By Lubomir Kavalek
Monday, February 18, 2008

There are victories and defeats to be remembered forever. Last month at the Corus chess festival in the Dutch town of Wijk aan Zee, a 13-year-old Chinese girl, Hou Yifan, defeated the English grandmaster Nigel Short. It was an exceptional victory, a historical feat. Short, who played the 1993 world championship match against Garry Kasparov, was thoroughly destroyed in 23 moves after he misplayed the Berlin defense in the Spanish opening.


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 (Last September, Short tried the Cozio defense 3...Nge7 against Hou and after 70 moves the Chinese girl forced a draw.) 4.0-0 Nxe4 (Eliminating a central pawn is the main purpose of the Berlin defense.) 5.d4 Be7 (Vladimir Kramnik turned the Berlin endgame 5...Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 into a formidable weapon against Garry Kasparov in London in 2000.) 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7 (To an untrained eye the knight on b7 looks ugly, but the variation was brought to light by the brilliant German attacker Adolf Anderssen in the 1860s. Even the world champion Emanuel Lasker later endorsed it. However, it is not played often today.) 9.c4 (Helping to contain black in the center. It was played in the 1868 by Johannes Zukertort and adopted a century later by the three-time Soviet champion Leonid Stein at the 1967 Interzonal in Sousse, Tunisia.) 9...0-0 10.Nc3 Re8 (A new, not very fortunate idea. Breaking white's hold on the position by eliminating the e-pawn either by 10...f6 or 10...d6 is preferable. Bringing the knight back to the game with 10...Nc5 is possible.)

11.Rd1! (Both white and black rooks are involved in a pinning game, but white has more space to direct the action.) 11...Bf8? ( Instead of fighting for freedom, Short crawls back.) 12.Bg5 f6 (After 12...Be7 13.Be3 black loses time.) 13.Bh4 g5 (After 13...d6 white gets out of the pin with 14.Qc2 and 14...g5? loses to 15.exf6! gxh4 16.Ng5!, threatening 17.Qh7 mate.) 14.Bg3 d6 15.Ne4! Bg4? (In the game of pins, black ends up a distant second. He should have at least tried 15...fxe5 16.Nfxg5 h6 17.Nf3 Bg7 still with white's advantage. His choice loses quickly.)

16.exf6! (Creating a monster pawn and avoiding 16.Nxf6+? Qxf6! that wins for black.) 16...Bh5 (Black is in dire straits. White wins either after 16...Bf5 17.Nfxg5 Rxe4 18.Nxe4 Qe8 19.f3; or after 16...d5 17.f7+!. And 16...Qd7 is met by 17.Qd3 h6 18.Ne5! dxe5 19.Qxd7 Bxd7 20.Rxd7 with a decisive advantage.) 17.Qe3 (After 17.Qd3!, moving the queen to the diagonal b1-h7, black's position collapses faster since 17...h6 is refuted by 18.Nexg5! hxg5 19.Nxg5 and because of the threat 20.Qh7 mate, black loses material. Also after 17...Bg6 18.Nfxg5 black goes down either after 18...h6 19.f7+ Bxf7 20.Nf6+ Kg7 21.Qh7+ Kxf6 22.Qxf7+ Kxg5 23.h4+ Kg4 24.Qf3 mate; or after 18...Bh6 19.f7+! Bxf7 20.Nxf7 Kxf7 21.Qf3+ Kg8 22.Qg4+ Kh8 23.Bh4.) 17...Bh6 (After 17...h6 18.Nfxg5! smashes the gates.)

18.Ne5! Rxe5 (After 18...Qc8 19.f7+! Bxf7 20.Nxf7 Kxf7 21.Qf3+ Kg7 22.Qc3+ white wins.) 19.Bxe5 Bxd1 20.Rxd1 Qe8 21.Bc3 Nd8 22.f7+! (Finishing with flair. White needs the square f6 for her knight.) 22...Qxf7 (After 22...Kxf7 23.Qf3+ Ke7 24.Qf6+ Kd7 25.Qf5+ wins.) 23.Nf6+ (After 23...Kh8 24.Re1! Bg7 25.Qe8+ Qf8 26.Qh5 Bxf6 27.Re8; or 23... Kf8 24.Re1!, threatening 25.Qh3, white wins.) Black resigned.

Solution to today's study by D. Gurgenidze (White: Ke3,Re7,P:h6; Black: Kg3,Rb7,Rh2,P:b5): 1.Rg7+! Kh4 2.h7 Re7+ (2...Rb8 3.Rg8 wins) 3.Kd3! (3.Rxe7 Kg5 draws) 3...Rd7+ 4.Kc3! b4+ 5.Kb3! (5.Kxb4 Rb2+ 6.Kc3 Rb8 draws) 5...Rh3+ 6.Kxb4 Rb7+ 7.Kc4 Rc7+ 8.Kd4! Rd7+ 9.Ke4 Re7+ 10.Kf4 wins.

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