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The Scotsman

Chess News January 2003

to "The Scotsman" chess column

31st January, 2003

IN chess circles, distinguished tournaments are often known by the locality that hosts the tournament and very often are held in faraway or unexpected places. The annual Dutch treat of Wijk aan Zee falls into such a category.

The chess festival held at the little Dutch seaside resort (some 30 kilometres from Amsterdam) is, next to Hastings, the second longest-running international tournament in the world, which this year celebrated its 65th edition.

Ironically, the event had an auspicious start in 1938 - that of a simple works tournament for the employees of the local Koninkjke Hoogovens steel factory! In an effort to lift the depressions of the war, it was decided that former world champion and Dutch legend Dr Max Euwe would be invited to play as a special guest in the 1940 tournament. Little did anyone know at the time what the consequences would be of allowing Euwe to play, as in the aftermath of the war, it went on to become a truly international 'must play' event.

'Wijk', as the tournament has become affectionately know as, has now grown into one of the finest festivals that the game of chess has to offer. Even after an enforced name-change in 2000 to Corus, after the merger of British Steel and its Dutch counterpart, nothing could ever change that special atmosphere created inside the De Moriaan playing hall by its dedicated organizing committee, where anything of upwards of 1,000 players - world champions, grandmasters, masters, and amateurs alike - play under the one roof.

Apart from the eye-catching, top-rated Grandmaster 'A' group that was won by India's Vishy Anand, the tournament also has a Grandmaster 'B' event that usually combines a mixture of up and coming talents to the game alongside some seasoned old hands. This year's runaway winner of the event was China's Zhang Zhong, whose reward for winning with an impressive 11/13 is a promotion to next year's Grandmaster 'A' tournament, where he gets an opportunity to prove his mettle amongst the world's elite.


Final standings: 1 Zhang Zhong (China) 11/13; 2-3 Stellwagen (Holland), Naiditsch (Germany) 8; 4 Nijboer (Holland) 7.5; 5 Karjakin (Ukraine) 7; 6 De Vreugt, (Holland); 7-9 Acs (Hungary), Van der Wiel, (Holland), Koneru (India) 6; 10-11 Rogers (Australia), Hector (Sweden), 5.5; 12-13 Kosteniuk (Russia), Jonkman (Holland) 5; 14 Cmilyte (Lithuania) 4.

A Kosteniuk - Zhang Zhong
Corus 'B' (3), Sicilian Najdorf

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 Qc7 8 Qf3 Nc6 9 Nb3 b5 10 Bd3 Bb7 11 Qh3 Be7 12 0-0 Nb4 13 Rae1 Nxd3 14 cxd3 b4 15 Nd1 a5 16 Nf2 h6 17 Rc1 Qd8 18 e5 dxe5 19 fxe5 Nh7 20 Bxe7 Qxe7 21 Nc5 Bd5 22 Ng4 0-0 23 Rf2 Rad8 24 b3 Qg5 25 Rcf1 h5 26 Rf4 hxg4 27 Rxg4 Qxe5 28 Rh4 Qg5 29 Rg4 Bxg2 30 Qxg2 Qxc5+ 31 d4 Rxd4 32 Rxg7+ Kh8 0-1

30th January, 2003

DESPITE having the better of the complications in game two of the $1 million FIDE Man vs. Machine challenge in New York against Deep Junior, Garry Kasparov opted for the safety of a draw to lead the six-game match 1.5/0.5.

In the second game Kasparov again took on the computer by steering the game towards his trademark complications of a very tactical struggle - something that would usually favour the silicone beast - as he sacrificed the exchange for a strong attack. At the crucial moment of the game, Kasparov looked to be on the verge of a second successive victory, but erred with 25..Qa1+. He only realized a few moves later that the all-calculating computer could force a perpetual with a cunning queen sacrifice. In the press conference afterwards, Kasparov said that he thought he had a forced win with the queen check, but that in hindsight 25 ..f4 would have been stronger.

