- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2008

It’s way off on the edge of the board and comes in last in chess’s algebraic pecking order, but the humble h-file often takes center stage when it is time to attack.

Because king-side castling occurs in the clear majority of today’s openings, blasting open the h-file is often the most brutally effective way to get at the enemy monarch. Both of today’s games illustrate the concept, and both do so to spectacular effect.

Games between a reigning and a former world champ rarely feature a queen sacrifice, but Indian titleholder Viswanathan Anand pulled it off against ex-champ Vladimir Kramnik of Russia at the ongoing 17th Amber Tournament in Nice, France. In this rapid (Game/25) encounter, Anand stacks his rooks on the open h-file, preparing the way for a superb mating combination.

There may be some early shadow-boxing in this Queen’s Indian, as the two players will sit down this fall for a world title match this fall in Germany. Still, there are some world-class subtleties as the two heavyweights probe for weaknesses on the c-file, the f-file and on the long diagonal.

But it is the direct approach that gives Anand the win after 34. Qd4!? (avoiding what looks like an easy draw with 34. Qxf6, the normally rock-solid Kramnik takes a risk and gets burned) e5 35. Qb4 hxg3 36. hxg3 Rd7!, a nice multitasking move that guards the bishop and prepares for the doubling of rooks on the h-file.

Black’s idea pays off brilliantly on 40. gxf4 Rdh7 41. Qb6 (bxc6 seems to falls short too after the forcing line 41…Qxf4 42. Qxb7 Rh1+! 43. Bxh1 Qh2+ 44. Kf1 Qxh1+ 45. Ke2 Qe4+ 46. Kd2 Qd4+ 47. Ke2 Re8+ 48. Kf1 Qe4! 49. Kg1 Rh8 50. f3 Qxf3 51. Rh2 Qg3+ 52. Rg2 Qe3+ 53. Rf2 Qxc1+) Qxf4 42. bxc6 Qf3!!, when 43. Bxf3 gxf3 44. cxb7+ Kf5 would leave White helpless against the mate on h1.

Kramnik tried 43. cxb7+ Kf5, but gave up as 44. Kf1 Rh1+ 45. Bxh1 Rxh1 is mate.

n n n

New York IM Irina Krush is a fine tactician, but she found herself on the wrong end of a brilliancy at a strong women’s invitational event in Istanbul this week. Young Turkish star Betul Cemre Yildiz had not won a game in the Category 9 event until she met up with Krush in Round 5, and once again, the open h-file proved critical to the winning attack.

In a Rossolimo Sicilian, Krush gets a playable position after 14. Nbd2 Ba6, but with the White pawn at e5 cramping Black’s game, Yildiz launches what will prove a winning attack with 15. h4 Ne6 16. h5 Qc7 17. g3 Rfd8 18. hxg6 hxg6, opening a key line of attack to the Black king.

White shows imagination in expanding the breach with 24. Qg1! f6 (Nd3 25. Ra1, and White keeps the queen-side from complete collapse as she presses her king-side advantage) 25. Bxe6+! (another well-judged move; White gives up a strong bishop but removes an anchor of the Black defense and leaves the Black bishop on a highly vulnerable square) Bxe6 26. Bh6 Kf7!? (see diagram; Black’s move walks into a dangerous speculative sacrifice, but 26…Bh8 27. Qh2 Kf7 [Rac8 28. Bf8! Kxf8 29. Qh7+ Bg8 30. Rh7! wins] 28. exf6 exf6 29. Bf4 is also unpleasant for Black).

White gambles with 27. Ng5+! fxg5 28. Nf3, and the weakness of the Black king and the open king-side lines make the sacrifice hard to refute with the clocks ticking. There followed 28…Bxh6?! (Bf6! 29. exf6 exf6 30. Bxg5 Rh8, giving back the piece, may have been more discreet here) 29. Rxh6 Ra6 (Ke8 is again better, but White keeps coming after 30. Nxg5 Ra6 31. Qh2 Kd7 32. Rxg7) 30. Qh2!, and now the h-file invasion proves irresistible.

White wraps up after 30…Rg8 (Ke8 31. Nxg5 Bg4 32. Qh4 Bf5 33. g4 Be4+ 34. f3 Bd3 35. e6! boxes in the Krush king) 31. Rh8 Ke8 32. Nxg5 Rxh8 33. Qxh8+ Kd7 34. Nh7! (with the White queen and rook closing off the escape routes for the Black king, the coming knight check will be lethal) Rc6 (Ra8 35. Nf6+! exf6 36. Qg7+ Ke8 37. Qxb7) 35. Nf8+ Kc7 36. Nxe6+ Kb6 37. Qd8+.

There’s no good reply, as 37…Ka6 (Kb5 38. Rxc6 Qxc6 39. Qxe7) 38. Rc5! Rb6 (Qb6 39. Qa8+ Qa7 40. Rxc6+ Nxc6 41. Qxc6+ Qb6 42. Nc7+ Ka7 43. Qa8 mate) 39. Nc7+ Ka7 40. Rxa5+ Na6 41. b4 wins material; Krush resigned.

The Istanbul event has been a triumph for the latest Chinese sensation in women’s chess. Fourteen-year-old WGM Hou Yifan scored her best result to date, clinching first place in the 10-woman round robin with a round to spare.

17th Amber Rapid/Blindfold Tournament, Nice, France, March 2008


1. d4Nf623. c5bxc5

2. c4e624. dxc5Bb8

3. Nf3b625. Ne5Ng5

4. g3Ba626. Qa1Nf7

5. b3Bb4+27. Nxf7Kxf7

6. Bd2Be728. a4h5

7. Bg2c629. b4h4

8. Bc3d530. b5Bb7

9. Ne5Nfd731. Rdc1Kg6

10. Nxd7Nxd732. Be5Bxe5

11. Nd20-033. Qxe5Qf6

12. 0-0f534. Qd4e5

13. Rc1Nf635. Qb4hxg3

14. Bb2Bd636. hxg3Rd7

15. Nf3Qe737. Qa5Rh8

16. Ne5Rac838. Qxa7f4

17. Nd3Rfd839. exf4exf4

18. Re1Qe840. gxf4Rdh7

19. e3g541. Qb6Qxf4

20. Rc2g442. bxc6Qf3

21. Qc1Qe743. cxb7+Kf5

22. Rd1Ne4White resigns

Isbank Ataturk International Women’s Masters, Istanbul, March 2008


1. e4c520. Kg2b4

2. Nf3Nc621. cxb4Nxb4

3. Bb5g622. Rc1Qb7

4. 0-0Bg723. Rh1Bd7

5. c3Nf624. Qg1f6

6. Re10-025. Bxe6+Bxe6

7. h3d526. Bh6Kf7

8. e5Ne827. Ng5+fxg5

9. d4c428. Nf3Bxh6

10. b3cxb329. Rxh6Ra6

11. axb3Nc730. Qh2Rg8

12. Bf1b531. Rh8Ke8

13. Be3a532. Nxg5Rxh8

14. Nbd2Ba633. Qxh8+Kd7

15. h4Ne634. Nh7Rc6

16. h5Qc735. Nf8+Kc7

17. g3Rfd836. Nxe6+Kb6

18. hxg6hxg637. Qd8+Black

19. Bh3Bc8resigns

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

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