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The Scotsman

Chess News January 2002

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JUST what is it that makes the Corus Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee so special? There are many answers to this question, but perhaps the best is the special atmosphere created inside the De Moriaan Centre where you find not just grandmasters in action but hundreds of ordinary amateurs competing in the many other subsidiary events.

It has to be remembered that this tournament started in 1938 as a special event for employees of the local Hoogovens Steel Works. Yet, despite growing into one of the world’s finest tournaments won by the likes of Euwe, Botvinnik, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Karpov and Kasparov, the tournament has stayed faithful to its roots.

Other special events running in the same playing hall as the top GMs and amateurs included the Dutch Championship for Journalists; the Parliamentary Championships for members and former members of the Dutch Parliament; the IJmond Trophy competed for by local councils in the region; and, of course, the Works Council Tournament - the event that started it all off sixty-four years ago.

One new event added this year was a Grandmaster ‘C’ tournament - called the ‘Tens’ – which featured a ten-player all-play-all category 8 with title norms on offer. This was won jointly by GM Andrei Istratescu, from Romania, and GM Ian Rogers, from Australia, with a final score of 6.5/9. There was a certain Scottish interest here with the Edinburgh-based Georgian WGM, Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, narrowly missing out on a second full GM norm and first place in the tournament after a final round loss to Istratescu.

However the tournament did serve its purpose by providing norms, which all went to Dutch players, with the Leiden duo of Stefan van Blitterswijk and Jan Smeets each achieving an IM norm with a final score of 4.5/9.


Final standings: 1-2 GM I Rogers (Australia), GM A Istratescu (Romania) 6.5/9; 3 GM V Iordachescu (Moldova) 6; 4 WGM K Arakhamia-Grant (Georgia) 5.5; 5 IM J Berkvens (Netherlands) 5; 6-7 S Van Blitterswijk, J Smeets (Netherlands) 4.5; 8 D Stellwagen (Netherlands) 3; 9 R Nep (Netherlands) 2; 10 WGM M Klinova (Israel) 1.5.


K Arakhamia – A Istratescu
Corus ‘Tens’ Tournament (9), Pirc Defence

1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 c6 4 Be3 Qb6 5 Rb1 d6 6 Nf3 Qc7 7 Qd2 Nd7 8 Bc4 Nb6 9 Bb3 Nf6 10 Bh6 0–0 11 0–0 c5 12 dxc5 Qxc5 13 Bxg7 Kxg7 14 Qf4 e5 15 Qh4 Bg4 16 Ng5 Bd7 17 Rbd1 h6 18 Nf3 Rad8 19 Rd3 Bc6 20 Rfd1 Nh5 21 Ne1 Nf4 22 Rg3 d5 23 Nd3 Nxd3 24 Rdxd3 d4 25 Bxf7 Kxf7 26 Qxh6 Ke8 27 Qxg6+ Kd7 28 Nd1 Kc7 29 c3 Kb8 30 h4 Bb5 31 Rd2 Nc4 32 cxd4 exd4 33 Rc2 Qb4 34 Qh5 Rh8 35 Qg4 Ka8 36 Kh2 Qe1 37 Rc1 Nd2 38 Ra3 Nf1+ 39 Kh3 Bd7 0–1

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WHILE Evgeny Bareev made a spectacular return to the top flight with a TPR of 2831 to win the Corus Grandmaster ‘A’ tournament, there was also a similar return to winning ways for another former member of the top-ten club: Poland’s Michal Krasenkow, who won the Grandmaster ‘B’ tournament.

Krasenkow, who, with a rating of 2702 only a few years ago, was one of the world’s top-ten players and a former FIDE world championship quarterfinalist. With such a high rating you would normally expect someone of this strength to be playing alongside Bareev in the Grandmaster ‘A’ tournament, yet Krasenkow was only the second seed behind Ivan Sokolov in the twelve-player Grandmaster ‘B’ tournament that ran alongside the main attraction at Wijk aan Zee.

Unfortunately the quiet-spoken Russian emigre suffered every chess-player’s personal nightmare with an horrific loss of form. From a high of 2731 and world No.10, Krasenkow’s rating went into virtual freefall with an astounding drop to 2573 and total obscurity by the July 2001 list.

He’s now regained his confidence with a number of impressive results in the notoriously tough European Open circuit. Now, with a win in the Grandmaster ‘B’ tournament, Krasenkow gets another crack at the world elite as his victory guarantees him an automatic placing in next year’s ‘A’ tournament.


Final standings: 1 M Krasenkow (Poland) 8/11; 2-3 F Nijboer (Netherlands), I Sokolov (BIH) 7; 4 P Tregubov (Russia) 6.5; 5-6 J Van der Wiel, H Jonkman (both Netherlands) 6; 7-8 A Stefanova (Bulgaria), Yu Shaoteng (China) 5.5; 9-10 F Cuijpers, Peng Zhaoquin (both Netherlands) 4; 11 A Skripchenko-Lautier (France) 3.5; 12 J Werle (Netherlands) 3.


A Skripchenko – M Krasenkov
Corus ‘B’ Tournament (3), Gurgenidze Variation

1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 c6 4 f4 d5 5 e5 Nh6 6 Be2 f6 7 Be3 0–0 8 Qd2 fxe5 9 dxe5 g5 10 fxg5 Nf7 11 Nh3 Bxh3 12 gxh3 Nxe5 13 0–0–0 Nbd7 14 Rhf1 Qa5 15 Bd4 Qb4 16 Qe3 Qd6 17 h4 e6 18 Qh3 c5 19 Bf2 d4 20 h5 Qb6 21 Ne4 d3 22 cxd3 Ng6 23 Nf6+ Nxf6 24 hxg6 Nh5 25 Rd2 hxg6 26 Bxh5 gxh5 27 Qxh5 Rf5 28 Rfd1 Raf8 29 Bg3 Qa6 30 Kb1 c4 31 dxc4 Qxc4 32 Rd7 Qe4+ 33 Ka1 Bxb2+ 34 Kxb2 Qb4+ 35 Kc2 Rc5+ 36 Kd3 Rc3+ 37 Kd2 Qb2+ 0–1

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THE only decisive game of the final round at the Corus Tournament in Wijk aan Zee decided the outcome of the Grandmaster A tournament, as Russia’s Evgeny Bareev won the €10,000 first prize and Hoogovens Schaaktournei trophy with a winning score of 9/13.

You need a good share of luck to win a tournament of this stature, and the chess gods were on Bareev side in the final round when his Uzbek opponent, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, seemed to ‘crack’ in a good position with a speculative piece-sacrifice that backfired horribly.

After several years of limited invitations and indifferent results, this is a big win for the 35-year-old who was the third ranked player in the world ten years ago (behind Kasparov and Karpov). Remarkably, Bareev was a last-minute substitute for world champion Vladimir Kramnik (for whom Bareev works as a second) who had to declined his invitation, recommending instead his second as a replacement.

Nevertheless, Bareev, who was last invited to Wijk aan Zee seven years ago and came second, turned in his best ever performance to go one better this time around. Apart from a glitch in round eleven when he lost in just 20 moves to Alexander Khalifman, Bareev made all the running in the last four rounds, scoring 3/4 to take first place ahead of the Russian teenager Alexander Grischuk, who also had a superb result to finish half a point behind for second place.


Final scores: 1 E Bareev (Russia) 9/13; 2 A Grischuk (Russia) 8.5; 3-4 M Adams (England), A Morozevich (Russia) 8; 5 A Khalifman (Russia) 7.5; 6 P Leko (Hungary) 7; 7-11 A Dreev (Russia), B Gelfand (Israel), J Lautier (France), J Piket, J Timman (both Netherlands) 6; 12 M Gurevich (Belgium) 5.5; 13 R Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan) 4.5; 14 L Van Wely (Netherlands) 3.