In Kasparov's epic struggles against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1996 (then Deep Thought) and 1997, the winner of the second game went on to win the overall match. Kasparov faded after losing at this stage six years ago, troubled psychologically by analysis that later showed he missed an opportunity to draw the game. The Deep Blue phenomenon still to this day troubles Kasparov, and he more or less admitted so after the game: "The whole plan worked, but because of this spell on game two [from 1997], this pressure on me, I spent probably an extra half an hour to decide if I should save a draw or provoke more complications," Kasparov told reporters and spectators at the New York Athletic Club.

Many still ask to this day whatever happened to the epoch-making Deep Blue? Despite creating history by becoming the first computer to pass the litmus test as it controversially defeated a reigning world champion, Deep Blue ended its formal playing days on a high with its last game against Kasparov; who up to that defining moment had never lost in a match-play situation.

IBM, for reasons not made fully public, chose to close the scientific experiment which it had begun more than 30 years earlier. Perhaps it was concerned that Deep Blue would not win the next time. As hinted publicly by one corporate official, IBM may have simply decided to quit while it was ahead. Another reason there was no rematch could have been Kasparov's outburst made after his defeat, of IBM "cheating" with claims the computer might have received human hints during critical stages of the match.

In contrast to the omnipresent Kasparov, Deep Blue has now 'officially' become a relic of the past. In late October of last year, one of the two 1.4 ton refrigerator-sized towers, which housed the specially designed chips of the computer that defeated Kasparov, was donated by IBM to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. as part of the museum's permanent exhibition, "Information Age: People, Information and Technology."

"Few computers have attained the historical notoriety of Deep Blue. It is a classic artefact in the ongoing historical comparison between the powers of humans and the powers of computing machines," said David Allison, chair of the museum's Division of Information Technology and Society on its admission. Sadly the only visible difference between this tower and several other IBM towers was a simple home-made sticker with the recurring Kasparov nightmare of "Deep Blue" printed on it, and stuck to the side of the black monolith.


DEEP JUNIOR - G Kasparov
FIDE Man-Machine (2), Sicilian Kan

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Bd3 Bc5 6 Nb3 Ba7 7 c4 Nc6 8 Nc3 d6 9 0-0 Nge7 10 Re1 0-0 11 Be3 e5 12 Nd5 a5 13 Rc1 a4 14 Bxa7 Rxa7 15 Nd2 Nd4 16 Qh5 Ne6 17 Rc3 Nc5 18 Bc2 Nxd5 19 exd5 g6 20 Qh6 f5 21 Ra3 Qf6 22 b4 axb3 23 Rxa7 bxc2 24 Rc1 e4 25 Rxc2 Qa1+ 26 Nf1 f4 27 Ra8 e3 28 fxe3 fxe3 29 Qxf8+ Kxf8 30 Rxc8+ Kf7 draw

29th January, 2003

NOT since Billie Jean King humbled Bobby Riggs in tennis's battle of the sexes in 1973 has sport witnessed a near comparable cross-gender upset than the final result of the Corus super-tournament in Wijk aan Zee, as India's Vishy Anand managed to hold off a feisty challenge for the top spot from Hungary's Judit Polgar, the world's leading female player.

By winning the first big event of the year with a plus four score, Anand, the world No.3, continues his magnificent run of winning every tournament he's played in since the early half of last year. For Polgar, the result is easily her best performance in such a strong tournament - and one that is likely to push her once again into the world's top-ten ranking list. In 1996, she made it to the No.10 spot with a rating of 2675. Currently she stands at thirteen with a rating of 2700.

The field at Corus included two reigning world champions, two ex world champions and two world championship challengers -- and Anand and Polgar were the only players to finish unbeaten in the star-studded category 19 all-play-all. Anand had four wins, against Ponomariov, Shirov, Topalov and Karpov and drew his other nine games. Polgar had three wins, against Timman, Karpov and Grischuk and drew her other ten games.

