- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2005

The United States has a new grandmaster — one actually born in the United States.

In a long-overdue honor, 35-year-old Michigan IM Ben Finegold achieved his third and final GM norm at the 2005 Eugene Martinovsky Memorial, a Category 11 double-round-robin that ended last week in Bolingbrook, Ill. Finegold, who has long been one of the country’s highest-rated IMs, scored 6-4 in the event, good for a third-place tie behind winner GM Nikola Mitkov of Macedonia.

Key to Finegold’s title run was his powerful demolition of Philippines IM Angelo Young in Round 5. Against the stolid Stonewall setup, Finegold as White patiently plays for a critical central break and dominates the open position that results.

White is already dictating the play on 16. Ne5 Nxe5 17. Bxe5 Bd7 18. f3!, preparing to explode the Black center by advancing the e-pawn. Young’s 18…b5 19. e4 Rac8 20. Qd2 b4?! looks like the wrong counter, closing off his own counterplay just as White’s central and king-side play kick into gear.

White exploits Black’s ill-placed queen with the annoying 21. Ne2 Kh7 22. a3!, when 22 … Qxa3? 23. Ra1 Qxb3 24. Rfb1 Qxc4 25. Rxb4 traps her majesty. But on the game’s 22…dxc4 23. axb4 Qb5 24. bxc4 Qxc4 25. Ra1 Ra8 26. Ra5!, Young finds himself playing defense on both wings while his queen remains in a box.

White takes advantage with 28. Bd6 Rfc8 29. e5 Nd5 30. Be4!, hitting the tender g6-square while again threatening the Black queen with 31. Bd3 Qb3 32. Rb1. Black’s effort to preserve his queen leads to disaster for his king on 30…c5 31. Bxc5 Bb5 (see diagram; Black has some survival chances on 32. Bf3?! a6) 32. Bxg6+!, when taking the bishop leads to mate: 32…Kxg6 33. Rxb5! Qxb5 34. Qc2+ Kg5 [pretty is 34…Kh5 35. Rf5+! Kg4 (exf5 36. Qxf5 mate) 36. Qe4+ Kh3 37. Rh5 mate] 35. h4+ Kg4 36. Qg6+ Kh3 37. Qxe6 mate.

Black’s 32 … Kh8 33. Rf2 a6 leaves him two pawns down with no compensation, and his queen is finally run to ground after 34. Ra3 Nc7 35. Be4 Rab8 36. Rc3. Young resigned.

• • •

There’s a new silicon sheriff in town — one actually programmed in the United States.

Unheralded Zappa 2.0b, created by young University of Illinois-Champagne programmer Anthony Cozzie, ran away with the 13th World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland, last month, defeating a host of other better-known programs along the way.

Cozzie’s program, whose previous best result was a match win over Estonian GM Jaan Ehlvest earlier this year, won 10 and drew only one game to win by two full points. (In the topsy-turvy world of machine chess, Zappa’s only draw came against French entry Fute Mt 37, which lost every other game it played.)

Cozzie released an earlier version of Zappa free online, but the new and improved version boasts precise, relentless style, backed by a strong opening book created by Erdogan Gunes.

On his Web site (https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/acozzie2/www/zappa), Cozzie writes that he fine-tuned the position evaluation function for Zappa “manually, through a combination of hundreds of games, intuition, and animal sacrifice.” Zappa had some delicate moments in Reykjavik but consistently managed to outplay its more famous rivals in the middle game.

Typical of its panache was Zappa’s win over Deep Junior, the Israeli program that has won this event several times. This QGD Semi-Slav, including the classic modern gambit 7. g4!?, was all in Zappa’s pre-programmed opening book up through Move 20, when both sides have chances in an unbalanced position. Zappa did not like Black’s 23 … Rch6!? (Rg6, challenging the rook on the half-open file, was more prudent) or 25 … b5?, which only manages to impede Black’s queen-side play.

White’s reaction is inspired: 26. d5! Qb7 27. d6!! — the pawn on d4 had been restraining White’s game, so Zappa just pushes it ahead two squares. Suddenly, multiple lines open up for the White artillery, and the vacated d5-square proves a vital jumping-off point.

After 29. Rg5 f5 30. Rd5 Qa8 (the threat was 31. Re5+ Kf7 [Kd8 32. Ba5+ Kc8 33. Rc5+ Bc6 34. Nxb5] 32. Rgxf5+! Bxf5 33. Rxf5+ Rf6 [ Ke8 34. d7+ Kd8 35. Qg4 Qxd7 36. Rf8+ Kc7 37. Ba5+ and wins] 34. Rxb5 Qc8 35 Nxe4 and Black’s position disintegrates) 31. Kb1 g6 32. Re6+ Kf7 33. Nd5, White’s pieces flood the Black position.

It’s now a matter of tactical calculation, which is right in the computer’s wheelhouse: 33…Kf8 34. Nf6 Rf7 (Qc6 35. Nxh7+ Rxh7 36. Rxg6 c3 37. Rxf5+ Bxf5 38. d7+ wins the queen) 35. Re8+!, when it’s over on 35…Bxe8 36. d7+ Kg7 37. dxe8=Q.

Deep Junior logs off anyway after 35…Kg7 36. Nh5+! Kh7 (Rxh5 37. Qxh5 Bxe8 38. Qxg6+ Kh8 39. Qg8 mate), as it sees there’s no hope after 37. Rd8! (threatening mate in the corner after 38. Bc3) Qc6 38. Bc3 Be8 39. d7 Qxd7 40. Rxd7 Bxd7 41. Nf6+ and wins.

2005 Eugene Martinovsky Memorial, Bolingbrook, Ill., August 2005


1. d4d619. e4Rac8

2. Nf3c620. Qd2b4

3. c4f521. Ne2Kh7

4. g3Nf622. a3dxc4

5. Bg2g623. axb4Qb5

6. 0-0Bg724. bxc4Qxc4

7. b30-025. Ra1Ra8

8. Bb2e626. Ra5fxe4

9. Nc3h627. fxe4Rf8

10. Qc2d528. Bd6Rfc8

11. Rad1Nbd729. e5Nd5

12. Ba3Re830. Be4c5

13. Ne5Kh731. Bxc5Bb5

14. Nf7Qa532. Bxg6+Kh8

15. Bd6Kg833. Rf2a6

16. Ne5Nxe534. Ra3Nc7

17. Bxe5Bd735. Be4Rab8

18. f3b536. Rc3Black


13th World Chess Computer Championship, Reykjavik, Iceland, August 2005

Zappa 2.0bDeep Junior

1. d4d519. Rg1Rc6

2. Nf3Nf620. Nc3a6

3. c4e621. a4Nc4

4. Nc3c622. Bxc4dxc4

5. e3Nbd723. Qc2Rch6

6. Qc2Bd624. Qe2Qc8

7. g4h625. 0-0-0b5

8. Rg1e526. d5Qb7

9. cxd5cxd527. d6Bd7

10. g5hxg528. axb5axb5

11. Nxg5e429. Rg5f5

12. Nb5Nb630. Rd5Qa8

13. Bd2Bf531. Kb1g6

14. h3Bh232. Re5+Kf7

15. Rg2Rc833. Nd5Kf8

16. Qb3Bb834. Nf6Rf7

17. Bb4Nh735. Re8+Kg7

18. Nxh7Rxh736. Nh5+Kh7

and Black resigns

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

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