Monday, April 20, 2009
Walther von Holzhausen (1876-1935), a German chess composer and player, wrote extensively on the theory of chess problems. In one of his compositions (White: Kg2,Qf1,Rd8,Bh2,P:a4; Black: Kb7, Ba7), white mates in two moves. Can you find the stunning first move and solve the problem? (Solution next week.)
Sadvakasov Wins Foxwoods
Darmen Sadvakasov, a Kazakh grandmaster studying in the United States, won the 11th Foxwoods Open, played in one of the world's largest casinos, in Ledyard, Conn., over Easter weekend. Sadvakasov clinched the title by defeating the reigning U.S. champion, Yuri Shulman, in a blitz playoff. Both grandmasters shared first place with 7½ points in nine games in the top group of nearly 130 competitors. The national scholastic champion Robert Hess scored six points and made his third and final GM norm. FIDE should award him the grandmaster title later this year. The traditional tournament attracted some 540 players, playing in several groups.
In 1960, at age 24, Mikhail Tal defeated Mikhail Botvinnik and became the world champion. In the same year, Tal played a simultaneous exhibition against 20 Czechoslovakian juniors, some of them future grandmasters. The first 30 moves were played over the radio. In January 1961, Tal came to Prague to finish the games. The Lucerna Hall was packed ¿ perhaps only Louis Armstrong, when he performed there, drew a larger crowd. Tal ended the exhibition undefeated, drawing nine and winning 11 games. In one game, against Josef Falta, Tal made a new move in the Flohr-Mikenas Attack in the English opening. But his knight leap became a sleeper for almost two decades, until the English grandmaster Tony Miles picked it up in the late 1970s. It has been with us ever since.
Former U.S. champion Hikaru Nakamura, who is always ready to experiment, employed Tal's idea against Hess in Foxwoods. The scissors hit the rock. Not only did the young IM defend well, he outplayed his formidable foe in the endgame. Hess took advantage of white's misplaced pieces and won material by mounting a strong pressure against the white king.
Nakamura - Hess
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 c5 (Aron Nimzovich's clever way to fight in the center. The alternative is 3...d5.) 4.e5 Ng8 5.Nf3 (With all the black pieces back, white prepares a dangerous pawn sacrifice. Former U.S. champion, Yasser Seirawan, had some success earlier in his career with 5.d4 cxd4 6.Qxd4 Nc6 7.Qe4.) 5...Nc6 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Nxe5 (Accepting the challenge is like walking a high wire.)
8.Ndb5!? (Tal's knight leap, threatening either 9.Nd6+ Bxd6 10.Qxd6 f6 11. Nb5 Kf7 12.Nc7 Rb8 13.Nxe6 or simply 9.Bf4. The immediate 8.Bf4, that Tal as black faced against Viktor Korchnoi in 1956, can be met by either 8...Ng6 or by 8...d6. But after Tal's 8.Ndb5!?, the supporting move 8...d6 is refuted by an astonishing blow 9.c5! and after 9...dxc5 or 9...d5 10.Bf4 black's position collapses.) 8...f6 (The main line in the 1970s went 8...a6 9.Nd6+ Bxd6 10.Qxd6 f6 11.Be3 Ne7 [11...Nf7 12.Qg3 is unpleasant for black.] 12.Bb6 Nf5 13.Bxd8 [Kasparov later preferred to keep the queens on the board with 13.Qc5 d6 14.Qa5.] 13...Nxd6 14.Bc7 Ke7 15.c5 with compensation for the pawn.) 9.Bf4 (9.Be3 was still possible, but Nakamura takes a different path. The violent 9.f4 Nf7 10.f5!? has been tested only in a few correspondence games.) 9...a6 (Again, 9...d6? runs into 10.c5!, for example 10...dxc5 11.Bxe5 fxe5 12.Qh5+ Ke7 13.Rd1 Nf6 14.Qxe5 Bd7 15.Bc4!; or 10...d5 11.Bxe5 fxe5 12.Qh5+ Kd7 13.Qxe5 Bxc5 14.Nxd5 and white wins.) 10.Nd6+ Bxd6 11.Qxd6 Nf7 12.Qa3 Ne7 13.Nb5 (Nakamura plays aggressively. In the above mentioned game, Tal-Falta, Prague 1960-1961, white played more quietly 13.Be2 0-0 14.0-0 e5 15.Be3 b6 16.Bf3 Rb8 17.Rfd1 f5 18.Nd5 with some pressure. The game was drawn in 39 moves.) 13...e5 14.Bd2 d6 15.Bb4 Nf5 16.0-0-0 (16.g4? is met by 16...Bd7!) 16...Be6 (Black is happy to level the chances by giving back the pawn.)
