Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, seems to be a natural breeding place for young chess talents. Both the 13th world champion, Garry Kasparov, and former world junior champion Emil Sutovsky were born there. Until last year the top four players on the Azerbaijani national team were all teenagers. The oldest, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, turned 20 this year.
Young Don Quixote
Mamedyarov, the 2003 world junior champion, plays very attractive and entertaining chess, often balancing on the edge between winning and losing. His exchange sacrifice in the King's Indian defense against Russian grandmaster Sergey Grigoriants was a perfect fit to his style. The game is from the Abu Dhabi Masters, won this month by the Armenian grandmaster Ashot Anastasian. But did Mamedyarov conduct the attack as well as the legendary Polish-Argentine grandmaster Miguel Najdorf, who at age 76 defeated with the same sacrifice former world junior champion Carlos Bielicki at the 1986 Argentine championship?
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.d4 c5 6.d5 d6 7.Nf3 e6 8.dxe6?! (Viktor Korchnoi's bold attempt from the 1950s, challenging black to sacrifice an exchange.) 8...Bxe6! (Black does not have much choice, since after 8...fxe6 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Bg5! he is tied up.) 9.Ng5 Bxc4 10.Bxb7 Nbd7 (The key position of this variation.)
11.Bxa8 (Accepting the exchange gives black a strong pawn center and a powerful play along the long diagonal a8-h1. Since the sacrifice brought good results to black, white players tried 11.Qxd6 instead, with the idea to bring the bishop back after 11...Rb8 12.Bg2. But the Serbian grandmaster Dragoljub Velimirovic found the amazing 11...h6!, having in mind 12.Bxa8 Qxa8 13.Nf3 Ne5!? 14.Qxe5 Ne4! with advantage.) 11...Qxa8 12.0-0 d5 13.Re1 (White should try to disturb black's plan with13.a4!?, planting the knight to b5 even at the cost of a pawn. Otherwise black gets tremendous pressure, as in the game Bielicki-Najdorf: 13.b3 Ba6 14.Bb2 d4 15.Na4 Qd5 16.Nh3, but here black could have prepared the double-attack Qd5-e6 with 16...Bh6!, for example 17.Re1 Bb7 18.f3 Be3+ 19.Nf2?! Ng4! and black wins. Instead Najdorf played 16...g5 17.f3 Qf5 18.Nf2 Nd5 19.Qd2 Re8 20.Rfe1 Ne3 and won anyway in 34 moves.) 13...d4 14.b3 Ba6 15.Na4 Re8 16.Ba3 Qd5 (As in the Najdorf game, the queen assumes a central position, hoping to do some damage on the kingside and on the long diagonal.) 17.Nh3 (After 17.Nf3 Bb7 18.Rc1 Ne4, black threatens to pry the long diagonal open with19 . . . Ng5 and possibly with 20...Ne5.)
17...Qf5?! (Mamedyarov forces the knight to move away from the white king, while Najdorf contains it with g6-g5. However, the best seems 17...Bh6!, threatening 18...Qh5, and white does not have a good defense. After 18.f3 Qh5 19.Nf2 Be3 20.Rf1 Bb7, black has a winning attack, for example 21.Bc1 Ng4! 22.fxg4 Qd5 mates soon. In the game Donner-Hoelzl, Amsterdam 1978, white tried 18.e4?!, but after 18...Rxe4 19.Rxe4 Qxe4 20.Bc1 black missed 20...Be2! 21.Qe1 Ne5 winning.) 18.Nf4 (After 18.Kg2 black plays 18...Bb7+ 19.f3 Nd5 20.Bc1 Nb4!, threatening 21...Nc2.) 18...g5 19.Nd3 Ng4! 20.Rf1 (The defense 20.Nab2 can be met by 20...Bb7, e.g. 21.Nc4 Ne3! 22.Nxe3 [22.fxe3? Qe4 mates.] 22...dxe3 23.f3 g4! with a decisive attack.) 20...Nge5 21.Nab2 (After 21.Naxc5 Nxc5 22.Nxc5 Bxe2! black wins.) 21...Bb7 22.f3 g4 23.Ne1 (After 23.Nf4 black has 23...gxf3 24.gxf3 Nxf3+! 25.Rxf3 Qe4 26.Kf2 Ne5, with a powerful attack, e.g. 27.Rd3 Bh6! 28.Qe2 Qc6! 29.Rg1 Nxd3+ 30.Qxd3 Re3! and black wins.) 23...gxf3 24.exf3 Bh6 25.Nbd3?! (The more stubborn 25.Nc4!? gives black after 25...Ba6 26.Bc1 Nxc4 27.bxc4 Bxc4 28.Rf2 Bg7 two dangerous central passers for the exchange.) 25...Be3+ 26.Kg2 Re6 27.Bc1 Rh6 28.h4 (White plays for a trap. After 28.Bxe3 Qh3+ 29.Kf2 Ng4+! 30.fxg4 Qxh2+ 31.Ng2 Qxg2+ 32.Ke1 Re6! black wins.)
28...Rg6! (Aiming for the pawn on g3, black threatens 29...Qg4. At first glance 28...Rxh4!? seems to work, but after 29.gxh4 Qg4+ 30.Kh2 Qxh4+ 31.Kg2 Qg5+ 32.Kh3! [Not 32.Kh2 or 32.Kh1 Ng4! mating.] black has to take a perpetual check, because 32...Bc8? is met by the calm 33.Bxe3! dxe3 34.Nxe5 Nxe5+ 35.Kh2 Qh4+ 36.Kg1 Qg3+ 37.Ng2 and the attack is over.) 29.Bxe3 dxe3 30.Rg1 (After 30.Nc1 comes 30...Nxf3! 31.Nxf3 Ne5, black threatens to win with 32...Qg4.) 30...Rd6! (The final jab comes from a different side. Black wins material with a simple pin.) 31.g4 Qf6 32.Qe2 Rxd3! (After 33.Nxd3 Bxf3+ wins.) White resigns.
Estonian grandmaster Jaan Ehlvest won the 37th Atlantic Open, scoring 41/2 points in five games. Played at the Wyndham Washington hotel Aug. 19-21, the five-round Swiss event attracted 339 players in seven sections. The Under 2200 section ended in a four-way tie among Douglas Photiadis, Thomas D. Murphy, Zhi-Ya Hu and Jeremy J. Hummer, each scoring four points. William J. Barrow won the Under 2000 section with 41/2 points.
Solution to today's two-mover by M. Grunfeld (White: Kd1,Qf3,Rg2,Be2,Nc8,P:a3,e3; Black: Kc5,Bh5,P:a4,a6,g4): 1.Bb5!! gxf3 2.Rg5 mate; or 1...axb5 2.Rc2 mate; or 1...g3 2.Qxh5 mate; or 1...Kxb5 2.Qd5 mate; or 1...Be8 2.Qf5 mate.