R Kasimdzhanov – E Bareev
Corus Tournament (13), Semi-Slav Defence

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e3 e6 5 Nf3 Nbd7 6 Qc2 Bd6 7 g4 h6 8 Bd2 Qe7 9 Rg1 e5 10 cxd5 Nxd5 11 Ne4 Bb4 12 0–0–0 exd4 13 Nxd4 Bxd2+ 14 Rxd2 g6 15 Bc4 Nb4 16 Qb3 0–0 17 Nf5 gxf5 18 gxf5+ Kh7 19 Nd6 Nd5 20 Bxd5 cxd5 21 Qxd5 Nf6 22 Qd4 Bd7 23 e4 Rg8 24 Rgd1 Bc6 25 e5 Ne8 26 Nc4 Rc8 27 Kb1 Qg5 28 Ne3 Ng7 29 h4 Qh5 30 Qf4 Qf3 31 Rd4 Qxf4 32 Rxf4 Rce8 33 f6 Nh5 0–1

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THE annual Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee, on the Dutch coast, is moving towards its conclusion with just one more round to play.

Apart from being the highlight of the chess calendar, ‘Wijk’ is usually regarded as the strongest tournaments of the year. However, due to the combined absences of the ‘Big Three’, Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand, the tournament has been slightly weaker than usual.

Paradoxically, this ‘weakening’ has actually added to the excitement this year as nobody – like the last three year’s when Kasparov has more or less been the easy winner - has threatened to run away with the tournament.

At the end of the penultimate round, anyone of the four top players is in with a chance of winning this historic event on the occasion of its 64th anniversary. Front runner Evgeny Bareev chances of victory suffered a minor (or even miniature) setback in round eleven when he lost to Alexander Khalifman in just 20-moves. Khalifman, who so far had been undefeated during the tournament, and then went on to lose in the next round to Alexander Grischuk; a result that leaves Bareev and Grischuk in equal first going into the final round, half a point ahead of Michael Adams and Alexander Morozevich.


Leader board: 1-2 E Bareev, A Grischuk (both Russia) 8/12; 3-4 M Adams (England), A Morozevich (Russia) 7.5; 5 A Khalifman (Russia) 7; 6 P Leko (Hungary) 6.5; 7-11 A Dreev (Russia), B Gelfand (Israel), J Lautier (France), J Timman, J Piket (both Netherlands) 5.5; 12 M Gurevich (Belgium), 5; 13 R Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan) 4.5; 14 L Van Wely (Netherlands) 2.5.


A Grischuk – A Khalifman
Corus Tournament (12), Sicilian Scheveningen

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be2 a6 7 0–0 Nf6 8 Be3 Be7 9 f4 d6 10 Kh1 0–0 11 a4 Re8 12 Bf3 Bf8 13 g4 Nxd4 14 Bxd4 e5 15 Bg1 exf4 16 g5 Nd7 17 Nd5 Qd8 18 Bg2 Re5 19 Qd2 Rxg5 20 Qxf4 f6 21 Ra3 Ne5 22 Bb6 Qd7 23 Rg3 Rg6 24 Rc3 Qg4 25 Qd2 Bd7 26 Nf4 Bc6 27 Rg3 Qd7 28 Nxg6 hxg6 29 b3 Re8 30 h4 Qf7 31 Bd4 Nd7 32 Qf4 Nc5 33 Bxc5 dxc5 34 e5 Re6 35 Bxc6 Rxc6 36 c4 Re6 37 Rgf3 f5 38 h5 Be7 39 hxg6 Qxg6 40 Qxf5 Qxf5 41 Rxf5 g6 42 Rg1 Kh7 43 Rf7+ Kg8 44 Rf3 1–0

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A new era for chess is on the horizon after Ruslan Ponomariov, 18, from the Ukraine, became the youngest player in history to be crowned world champion in a line stretching back to Wilhelm Steinitz in 1886.

With wins in games one and five of his eight-game match played at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow against fellow countryman Vassily Ivanchuk, Ponomariov easily won the match 4.5-2.5 to take the title and $400,000 winner’s cheque.

Many predict great things for the teenager nicknamed “Supermario”, who only four year’s ago made his name by becoming the world’s youngest grandmaster. Physically and in playing style he resembles Anatoly Karpov, and his will to win at the board is reminiscent of Bobby Fischer.

His play in the second half of 2001 indicated that he had raised his game to a higher level, and it’s now clear he’s finally “arrived”. The question now remains to be seen if he can become one of the greats of the game by moving further up the world rankings to challenge the likes of Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand – a challenge that could come as early as next month at the Linares supertournament in Spain.

With only seven players – headed by Kasparov, Anand and Michael Adams - so far in the line-up from an expected eight, Ponomariov has yet to decide whether he will accepted the late invitation of the organizers to play in his first Linares.

The new (controversial) FIDE time control of 40 moves in 75 minutes and 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move proved just too much for Ivanchuk's frayed nerves. He had a very nice position from the opening in game five, only to see it fall apart in the vagaries of the time scramble which seemed to suit his younger opponent.


R Ponomariov - V Ivanchuk
FIDE World Ch. (5), Spanish Opening

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 0-0 8 h3 Bb7 9 d3 d6 10 a3 Nb8 11 Nbd2 Nbd7 12 Nf1 Re8 13 Ng3 c6 14 Nh2 d5 15 Qf3 g6 16 Ba2 Bf8 17 Bg5 h6 18 Bd2 Bg7 19 Ng4 Nxg4 20 hxg4 Nc5 21 Rad1 Rc8 22 Nf1 Ne6 23 Qg3 Kh7 24 Nh2 f6 25 Nf3 c5 26 Qh2 Nd4 27 Nxd4 cxd4 28 c3 dxc3 29 bxc3 dxe4 30 dxe4 Qe7 31 a4 bxa4 32 Qh3 Red8 33 Qf3 Rc7 34 Bc1 Rcd7 35 Bb1 Qe6 36 Rxd7 Rxd7 37 Bc2 Bc6 38 Rd1 Qa2 39 Rxd7 Bxd7 40 Qd1 Bb5 41 Be3 Qc4 42 Kh2 Bc6 43 Qa1 Bf8 44 Bb1 a3 45 f3 Qb3 46 Qa2 Ba4 47 Kg3 Kg7 48 Qd2 g5 49 Ba2 Qb7 50 Qd3 Be8 51 Qd5 Qxd5 52 exd5 a5 53 c4 Bb4 54 c5 Kf8 55 Kf2 Bb5 56 c6 Ke7 57 Ba7 Kd8 58 Bb6+ Kc8 59 Ke3 a4 60 Ke4 Be2 61 Kf5 e4 62 Ke6 exf3 63 d6 Bxd6 64 Kxd6 1-0

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ELITE players such as Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik etc. will be nervously looking over their shoulders in the next year or so, as two teenage sensations look set to become the future for chess.

After a draw in game six of the all-Ukrainian FIDE world championship match being played at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, Ruslan Ponomariov, 18, looks set to be crowned the youngest-ever world champion of chess.

Now leading 4-2 in the best of eight-game final against compatriot Vassily Ivanchuk, Ponomariov is only one draw away from the record books and a big pay-day of $400,000. In the new FIDE rating list, Ponomariov, who at 14 first came to prominence by becoming the world’s youngest grandmaster, stormed into the top-ten for the first time with a rating of 2727 to take the No.7 spot. However, with two wins so far against world No.8 Ivanchuk in their match, Ponomariov is bound to climb higher in the next published list.

Meanwhile, at the Corus Tournament at Wijk ann Zee in the Netherlands, young Russian Alexander Grischuk, 19, who made his name in the 2000 FIDE World Championships by winning $150,000 for being a defeated semi-finalist, has stormed into the joint lead following a ninth round mauling of the world No.5, Alexander Morozevich. Though only the world No.25, the young Russian is another who will gain in the new list.


