Serious chess is out, rapid exhibitions are in for some of the world's top players. Indian superstar Vishy Anand won yesterday in Leon, Spain, defeating in the final match FIDE world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan, 21/2 to 11/2. Early this month in Miskolc, Hungary, the eight-game match between the 2004 world championship finalist, Peter Leko, and England's top grandmaster, Michael Adams, finished in a 4-4 tie. Although Leko had the home turf advantage, he lost the first three games, but came back strongly with three consecutive wins. The last two games were drawn.
The Ghost of Nimzovich
In one of his wins, Adams used an opening idea introduced 80 years ago by the founder of the hyper-modern movement, Aron Nimzovich. An aggressive bishop move in the Queen's Indian, against Ernst Gruenfeld during the 1925 Breslau tournament, turned a rather peaceful opening into a sharp defense.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6!? (Nimzovich's discovery, creating a pressure on the pawn c4 and along the diagonal a6-f1.) 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 (White has to be careful to avoid early problems. The game Shirazi-Benjamin from the 1984 U.S. championship in Berkeley, Calif., saw a tragi-comic play by white: 6.Nbd2? Bc3! 7.Rb1 Bb7 8.Bb2 Ne4 9.Rg1 Qf6 10.Bc1 Nc6 11.e3 Nb4, threatening 12...Nxa2, black had a winning position.) 6...Be7 7.Nc3 0-0 8.Rc1 d5!? (Trying to pry open the diagonal a6-f1. It is better than giving up the center after 8...c6 9.e4.) 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.Nxd5 (After 10.e4 Nxc3 11.Rxc3 Bxf1 12.Kxf1 c5! black has no problems to equalize.) 10...exd5 11.Bg2 Re8 12.Rc2 c5! (Pounding the center before white finishes his development.) 13.0-0 (After 13.dxc5 Bxc5 14.Bf4 Bb4+ prevents white from castling.) 13...Nc6 14.Bc3 (Trying to hold the square d4 at all costs.) 14...Rc8 15.Bh3 Rc7 16.Re1? (Surrendering a pawn, but after 16.dxc5 Bxc5 17.Bg2 d4 18.Bb2 Rce7 black has a strong pressure.)
16...cxd4! 17.Bxd4 (Also after 17.Nxd4 Nxd4 white can't save a pawn, for example 18.Qxd4 Bf6 19.Qd2 d4 20.Bb4 Rxc2 21.Qxc2 Rxe2! 22.Rxe2 d3 or after 18.Bxd4 Bb4! 19.Rxc7 Qxc7 20.Qc1 Qd8 21.Bc3 Bxc3 22.Qxc3 Bxe2 and black should win.) 17...Nxd4 18.Nxd4 Bb4 19.Rf1 (Black wins easily now, but 19.Rxc7 is not adequate:19...Qxc7 20.Qc1 Qc5 21.Rd1 Bxe2 22.Qxc5 Bxc5 23.Nxe2 Rxe2 24.Rxd5 g6 and white can't protect the weak pawn on f2.) 19...Rxc2 20.Qxc2 Bc5! 21.Rd1 Bxd4 22.Rxd4 Rxe2 23.Qc1 Qf6 (A double-attack on rook d4 and pawn f2 takes the white rook out of play.) 24.Rf4 Qe7 25.Kg2 Re1 (26...Bf1+ comes next.) White resigned.
One year before he became the world champion, Vassily Smyslov created a tactical masterpiece with Nimzovich's revolutionary idea at the 1956 Moscow tournament. He smashed Wolfgang Uhlmann -- who later became a world championship candidate -- in a mere 18 moves.
It was the shortest victory by black in this opening line between two world-class players.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6!? 5.b3 d5 (Smyslov interprets Nimzovich in the most straightforward way.) 6.Bg2 Bb4+ 7.Nfd2?! (Too artificial. There is nothing wrong with 7.Bd2!?) 7...c5!? (Timing is important and Smyslov attacks the vulnerable center immediately.) 8.dxc5?! Bxc5 9.Bb2 0-0 10.0-0 Nc6 11.Nc3 Rc8 12.cxd5 (Chasing the bishop away first with 12.Na4!? was better.) 12...exd5 13.Na4?! (Wasting time and giving black a decisive advantage. After 13.a3!? Re8 14.Re1, threatening 15.b4 was the correct way to play.) 13...Nd4! (Now the bishop on c5 does not have to move. Black attacks the weak e-pawn.) 14.Nc3 (A sad retreat, but necessary since 14.Re1 loses to 14...Nc2! 15.Qxc2 Bxf2+ winning the queen. After 14.Bxd4 Bxd4 15.Rb1 b5 16.Nb2 Qa5 black dominates the game.) 14...Qe7! (Much better than 14...Bb4 15.Ndb1! and white survives, e.g. 15...Rxc3 16.Qxd4!) 15.Re1?! (This obvious defense runs into an amazing combination.)
15...Nc2!! (A deep tactical conception, winning at once.) 16.Rf1 (After 16.Qxc2 Smyslov intended to finish the game with a powerful mating attack 16...Bxf2+! 17.Kxf2 [Or 17.Kh1 Bxe1 18.Rxe1 d4 wins for black.] 17...Ng4+ 18.Kf3 Qf6+ 19.Kxg4 Rc4+ 20.bxc4 Bc8+ 21.Kh5 Qh6 mate.) 16...Nxa1 17.Qxa1 Rfd8 18.Bf3 Ba3 (Uhlmann correctly saw no point to continue.) White resigned.
Richard K. Delaune Jr. Memorial
A five-round Swiss open, honoring the late international master and four-time Virginia champion, is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Holiday Inn in Springfield. More information: vachess.org/rkdmemorial.htm.
GM Joel Benjamin, three-time U.S. champion, will play a simultaneous exhibition at the Arlington Chess Club Thursday at 7 p.m. More information: members.cox.net/arlingtonchessclub/benjamin.htm
Solution to today's study by V. Yakimchik (White: Ke5,Ng8,P:d6,g4,h4; Black: Kf7,Nh8,P:f3,g6): 1.d7 Kg7 (1...f2 2.d8Q f1Q 3.Nh6+ Kg7 4.Qg8+ Kxh6 5.Qxh8 mate.) 2.Nh6! Kxh6 3.Ke6 Nf7! 4.Kxf7 f2 5.Kg8! (5.d8Q? f1Q+ 6.Qf6 Qc4+ !) 5...f1Q 6.d8N! Qc4+ 7.Nf7+ Qxf7+ 8.Kxf7 white wins.