- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2006

Warming up to defend his U.S. championship crown next month, New York GM Hikaru Nakamura is one of 10 of the game’s brightest young talents competing in a strong invitational under way in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

The field in the Category 16 event includes Ukrainian stars Ruslan Ponomariov and Sergey Karjakin, Cubans Lazaro Bruzon and Lenier Dominguez, and Bulgarian GM Ivan Cheparinov, best known as the second for compatriot and new FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov.

The 18-year-old Nakamura got off to a blazing start with 21/2 points in his first three games, including a tough win over GM Andrei Volokitin, yet another young Ukrainian grandmaster. The victory was especially sweet because Volokitin had defeated Nakamura in their last encounter in the finals of the Lausanne Young Masters knockout tournament in France last year.

The American may well have won this game with good home preparation, reeling off this prepared Nimzo-Indian line — including the temporary piece sacrifice 16. Bxf5!? gxf5 17. Qd5+ Rf7 18. Qxc6 — at blitz speed. In the resulting double-edged position, Nakamura had 70 minutes on his clock compared to just one for his opponent.

The pawn grab 22…Qxc3!? might have been the best way to keep the game unbalanced. Black’s manifest pawn weaknesses and severe time pressure lead him into a risky but ultimately unsound sacrifice that Nakamura handles with aplomb.

Thus: 34. Rd7 Qh2?! (the situation is already dire; if 34…Kf7, White has 35. Qd6! Rxd7 36. Qxd7+ Qe7 37. Qxe7+ Kxe7 38. Nxf5+ Kf6 39. Nd6, dominating) 35. Rxe7 Qxg2+ 36. Ke1 Qxg3+ 37. Kd2, and White can answer 37…Nxf4 with 38. Kc1 Be4 39. Qd6+ Kg5 40. Rg7+.

Volokitin gets two scary-looking passed pawns, but White can keep them at bay with just his king and bishop, leaving his rook free to assist his own pawns down the board. It’s over on 65. Kf2 Nd1+ (Nxc4 66. a6 Ne3 67. a7 wins) 66. Kg1 Nc3 67. Bf2! (squelching any advance of the pawns) Ne4 68. c6+ Kd8 (Kc7 69. Bb6+ Kc8 70. Rf8+ leads to mate) 69. Re6 Nxf2 70. Kxf2 Bf7 71. a6! Bxe6 72. a7, and the pawn must queen; Black resigned.

The U.S. Chess Championship, which starts March 2 in San Diego, looks to be one of the more interesting title fights in years, with resurgent GM Gata Kamsky joining past champs such as Gregory Kaidanov, Boris Gulko and Alexander Shabalov in the drive to dethrone Nakamura.

Kudos to Maryland junior expert Zhi-ya Hu, who just missed out on a chance to compete in San Diego. Hu lost to San Diego local hero Elliott Liu in the finals of the tournament of national high school champions for one of the last berths in the 64-player field.

Fortune often favors the brave in chess, as can be seen in today’s second game, taken from a strong recent open tournament in Moscow. Defending the Black side of a French Rubinstein, Russian IM Konstantin Maslak uncorks a speculative piece sacrifice against Tajik GM Farrukh Amonatov and lives to tell the tale.

Players who have yet to develop their king-side rarely initiate major sacrificial attacks, but Maslak proves an exception with 14. Ne5 Bd5 15. c4!? (see diagram; White no doubt dreams of his own attack on the Black king, but he’s in for a shock) Bxg2!? 16. Kxg2 Rxd4.

Black has two pawns for the piece, ample targets around the exposed White king and prospects for the quick mobilization of his forces, but White is not without resources. Things quickly come to a head 17. f4 Bd6 (Rxf4 18. Be4 Qg5+ 19. Kh1 Qxe5 favors White after 20. Qxb7+ Kd8 21. Bc6 Rxf1+ 22. Rxf1 Qc7 23. Qa8+ Ke7 24. Qe8+ Kd6 25. Bg2) 18. Rae1 Rxf4 19. Rxf4 (Nf3 g5 20. Be4 Qe7 21. Re3 was another possibility) Qxf4 20. Be4 Qd2+?! (b6! was more prudent) 21. Kh3 Bxe5 (and not 21…Qxe1?? 22. Qxb7+ and mate next).

