, No. 2, after Kasparov, on the rating charts; FIDE reigning champ Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan; Hungary’s Peter Leko and Judit Polgar; Russians Peter Svidler and Alexander Morozevich; Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria; and English star Michael Adams.

FIDE has a notorious history of announcing grandiose plans that fail to pan out, but the Argentina event has a couple of things in its favor: the presence of such legitimate talents as Anand and Topalov and a format that uses classical time controls instead of the wacky speeded-up rates the organization pushed in the past.

The big hitch: Russian star Vladimir Kramnik, who beat Kasparov in a non-FIDE match in 2000 and has the most legitimate claim to the world title, insists he won’t take part in a multiplayer scrum. Kramnik has a point, but he also lacks the clout and star power of Kasparov. A title match between Kramnik and the winner of the Argentina event (should it come to pass) may be the best hope for ending a split that has proven disastrous for the game in every respect.

• • •

Speaking of Kramnik, he has been the unexpected life of the party at the Category 20 MTel Masters Tournament, which ends tomorrow in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. The six-GM double round-robin could rival FIDE’s Argentina event for the strongest of the year, with Anand, Topalov, Polgar and Adams also in the field.

The super-solid world champ has been criticized for a lack of adventurousness at the board, but he supplied much of the event’s early fireworks, winning two and losing three of his first seven games. MTel organizers came up with some innovative ways to avoid the plague of draws that beset these super-elite events, but there were still distressingly many split points in the early going.

Adams’ win over Kramnik in Round 3, however, showed what can happen when two top players take the gloves off.

On the Black side of a Petroff, Kramnik earns some style points for avoiding the bland 18…Bg5 in favor of the far sharper 18…Bxd4!? (played after a 40-minute think) 19. cxd4 Nxd4 20. Bc4 Nc2 (English IM Malcolm Pein, analyzing the game at www.chessbase.com, notes that Kramnik must avoid 20…Rxe1+ 21. Qxe1 Nc2? 22. Qe7 Nxa1 23. Bxf7+ Kh8 24. Be5!, as Black loses on 24…Qxd2 [Nc2 25. Be8 Qxe5 26. Qf8 mate] 25. Bxg7+! Kxg7 26. Be8+ Kh6 27. Qf8+ Kg5 28. f4+ Kxf4 [Kg4 29. Bh5+! Kxh5 30. Qxf5+ Kh4 31. g3 mate] 29. Qh6+ Ke5 30. Qxd2 Rxe8 31. Qe2+ Be4 32. Qb5+), seeking a dynamically unbalanced game.

But Adams’ clever counter — 21. Rxe8+! (in effect giving up the queen) Rxe8 22. Rb1 Re1+ 23. Qxe1 Nxe1 24. Rxe1 Kf8 (Qxd2?? 25. Re8 mate) — gives White two minor pieces and a rook for the queen and two pawns. Both sides must reload, but White’s game proves far easier to play.

Kramnik said later that Black’s decisive mistake was 34. Nc5 a3? (see diagram; best was probably 34…Bf5 35. Re3+ Kf7 [Kd8? 36. Re7 a3 37. Rf7! Bg6 38. Rb7! Bf5 39. Rb8+ Bc8 40. Bxb5 a2 41. Ne6 mate] 36. Re7+ Kg8 37. g4 Bc2 38. Ne6 Bb3 39. Nd8 h6 and it’s still a game) 35. Re3+! (Nxd7?? loses to 35…a2) Kf7 36. Nd3! Qb1 (Qa2 37. Re7+ Kg8 38. Rxd7 wins) 37. Bxa3, picking off a crucial pawn.

By 40. Nxe6 g6 41. g3, Black has no attack points and White’s pieces are too much for the lone queen. Kramnik resigned.

Through Thursday’s Round 7, Topalov and Ukraine’s Ruslan Ponomariov lead the tightly bunched field at 4-3, with Anand and Polgar a half-point back and Adams and Kramnik in the rear at 3-4. We’ll have games and a tournament summary next week.

MTel Masters Tournament, Sofia, Bulgaria, May 2005


1. e4e522. Rb1Re1+

2. Nf3Nf623. Qxe1Nxe1

3. Nxe5d624. Rxe1Kf8

4. Nf3Nxe425. Nf3f6

5. d4d526. Rd1Qc5

6. Bd3Nc627. Bf1Ke8

7. 0-0Be728. Nd4Bd7

8. c4Nb429. Rd3a5

9. Be20-030. h3b5

10. Nc3Bf531. Nb3Qxa3

11. a3Nxc332. Bxc7a4

12. bxc3Nc633. Bd6Qb2

13. Re1Re834. Nc5a3

14. cxd5Qxd535. Re3+Kf7

15. Bf4Rac836. Nd3Qb1

16. Bg3Bf637. Bxa3Be6

17. Nd2Qa538. Nf4b4

18. Qc1Bxd439. Bxb4Qxb4

19. cxd4Nxd440. Nxe6g6

20. Bc4Nc241. g3Black

21. Rxe8+Rxe8resigns

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

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