- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2007

The hoity-toity and hoi polloi were both in action this week.

Eight of the world’s strongest grandmasters have relocated to Spain after completing the first half of a Category 20 double-round-robin tournament in Morelia, Mexico. Indian GM Viswanathan Anand and budding Norwegian superstar GM Magnus Carlsen lead the pack at 4-2, a half-point ahead of Ukraine’s Vassily Ivanchuk.

The second half of the tournament, which started yesterday, will be staged in the tournament’s traditional home in Linares, Spain.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chess Federation last weekend staged some of the game’s most democratic events, the four regional U.S. Amateur Team Championships. The average rating of the four-player teams cannot top 2200, which means grandmasters and Class E players can find themselves in the same lineup, with each game of equal weight in deciding the match.

The U.S. Amateur Team East Championship, held annually in Parsippany, N.J., is always the biggest of the regional events, attracting hundreds of teams.

The winning team in Parsippany, Beavis and Butt-Vinnik, took the egalitarian approach, with four boards and an alternate all bunched around the magic cut-off number: FM James Critelli (2311), master Evan Turtel (2006), and experts Evan Rabin (2076), Nick Panico (2043) and Alan Kantor (2000).

Bulgarian GM and Morelia/Linares top seed Veselin Topalov had a rough time in the Mexican half of the event, losing to Carlsen and Ivanchuk. But Topalov finished on a high note with a Round 7 win over Russia’s Alexander Morozevich and is at least still in the running at 3-4.

The Bulgarian and the Russian are two of the most uncompromising tacticians in the game today, and it’s no surprise that their Steinitz French quickly veers off into murky, uncharted depths. Morozevich as Black settles a ferocious battle for central control with a speculative piece sacrifice, 19. fxe5 Ncxe5!?, perhaps simply to prevent White from sacrificing himself with 20. Nf5!?.

With both kings on shaky ground, White decides to give back the extra material, but Morozevich still emerges with a plus: 22. Qc4 Nxe5 (Qxa4?? 23. Qxe6+ Kf8 24. Bh6+ and 22…dxe3?? 23. Qxe6+ Kf8 24. Bc4 both lead to mate) 23. Qxd4 Nf3! 24. Nxf3 gxf3+ 25. Kf2 Qxa4, and White can’t exploit the pin because of 26. a3? Qc2+ 27. Kxf3 Bd7! 28. axb4? Bc6+ 29. Kf4 Qf5 mate.

Time pressure has plagued Morozevich in Morelia, and here Black makes another critical error just as the flags are about to fall: 36. Be4 Kc7?! (Qd4 37. Bxb7 Rb8 38. Qg5+ Kc7 39. Bg2 Rb5 is very pleasant for Black) 37. Rb1 Qf2 38. Rxb7+ Kc8 39. Rb1 Ra7 40. f5 Rc7? (see diagram), when 40…Qf4! (hitting the White bishop and rook) would have held nicely on 41. fxe6 (Re1 exf5) Be8 42. e7 Bxg6 43. exf8=Q+ Qxf8 44. Rxg6 Rh7+.

Instead, 41. fxe6 Be8 42. Qg5, leaves White a clear pawn to the good, as 42…Qxf4 43. Qxf4 Rxf4 44. Rh8 Re7 45. Bg6 would win a piece for White.

Topalov needs only to work his queen into the attack to win, which he accomplishes on 45. Qg3 Rc3 46. Qe1! Re3 47. Qa5 Bb5 48. Rc1+, and Black resigns as 48…Bc4 49. Rxc4+! Qxc4 50. Qd8 is mate.

By contrast, the decisive game from the Amateur Team East event was a far more straightforward affair: White gives up a pawn to get the bishop pair, opens lines, and checkmates Black’s king. Nick Panico on Board 4 provided the critical win in his game against Class C player Linda Diaz.

In a Queen’s Pawn Game, Diaz willingly exchanges her developed bishop for an undeveloped knight on Move 5 to force the White king out into the open. Panico’s setup looks awkward, but once he unwinds his game, the two bishops will tell.

