The Chinese men are dominating the sixth World Team Championship underway in Beersheba, Israel. They scored 131/2 points in 16 games. Russia is second with 13 points in 20 games. Thursday's last-round showdown between those two teams will most likely decide who wins the gold medals. The U.S. team tallied only 71/2 points in 16 games and is not likely to repeat its 1993 victory in this event.

Established in 1985, the championship is played every four years. The first four editions were organized in the Swiss city of Lucerne. In 2001 it moved to Yerevan, Armenia. This year's event features nine countries, including a women's team from China. Each team plays a total of 32 games, and the squad with the most game points wins.

Clever Endgame Attack

Nearly half a century ago Moscow master Evgeny Vasiukov introduced a new line in the Richter-Rauzer Sicilian and defeated Isaac Boleslavsky, an experienced world championship candidate, with a fine endgame play. The former junior world champion Vladimir Akopian from Armenia used a new twist in this variation to beat Georgia's Baadur Jobava in Beersheba.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0-0-0 Nxd4 (This early exchange is often chosen by players who are scared of the variation 8...0-0 9.Nb3, which was introduced by the legendary world champion Alexander Alekhine in the Czech spa Podebrady in 1936.) 9.Qxd4 0-0 10.e5!? (Ever since the game Vasiukov-Boleslavsky, Kiev 1957, this pawn push was considered uncomfortable to black. White creates a space advantage and black has problems developing his queenside. The variation flourished in 1958, when whites won many important games. Vladimir Kramnik rehabilitated the line for black in the 1990s.) 10...dxe5 11.Qxe5 Bd7 (The best reply. The Vasiukov-Boleslavsky game went 11...Qb6 12.Be3! Ng4 13.Bxb6 Nxe5 14.Bc7 Ng4 15.Bg3 Nf6 16.Bb5 a6 17.Be2 b5 18.Bf3 and black could not hold the difficult endgame, losing in 55 moves.)

12.Be2!? (Connecting the rooks and doubling them on the d-file was an idea of the Russian grandmaster Yuri Balashov. However, the line that jolted the Richter-Rauzer Sicilian roughly half a century ago was 12.h4, and after 12...Rc8, lifting the rook to the third rank with 13.Rh3. To ease white's pressure, black had to trade into worse endgames.) 12...Rc8 13.Be3 a6?! (Advancing the queenside pawns only weakens black's position. Kramnik prefers 13...Bb4 and now the spectacular 14.Ne4 Nd5 15.Bh6!? gxh6 16.Rxd5!? exd5 17.Nf6+ Kh8 18.Nxd7+ f6 19.Qxd5 Qc7 20.Qf5 Rf7 21.Rd1 Rd8 22.Bg4 is about equal. But 14.Bd4 Bc6 15.Kb1 still gives white a slight edge.)

14.g4!? (This pawn advance gives Balashov's idea a new twist. White tries pushing the black knight farther back with 15.g5.)14...b5?! (Too slow. It was still time for 14...Bb4, for example 15.g5 Bxc3 16.bxc3 Nd5 17.Bd4 f6 18.gxf6 Nxf6 with a playable game for black.) 15.g5 (The knight is forced to the edge.) 15...Ne8 16.Ne4 Qc7 (After 16...f6 17.gxf6 Bxf6 18.Nxf6+ Qxf6 19.f4 Bc6 20.Bg4 white is clearly better.) 17.Qxc7 Rxc7 18.Rhg1 Bc6 19.Nc5 Bf3?! (Exchanging the light pieces allows the white rook to penetrate along the d-file. Black should have tried 19...a5 20.Nb3 a4 21.Nd4 Nd6!) 20.Bxf3 Bxc5 21.Rge1 Bxe3+ 22.Rxe3 (White has a clear edge because black has to activate his passive knight.) 22...Rc5 23.h4 Nc7 24.Rd7 f6 (Opening up the game suits white just fine.)

25.Be4! (The pawn sacrifice is taking advantage of black's unstable rook on c5 that has to guard the knight on c7.) 25...fxg5 (Black can't challenge the white rook on d7 with 25...Rf7 because of 26.Rd8+ Rf8 27.Bxh7+! Kf7 28.Rd7+ Ke8 29.Rxg7 and white wins.) 26.hxg5 Rxf2 27.b4 Rc4 (After 27...Nd5?! 28.Bxh7+! Kxh7 29.Rh3+ Kg6 30.bxc5 wins.) 28.Bd3 Rc6 29.Rh3! (The black king is in danger and white gets the pawn back with dividends.) 29...h5?! (After either 29...h6 30.gxh6 gxh6 31.Rxh6 Rf7 32.Rd8+ Rf8 33.Rg6+ Kf7 34.Rd7+ Ke8 35.Rgg7; or 29...g6 30.Rdxh7 e5 31.Rh8+ Kf7 32.R3h7+ Ke6 33.Bxg6 white should win.) 30.Rxh5 e5? (Speeds up the end, but black's position was hopeless anyway, e.g. 30...g6 31.Rh6!; or 30...Rf5 31.Bxf5 exf5 32.g6! and white wins.) 31.Rh8+! (An elegant finish! After 31...Kxh8 32.Rd8+ Ne8 33.Rxe8+ Rf8 34.Rxf8 mates.) Black resigned.

Book of the Year

"Garry Kasparov on My Great Predecessors, Part IV" won the British Chess Federation's award as the best book of 2005. Bobby Fischer is the main subject, but the careers of Miguel Najdorf, Samuel Reshevsky and Bent Larsen are also discussed. Fischer's games from this work are also being used in "Russians Versus Fischer" by Dmitry Plisetsky and Sergey Voronkov. Their book is a vivid account of the humiliations suffered by leading Soviet grandmasters in the hands of the KGB and other institutions of Soviet power. Both books were published by Everyman Chess.

Solution to today's composition by A. Hildebrand (White: Ke1,Rf1,Rh1,Bh7; Black: Kg4, Qc4,Be4,P:e3,e5): 1.Rfg1+! Bg2 (After 1...Kf3 2.Rh3+ Kf4 3.Rh4+ Kf3 4.Bxe4+ wins.) 2.Rxg2+ Kf3 3.Be4+! Qxe4 (or 3...Kxe4 4.Rh4+ wins; and 3...Kf4 4.Rh4 mate.) 4.0-0 mate.

White wins.