- The Washington Times - Friday, June 9, 2006

The U.S. men’s Olympiad team, anchored by Brooklyn GM Gata Kamsky, used a stunning last-round comeback to secure the bronze medal in the 37th edition of the biennial team event that concluded Sunday in Turin, Italy.

Undefeated Armenia, solid throughout the 13-round event, took the gold and China’s men the silver. Despite a strong Board 1 performance from classical world champ Vladimir Kramnik, the once-dominant Russian team failed to medal in Turin.

The U.S. women played well and finished strongly but ended up just off the podium with a fourth-place finish. Ukraine’s women took the gold, followed by Russia and China.

The race to the wire proved especially dramatic, as the U.S. men lost to top rival Israel 21/2-11/2 in the penultimate round and appeared to be a long shot for a medal. The odds got even longer after Israel stunned Russia 3-1 in the final round, seemingly locking up third place.

But the Americans staged a furious rally, winning 31/2-1/2 against Norway and tying Israel for total board points. When the tiebreaks were calculated, the U.S. men won out.

Kamsky drew budding Norwegian superstar Magnus Carlsen on Board 1, but U.S. GMs Alexander Onischuk, Hikaru Nakamura and Varuzhan Akobian came through with hard-fought wins on the lower boards. Akobian’s win over GM Kjetil Lie was particularly nerve-wracking, as the American missed a winning shot and had to regroup to convert a tough bishop-and-pawn ending.

Needing a full point, Akobian as Black sharpens the play in this Advanced French after 14. f4 N5g6 15. Nd2 e5!?, getting the unbalanced position he craves after Lie accepts the challenge with 16. Ne4!? dxe4 17. Qxd7 e3, when the advanced pawn poses major problems for White.

Black breaks on top after 21. Qd2 (Bd2?? Rcd8 wins a piece, while 21. Re4 Rcd8 22. Qa4 Qxf5 23. Bf4 b5! 24. Qxb5 Qxe4! 25. Bxe4 Rd1+ is also great for Black) Qe5 22. Qe1 Ng6 23. Rf3 (fxg6 Bf2! 24. Rxf2 Rxf2 25. Bd2 Rcf8 wins) Nh4 24. Rf4 Rce8 25. Bd2 (Rxh4 Bf2!) Nxf5 26. Re4?! (see diagram; tougher was 26. Rf3 Nd6 27. Qg3, though Black still is ahead after 27…Qxg3 28. hxg3 Ne4) Qxe4!, giving up the queen to enhance the power of the e-pawn.

Akobian should have had an early dinner after 27. Bxe4 Rxe4 (with the threat of 28…Ng3+! 29. hxg3 [Qxg3 Rf1+] Rf5 30. g4 Bf2 31. Qxf2 Rxf2 32. Re1 Rxg4) 28. Qb1, when 28…Rh4!, eyeing 29…Ng3 mate, wins after 29. Be1 Rf4 30. h3 Rf1+ 31. Kh2 Bd6+ 32. g3 Bxg3+ 33. Bxg3 Rxb1 34. Rxb1 Nxg3 35. Kxg3 Rf1.

Instead, a long tactical sequence begun with 28…Re5?! 29. Be1 Ng3+! (the only move to hold the edge) 30. Bxg3 Ref5 31. h4 Rf1+ leads to a bishop ending after 39. Kxe2 Bxc3 in which Black holds a critical extra pawn. Lie might have put up a tougher fight with 47. Bg1, as the pawn ending after 47. Bxf6 gxf6 48. Kb4 b6! is soon hopeless.

In the final position, White loses the pawn race and the game after 57. Kg7 b2 58. Kxh6 b1=Q 59. g5 Kd6 60. g6 Qc1+ 61. Kh7 Qg5 62. g7 Qxh5+ 63. Kg8 Ke6 64. Kf8 Qf7 mate; Lie resigned.

• • •

With more than 400 games being played every round, Olympiads present an embarrassment of riches for a chess enthusiast.

Still, it would be hard to top the entertainment value provided by the epic battle between Ukrainian IM Katerina Lahno and Indian WGM Dronavalli Harika, one in which both players have at it with unladylike ferocity.

We can’t begin to do justice to the wild momentum swings and tactical shenanigans that follow Lahno’s brave decision to go for the glory with 16. Qb3 Bxf5!!?, as both sides attack ferociously with no regard for their own safety.

