- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2007

The finale was a bit of a letdown, but Indian GM Viswanathan Anand held on for an impressive win in the Category 20 SuperGM Morelia/Linares Tournament, which concluded last weekend in the Spanish chess mecca.

Anand, soon to reclaim his spot at the top of the world chess rankings, drew his last four games in Linares to finish at 81/2-51/2, a full point ahead of young Norwegian star Magnus Carlsen and fast-closing Russian GM Alexander Morozevich, who won his final three games. Anand took the lead with a fine Round 10 win over Carlsen and was never seriously challenged the rest of the way for his first solo title in the tourney since 1998.

The scorecard: Anand 81/2-51/2; Carlsen, Morozevich 71/2-61/2; Levon Aronian (Armenia), Peter Svidler (Russia) 7-7; Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) 61/2-71/2; and Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Peter Leko (Hungary) 6-8. With Topalov, a former world champ, rated 2783 and the ultrasolid Leko clocking in at 2749, this year’s Morelia/Linares may boast the strongest tail-enders in the history of the tournament play.

• • •

The grandmasters were in a pacific mood on the Atlantic as GMs Jaan Ehlvest, Alexander Stripunsky and Alexander Shabalov shared first place at 4-1 in last weekend’s 7th Millennium Chess Festival in Virginia Beach.

The top seeds were content to draw quickly with each other and rack up the points against lower-rated rivals. The only GM scalp came when Shabalov defeated fellow GM Nick de Firmian in the penultimate round.

Still, it was good to have the Virginia Beach event back after a year’s absence, and a number of players recorded fine results. Other class winners: Under 2200 — Larry Larkins; Under 1900 — Jonathan Hundley with a perfect 5-0 score; Under 1600 — Ryan Santos and Brian Roark; and Under 1300 — Dwight Delgado.

WGM Katerina Rohonyan didn’t back down in her game with Ehlvest, trotting out the positionally intricate and theory-heavy Tarrasch QGD line (3…c5) against the Baltimore-based Estonian GM. But she quickly lost her way and almost as quickly was packing up her pieces for the next round.

With her king-side still undeveloped, Black probably can’t afford 9. 0-0 c4?!, trying to keep the center closed. White reacts energetically with a piece sacrifice, and Rohonyan finds herself in deep trouble: 10. e4! dxe4 (Be7 11. Bxf6 Bxf6 12. exd5 Bxd5 13. Re1+ costs Black the right to castle, as a piece is lost on 13…Be7? 14. Nxd5 Qxd5 15. Re5! Qd7 16. d5) 11. d5! exf3 12. Qxf3 Bxd5?! (returning the piece with 12…a6 and accepting an inferior game was the better choice here) 13. Nxd5 Qxd5 14. Rfe1+ Be7 (see diagram).

White now exploits a pair of pins with the winning 15. Rxe7+! (the knight on c6 can’t recapture, and if Black recaptures with the king, the knight on f6 is now pinned and can’t recapture after 16. Qxd5) Kf8 16. Qxd5 Nxd5 17. Rxb7, with an overwhelming bind.

The finale: 17…Nde7 (White’s threat is 18. Bxc6 Rxc6 19. Rb8+ and mate to come; losing prosaically are 17…f6 18. Bxc6 Rxc6 19. Rb8+ Kf7 20. Rxh8 fxg5 21. Rxh7, and 17…Nf6 18. Rc1 Ne4 19. Rxc4 Nxg5 20. Rxc6 Rxc6 21. Bxc6) 18. Bxe7+ Nxe7 19. Re1, and Black resigns as the f-pawn will fall after 19…Ng6 (Ng8 20. Rc7! Rb8 21. Bxc4 Nh6 22. Rxa7) 20. Rc7! Rd8 (Rxc7 21. Re8 mate) Bxc4.

• • •

We follow up that short feature with a full-blown, five-act Shakespearean tragicomedy, taken from last month’s U.S. Amateur East team tournament in Parsippany, N.J. Maryland expert Jared Defibaugh wrested a point from stubborn Chris Ward, a Class C player from New Jersey, in a game that more than makes up in moxie and plot twists what it lacks, at times, in accuracy.

Start with a rock ‘em-sock ‘em opening (3. g4!?) and a hubristic check that costs Black the victory right out of the opening: 16. Qxg7? Qh5+? (Black wins a piece with the king still on e1 after 16…Qg5! 17. Qxg8+ Qxg8 18. Nf6+ Kf8 19. Nxg8 Bxb2 20. Rb1 Bc3+) 17. Ke2 Qh5+ 18. Bf3 Qg5 19. Qxg8+! Qxg8 20. Nf6+ Kf8 21. Nxg8 Bxb2 22. Rg1!, and White is still in the game.

Black emerges a pawn up, but it turns out that Defibaugh has great compensation in his more active pieces. By 24. Rg8+ Ke7 25. Nd5+ Kd7, the dominant knight and powerful rook and bishop give White a clear edge. Three moves later, the Black f-pawn falls and Ward is pressed to keep the White pawn from queening.

White still must solve the problem of the opposite-colored bishops but makes slow but steady progress in advancing the passed pawn. Black finally runs out of squares on 48. Kh7 d5 49. Bxd5 Kxd3 50. Kg8, and the Black bishop will soon be lost. Ward resigned.

The script may have had a few holes, but it was a rattling good drama all the way.

7th Millennium Chess Festival, Virginia Beach, March 2007


1. c4e611. d5exf3

2. Nf3d512. Qxf3Bxd5

3. d4c513. Nxd5Qxd5

4. cxd5exd514. Rfe1+Be7

5. Nc3Nf615. Rxe7+Kf8

6. Bg5Nc616. Qxd5Nxd5

7. e3Be617. Rxb7Nde7

8. Bb5Rc818. Bxe7+Nxe7

9. 0-0c419. Re1Black

10. e4dxe4resigns

U.S. Amateur Team East, Parsippany, N.J., February 2007


1. e4c526. Rf8Kc6

2. Nc3Nc627. Bh5c4

3. g4e528. Bxf7Kc5

4. d3d629. Ne3cxd3+

5. h4Rb830. cxd3Rc7

6. f4b531. Nc4Kd4

7. f5b432. Be6Rh7

8. Nd5h633. Rd8Rh2+

9. Bg2Be734. Kf3Bxc4

10. Nf3Nd435. Bxc4Rh6

11. g5Nxf3+36. Rf8Bc1

12. Qxf3hxg537. f6Bg5

13. hxg5Rxh1+38. f7Rf6+

14. Bxh1Bxg539. Kg4Bh6

15. Qg2Bxc140. Ra8Rf1

16. Qxg7Qh4+41. Rxa7Ke3

17. Ke2Qh5+42. Ra8Kd4

18. Bf3Qg543. Rh8Bg7

19. Qxg8+Qxg844. Rg8Bh6

20. Nf6+Kf845. Kh5Rf6

21. Nxg8Bxb246. Rg6Rxg6

22. Rg1Ba647. Kxg6Bf8

23. Nf6Rb748. Kh7d5

24. Rg8+Ke749. Bxd5Kxd3

25. Nd5+Kd750. Kg8Black


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

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