- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2019

This column kicked off on Sept. 18, 1993. Some 364 days later, it got a lot easier to write.

That’s because the very first issue of “The Week in Chess” debuted Sept. 17, 1994, on a newsgroup known as rec. games. chess. Mark Crowther, a librarian information scientist at Britain’s Bradford University, typed in some recent games and an online posting of a recent Swiss tournament.

At a time when the games and results from even the very top tournaments could take weeks and even months to make their way into print, TWIC quickly became an indispensable clearinghouse for games and news for players, opening specialists and content-starved columnists alike.

Incredibly, the redoubtable Crowther has kept at it reliably week after week for a quarter-century now. Every Monday, a new edition of TWIC arrives, eagerly awaited by the faithful, with an efficient compendium of recent tournament news and a massive collection of games ranging from world title matches to the humblest weekend open tournaments in Pretoria and Kuala Lumpur, all searchable by player and opening.

From its modest beginnings, TWIC as it turns 25 now boasts a globe-spanning reach — TWIC 1290, which came out July 29, contained a gargantuan 7,639 recent games from 45 different events, as well as a list of coming attractions on the chess calendar.

The day Crowther started his little project is the last day this columnist had to worry about finding a game for the end of the column. Like the rest of the chess world, I am deeply in his debt and hope he figures out a way to keep the franchise going for another 25, or 50, or 100 years.

You can read Crowther’s own account of his first 25 years at TWIC at TheWeekInChess.com/chessnews/general/25-years-of-the-week-in-chess, which also contains some information on how to support the site financially. Even for those of us allergic to paying for our internet fix (WashingtonTimes.com excepted, of course), a donation via PayPal supports Mark’s work and gets you a link to a file of the 2 million-plus games from all 1,298 issues, and counting. It’s a bargain at twice the price.

“As long as I see the magazine well used, and I can make a living doing this, I will continue,” Crowther writes.

The real joy and value of TWIC is not its coverage of the super-elite events, which can be found on any number of chess-related sites, but in its inclusion of battles from events far and wide — a Turkish team championship, a Faroe Islands open tournament, the Serbian women’s national championship finals. Our two tribute games come from a happy afternoon scrolling though old TWIC issues in search of those flowers once born to blush unseen, now just a click away.

GM Tu Hoang Thong is a six-time Vietnamese national champion, but one of his lesser-known efforts came in a local Hanoi tournament last year against English FM Nathan Alfred, as covered in TWIC 1223. Alfred as White actually gets a nice pull out of this French Defense, as the open b-file provides a direct attacking line to the Black king.

Black defends doggedly and turns the table as White loses the thread of the game: 25. d5 Qd7 26. Bd4?! (White, who has conducted the attack with admirable energy, misses a chance to increase the pressure with 26. Ba3! Qa4 27. Qb5 Ne3 28. Rc1, with the nasty threat of 29. d6) Nxd4 27. Qxd4 c5, when White can still equalize with 28. dxc6+ Qxc6 29. Qc3 Nc5 30. Rb5 Rd3 31. Qc2.

But things go spectacularly wrong on 28. Qb2?! exd5 29. axb6 dxc4! 30. Rb5 Nb4! 31. Rxc5? (missing the threat; White had to go in for 31. Rxb4!? cxb4 32. Qxb4 axb6 33. Rxa8 Rxa8 34. Qxc4 b5 and hope to survive the unpleasant ending) Qd1+!, and White resigns on the spot. After 32. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 33. Kf2, 33 … Nd3 not only forks White’s rook and queen but checkmates his king as well.

Today’s diagram comes courtesy of TWIC 1184 from the summer of 2017, a Russian Higher League Championship game in Sochi, the qualifier event for the national championship. In this game between IM Zhamsaran Tsydypov and GM Maxim Lugovskoy, once again a missed drawing opportunity leads to a nice mating combination for Black.