17.Nxd6+ N7xd6 18.Bxd6 Nxd6 19.Rxd6 Qe7 20.Be2 Rc8! 21.b3 Kf7 22.Kb2 Rhd8 23.Rhd1 Rxd6 24.Rxd6?! (A decision white may soon regret since his queen is out of play. 24.Qxd6!? was more logical.) 24...Rd8 25.c5 a5! 26.Bh5+ (A bit optimistic. It was time to think about defense with 26.Qxa5 Rxd6 27.cxd6 Qxd6 28.Qc3.) 26...g6 27.Bf3 (Missing the last chance for 27.Qxa5!?, for example 27...Rxd6 28.cxd6 Qxd6 27.Be2 Qd4+ 28.Ka3, threatening 29.Qc7+.) 27...Qc7! 28.Rxd8 (After 28.h3 black would force the exchange anyway with 28...Bf5.) 28...Qxd8 (The tide is turning. While the white queen is hopelessly stuck at the edge of the board, the black queen has a free ride into white's position.)
29.Kc1 (After 29.Bxb7? Qd2+ 30.Ka1 Bf5 white can't cope with several mating threats.) 29...Bf5! (Black has enough pieces to bother the white king.) 30.b4 (After 30.g4 Qd3! 31.gxf5 Qxf3 32.fxg6+ Kxg6 33.Qxa5 Qxf2 the black passed pawns look more dangerous.) 30...Qd4! (A well-calculated attack. Black sacrifices a pawn and gets the upper-hand.) 31.bxa5 Qxf2 (The e-pawn is free to march.) 32.Qb3+ Kg7 33.Qxb7+ (After 33.Bxb7? Qe1+ 34.Kb2 Qd2+ 35.Ka3 Qxa5+ 36.Kb2 Qxc5 37.a4 e4 black has a decisive advantage.) 33...Kh6 34.Qb2 (Nakamura has to defend against the mate and his queenside pawns fall like duck pins.) 34...Qxc5+ 35.Kd1 e4 36.Be2 e3 (Any successful attack on the king is guided by the rule of three: you need at least three pieces to prevail. The e-pawn is the third attacking piece.)
37.Ke1 (White does not have time to push his a-pawn. After 37.a6? Qd5+ 38.Kc1 Qc6+ 39.Kd1 Qxg2 40.Qc3 Qh1+ 41.Qe1 Qe4, black threatens mates on c2 or b1.) 37...Qxa5+ 38.Kf1 Qc7 39.Qd4 Qc1+ 40.Qd1 Qb2 41.a4 Qb4 42.Kg1 Bd7! (Black picks up a second pawn since after 43.Qxd7? Qe1+ 44.Bf1 Qf2+ 45.Kh1 Qxf1 black mates. The game is over.) 43.Qa1 Qf4 44.Qf1 (After 44.Bf3 Bc6! white is in dire straits, for example 45.Bxc6 Qf2+ 46.Kh1 e2; or 45.Qd1 Bxa4 46.Qd8 Qb4! 47.h3 Bb5 48.Qxf6 e2 and black wins.) 44...Qxf1+ 45.Kxf1 Bxa4 46.Bd3 Bd1 47.Be2 Bc2 48.Bb5 f5 49.g3 g5 White resigned.
Looking for Ideas
Tournament players can find many interesting ideas in two works published this year by the Gambit Publications. Those interested in the English opening, should consult John Watson's new book "Mastering the Chess Opening, Volume 3." Watson expertly guides the reader through the tricky English roads, scattering some pretty gems along the way. GM Igor Stohl's "Instructive Modern Chess Masterpieces" was a game collection that won the 2001 Cramer Award for Best Book. The new edition is enlarged by 12 well-selected games. Stohl's opening erudition shows throughout the book. His comments are deep, insightful and of high quality.
Solution to Last Week's Puzzle
April 13: White wins by Henri Rinck (White: Kc7,Rh1,Ne4,Ne5; Black: Kb5,Qf4): 1.Nc3+ Kc5! (On 1...Ka5 2.Ra1+ Kb4 3.Nd5+ wins.) 2.Rh5! Qf1! (The only move. After 2...Qf8 3.Nd7+; or after 2...Kd4 3.Ne2+, white wins.) 3.Rh4! (Creating a mating net and threatening 4.Nd7 mate.) 3...Qf7+! 4.Nd7+! (But not 4.Nxf7? stalemate.) White wins.