(Picasa 3.0)
By Lubomir Kavalek
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, October 12, 2009; 9:55 AM

The English chess composer Murray Marble (1885-1919) produced some 300 problems. In 1909, he won the first prize in the prestigious French magazine La Strategie for both the two-move and the three-move sections. In one of the winning works (White: Ka6,Qa8,Rc3,Rh3,Ba1,Bg6,Ng7; Black: Kd4,Qh1,Re2,Rf4,Nf2,Ng5,P: a3,b6,d5,e5), white mates in two moves. Can you find it? (Solution next week.)

Magnificent Magnus

Magnus Carlsen will likely remember the Second Pearl Spring double-round elite tournament in Nanjing, China, for the rest of his life. The 18-year-old Norwegian superstar notched the greatest triumph of his young career, winning the event last week and outclassing the opposition. He left his nearest rival, the world's top-rated grandmaster, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, 2 1/2 points behind. The final standings were: Carlsen 8 points in 10 games, Topalov 5 1/2 points, Wang Yue of China 4 1/2 points; Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, Peter Leko of Hungary and Dmitry Jakovenko of Russia, each 4 points. Last year, in a similar tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, winner Vassily Ivanchuk had an identical score to Carlsen's, but the field was weaker.

Carlsen's success and the margin of his victory in Nanjing will be compared to other great triumphs, and he still has time to match the best. Alexander Alekhine's 14-1 score in San Remo in 1930 or his 20 1/2 -5 1/2 tally in Bled in 1931 come quickly to mind. So do Mikhail Tal's 20-8 win in the 1959 Candidates tournament in Yugoslavia, Anatoly Karpov's 11-2 triumph in Linares in 1994 and Garry Kasparov's 12-2 victory in Tilburg in 1989. Of course, Bobby Fischer's run of 20 consecutive wins against world-class grandmasters in 1970-71 will never be repeated.

On the next FIDE rating list, Carlsen will break the 2800 rating barrier, the youngest player ever to do so. It could have been the motivation for going full-throttle in the last round against Jakovenko even though he had the tournament victory already wrapped up. The Exchange variation of the Queen's gambit figured prominently in last month's exhibition match between Carlsen's coach, Kasparov, and Karpov in Valencia, Spain.


1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 c6 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bxd6 Qxd6 8.e3 Ne7 9.Bd3 b6 (Intending to exchange the light bishop on the diagonal f1-a6. Karpov tried both, 9...Nd7 and 9...g6, without success.) 10.Nf3 (There is a difference between the player and his coach. Carlsen places the knight on the best square. Kasparov, on the other hand, liked to build the center with f2-f3 and e3-e4 and preferred to move the knight to the square e2.) 10...Ba6 11.0-0 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Nd7 (Not much is going on, but black still didn't castle and Carlsen follows William Steinitz's axiom: "The player with an advantage has to attack.")

13.e4! 0-0 (Exchanging the e-pawn with 13...dxe4 is not advisable since after 14.Nxe4 Qd5 15.Qa3! Carlsen keeps the black king in the middle. For example, white wins outright after 15...Qxe4 16.Rfe1 or after 15...0-0? 16.Nc3! Qe6 17.Rfe1. And white gets powerful pressure after 15...Kd8 16.Nc3 Qf5 17.Rfe1 Re8 18.Ne5 Nxe5 19.Rxe5 Qd7 20.Rae1and black is tied up.) 14.e5 (Crossing the equator gives Carlsen more space.) 14...Qe6 15.Rae1 Rfe8 16.Nh4 (Ready to unleash the f-pawn.) 16...Ng6 17.Nxg6 Qxg6 (Black can't stop white's kingside advance with 17...hxg6, since after 18.f4 Qf5 19.Qd1 Rac8 20.g4 Qe6 21.f5 gxf5 22.gxf5 Qh6 23.Kh1 white's advantage is clear.) 18.Qd2 Nf8 19.f4 Qf5 (Blocking with 19...f5 is met by 20.Nd1 Ne6 21.Ne3 Rac8 22.Kh1 Qf7 23.g4! and white dictates the play.) 20.Nd1 f6 21.Ne3 Qd7 22.Qd3! (Against 22...f5.) 22...fxe5?! (22...Rad8 was more cautious.) 23.dxe5 Ne6 24.f5 (The pawn avalanche begins to roll.) 24...Nc5 25.Qd4 Ne4 (This looks like an oversight, but black didn't have many options. For example, after 25...Qc7 26.f6! Rxe5 27.f7+ Kf8 28.Nf5 Ne4 29.Nxg7 Qe7 [On 29...Kxg7 30.Rf5! wins.] 30.Ne8!, threatening 31.Rf5, white wins.)