The decisive meeting of the two came in the penultimate round, when Polgar threw everything bar the kitchen sink at Anand in an effort to win the tournament. However Anand calmly avoided any mistakes to draw the game and hold his lead.


Final scores: 1 Anand (India) 8.5/13; 2 Polgar (Hungary) 8; 3 Bareev (Russia) 7.5; 4-8; Van Wely (Holland), Kramnik (Russia), Grischuk (Russia) Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Shirov (Spain) 7; 9-10 Radjabov (Azerbaijan), Topalov (Bulgaria) 6.5; 11-12 Ponomariov (Ukraine), Karpov (Russia) 6; 13 Krasenkow (Poland) 4.5; 14 Timman (Holland) 2.5;


J Polgar - V Anand
Corus 'A' (12), Caro-Kann Defence

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bf5 5 Ng3 Bg6 6 h4 h6 7 Nf3 Nd7 8 h5 Bh7 9 Bd3 Bxd3 10 Qxd3 Ngf6 11 Bf4 e6 12 0-0-0 Be7 13 Kb1 0-0 14 Ne4 Qa5 15 Nxf6+ Nxf6 16 g4 Nxg4 17 Rdg1 Qf5 18 Qd2 g5 19 hxg6 fxg6 20 Bxh6 Qxf3 21 Bxf8 Rxf8 22 d5 cxd5 23 Qd4 Nf6 24 Rxg6+ Kf7 25 Rhg1 Rc8 26 Rg7+ Kf8 27 Qh4 Ke8 28 Qa4+ Kf8 29 Qh4 Ke8 30 Qa4+ Kf8 draw

28th January, 2003

WORLD No.1 Garry Kasparov went a long way towards finally exorcising the ghost of his defeat at the hands of IBM's Deep Blue, as he sensationally crushed the three-time World Chess Computer champion Deep Junior in just 27 moves in the opening game of the FIDE Man vs. Machine World Championship challenge in New York.

Despite the ease of his victory, Kasparov, who valuates Deep Junior to being stronger than Deep Blue, is still taking nothing for granted in the six-game $1 million match taking place at the New York Athletic Club. "I don't want this to be a mirror image of the last match when I won the first game and lost the second game," Kasparov said after the win, referring to his historic 1997 encounter with IBM's Deep Blue where eventually the strain got to Kasparov.

And stamina while playing a computer may be the deciding factor in this match. In October last year, Vladimir Kramnik, the player who snatched Kasparov's world crown, took on rival program Deep Fritz in a similar $1 million match in Bahrain. After effortlessly moving into a 3-1 lead, the current world champion drew the match most thought he would easily win as the strain of continually having to find the most accurate move against the computer took its toll.

The word "Deep" in front of the names of the programs means they run on parallel processors. Deep Junior calculates roughly three million moves per second, compared to Deep Blue's 200-300 million, but Junior is far more flexible in its decision-making and understands more abstract concepts than its IBM counterpart.

However, in the first game the only thing "Deep" about the Israeli-designed program was the trouble it got itself into from very early in the opening. Perhaps surprised by Kasparov eschewing the cautious "anti-computer" strategy that led to his downfall six years ago, Deep Junior soon found itself being crushed by the world No.1's trademark aggressive style at the board, as he adopted one of the most dangerous lines -- the Shabalov Variation -- in the Semi-Slav. The programmers may now have to do some early repair work on the computers opening book -- instead of 9 ..e5, safer is the line with 9 ..Bb7.