Leader board: 1-2 E Bareev, A Grischuk (both Russia) 6/9; 3-4 M Adams (England), A Khalifman (Russia) 5.5; 5-6 P Leko (Hungary), A Morozevich (Russia) 5; 7-8 A Dreev (Russia), J Timman (Netherlands) 4.5; 9-12 B Gelfand (Israel), M Gurevich (Belgium), J Lautier (France), J Piket (Netherlands) 4; 13 R Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan) 3.5; 14 L Van Wely (Netherlands) 1.5


A Grischuk – A Morozevich
Corus Tournament (9), Berlin Defence

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 0–0 Nxe4 5 d4 Nd6 6 Bxc6 dxc6 7 dxe5 Nf5 8 Qxd8+ Kxd8 9 Nc3 Bd7 10 Rd1 Kc8 11 Ng5 Be8 12 b3 b6 13 Bb2 Kb7 14 Rd3 Be7 15 Nge4 c5 16 Nd5 Bc6 17 c4 Rhe8 18 Rf3 Nh6 19 h3 Rad8 20 Rd1 g6 21 g4 Bh4 22 Rfd3 Ng8 23 f4 h6 24 Nd2 h5 25 Nf3 Be7 26 Kf2 hxg4 27 hxg4 Rd7 28 Rh1 Bd8 29 Rh7 a5 30 Rd2 a4 31 f5 gxf5 32 gxf5 Ne7 33 Nxe7 Rexe7 34 f6 Rxd2+ 35 Nxd2 Rd7 36 Ke3 Kc8 37 Rg7 Kb7 38 Bc3 Ka6 39 Ne4 a3 40 Ng5 1–0

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ACCORDING to a new major study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, chess attracts sensation-seekers with a thirst for action and adventure on par with skydivers, scuba divers, mountaineers and skiers.

In the report, a group of leading psychologists studied more than 100 chess players and concluded that, instead of the game being perceived with a boring anorak image, underneath the surface chess player are actually nothing more than paranoid thrill-seekers. When men win a game, the experts say, the rise of testosterone levels in the blood is just the same as that experienced by people who go in for risky sports.

The psychologists set out to see if people attracted to chess had a sensation-seeking nature. Using a personality test on players and non-players, they found that those who scored highest for sensation-seeking were those who played chess. "Winning a game of chess is associated with a rise in testosterone, especially when the game is close, suggesting that winning corresponds to an experience of excitement and dominance," the researchers report.

One player who is known to like living on the edge at the board is Dutch stalwart Jan Timman, whose games are always adrenaline-filled affairs that pleases the crowds. Now aged 50, Timman won the Spectators Prize for game of the day in round eight of the Corus Tournament in Wijk aan Zee for this exciting win over Boris Gelfand.


Leader board: 1 E Bareev (Russia) 5.5/8; 2-5 M Adams (England), A Grischuk, A Khalifman, A Morozevich (all Russia) 5; 6 P Leko (Hungary) 4.5; 7-8 A Dreev (Russia), J Timman (Netherlands) 4; 9-12 B Gelfand (Israel), M Gurevich (Belgium), J Lautier (France), J Piket (Netherlands) 3.5; 13 R Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan) 2.5; 14 L Van Wely (Netherlands) 1.5.


J Timman – B Gelfand
Corus Tournament (8), Sicilian Najdorf

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 Nbd7 8 Qf3 Qc7 9 0–0–0 b5 10 Bxb5 axb5 11 Ndxb5 Qb8 12 e5 Ra5 13 exf6 gxf6 14 Bh6 Bxh6 15 Nxd6+ Ke7 16 Kb1 Rd8 17 Rhe1 Nb6 18 Ncb5 Rxb5 19 Nxb5 Rxd1+ 20 Rxd1 Bxf4 21 g3 Be5 22 Qa3+ Ke8 23 Nd6+ Bxd6 24 Qxd6 Qxd6 25 Rxd6 Nd5 26 c4 Ke7 27 Rc6 Bb7 28 cxd5 Bxc6 29 dxc6 Kd6 30 g4 1–0

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MELTDOWN time is fast approaching for the former Ukraine No.1, Vassily Ivanchuk, as teenage sensation Ruslan Ponomariov, also from the Ukraine, looks set to become the youngest player to be crowned world champion.

Ponomariov, 18, took a commanding 3.5-1.5 lead in the best of eight-game final being played at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow yesterday, following a tense 64 move win in game five after a frantic time-scramble. Not only is Ponomariov the youngest player to contest a world title match, but should he now go on to win from this dominating position, he’ll replace Garry Kasparov (who was 22 when he won in 1985) in the record books as the youngest holder of the world crown.

In the reaching the finals last December, both players, who had to withdraw at the last-minute from the Corus Tournament in Wijk aan Zee in the process, guaranteed themselves a big payday with the winner taking $400,000, the loser $200,000.

Meanwhile, at Corus, there’s a typical Russian squeeze taking place in the chase for first place. Overnight leader Evgeny Bareev continues to hold onto outright first with 5/7 following a seventh round draw with his fellow countryman Alexander Morozevich.

However, just a half point behind, there’s a formidable trio of Russians –  Morozevich, Alexander Grischuk and Alexander Khalifman – and the British No.1, Michael Adams.


Leader board: 1 E Bareev (Russia) 5/7; 2-5 M Adams (England), A Grischuk, A Khalifman, A Morozevich (all Russia) 4.5; 6 P Leko (Hungary) 4; 7-8 A Dreev  (Russia), B Gelfand (Israel) 3.5; 9-12 M Gurevich (Belgium), J Lautier (France), J Piket, J Timman (both Netherlands) 3; 13 R Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan) 2; 14 L Van Wely (Netherlands) 1.


A Khalifman – L Van Wely
Corus Tournament (7), Sicilian Najdorf

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 f3 e6 7 Be3 h5 8 Qd2 Nbd7 9 Bc4 Ne5 10 Bb3 b5 11 0–0–0 Bb7 12 Bg5 Qa5 13 Kb1 Nc4 14 Bxc4 bxc4 15 Rhe1 Rb8 16 Nf5 exf5 17 e5 Bc8 18 exf6+ Be6 19 fxg7 Bxg7 20 Qxd6 Rxb2+ 21 Kxb2 Qxc3+ 22 Kc1 Qb2+ 23 Kd2 Qd4+ 24 Qxd4 Bxd4 25 Ke2 Bb6 26 Rb1 Bc7 27 Rb7 Bxh2 28 f4 0–0 29 Rh1 Bg3 30 Rxh5 Kg7 31 Bh6+ Kg6 32 Rg5+ 1–0

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AFTER reaching its natural “chess birthday” with the 64th Corus Chess Festival taking place at Wijk aan Zee, the top Dutch event, which started life in 1938 as a simple works tournament for the nearby Hoogovens IJmuiden steel factory, has received the best possible present: a further three year sponsorship deal.

With the past few years being a particularly bad one worldwide for the beleaguered steel industry, many in the chess world feared that Corus (forged out of the merger between British Steel and Hoogovens in late 1999) would end their association with what is widely regarded as the world’s best chess tournament.

However, speaking during the opening ceremony, Rauke Henstra, CEO of Corus Netherlands, announced that, along with local company Delta Onroerend Goed BV., the Dutch arm of the Steel conglomerate would continue to support the tournament until 2005 – and possibly longer - out of its own local budget.

The news comes as a relief to the chess world, as the Wijk aan Zee Festival has become an institution over the years - not just with the amateur players but also with the elite players. Every post war world champion of the game, save for Vassily Smyslov and Bobby Fischer, have their name on the imposing trophy made at the local steel factory. Now, thanks to the new deal, the long tradition has been saved.


Leader board: 1 E Bareev (Russia) 4.5/6; 2-3 M Adams (England), A Morozevich (Russia) 4; 4-6 A Grischuk, A Khalifman (both Russia), P Leko (Hungary) 3.5; 7—9 A Dreev (Russia), B Gelfand (Israel), J Timman (Netherlands) 3; 10 M Gurevich (Belgium), J Lautier (France), J Piket (Netherlands) 2.5; 13 R Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan) 1.5; 14 L Van Wely (Netherlands) 1.


J Timman – E Bareev
Corus Tournament (6), English Opening

1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 g3 Bc5 5 Bg2 0–0 6 Nxe5 Bxf2+ 7 Kxf2 Nxe5 8 b3 Re8 9 Rf1 d5 10 d4 Neg4+ 11 Kg1 dxc4 12 bxc4 Ne3 13 Bxe3 Rxe3 14 Qd2 Re8 15 Rad1 c6 16 Qf4 Bg4 17 Rf2 Bh5 18 d5 cxd5 19 Nxd5 Ng4 20 Rff1 Ne5 21 Qc1 Bxe2 22 Nf6+ gxf6 23 Rxd8 Raxd8 24 Bxb7 Kg7 25 Bd5 Bxf1 26 Qxf1 Rb8 27 Qf2 Nd3 28 Qxa7 Re1+ 29 Kg2 Rb2+ 30 Kh3 Ne5 31 g4 Ree2 32 Kg3 Rxa2 33 Qc5 Rad2 0–1

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THE all-Ukrainian FIDE World Championship final between Vassily Ivanchuk and Ruslan Ponomariov got underway on Wednesday at the Hotel in Moscow, and immediately the alarm bells were ringing for Ivanchuk after he lost the opening game in just 23 moves.

