- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2006

We’ll get to the big international news in a moment, but we have some sadder matters to relate closer to home.

The local chess community suffered a double loss last week, with the deaths of former D.C. Chess League Executive Director Michele Thomas Veasey and former George Mason University librarian Richard B. O’Keeffe, a prime mover behind the very successful 1976 U.S. Open held in Fairfax.

Veasey, a Silver Spring native and graduate of the University of Maryland, competed for a long time in local tournaments and at one time ranked among the top 20 female players in the country. Elias Mallis, one of her successors as director of the D.C. Chess League, writes that she was very active in the Laurel Chess Club, in its day one of the strongest in the region.

She married fellow chess player John Veasey, and her brother, Michael Thomas, still competes in the D.C. team league. Just 45 years old, Veasey also is survived by two children. The family suggests memorial donations may be given to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

O’Keeffe, a polymath with a librarian’s endlessly inquiring and allusive intellect, headed the Virginia Chess Federation’s successful campaign to snag the 1976 U.S. Open, one of the biggest tournaments ever played in the Washington area.

In addition to the Open, he organized a large number of tournaments and quads at George Mason during his 25 years working there. His GMU chess club bulletin, written in his inimitable, hyperlinked style, was characteristically called “Ephor” — combining an inside joke on ancient Greek history with a really bad chess pun.

O’Keeffe was a fair tournament player in his day, and he and I contested many a skittles battle in the cafeteria of The Washington Times when he worked here as a researcher in the 1990s. He was partial to romantic gambits and wild sacrifices, given to quoting Steinitz — “The king is a fighting piece!” — when his king found itself chased halfway across the board a dozen moves into the game.

Both will be sorely missed.

U.S. GM Gata Kamsky is making a stunning run at the Category 20 Mtel Masters tournament now winding up in Sofia, Bulgaria. Kamsky, still rusty after an eight-year layoff from the game, was not expected to compete in the super-GM double round robin in field that included Bulgarian world champ Veselin Topalov, Indian superstar Viswanathan Anand and Russian national champ Peter Svidler.

But Kamsky broke out of the gate with early wins over Anand, Svidler and French GM Etienne Bacrot and, after Thursday’s Round 7, held a full-point lead over Anand with a 5-2 score with just two rounds to go.

Kamsky has improved his shaky opening repertoire in the year since he returned to top-level chess, and playing former FIDE champ Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine in Round 6, he enjoyed a small but clear pull throughout their Closed Ruy Lopez. Still, Black was holding on until a misstep put him squarely in the path of a lethal White attack, one that appears to emerge out of nowhere.

Thus: 34. Rc1 Ba8?! (Black is already worse, but this just makes the bishop a target) 35. Rc7 d4? (see diagram) 36. e6!, and Black may already be lost. There followed 36…Qb1+ (fxe6 37. Rxg7+! Kxg7 [Kf8 38. Bh6, with a killer discovered check in store] 38. Bxd4+, winning the queen) 37. Kh2 fxe6 (Rxe6 38. Qxa8+) 38. Qh5! — the hidden point of the e-pawn push, adding the queen to White’s assault.

The finale: 38…Nd6 (g6 39. Qxh7+, or 38…Rf8 39. Qg4! g6 40. Qxe6+ Kh8 41. Bxd4+) 39. Bxd4 Bxf3 40. Rxg7+ Kf8 41. Qh6!, and though 41…Nf5 now forks every White piece, it has the drawback of allowing 42. Qf6 mate. Ponomariov resigned.

It took one of the tournament’s best efforts to date to deal Kamsky his only setback so far in Sofia.

Hometown favorite Topalov has struggled in the tournament, but he showcased his attacking skills in defeating Kamsky’s QGD Slav setup in Round 5. He breaks up the flow of Black’s defense with a timely exchange sacrifice — 26. e6! Bxe6 27. Rxe6! fxe6 28. Re1— and applies mounting pressure on Black’s defense until Kamsky finally cracks.

