CHESSLubomir Kavalek

By Lubomir Kavalek
Monday, June 5, 2006

The United States has taken home another bronze medal this year from Turin, Italy, this time at the 37th Chess Olympiad. With yesterday's dramatic last-round victory, defeating Norway 3 1/2 - 1/2 , the U.S. team jumped into a tie for third with Israel, then clinched the bronze with a better tiebreak. Armenia secured the gold medals among 148 teams with a fabulous performance, scoring 36 points in 52 games.

China won the silver medals with 34 points. The Americans and the Israelis finished with 33 points each. Russia, a pre-olympiad favorite to win the gold, ended sixth with 32 points.

Levon Aronian anchored the golden Armenian team with a solid 7-4 performance. But the contribution of Gabriel Sargissian, who amassed a 10-3 score on the fourth board, and Vladimir Akopian's 9-3 result on the second board played huge roles in their victory. U.S. champion Alexander Onischuk's 7-3 and Gregory Kaidanov's 5-2 were the best performances on the U.S. team.

Ukraine took gold in the women's olympiad, scoring 29 1/2 points in 39 games. Russia was second with 28 points, and China third with 27 1/2 points. The U.S. team collected 23 1/2 points and finished fourth with a better tiebreak over Hungary, Georgia and the Netherlands.

On Friday at the FIDE Congress, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was reelected as president of international chess federation for the next four years.

Magnificent Leaps

In his 1997 book "C.O.O.L. Chess," the Scottish grandmaster Paul Motwani refuted one variation of the Philidor defense with a marvelous knight leap, accelerating white's attack against the black king. His idea appeared in a game played this year in the traditional open tournament at the French coastal town of Cappelle la Grande.

Pavlovic-Van Dooren

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5?! 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Neg5! h6 (This move was supposed to save black.) 7.Nf7!! (Motwani's discovery. The fork gains white time for the attack on the weak light squares.) 7...Kxf7 8.Nxe5+ Ke7 9.Bd3! (White continues the attack against the black king with a strong developing move. Black is in a worse predicament than Kasparov in the last game loss against Deep Blue in 1997. The materialistic 9.Ng6+ can wait.) 9...Qe8 10.0-0 Be6 11.Re1 Nc6 (After 11...Nf6 white finally gets the rook 12.Ng6+ Kf7 13.Nxh8+ Kg8 14.Ng6 and wins.) 12.Ng6+ Kd7 13.Nf4! Bd6 (After 13...Nd8 14.Nxe6 Nxe6 15.Bf5 wins.) 14.Nxe6 Qf7 15.Qg4 (After 15...Nge7 16.Ng5+ wins the queen; and after 15...Nf6 16.Nc5+ Kd8 17.Nxb7 mates.) Black resigned.

In Turin, Motwani's fabulous knight jump came to life again, but in a different opening. Aronian performed it in the Queen's Indian defense, and his version was as shocking as the original. His victim was David Navara, who played well overall, scoring 8 1/2 -3 1/2 on the top board for the Czech Republic.


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.Nc3 Ne4 7.Bd2 (The Opocensky variation. White begins to fight for the central squares immediately.) 7...f5 8.Qc2 Bf6 (The legendary Soviet grandmaster Efim Geller recommended 8...Nxc3 9.Bxc3 d5, but it was never tested.) 9.Ne5 d5 (A new try. After 9...Nd6 10.Bxb7 Nxb7 11.Nf3 black surrenders the center.) 10.cxd5 Nxc3?! (Black could have played 10...exd5 11.Qa4+ c6 with a good chance to equalize.)

11.Nf7!! (Unlike the Motwani's sacrifice that targeted the black king, Aronian's amazing knight leap intends to win material. Black can't accepts the knight with 11...Kxf7, because white wins with 12.dxe6+ and 13.Bxb7.) 11...Qd7? (Navara is going astray. Protecting the bishop on b7 with 11...Qc8! is the right answer, forcing 12.Nxh8 and now 12...Bxd5 13.Bxd5 Nxd5 14.e4 fxe4 15.Qxe4 g6 16.h4! Bxh8 17.h5 gxh5 18.Qxh7 Bxd4 19.0-0-0 gives white the edge. But 12...Nxd5!? 13.e4 Ne7 is not entirely clear, for example 14.Bc3 Kf8! 15.f3 Kg8 and the black king picks up the knight on h8 without creating weaknesses on the kingside.) 12.Bxc3 Bxd5 (Black still can't touch the knight because of 13.dxe6 and white wins.) 13.Bxd5 Qxd5 14.e4! (Blocking the diagonal a8-h1 gives white time to collect the rook.) 14...fxe4 15.Nxh8 Nc6 16.0-0 Ke7 17.Rae1 Rxh8 18.Rxe4 Rd8 (Navara wants to protect the pawn on e6 from the square d6, but it leaves his kingside vulnerable. After 18...Kd7 19.Rfe1 Re8 20.Qe2 black is tied up.) 19.Rfe1 Rd6 20.Rf4 g6 (Giving white a target to attack. Black could have considered running with the king: 20...Kd7 21.Qxh7 Kc8 although after 22.a4 white has a clear advantage.) 21.h4! Rd7 (Black wants to free the knight on c6 by protecting the pawn on c7, but it is too late. His kingside collapses.) 22.h5! Bxd4 (After 22...Qxh5 23.d5! wins. And after 22...Nxd4 23.Bxd4 Bxd4 24.hxg6 hxg6 25.Qxg6 c5 26.b4! the black king has nowhere to hide from white's heavy artillery.) 23.hxg6 hxg6 24.Qxg6 Ne5 (Loses outright, but after 24...Kd6 25.Bxd4 Nxd4 26.Rxd4! Qxd4 27.Qxe6+ Kc5 28.Re5+ Rd5 29.b4+ Kc4 30.Re4 white wins.) 25.Qf6+ (After 25...Kd6 26.Rxd4 wins the queen and on 25...Ke8 26.Qf8 mates.) Black resigned.

Solution to today's problem by W. Speckmann (White: Ka7,Qa3,Rd8,Nc3,P:a4; Black: Kc6,Rh5,P:a6,c7,g3): 1.Qc1! Rc5 2.Qh6 mate; or 1...Rh2 2.Ne2 mate; or 1...Rh1 2.Nd1 mate; or 1...Kc5 2.Na2 mate; or 1...Rh4 2.Ne4 mate; or 1...g2 2.Nd5 mate.

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