In reaching the best of eight-game final, both Ivanchuk and Ponomariov had to withdraw from the Corus tournament taking place in Wijk aan Zee. However, with a prize fund of $600,000 (the winner receiving $400,000) on offer in Moscow, both won’t regret the financial loss incurred by not accepting their invitations to Wijk.

Last year turned into a memorable one for Ukrainian chess, the culmination of which saw Ivanchuk and Ponomariov reach the FIDE final. Although Ponomariov was pipped at the post for the European Championship gold, the same two players put their country on the chess map as Ukraine took their first international team title with gold at the World Team Championships in Armenia.

For many years Ivanchuk stood alone as the Ukrainian No.1 as Ponomariov, who was once the world’s youngest grandmaster, made steady gains to climb up the Elo rating list. Ironically, on the eve of the final, the publication of the January list from FIDE shows the two Ukrainians placed respectively at number seven and eight as Ponomariov enters the top-ten for the first time. However, with a timely increase in his rating from 2684 to 2727, Ponomariov now becomes the new Ukrainian No.1.

Destiny awaits the teenager in the FIDE final should he now go on to win it. Not only has he become the youngest player to play for a FIDE world championship, the teenager is in-line to shatter Garry Kasparov’s record of becoming the youngest player at 22 to hold the title.


R Ponomariov – V Ivanchuk
FIDE World Ch. Final (1), French Defence

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 dxe4 5 Nxe4 Be7 6 Bxf6 Bxf6 7 Nf3 0–0 8 Qd2 Be7 9 0–0–0 Qd5 10 Nc3 Qa5 11 a3 Nd7 12 Kb1 Qb6 13 Qe3 Nf6 14 Ne5 Rd8 15 Bc4 Bd7 16 Bb3 Be8 17 Rhe1 Bf8 18 g4 Nd5 19 Qf3 c6 20 Ne4 Qc7 21 c4 Ne7 22 Ng5 Nc8 23 c5 (Black’s hopelessly lost: 23 ..h6 24 Nxe6 fxe6 25 Bxe6+ Kh7 26 Qf5+ g6 27 Qxf8 wins) 1–0

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THE number crunchers at the world chess federation, FIDE, have brought out (and on time!) the new January rating list; headed as ever by Garry Kasparov, who’s now held the top spot since as far back as early 1984.

The ups and downs of the latest top-ten are: 1 G Kasparov (2838, =); 2 V Kramnik (2809, =); 3 V Anand (2757, -13); 4 M Adams (2742, +11); 5 A Morozevich (2742, =); 6 V Topalov (2739, +6); 7 R Ponomariov (2727, +33); 8 V Ivanchuk, 2714, -14); 9 A Shirov (2715, +9); 10 P Leko (2713, -26).

No doubt Kasparov would have racked up a few more points at Corus in Wijk aan Zee - the first supertournament of the year - in his quest for a fourth successive title. However, a bad bout of influenza has forced Kasparov to become the latest high-profile player to pull out on the very eve of the popular Dutch event, and has been replaced by Alexander Morozevich.

Kasparov is joined on the AWOL list by Kramnik (who was supposed to be playing in February his Bahrain computer match with Deep Fritz – which has again been postponed until October), Anand (who declared long ago that he’d be defending his FIDE world title in Moscow), and Ivanchuk and Ponomariov, (who are in fact playing for the FIDE world title which started yesterday in Moscow).

In the early rounds of the Corus tournament, England’s Mickey Adams, the new world number 4, looks as if he’s going to gain more points on the next list to come within striking distance of Anand after a spectacular start. Impressive wins over Alexander Grischuk and Boris Gelfand, and a draw with Evgeny Bareev, gives Adams the sole lead in the tournament on score of 2.5/3.


Leader board: 1 M Adams (England) 2.5/3; 2-5 E Bareev, A Grischuk (both Russia), P Leko (Hungary), J Timman (Netherlands) 2; 6-10 B Gelfand (Israel), M Gurevich (Belgium), R Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan), A Khalifman, A Morozevich (both Russia) 1.5; 11-13 A Dreev (Russia), J Lautier (France), J Piket (Netherlands) 1; 14 L Van Wely 0.


B Gelfand – M Adams
Corus (3), Spanish Opening

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0–0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 0–0 8 h3 Bb7 9 d3 d6 10 a3 Na5 11 Ba2 c5 12 Nc3 Nc6 13 Ne2 Bc8 14 Ng3 Be6 15 Nf5 Bxf5 16 exf5 Qd7 17 g4 h6 18 c3 Rfe8 19 b4 cxb4 20 cxb4 Bd8 21 Bb2 a5 22 bxa5 Bxa5 23 Re2 Bb6 24 Qb3 Qb7 25 Qd1 Ra4 26 Rc2 Ne7 27 Nh2 Ned5 28 Qf3 Rf4 29 Qg2 e4 30 Re1 Rxf2 31 Rxf2 Nf4 32 Qg3 Bxf2+ 33 Kxf2 Nxd3+ 34 Kf1 Nxb2 35 h4 Qd7 36 Kg2 Nd3 37 Rf1 e3 38 g5 hxg5 39 hxg5 Nh5 0–1

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FOR the first time in the U.S. championship history, men and women made-up the 56-player field in one competition for their titles (overall and women’s champion).

The innovation from the Seattle Chess Foundation was one of the many highlights of the 157-year-old national championship, which saw Larry Christiansen take the overall championship title and $15,000 first prize after a dramatic, five-game speed playoff with Nick de Firmian.

The answer as to whether the women could hold their own against the men came as early as the first round, when 16-year-old Cindy Tsai defeated six-time US Champion and living-legend GM Walter Browne – a result that set the tone for the “man-eater” image for the rest of the tournament.

Leading a spectacular charge of the 12 women in the field, however, was Jennifer Shahade, 21, a New York University comparative literature major, who dominated the women’s competition to take the $9,500 first prize with a final tally of 5/9. Despite her last-round loss, she was the only woman to finish with a plus score, and doing so by playing by far the toughest opposition. She didn’t play any of the other woman players in the field, and six of her nine opponents were GMs!

Apart from being the deserved winner of the women’s title and prize money, Shahade achieved a full IM norm (and a WGM norm); her last round loss to GM Alex Stripunsky in a top-board clash depriving her of a full GM norm – a truly remarkable feat. Others achieving norms during the tournament included: GM Norm - Boris Kreiman; IM Norms - Igor Foygel and Dmitry Schneider.

Another highlight – and tradition - of the tournament is the awarding of the Paul Albert Jr. Brilliancy Prizes for the five overall best games in the championship, which has a cash prize of $2,500.

From a player’s perspective, former U.S. Champion Larry Evans once compared brilliancy in chess to: “The thrill of making a grand slam at bridge, a hole-in-one at golf, or a home run at baseball...Most of us are lucky if it happens once in a lifetime.”

Grandmaster turned psychologist Reuben Fine extolled these rare examples of chessboard magic as the triumph of mind over matter: "They are the poetry of the game; they are to chess what melody is to music. It is because they are possible that chess is more than just a lifeless mathematical exercise."

A jury of well-known chess players, under the watchful eye of Paul Albert Jr., selected Seattleite Yasser Seirawan’s seventh round positional squeeze (a Seirawan speciality) over Igor Ivanov as the deserving winner of the $1,000 top prize. The other four awards went, in order, to Alexander Shabalov’s win over Alex Fishbein in Round 3; Michael Mulyar’s win over Sergey Kudrin in Round 3; Larry Christiansen’s win over Igor Foygel in Round 2; and Donny Ariel’s win over Levon Altounian in Round 8.


