Lubomir Kavalek on Chess for October 5, 2009

(Picasa 3.0)
By Lubomir Kavalek
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, October 5, 2009; 8:19 AM

It is always a pleasure to come across an endgame study that is simple and beautiful. In 1907, the Swedish chess composer Henrik Van Duben created a gem almost out of thin air. Using very little material (White: Ka4,Nd4,P:a2; Black: Ke4,P:b2,c6) and a few masterful strokes, he accomplished what seemed to be impossible: White plays and makes a draw. Can you find how? (Solution next week.)

Magnus in China

Something magnificent and bizarre is going on at the Second Pearl Spring elite tournament, underway in the Chinese city of Nanjing. The 18-year-old Magnus Carlsen is demolishing the competition, which includes some of the world's best players. The Norwegian superstar won four games and allowed only one draw in the first half of the tournament.

It may be the second-best start in a double-round event after Veselin Topalov scored six wins and one draw in the first half of the world championship in San Luis, Argentina, in 2005. The Bulgarian grandmaster won the world title by drawing all seven games in the second half. Carlsen started the second half by drawing against Hungary's Peter Leko on Sunday.

Carlsen's four wins in China were the only decisive results in the first half. The other games were all drawn. The young Norwegian clobbered one of the best defenders, Leko, until he could not defend anymore. He overpowered Topalov, one of the best power players. Russia's Dmitry Jakovenko, one of the best endgame players, was destroyed by zugzwang in the endgame after Carlsen's brilliant play in the middle game. Only China's Wang Yue stole a draw from a worse position.

Carlsen has a wide range of skills and his style is being compared to other great players such as world champions Mikhail Tal, Jose Raul Capablanca, Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov. Tal won many games by wreaking havoc on the chessboard. Steering the games into complications, often with incredible sacrifices, Tal mesmerized his opponents and they made inexplicable blunders. Carlsen does not mind navigating his games through chaos as Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan found out when he overplayed his hand in the Rossolimo variation of the Sicilian, neglecting his development.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.0-0 Nge7 5.c3 a6 6.Ba4 b5 7.Bc2 Bb7 8.Qe2 d5 (The central pawn trust is a change from their game in Linares, Spain, this year, in which Radjabov staged his counterplay along the c-file with 8...Ng6 9.d4 cxd4 10.cxd4 Rc8 11.a3 Be7 12.Nc3 0-0 13.Rd1 Na5 14.g3 Nc4. The exciting game was drawn in 53 moves after Carlsen missed a few wins.) 9.e5 d4 10.Be4 (What a journey! After provoking black's queenside advances, the bishop lands on the best square.) 10...Qb6 (Kasparov once preferred the straightforward 10...Nd5.) 11.d3 Rd8 12.a4! (Weakening black's b-pawn.) 12...Nd5 13.axb5 axb5 14.cxd4 cxd4 15.Nbd2 Nf4 (Trying to disrupt white's smooth development. After 15...Be7 16.Nb3 h6 17.Bd2 0-0 18.Na5 white has the edge.) 16.Qd1 Nb4?! (Overly optimistic. Attacking the e-pawn 16...Ng6, for example 17.Re1 Bb4, was better.) 17.Nb3 Bxe4 18.dxe4 Nfd3?! 19.Bg5 Rc8 20.Nfxd4 Nxb2 21.Qe2 Nc4 22.Rfc1 Bc5 (After 22...h6 23.Be3 Rd8 black is punished with 24.Nxb5! and white wins, for example 24...Qxb5 25.Nd4! Qxe5 26.Qxc4 Be7 27.Nc6! Nxc6 28.Qxc6+ Kf8 29.Bb6 Re8 30.Ra8; or 24...Nxe3 25.Nc7+ Ke7 26.Na8! Qb8 27.Qxe3 Qxe5 28.Ra5.)

23.Nxb5 0-0? (Radjabov blunders, but his position was already difficult. After 23...Qxb5 24.Ra5 Qxa5 25.Nxa5 Nxa5 26.Qb5+ Nac6 27.Rxc5 white wins. Black's only chance to survive was 23...Bxf2+ 24.Qxf2 Qxb5, for example 25.Qe2!? 0-0 26.Nd4 Qxe5 27.Rxc4 Rxc4 28.Qxc4 Qxg5 29.Qxb4 Qe3+ 30.Kh1 Qxe4.) 24.Nxc5 Nxe5 (White wins either after 24...Rxc5 25.Be7 or after 24...Qxb5 25.Qxc4 Qxc4 26.Rxc4 Nd3 27.Be7.) 25.Be7 (After 25...Rfe8 26.Nd6! wins.) Black resigned.

