The prestigious 2004 Book of the Year Award at ChessCafe.com went to Pal Benko and Jeremy Silman for their impressive "Pal Benko: My Life, Games and Compositions." It is their second success; they also won the 2004 British Chess Federation Book of the Year Award for the same work.
Its high-quality content makes ChessCafe.com one of the best chess sites on the Internet and the number of voters for this year's award almost doubled from previous years. Garry Kasparov's "On My Great Predecessors, Part IV: Fischer" and Igor Khmelnitsky's "Chess Exam and Training Guide" were two other books on a short list after preliminary voting. The final outcome was decided by more than 900 voters from 19 countries.
Khmelnitsky went against two heavyweights and did not have much chance of winning, but his book is a delightful surprise. He presents 100 positions and defines players' strengths and weaknesses in 12 categories: Opening, Middlegame, Endgame, Attack, Defense, Counterattack, Tactics, Strategy, Calculations, Standard Endgame Positions, Sacrifices and Threat Recognition. Unlike many other test books, his shows what you can do with the results.
A Catalan Dream
Israeli grandmaster Boris Gelfand and the world junior champion, Pentyala Harikrishna of India, shared first place at the Bermuda International Invitational tournament, which ended last Wednesday. They scored six points in 10 games. The event was a six-grandmaster double-round competition. Both winners are great specialists in the Catalan opening and tested each other in one of their games. Gelfand knew a little bit more about the opening and his positional squeeze is impressive.
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 (By coincidence, Harikrishna as white also likes to play this modest bishop move. Eventually, the bishop may pin black's c-pawn from a5 and can also support the b2-b4 advance, restricting black's counterplay on the queenside. For many years the preferred choice was 10.Bf4.) 10...Nbd7 (Allowing the bishop pin. Evgeny Vasyukov's clever idea 10...Ra7!? has been lately embraced by Vishy Anand. The intention is to meet 11.Rc1 with 11...Be4; and 11.Ba5 with 11...Nc6. The game Nielsen-Anand from the 2004 German Bundesliga continued:11.Rd1 Nbd7 12.Ba5 Qa8 13.Nbd2 c5! and black equalized.)
11.Ba5 Ra7 12.Rc1!? (More direct than 12.Nbd2. White can't touch the pawn on c7: After 12.Qxc7? Qxc7 13.Bxc7 Bxf3 wins; and after 12.Bxc7? Qc8 13.Rc1 Be4 white drops a piece.) 12...Be4 13.Qb3 Qb8 14.Qe3 b4?! (Black fights for space at all costs, but the b-pawn can become weak. After 14...Rc8 white prevents the freeing advance c7-c5 with 15.b4 and black pieces, specially the heavy ones, resemble scattered furniture in a neglected warehouse. Another Bundesliga game from the last year, Johannessen-Vaganian, underscored black's bleak prospects. It went 14...Ba8 15.b4 Bd6 16.Nbd2 Nb6 17.Rc2 Bd5 18.Rac1 Qb7 19.Ne1 Bxg2 20.Nxg2 Nfd5 21.Qb3 f5 22.f3 f4 23.gxf4 Nxf4 24.Nxf4 Bxf4 25.e3 Bd6 26.Bxb6 Qxb6 27.Ne4 Kh8 28.Rc6 Qb7 29.Qxe6 Raa8 30.Ng5 h6 31.Nf7+ Kh7 32.Qf5+ Kg8 33.Nxh6+ gxh6 34.Qg6+ Kh8 35.Qxh6+ Kg8 36.Qg6+ Kh8 37.Kf2 and black resigned.)
15.Nbd2 Ba8 16.Nb3 (Stopping black's pawn activities on the queenside.) 16...Rc8 (Since black may never play c7-c5, he could have turned his attention to 16...Bd6, followed by Rf8-e8, preparing the break e6-e5.) 17.Rc2 Be4 18.Ne5! Bxg2 (On 18...Bxc2 19.Nc6! picks up all the goods.) 19.Nxd7 Nxd7 (After 19...Qa8 20.Nxf6+ white has the advantage either after 20...gxf6 21.f3 Bh3 22.Rac1; or after 20...Bxf6 21.f3 Bh3 22.Bxb4 with a healthy pawn up.) 20.Kxg2 Qb5 21.Rac1 (Black is forced into a passive defense, a dream for any Catalan player.) 21...c6 22.Qf3 Nb8 (After 22...c5 23.dxc5 Nxc5? 24.Rc4! black is in a permanent pin and has to lose material.)
23.Rc4! (The siege around the weak b4-pawn begins.) 23...Rd7 24.e3 h6 25.Qe2 Re8 26.Qe1 Qa4? (Black does not have the patience for 26...Rb7 and goes quickly under.) 27.Bxb4 Qxa2 28.Qc3! (The black queen is caught. White threatens 29.Ra1 and black has to give up a few pawns.) 28...Bxb4 29.Rxb4 c5 (After 29...a5 30.Rb6 a4 31.Ra1 wins.) 30.dxc5 a5 31.Nxa5 (Also possible was 31.Rb6! Qa4 32.c6 Rc7 33.f3 and the black queen can't escape the winning threat 34.Ra1.) 31...Qd5+ (After 31...Qxa5? 32.Rxb8 Qxc3 33.Rxe8+! white wins.) 32.e4 (The game is over.) 32...Qa8 33.c6 Rc7 34.Rc4 Na6 35.b4 Qb8 36.Nb7 Rxc6 37.Rxc6 Qxb7 38.Rc8 Black resigned.
Andrew Samuelson won the traditional tournament, played Jan. 28-30 in Springfield. He posted a perfect 5-0 score. Ted Udelson won the Amateur section on a tie-break over Jack Barrow and Jim Cope, all scoring 4 1/2 points in five games.
Solution to today's study by L. Kubbel (White:Ka7,P:e5,f6; Black: Kb5,Re8,P:b7):1.f7 Rf8 2.e6 b6! 3.Kb7! (On 3.e7 Rxf7 pins the e-pawn.) 3...Kc5 4.e7 (After 4.Kc7? Kd5 5.Kd7 Ke5 6.Ke7 Ra8 wins.) 4...Rxf7 5.Ka6 Rxe7 stalemate. Many fascinating rook endgames are based on beautiful geometrical motifs. One of the helpful books to improve and absorb key ideas is Chris Ward's "Starting Out: Rook Endgames," recently issued by Everyman Chess.