Hikaru Nakamura became the youngest American grandmaster this month, at age 15 years and 58 days, breaking Bobby Fischer's record by 127 days. He made his final norm in the B-class grandmaster tournament in Bermuda, finishing second behind Latvian grandmaster Daniel Fridman.
Brazilian grandmaster Giovanni Vescovi was a surprise winner of the top grandmaster group. He scored eight points in 11 games, edging three-time Russian champion Peter Svidler by a half point. It was not a dream tournament for the last two U.S. champions: Alexander Shabalov finished with 4.5 points and Larry Christiansen shared last place with Qatar grandmaster Mohamad Al-Modiahki, both collecting 4 points.
Shabalov was back to his old adventurous style but was often hammered in the opening. Israeli grandmaster Alik Gershon caught him in a 40-year-old combination in the Gruenfeld defense, played by the late world champion Tigran Petrosian.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.Rc1 c5 7.dxc5 dxc4 8.e4 Qa5 (Later in the tournament, Svidler equalized against Gershon with 8...Na6.) 9.e5 Rd8 (The alternative, 9...Nh5, which premiered in the Dolezal-Kavalek match in Prague in 1963, is playable.) 10.Bd2! Ng4 11.Bxc4 Qxc5 (After 11...Nxe5 12.Nxe5! Bxe5 13.Nd5 Qxc5 14.Bb3 Qd6 15.Bb4 wins. And 11...Nxf2? is refuted by 12.Kxf2 Qxc5+ 13.Be3! winning.) 12.Ne4 Qb6 13.Bxf7+! Kxf7 14.Nfg5+ (Gershon switches the move order and is rewarded. White usually plays first 14.Rxc8! and only after 14...Rxc8 15.Nfg5+.)
14...Ke8? (Most likely Shabalov miscalculated it. He should have played 14...Kg8! 15.Rxc8 Rxc8 16.Qxg4 where the most reliable defense is Pal Benko's 16...Qc6!? 17.Nd6! Qd7 and now Petrosian-Benko, Curacao 1962, continued 18.Qxd7 Nxd7 19.Nxc8 Rxc8 20.f4 Rc2 21.Ke2 Bh6 [On 21...Rxb2 comes 22.Rc1!] 22.Nf3 [Perhaps 22.Ne4!? Rxb2 23.g3 Rxa2 24.Rc1 should be considered.] 22...Rxb2 23.g3 g5 and a draw was agreed. Improving white's play with 18.Qh4 can be countered by 18...h6! 19.Nxc8 hxg5 20.Qc4+ e6! 21.Nd6 Nc6! with enough counterplay.
(A natural defense seems 16...Rf8, but after 17.Qh3 [17.Ne6 Rf5! holds.] 17...h5 18.0-0 Bxe5 white has a dangerous deflection 19.Ba5!, e.g. 19...Qxa5 20.Qe6+ Kh8 21.Qxg6 winning.)
15.Rxc8! Rxc8 16.Qxg4 Nd7 (After 16...Rc4 17.Nd6+ Qxd6 18.Qxc4 Qxe5+ 19.Be3, white has too many threats against the black king. Giving up the exchange with 16...Rd8 [or 16...Rc6] 17.Nd6+! Rxd6 loses to 18.exd6 Qc5 19.Qe6 Qe5+ 20.Kd1. And after 16...Nc6 17.Nd6+ Kf8 18.Qe6 Nd8 19.Nxh7 mates.) 17.Nd6+! (A smashing interference! After 17...exd6 18.Qe6+ Kd8 19.exd6, black can't reasonable cope with 20.Nf7 and 20.Qe7 mates.) Black resigned.
GM Viktor Bologan of Moldavia won the $150,000 tournament in Moscow last week on a tie-breaker, sharing first place with GM Svidler and Belarus grandmasters, Aleksej Aleksandrov and Alexei Fedorov. They scored seven points in ninegames in the top group, which included 143 grandmasters. Last year's winner, American GM Gregory Kaidanov, finished with six points.
Israeli GM Emil Sutovsky defeated Russian GM Semen Dvoirys in the Fischer variation of the Najdorf Sicilian. His 11th move novelty gave black the illusion that he could win a piece.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Nbd7 8.Bg5 Nc5 9.f4 Be7 10.Qf3 Qc7 (Sutovsky as black played the risky 10...h6 11.Bh4 g5?! against Bezemer last year in Amsterdam, but after 12.fxg5 Nfd7 13.0-0 Ne5 14.Qh5 Bxg5 15.Bg3! had problems.) 11.0-0!? (A new way, inviting black to win a piece. The usual is 11.0-0-0.) 11...Nxb3 12.axb3 Qc5?! (Better was 12...0-0.) 13.Rad1 e5? (Dvoirys goes for the knight, but it backfires on him.)
14.b4! Qa7 (Maintaining the pin.) 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 (After 15...gxf6 16.fxe5 fxe5 17.Qxf7+ Kd8 18.Nd5 Re8 19.Rf6! white has a powerful attack, for example 19...exd4 20.Nxe7 Rxe7 21.Rxd6+ Rd7 22.Qf4! b5 [or 22...Rxd6 23.Qxd6+ Bd7 24.Rf1 wins]. 23.Rf6 Re7 24.Qd6+ Ke8 25.Rdf1 wins.) 16.fxe5 dxe5 17.Nd5! Rf8 (Protecting the pawn on f7. Black does not have a good option: after 17...exd4 18.e5! decides; and on 17...0-0 18.Nxf6+ gxf6 19.Qxf6 exd4 20.Rd3, threatening 21.Rg3+, white wins.)
18.Nc7+?! (White does not want to allow black a queenside castling. He could have played 18.Qg3! immediately, for example 18...Be6 19.Rxf6! 0-0-0 20.Rxe6! fxe6 21.Qc3+ Kb8 22.Qc7+ Ka8 23.Nb6+ winning.) 18...Ke7 (On 18...Kd8 19.Nxa8 exd4 20.e5! wins.) 19.Nd5+ Ke8 20.Qg3! (White is ready to sacrifice an exchange to gain control of the dark squares, for example 20...exd4 21.Rxf6! gxf6 22.Qd6 mating soon.) 20...Be6 21.Rxf6! gxf6 22.Nxf6+ Kd8 23.Qxe5 Kc8 24.Kh1 (Going out of the pin makes sense, but the immediate 24.Rd3 was also possible.) 24...Rd8 (On 24...Qb6 25.Rd3 wins.) 25.Rd3 Bc4 26.Ne6! (After 26...fxe6 [On 26...Bxe6 27.Rc3+ wins.] 27.Rxd8+ Kxd8 28.Qd6+ Kc8 29.Qd7+ Kb8 30.Qd8 mates.) Black resigned.
Solution to today's problem by M. Havel (White: Kb3,Qa5,Re7,P:b7; Black: Ka7,Ba6,Bb8,P:b5) 1.Qd8! Bxb7 2.Qa5 mate; or 1...Bc7 2.b8Q mate; 1...b4 2.Qd4 mate.