Y Seirawan – I Ivanov
U.S. Championship (7), Czech Benoni

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e5 4 Nc3 d6 5 e4 Be7 6 Bd3 0–0 7 h3 Ne8 8 Nf3 g6 9 g4 Ng7 10 Qe2 Kh8 11 Bd2 Nd7 12 0–0–0 Nf6 13 Rdg1 a6 14 Ng5 Nxd5 15 Nxf7+ Rxf7 16 exd5 Bg5 17 Be3 Bxe3+ 18 fxe3 Bd7 19 Rf1 Rxf1+ 20 Rxf1 Qe7 21 Qf3 Ne8 22 Qf7 Qxf7 23 Rxf7 Rd8 24 Ne4 Kg8 25 Re7 b5 26 cxb5 axb5 27 Rxd7 Rxd7 28 Bxb5 1–0

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IN a major shake-up to the US Championships by the Seattle Chess Foundation, for the first time in its 157-year history the players were not allowed to share the title and the record prize money on offer.

Going into the final round of the Championships held at the Seattle Center in the city, there was an air of inevitability about a “pressure playoff” as the two overnight leaders, Larry Christiansen and Alex Yermolinsky, held a half point lead over the field. Christiansen quickly drew his final round game against one of last year’s co-champions, Joel Benjamin, to go into the clubhouse with a final tally of 6.5/9.

This left Yermolinsky with the task of drawing with former champion Nick de Firmian for a showdown with Christiansen. Tragically for Yermolinsky, however, he allowed himself to be mated at the very end of an epic encounter – de Firmian instead heading for the playoffs.

And, in a dramatic playoff between Christiansen and de Firmian for the 2002 title and first prize of $15,000 (runner-up going home with $11,000), decided by a series of four five minute games, the first two games were drawn, Christiansen winning the third, only to see de Firmian hit back immediately in the forth to square the match at 2-2.

It then all came down to one “sudden death” game for the title and money (Black only needing to draw for the win), Christiansen winning the game with literally seconds left on his clock for his third title.


L Christiansen – N de Firmian
US Championship Playoff (3), London System

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 b6 4 e3 Bb7 5 h3 d6 6 Nbd2 Nbd7 7 Bd3 c5 8 0–0 Be7 9 Bh2 0–0 10 c3 d5 11 Qb1 h6 12 a4 Qc8 13 b4 a5 14 bxc5 bxc5 15 Ra2 Ba6 16 Rb2 Bxd3 17 Qxd3 Qc6 18 Rb5 Rfc8 19 Rfb1 Bd6 20 Bxd6 Qxd6 21 Rb7 cxd4 22 cxd4 e5 23 dxe5 Nxe5 24 Nxe5 Qxe5 25 Nf3 Qe4 26 Qxe4 Nxe4 27 Ne5 Nc3 28 Ra1 f6 29 Ng6 Rc4 30 Ne7+ Kh7 31 Nf5 Rg8 32 Ra7 Nxa4 33 Rxa5 Nc3 34 Ra7 Rc5 35 Rd7 d4 36 Nxd4 Ne4 37 Re7 Nd6 38 g4 h5 39 Kg2 Kg6 40 Ne6 Re5 41 Nf4+ Kg5 42 Rxe5+ fxe5 43 Nxh5 g6 44 Ng3 Rf8 45 Rd1 Nc4 46 Ne4+ Kh6 47 Rd7 1–0

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AS in many countries the championship title gradually evolved. Whilst many in the world would immediately identify with legends of the game such as Paul Morphy and George Mackenzie (a Scottish mercenary who became a Captain fighting for the North during the Civil War), they - along with first champion Charles Stanley - only became US Champions by “popular acclaim” - this by virtue of their playing strength in matches or tournaments.

The first official champion was actually the ‘Kentucky Lion’ Jackson Showalter (who also has another claim to fame as being accredited with the invention of the curve ball in baseball) who won the title in 1890. For nearly half a century thereafter, however, the US title was decided by a match between the two top players in the country; Frank Marshall the last such incumbent to hold the title in such a way.

This all changed in 1936 when the national title became an invitational affair between the top players in the country - dominated in the process by three players: Sammy Reshevsky, who won the first of his six titles in 1936 (his last in 1969!); Bobby Fischer, who broke all the records for the championship: the youngest player to win at 14 on his debut in 1957, and the holder of the most titles with eight – one with a phenomenal score of 11-0; and Walter Browne, a competitor in this year’s championship, also with six titles.

The new-styled format of the championship created by the Seattle Chess Foundation has breathed new life – and money - into an ailing tournament; one which unbelievably was almost cancelled until the intervention at the eleventh hour of the SCF only eighteen months ago.

A new condition set this year means that, unlike the last championship, if there’s a tie at the end of round nine the players will play a speed playoff – not just for the title, but also the $15,000 first prize! In the three-way playoff between Joel Benjamin, Alexander Shabalov and Yasser Seirawan for the 2000 title in Seattle, the player’s were only playing for the honour of wearing the Championship ring, which was won by Benjamin.


Leader board: 1-2 GM A Yermolinsky, GM L Christiansen 6/8; GM 3-5 N de Firmian, IM B Kreiman, GM J Benjamin 5.5; 6-16 WIM J Shahade, GM G Kaidanov, GM G Serper, GM B Gulko, GM Y Seirawan, D Ariel, GM W Browne, IM A Ivanov, GM A Shabalov, GM A Stripunsky, GM S Kudrin 5.0


J Benjamin – A Shabalov
U.S. Championships (8), Italian Game

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 d3 Bc5 5 c3 d6 6 0–0 0–0 7 Bb3 a6 8 h3 Ba7 9 Re1 Be6 10 Nbd2 Nh5 11 Nf1 Qf6 12 Be3 Nf4 13 d4 Na5 14 Bc2 Nc4 15 Bc1 c5 16 b3 Na5 17 d5 Bd7 18 N1h2 h5 19 h4 b5 20 Ng5 c4 21 Be3 Qg6 22 Bxf4 exf4 23 b4 Nb7 24 e5 Bf5 25 Bxf5 Qxf5 26 Qxh5 Nd8 27 Ng4 a5 28 e6 fxe6 29 dxe6 Nc6 30 e7 Rfe8 31 Re6 Nxe7 32 Nf6+ gxf6 33 Qf7+ Kh8 34 Rxf6 Bxf2+ 35 Kh1 1–0

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WRITING in his only book to-date, ‘Storming the Barricades’, American grandmaster Larry Christiansen explains, that: “Many chess books provide training in how to round off a successful attack with a final combination but that's really just the easy part. The difficult thing, however, is to decide how and where to attack in the first place, and to build up the offensive without giving the opponent any real counter chances.”

Christiansen found no difficulty in the “how” and “where” of building up a textbook winning attack as he stormed into the lead at the end of the fifth round of the U.S. Championships taking place at the Seattle Centre in the Emerald City.

After an impressive display of all-out attacking chess against the previously undefeated Alexander Shabalov as he crashed through his opponents defences, Christiansen, a former two-time U.S. co-Champion (1980 and 1983), now takes a half point lead over the field at a crucial juncture of the $200,000, 56-player tournament.

Considered to be one of the greatest attacking players in the history of American chess, Christiansen is also one of the few select players in the history of the game who, after winning in Spain at Malaga 1977, gained his grandmaster title before getting on to the first rung of the ladder with an IM norm.


Leader board: 1 L Christiansen 4.5/5; 2-4 A Shabalov, A Yermolinsky, B Kreiman 4; 5-11 G Kaidanov, J Benjamin, G Serper, A Fishbein, N de Firmian, A Stripunsky, A Ivanov 3.5.


A Shabalov – L Christiansen
2002 US Championships (5), Queen’s Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb7 5 a3 d5 6 cxd5 exd5 7 g3 Bd6 8 Bg2 0–0 9 0–0 Nbd7 10 Bf4 Bxf4 11 gxf4 c5 12 e3 Rc8 13 Rc1 Ne4 14 Ne2 Qe7 15 Ng3 Rfd8 16 Bh3 Rc7 17 Qe2 Nf8 18 Rfd1 Bc8 19 Bg2 Bg4 20 dxc5 bxc5 21 Qc2 Rd6 22 Re1 Ng6 23 b4 h6 24 Nd4 Nh4 25 bxc5 Rxc5 26 Qd3 Nxg2 27 Kxg2 Qh4 28 Kg1 Nxf2 29 Qf1 Rxc1 30 Rxc1 Ne4 31 Nxe4 dxe4 32 Qf2 Qh5 33 f5 Kh7 34 Qf4 Rf6 35 Rf1 Bh3 36 Rc1 Bxf5 37 Nxf5 Rxf5 0–1

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IT’S ironic that, in the aftermath of Bobby Fischer’s historic victory over the legendary Soviet Chess machine, nowadays it’s the Russians who dominate the American game.