G Kasparov - DEEP JUNIOR
FIDE Man-Machine (1), Semi-Slav Defence

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e3 e6 5 Nf3 Nbd7 6 Qc2 Bd6 7 g4 dxc4 8 Bxc4 b6 9 e4 e5 10 g5 Nh5 11 Be3 0-0 12 0-0-0 Qc7 13 d5 b5 14 dxc6 bxc4 15 Nb5 Qxc6 16 Nxd6 Bb7 17 Qc3 Rae8 18 Nxe8 Rxe8 19 Rhe1 Qb5 20 Nd2 Rc8 21 Kb1 Nf8 22 Ka1 Ng6 23 Rc1 Ba6 24 b3 cxb3 25 Qxb3 Ra8 26 Qxb5 Bxb5 27 Rc7 1-0

27th January, 2003

"NO computer will ever be able to beat a 10-year-old boy at chess", foolishly predicted the scientist Herbert Dreyfus in the mid 1960s. Garry Kasparov lost like a child in New York against IBM's Deep Blue in 1997 and it was hailed to be the twilight of the grandmasters.

Deep Blue not only beat Kasparov in a defining moment for the march of the machines; it also wounded the world No.1 psychologically, provoking him into uncharacteristic blunders and reduced him to tantrums with claims of "human interference" during critical stages of the match.

Six years on, and still smarting from that historic debacle, Kasparov again puts his reputation on the line in New York with yet another computer challenge, as he attempts to prove that "human players are not hopeless." Kasparov takes on the Israeli-built program Deep Junior in a $1 million Man vs Machine match at the New York Athletic Club, running 26 January to 7 February.

For the first time the match will be sanctioned by world chess federation FIDE, who have endorsed the six-game showdown as the first Man vs Machine World Championship match. While Kasparov is regarded as the greatest player in history who has held the No.1 spot for 18 years, Deep Junior -- which hasn't lost to a human in two years and still has been tweaked along the way -- is the reigning World Computer Chess champion.

Meanwhile, the human vs human encounter at the Corus Tournament on the Dutch coast of Wijk aan Zee is turning into a battle of the sexes as Vishy Anand holds onto a slender half point lead at the top from the lone female player in the event, Judit Polgar, with one remaining round to be played.


A Shirov - V Anand
Corus 'A' (10), Caro-Kann Advanced

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 Bf5 4 Nc3 e6 5 g4 Bg6 6 Nge2 c5 7 Be3 Nc6 8 dxc5 Nxe5 9 Nf4 Ne7 10 Qe2 N7c6 11 0-0-0 Be7 12 Nfxd5 exd5 13 f4 d4 14 h4 Nd3+ 15 cxd3 h5 16 f5 Bh7 17 Bd2 dxc3 18 Bxc3 0-0 19 d4 a5 20 a3 Re8 21 Qc4 Bxh4 22 Bd3 hxg4 23 Kb1 Qg5 24 Ka1 Rad8 25 Bb1 Ne7 26 Bxa5 Bxf5 27 Bxd8 Rxd8 28 Rhf1 g6 29 Qb3 Be6 30 Qxb7 Qd5 31 Qxd5 Nxd5 32 Rh1 Bf2 33 c6 Rc8 34 Rc1 g3 35 Be4 Nf6 36 Bg2 Bd5 0-1

24th January, 2003

SERENDIPTY has been almost entirely replaced by days, even weeks of study at a computer delving into gigantic chess databases that can contain anything upwards of 3 million games.

Producing a stunning novelty at the chessboard is regarded as primitive, risky and -- by trainers and coaches -- irresponsible. Nevertheless, every once in a while something spectacular is seen that can shock an opponent and excite the audience. During the Wijk aan Zee tournament of 1996, Alexei Shirov suffered a spectacular and humiliating loss to the Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk, who stunned the chess world with an amazing queen sacrifice in opening theory from nowhere.

In Shirov's brilliant game collection, "Fire on Board", he remained sceptical about Ivanchuk's claim of having come up with the move 21 Qg7 over the board and not some exhaustive piece of home analysis -- however you can never be sure what exactly goes on in the head of the quixotic Ukrainian while he's staring around the playing hall, and he could just have created the brilliancy at the board!

