The Classical World Championship match between titleholder Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Hungarian challenger Peter Leko is underway in Brissago, Switzerland. Kramnik won the first game on Saturday; yesterday's game was drawn. It is Kramnik's first official title defense since he defeated Garry Kasparov in London in 2000. The 14-game match ends Oct. 18 and can be followed at www.worldchesschampionship.com.
Magician From Ukraine
Andrei Volokitin, 18, is one of many young Ukrainian talents and the champion of his country. Like Bobby Fischer, he became a grandmaster at age 15 in the Slovenian coastal town of Portoroz. Volokitin is a player to be watched. His attractive attacking style is often spiced with intriguing sacrifices. A good example is a Sicilian defense game, which he played in this month's team competition in Budva, Montenegro, against Russian grandmaster Sergei Rublevsky.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Be2 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 (Black chooses the Scheveningen variation, avoiding a dangerous pawn sacrifice: 6...Bb4 7.0-0! Bxc3 8.bxc3 Nxe4 9.Qd3, for example 9...Nc5 10.Qg3 ; or 9...d5 10.Ba3 and white has a powerful initiative.) 7.0-0 Be7 8.f4 0-0 9.a4 Qc7 10.Kh1 b6 (After 10...Nc6 11.Be3 Re8, Volokitin likes the double-pawn sacrifice:12.a5!? Nxa5 13.e5!? with the idea 13...dxe5 14.fxe5 Qxe5 15.Bf4 Qc5 16.Na4 Qa7 17.Bc7 b5 18.Nb6.) 11.e5 dxe5 12.fxe5 Nfd7 13.Bf4 Bb7 14.Bd3 Nc5 15.Qg4 Nc6?! (Black most likely missed white's brilliant answer. After 15...Rd8 16.Bg3, white has some dangerous threats, for example 16...Nc6 17.Bxh7+! Kxh7 18.Rxf7 wins; or 16...Nxd3 17.Rxf7! Kxf7 18.Rf1+ Ke8 19.Nxe6 with a powerful attack. White's light bishop on d3 plays a major role in the attack and should have been eliminated with 15...Nxd3, for example 16.cxd3 Rd8 17.Bg3 Qd7 18.Bf2 Nc6 with a playable game for black.)
16.Nd5!! (This isn't your everyday combination. It is a complicated, narrow path to victory. Several sacrifices are needed to destroy the pawn protection of the black king. The knight sacrifice frees the e5-pawn and gains the square f5.
Could Volokitin do it less elegantly? The simple 16.Bh6 is refuted by 16...Qxe5, for example 17.Nf3 f5!; or 17.Nxc6 Bxc6 18.Rae1 f5! and black is fine. Opening the h-file with a bishop sacrifice 16.Bxh7+!? does not quite cut it either after 16...Kxh7 17.Rf3 Nxd4! 18.Qh5+ Kg8 19.Rh3 Bxg2+ ! 20.Kxg2 f6 black thwarts the storm.) 16...exd5 17.e6! (Attacking the base on f7 and forcing the black queen to retreat. After 17...Bd6 18.Bxd6 Qxd6 19.Bxh7+! Kxh7 20.Qh5+ Kg8 21.exf7+ Rxf7 22.Qxf7+ Kh8 23.Ra3! wins.) 17...Qc8 (Trying to stay on the same diagonal as the white queen. After 17...Qd8 18.Bh6 white's attack gains a strong momentum, for example after 18...Bf6 white wins by sacrificing both bishops 19.Bxg7! Bxg7 20.Bxh7+! Kxh7 21.Qf5+ Kh8 [or 21...Kh6 22.Ra3 wins] 22.Qh5+ Kg8 23.exf7+ Rxf7 24.Qxf7+ Kh7 25.Rf5 wins; and on 18...g6 19.Nxc6 Bxc6 20.exf7+ Rxf7 21.Bxg6! Rxf1+ 22.Rxf1 Bf6 23.Be8+ Kh8 24.Bxc6 white has a decisive advantage.) 18.Bh6 g6 19.Bxf8 Bxf8 (After 19...Qxf8 20.Rxf7 wins.) 20.exf7+ Kh8 (After 20...Kg7 21.Qf4! black is hurting on the dark squares, for example 21...Be7 22.Rae1 Qd8 23.Re6! Nxd4 24.Qxd4+ Kh6 25.Qe3+ Bg5 26.Re8! wins.) 21.Bf5 Qc7 (Black is trying to stay above water at all cost, but now comes the second wave of the attack.)
22.Bxg6! (Volokitin had to see this sacrifice ahead of time. The black king can't be protected anymore.) 22...Ne5 ( After 22...hxg6 23.Qxg6 Ne7 24.Qh5+ Kg7 25.Qg5+ Ng6 26.Rf6 wins. Bringing the queen to the kingside does not help either: 22...Qe5 23.Nxc6 Bxc6 24.Bxh7 Qg7 25.Bg6, threatening 26.Ra3 or 26.Rf3.) 23.Qg3 (An important pin.) 23...Bg7 (After 23...hxg6 24.b4 and the knight on c5 can't move, e.g. 24...Ne4 25.Qh4+ Kg7 26.Ne6 mate; and on 24...Bc8 25.bxc5 bxc5 26.Nf3 the pin wins.) 24.Bxh7! Kxh7 (Because of the threat 25.Qh3, black had to take the destructive bishop.) 25.Qh3+ Bh6 (After 25...Kg6 26.Qf5+ Kh6 27.Ra3, threatening 29.Rh3 mate, white wins.) 26.Rf6 Nxf7 27.Raf1 Rf8 28.Qh5 (Black is in various pins and can't free himself.) 28...Kg8 29.Qg6+ Bg7 30.Nf5 Ne6 31.Rxe6 Black resigned.
Former world champions Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar played an exhibition match Sept. 18-19 in Lindsborg, Kan., to a 3-3 tie.
Former U.S. women's champion Irina Krush won the Acoona Trophy on Sept. 16 in New York, defeating the current French women's champion, Almira Skripchenko, with the score 11/2 to 1/2.
GM Maurice Ashley announced the HB Global Chess Challenge, scheduled for May 18-22, 2005 in Minneapolis. The prize fund is an impressive $500,000.
International master Bruci Lopez won the University of Maryland Baltimore County championship on Sept. 19 with a perfect score, 5-0. Solution to today's study by J. Sulz (White: Kg8,Bh3,Ng2,P:a6; Black: Ke2,Rf1): 1.Nf4+! Rxf4 2.Bd7! Rf6 (2...Rf3 3.Bg4; or 2...Rf1 3.Bb5+ wins.) 3.a7 Ra6 4.Bb5+ wins.