With many émigrés now living in America, many joke that the U.S. Championships could easily be mistaken for the USSR Championships. Over half the field in the present U.S. Championships taking place at the Seattle Centre in the Emerald City belongs to the former Soviet Union, and two with contrasting passages to the West, Boris Gulko and Alexander Shabalov, meeting in the top board clash of the fourth round – the full-point going to Shabalov, who now has the sole lead in the tournament with a perfect 4/4.

Gulko, who is one of the few players with a plus score against Garry Kasparov, spent most of his life in the former Soviet Union and is the only player to have won both the USSR and US titles.

However, during the late 70’s, political persecution thwarted a promising career at its peak. Boris and his wife, Anna (who after ending a protest fast was deprived of the 1982 USSR women’s title due to a blatant official fraud), attempted to emigrate to the West and as punishment had to endured persecution and even imprisonment in a Gulag before intense international pressure in 1986 forced their release - the Gulkos eventually settling in Fairlawn, New Jersey.

A two-time U.S. Champion in 1994 and 1999, Boris has also been a candidate for the World Championship title several times. He also has represented the U.S. team seven times at chess Olympiads and was a member of the team that won gold for the U.S. during the World Team Championships in Lucerne, 1993.

No such hardships however for the Latvian-born Shabalov, who benefited enormously from the break-up of the former Soviet Union to freely move to the US in 1992. From his aggressive style of play, it comes as no surprise that Shabalov, the former junior champion of the Soviet Union, had among his chess teachers the legendary Riga magician Mikhail Tal.

Shabalov discovered the game of chess by watching his father play with his friends. He soon proved to be a natural talent by winning the highly competitive Under-16 Championship of the Soviet Union in 1982. Because of political turmoil in his homeland, Shabalov decided to move to America in 1992 and ended up in Pittsburgh where his wife obtained a medical residency. In 1993 he won both the prestigious U.S. Open and the U.S. Championship sharing the latter title with another émigré, Alexander Yermolinsky.


Leader board: 1 A Shabalov 4/4; 2-4 L Christiansen, A Yermolinsky, B Kreiman 3.5; 5-9 G Kaidanov, J Benjamin, G Serper, A Fishbein, N de Firmian 3...


B Gulko – A Shabalov
US Championships (4), Nimzo-Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0–0 5 Bd3 d5 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 dxc4 8 Bxc4 c5 9 Nf3 Qc7 10 Ba2 b6 11 0–0 Nbd7 12 Bb2 Bb7 13 c4 Rfd8 14 Re1 Rac8 15 d5 exd5 16 cxd5 c4 17 e4 b5 18 Nd4 Qe5 19 Qf3 Re8 20 Rab1 Nxe4 21 Nxb5 Qxd5 22 Nxa7 Rb8 23 Red1 Qe6 24 Nb5 Qg6 25 Qh3 Ndc5 26 Nc3 Nd2 27 Rbc1 Bc8 28 Bb1 Nxb1 29 Qe3 Bb7 0–1

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A new-styled US Championships got underway at the weekend at the Seattle Centre in the city, as a record-breaking field of 56-players (44 men, 12 women) contest this venerable title and record prize fund of over $200,000 – and, for the first time ever, women will compete amongst their male counterparts for the overall US title.

The much-needed overhaul to the 113-year-old tournament was brought about by the Seattle Chess Foundation - now in the second year of running the event after the championship was very nearly cancelled by the US Chess Federation following a serious financial crisis - in a concerted effort to generate excitement and open up the game to the masses.

For the first time in its history, men and women make up the 56 player playing field and play in one competition for their title (overall and women’s champion). Three qualifier events held around the country allowed 36 players to join the 20 already seeded participants.

And, even before the tournament started, one of the young qualifiers making her début in the championship broke a long-standing record set by Bobby Fischer at the age of 14 in 1957. In qualifying after a superb result at the US Open, Itkis, 13, from New Jersey, became the youngest player to ever play in the tournament.

However, leading the way for the women with a creditable 6/12 on the opening day was Cindy Tsai, 16, from Florida, who caused the sensation of the opening round when she defeated grandmaster Walter Browne, a former six-time US Champion. Browne, the first dominant US player of the post- Fischer era, won six championships between 1974 and 1983.


C Tsai – W Browne
US Championships (1), King’s Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 f3 0–0 6 Be3 c6 7 Qd2 a6 8 Bd3 b5 9 Nge2 Nbd7 10 0–0 bxc4 11 Bxc4 d5 12 Bb3 dxe4 13 fxe4 Ng4 14 Bg5 h6 15 Bh4 Nc5 16 Bc2 Ne6 17 Rad1 c5 18 dxc5 Qc7 19 Bg3 Qxc5+ 20 Bf2 Nxf2 21 Rxf2 Rd8 22 Nd5 Bxb2 23 Qxh6 Bb7 24 Bb3 a5 25 Rd3 Bg7 26 Qh4 Bxd5 27 exd5 Bf6 28 Qe4 Nc7 29 d6 [29 d6 Rxd6 30 Qxg6+ Bg7 31 Qxf7+ Kh7 32 Rg3] 1–0

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IN one of the more memorable Hastings Congresses of recent years, the Premier tournament ended in a dramatic three-way tie for first – but it wasn’t for the want of trying as the two overnight leaders pressed hard for a last round victory to clinch outright first.

Going into the final round, the two young Indian leaders, Pentala Harikrishna, 15, and Kirshnan Sasikiran, 21, led by just a half point over the Uzbekistan grandmaster Alexander Barsov. While both Indians pressed hard for victory, they were thwarted in their efforts thanks to some resilient play by England’s Mark Hebden and China’s Zhang Zhong, who both held out in two epic battles for draws – a result that guaranteed the two Indians of at least a share of first place with a final score of 6.5/9.

Whilst the draws did at least make sure of an Indian double at Hastings following last year’s victory by Sasikiran, it did, however, leave the door open for them to be joined in first equal by Alexei Barsov – but only if he could win his third successive game by beating America’s Irina Krush. And, sure enough, in a 70-move marathon proving to be the final game to be played this year at Hastings, Barsov nurtured home an endgame advantage for the full point and share of first equal; the trio dominating the tournament with a winning margin of 1.5-points over fourth placed Mark Hebden.

Among the three winners, Harikrishna's rating performance was the best at 2694 and the 15-year-old stands to gain more than 20 Elo points – moving him ever-closer in the process to becoming the new Indian No.2 behind Vishy Anand. Barsov was next at 2691 as Sasikiran ended close behind at 2686.

There was also a close-race for the top spot in the Challengers with a five-way tie for first. Top seed GM Vitaly Tseshkovsky (Russia), GM Glenn Flear, GM Keith Arkell (both England), IM Zvonko Stanojoski (Macedonia) and IM Sergei Azarov (Belarus) got the top honours with a final tally of 7.5/9.


Scottish scores: IM Steve Mannion 6.5; GM Colin McNab, IM John Shaw, Neil Berry 6; Daniel McGowan 4.5; Siegrun MacGilchrist, Hugh Flockhart 3.5; James MacRae 2


Final standings: 1-3 P Harikrishna, K Sasikiran (both India), A Barsov (Uzbekistan) 6.5/9; 4 M Hebden (England) 5; 5-6 P Kiriakov (Russia), Zhang Zhong (China) 4.5; 7 J  Gallagher (Switzerland) 4; 8 N Pert (England) 3.5; 9 P Wells (England) 3; 10 I Krush (USA) 1.