In an extremely double-edged position, Lugovskoy has just played 28 … Qd6-a3, and White could have saved the half-point with 29. b8=Q! Nxh3+ 30. Qxh3 Qe3+ 31. Kh1 Qxf3+ 32. Kg1 Qf2+ 33. Kh1 Qf3+, with a perpetual check. Instead, things go very wrong after 29. Bg2? Ne4! (only drawing was 29 … Qe3 30. b8=Q Ne4+ 31. Kh1 Nxg3+ 32. Kh2 Rxg2+ 33. Kxg2 Qe2+ 34. Kg1 Qe3+ 35. Kg2 Qe2+, as White dare not play 36. Kxg3? h4+ 37. Kxh4 Qf2+ 38. Kg4 Qf4 mate) 30. b8=Q Rxg2+! 31. Kh1 Rh2+!, and White resigned facing 32. Kxh2 Qxg3+ 33. Kh1 Nf2 mate.


Top-seeded Chinese GM Ding Liren is in the driver’s seat in his FIDE World Cup knockout four-game final against Azerbaijan GM Teimour Radjabov in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, winning Tuesday’s Game 2 to take a 1½-½ lead. By reaching the finals, both players have already earned a slot in the 2020 candidates cycle for the right to challenge world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

Ding has been one of the most impressive players of 2019 and has emerged as perhaps the first legitimate Chinese male player with a shot at the world crown. In his win over Radjabov, he gambits an early pawn to establish a positional clamp out of an English Opening and never really lets Black back in the game.

In the final position, Radjabov’s cornered king is a fatal weakness. White threatens 41. Rxe3! Qxe3 42. Qxf6 mate, and 40…Nxd5 fails to 41. exd5! Qf7 (Qxe1 42. Qxf6 is mate again) 42. Qxf6+! Qxf6 43. Rxe8+ Qf8 44. Rxf8 mate.

Alfred-Tu, 8th HD Bank Cup, Hanoi, March 2018

1. d4 e6 2. e4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 b6 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Qd7 7. Qg4 f5 8. Qg3 Ba6 9. Bxa6 Nxa6 10. Ne2 O-O-O 11. a4 Kb7 12. O-O h6 13. Ba3 g5 14. Rfb1 f4 15. Qh3 h5 16. a5 Ra8 17. Qd3 Nh6 18. c4 dxc4 19. Qxc4 Nf5 20. Rb3 Rhd8 21. Bb2 Qd5 22. Qd3 Nh4 23. f3 Nf5 24. c4 Qc6 25. d5 Qd7 26. Bd4 Nxd4 27. Qxd4 c5 28. Qb2 exd5 29. axb6 dxc4 30. Rb5 Nb4 31. Rxc5 Qd1+ White resigns.

Ding-Radjabov, Game 2, FIDE World Cup Finals, Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, October 2019

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. e4 c5 4. e5 Ng8 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. d4 cxd4 7. Nxd4 Nxe5 8. Ndb5 a6 9. Nd6+ Bxd6 10. Qxd6 f6 11. Be3 Ne7 12. Bb6 Nf5 13. Qb4 Nc6 14. Qc5 Qe7 15. O-O-O d6 16. Qa3 O-O 17. g4 Nh6 18. Rg1 Nf7 19. f4 Bd7 20. h4 a5 21. g5 Kh8 22. Qb3 Rfc8 23. Kb1 e5 24. Nd5 Bf5+ 25. Ka1 Qe6 26. gxf6 gxf6 27. a3 Rab8 28. Bg2 Rg8 29. Ne3 Nd4 30. Bxd4 exd4 31. Nxf5 Qxf5 32. Bd5 Rxg1 33. Rxg1 Nh6 34. Qb6 Qd7 35. Qxd4 Qe7 36. Ka2 Nf5 37. Qc3 b6 38. h5 Re8 39. h6 Ne3 40. Re1 Black resigns.

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

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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