- The Washington Times - Friday, February 2, 2007

Once again, it’s good to be the King.

The King’s Indian Defense, the “it” opening of the first three decades after World War II, has been in eclipse in recent years.

The reasons are various. Opening theorists found new ways for White to take the sting out of Black’s counterattacking strategies. Former world champion Garry Kasparov was not a big fan of the opening. And — a factor not to be underestimated — players just got bored with the White-queen-side/Black-king-side plans typical of the KID main lines.

However, the wheels of fashion may be about to turn again, if GM Teimour Radjabov’s performance at last month’s elite Corus A Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, has any impact.

The young star from Azerbaijan tied for first in the Category 19 event with Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov and Levon Aronian of Armenia, all at 81/2-41/2 in the 14-grandmaster premier section. Reigning world champ Vladimir Kramnik of Russia was a half-point back, and Indian GM Viswanathan Anand was alone in fifth at 71/2-51/2. Ukrainian GM Pavel Eljanov won the Corus B event at Wijk and thus moves up to the premier flight for next year’s tournament.

Radjabov has long been tipped as a coming star, by Kasparov among others, but his record with the unfashionable KID at Corus was an eye-opener. He scored four wins and drew Kramnik with the dowdy Black setup, including a nice first-round victory over Dutch star GM Loek Van Wely.

This Classical KID line with 12. f3 Kh8 13. Ne6 Bxe6 14. dxe6 typically hinges on whether Black can deny White significant counterplay as he labors to collect the impudent e-pawn. Van Wely actually beat Radjabov in this very line in a 1995 game after 14…fxe4 15. fxe4 Nc6 16. Nd5, but Black varies with the novelty 14…Nh5!? 15. g3 Bf6, giving his knight the option of retreating to g7.

By 24. Rb2 Ne3 25. Bxe3 fxe3, the odd pawn alignment gums up the center of the board, but Black has a distinct edge in his control of the only significant open line: the c-file. Radjabov gets behind enemy lines with 30. Nb5 Rc1! 31. Rb1 (Nxd6? e2! 32. Rxe2 Qc5+ 33. Kg2 Rxf1 34. Kxf1 Qxd6 wins a piece) Rxf1+ 32. Rxf1 Qc5 33. Kg2 Rc8 34. Re1 a6 35. Na3 Qd4, when Black dominated the endgame on 36. Rd1 Qc3 37. Qxc3 Rxc3 38. Bb3 e2 39. Re1 Rxb3! 40. axb3 Nxe6 41. Nc2 Nf4+ 42. Kg3 Bd8.

Van Wely covers up with 36. Re1 Rc3 37. Qb2 h5 38. h3, but another exchange sacrifice proves decisive: 38…Qd1! 39. Bb3 (the threat was 39…Rc1 40. Kg3 Qg1+ 41. Rg2 h4 mate, and 39. Qxc3 fails to 39…Qxe2+ 40. Kg1 Qf2+ 41. Kh1 Qf1+ 42. Kh2 Bf4 mate) Rxb3! 40. axb3 Nxe6.

The problematic White pawn finally falls, and this time it’s decisive. White has no answer to the knight’s invasion via f4 in lines like 41. Qc2 (h4 Nf4+ 42. Kh2 Nxe2, or 41. Rc2 e2 42. Rxe2 Nf4+ 43. Kf2 Bh4+ 44. Ke3 Qd3 mate) Nf4+ 42. Kh2 Qxe2+ 43. Qxe2 Nxe2. Van Wely resigned.

Maryland IM Larry Kaufman won his second straight Virginia Open and fifth title overall last weekend in the tournament, held at the Holiday Inn Express in Springfield. A healthy field of 133 players competed in the 39th annual edition of the popular tournament.

Kaufman’s 41/2-1/2 score was a half-point better than the scores of masters Daniel Miller, Macon Shibut, Andrew Samuelson and expert Daniel Clancy.