A Barsov – J Gallagher
Hastings Premier (8), King’s Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nf3 Bg7 4 g3 0–0 5 Bg2 d6 6 0–0 Nbd7 7 Nc3 e5 8 h3 a6 9 Be3 exd4 10 Bxd4 c6 11 Nd2 Nc5 12 Nb3 Ne6 13 Be3 Qe7 14 Qd2 Nd7 15 Ne4 Ndc5 16 Nxd6 Nxb3 17 axb3 c5 18 Qd5 Rb8 19 Bxc5 Nxc5 20 Qxc5 Qxe2 21 Rae1 Qxb2 22 Re7 Be6 23 Bd5 Bd4 24 Qc7 Bxd5 25 cxd5 Be5 26 Rxf7 Bxd6 27 Rxf8+ Rxf8 28 Qxd6 Qxb3 29 Qe6+ Kg7 30 Rc1 Qf3 31 Rc7+ Rf7 32 Qe5+ Qf6 33 Rxf7+ Kxf7 34 Qc7+ Ke8 35 Qb8+ Qd8 36 Qxb7 a5 37 Qxh7 Qd6 38 Qg8+ Ke7 39 Qa8 Qb4 40 Qc6 a4 41 Qe6+ Kd8 42 d6 Qb1+ 43 Kh2 Qb7 44 Qf6+ 1–0

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IT may be winter outside but the “Indian summer” continues inside at the 77th Hastings Congress as two of India’s brightest stars for the future, Pentala Harikrishna and Krishnan Sasikiran, are on course for a memorable double in the Premier.

In the previous two rounds the young 15-year-old Harikrishna, who’s being heavily tipped to be the next Anand, has scored an effortless 1.5/2 – making his TPR so far for the tournament 2716 - to maintain his lead in the Premier.

While all eyes have been on the younger of the two Indian stars, Sasikiran – who came first equal last year – seems intent on retaining his title with a late run of three successive wins, and thus joins his fellow countryman in first place on 7/9 – and not far behind on the performance stakes with a TPR of 2696. Half a point behind – and the only player with a realistic chance of catching the Indian duo – is the Uzbekistan GM Alexei Barsov.

Meanwhile, in the Challengers, there’s a three-way tie for first on 7/9 between Zvonko Stanojoski, Vitaly Tseshkovsky and Glenn Flear. Unlike the Premier though, there’s a determined chasing pack of Danny Gormally, Keith Arkell, Dibyendu Barua and Sergei Azarov trailing the leaders by just a half point on 6.5.


Leader board

1-2 P Harikrishna, K Sasikiran (both India) 6/8; 3 A Barsov (Uzbekistan) 5.5; 4 M Hebden (England) 4.5; 5-6 P Kiriakov (Russia), Zhang Zhong (China) 4; 7-8 N Pert (England), J Gallagher (Switzerland) 3.5; 9 P Wells (England) 2; 10 I Krush (USA) 1.


K Sasikiran – I Krush
Hastings Premier (8), Queen’s Gambit Accepted

1 d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 e3 e6 5 Bxc4 c5 6 0–0 a6 7 dxc5 Qxd1 8 Rxd1 Bxc5 9 Nbd2 b6 10 Be2 Bb7 11 Nb3 Be7 12 Nfd4 0–0 13 f3 Nbd7 14 e4 Nc5 15 Nxc5 Bxc5 16 Be3 Rfd8 17 Kf2 Kf8 18 Nb3 Bxe3+ 19 Kxe3 Ke7 20 Nd2 Rac8 21 Nc4 Rxd1 22 Rxd1 Rc6 23 b4 Nd7 24 f4 b5 25 Na5 Rc7 26 Nxb7 Rxb7 27 Rc1 Nb6 28 a3 Kd7 29 Kd4 Rc7 30 Rxc7+ Kxc7 31 g3 f6 32 Bg4 Kd7 33 h4 Kd6 34 e5+ fxe5+ 35 fxe5+ Kd7 36 Bd1 Nc4 37 Bc2 Nxa3 38 Bxh7 Nc4 39 Bd3 Nb6 40 h5 Nd5 41 Kc5 Ne3 42 Be2 Nc2 43 g4 Ke7 44 g5 Ne3 45 Bd3 Nd5 46 Be4 Nf4 47 h6 gxh6 48 gxh6 Kf7 49 Kb6 Nh3 50 Kxa6 Nf2 51 Bf5 1–0

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FOR the second time in six-years, Scottish grandmaster Colin McNab finds himself making all the news with one of his games in the Hastings Challengers - unfortunately though for all the wrong reasons.

During the 1995/96 Challengers, Luke McShane, just a few days shy of his twelfth birthday, became the youngest player in the world to defeat a GM in serious tournament play when he beat McNab. Fast-forward six years to the same tournament, and this time its 11-year-old wunderkind David Howell, from Seaford, Sussex, smashing McShane’s world record by ten months – with the victim again being the hapless Colin McNab!

McNab, trying to pressurise his young opponent, paid the price after declining a draw by perpetual check, only to blunder away his queen a few moves later to a horrific knight fork.

Howell, who was taught the moves at the age of five by his father, Martin, after they had bought a chess set for 1.00(GBP) at a jumble sale (“It was a wet Sunday afternoon,” says Martin. “I just thought it was time he knew something about chess.”), made headline news in 1999 when he beat GM John Nunn, 46, a player and author of world renown, in a five-minute game at the age of eight.

The following year, he broke another record when he became the world’s youngest player, by over a year, to play in a national championship when he qualified for the British Championships – and nearly three-years younger than was the 1977 qualifier Nigel Short, already recognised then as an exceptional talent. Unfazed by all the publicity after beating McNab at Hastings, Howell commented, that: “..the win [over McNab] wasn’t nearly as exciting for me as it was when I beat Nunn at 8; or qualifying for the British at 9.”

Howell has been aided by some generous sponsorship from local Sussex software firm Jeb Hove, allowing him to employ the services of GM Glenn Flear as his trainer - the result of which seen a quantum leap in his play to near master strength. Last summer he scored probably the best international result for a ten-year-old in the history of chess when he achieved a Fide performance of nearly 2400 in the Creon Open in Bordeaux.

Howell defeated three unrated opponents and held his own with 3/6 against the others, who all hold Fide titles. En route to Bordeaux, he drew with GM Marc Santo-Roman at Montpellier and defeated IM Jean-Pierre Boudre at Saint-Affrique - a result that broke Luke McShane's 1994 UK record for the youngest win over an IM in a Fide competition.

The win over McNab now sets the youngster on a course for yet another milestone. He now has an outside chance in the tournament to become the youngest player in history to make an international master norm. He’s only one-point behind the tournament leaders – Tseshkovsky and Stanojoski - on 4/6; his only losses so far being at the hands of two experienced IMs: Russia’s Alexander Cherniaev and Scotland’s John Shaw.


D Howell – C McNab
Hastings Challengers (6), Pirc Defence

1 e4 g6 2 d4 d6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 Be3 Nf6 5 Qd2 c6 6 Bh6 Bxh6 7 Qxh6 e5 8 dxe5 dxe5 9 Nf3 Qe7 10 Bc4 b5 11 Bb3 Be6 12 0–0 Nbd7 13 Rad1 0–0–0 14 Qe3 Kb7 15 Rd2 Bxb3 16 axb3 Nc5 17 Rfd1 Rxd2 18 Qxd2 Re8 19 Qe3 b4 20 Na4 Nfxe4 21 Ng5 Rd8 22 Rxd8 Qxd8 23 h4 Nxa4 24 Qxe4 f5 25 Qxe5 Nb6 26 Kh2 Qd2 27 Qe7+ Ka6 28 Qc5 Kb7 29 Nf7 Nd7 30 Nd6+ Kc7 31 Nb5+ Kd8 32 Qxc6 Qf4+ 33 Kg1 Qc1+ 34 Kh2 Qf4+ 35 Kh3 Qg4+ 36 Kh2 Qxh4+ (36 ..Qf4+=) 37 Kg1 Qf4 38 g3 Qb8 39 Qd5 Ke7 40 Nd4 Qe5?? 41 Nc6+ 1–0

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ON the back of the success of Vishy Anand, chess has become hugely popular in India – who now thanks to corporate sponsorship and government support looks set to become the new force to reckon with in world chess.

And, at the 77th Hastings Congress, one of their brightest stars for the future, Pantyala Harikrishna, has taken the sole lead on 3/4 in the Premier after defeating British champion Joe Gallagher.

Harikrishna, 15, from the agricultural region of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, has had a remarkable year in chess which has seen the teenager not only break Anand’s record by becoming India’s youngest-ever grandmaster, but also looks set to become this year the Indian No.2 behind his hero as his rating is on course to rise above the 2600+ “super GM” barrier.