By 23. Be2 (Kxc2? Nxb5 24. Rxb5 [Rb3 Qa4 25. Kb2 Rhd8 26. Bc1 Bd1!] Rxb5 25. Qd6+ Kf7 and Black wins) Bxe2+ 24. Nxe2 Ne3+! (Rxb1+ 25. Kxc2 Rxh1 26. Qd6+ Ke8 27. Qc6+ Kf8 28. Qd6+, and if 28…Kg8??, White cleans up with 29. Qd8+ Kg7 30. Qd7+ Kg8 31. Bh6 Ne6 32. Qxe6 mate) 25. Bxe3 Rxb1+ 26. Kc2 Rxh1, Lahno has two rooks for a bishop, but now White gets her turn at bat.

With 29. Qxf6+ Kc8 (Kd7? 30. c6+ Ke8 31. Bg5 Qa4+ 32. Kd2 Rd1+ 33. Ke3 Qxa3 34. Qxh8+ Kf7 35. Qxh7+ Ke8 36. Qxg6+ Kf8 37. Bh6+, winning) 30. Qxh8+ Kb7 31. c6+ Kxc6 32. Qf6+ Kb7 33. Bg1!, White locks the Black rook in the corner, eventually winning back the exchange.

Amazingly, by 39. Ng3 Rxg1+ 40. Qxg1, the queen-and-knight ending is dead even materially, but White is done in by her weak queen-side pawns. Even after the knights come off, Black avoids any perpetual check cheapos with the forcing 56…Qd2+ 57. Kb1 Qd1+, when White’s cause is lost after 58. Kb2 Qb3+ 59. Kc1 Qxc3+, trading off the queens. Harika resigned.

37th Chess Olympiad, Turin, Italy, June 2006

LieAkobian

1. e4e629. Be1Ng3+

2. d4d530. Bxg3Ref5

3. e5c531. h4Rf1+

4. c3Nc632. Kh2Rxb1

5. Nf3Bd733. Rxb1Rd8

6. Bd3Rc834. Re1Rd2

7. dxc5Bxc535. b4Be7

8. 0-0f536. Kg1Bf6

9. Ng5Nxe537. Kf2Rxa2

10. Bxf5Qf638. Rxe2Rxe2+

11. Bc2Ne739. Kxe2Bxc3

12. Kh1h640. b5Kf7

13. Nh30-041. Bf2a5

14. f4N5g642. Kd3Bb4

15. Nd2e543. Kc4Ke6

16. Ne4dxe444. g4Be7

17. Qxd7e345. h5a4

18. f5Nf446. Bd4Bf6

19. Nxf4exf447. Bxf6gxf6

20. Rxf4e248. Kb4b6

21. Qd2Qe549. Kxa4Kd5

22. Qe1Ng650. Kb4Kd4

23. Rf3Nh451. Kb3Kc5

24. Rf4Rce852. Kc3Kxb5

25. Bd2Nxf553. Kd4Kc6

26. Re4Qxe454. Ke4b5

27. Bxe4Rxe455. Kf5b4

28. Qb1Re556. Kxf6b3

White resigns

37th Chess Olympiad, Turin, Italy, June 2006

HarikaLahno

1. d4Nf630. Qxh8+Kb7

2. c4e631. c6+Kxc6

3. Nc3Bb432. Qf6+Kb7

4. f3d533. Bg1Qa4+

5. a3Bxc3+34. Kd2Qxe4

6. bxc3c535. Qf2Qd5+

7. cxd5Nxd536. Kc1Qa5

8. dxc5Qa537. Qf3+Qd5

9. e4Nc738. Qf2a6

10. Qd4f639. Ng3Rxg1+

11. f4Nc640. Qxg1Nb5

12. Qc4e541. Qe3Nxa3

13. f5g642. Ne4Nc4

14. Bd3Bd743. Qe2Nd6

15. Rb10-0-044. Nxd6+Qxd6

16. Qb3Bxf545. Qe4+Kb6

17. Bc4Nd446. Kb2a5

18. Qxb7+Kd747. Kb3Qe6+

19. Bd2Nc2+48. Ka3Qc6

20. Kd1Rb849. Qd3e4

21. Bb5+Ke750. Qd8+Qc7

22. Qc6Bg4+51. Qf6+Kb5

23. Be2Bxe2+52. Kb2Qxh2

24. Nxe2Ne3+53. Qg5+Kc4

25. Bxe3Rxb1+54. Kc2Qd6

26. Kc2Rxh155. Qxa5Qd3+

27. Qd6+Ke856. Kb2Qd2+

28. Qc6+Kd857. Kb1Qd1+

29. Qxf6+Kc8White resigns

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

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