In the Under-1900 Amateur section, 8-year-old Jeevan Karamsetty, a fourth-grader at Herndon’s Oak Hill Elementary School, lost out on tiebreaks to Allan Salgado after both players finished at 41/2-1/2. The precocious Karamsetty nevertheless pulled off perhaps the prettiest combination of the weekend, upsetting Class A player Terence Coffee with a slick queen sacrifice.

In a sharp Giuoco Piano line, both players do a good job of balancing offense and defense in a double-edged position. Coffee’s 18. Nb5!? (b3, addressing White’s lagging development, was a good alternative) Bxb5 19. Qxb5 f4 20. Qe2?! can be faulted, as now White can’t reply to 20…f3! by pushing the g-pawn and keeping the g-file closed.

Things heat up after 23. f4 (Kh1 Raf8 24. Be3 Rxf3 [Qh3 25. Rg1 Rxf3 26. Rad1 Be7 27. Rg3 Rxg3 fxg3 Qe6 29. Rd5 is pleasant for White] 25. Bxc5 was also possible) exf4 24. Qf3 Re8 25. b3 Rxe4!, when 26. Qxe4?? loses to 26…Qg4+ 27. Kf1 (Qg2 Qxd1+ 28. Qf1 Rg6+; 27. Kh1 Qxd1+ 28. Kg2 f3+ 29. Kh3 Qf1+ 30. Kg4 Qg2+ and mate on the horizon) Qxd1+. The game continued 26. Bb2 Rg6+ 27. Kh1 Qb7!, setting a diabolical trap.

The obvious threat is 28…Re1+ 29. Rxe1 Qxf3 mate, but the deeper point is revealed after 28. Rg1? (see diagram; 28. Rf1! was mandatory and good, as things appear equal after 28…Qc6 29. Rad1 Be7 30. c4) Re1!!, a stunning concept.

Black’s move offers his queen but pins both the White queen and rook on g1 while interfering with the defensive duties of the other rook on a1. Since 29. Raxe1 Qxf3+ 30. Rg2 Qxg2 mate and 29. h3 Qxf3+ 30. Kh2 Qxf2+ 31. Kh1 Rgxg1 mate offer no succor, White falls on his sword with 29. Qxb7 Rgxg1 mate.

Thanks to Sy Samet, Karamsetty’s teacher, for passing along his pupil’s gem.

Corus A Tournament, Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, January 2007

Van WelyRadjabov

1. d4Nf621. Bd5Nxb4

2. c4g622. Rb1Nc2

3. Nc3Bg723. Rf1b6

4. e4d624. Rb2Ne3

5. Nf30-025. Bxe3fxe3

6. Be2e526. Qb3Bg5

7. 0-0Nc627. Nc3Rc5

8. d5Ne728. Na4Rc7

9. b4Nh529. Nc3Qc8

10. Re1f530. Nb5Rc1

11. Ng5Nf631. Rb1Rxf1+

12. f3Kh832. Rxf1Qc5

13. Ne6Bxe633. Kg2Rc8

14. dxe6Nh534. Re1a6

15. g3Bf635. Na3Qd4

16. c5f436. Re2Rc3

17. g4Ng737. Qb2h5

18. Bc4Nc638. h3Qd1

19. cxd6cxd639. Bb3Rxb3

20. Ne2Rc840. axb3Nxe6

White resigns

39th Virginia Open, Springfield, January 2007


1. e4e516. dxe4f5

2. Nf3Nc617. Qc4+Kh8

3. Bc4Nf618. Nb5Bxb5

4. Ng5d519. Qxb5f4

5. exd5Na520. Qe2f3

6. Bb5+c621. gxf3Rf6

7. dxc6bxc622. Rd1Qd7

8. Qf3Bb723. f4exf4

9. Ba4Bd624. Qf3Re8

10. d30-025. b3Rxe4

11. 0-0c526. Bb2Rg6+

12. Qe2Nc627. Kh1Qb7

13. Bxc6Bxc628. Rg1Re1

14. Nc3Qc729. Qxb7Rgxg1

15. Nge4Nxe4mate

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

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