- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2008

Armenian GM Levon Aronian and emerging Norwegian superstar Magnus Carlsen shared first place at the Category 20 Corus A Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, capturing the first major international prize of 2008 as the tournament’s Big Three all came up short.

Aronian and Carlsen finished at 8-5, a half-point ahead of Indian world champion and Corus top seed Viswanathan Anand and Azerbaijan’s Teimour Radjabov.

The two former world champs in the field also came up short. Russian GM Vladimir Kramnik tied for seventh at 6½-6½, hurt by a sensational Round 12 loss with White to Carlsen. Also, Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov could manage only a minus-1 result, tying for ninth place at 6-7.

Carlsen, who finished last in the event a year ago, garnered most of the post-tournament attention, but the 25-year-old Aronian has quietly established himself among the world’s top players. He won the event last year, and the only loss in the 2008 event came at the hands of Kramnik.

His sharp, fighting style was on display in a Round 11 win over Dutch GM Loek van Wely that pushed him into a tie with Carlsen. Van Wely as Black plays a Queen’s Gambit Slav line that the Armenian star himself played in a victory of GM Boris Gelfand earlier in the event, but this time White emerges victorious.

Van Wely was a bit unfortunate at Corus, spoiling several good positions. He had Carlsen on the ropes in their game before losing, and here he handles White’s novelty 15. Rb1 (Gelfand played 15. Bd2 and lost in 33 shaky moves) relatively well.

After 21. dxc6 Bxc6 22. Ne4, both sides have survived the early complications unscathed, but Black might now have considered his king’s safety with 22…0-0, when he can meet White’s c-file pressure with 23. Rc2 Qb7 24. Rhc1 Rfd8 25. f6?! Rxd3! 26. fxe7 (Kxd3 Rd8+ 27. Ke2 Bxe4 wins) Bc3!! (Bxe4?? 27. Qxe4! Qxe4 28. Rc8+) 27. bxc3 (Kxd3 Bb5 mate) Bxe4 28. Qf4 Re8, with an advantage.

Instead, Black goes awry on 22.. Rd8 23. f6 Nd5 24. Rxc6!? (White relieves the pressure on his center, but his compensation for the loss of the exchange is unclear) Qxc6 25. Rc1 Qd7? 26. Nd6+! Qxd6 (had Black played the superior 25…Qb7!, he could now play 26…Rxd6 and his queen prevents White bishop check at b5) 27. Bb5+ Kf8 28. Bc5, pinning the queen.

Black’s pieces look nice, but they lack coordination and have no counter to the pressure on f7 by the White queen and bishop. The f-pawn is lost, and Black’s game soon follows on 35. Qxf7 Ng6 36. Qb3 Nf4 37. Qg8 Rd4 (Nxh3 38. g5+! fxg5 [Nxg5 39. Qf8 mate] 39. Qf8+ Bg7 40. Qxd6+ Bf6 41. Qxf6 mate) 38. h4! (Black’s loose pieces will cost him as he tries to stave off mate) Ng2+ 39. Ke2 Nxh4 40. g5+ fxg5 41. Qe6+, and Van Wely resigns as more material is lost on 41…Ng6 42. Bxg6 hxg6 43. Qxe5.

n n n

Sad news out of Philadelphia: Local newspapers are reporting that veteran FM and chess coach Boris Baczynskyj died last month at the age of 62. The bearish Baczynskyj, who also wrote extensively about chess, was a frequent visitor to the local tournament scene and won the 1996 D.C. Open.

One of his most attractive wins came against California master Tibor Weinberger at the storied Lone Pine tournament in Texas in 1976. After a superbly conducted attack, Baczynskyj fashions a piquant mating motif.

In a Rossolimo Sicilian, Black goes to great lengths to preserve his bishop pair, a decision that will pay major dividends down the road. His disfigured king-side will prove an unexpected bonus, opening the g-file for the coming attack.

Weinberger’s 15. 0-0 is a sad necessity, as the White knight was pinned and 15. Qe2 f5 16. Ng3 Qxe2+ 17. Kxe2 Bxg2 18. Rhg1 Bc6 just loses a pawn. But the king just becomes a target on the king-side, and Baczynskyj uses his bishops and a blizzard of pawn pushes to crack open the defense.

Already after 22. Rab1 f5!, the knight retreat with 23. Nd2 runs into 23…fxg3 24. hxg3 f4 25. Bxe6 fxg3! 26. Bxg8 gxf2+ 27. Kxf2 Qg2+ 28. Ke3 Bg5+, winning the queen. Black relentlessly pushes ahead, with 25…e3! decisively undermining the White defensive fortress. White’s attempts at counterplay are met by a very pretty winning maneuver.

Thus: 31. Qh8+ Kc7 32. Rb2 (see diagram; White’s move parries the threatened mate on g2 and attacks both the queen and bishop, but Black has a killing reply) Qh2+!!, and White resigns on the spot as 33. Rxh2 (no better was 33. Kf1 Rf5+ 34. Rf2 Rxf2 mate) gxh2+ 34. Kxh2 (Kf2 Rg2+ 35. Kf1 h1=Q mate; or 33. Kf1 h1=Q+ 35. Ke2 Rg2+ 36. Kd1 Bf3+ 37. Kc1 Qxe1 mate) Bd6+ 35. Qe5 Bxe5 is mate. The crossfire laid down by Black’s bishop pair proved deadly throughout the final assault.

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

AronianVan Wely

1. d4d522. Ne4Rd8

2. c4c623. f6Nd5

3. Nf3Nf624. Rxc6Qxc6

4. e3a625. Rc1Qd7

5. Nc3b526. Nd6+Qxd6

6. c5Nbd727. Bb5+Kf8

7. Bd3e528. Bc5Nf4+

8. Nxe5Nxe529. Ke1gxf6

9. dxe5Ng430. Bxd6+Rxd6

10. f4Bxc531. Rc8+Kg7

11. Qf3Qb632. Rxh8Kxh8

12. Ke2Nh633. Qb7Kg7

13. h3Nf534. Be8Kh6

14. g4Ne735. Qxf7Ng6

15. Rb1a536. Qb3Nf4

16. e4Bb737. Qg8Rd4

17. f5Bd438. h4Ng2+

18. exd5Bxe539. Ke2Nxh4

19. Be3Qc740. g5+fxg5

20. Rbc1b441. Qe6+Black

21. dxc6Bxc6resigns

Lone Pine, Texas, 1976


1. e4c517. Ng3f4

2. Nf3Nc618. Ne4Rg8

3. Bb5Nf619. g30-0-0

4. Nc3Nd420. Rfe1Kb8

5. Bc4e621. b4cxb4

6. e5d522. Rab1f5

7. exd6Bxd623. Bxe6fxe4

8. d3a624. Bxg8Rxg8

9. a4Bd725. cxb4e3

10. Bg5Bc626. fxe3fxg3

11. Ne4Be727. h3Qc3

12. Bxf6gxf628. b5axb5

13. Nxd4Qxd429. axb5Rg5

14. c3Qe530. Qxh7Qc2

15. 0-0f531. Qh8+Kc7

16. Qh5Qg732. Rb2Qh2+

White resigns

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

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