A Poor Week for Americans in International Chess Competition

By Lubomir Kavalek
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, March 2, 2009

Last week was not a good week for the Americans playing abroad. In Sofia, Bulgaria, Gata Kamsky collapsed and lost to Veselin Topalov 2 1/2 -4 1/2 . The victory gives the Bulgarian grandmaster and the world's top-rated player the right to challenge the world champion, Vishy Anand of India, in a title match later this year.

In Moscow, Etienne Bacrot shared first place with Alexander Moiseenko of Ukraine at the Aeroflot Open, both scoring 6 1/2 points in nine games. But the French grandmaster and the top seed won the event on a tiebreak, playing more games with the black pieces. GM Jaan Ehlvest was the best American, finishing with 5 points in 32nd place.

A Gambling Leap

In his series "Secrets of Opening Surprises," published by New in Chess, Jeroen Bosch presents unusual, edgy, slightly forgotten and sometimes shocking opening ideas. The Dutch opening wizard began in 2003 and slowly attracted several grandmasters and theoreticians to the project that grew to 10 volumes. A century-old idea of the Russian master Benjamin Blumenfeld -- a disgraced and discredited knight leap in the Scotch opening -- would fit Bosch's books perfectly. In the hands of U.S. master Michael Langer, it is a formidable weapon. It helped him to smash former U.S. champion Alex Yermolinsky in a mere 16 moves and to share first place in last month's Stillwater Open.


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Be3 Qf6 6.Nb5?! (The Blumenfeld Attack is a positional calamity. White ends up with a terrible double-pawn, giving black an excellent outpost on e5. But the tactical threats along the open lines are dangerous.) 6...Bxe3 7.fxe3 Qh4+ (It is interesting to look at what the chess giants preferred here: Both David Bronstein and Paul Keres suggested 7...Qe5, while Mikhail Botvinnik played 7...Kd8.) 8.g3 Qd8! (More solid than 8...Qxe4.) 9.Qg4 g6 (Akiva Rubinstein's choice. Michele Godena's 9...g5, denying the white queen the square f4, was played in the game Langer-Onischuk, Stillwater 2005, and appeared in other Langer games.) 10.Qf4 d6 11.Bc4 Ne5 12.0-0 Bh3! (Pentala Harikrishna's splendid pawn sacrifice from his game against Wang Hao, Taiyuan 2005. It continued 13.Bxf7+ Kd7 14.N1c3 g5 15.Qxe5?! [15.Qf2 Nh6!] 15...dxe5 16.Rad1+ Ke7 17.Nd5+ Kf8 18.Nbxc7 Kg7 19.g4 Bxg4 20.Nxa8 Nh6 and white resigned.) 13.N1c3 (A new move that confused Yermolinsky.) 13...Bxf1? (A blunder. The correct defense 13...Qd7! has been suggested a few years ago. After 14.Bxf7+ Nxf7 15.Nd5 0-0-0 16.Qxf7 Bxf1 17.Qxf1 c6 18.Qc4 Nh6! white doesn't have enough for the exchange and after 14.Nd5 0-0-0! black should win.) 14.Rxf1 Qd7? (This leads to a pretty finish, but even after 14...Ne7 15.Bxf7+ Kd7 16.Nd4 black's troubles are not over.) 15.Be6! Qc6 (White wins either after 15...Qxe6 16.Nxc7+; or after 15...Qd8 16.Bxf7+ Kd7 17.Nd5!) 16.Nd4 (After 16...Qa6 17.Bxf7+ Kd8 18.Bxg8 wins.) Black resigned.

Solution to today's study by H. Rinck (White: Ka2,Nf7,Ng5,P:b4,c2,d2,f4,h4; Black: Kd4,Qb5,P:a4,c7,g6,h5): 1.Ne6+ Kc4 (or 1...Ke4 2.Nfg5+ Kf5 3.Nd4+ wins) 2.Nxc7 Qb6 (or 2...Qb8 3.Ne5+ Kxb4 4.Nc6+ wins; or 2...Qxb4 3.Ne5+ Kc5 4.Nd3+ wins) 3.d3+ Kd4! 4.Nd8! Qf6 5.Nde6+ Kc3 6.Nd5+ wins.

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