White emerges a pawn down on 10. Bg3!? (Nxc6 Qd7 11. Bg3 Qxc6 12. Qxc6+ bxc6 13. Kf3 was also playable) Nb6?! (and here 10…0-0 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Qxc6 Qg5! 13. Qxc4 Rfd8 may be a better way to exploit White’s king position) 11. Nxc6 Nxa4 12. Nxd8 Kxd8 13. Kf3, but he may have the better prospects once the queen-side opens up.

Black hurts her own cause with 13…c3? (better was 13…Nb6 14. Rc1 h5 15. Bxc4 c6, making White work to find open lines) 14. bxc3 Ba5 (Bxc3 15. Rxb7 Ba5 16. Ba6 Bb6 17. Rc1 Rc8 18. Rc4 Nb2 19. Rc2 Na4 20. Bb5 wins) 15. Rb5 (Panico later found a winning line starting with 15. Rxb7 Bb6 16. Ba6 Nxc3 17. Rc1 Nd5 18. e4, but his move is an excellent practical decision to preserve his positional assets) b6 16. Rg5 g6, and White’s pieces now have room to operate.

The bishops infiltrate decisively with 17. Be5 Rg8 18. Bf6+ Kc8 (Kd7 19. Bb5+) 19. Ba6+ Kb8, and, as Panico noted, Black is essentially playing without her queen’s rook. Any attempt to break out with…c5 allows Be5 mate.

White prepares the ground for the final assault, breaking through on 27. Rb5 (threat: 28. Rxa5 bxa5 29. Rb1 mate) Nd2+ 28. Kg2 Nxc4 29. Rc1 Nd6 30. Rxa5! Re6 (Nxa5 31. Rb1+ again leads to mate) 31. Rd5 b5 32. Rxd6 Rxd6 33. Bxd6, and Black gives up as 33…cxd6 allows 34. Rc8 mate.

24th SuperGM Morelia/Linares, February 2007


1. e4e625. Kf2Qxa4

2. d4d526. Bd3Qd7

3. Nc3Nf627. Qe4Bd6

4. e5Nfd728. Rag1Qg7

5. f4c529. Rh6Qxb2+

6. Nf3Nc630. Kxf3Rf8+

7. Be3a631. Bf4Qe5

8. Ne2Qb632. Qg6+Kd8

9. Qc1g533. Kg2Qb2+

10. c3cxd434. Kh1Bxf4

11. cxd4Bb4+35. gxf4Bd7

12. Kf2f636. Be4Kc7

13. g3Rf837. Rb1Qf2

14. Kg2g438. Rxb7+Kc8

15. Nh4Rg839. Rb1Ra7

16. h3h540. f5Rc7

17. hxg4hxg441. fxe6Be8

18. Nc3fxe542. Qg5Qd4

19. fxe5Ncxe543. Bg2Rf4

20. dxe5d444. e7Rc5

21. Na4Qa545. Qg3Rc3

22. Qc4Nxe546. Qe1Re3

23. Qxd4Nf347. Qa5Bb5

24. Nxf3gxf3+48. Rc1+Black


2007 U.S. Amateur Team East, Parsippany, New Jersey, February 2007


1. d4d518. Bf6+Kc8

2. Bf4Nf619. Ba6+Kb8

3. e3Bf520. c4h6

4. Nf3e621. Rb5Nc3

5. c4Bxb122. Rb3Re8

6. Rxb1Bb4+23. a3g5

7. Ke2dxc424. g4e5

8. Qa4+Nc625. Bxe5f6

9. Ne5Nd526. Bg3Ne4

10. Bg3Nb627. Rb5Nd2+

11. Nxc6Nxa428. Kg2Nxc4

12. Nxd8Kxd829. Rc1Nd6

13. Kf3c330. Rxa5Re6

14. bxc3Ba531. Rd5b5

15. Rb5b632. Rxd6Rxd6

16. Rg5g633. Bxd6Black

17. Be5Rg8resigns

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

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