Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin (1850-1908), Russia's best chess player in the last century, may be unfairly known for his gallant but losing effort in the 1889 world championship match against William Steinitz. At that time he enjoyed free brandy, while Steinitz sipped champagne during the games. Chigorin's contribution to chess was tremendous and highly original. For many years Russia has paid tribute to him, organizing memorial tournaments in his name.

This month, the Chigorin memorial was played in St. Petersburg, where Chigorin lived. It was the first leg of the new Russian Cup and attracted 142 players, including nearly 40 grandmasters. First place was shared between last year's winner, grandmaster Sergei Volkov, and International master Alexander Grischuk, both scoring 7 points in 9 games.

The 16-year-old Grischuk is the same age as Chigorin when he had just learned the game. The young, easygoing Muscovite loves music and girls and describes his playing style as dynamic. Others believe that he is a positional player, but perhaps Chigorin's spirit influenced his style in St. Petersburg. He played a few fierce, attacking games. Against Alexander Vaulin he almost paid for his adventurous performance.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 (A popular version of the English Attack against the Najdorf Sicilian.) 6...e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Be7 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 b5 11.Kb1 Nbd7 12.g4 Nb6 13.g5 Nfd7 14.h4 Qc7 15.h5 b4!? (The most testing move. Three games of Hungarian grandmaster Tibor Tolnai illustrate that other alternatives are not sufficient. Against 15...Rab8, played by Schlosser in Leibnitz 1990, Tolnai started a vicious attack with 16.g6 Nc4 17.Bxc4 bxc4 18.h6! destroying the pawn blanket. No better fared 15...Nc5, played by Henriksson in Debrecen 1992. Tolnai downed him after 16.g6 b4 17.Nd5 Nxd5 18.exd5 Nxb3 19.axb3 Bf5 20.Bd3 Bxd3 21.Qxd3 Qd7 22.Rdg1 Bf6 23.gxh7+ Kh8 24.Bg5 Qe7 25.Qf5 Bxg5 26.Rxg5 Qf6 27.h6! and black resigned. My absolute favorite is the game Tolnai-Kuczynski, Stara Zagora 1990. After 15...Rfc8 16.g6 b4 17.Nd5 Nxd5 18.exd5 Bf5 19.gxf7+ Kh8 20.Bd3 Bxd3 21.Qxd3 Rf8 the Hungarian played 22.Qg6!! and left his queen en pris for the next six moves: 22...Bf6 23.Rdg1 Rac8 24.Bg5 Qd8 25.Nd2 Nc5 26.Nc4 Nb7 27.Ne3 Qe7 28.Bxf6 Qxf6 29.Qxf6 gxf6 30.Nf5 Rxf7 31.Rg4 a5 32.Rhg1 and white soon won.)

16.Nd5 Bxd5 17.exd5 a5 18.Qd3 a4 19.Nd2 a3 20.Qf5 (Setting up a mating battery on the diagonal d3-h7. After 20.b3 Ra5 black is better.) 20...axb2 21.Bd3 g6 22.hxg6 (It looks like white crushes through.) 22...Rxa2!! (Amazing counterpunch! Anything else leads to white's victory. For example white mates soon either after 22...fxg6 23.Qe6+ Rf7 24.Rxh7!; or 22...hxg6 23.Qh3. After the better 22...Nxd5 white accelerates with 23.g7!!, e.g. 23...Nc3+ 24.Kxb2 Rxa2+ 25.Kc1 Ra1+ 26.Nb1 Rxb1+ 27.Kd2 Rxd1+ 28.Rxd1 e4 29.Rh1 and mates.)

23.c4!? (Inviting black to go wrong. After 23.Kxa2? Ra8+ 24.Kb1 Ra1+ 25.Kxb2 Qc3 mates. Or after 23.Ne4 Qa7 wins on the a-file. Not helpful is also 23.gxf7+ Rxf7 24.Qxf7+ Kxf7 25.Rxh7+ Kg8 26.Kxa2 Qa7+ 27.Kxb2 Qa3+ 28.Kb1 Na4 and black mates soon.) 23...Nxd5! (After 23...bxc3 24.g7! Ra1+ 25.Kc2 cxd2+ 26.Kxd2 Rxd1+ 27.Kxd1 and a triple attack on h7 decides.) 24.Bd4! (The only defense. It is too late for 24.g7?!, because of 24...Nc3+ 25.Kc2 b1Q mate. And on 24.cxd5 Ra1+ 25.Kxb2 Qc3 mates.)

24...Qa7? (Loses outright. Black should have played 24...exd4, when white cannot take the rook 25.Kxa2, since after 25...Qa5+ 26.Kxb2 Qa3+ 27.Kb1 b3 black comes first. However, after 25.Qxd5!? Qa7 26.gxf7+ Rxf7 27.g6 [Not 27.Bxh7+?! Kg7 with better chances for black.] 27...Ra1+ 28.Kc2 hxg6 29.Bxg6 d3+ [On 29...b1Q+ 30.Rxb1 Qa2+ 31.Kd1 Rxb1+ 32.Nxb1 black's play dies out.] 30.Qxd3 Rc1+ 31.Rxc1 bxc1Q+ 32.Kxc1 Qa1+ 33.Nb1 and now after 33...Rf4 34.Qd5+ Kf8 35.Rh7 Nb6 36.Rf7+ Kg8 37.Qe6 Rxc4+ 38.Bc2 Rxc2+ 39.Kxc2 white wins; and after 33...Bg5+ 34.Kd1 Qa4+ 35.Ke1 Re7+ 36.Kf1 the chances are on white's side.) 25.g7! (Turning the table quickly.) 25...Ra1+ 26.Kc2 (After 26...Qa4+ 27.Nb3 Rc1+ 28.Rxc1 bxc1Q+ 29.Kxc1 N5f6 30.gxf6 Nxf6 31.gxf8Q+ wins.) Black resigned.

Scholastic results

Kimball Elementary School of southeast Washington, D.C., won the championship trophy at the Elementary Team Charity Tournament, held November 20 at the U.S. Chess Center with 78 students from 20 local schools participating. Haycock Elementary of Falls Church was second and Stanton Elementary of southeast Washington finished third and won the Merit Award trophy. Aliecia Jenkins and DeShawn Berry of Kimball, Vodim Korotikh of Fairfax (Sherwood Elementary) and Tyler Cook of Vienna (Louise Archer Elementary) won all four games. The next tournament at the Center for kids and less-experienced adults is the Rated Beginners Open on Saturday, December 4.

Solution to today's study by Leonid I. Kubbel (White:Kf2,Bh4,P:a6,d3; Black:Kd4,Rh5,P:d5): 1.a7 Rf5+ (On 1...Rh8 2.Bf6+ wins.) 2.Ke2 Re5+ (On 2...Rf8 3.Bf6+ Kc5 4.Be7+ wins.) 3.Kd2 Re8 4.Bf2+ Ke5 5.Bg3+ Ke6 8.Bb8 and white queens.