Alexander Grischuk's flamboyant chess style brings a lot of excitement to major chess tournaments. Two years ago at the Aeroflot Open in Moscow, the Russian grandmaster made a stunning knight sacrifice in the Najdorf Sicilian that was regarded as the best opening novelty of the event. During the last two years it inspired other white attackers and they were booking victory after victory. Lately, however, the black defenders have found how to fight back.
Enter Walter Browne, the six-time U.S. champion. For more than a quarter of a century he did not open his games against strong players with 1.e4, preferring closed openings. But at the U.S. Open in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this month, Browne began four games with his king pawn, was never in danger and won all four games. "It is a shame I waited so long," he said.
One of his victims was Maryland grandmaster Aleks Wojtkiewicz, who specializes in the Najdorf variation. Browne mastered the intricacies of the Grischuk sacrifice, played the best line and scored a nice victory. But why would his opponent, one of the busiest and most experienced professionals, stumble into a hopeless position from the opening?
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e6 7.Be3 b5 8.g4 Nbd7 9.Qd2 Nb6 10.0-0-0 Nfd7 11.Ndxb5!? (Grischuk's sacrifice.) 11...axb5 12.Nxb5 Ba6 (The original game Grischuk-Dvoirys revealed that taking the pawn 12...Rxa2? is dangerous for black. After 13.Kb1 Ra8 14.Nxd6+ Bxd6 15.Qxd6 Na4 16.Bb5 Qe7 17.Qd4 e5 18.Qd5 Nc3+ 19.bxc3 Rb8 20.Rd3 0-0 21.c4 Nb6 22.Qc5 Qf6 23.g5, black resigned. But leaving the pawn a2 on the board gives white enough material for the piece. One of the better defenses, 12...Ne5!?, can be met with 13.Qb4!?, for example 13...d5 14.Qc3 Nbc4 15.Bxc4 Nxc4 16.exd5 with a strong attack.) 13.Nxd6+ Bxd6 14.Qxd6 Nc4 15.Bxc4 Bxc4 (Wojtkiewicz previously faced the cautious 16.a3 against Suat Atalik and 16.Rd4 against Hikaru Nakamura. Although he lost both games, improvements were possible.)
16.Qd4! (A sleeper, analyzed two years ago, but emerging only last year in a tournament play. The double attack on the c4 bishop and the g7 pawn speeds up the tactical twists.) 16...Rxa2 (Last month in a duel between two computer programs, Fritz chose against Deep Junior 16...Be2!? and after 17.Qxg7 Rf8 18.Bc5!? Bxd1 19.Rxd1, white had enough pawns for a piece, but the game was later drawn.) 17.Kb1 Qc8? (Loses. Only the surprising 17...Ra8!? 18.Qxc4 [Too adventurous is 18.Qxg7?!, played last year in the game Almasi-Berkes.] 18...Qa5 19.c3 0-0! gives black some hope for a queenside counterplay on the open files.) 18.Qxg7 Rf8 (The following rook sacrifice was mentioned by Russian grandmasters Dolmatov and Zviagintsev in their New in Chess article on the 2002 Aeroflot Open.)
19.Rxd7! (The sacrifice is based on the control of the weak dark squares in black's camp. It gives white a powerful attack.) 19...Kxd7 (After 19...Qxd7 20.Bc5! wins.) 20.Rd1+ Kc6 (After 20...Ke8 white has the amazing 21.b4!, threatening to anchor the bishop on c5, for example 21...Bb3 22.Bc5! and white wins. Also after 20...Ke8 Browne's 21.Bh6 is sufficient, e.g. 21...Qc5 22.Qxf8+ Qxf8 23.Bxf8 Kxf8 24.b3 Bxb3 25.cxb3 and white should win. And after 20...Kc7 21.Rd4 Kb7 22.Rxc4 Qxc4 23.Qxf8, white gets too many pawns for the exchange.)
21.b3! (In his analysis to the game Almasi-Berkes, grandmaster Ftacnik assessed this position only as better for white.) 21...Qa6 (It is hard to imagine that Wojtkiewicz did not know that he is lost.) 22.Qe5 (The bishop move 22.Bf4! also wins. But after 22.Qd4 Kb7! black can defend.) 22...Qa3 23.Qd4 (Threatening mates 24.Qb6 or 24.Qd7, forces black to give up the rook.) 23...Ra1+ 24.Qxa1 Qxa1+ 25.Kxa1 Be2 26.Rd4 e5 27.Rd5 f6 28.f4 exf4 29.Bxf4 Bxg4! 30.Kb2 (At this point Browne had roughly seven minutes against Wojtkiewicz's four to finish the game. White's extra two pawns should decide.) 30...Re8 31.c4 Rxe4 32.Rd6+ Kc5 33.Rxf6 Kd4 34.Rd6+ Kc5 35.Rd5+ Kc6 36.Bg3 h5 37.Kc3 Be6 38.Rd6+ Kb7 39.Kb4 Re2 40.c5 and white won.
U.S. Open and Other Results
Wojtkiewicz and another Maryland grandmaster, Alexander Onischuk, were among seven players sharing first place at the U.S. Open, played Aug. 7-15 in Fort Lauderdale. They scored 71/2 points in nine rounds. The event, organized by the U.S. Chess Federation, attracted 443 players.
Mackenzie Molner of New Jersey and Pieta Garrett of Arizona shared first place at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions. They ended with 5 points in six games. Virginia's Ruixin Yang finished with 4 points. Maryland's Daniel Aisen scored 2 points and D.C. champion Victor Carabello had 1 point.
Roza Eynullayeva from Massachusetts won the first Suzan Polgar Invitational for Girls, scoring 51/2 points in six games. Virginia's Ettie Nikolova finished with 4 points and Maryland's Annie Larson got 21/2 points. Solution to today's problem by J. Perts (White: Kd7,Qc6,Bd4; Black: Ka7,Rc5,Bb8,P:d6): 1.Kc8! Bc7 2.Qb7 mate; or 1...d5 2.Bxc5 mate.