Black threatens 22…Qxh2+ 23. Kg4 f5+ 24. Bxf5 Qg2+ 25. Kh4 Bf6+ 26. Kh5 Qg5 mate, but White might have turned the tables with 22. Bxb7+! Kc7 (Kd8 23. Rd1 and 22…Kb8 23. Rxe5 both favor White) 23. Rxe5 Qd4 24. Re1 Rb8 25. Rd1 Qf6 (Qe5 26. Qa4 Rxb7 27. Qd7+ Kb6 28. Qb5+ Kc7 29. Rd7+ Kc8 30. Qxb7 mate) 26. Qg3+! e5 (Kxb7?? 27. Rd7+ Ka6 28. Qa3+ Kb6 29. Qxa7+ Kc6 30. Qc7 mate) 27. Be4, and Black is struggling to hold the game.

Instead, Black’s investment pays dividends after the game’s 22. Qxb7+? Kd8 23. Qa8+ Ke7 24. Qxa7+ (Qxh8? allows 24…Qxh2+ 25. Kg4 Qg3+ 26. Kh5 Qg5 mate) Kf6 25. Rf1+ Bf4 26. Bg2 Qd3+, and White can’t avoid mate after 27. Rf3 (Kh4 g5+ 28. Kh5 [Kg4 h5 mate] Qg6+ 29. Kg4 h5+ 30. Kf3 Qd3+ 31. Kf2 Qe3 mate) Qf5+ 28. Kh4 Qg5+ 29. Kh3 Qh5 mate; Amonatov resigned.

Cuernavaca Young Masters, Cuernavaca, Mexico, February 2006


1. d4Nf637. Kd2Kf6

2. c4e638. Rh7Nxf4

3. Nc3Bb439. Qf1Ng2

4. e30-040. Bxc5Be4

5. a3Bxc3+41. Bd4+Ke6

6. bxc3c542. c5Qg5+

7. Bd3Nc643. Kd1Qg4+

8. Ne2b644. Kc1Qg5+

9. e4Ne845. Kd1Qg4+

10. 0-0Ba646. Qe2Nf4

11. f4f547. Rh6+Kd7

12. exf5exf548. Qxg4hxg4

13. dxc5bxc549. Rh7+Kc6

14. Ng3g650. Rxa7g3

15. Be3d651. Rg7g2

16. Bxf5gxf552. Kd2Ne6

17. Qd5+Rf753. Rg8f4

18. Qxc6Bb754. Bf2f3

19. Qa4Qf655. a4Nf4

20. Rab1Ng756. Ke3Bd5

21. Qd1Re857. Rg4Ne2

22. Re1Qg658. c4Bf7

23. Bf2Rxe1+59. a5Nc3

24. Qxe1h560. Rf4Bh5

25. h4Rd761. Kd2Nd1

26. Qd1Kh762. Rf6+Kc7

27. Qa4Qf763. Ke1Nb2

28. Rd1Ne664. Bg3+Kd7

29. Be3Qg765. Kf2Nd1+

30. Kf2Kg666. Kg1Nc3

31. Rd2Qe767. Bf2Ne4

32. Qd1Qxh468. c6+Kd8

33. Rxd6Re769. Re6Nxf2

34. Rd7Qh270. Kxf2Bf7

35. Rxe7Qxg2+71. a6Bxe6

36. Ke1Qxg3+72. a7Black


Moscow Open, Moscow, February 2006


1. e4e614. Ne5Bd5

2. d4d515. c4Bxg2

3. Nc3Nf616. Kxg2Rxd4

4. Bg5dxe417. f4Bd6

5. Nxe4Nbd718. Rae1Rxf4

6. Nf3h619. Rxf4Qxf4

7. Nxf6+Nxf620. Be4Qd2+

8. Bxf6Qxf621. Kh3Bxe5

9. Bb5+c622. Qxb7+Kd8

10. Bd3Bd723. Qa8+Ke7

11. c30-0-024. Qxa7+Kf6

12. 0-0c525. Rf1+Bf4

13. Qb3Bc626. Bg2Qd3+

White resigns

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

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