- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 12, 2008

The University of Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers came up just short against archrivals from the University of Texas at Dallas in last weekend’s college chess Final Four, held on the campus of the Baltimore school.

The battle between the college chess world’s perennial powerhouses came down to a winner-take-all final match Sunday. UT-D, which held a slim half-point lead at the time, prevailed on a 2½-1½ score to take the title. Miami Dade College took third, and New York University was fourth in the team round-robin event.

As The Times’ Jon Siegel already provided a marvelous account of the drama at the tournament in Tuesday’s newspaper (which also can be read online at www.washingtontimes.com) we can go straight to the action on the board.

In a pivotal game, UMBC’s fourth board, WGM Katerina Rohonyan, had won both her games in the previous round and got off to a promising start against UT-D’s Marko Zivanic in their Round 3 encounter. By 13. Rc1 g5 14. Bh2 e6 15. Nb5, White appears to have held serve in this Grunfeld with well-placed pieces, open lines and some pressure on the Black position.

But after 17. Nd6 Nxd4 (Nxd6 18. cxd6 Bxd3 19. Qxd3 Nxd4 20. Ne5 Nb5 21. Nd7 keeps the initiative for White) 18. Bxe4 Bxe4 19. Ne5! (hitting the knight on d4 and threatening a fork at d7) Nb5 (see diagram), Rohonyan could have stepped up the pressure with 20. Nxb7! (Nd7!? Qxb2 21. Nxf8 Rxf8 22. Nxe4 dxe4, when 23. Rxe4? runs into 23…Nc3), when White looks strong in lines like 20…Rfc8 21. a4 Qe7 22. axb5 Qxb7 23. b6.

White’s 20. Nxe4?! dxe4 21. Qg4 Rfd8 22. Qxe4 Rd5 isn’t bad, but suddenly Black’s game has become much easier to play, with a domination of the d-file and multiple infiltration points into White’s position.

With her position under increasing pressure, White ends up losing material after 26…Qc3 27. Ne3?! (perhaps not best, though Black still has at least a slight pull on the tricky 27. Bc7 R8d7 28. Nb6 Nd2 29. Nxd5 Rxd5!? 30. Qe2 Nxb1 31. Rxb1 Rd2) Nd2 28. Nxd5 Rxd5 29. Qe2 Nxb1 30. Rxb1 Rd2 31. Qf3 Rb2! (Black neatly exploits White’s back-rank vulnerabilities) 32. Qd1 (Qxc3?? Rxb1+ 33. Qe1 Rxe1 mate; 32. Rxb2?? Qe1 mate) Qd2 33. Bg3 Qxd1+ 34. Rxd1 Rxb4, winning a key pawn.

Rohonyan struggles mightily in the ending, but with two Black pawns on the march after 69. Rh1 e4, she gave up.

The loss meant UMBC needed 2½ points from the other three games to win. GM Timur Gareev came through with a victory over UT-D’s GM Magesh Panchanathan, but top board Sergey Erenberg could only draw against fellow GM Alejandro Ramirez. UMBC Board 3 GM Pawel Blehm thus was forced to play for a win against IM Davorin Kuljasevic, and ended up losing after pressing too hard too long.

n n n

Unlike in poker, a pair of queens usually is a winning hand in chess. However, there are times when even a brace of queens cannot rescue a king under fire. GM Andrei Kharlov gave a fine demonstration of the exception to the rule while upsetting GM Alexey Dreev at the powerful Russian team championships under way in Dagomys, Russia.

In a Semi-Slav, Black wins the two bishops early on with 9…g5 Bg3 Nxg3 10. hxg3, but the half-open h-file presents him with a problem he never fully resolves in the game — where to place his king. The center and both flanks will soon prove too hazardous for its Black counterpart.

Key to White’s win is the subtle 14. Rb1!, putting the rook on a closed file that soon will be blasted open. Another nice touch is 20. Nc5 Nxc5 21. bxc5!, correctly judging that the b-file will be more inviting once White repositions his pieces.

