The Dutch team won the gold medals at the 15th European Team Championship yesterday in Goteborg, Sweden. They went undefeated, winning six matches and tying three. They scored 15 match points, one more than Israel, the silver medalists. The young French grandmasters earned the bronze medals on a tiebreaker over the hard-charging Greeks. Both teams scored 13 match points.
Laurent Fressinet, 23, was the driving force on the French squad, scoring 61/2 points in nine games. One of his victims was the veteran Armenian grandmaster Rafael Vaganian, 54, who specializes in the Winawer variation of the French defense. In an instructive game, the Frenchman knocked him out in 21 moves.
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 b6 (A strategically sound exchange of the light bishops with Bc8-a6 is the main idea of this variation. It was popular among Armenian players, including the late world champion Tigran Petrosian. The problem is the space black is giving up.) 5.a3 Be7 (Blocking the natural developing square for the knight on g8. For that reason, great players such as Petrosian, Viktor Korchnoi and David Bronstein used to retreat the bishop all the way to f8. Vaganian hopes to bring his knight into the game via the square h6. In the line 5...Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 black's weakened kingside is vulnerable.) 6.Nf3 (Avoiding the exchange of the light bishop is not necessary, but possible. In the game De Firmian-Minasian, New York 2000, white played 6.Bb5+ c6 7.Ba4 Ba6 8.Nce2 h5 9.c3 and later brought his bishop to c2.) 6...a5 (Although it may fit with his long-term strategic plan, black's next two rook-pawn moves are a waste of time.) 7.Be3 h5 (Too many pawn moves in a blocked position may not be disastrous, but they give white a clear advantage in development.) 8.Bd3 Ba6 9.Ne2 Nh6 (The knight finally enters the game as planned.)
10.Rc1! (A key move in opening up the game.) 10...Ng4 11.c4! dxc4 12.Bxc4 Nxe3?! (Helping white to clear the f-file.) 13.fxe3 Bh4+? (Vaganian is allowing an exchange that magnifies all his weaknesses.) 14.Nxh4 Qxh4+ 15.Ng3 Qg4 (Black has problems with the king. After 15...0-0 comes 16.Qxh5.) 16.Qa4+ Ke7 (The king is stuck in the middle, but after 16...c6 17.Bxa6 Rxa6 18.0-0 0-0 19.Rf4 Qg6 20.Ne4 white's buildup on the kingside is too powerful. Also after 16...Kf8 17.Bxa6 Nxa6 18.Qd7!, followed by 19.0-0, black is in dire straits.) 17.0-0 Qg6 (After 17...h4 18.Rf4 Qg6 19.Ne4! is strong again.)
18.d5! (A decisive breakthrough, exposing the black king.) 18...h4 (After 18...Rd8 19.Be2! Bxe2 20.Rxc7+ Nd7 21.Nxe2 exd5 22.Nf4 Qe4 23.Qc6! white has too many threats and black must lose material.) 19.d6+! (A final punch, forcing the black king out.) 19...cxd6 (Forced. After either 19...Kf8 or 19...Kd8 20.dxc7+ wins.) 20.exd6+ Kxd6 (The king can't hide, for example after 20...Kf8 21.Bxa6 Nxa6 22.Qc6 Re8 23.d7! Rd8 24.Qxb6 Ke7 25.Ne2 white wins.) 21.Bxa6 (White wins either after 21...Nxa6 22.Qc6+ Ke7 23.Qb7+; or after 21...Rxa6 22.Qd4+ Ke7 23.Rc7+ Ke8 24.Qd6!) Black resigned.
Russia and Ukraine, two favored teams, lost three matches each and could not have recovered in time. Poland won the Women's European Team championship ahead of Georgia and Russia.
Former U.S. champion Nick De Firmian took the Goteborg open, played alongside the team championships.
Susan Polgar broke the world record in simultaneous play last Tuesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The former women's world champion played 326 games, winning 309, drawing 14 and losing only three times. Equipped with a pedometer, Polgar walked over nine miles in 161/2 hours with only a few five-minute breaks. Her amazing performance will be recorded in the Guinness World Records.
But there was more. When Polgar finished some of her games, she allowed newcomers to sit at the boards and also played them. By the time she ended her record-breaking 326th official game, she actually had played 1,131 games, breaking another record for the most consecutive games played. Chess was the easy part of it, although there were several club players with ratings between 1700 and 2250. Walking (mostly sideways), twisting, turning and leaning for several hours can do a lot of damage to your body, but Polgar survived it well. "Actually, I felt a lot better than expected," she said. Her main objective was to boost the popularity of the game in the United States, "to make a splash in the news." And she had done it admirably.
Everyman Chess recently issued "Breaking Through: How the Polgar Sisters Changed the Game of Chess," written by Susan Polgar with Paul Truong. The selected games in the book are well annotated. The notes on the openings are aimed at novices. All three sisters, Susan, Sofie and Judit, are marvelous tacticians, and that shines through in special sections on their combinations. Solution to today's study by J. Krejcik (White: Kd3,Qf4,P:g2;Black: Ka1,Qb6,P:a2,c7,g3,g4): 1.Qc1+ Qb1+ 2.Kd2 c6 3.Kd1 c5 4.Kd2 c4 5.Ke2! and now both 5...Qxc1 or 5...c3 6.Kd1 c2+ 7.Kd2 Qxc1+ 8.Kxc1 result in a stalemate.