Everybody expected former U.S. champion Irina Krush, 15, to walk away with the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Yerevan, Armenia, last month. Krush started slowly, but recovered at the end and shared first place with three other girls. But the tie-break was cruel to her and Krush was left without a medal, finishing fourth. Instead, Maria Kouvatsou of Greece was the surprising winner. The Czech Jana Jackova took a silver medal and Szidonia Vajda of Romania won the bronze. They all scored 8.5 points in 13 games. Another American, Jennifer Shahade, was just a half point behind them.
The difference between gold and silver was Kouvatsou's entertaining win over the Czech player in the Italian game, culminating with a stylish queen sacrifice.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.b4 Bb6 6.d3 d6 7.Qe2 a5 8.b5 Ne7 9.a4 Ng6 10.Na3 0-0 11.Bb3 d5 12.h3 h6 13.0-0 Nh5 (Black concentrates her forces on the white king, forcing an action in the middle.) 14.d4! (A pictoresque center. White opens up the game and at the same time prevents 14...Ng3.) 14...exd4 (Black could have sharpen up the game with 14...Nhf4 15.Bxf4 Nxf4 16.Qe3 Qf6!?, for example 17.Nxe5 Qg5! 18.g4 Qxe5 19.dxe5 Bxe3 20.fxe3 Nxh3+ 21.Kh2 Bxg4 22.exd5 [Or 22.Bxd5 c6!] 22...Ng5 23.Rf4 h5 with a complex endgame ahead.) 15.cxd4 dxe4 16.Qxe4 Qf6 17.Nc4 (Going after the bishop pair.) 17...Bf5 (Starting a tactical battle, but the losing the war at the end.) 18.Qxb7 Bxd4?! (After 18...Nh4 19.Nxh4 Qxh4 20.Nxb6 cxb6 21.Bxf7+ white wins, but 18...Rab8 19.Qc6 Qxc6 20.bxc6 Be4 was possible.)
19.Nxd4 Qxd4 20.Ba3?! (Kouvatsou misses 20.Rd1! with the idea 20...Qxa1?! 21.Bb2 winning the queen with advantage. Black would have to play 20...Qh4, but after 21.Ba3 white's chances are much better.) 20...Be4 (A tempting move, but black gets outcalculated. Simpler was 20...Rfb8 21.Qf3 Nhf4 22.Rad1 Qe4) 21.Qxc7 Rfc8 22.Rad1! (A key counterblow.) 22...Qc3 (Allows a brilliant escape with a queen sacrifice, which white must have planned a few moves back. After 22...Qf6 23.Qd7 Rd8 24.Qg4 white protects the king.)
23.Qxf7+! (A champion's move!) 23...Kh7 (After 23...Kxf7 24.Nd6+ Ke7 or 24...Kf6 25.Nxe4+ and white wins the queen back with dividends.) 24.Nd6 Bxg2 25.Nxc8 (But not 25.Kxg2?? Nhf4+ 26.Kg1 Qxh3 and black wins.) 25...Qxh3 ( Not waiting for 26.Qg8 mate...) Black resigned.
Russia's Alexander Galkin dominated the men's event with 10.5 points in 13 games. In a decisive game he beat a pre-tournament favorite, Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan, who scored 10 points and finished second. Two Armenians, Karen Asrian and Lev Aronian, shared the third place with 9.5 points, but Asrian won the bronze on a tie-break. American Eugene Perelshteyn scored 8 points, sharing 9th to 12th places.
In his best game against Florian Jenni, Galkin turned around the attack on the kingside after the Swiss junior tested him with the Marshall gambit in the Spanish opening.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.Bxd5 (A simple solid line against the Marshall attack, giving white a slight edge.) 12...cxd5 13.d4 Bd6 14.Re3 Qh4 15.h3 g5 (More popular lately than the older 15...f5.) 16.Qf3 Be6 17.Qf6 Rfe8 (At the 1998 olympiad in Elista, in the game DeFirmian-Imanaliev, black choose 17...Rae8, but after 18.Nd2 Qf4 19.Qxf4 Bxf4 20. Re1 Bxh3 21.Nf3! Rxe1+ 22.Nxe1 Bf5 23.Bxf4 gxf4 24.Nf3 Re8 25.Re1 left white with a better endgame.
18.Nd2!? (Galkin has done his homework and follows DeFirmian's recipe. Switching the knight to defend the kingside is more logical. After 18.Bd2 Qh5 19.Re1 h6 20.Na3 Kh7 21.Nc2 Rad8 22.Ne3 Be7 23.Qe5 Bd6 24.Qf6 the game is equal according to Hungarian theoretician Lazslo Hazai.) 18...Be7 19.Qe5 h6 20.g4! (Encircling the queen.) 20...Rad8 (The attempt to free the queen with 20...h5 runs into a vicious attack after 21.Nf3! Qxh3 22.Nxg5 Qxg4+ 23.Rg3 Qd1+ 24.Kh2 Bg4 25.Ne6! fxe6 26.Bh6 threatening 27.Qg7 mate and winning the queen.)
21.Qh2 Bxg4 (Black has no choice, since white was about to trap the queen with 22.Nf3. After 21...Bd6 22.Qg2 Bxg4 23.Rxe8+ Rxe8 24.Qxg4 white is a piece up.) 22.hxg4 Qxg4+ 23.Qg2 Qd1+ 24.Nf1 g4 (It didn't matter what black played. After 24...Bf8 25.Rg3 f6 26.Bxg5 Qxa1 27.Bxf6+ Kf7 28.Bxd8 Rxd8 29.Rf3+ white wins. Galkin comes up with a cute finish.] 25.Rxe7! Rxe7 26.Bxh6 (White wins against either 26...Qf3 27.Qxf3 gxf3 28.Bg5 winning material; or against 26...Qxa1 27.Qxg4+ Kh7 28.Qg7 mate.) Black resigned.
Winners at the Scholastic Kick-Offs played at the U.S. Chess Center on Oct. 2: Ilya Sirotinin of Gaithersburg (Grades 1-4), Carlos Harris of Southeast DC (Grades 5 - 7), Alex Barnett of Silver Spring (Grades 8-12). No Fear, another scholastic tournament, is scheduled for October 30 at the Center.