As the players reach the final rest day at the 2003 edition of Wijk, one of the talking points was Ruslan Ponomariov's repeating of the same spectacular queen sacrifice - and with the chutzpah to play it against the same player, and in the same tournament!

However, Shirov is a player that seldom gets caught twice in a  razor-sharp variation, and he was more than ready for it seven-years on.


R Ponomariov - A Shirov
Corus 'A' (4), Semi-Slav Defence

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Nc3 e6 5 Bg5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Nxg5 hxg5 10 Bxg5 Nbd7 11 g3 Bb7 12 Bg2 Qb6 13 exf6 0-0-0 14 0-0 c5 15 d5 b4 16 Na4 Qb5 17 a3 exd5 18 axb4 cxb4 19 Be3 Nc5 20 Qg4+ Rd7 21 Qg7 Bxg7 22 fxg7 Rg8 23 Nxc5 Rxg7 24 Nxd7 Qxd7 25 Rxa7 Rg6 26 Rfa1 Re6 27 Bd4 Re2 28 h4 Rd2 29 Be3 Rxb2 30 R1a5 b3 31 Rc5+ Kd8 32 Rxb7 Qxb7 33 Rxd5+ Qxd5 34 Bxd5 Rb1+ 35 Kg2 b2 36 Be4 Rd1 37 Bg5+ Ke8 38 Bf6 b1Q 39 Bxb1 Rxb1 40 h5 Kf8 41 g4 Rd1 42 Bb2 Kg8 0-1

23rd January, 2003

AT the end of a relatively uneventful day at the Corus Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Indian grandmaster and world number three Vishy Anand held on to the sole lead after a quick draw against Michal Krasenkow of Poland.

And, with six of the seven games ending in draws (bareev being the only victor of the round by beating Grishcuk) as the tournament heads for the final rest day, Anand holds what could be a crucial half point lead over unlikely challengers for the top spot in Dutch No.1 Loek Van Wely, and the world's top female player Judit Polgar.

It now seems that Ruslan Ponomariov has received a temporary reprieve from the world chess federation, FIDE, who had threatened during the tournament to strip him of his rights as FIDE world champion for his proposed match with Garry Kasparov. FIDE have now deffered any action until after the tournament to allow Ponomariov to put the case for his demands for the match to the Executive Council in person.

The political maneuverings look to be responsible for the bad performances of both Ukrainians: Ponomariov has uncharacteristically lost four games so far and languishes perilously close to the bottom, and Ivanchuk, whom FIDE may replace Ponomariov with as Kasparov's opponent, has now made his ninth consecutive draw. Ivanchuk has now matched the dubious achievements of Belgium aristocrat Count Alberic O'Kelly de Galway, who drew all his games in the nine-round 1957 edition of the tournament.


Standings: 1 V Anand 6/9; 2-3 L Van Wely, J Polgar 5.5; 4-6 A Shirov, A Grischuk, E Bareev 5; 7-11 V Ivanchuk, V Kramnik, A Karpov, V Topalov, T Radjabov 4.5; 12 M Krasenkow 3.5; 13 R Ponomariov 3; 14 J Timman 2.


R Ponomariov - T Radjabov
Corus 'A' (8), King's Indian Defence

1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 d4 0-0 6 Be2 e5 7 0-0 Nc6 8 d5 Ne7 9 b4 Nh5 10 Re1 f5 11 Ng5 Nf6 12 f3 Kh8 13 Rb1 h6 14 Ne6 Bxe6 15 dxe6 fxe4 16 fxe4 Nc6 17 Nd5 Ng8 18 Bd3 Nd4 19 Qg4 g5 20 Qh3 c6 21 Ne3 Qf6 22 Ng4 Qe7 23 Be3 Nxe6 24 g3 Qd7 25 Rf1 d5 26 Rf5 dxc4 27 Bxc4 Nd4 28 Rxf8 Rxf8 29 Qh5 Qd6 30 Kg2 b5 31 Bf7 Nc2 32 Bc5 Qd2+ 33 Nf2 Nf6 34 Qg6 Ng4 35 Kg1 Nce3 36 Bxe3 Nxe3 37 h4 Qe2 38 Qh5 g4 0-1

22nd January, 2003

THE 65th Corus tour nament taking place on the Dutch coast of Wijk aan Zee seems to be merely a pawn in a larger political chess battle this year, as events off the board look as if they are largely responsible for the lacklustre performances of some of the top players.

