- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

The Old World has a new champ.

French GM Vladislav Tkachiev is the new Continental champion, winning the 8th Individual European Chess Championships in a speed playoff over Israeli GM Emil Sutovsky in Dresden, Germany. The two were among seven players who finished at 8-3.

With relatively little fanfare, the pan-European event has become one of the strongest open tournaments in the world. This year’s field included more than 180 grandmasters in the 550-player field.

Young Russian IM Artem Iljin was the only non-grandmaster among the top scorers. He performed strongly in Dresden, with an excellent win over his far more celebrated junior compatriot, GM Ian Nepomniatchi. In one of the sharpest Slav Defense lines, Iljin manages to trap his opponent’s king in the center, wrapping up the point in just 28 moves.

After 15. Bg4 exd4 16. e5!?, Nepomniatchi declines the piece even though things are very hazy after 16…dxc3 17. e6 Nf6 18. Bh5 (threatening mate at f7) Nxh5 19. Qxh5 Qf6 20. exf7+ Kd7 21. Rad1, when Black can get into real trouble in lines like 21…Qxd6 (Kc8 22. Qg4+ Kd8 23. Bb8+) 22. Rxd6+ Kxd6 23. Qg6+ Kc5 24. Qxg7 cxb2 25. Qxb2.

After 19. Ne4 Nxe5 20. axb5 axb5, Black is three pawns to the good, but White’s rooks now join the mating party: 21. f4! gxf4 22. Qh5 Rb6 (Nd3 23. Qd5 Qc8 [Re7 24. Qc6+ Kf8 25. Ra8] 24. Nxc5 Nxc5 25. Bxc5 Bf6 26. Ra8! Qxa8 27. Re1+ Be7 28. Bxe7 Qc8 29. Bc5+) 23. Bxe5 Qd5 24. Rxf4, when 24…Bxe5 loses to 25. Ra8+ Rb8 (Qxa8 26. Qxe5+ Kd7 27. Rxf7+ Kc6 28. Qxc5 mate) 26. Nf6+.

But White breaks through anyway on the game’s 24…Rg6 25. Nd6+ Rxd6 (Kd8 26. Bf6+) 26. Rxf7!, undermining the foundation from Black’s defensive setup.

The queen capture loses on 26…Qxf7 27. Ra8+ Rd8 (Ke7 28. Ra7+ Rd7 29. Rxd7+) 28. Rxd8+ Kxd8 29. Qxf7 Bxe5 30. Qd5+, winning material, but Iljin also wraps things up after his opponent’s 26…Bxe5 27. Rb7+ Kf8 (Rg6 28. Qxe5+! Qxe5 29. Ra8+) Ra8+, when 28…Rd8 29. Rxd8+ Qxd8 30. Qf7 is checkmate. Nepomniatchi resigned.

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Dutch GM Jan Timman, long considered one of the West’s best grandmasters, has seen his star eclipsed in recent years by a new crop of European stars, from English GM Michael Adams and French No. 1 Joel Lautier to 16-year-old Norwegian sensation Magnus Carlsen.

But the annual Sigeman & Co. invitational held in the Swedish city of Malmo seems to have had a rejuvenating effect on the Dutch star. Timman tied for first in the 2005 tournament — ahead of U.S. champion Hikaru Nakamura — and won the event outright last year with one of his strongest performances in decades.

A couple of losses have put Timman out of the running in this year’s Sigeman event, wrapping up this weekend. Nevertheless, he still is proving a dangerous opponent, as newly minted young Swedish GM Pontus Carlsson found in their Round 6 meeting in Malmo.

The opening variation here would have been more appropriate for the European event, as we have a Swede and a Dutchman playing a French Defense line named for German great Siegbert Tarrasch. Timman’s 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 f6 is the modern handling of this defense, attacking the White pawn chain at every line, despite the positional costs.

Things are in dynamic balance until Carlsson comes to grief by overreaching: 18. Rc3 Rf7 (Black wants no part of 18…Qxb2? 19. Rb3 Qc1 [Qa1 20. Bxh7+] 20. Qd3 Qc4 21. Qxh7+ Kf7 22. Rxb7) 19. Nh5 Bh6 20. Rxc6!? Bxc6 21. Ne5 Raf8 (Rc7 22. Qg4, with good pressure) 22. Qc2?! (Nxf7 Rxf7 23. b3 is equal) g6 23. Nxg6? (see diagram).

Taking the knight loses on 23…hxg6?? 24. Qxg6+ Rg7 (both 24…Bxg7 25. Qh7 mate and 24…Kh8 25. Qxh6+ Kg8 26. Nf6+! Rxf6 27. Qh7 mate are no better) 25. Qxe6+ Rgf7 26. Rg7 27. Nxg7 Bxg7 28. Re7, and mate is in the offing.

But Timman defends by attacking with 23…Qb4! 24. Rxe6 (Re2, the best defense, still leaves Black in charge on 24…Bb5 25. Nxf8 Bxe2 26. Qxe2 Bxf8 27. Qxe6 Qxd4) Rxf2 25. Qd1 (Nxe7+ Qxe7 26. Qxf2 Qxe6 wins) Rf1+ 26. Qxf1+ Qxd4+, and it’s mate in two after both 27. Qf2 Qxf2+ 28. Kh1 Qf1 mate and 27. Re3 Bxe3+ 28. Qf2 Qd1 mate. White gave up.

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San Francisco IM Josh Friedel this week was awarded the Samford Fellowship, given annually to a promising young American chess player.

The New Hampshire-born Friedel, 20, is just one norm short of the grandmaster title and turned in an excellent performance at the 2006 U.S. Championship. Among his early titles was a tie for first in the D.C. Eastern Chess Congress in December 2003.

The $32,000 yearlong fellowship, which can be extended for a second year, provides living expenses and funds for coaching, study materials and tournament play. Friedel’s close friend IM David Pruess was the 2006 Samford honoree.

Friedel is the 21st Samford winner. Past honorees include Maryland-born GM Alex Sherzer and former U.S. champion Hikaru Nakamura of New York.

8th Individual European Chess Championships, Dresden, Germany, April 2007

IljinNepomniatchi

1. d4d515. Bg4exd4

2. Nf3Nf616. e5c5

3. c4c617. Bf3Ra7

4. Nc3e618. Bxb7Rxb7

5. Bg5h619. Ne4Nxe5

6. Bh4dxc420. axb5axb5

7. e4g521. f4gxf4

8. Bg3b522. Qh5Rb6

9. Be2Bb723. Bxe5Qd5

10. 0-0Nbd724. Rxf4Rg6

11. Ne5Bg725. Nd6+Rxd6

12. Nxd7Nxd726. Rxf7Bxe5

13. Bd6a627. Rb7+Kf8

14. a4e528. Ra8+Black

resigns

Sigeman & Co. Chess Tournament, Malmo, Sweden, April 2007

CarlssonTimman

1. e4e614. Ng3Nf4

2. d4d515. Bb1Bd7

3. Nd2Nf616. Re1Qb6

4. e5Nfd717. Bxf4Bxf4

5. Bd3c518. Rc3Rf7

6. c3Nc619. Nh5Bh6

7. Ne2cxd420. Rxc6Bxc6

8. cxd4f621. Ne5Raf8

9. exf6Nxf622. Qc2g6

10. Nf3Bd623. Nxg6Qb4

11. 0-0Qc724. Rxe6Rxf2

12. Bg50-025. Qd1Rf1+

13. Rc1Nh526. Qxf1Qxd4+

White resigns

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washington times.com.

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