The magnitude of creative ideas at this year's Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Spain, could impact tournament play for months to come. However, finding the gems among the more than 5,000 games could be a painstaking job. A well-researched opening book would be a helpful guide.
The English Attack
Just before the Olympiad, Gambit Publications in London issued a new book on one of the most fashionable variations in the Sicilian defense: the English Attack. It is the first book by Finnish international master Tapani Sammalvuo, who might have been inspired by the long "white nights" in Finland that afford plenty of time to write in great detail about such a complex opening. But I believe it was his love for sharp, attacking ideas that took him far beyond the usual research into a fascinating world of chess analysis. Sammalvuo tackled the difficult job well and "The English Attack" could be useful for some time.
But consider the games from Calvia, and Sammalvuo's book already requires some updates. The game between the Macedonian grandmaster Trajce Nedev and the 19-year-old Hungarian grandmaster Ferenc Berkes is a good example. It is a fascinating tactical fight where white's new 17th move gave black a lot of problems.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.f3 (The English Attack is defined by white's last two moves.) 7...b5 8.g4!? Nfd7 (Expecting to be stormed by white pawns on the kingside, black moves his cavalry on the other wing for a counterattack. After 8...Nbd7 comes 9.g5 and the knights are in each other's way.) 9.Qd2 Nb6 10.0-0-0 N8d7 11.Bd3 (Sammalvuo likes Grischuk's knight sacrifice 11.Ndxb5, often discussed in this column. He concludes, however, that it leads to an equal position.) 11...Bb7 12.Qf2 (Keeping the black knights honest: 12...Ne5? fails to 13.Nxe6!) 12...Rc8 13.Nce2! (Not allowing 13...Rxc3, a promising positional exchange sacrifice that gives black a good game.) 13...Qc7 (Kasparov's latest choice was 13...Nc5. The immediate break in the center 13...d5 can be met with 14.e5!) 14.Kb1 d5 (It seems that black can break in the center now because he controls the square e5.)
15.e5!? (One of those mysterious pawn sacrifices where, besides opening the e-file, the benefits are not obvious.) 15...Qxe5 (Again 15...Nxe5 is met by 16.Nxe6!) 16.Nf4! (Proposed a few years ago by two Romanians, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu and Valentin Stoica. Moving the knight into a threatening position, white also begins to clear the e-file for the rook that eventually arrives on the square e1.) 16...Bc5 (English grandmaster John Emms suggested 16...Nc4 17.Bxc4 bxc4 18.Rhe1 c3! as interesting, but Sammalvuo explodes with 19.Ndxe6!? fxe6 20.Nxe6. After 20...Qd6 21.Nxg7+ Kf7 22.Nf5 Qb4 23.b3, the position is sharp and unclear.)
17.Rhe1!? (This novelty seems more logical than the line-clearing fireworks by Nisipeanu and Stoica:17.Nh5 g6 18.f4! Qd6 19.Ng7+ Kf8 20.Ngxe6+ fxe6 21.f5 gxf5 22.gxf5 e5 23.Ne6+ Ke8 24.Rhg1 with compensation for the piece. Emms suspects that it is not enough, but Sammalvuo continues: 24...Bxe3 25.Qxe3 Nc5? [25...Na4 is better] 26.Qg5 Nxe6 27.fxe6 Rf8 and here 28.Rdf1! wins for white, e.g. 28...Rxf1+ 29.Bxf1 Qxe6 30.Bh3! Qxh3 31.Qf6 and black is defenseless.) 17...Na4 (Nedev's idea is that 17...Bxd4!? is met by a shocking piece sacrifice 18.Nxe6! and white comes on top either after 18...fxe6 19.Bxd4 Qd6 20.Bxg7 Rg8 21.Bf5! e5 22.Bxe5 Nxe5 23.Bxc8 Bxc8 24.f4; or after 18...Bxe3 19.Rxe3 Qxe6 20.Bf5!) 18.Nh5 g6 (Black does not have time to castle, since after 18...0-0 19.Bf4! Bxd4 20.Bxh7+ Kxh7 21.Rxd4, the black queen is trapped.) 19.f4! Qd6 20.Ng7+ Kd8 (After 20...Kf8 21.Ngxe6+ fxe6 22.Nxe6+ Kg8 23.Nxc5 Naxc5 24.Bd4 Nf6 25.Qh4 Rf8 26.f5, threatening 27.g5, white's attack gains new energy.)
21.f5! (White must open up the game.) 21...e5 (After 21...Bxd4 22.Bxd4 e5 23.fxg6, white has a powerful attack, for example 23...fxg6 24.Qg3 Rg8 25.Rxe5! Nxe5 26.Bxe5 Qe7 27.Re1! Rxg7 28.Bxg7 Qxg7 29.Qd6+ Qd7 30.Qf6+ Kc7 31.Re7 wins; or 23...exd4 24.gxf7 Kc7 25.Re6 Qb4 26.Qg3+ wins.) 22.fxg6! Bxd4 (After 22...exd4 23.Bg5+ f6 [Or 23...Kc7 24.Bf4 wins.] 24.Ne6+ Qxe6 25.Rxe6 fxg5 26.g7 wins.) 23.Bxd4 exd4?! (Helping white, but 23...fxg6 24.Qg3 Qe7 25.Rxe5! transfers to the above variation.) 24.gxf7 (White is now winning.) 24...Qb4 25.Ne6+ Ke7 26.f8Q+ Rcxf8 27.Nxf8+ Kd6 (After 27...Kd8 28.Ne6+ Kc8 29.Qxd4 wins.) 28.Qg3+ (After 28...Kc6 29.Re6+ Kc5 30.Nxd7 mates.) Black resigned.
Spellbound Pawn Endgames
Everyman Chess recently issued "Starting Out: Pawn Endgames" by Glenn Flear. In a well-thought-out work, the English grandmaster helps to discover one of the most intriguing parts of the game that any player should know something about.
One of the best pawn endgame composers was a Russian master, Nikolai Grigoriev (1895-1938). Today's diagram (White: Kc1, P:f4,h2; Black: Kh4, P:a3,c7) reflects one of his splendid works: 1.h3! c5 2.Kb1 c4 3.Ka2 c3 4.Kb3!! (The only way! After 4.Kxa3? black saves the game with the idea of Richard Reti: 4...Kg3! 5.f5 Kf4! 6.f6 Ke3! 7.Kb3 Kd3 8.f7 c2 9.f8Q c1Q and black should draw.) 4...a2 5.Kxa2 Kg3 6.f5 Kf3 (After 6...Kf4 it makes a big difference to have the white king on a2: 7.f6 Ke3 8.f7 c2 9.f8Q c1Q 10.Qh6+ wins.) 7.Kb1! blocks the c-pawn and wins. But not 7.f6? Ke2!; or 7.Kb3? Ke4! 8.f6 Kd3 and black draws.