Judit Polgar, the greatest female player in chess history, continues to shine at rapid-play events, conquering the world's best competitors. Her much publicized win over top-rated Garry Kasparov at the World vs. Russia in Moscow in September was a springboard to a tournament victory in Benidorm, Spain, earlier this month.

Polgar won the 12-player round-robin event, defeating FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov in a blitz playoff, after both players shared first place with eight points in 11 games. Anatoly Karpov and Alexei Shirov finished with 7.5 points. Sergei Karjakin, the young prodigy from Ukraine, scored seven points and was the last player with a plus score.

Throughout the tournament Polgar played sharply and inventively. A good example was her King's Indian victory against Pablo San Segundo of Spain, a fight for the control of the light and dark squares, with Polgar storming more effectively on the kingside.

San Segundo-Polgar

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Nh6 (Polgar chooses a defensive plan popular in the late 1960s.) 11.h3 (Secures the square d4 by preventing g5-g4. The game Gligoric-Kavalek, Lugano 1970, went wild after 11.dxe5 fxe5!? 12.c5 g4 13.Qd5+ Kh8 14.Nd2 Nc6 15.cxd6 Nd4!? with 16.dxc7! Qxd5 17.Nxd5 Nc2+ 18.Kd1 Nxa1 19.Nc4, but white was able to win the knight on a1 with good compensation for the exchange.) 11...Nc6 12.dxe5 (White is not interested to test Kasparov's pawn sacrifice after 12.d5 Nd4!? 13.Nxd4 exd4 14.Qxd4 f5 15.Qd2 f4 that still remains unclear.) 12...fxe5!? (Showing fighting spirit by avoiding the queen exchange after 12...dxe5.) 13.Qd2 Nf7 14.Nh2 Nd4 15.Bg4 Nh8 16.Nf1 (White does not challenge the strong knight on d4, trying to hold a grip over the light squares instead. After 16.Nb5, black should play 16...Ng6!, for example 17.Nxd4 exd4 18.Nf3 Nf4! with counter-chances.) 16...Ng6 17.Ne3 Nf4 18.f3 c6 19.Bxc8 Rxc8 20.h4 b5 21.cxb5?! (A poor trade-off. White gets the square d5, but his king has to stay in the middle.) 25...cxb5 22.Bxf4 exf4 23.Ned5 a5 (Insisting on displacing the knight on c3 with b5-b4.) 24.Rc1 g4! 25.fxg4?! (Allowing a decisive breakthrough. White should have kept the game closed with 25.Qd3!) 25...f3! 26.Kd1 (Walking to the kingside 26.Kf2 does not work either after 26...b4 27.Nb1 Rxc1 28.Qxc1 Ne2 29.Qc4 Bd4+ 30.Ne3+ d5 31.Qb3 fxg2+ 32.Kxg2 Nf4+ 33.Kg3 a4 and black wins a piece.) 26...b4 27.Na4 Rxc1+ 28.Kxc1 Ne2+ 29.Kb1 fxg2 White resigned.

Karjakin, at 12 the youngest grandmaster ever, played a tournament of his life. A win against San Segundo in the last round would have allowed him to share first place, but unfortunately he lost. Against Claudia Amura, a strong grandmaster from Argentina, Karjakin drew from his experience of being Ponomariov's second. In the Four Knight Sicilian he was able to build a fierce attack on the kingside by simple strokes.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Ndb5 Bb4 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Nxc3 d5 9.Bd3 0-0 (Ever since the game Fischer-Bolbochan, Mar del Plata 1959, the endgame after 9...dxe4 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.Bxe4 Qxd1+ 12.Kxd1 has been considered favorable to white.) 10.0-0 d4 11.Ne2 e5 12.Ng3 (Karjakin should have known what is the most precise move order here. White's plan is to launch an attack with f2-f4; black on the other hand should try to occupy the square e5 with his knight. This scenario was displayed in the game Ponomariov-Korchnoi, Donetsk 2001, white played first 12.h3 and after 12...Re8 13.Ng3 black tried to anticipate f2-f4 with 13...Nd7. In the game Shirov-Grischuk, Linares 2001, black played the more natural 13...Be6 and after 14.f4 exf4 15.Bxf4 Nd7 16.Qh5 g6 ?! 17.Qh6 did not have time to secure the square e5 with 17...f6, because of 18.e5!! with tremendous attack, for example 18...Ncxe5 [On 18...fxe5 19.Nh5! Re7 20.Bg5 gxh5 21.Bxh7+! wins.] 19.Nh5! Qe7 20.Bxe5 fxe5 21.Bxg6! hxg6 22.Qxg6+ Kh8 23.Nf6! with a big advantage.) 12...h6 (After 12...Bg4 comes 13.Qe1, followed by 14.f4.) 13.h3 a6?! (Black's plan is too slow, but in the game Solovjov-Hellegaard, Pardubice 2001, after 13...Be6 14.f4 exf4 15.Bxf4 Nd7 16.Qh5! Qa5 17.Nf5 Bxf5 18.exf5 Rfe8 white got a powerful attack with a bishop sacrifice 19.Bxh6! gxh6 20.Qxh6 Qe5 21.Rf4 and won in 33 moves.) 14.f4 b5 15.Nh5 Be6 16.Nxf6+ Qxf6 17.Qh5 Kh7 18.f5! (The pawn avalanche is unstoppable.) 18...Bc4 19.g4 g5 20.h4! gxh4 21.g5 Rg8? (Loses outright, but even after 21...Qg7 22.Kf2! Bxd3 23.cxd3 white's attack cuts through, for example 23...Na5 24.Rg1 Nb3 25.g6+ fxg6 26.Rxg6; or 23...Rg8 24.Qxh4 Rgd8 25.Rh1 Rd6 26.g6+ fxg6 27.Bxh6! winning in either case.) 22.g6+ (On 22...fxg6 23.Qxh6 mates and after 22...Rxg6+ 23.fxg6+ Qxg6+ 24.Qxg6+ white is a rook up.) Black resigned.

Solution to today's problem by E. Palkoska (White: Kc2,Qf7,Ne4,Bg5,P:d2; Black:Ke5,Bd4,Ng1,P:e7,h3): 1.Bh6! Kxe4 2.d3+ Ke5 3.Bf4 mate; or 1...e6 2.Qh5+ Kxe4 3.d3 mate; or 1...Bc3 2.Kd3 Ne2 3.Bg7 mate; or 1...Be3 2.Bg7+ Kxe4 3.d3 mate; or 1...Ne2 2.d3 h2 3.Bg7 mate; or 1...Nf3 2.Bf4+ Kxe4 3.d3 mate.

White mates in three moves.