Peter Leko, the Hungarian world championship challenger, won the prestigious Corus tournament yesterday in the Dutch coastal town of Wijk aan Zee. He was the only undefeated player in the event, scoring 8 1/2 points in 13 games. Last year's winner, Vishy Anand of India, finished with eight points. Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria was third with 7 1/2 points. The world champion Vladimir Kramnik and his Russian compatriot Alexander Grischuk, together with Judit Polgar of Hungary and England's Michael Adams, all scored seven points. The Dutchman Loek van Wely, Ukraine's Ruslan Ponomariov and Lazaro Bruzon of Cuba finished with 6 1/2 points, a 50 percent score. Russia's Peter Svidler had six points; England's Nigel Short ended with 5 1/2 points; Alexander Morozevich of Russia with 4 1/2 points and Ivan Sokolov of the Netherlands was last with 3 1/2 points.
The 15-year-old Ukrainian prodigy Sergei Karjakin won the second group with 9 1/2 points in 13 games. He will be invited next year to the top group.
Leko crafted his tournament victory with solid positional play and tactical brilliance. He simply outgunned Anand in the second round. His intuitive knight sacrifice against Topalov in the penultimate round deserved to be the best game of the event. Unfortunately, Leko missed a winning continuation. The Cuban grandmaster Bruzon, defending with the Chigorin Spanish, was swiftly punished for a single move that weakened the position of his king.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 cxd4 13.cxd4 Bd7 14.Nf1 Rac8 (Arthur Bisguier, the colorful American grandmaster, played this variation in major tournaments in the early 1960s and it is sometimes named after him. Leko faced it twice at the 2003 Budapest tournament against Viktor Korchnoi and Nigel Short and could not get any opening advantage.) 15.Re2 (Leaves open the option of where to place the knight on f1. It is more flexible than the often played 15.Ne3.) 15...Nc6 (Black's other plan consists of 15...Rfe8 with the idea 16.Ng3 Bd8!, contesting the central squares by bringing the dark bishop to b6. The game Leko-Korchnoi continued 17.b3 Nc6 18.Ba3 Qb8 19.Rd2 exd4 20.Nxd4 Nxd4 21.Rxd4 and the veteran, known for excellent counterpunching, equalized with 21...d5! 22.exd5 Bb6 23.Rd3 Nxd5!, since 24.Rxd5? is met by 24...Qxg3.)
16.a3!? (Preventing Nc6-b4 and threatening 17.d5, this modest move forces black to react in the center.) 16...exd4 (Black does not have much choice but to release the tension. After 16...Rfe8 comes 17.d5, driving the black forces back.) 17.Nxd4 Rfe8 (17...d5?! does not work after 18.exd5 Nxd5 19.Nxb5 axb5 20.Qxd5 Be6 21.Qe4 and white is a pawn up.) 18.Ng3 d5!? (The liberating attempt is now possible.) 19.Nxc6! (The only way to fight for an advantage. After 19.exd5? Nxd4 20.Qxd4 Bc5, black could be better either after 21.Rxe8+ Rxe8 22.Qd3 Re1+ 23.Nf1 Qe5!; or after 21.Qc3 Rxe2 22.Nxe2 Qb6 23.Qd3 Bxf2+ 24.Kh1 g6 25.Bb3 Bf5! and white is on the defensive.) 19...Bxc6 20.e5 Ne4 (A pawn sacrifice white can't accept.)
21.Bf4! (Leko comes up with a new move, protecting his e-pawn and hoping to dislodge black's pesky knight from e4. After 21.Nxe4 dxe4 22.Bxe4 Red8 23.Qf1 Bxe4 24.Rxe4 Qc2 25.Re2 Rd1 26.Rxc2 Rxf1+ 27.Kxf1 Rxc2, black had a compensation for the pawn in Martin Gonzalez-Hjartarson, Linares 1996. Also after 21.Nxe4 dxe4 22.Bf4 Qb7 23.Qe1 f5! black holds everything together.) 21...g5? (Bruzon spent an hour before he played this lemon, fatally weakening his king. "If you take too much time on a single move, you often come up with a blunder," the legendary Hungarian grandmaster Lajos Portisch used to say. After 21...Nxg3 22.Bxg3 Qb7 23.f4, white has a free hand on the kingside, but 21...Qb7 was possible.)
22.Nf5! (The refutation of black's plan.) 22...gxf4?! (Better is 22...Bf8, but the holes on the kingside are irreparable.) 23.Rxe4 Kh8 (After 23...dxe4 24.Qg4+ Kh8 25.Qg7 mates, but black is in trouble anyway. For example, after 23...Bf8 24.Rxf4, white has a decisive attack either after 24...Rxe5 25.Rh4 Re6 26.Rxh7!! Kxh7 27.Qh5+ Kg8 28.Ne7+ Kg7 [On 28...Bxe7 29.Qh7+ Kf8 30.Qh8 mates.] 29.Qg4+ Rg6 [On 29...Kf6 30.Ng8+ Ke5 31.Qg3+ Kd4 32.Qc3 mates.] 30.Bxg6 Bxe7 31.Bf5+ Kh6 32.Bxc8 with a winning material advantage; or after 24...Qxe5 25.Rg4+ Kh8 26.Qd3! and the powerful lineup on the diagonal b1-h7 ends it, e.g. 26...Qxb2 [or 26...Re6 27.Nd6! wins.] 27.Nh6!! Qxa1+ 28.Kh2 Qg7 29.Rxg7 Kxg7 30.Qd4+ f6 31.Qg4+! Kxh6 32.Qh4+ Kg7 33.Qxh7 mate.)
24.Re1! (Leaving the diagonal d1-h5 open to the queen.) 24...Bd7? (Loses at once, but after 24...Bb7 25.Nd4 black is soundly outplayed. After 24...Bf8 25.Qd4, threatening both 26.e6+ and 26.Nd6, white wins.) 25.e6! (The trouble comes on the diagonal a1-h8: 25...fxe6 26.Qd4+ e5 27.Rxe5 Qc5 28.Rxe7+ Qxd4 29.Rxe8+ Bxe8 30.Nxd4 wins; and on 25...Bxe6 26.Qd4+ f6 27.Rxe6 Qxc2 28.Rxf6! white mates.) Black resigns.
Solution to today's column by M. Klyatskin (White:Kc8,Bc7,Nf8,P:c4; Black: Kc5,P:a6,c6,h3,h6): 1.Kb7 a5 2.Ka6 a4 3.Ka5 a3 4.Ka4 a2 5.Kb3 a1Q (On 5...a1N+ 6.Kc3! and 7.Ne6 mate.) 6.Ne6 mate.