26.Nxd5!? (Carlsen keeps his advanced pawns intact, but the little combination had to be calculated well. The tempting 26.f6!? was also possible, for example 26...Re6 27.Nf5! c5 [27...Nxf6 is met by 28.Nxg7!] 28.Qd1 Rxe5 29.Rxe4! Rxe4 30.f7+! Kh8 [or 30...Kf8 31.Qh5!] 31.Ng3 Rf8 32.Nxe4 Rxf7 33.Nf2, but good technique is required to win.) 26...Qxd5?! (Jakovenko accepts being a pawn down. The retreat 26...Nc5!? leaves the white queen pinned, but Carlsen can create a lot of action with his advanced pawns: 27.f6! Red8 28.e6! Nxe6 29.f7+ and now after 29...Kh8 30.Rxe6! Qxe6 31.Nc7! Qe7 32.Nxa8 Rxa8 33.Qe5! Qf8 34.h3 black is pinned down; and after 29...Kf8 30.Qe4 Qxd5 31.Qxh7 Ke7 32.Qxg7! Qd4+ 33.Qxd4 Rxd4 34.f8Q+ Rxf8 35.Rxf8 Kxf8 36.Rxe6 the connected passed pawns give white excellent winning chances.) 27.Qxe4 Rad8 28.e6! (The first pawn arrives at the sixth rank and the other is underway.) 28...Qxe4 29.Rxe4 Rd6?! (This passive defense stops the white pawns only temporarily. The active 29...Rd2!? is more fun. White's best move is 30.b4 and after 30...Rxa2 31.Rc1! the possible continuation is 31...Rc8 32.Rec4 Rf8 33.Rxc6 Re2 34.g4 h5 35.h3 hxg4 36.hxg4 Re4 37.R6c4 Rxc4 38.Rxc4 a5 39.bxa5 bxa5 40.Rd4 Ra8 41.g5 a4 42.e7! Kf7 [42...Re8 43.g6! wins.] 43.Rd8 wins.) 30.g4 Kf8 31.g5 Ke7 32.Kg2 (White is not in a hurry. He marches his king up before he plays f5-f6.) 32...Rd5 33.Kg3 Kd6 34.h4 c5 35.f6 gxf6 36.gxf6 Rd3+ 37.Kh2 Rd2+ 38.Kh1 (The pawns will run to the touchdown.) Black resigned.

European Club Cup

The Russian team of Economist-SGSEU-1 Saratov, led by GM Evgeny Alekseev, clinched victory on Saturday at the 54-team European Club Cup in Ohrid, Macedonia, winning all seven matches. The team of Mika Yerevan, which included all members of the winning Armenian Olympiad team, won six matches but lost to the winners. England's GM Michael Adams, playing for the German club OSG Baden-Baden, scored the most points with six wins and one draw. GM Peter Svidler, competing for the Russian team from St. Petersburg, had the top performance rating of 2920, scoring 5½ points in seven games. The U.S. champion Hikaru Nakamura went 5-2 on the top board of the Austrian team Husek Wien.

The Russian team of Spartak Vidnoe took the women's 11-team group, winning five and drawing two matches. Their lineup included the former women's world champion, GM Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria, Russia's International Masters Tatiana and Nadezhda Kosintseva and GM Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine, who finished undefeated with the overall best result, five wins and one draw.

U.S. Women's Championship

IM Anna Zatonskih is defending the title in St. Louis. She had a fabulous start, six wins and one draw. The championship ends Tuesday. For the conclusion, go to the excellent Web site:

Solution to Last Week's Puzzle Oct.5: White draws by Henrik Van Duben (White: Ka4,Nd4,P:a2; Black: Ke4,P:b2,c6): 1.Nb5! cxb5+ (or 1...b1Q? 2.Nc3+) 2.Ka3! b1Q (or 2...b1R) stalemate; or 2...b1B 3.Kb4 Bd3 4.a4 draw.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company