- The Washington Times - Friday, January 19, 2007

Grandmaster Jaan Ehlvest continues to cut a wide swath through the local chess scene, easily winning the 47th annual Baltimore Open earlier this month at Goucher College with an undefeated 4-1/2-1/2 score. The Estonian-born GM’s win comes just two weeks after his tie for first in the 33rd annual Eastern Open in the District.

IM Oladapo Adu, who managed a last-round draw against Ehlvest, finished in a tie for second at 4-1 with FM Boris Zisman, NM Troy Roberts and Ehlvest’s compatriot, Kaupo Kruusiauk. Tournament director Mike Atkins reports that Ehlvest faced his toughest test in his Round 3 game against Maryland master Denis Strenzwilk, but grandmasterly technique won out in a major-piece ending that was one of the last games of the round to finish.

Doug Stanley took the Class A prize, with Luis Gonzalez-Silen and Michael Stepp sharing Class B honors. The Class C prize went to Joseph Coppola, and Alvin Jones turned in a fine 3-2 result to take the Class D prize and a boatload of rating points. In an unusual pairing, Dr. Steven Hudson took the Baltimore Open Class E honors while his wife, Lori, snared the Under-1000 prize.

Congratulations to all.

The annual Corus Tournament, the first superelite event of the year, has kicked off in the chess-mad Dutch city of Wijk aan Zee. World champ GM Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and a flock of his top rivals — including Viswanathan Anand of India, Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov, Peter Svidler of Russia and Armenian Levon Aronian — are competing in the A Group tournament.

Giving the tournament extra spice is the presence of a trio of young guns — Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine and rising Norwegian star Magnus Carlsen — in the field this year. The Dutch event should provide an early glimpse of which players are hot as the FIDE world championship candidates’ matches get started in the spring.

We’ll have games and a wrap-up of the action from Wijk aan Zee in next week’s column.

GM Peter Leko of Hungary, the one top contender absent from Corus, has a good excuse: He’s still resting up from his tough win in the first Association of Chess Professionals World Rapid Cup in Odessa, which ended Jan. 8. The 16-grandmaster knockout event is a welcome attempt to revive the great rapid tournaments once run by the defunct Professional Chess Association.

Leko defeated veteran Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk in the finals, winning the second blitz playoff game. Young American GM Hikaru Nakamura put up a tough fight but was bounced by Israeli GM Boris Gelfand in the first round.

• • •

It was perhaps just too good to last.

The U.S. Chess Federation is seeking a new sponsor for the 2007 national championship tournament and the U.S. women’s championship after failing to strike a deal with the San Diego-based America’s Foundation for Chess.

The ACF brought a rare period of order and stability to the national title event, which had gone through a long period of sponsor and format changes before the San Diego group stepped in in 2000. It’s a shame that what should be the country’s premier event is once again an organizational orphan.

Young Azerbaijani GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov went “old school” in routing Kazakh GM Darmen Sadvakasov in a four-game rapid match held last month in Astana, Kazakhstan. Two of the 21-year-old Mamedyarov’s wins in his 31/2-1/2 triumph came from dowdy old openings: a win with Black in the Scotch Opening in Game 1 and today’s Game 3 win with one of the stodgier defensive lines in the Ruy Lopez.

The Modern Steinitz Defense variation, with 4…d6, is named for the 19th-century Austrian world champion, although Mamedyarov’s treatment here with the fianchetto of the bishop to g7 was a favorite of former Soviet great David Bronstein. Black’s game looks cramped from the get-go, but it also has hidden virtues that White appears to underestimate.

The pawn grab 14. exf5 Nxf5 15. Qxb7!? gives White a material edge, but Black’s compensation looks ample after 16…e4 17. Nd2 Rae8 18. Qd1 (the multiple queen moves are a clear sign of the fragility of White’s game) e3!, driving a wedge into the heart of Sadvakasov’s position.

White offers to surrender the exchange to ease the pressure on his game, but Black accepts the gift on his own terms: 20. fxe3 Nfxe3 21. Bxe3 Nxe3 22. Qd3 (see diagram) Qg4!, when 23. Rf2? Rxf3! wins a piece. After 23. Qe2 Nxf1 24. Qxf1 Re3 25. Kh1 Bxc3 26. bxc3 Rxc3, Black has a clear material edge and his attack rages on.

Mamedyarov finishes up efficiently with 31. Rd1 Qe4 32. Qf2 Rxf3 33. gxf3 Rxf3, and Black cleans up in lines like 34. Qg2 (to block the deadly discovered check) Rxh3+! 34. Kg1 Qe3+ 35. Kf1 Rf3+, winning the queen. Sadvakasov resigned.

Game 3, Rapid Match, Astana, Kazakhstan, December 2006


1. e4e518. Qd1e3

2. Nf3Nc619. Nf3Ng4

3. Bb5a620. fxe3Nfxe3

4. Ba4d621. Bxe3Nxe3

5. c3Bd722. Qd3Qg4

6. d4g623. Qe2Nxf1

7. 0-0Bg724. Qxf1Re3

8. d5Nce725. Kh1Bxc3

9. c4h626. bxc3Rxc3

10. Nc3f527. Qe2Rxc4

11. Qb3Bxa428. Re1Rcf4

12. Qxa4+Qd729. h3Qf5

13. Qb3Nf630. Rc1Rf7

14. exf5Nxf531. Rd1Qe4

15. Qxb70-032. Qf2Rxf3

16. Qb3e433. gxf3Rxf3

17. Nd2Rae8White 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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