Eight years ago in Reykjavik, Iceland, Alexander Khalifman tossed a handful of $100 bills into the air and watched in amazement as they landed in a fountain. It was his biggest payday up to that time. Sharing the third place in a World Cup tournament netted him $12,334. Last month in Las Vegas, the Russian grandmaster earned more than $500,000 for winning the FIDE world championship. This time he was wiser and avoided the fountains.
Khalifman, 33, was a world championship candidate in 1994, but lost to Valery Salov. As one of the best technical players, Salov gave Khalifman an endgame clinic and clobbered him 5 to 1. At that time Khalifman was known for his great opening knowledge, which often gave him advantages in the middle game. But in Las Vegas, Khalifman's endgame play was efficient and actually helped him to beat the odds and become the FIDE world champion. The 1996 Russian champion displayed a great fighting spirit and simply refused to falter in a grueling, month-long competition that victimized grandmasters with much higher ratings. Notables eliminated by Khalifman included the American Gata Kamsky, Boris Gelfand of Israeland Judit Polgar of Hungary. His game against the Romanian Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu shows Khalifamn as a complete player and typifies his Las Vegas performance. The Romanian grandmaster became a spectator after yielding opening advantage in the Queen's Indian defense.
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.a3 Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Nc3 c5 7.e4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Nc6 9.Nxc6 Bxc6 10.Bf4 Nh5 11.Be3 Qb8 12.g3 Bc5 13.Bxc5 bxc5 14.0-0-0 (Gripping the center and not allowing any breaks with the d-pawn.) 14...Nf6 15.f4 0-0 16.Bg2 e5 17.f5 (White dominates the game and is ready to roll his kingside pawns.) 17...Qd8 18.Bf3 Rb8 19.Rd2 g6 (To open up his own king is a little bit suicidal, but black can't generate anything on the queenside.) 20. Rf1 Kh8 21.g4 gxf5
22.exf5! (A pseudo pawn sacrifices. White gets everything back with dividends, but this well timed play exposes the black king.) 22...Bxf3 23.Rxf3 Nxg4 24.f6! (The key to Khalifman's combination, ending in shattering black's pawn structure.) 24...Nxf6 25.Qf5 Rb6 26.Qxe5 Re8 27.Qxc5 Qe7 28.Qxe7 Rxe7 29.c5 (Black has pitiful four pawn islands and Khalifman sets his queenside pawn majority in motion.) 29...Rc6 30.b4 a5? (This creates a passed pawn immediately and Khalifman does not have to work hard for it.) 31.Kc2 axb4 32.axb4 Kg733.Kb3 Re5 34.Rdf2 Rce6 35.Rf5 Kg6 36.Rxe5 Rxe5 37.b5 Re3 38.Re2 (Preventing the rook from retreating to the 8th rank.) 38...Rf3 39.b6 Nd5 40.b7 Rxc3+ 41.Kb2 Rc4 42.b8Q (After 42...Rb4+ 43.Qxb4 Nxb4 44.Rd2 white wins the d-pawn, because 44... Na6 fails to 45.Rd6+.) Black resigned.
Both semifinal matches of the 1999 U.S. Men's championship in Salt Lake City, Boris Gulko vs. Yasser Seirawan and Gregory Serper vs. Alex Yermolinsky, were tied after three games on Saturday, each player scoring 1.5 points. Anjelina Belakovskaya won the 1999 Women's U.S. Championship.
Over 300 players participated in various sections of the Atlantic Open held at the end of August at the Wyndham hotel in Washington. GM Alex Wojtkiewicz and IM Mihkail Zlotnikov won the Open section, scoring 4.5 points in 5 games. John Rouleau of Rockville, who played in the national junior competitions over the summer, scored 3.5 points, finishing in the top ten. His punishing play against Boris Privman was one of the tournament's highlights.
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 c6 4.a4?! Qc7 (Too passive. Better was to borrow a pinning idea from the Czech defense: 4...Qa5 5.Bd2 e5 with a good game.) 5.f4 e5 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Bc4 Bxf3 8.gxf3 g6 9.Be3 Bg7?! (Black could have contested the black squares with 9...Bh6 10.Qd2 Nh5.) 10.Rg1 Nbd7 11.Qd2 Qa5 12.0-0-0!? a6?! (Wasting time on a counterplay that never comes.) 13.f5 b5 14.dxe5! Nxe5 (More solid is 14...dxe5, but 15.fxg6! can lead to some amazing play after either 15...hxg6 16.Bb3 Rd8 [16...Bf8 looks better] 17.Rxg6!? fxg6 18.Qd6 Rc8 19.Bc5 Kd8 20.Be6 Bh6+ 21.Kb1 Rh7 22.Bxd7 Nxd7 23.b4! Qc7 24.Qf6+ Ke8 25.Qe6+ Kd8 26.Qg8+ Bf8 27.Qxf8 mate; or after a romantic queen sacrifice 15...bxc4 16.gxf7+ Kxf7 17.Qxd7+!? Nxd7 18.Rxd7+ Ke6 19.Rgxg,7 leaving it for problem composers and other chess magicians.) 15.Qxd6 bxc4 16.Bc5 Ng8 17.f6 (On 17...Bxf6 18.Qf8 mates and after 17...Bh6+ 18.Kb1 black cannot protect the knight on e5.) Black resigned.
Winners of other Atlantic Open sections: Vladimir Grechikin won the Under 2200 section; Terry M Klein, Scott B. Webster, Eugene Motz won Under 2000; Robert A. Walker, Mark A. Sinz, Michael Agulnick won Under 1800; Duncan E. Lee Under 1600; David Paulina, James T. Wallace, Kelvin K. Wallace Under 1400 and Osman Aslan won the Under 1200 group.