A former world under-10 champion, Harikrishna first came to prominence when India – minus Anand – claimed a very creditable 8th place at the Istanbul Olympiad. Undefeated on board three, Harikrishna unnerved several big names in the game by spurning their draw offers.

Playing in his first major international tournament last January at Wijk aan Zee, Harikrishan scored – what he and everyone else thought – his first grandmaster norm. A second norm duly arrived in quick succession a few months later in Calcutta.

Arriving in London during the summer for the Commonwealth Championships, he discovered by accident that he already had a 10-game norm for his performance at the Olympiad; and thus already had the title in the bag – not that it prevented him from erring on the side of caution by winning the tournament to become the youngest holder of the Commonwealth title!

He’s now seen very much as the proverbial young man in a hurry. Singled out by Garry Kasparov – along with 14-year-old Teimour Radjabov – as “two future world championship contenders” during his victory speech at Wijk, Harikrishna, thanks to government support and a sponsorship deal with the Indian IT company Wipro, is now being coached by the Kazakhstan GM Evgeny Vladimirov – himself a former trainer to Kasparov.


Leader board: 1 P Harikrishna (India) 3/4; 2-4 K Sasikiran (India), A Barsov (Uzbekistan), P Kiriakov (Russia) 2.5; 5-6 J Gallagher (Switzerland), P Wells (England) 2; 7-9 Zhang Zhong (China), M Hebden (England), P Wells (England) 1.5; 10 I Krush (USA) 1.


P Harikrishna – J Gallagher
Hastings Premier (4), Sicilian Defence

1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nd4 4 Bc4 e6 5 Nge2 Nf6 6 0–0 a6 7 d3 b5 8 Bb3 Nxb3 9 axb3 b4 10 Nb1 d5 11 Ng3 h5 12 Bg5 h4 13 Ne2 dxe4 14 dxe4 Qc7 15 Nd2 h3 16 g3 Bb7 17 f3 c4 18 Nxc4 Bc5+ 19 Be3 Bxe3+ 20 Nxe3 Rd8 21 Qe1 Qc5 22 Qf2 0–0 23 Nc4 Qg5 24 Qe3 Qxe3+ 25 Nxe3 Rd2 26 Kf2 Rc8 27 Rfd1 Rxd1 28 Rxd1 g5 29 g4 Rc7 30 Ng1 Nd7 31 Nxh3 f6 32 Kg3 Ne5 33 Nf2 a5 34 Nd3 Ng6 35 Ra1 Ba6 36 Nxb4 axb4 37 Rxa6 Nf4 38 Rb6 Rh7 39 Rb8+ 1–0

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THE players in the Hastings Premier at the Horntyre Park Sports Complex gently eased themselves into 2002 with just one decisive game from the five on offer in the third round – though nevertheless the round was not without some interest.

The only tame draw on offer was the top board clash between Alexei Barsov and Pentala Harikrishna, which ended quite peacefully after just 17 moves. The other games, however, proved to be tougher affairs – the unluckiest again (for her third successive game!) being America’s Irina Krush, who couldn’t convert her extra pawn into an endgame win against Mark Hebden.

The only decisive game of the round came in the clash between British champion Joe Gallagher and Peter Wells, where Gallagher outplayed his opponent to take the only full point of the day. The win now allows Gallagher, who plays under the Swiss flag, to join the leaders on 2/3 for a five-way share of first.

Draws were also the order of the day in the Challengers tournament with the top board clashes all resulting in four draws. Overnight leaders Vitaly Tseshkovsky and Aimen Rizouk therefore remain in the joint lead with 3.5/4. However, wins from the top Scottish duo of Colin McNab and John Shaw move them up to join a chasing pack of 15, just a half a point behind the leaders on a score of 3/4.


Leader board: 1-5 A Barsov (Uzbekistan), P Harikrishna (India), J Gallagher (Switzerland), N Pert (England), P Kiriakov (Russia) 2/3; 6 K Sasikiran (India) 1.5; 7-9 Zhang Zhong (China), M Hebden (England), P Wells (England) 1; 10 I Krush (USA) 0.5.


P Wells – J Gallagher
Hastings Premier (3), Trompowski Attack

1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 Qb6 7 Bc1 g6 8 e4 d6 9 a4 Bg7 10 Bb5+ Nbd7 11 Nd2 0–0 12 Nc4 Qc7 13 a5 a6 14 Ba4 Rb8 15 Ne2 b5 16 axb6 Nxb6 17 Nxb6 Rxb6 18 0–0 e6 19 dxe6 Bxe6 20 Nf4 Bc4 21 Rf2 Rfb8 22 g4 h6 23 h4 d5 24 g5 hxg5 25 hxg5 Nh5 26 Nxh5 gxh5 27 exd5 Rd8 28 f4 Bxd5 29 Qxh5 Qe7 30 Bd2 Rxb2 31 Re1 Qc7 32 g6 fxg6 33 Qg5 Bf7 34 f5 Rdxd2 35 Rxd2 Rxd2 36 Qxd2 Qg3+ 37 Kh1 Bxc3 0–1

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AS ever, a large Scottish contingent is doing a bit of first footing at the Hastings Challengers tournament – no doubt hoping to see the New Year in with a tournament win which would guarantee them an automatic berth into the following year’s Premier.

The 136-player field - headed by GM Vitaly Tseshkovsky, one of the leading Soviet GMs from the 1980s who narrowly missed out on qualifying for a Candidates tournament – includes eight grandmasters, 24 international masters (including one woman GM) and 7 women international masters. The Scottish line-up includes IM John Shaw, GM Colin McNab, IM Steve Mannion, Neil Berry, Alan Grant, Daniel McGowan, Siegrun MacGilchrist, Hugh Flockhart and James MacRae.

The ten-round Open Challengers tournament started a day earlier than the Premier, and, after three rounds, Tseshkovsky is living up to his top seeding so far with an unbeaten score of 3/3. However he's not the only player with a 100 per cent score. The relatively unknown Algerian IM Aimen Rizouk also joins Tseshkovsky in the lead with 3/3 - with both now having a fourth round showdown for first.

Meanwhile, in the Premier, top USA female player Irina Krush may be regretting her choice in opting for Hastings instead of the US Championships which starts at the weekend in Seattle.

After two rounds Krush is unlucky to find herself firmly rooted at the foot of the table with two losses to her name from equal positions. In the first round she mishandled the ending against Petr Kirakov and, in round two against top English junior Nick Pert, she declined a threefold repetition at her 30th move – only to blundering in an equal position just a few moves later.

The lucky win from Pert now puts him in a four-way tie for first with Pentala Harikrishna, Alexei Barsov and Petr Kiriakov.


Round 2: Harikrishna 1-0 Wells; Sasikiran draw Barsov; Gallagher draw Hebden; Zhang Zhong draw Kiriakov; Krush 0-1 Pert.


Leader board: 1-4 P Harikrishna (India), A Barsov (Uzbekistan), N Pert (England), P Kiriakov (Russia) 1.5/2; 5-7 K Sasikiran (India), J Gallagher (England), P Wells (England) 1; 8-9 Zhang Zhong (China), M Hebden (England) 0.5; 10 I Krush (USA) 0.


I Krush – N Pert
Hastings Premier (2), Dutch Defence

1 d4 e6 2 c4 f5 3 g3 Nf6 4 Bg2 Be7 5 Nf3 0–0 6 0–0 d6 7 b4 Ne4 8 Bb2 a5 9 a3 axb4 10 axb4 Rxa1 11 Bxa1 b5 12 cxb5 Nd7 13 d5 e5 14 Nfd2 Nxd2 15 Qxd2 Nb6 16 Nc3 Bd7 17 e3 Qa8 18 Bb2 Nc4 19 Qe2 Nxb2 20 Qxb2 e4 21 Ra1 Qb7 22 Bf1 Bf6 23 Ra5 Rb8 24 Qa3 Qc8 25 Bc4 Qe8 26 Ra7 Rc8 27 Ra5 Rb8 28 Ra7 Rc8 29 Ra5 Rb8 30 Ne2 Bxb5 31 Bxb5 Rxb5 32 Nf4 Rb8 33 Ne6 h6 34 Ra7 Qh5 35 Qa4 Kh7 36 Nxc7 Qe2 37 b5 Bc3 38 Ne6? (38 Qa2=) 38 ..Rxb5 39 Qa2 Rb2 0–1

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