Magnus Carlsen continues his amazing run of success. Just for a good measure, the world's youngest grandmaster -- he's 13 -- made another grandmaster norm, his fourth this year, at the 12th Sigeman tournament. The 10-player round-robin event was staged this month in the Swedish city of Malmo and near the Danish capital of Copenhagen in Hoje Taastrup.
The Norwegian prodigy collected 51/2 points in nine games, finishing third, just half a point behind the winners, Danish grandmasters Pieter Heine Nielsen and Curt Hansen. Former Soviet champion and world championship candidate Alexander Beliavsky had five points and was the last player with more than a 50 percent score. Former U.S. champion Nick DeFirmian ended with three points, sharing the last place with Danish international master Jacob Aagaard.
Carlsen defeated the tournament winner, Nielsen, in a difficult variation of the Slav defense that intrigued many world champions. After a seesaw middlegame battle, the Norwegian showed his tactical skills with a series of powerful counterattacking strokes.
Carlsen - Nielsen
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Nh4!? (Former world champion Alexander Alekhine gave credit for this knight move to Orla Hermann Krause, a Danish analyst who found many new ideas in the Slav defense in the 1920s. White wastes time to eliminate the ominous black's queen bishop at all costs. The leading alternative today is 6.Ne5.) 6...Bg4 (In the game Alekhine-Stolz, Bled 1931, black played 6...e6, which Alekhine considered natural and good. He wrote: "White will enjoy a pair of bishops [after 7.Nxf5 exf5 8.e3], but as long as black is able to control the central squares he should not have much to fear."
Most common is the retreat 6...Bc8. Alekhine advocated 7.e3 e5 8.Bxc4 exd4 9.exd4 "with slightly better prospects for white." Garry Kasparov picked up this line almost 60 years later but without much success. More interesting is the piece sacrifice 7.e4 e5 8.Bxc4 exd4 9.Nf3!?, for example 9...dxc3 10.Bxf7+ Ke7 11.Qb3 with messy prospects.)
7.h3 (Black can meet 7.f3 with 7...Bd7, for example 8.e4 e6 9.Bxc4 [9.g3 b5!] Nxe4! with an edge.) 7...Bh5 8.g4 Bg6 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.e3 e6 11.Bxc4 Bb4 12.Bd2 (A useful developing move. 12.Qf3 was played before, but it may not be the best square for the queen.) 12...Nbd7 13.g5 (Carlsen decides to take the center at the expense of overextended pawns.) 13...Nd5 14.e4 N5b6 15.Bb3 a5 16.Qe2 c5!? (The other break 16...e5?! was played in Carlsen- Andriasian in Budva, Montenegro, last year. After 17.dxe5 Nxe5 18.0-0-0 Nd3+ 19.Kb1 Nc5 20.Nb5!? Nxb3 21.Bxb4 axb4 22.Rxd8+ Rxd8 instead of 23.Nc7+?, white should have played 23.Rd1!, for example 23...cxb5 24.Rxd8+ Kxd8 25.Qd1+; or 23..Ke7 24.Nd6! and white wins.)
17.d5 c4!? (A promising pawn sacrifice, giving black plenty of play on the weak light squares.) 18.Bxc4 Nxc4 19.Qxc4 0-0 20.0-0-0!? (A bold decision. It seems that the white king walks into a storm. After 20.dxe6 Ne5! 21.Qd5 Nf3+ 22.Ke2 Nd4+ 23.Kf1 fxe6 gives black ample compensation for a pawn.) 20...Rc8 21.Qe2 exd5 22.Kb1 Bxc3?! (Leaving white with a strong bishop. Better was 22...dxe4 23.Nxe4 Qc7 24.Bxb4 axb4 25.Nd6 Ra8 with a counterplay.) 23.Bxc3 Nc5 24.Rxd5 Qe8 25.f3 b6 (The pawn on a4 is not running away. After 25...Nxa4 white has a pleasant choice between 26.Bxa5 and 25.Bd4. But 25...Qxa4 forces 26.Qd1, with the idea to meet 26...Nb3 by 27.Rxa5!)
26.Qe3! (Threatening 27.Qd4, white forces black to take the a-pawn.) 26...Nxa4 27.Bd4! (The bishop assumes a dominating position in the center and white is ready to march the h-pawn.) 27...Rc4 (Black tries to create some attacking chances by tripling his heavy pieces on the c-file.) 28.h4 Qc6 29.h5 gxh5 30.Rxh5 Rc8 31.Rh1 (Stopping black's attack.) 31...Rc2 (Threatening 32...Rxb2+! 33.Bxb2? Qc2+ and black mates. But the dynamics of the position changed and Carlsen comes up with a decisive counterattack.)
32.g6! (Suddenly white is threatening to mate in three: 33.Rh8+! Kxh8 34.Qh6+ Kg8 34.Qxg7 mate.) 32...f6 (After 32...Qxg6 33.Rg5 wins. And 32...fxg6 33.Rh8+ Kf7 34.Qf4+ spells the end for black. The tricky 32...Rxb2+ is calmly met by 33.Ka1!) 33.Rdh5! (White wins by force, since 33...Rxb2+ is met again by 34.Ka1!) 33...Kf8 34.Qa3+ Ke8 35.Rh8+ Kd7 36.Rxc8 Kxc8 37.Qe7! (The mating threat 38.Rh8+ wins a piece.) 37...Qc7 38.Qe8+ Kb7 39.Qxa4 Rc4 40.Qd1 Black resigned.
Arlington Chess Club
Ray Kaufman became champion of the prestigious club this month. He tied for first place with John Meyer and Boris Privman, all scoring 41/2 points in five games, but Kaufman was the only club member. His father, international master Larry Kaufman, held the title in two previous years. Tyler Cooke won the amateur club title with 3 points. Solution to today's problem by K. Schlechter (White: Kf8,Qh8,Ne5,Nf6,P:f2; Black: Kg5,Bf1,Nd4,Nd6,P:e6,f5,g6,h3): 1.Qh7! Ne4 2.Qh6+! Kxh6 3.Nf7 mate; or 1...Ne2 2.Qh4+! Kxh4 3.Nf3 mate; or 1...h2 2.Qxg6+ Kf4 3.Qg3 mate; or 1...Kxf6 2.f4 h2 3.Qxg6 mate.