- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2005

West Point cadet David Jacobs was a repeat winner in the 2005 U.S. Armed Forces Championship — and this time he took his Army colleagues with him into the winner’s circle.

Jacobs, an expert, went a perfect 5-0 in the 46th running of the military team event, edging out Air Force cadet Ieva Kuzminaite and Navy Chief Petty Officer Geoffrey Polizoti over the Columbus Day weekend at the Army’s Fort George G. Meade in Maryland.

The West Pointer won the individual title last year in Annapolis, but the 2004 service title was won by the Air Force. This year, with Jacobs riding point, the Army took the team title as well, edging out the Navy by a single point. Some 66 players competed.

• • •

In one of those ineffable theological disputes, chess is being banned in post-Saddam Iraq even as the game takes off next door in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On his Web site, Iraqi Shi’ite spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani insists that Islam disapproves of chess, for reasons the ayatollah himself concedes are obscure. (Board games lead to gambling, apparently, although Baghdad was a world-class chess center in the Middle Ages — before Europe ever took up the game.)

There’s no such prohibition in Shi’ite-dominated Iran. Indeed, our word checkmate comes from the Persian term meaning “The king is dead.” Iran boasts three grandmasters, and a new national team league is just wrapping up a successful inaugural season.

Today’s first game comes from the Super League play, as Armenian IM Benik Galstian takes down Iranian master Galomreza Alizadeh with an unexpected queen sacrifice.

The position is relatively even coming out of this Blackburne variation of the venerable Scotch Game, but White’s game starts coming unglued after a strong Black central thrust: 17. Bb3 d5 18. Rad1?! (Qf2, getting the queen to a more useful spot, was better here) c5 19. Qe2 c4! 21. Bxc4?! (Ba4 Bf5, threatening the knight and 22…Bd3, was not much more pleasant).

Galstian could win material with the prosaic 21…Nxe3 22. Nxe3 Bxe3 23. Qxe3 Bxc5, but he sportingly chooses the far more entertaining 21…Qxc2!? 22. Qxc2 Nxe3 23. Rxd8 Rxd8 24. Qa4 Bxc4, obtaining three beautiful minor pieces for the queen. The Black array will prove too much for Alizadeh’s outclassed queen and rook.

White’s last best hope might have been 32. Rxe6! fxe6 33. Qxe6+ Kh8 33. h5!, pinning the Black rook to the back rank with the threat of a perpetual check. Instead, White’s passive 32. Ra1? Rc8 33. Qb5 Rxc3 34. a4 Rc4 35. g3 Nf2+ 36. Kg2 Rc2 offers no good escape from the coming discovered check.

It’s over on 37. a5 Ne4+ 38. Kf1 (Kh1 Nxg3 mate) Bc4+ 39. Qxc4 Nd2+! (Rxc4 40. axb6 Nxg3+ 41. Kg2 axb6 42. Kxg3 b5 also wins, but much less efficiently), and White gives up in light of 40. Ke1 Nxc4 41. axb6 axb6, with a lost endgame.

• • •

Moving to another exotic chess culture, we have a fine game from Japan’s best player.

We’ve written before of Yoshiharu Habu, a master of the Japanese game of go who has also become a master-strength player in chess. In an upset win over English GM Peter Wells at a major open tournament now under way in the Netherlands, Habu dispenses with go’s slower enveloping approach to go right for his opponent’s jugular.

The play is sharp right from the outset of this QGD Semi-Slav after 11. Qc2 f5 12. Ng5!? Nxg5 13. Qxc6, as White recovers his piece with a double attack on the d6-bishop and the rook on a8.

Habu responds in kind with his own sacrifice, this one much more speculative: 13…Ne4! (Bb7?! 16. Qxd6 Bd5 15. Qxb4 Rb8 16. Qa3 leaves Black a pawn down and still unable to castle) 14. Qxa8 0-0 15. Qc6 Ndf6 16. f3?! (0-0 was more prudent here) Bd7 17. Qa6 Bxa4 18. Qxa4.

Black’s 18…Bxh2! looks at first like a typo, but it is the only real way to justify Black’s earlier sacrificial play. After 19. Rxh2 Qxd4! 20. fxe4 Nxe4, Black has a huge material deficit, but he threatens a nasty check at f2 as well as 21…Qg1+, picking off the rook.

White seeks salvation in flight with 21. Rh1? (Qb5! Qg1+ [White also can fight on after 21…Rd8 22. Bd3 Qg1+ 23. Ke2 Qf2+ 24. Kd1 Ng3 25. Bd2] 22. Bf1 Qxh2 23. Qc4 Rd8 is still strong for Black, but White at least remains in the fight) Qf2+ 22. Kd1 Rd8+ 23. Kc2 Qxe2+ 24. Kb1 (see diagram).

Once again, Black’s attack appears stymied, and once again Habu rises to the challenge: 24…Nc3+!! 25. bxc3 bxc3 26. Ba3 (no better is 26. Qb3 Qe4+ 27. Qc2 Rb8+) Rb8+ 27. Qb3 Qd3+ 28. Kc1 Qd2+. Wells resigned, as it is over after the inevitable 29. Kb1 c2+ 30. Kb2 c1=Q mate.

Iranian Super League, Tehran, October 2005

AlizadehGalstian

1. e4e521. Bxc4Qxc2

2. Nf3Nc622. Qxc2Nxe3

3. d4cxd423. Rxd8Rxd8

4. Nxd4Bc524. Qa4Bxc4

5. Be3Qf625. Re1Bf1

6. c3Nge726. Kg1Bc4

7. Bc4Bb627. Kh1h6

8. 0-00-028. h4Be6

9. Na3Qg629. Qe4Nd1

10. f3Ne530. Qxb7Nxb2

11. Bb3d631. Qc6Nd3

12. Nc4Nxc432. Ra1Rc8

13. Bxc4Bh333. Qb5Rxc3

14. Qd2Rad834. a4Rc4

15. Kh1Bc835. g3Nf2+

16. Nc2Be636. Kg2Rc2

17. Bb3d537. a5Ne4+

18. Rad1c538. Kf1Bc4+

19. exd5Nxd539. Qxc4Nd2+

20. Qe2c4White resigns

Essent Open, Hoogeveen, Netherlands, October 2005

WellsHabu

1. d4d515. Qc6Ndf6

2. c4c616. f3Bd7

3. Nf3Nf617. Qa6Bxa4

4. Nc3e618. Qxa4Bxh2

5. e3Nbd719. Rxh2Qxd4

6. Bd3dxc420. fxe4Nxe4

7. Bxc4b521. Rh1Qf2+

8. Be2b422. Kd1Rd8+

9. Na4Bd623. Kc2Qxe2+

10. e4Nxe424. Kb1Nc3+

11. Qc2f525. bxc3bxc3

12. Ng5Nxg526. Ba3Rb8+

13. Qxc6Ne427. Qb3Qd3+

14. Qxa80-028. Kc1Qd2+

White resigns

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

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