White steadily infiltrates the Black kingside, chasing Kamsky’s ill-placed queen: 34. Qh6 Rg8 (Qxd2? 35. Bxg6+ Kg8 36. Rg5 wins) 35. Ba5 Qd4?! (all but inviting the White bishops to take up prime attacking posts; tougher was 35…g5 [Rfd8 36. Rg5 Ke8 36. Bxg6+ Rf7 38. Bxf7+ Kxf7 39. Rxg8 Kxg8 40. Qg6+ Kf8 41. Bc3, winning] 36. Bxd8 Qxd8, with some chances to hold) 36. Bc3 Qc4 37. Bb3 Qd3 38. Bxe6+ Ke8 39. Kg2! (prudent, as 39. Bxg8 Nxg8 40. Qg7 Qb1+ 41. Kg2 Qxa2 is messier) Rf8 40. Qg7, with the idea of 41. Bf5!.

Topalov finishes in style after 40…Rd5 41. Bf5! (anyway!) Rf7 (Rxe5 42. Qxg6+ Rf7 43. Bxd3) 42. Rxe7+!!, forcing resignation as White mates after 42…Kxe7 (Rxe7 43. Qh8+ Kf7 44. Qxf6+ Ke8 [Kg8 45. Be6+ Rxe6 46. Qg7 mate] 45. Qh8+ Kf7 46. Qg7+ Ke8 47. Qg8 mate; or 42…Kd8 43. Qxf7 Nd7 44. Rxd7+! Rxd7 45. Qf8+ Kc7 46. Be5+ Rd6 47. Qc8 mate) 43. Bxf6+ Ke8 44. Qg8+ Rf8 45. Qe6 mate.

Mtel Masters, Sofia, Bulgaria, May 2006


1. e4e522. Qxb3Nc5

2. Nf3Nc623. Qd1a5

3. Bb5a624. Qb1Ne4

4. Ba4Nf625. Rd1b4

5. 0-0Be726. axb4Bxb4

6. Re1b527. Nc2Qe7

7. Bb30-028. Nxb4Qxb4

8. h3Bb729. Qa2Ra8

9. d3d630. Rd4Qb5

10. a3Qd731. Ra4Bc6

11. Nbd2Rfe832. Rxa5Rxa5

12. Nf1Nd833. Qxa5Qxb2

13. Ng3Ne634. Rc1Ba8

14. c3c535. Rc7d4

15. d4exd436. e6Qb1+

16. cxd4d537. Kh2fxe6

17. e5Ne438. Qh5Nd6

18. Nf5Bf839. Bxd4Bxf3

19. Be3Rac840. Rxg7+Kf8

20. dxc5N6xc541. Qh6Black

21. N5d4Nxb3resigns

Mtel Masters, Sofia, Bulgaria, May 2006


1. d4d522. Nxd5Nxd5

2. c4c623. Bd2Bxe5

3. Nf3Nf624. dxe5h5

4. Nc3a625. Rfe1Qc7

5. c5Nbd726. e6Bxe6

6. Bf4Nh527. Rxe6fxe6

7. Bd2Nhf628. Re1Qd7

8. Rc1g629. Qd3Kh7

9. h3Qc730. Re5Nf6

10. g3Bg731. Qe3Kg7

11. Bf4Qd832. Be4Kf7

12. Bg2Nh533. Bc2Rad8

13. Bg5h634. Qh6Rg8

14. Bd20-035. Ba5Qd4

15. e4dxe436. Bc3Qc4

16. Nxe4Nhf637. Bb3Qd3

17. Nc3Re838. Bxe6+Ke8

18. 0-0Nf839. Kg2Rf8

19. Qb3Ne640. Qg7Rd5

20. Be3Nc741. Bf5Rf7

21. Ne5Nfd542. Rxe7+Black


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

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