- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2016

America’s new queen of chess is a proud daughter of Maryland.

Baltimore WGM Nazi Paikidze, an alumna of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and its powerhouse chess team, captured her first women’s national crown just over a year after switching her allegiance from her Georgia homeland to the U.S.

Paikidze broke through in dramatic fashion, defeating seven-time women’s champ GM Irina Krush in the 11th and final round at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis last month to clinch the title.

Against Krush, Black’s aggressiveness is rewarded after 22. Rf3 f5 23. e5?! (better was 23. Qe2) g5! (the best chance to complicate the position) 24. fxg5? (walking into the Black attack) Nxe5 25. Rf2, when Paikidze missed a winner with 25…Nd3! 27. cxd3 (Bxd5+ Kh7 28. Qf1 Nxf2+) Nxg2, and White’s entire position is hanging.

Still, Black’s relentless push finally breaks White’s resistance on 34. Bc7? (Kh2 holds out longer) Re3 35. Qxf4 Rxh3+ 36. Kg2 Ne3+ 37. Qxe3 Qg4+!, when 38. Kf1 can’t save Krush after 38…Qc4+ 39. Qd3 Rxd3 40. cxd3 Qxc7. White’s queen is lost and her king finally succumbs to a barrage of checks after 63. Rf3 g5 64. Bxg5 Rg4+!, winning after 64. Kf2 Qc2+ (and not 64…Rxg2+ 65. Kxg2 Qxg5+?? 66. Rg3, throwing away the win); Krush resigned.

Former world champ Garry Kasparov proved he could still hang with the kids when he took on new U.S. champ Fabiano Caruana, former U.S. champ Hikaru Nakamura and young GM Wesley So in a blitz tournament staged after the St. Louis festivities concluded last week.

Nakamura, one of the best speed players on the planet, took the two-day affair, but the 53-year-old Kasparov held his own against the trio of twentysomethings, finishing third with a respectable 9½-8½ score. Today’s diagram, from his final game against Caruana, shows Kasparov’s legendary attacking instincts have hardly dimmed since he retired from top-level competitive play a decade ago.

With White’s forces badly placed, Black strikes with 27…Bxg4! 28. hxg4 Qxg4 29. Qd1 Qg3 30. Qe2 Ng5 31. Kh1 Rh8! 32. Nxd6! Kg8!, neatly giving the bishop a retreat route to let the rook into the fray. There followed 33. bxc5 (there is no defense) Bf8+ 34. Kg1 Nh3+ 35. Kf1 Bxd6 36. cxd6 Rf5+ 37. Nf3 Rxf3+!, when 38. Bxf3 Qg1 is mate. Caruana gave up.

Krush-Paikidze, U.S. Women’s Championship, St. Louis, April 2016

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 c6 4. O-O Bg4 5. d3 Nbd7 6. h3 Bh5 7. Qe1 e5 8. e4 dxe4 9. dxe4 Bc5 10. a4 a5 11. Na3 O-O 12. Nc4 Qc7 13. Bd2 b6 14. Nh4 Rfe8 15. Kh1 Bg6 16. Nxg6 hxg6 17. f4 b5 18. Bxa5 Qc8 19. axb5 cxb5 20. Nd2 exf4 21. gxf4 Nd5 22. Rf3 f5 23. e5 g5 24. fxg5 Nxe5 25. Rf2 Ne3 26. Nb3 Nxg2 27. Rxg2 f4 28. Qc3 Nc4 29. Qf3 Qf5 30. Nxc5 Qxc5 31. b4 Qf5 32. Rf2 Re4 33. Rg1 Rae8 34. Bc7 Re3 35. Qxf4 Rxh3+ 36. Kg2 Ne3+ 37. Qxe3 Qg4+ 38. Qg3 Rxg3+ 39. Bxg3 Re3 40. Kh2 Qh5+ 41. Kg2 Qxg5 42. Kh2 Re6 43. Rgg2 Qh5+ 44. Kg1 Qd1+ 45. Rf1 Qd4+ 46. Rff2 Re1+ 47. Kh2 Qd1 48. Bf4 Qh5+ 49. Kg3 Rh1 50. Rh2 Rg1+ 51. Rhg2 Rh1 52. Rh2 Qg6+ 53. Kh3 Qe6+ 54. Kg3 Re1 55. Rhg2 Qg6+ 56. Kh2 Qe4 57. Bg5 Qxb4 58. Bf4 Qe7 59. Kg3 Re6 60. Kh3 Qd7 61. Kh2 Re4 62. Kg3 Qf5 63. Rf3 g5 64. Bxg5 Rg4+ White resigns.

• David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at [email protected]

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