With White rooks bearing down on the h- and b-files, even an extra queen can’t save Black: 24. Bf5 hxg3?! 25. Rxh8+ Bxh8 26. Bxe6 gxf2? (losing, but even on the tougher 26…fxe6 [Qxe6? 27. Qh7 Bf6 28. Rxb7 Be7 29. Qg8+ Bf8 30. Nxg5 Qf6 31. Rxf7, winning] 27. Qg6+ Qf7 28. Qxf7+ Kxf7 29. Rxb7+ Kg6 30. fxg3, Black faces a long and dreary defense) 27. Qh7! (Ke2? fxe6 28. Qg6+ Qf7 29. Qxf7+ Kxf7 30. Rxb7+ Kg6 31. Kxf2 g4 32. Nd2 e5 is only equal) f1=Q (Bf6 28. Qg8+ Qf8 29. Bxf7+ Ke7 30. Rxb7+ Kf6 31. Qg6 mate) 28. Qxh8+, and White’s attack will not be stopped.

The finale: 28…Qf8 29. Bxf7+! Kxf7 30. Rxb7+ Kg6 (Ke8 31. Qe5+ Kd8 32. Qe6 Qf2+ 33. Kc3 wins) 31. Ne5+ Kf5 32. Qh7+ Ke6 33. Qd7+, and the two Black queens remain spectators as White will deliver mate on 33…Kf6 34. Ng4+ Kg6 35. Qh7 mate. Dreev resigned.

UMBC vs. UT-D, College Chess Final Four, April 2008


1. c4c536. h4gxh4

2. Nf3g637. Bd6Rb1+

3. e3Nf638. Kh2Bxf2

4. d4cxd439. Rd8+Kg7

5. exd4d540. Rb8Rc1

6. Nc3Bg741. Rxb7Bxc5

7. Be20-042. Be5+Kg6

8. 0-0Nc643. a5Bf2

9. Re1Be644. Rb3h5

10. c5Ne445. Rf3Bg1+

11. h3Bf546. Kh3f5

12. Bf4h647. Kxh4Rc4+

13. Rc1g548. Kh3Bc5

14. Bh2e649. Rg3+Rg4

15. Nb5Qf650. Rc3Bf2

16. Bd3a651. g3Re4

17. Nd6Nxd452. Bc7Re2

18. Bxe4Bxe453. Rc1Bd4

19. Ne5Nb554. Bd8Be3

20. Nxe4dxe455. Rb1f4

21. Qg4Rfd856. Bb6Kf5

22. Qxe4Rd557. Rf1e5

23. a4Nd458. gxf4Bxf4

24. b4Rad859. Bg1Ra2

25. Nc4Nb360. Kh4Rxa5

26. Rb1Qc361. Kxh5Ra3

27. Ne3Nd262. Kh4a5

28. Nxd5Rxd563. Bc5Ra2

29. Qe2Nxb164. Bf2Ra3

30. Rxb1Rd265. Bc5Rc3

31. Qf3Rb266. Bf2Rf3

32. Qd1Qd267. Kh5Be3

33. Bg3Qxd1+68. Rh1Bxf2

34. Rxd1Rxb469. Rh2e4

35. Rd7Bd4White resigns

Russian Team Championships, Dagomys, Russia, April 2008


1. d4d518. Rb3Bf6

2. c4c619. Rc3a6

3. Nf3Nf620. Nc5Nxc5

4. Nc3e621. bxc5h5

5. Qb3Nbd722. Rb3Rc8

6. Bg5h623. Kd2h4

7. Bh4Qa524. Bf5hxg3

8. e3Ne425. Rxh8+Bxh8

9. Bd3d526. Bxe6gxf2

10. Bg3Nxg327. Qh7f1=Q

11. hxg3Bg728. Qxh8+Qf8

12. cxd5exd529. Bxf7+Kxf7

13. Qc2Nf630. Rxb7+Kg6

14. Rb1Qb431. Ne5+Kf5

15. a3Qe732. Qh7+Ke6

16. b4Be633. Qd7+Black

17. Na4Nd7resigns

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



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