UM Baltimore County Wins Top Honors at the Final Four of College Chess

By Lubomir Kavalek
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, April 13, 2009; 7:55 AM

Henri Rinck (1870-1952) was one of the finest chess composers. His study from 1929 (White: Kc7,Rh1,Ne4,Ne5; Black: Kb5,Qf4) has all the magic: double attacks, pins, forks, skewers, traps, quiet moves, a stalemate and a mating net. Can you find a win for white? (Solution next week.)

Inspiring the Young

Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess legends, turned 46 today. Recently, he reflected on his past and on the game he loves: "For most of my life, my life was chess. That will not be the case for most in this room, " he told the students participating in this year's Super Nationals. "What is important is to take chess, and what chess teaches you, everywhere for the rest of your life. The enjoyment, the concentration, the work ethic, the pride, the friendship - all are more important than rating points or the ability to find a mate in four. But for a few, chess is like a native language, as beautiful as any music, as any work of art. And maybe it will become as special to you as it was, and is, to me."

The Super Nationals were played in Nashville, Tenn., on April 3-5 and attracted more than 5,200 K-12 students from all over the United States. International Master Robert Hess, a pre-tournament favorite from the Stuyvesant High School in New York, won the championship section with a perfect 7-0 score. Shinsaku Uesugi of the Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, finished second with 6 ½ points.

Hess's school also won the team competition with 22 points in 28 games ahead of Thomas Jefferson High School, Alexandria, Virginia, with 20 ½ points. The top TJHS scorers were Edward Lu 6 points, Yang Dai and Quentin Moore with 5 points, Craig Saperstein and Darwin Li with 4 ½ points.

The President's Cup

The University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) won the 2009 President's Cup, the Final Four of College Chess, in Dallas, Tex., on April 5. In the last round, they defeated their rival, the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) 2 ½ - 1 ½. In the end, both teams shared first place with 7 ½ points in 12 games, but the final match broke the tie. University of Texas - Brownsville finished third with 6 ½ points. Stanford University ended last with 2 ½ points.

UMBC's last round victory was long in doubt, until two UTD players turned it into a comedy of errors. Having had GM Leonid Kritz on the ropes most of the game, UTD's GM Alejandro Ramirez blundered a full rook and lost. UTDs IM John Bartholomew missed several draws and lost to GM Timour Gareev. GM Sergei Erenburg secured the match victory by drawing a six-hour battle against UTD's Davoric Kuljasevic. The best game of the match was played between two International Masters. UTD's IM Marko Zivanic as black understood the fine points of the Taimanov Sicilian better and defeated IM Sasha Kaplan.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be2 a6 (In the Taimanov Sicilian black often begins an active play on the queenside before paying attention to the center and his kingside.) 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Kh1 (Leaving the diagonal g1-a7 and preparing 9.f4, the king move was already played in the game Blackburne-Paulsen, Hamburg 1885.) 8...h5!? (A relatively new idea, securing the square g4 for the knight. Both 8...Bb4 and 8...Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bc5 were played previously more often.) 9.f4 (In the game Volokitin -Delchev, Mallorca 2004, white eliminated black's counterplay with the sharp 9.Nxc6!? bxc6 10.f4 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.f5! and gained an advantage after 12...Bb7 13.fxe6 fxe6 14.Bd3 0-0-0 15.Qe2 Qc6 16.Bg5 h4 17.Rae1, hitting the pawn on e6.) 9...Nxd4 10.Qxd4 b5 (Developed by the Serbian players, after they realized that the straightforward 10...Bc5 11.Qd3 Ng4, threatening 12...Nf2+, is vulnerable to an astonishing exchange sacrifice 12.e5!, for example 12...Nf2+ 13.Rxf2 Bxf2 14.Ne4 Bc5 15.Be3! Be7 [or 15...Bxe3 16.Nd6+ Kf8 17.Qxe3 with white's advantage] 16.Nd6+! Bxd6 17.exd6 Qa5 18.Bf3 and black can hardly move as in the game Tockij-Landa, played in Russia in 1992.)

11.e5 Ng4 12.Bf3 (12.Ne4 can be met by 12...Qxc2.) 12...Bb7 13.Bxb7 Qxb7 (Exchanging the light bishops is in black's favor. He can establish his knight on f5 and operate more easily along the c-file.) 14.Bd2 Rc8 15.Qd3 h4! 16.h3 (Compromising his kingside, but white has to stop black's h-pawn. Trading pawns with 16.Qh3 Nh6 17.Qxh4 b4 18.Nd1 Rxc2 gives black excellent play.) 16...Nh6 17.Ne4 Nf5 18.Rfe1 (White likes to play through the center, but the plan doesn't work. In the game Manakova-Urosevic, Zlatibor 2007, white turned her attention to the queenside and after 18.Kh2 Rh6 19.b3 Rg6 20.Rf3 Rc6 21.c4 Be7 22.cxb5 axb5 23.a4 created a dangerous passed a-pawn. The game finished with 23...b4 24.a5 Ra6 25.Qc4 d5 26.exd6 Nxd6 27.Nxd6+ Bxd6 28.Kh1 Rf6 29.Ra4 Rf5 30.Bxb4 Bxb4 31.Rxb4 Qa8 32.Qc7 and black resigned.) 18...Be7 19.Rad1 0-0 20.Ba5 (Finalizing his plan: attacking the pawn on d7.) 20...Rc4! (A counter punch, threatening to win with 20...Rxe4! 22.Rxe4 Qxe4! 23.Qxe4 Ng3+.)

21.Qxd7 (After 21.Kh2 Ra4 black begins to collect pawns.) 21...Qa8! (Keeping the queens on the board is stronger than 21...Qxd7 22.Rxd7 Bb4.) 22.Nd6 (White wants to create a passed pawn, but locks his queen in the black camp. On almost any other knight move, black simply plays 22...Rxf4.) 22...Bxd6 23.exd6 Rxc2 24.Rg1 (After 24.Rd2 Rxd2 25.Bxd2 Rd8 26.Qc7 Rxd6 black's advantage is clear.) 24...Qe4! (The queen flies in for the finale.) 25.Bd2? (Allowing black to prepare a neat winning combination, but after 25.Be1 Qxf4 26.Qa7 Nxd6 27.Qxa6 Nf5 28.Qxb5 Rb8 and 29...Rbxb2 black should win anyway.) 25...Qd3! 26.Bc1 Ng3+ 27.Kh2 Rxg2+! (After 28.Rxg2 Qxd1 wins and after 28.Kxg2 Qe2 mates.) White resigned.

Solutions to Previous Puzzles:

April 6: White mates in three moves by H. Rohr (White: Kf2,Qf6,Bg2; Black: Kf4,Bf5): 1.Bf1! Ke4 2.Qd6 and 3.Bd3 mate; or 1...Kg4 2.Qh6 and 3.Bh3 mate.

March 30: White wins by H.F. Blandford (White: Kd7,Bc3,P:c2; Black: Ka7,Nf1): 1.Bd4+ Ka8! 2.c4 Nd2 3.c5 Nb3 4.c6 Na5 5.c7 Nc6! 6.c8R+! wins.(Both 6.Kxc6? and 6.c8Q+? Nb8+ 7.Kc7 end in stalemates.)

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