- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 16, 2008

The grizzled veterans got downright frisky at the recent Corus Chess Festival in the Dutch town of Wijk aan Zee.

Alongside three strong invitationals, tournament organizers also staged a double round-robin for four of the game’s senior statesmen. Serbian GM Ljubomir Ljubojevic took first with a 4-2 score, ahead of Swiss GM Viktor Korchnoi, Dutch great Jan Timman and Hungary’s Lajos Portisch.

Despite their years, Ljubojevic and Timman were right on the cutting edge in their second encounter. The opening line they played in the QGD Anti-Meran variation (12. Nxf7!?) had been introduced by Bulgarian GM Veselin Topalov just two days before in a spectacular victory over former world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the Corus Elite section.

This time, though, the Serb varies with a better defensive scheme, and in the end it is Black who takes the point.

Topalov credited his longtime second, Ivan Cheparinov, with finding the speculative knight sacrifice and told reporters later that the pair had analyzed some lines in the variation up through Move 40. What the Bulgarians had prepared against Ljubo’s 16. Bg4 Raf8 17. Qc2 (see diagram; Kramnik here played the much-criticized 17…Qxd4? and succumbed to a brilliant attack after 18. Qg6 Qxg4 19. Qxg7+ Kd8 20. Nxb7+ Kc8 21. Nd6+ Kc7 22. a4) Rhg8! hasn’t been disclosed, but most analysts say Black’s move is the most challenging defense, holding onto the bishop and in some lines threatening to trap White’s queen.

After 18. a4 Ba8! 19. Rfe1 Nc7 20. d5 cxd5 (exd5?! 21. Qg6 Bh8 22. Nc8+! Kd8 [Rxc8? 23. Qd6+ Ke8 24. Qxd7+ Kf8 25. Qd6+ Kf7 26. Bh5+ Rg6 27. Qxg6+ Ke7 28. Qd6 mate] 23. Nxb6 Rxg6 24. Nxd7, and White has the edge) 21. axb5 a5 22. b3 cxb3 23. Qh7 d4 24. Bh5 Nxb5 25. Nf7 b2, White’s attempt to open up attacking lines has given Black major compensation in the form of his advanced queen-side pawns.

White continually finds ways to complicate the game but never seems to obtain quite enough compensation for the sacrificed piece: 27. Nxh6 Rh8!? (cleaner may have been 27…Nb1 28. Nxg8+ Kd8 29. Qxg7 Nc3 30. Nf6 Qb7 31. f3 (Bf3 b1=Q) Ne2+ 32. Kf2 d3, and Black is winning) 28. Qxg7+ Kd8 29. Nf7+ Kc7, when Black stays in command in lines like 30. Rxb2 Qxb2 31. Nxh8 d3 32. Ng6 d2 33. Rf1 Qb7 34. f3 Qb6+ 35. Kh1 Rb8.

By 35. Kh2 Nf1+ 36. Kh3, Black has a won game, but it’s still nice to watch an old pro nail things down: 36…Ne3! 37. fxe3 Qh1+ 38. Kg4 (Bh2 Qxg2+ 39. Kh4 Qxh2+ leads to mate) Qxg2 39. Qf7 dxe3 40. Nh4 Qe4+ 41. Qf4 a4 42. Bf7 Nc5, and White is busted on 43. g6 Qxf4+ 44. Bxf4 e2 45. Bg3 a3 46. g7 a2 47. g8=Q Rxg8+ 48. Bxg8 a1=Q; Timman resigned.


Can a good game compensate for a bad tournament?

The American contingent did not fare well in the just-concluded 4th Moscow Open in the Russian capital. New York WGM Irina Krush lost her last-round game to fall out of the top winner’s circle in the women’s competition, and Kentucky GM Gregory Kaidanov’s tie for 66th was the best score for the U.S. male contingent.

U.S. IM Josh Friedel managed a respectable 5½-4½ result, two points behind tournament winner Russian GM Artyom Timofeev. However, Friedel may have found some consolation in his last-round win over Russian FM Gumar Moiseev, a game that features a very slick final combination topped by a queen sacrifice.

White’s 7. Bb3 0-0 8. d4 is one of the most provocative Ruy Lopez lines. By 16. Nc3 Nxc4 17. Qxc4 Bf6, Black has two bishops in a wide-open position but must shore up his exposed c-pawn.

White uses a small tactical trick to collect the c-pawn (25. Nxc5!, when 25…Qxc5?? 26. Qxc5 Rxe1+ 27. Rxe1 leaves Black vulnerable to a back-rank mate if he recaptures) and abruptly shifts to a king-side attack as Moiseev tries to recover his material.

The finale features a string of inspired moves by the American: 30. Qf4 Bc6 31. Ne6! Be8 (forced, as the Black queen is cut off from the defense on 31…fxe6? 32. Qf7+ and 33. Qxg7 mate) 32. Nc7 Qxa2 33. Nxe8 Rc2 (Black is a piece down but threatens mate in two) 34. Qd4!!.

White’s queen covers the f2-square while threatening instant mate in turn on g7. Black’s attack looks dangerous, but Friedel has a killing riposte: 34…Rxg2+ 35. Kf1 Rxg3 36. Qxg7+!! Rxg7 37. Nf6+, and Black resigned as mate is inevitable after both 37…Kf8 37. Re8 mate and 37…Kh8 38. Re8+ Rg8 39. Rxg8 mate.

Corus Honorary Tournament, Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, January 2008


1. d4d522. b3cxb3

2. c4c623. Qh7d4

3. Nf3Nf624. Bh5Nxb5

4. Nc3e625. Nf7b2

5. Bg5h626. Rab1Nc3

6. Bh4dxc427. Nxh6Rh8

7. e4g528. Qxg7+Kd8

8. Bg3b529. Nf7+Kc7

9. Be2Bb730. Nxh8Nxb1

10. 0-0Nbd731. Ng6Rd8

11. Ne5Bg732. h4Nd2

12. Nxf7Kxf733. hxg5b1=Q

13. e5Nd534. Rxb1Qxb1+

14. Ne4Ke735. Kh2Nf1+

15. Nd6Qb636. Kh3Ne3

16. Bg4Raf837. fxe3Qh1+

17. Qc2Rhg838. Kg4Qxg2

18. a4Ba839. Qf7dxe3

19. Rfe1Nc740. Nh4Qe4+

20. d5cxd541. Qf4a4

21. axb5a542. Bf7Nc5

White resigns

4th Moscow Open, Moscow, February 2008


1. e4e520. Na4Qc6

2. Nf3Nc621. f3Be7

3. Bb5a622. Bf2Bd6

4. Ba4Nf623. Bg3Bxg3

5. 0-0Be724. hxg3Rfe8

6. Re1b525. Nxc5h6

7. Bb30-026. b4Rxe1+

8. d4Nxd427. Rxe1a5

9. Nxd4exd428. Re7Qd5

10. e5Ne829. Qg4h5

11. Qxd4Bb730. Qf4Bc6

12. c4c531. Ne6Be8

13. Qg4bxc432. Nc7Qxa2

14. Bxc4d533. Nxe8Rc2

15. exd6Nxd634. Qd4Rxg2+

16. Nc3Nxc435. Kf1Rxg3

17. Qxc4Bf636. Qxg7+Rxg7

18. Be3Rc837. Nf6+Black

19. Rad1Qb6resigns

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

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