Kamsky in Baku

Scoring 7 1/2 points in nine games, the U.S. grandmaster Gata Kamsky shared first place with Russia's GM Boris Savchenko at the Baku Open, played in the Azerbaijani capital last week. Kamsky defeated his main rival in the last round in the Winawer French with a masterful light-square strategy.


1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 cxd4 8.cxd4 (Avoiding the Main line Winawer 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 Qc7.) 8...Qc7 9.Kd1 h5 (Kamsky provided model play with the white pieces against Nikolic in Monaco in 1996. After 9...0-0 white coordinated his forces with 10.Nf3 f5 11.Qh4 Nbc6 12.Bd3 Bd7 13.Rg1 Ng6 14.Qh5 Nce7 15.Bd2 Rac8 16.Ke2 Qd8 17.Rgb1 and kept the edge.) 10.Qf4 b6!? (Intending to exchange the light bishops, Kamsky gains a move on the previously played 10...Bd7.) 11.Bb5+ Bd7 12.Bd3 Ng6 13.Qe3 (13.Qg3 is met by 13...Qc3!) 13...Nc6 14.Nh3?! (Protecting the center with 14.Nf3 is more solid. Still, after 14...Nce7 15.Bd2 Ba4 black has a good game.) 14...Nce7 15.Ng5 Nh4! (The knight leaps initiate the collapse of the white center.) 16.Qh3 Nhf5 17.Bb2 (The immediate 17.g4? is disastrous 17...Nxd4 18.gxh5 Ba4 19.Ra2 Rc8!) 17...f6! 18.Nf3 (White allows himself to be pushed back. Mixing it up with 18.g4!? Nxd4! 19.exf6 gxf6 20.Nh7 0-0-0! 21.Bxd4 e5 22.Nxf6 exd4 23.Nxh5 offered better chances.) 18...0-0-0 (Kamsky finished his development and is ready to strike.) 19.Re1 g5!? 20.g4 hxg4 21.Qxg4 Be8! (Moving the bishop to the diagonal d1-h5 forces white to retreat en masse.) 22.Kc1 Bh5 23.Qg2 Ng6 24.exf6 Nf4 25.Ba6+ Kb8 26.Qh1 b5! (Cutting off white's light bishop allows black to concentrate on the weakness on c2.) 27.Nxg5 (After 27.Bxb5 Rc8! black wins.) 27...Rc8! (After the exchange sacrifice white will not be able to protect his king.) 28.c3 Nxd4 29.Bxc8 Rxc8 30.Re3 Qc4! (The final blow. White has no good defense against 31...Qb3 32.Kb1 Bg6+.) White resigned.


The SPICE Cup in Lubbock, Tex., saw a three-way tie for first place in both groups. In the A group, Yuriy Kuzubov of Ukraine, Dmitry Andreikin of Russia and Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan scored one win and nine draws each. Kuzubov won the blitz playoff and the trophy. The B group was dominated by U.S. players. IM Ben Finegold made his final grandmaster norm, sharing first place with grandmasters Vinay Bhat and Eugene Perelshteyn. They finished with a 6-3 score. IM Ray Robson, 14, just missed his last GM norm by a half point, scoring 5 1/2 points. The event is the brainchild of the former women's world champion Susan Polgar.

Solution to Last Week's Puzzle

White mates in four moves by Erich Zepler (White: Kf7,Qc4,Rd2,Bh3,P:c3,f4; Black: Ka3,Qb1,P:b7,f5,h7): 1.Bxf5!! Qxf5+ 2.Ke7 Qb1 3.Ra2+ Qxa2 4.Qb4 mate; or 1...Qb3 2.Be6 Qxc4 3.Bxc4 b5 4.Ra2 mate; or 1...b5 2.Qc5+ Ka4 3.Bxb1 Kb3 4.Qb4 mate.

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