Negotiations between world chess federation, FIDE, and Ruslan Ponomariov now seem to have reached an impasse. FIDE recently threatened Ponomariov with disqualification if he did not to sign his contract to play Garry Kasparov as part of the reunification plan agreed last year in Prague. Ponomariov, currently playing (and badly) in Wijk aan Zee, reacted with an open letter to FIDE.

The ongoing squabble has now embroiled another Wijk player as FIDE raised the stakes by threatening to replace Ponomariov with fellow Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk as Kasparov's opponent in the match. All of which has resulted in Ponomariov having one of the worst tournaments of his career as he languishes close to the bottom of the table while he negotiates with FIDE; and similarly Ivanchuk's results also indicate that he too is being affected by the dispute, and so far has drawn all of his eight games - five of which have been below 22 moves.

World champion Vladimir Kramnik lengthy lay-off from classical chess also continues to cause concern. His last classical tournament was as far back as June 2001 at Dortmund. At Wijk he's now lost two games and looks nothing like the calibre of player who sensationally took the world title from Kasparov in 2000.

Meanwhile Indian ace Vishy Anand, who has the luxury of not being involved in any of the disputes and arguments from rival camps, has concentrated on the playing front and has effortlessly moved into a half point lead at the end of round eight.


Standings: 1 V Anand 5.5/8; 2-4 L Van Wely, A Grischuk, J Polgar 5; 5 A Shirov 4.5; 6-11 V Ivanchuk, A Karpov, V Kramnik, V Topalov, T Radjabov, E Bareev 4; 12 M Krasenkow 3; 13 R Ponomariov 2.5; 14 J Timman 1.5.


A Shirov - V Kramnik
Corus 'A' (5), Sicilian Sveshnikov

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5 9 Bxf6 gxf6 10 Nd5 f5 11 Bd3 Be6 12 0-0 Bxd5 13 exd5 Ne7 14 c3 Bg7 15 Qh5 e4 16 Bc2 0-0 17 Rae1 Qc8 18 Bb3 a5 19 Qg5 Qb7 20 f3 h6 21 Qg3 a4 22 Bc2 b4 23 Nc4 Qxd5 24 fxe4 Qxc4 25 exf5 Nd5 26 f6 Nxf6 27 Rxf6 Rae8 28 ef1 Re2 29 Bd3 Qc5+ 30 Kh1 Re3 31 R6f3 Rxf3 32 Qxf3 bxc3 33 bxc3 Qe5 34 c4 Kh8 35 Bc2 Qa5 36 Qd3 f5 37 Qxd6 Qc3 38 Bd3 Qd2 39 c5 Qxa2 40 c6 Rg8 41 Qg6 Rf8 42 c7 Qg8 43 Qc6 Rc8 44 Ba6 1-0

21st January, 2003

FORTUNE favoured the brave in a dramatic finale to the AF4C US Championships in Seattle, as chess street fighter Alexander Shabalov took the title and $25,000 first prize after defeating Varuzhan Akobian in an epic encounter.

Going into the final round, eight players, including five former champions, were tied for the lead on 5.5/8; and with the destiny of the crown in their own hands, as all eight were matched up against each other. Surprisingly for so much at stake, and in the glare of the media spotlight, six of the top boards (Ivanov-Kaidanov, Stripunsky-Gulko and Fedorowicz-Benjamin) balked out of a fight and instead opted for the safety of quick draws in the expectations of a multi-player playoff for the title and the record prize money on offer.

Not surprisingly their strategy backfired spectacularly - and in more ways than one! Rather than the disappointment of yet another quick draw with the title on the line, Shabalov and Akobian opted instead for a gladiatorial fight to the finish, which in the process delighted and entertained the packed house that followed every nerve-wracking move. In a tense struggle that ebbed and flowed and was fittingly the last game to finish on the final day, it looked at one stage as if tournament wild card Akobian, 19, had the better of Shabalov.

However, the intriguing match up between the two turned on a slip from Akobian that let Shabalov back in the game - and he didn't look back as he took control of the game, with the breakthrough being made after seven hours of play following a stunning queen sacrifice that won the game and with it the title. "It feels fantastic," said Shabalov, who in the past had tied for the title in 1993 and 2000. "I was the No. 6 seeded player for the tournament, so I was one of the favorites, but I wanted to win the championship outright."

And, in a coded message to the 'guilty six' who had opted out with the early draws that disappointed not only the spectators, the media but also the sponsors, championship patron and Co-Founder of the Af4C, Erik Anderson, shocked everyone during the prize giving ceremony by rewarding both Shabalov and Akobian with a further $5,000 on top of their winnings for having the courage to fight at the board for the title.


Final standings

1 Alexander Shabalov 6.5/9; 2-8 Gregory Kaidanov, Alexander Goldin, Boris Gulko, Joel Benjamin, Alexander Ivanov, Alexander Stripunsky, John Fedorowicz 6/9.


Despite one playoff being avoided in the overall championships, the three leading women players had to come back one day later to contest a playoff for the title and the $12,500 first prize.

And, in a fairytale ending to decide the destination of the title, underdog Anna Hahn caused a major chess upset in the three-way playoff for the crown by beating former champions Jennifer Shahade and Irina Krush by beating both to take the top prize for the biggest win of her career - and a result that shocked many of the commentators and spectators.


A Shabalov - V Akobian
AF4C US Ch (9), French Defence

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nf3 Qb6 6 a3 Nh6 7 b4 cxd4 8 cxd4 Nf5 9 Bb2 Be7 10 h4 h5 11 Bd3 g6 12 Bxf5 gxf5 13 Nc3 Rg8 14 g3 Bd7 15 Bc1 Rc8 16 Ne2 a5 17 b5 Qxb5 18 Bg5 a4 19 Rb1 Qa5+ 20 Kf1 Bxa3 21 Ra1 Qb4 22 Nf4 Rh8 23 Kg2 b5 24 Bf6 Rh6 25 Re1 Qf8 26 Qe2 Be7 27 Bg5 Rh8 28 Rec1 Rb8 29 Rab1 Bxg5 30 hxg5 Qa3 31 g6 fxg6 32 Nxe6 Bxe6 33 Rxc6 Qe7 34 Rxb5 Kf7 35 Ng5+ Qxg5 36 Rc7+ Qe7 37 Rxe7+ Kxe7 38 Rc5 Rhc8 39 Qa6 Rxc5 40 Qa7+ Ke8 41 dxc5 Rc8 42 Qxa4+ Bd7 43 Qd4 Be6 44 f4 Ke7 45 Qb4 Rc6 46 Kh3 Bd7 47 Kh4 Kf7 48 Kg5 Ke7 49 Qb3 Re6 50 Qxd5 Bc6 51 Qa2 Bd7 52 Kh6 Be8 53 Kg7 Bd7 54 Qh2 Rc6 55 Qh4+ Ke8 56 Qf6 Rxf6 57 exf6 Be6 58 c6 g5 59 fxg5 f4 60 g6 fxg3 61 f7+ 1-0

20th January, 2003

IN the past, the title of US Champion was either decided by a match between the two leading players of the day, or by way of an invitational round robins dominated by the likes of Bobby Fischer (8 titles), Sammy Reshevsky (7 titles) or Walter Browne (6 titles). There was even the experiment in the 1990s of an invitational knockout.

However, with a much-needed overhaul needed, last year the America’s Foundation for Chess changed the whole format of the historic national title by expanding the field and opening it up to the masses by way of qualifying tournaments – and to great acclaim. In order to accommodate this expansion with the field rising to 58 players, this inevitable meant that the method of determining the champion would be decided by a Swiss-system.

As with most strong Swiss-system tournaments there is a feeling during the middle rounds that the top players are biding their time, the result being the inevitable logjam at the top. Going into the crucial final rounds of the AF4C US Championships in Seattle, it looked as if Alexander Shabalov, who had a half point lead over the field, was heading towards the title until he lost in the penultimate eighth round to Joel Benjamin.

Shabalov’s loss has now blown the race for the record first prize of $25,000 wide open, and going into the final round there’s a multiple pile-up of eight players (consisting of 5 former champions) on 5.5/8; and on their tail a chasing pack of seven, including former champion Larry Christiansen.


1-8 G Kaidanov, B Gulko, J Benjamin, A Shabalov, A Stripunsky, V Akobian, A Ivanov, J Fedorowicz 5½/8; 9-15 A Goldin, L Christiansen, A Yermolinsky, A Fishbein, D Gurevich, R Burnett, J Sarkar 5.


L Christiansen – S Muhammad
A4FC US Ch. (8), Ruy Lopez

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 b5 6 Bb3 Bb7 7 c3 Be7 8 d4 d6 9 Re1 0-0 10 Nbd2 Nd7 11 Nf1 Na5 12 Bc2 c5 13 dxc5 dxc5 14 Ne3 Qc7 15 Qe2 Nb6 16 b3 Rfe8 17 c4 bxc4 18 bxc4 Bf8 19 Bd2 Nc6 20 Nd5 Nxd5 21 cxd5 Nd4 22 Nxd4 exd4 23 Bb3 Bd6 24 g3 a5 25 Bc4 f5 26 e5 Qf7 27 e6 Qe7 28 Rab1 a4 29 Rb6 Ra7 30 Rxd6 Qxd6 31 Bf4 Qb6 32 d6 Qc6 33 f3 1-0

14th January, 2003

The month of January yet again proves to be a crowded one on the chess front, as the AF4C US Championships in Seattle clashes with the 65th Corus Chess super-tournament that runs until January 26th at the Dutch seaside resort of Wijk aan Zee.

The top group is a fourteen player all-play-all with many of the world's leading players including the Einstein world champion Vladimir Kramnik, former world champion Anatoly Karpov and world number three Vishy Anand.

Only three of the top ten are missing; Garry Kasparov will shortly be playing the computer program Deep Junior in New York while Peter Leko and Michael Adams have decided not to participate. Yet despite the abscence, the average rating is 2701 thus making it a category 19.

The field for the top group, in rating order, is: Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), Viswanathan Anand (India), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine), Evgeny Bareev (Russia), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Alexey Shirov (Spain), Anatoly Karpov (Russia), Judit Polgar (Hungary), Michal Krasenkow (Poland), Loek van Wely (Holland), Jan Timman (Holland), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan).

On the eve of Wijk, news emerged that Ponomariov was being placed under intolerable pressure by FIDE, who had issued the 18-year-old with an ultimanteum after he failed to sign their contract for his proposed world title match with Kasparov as part of their end of the Prague Agreement. Ponomariov is now being threatened by being defaulted in favour of defeated finalist Vassily Ivanchuk after failing to comply with their match conditions. Ponomariov is arguing that, just as Kramnik will have his match with Leko, as champion he should also have the same time control used when he won the FIDE title last January, and the thorny little question of draw odds in the event of a tie in the match - ironically a demand that Kasparov always insisted on himself as champion!

The news may have unsettled Ponomariov who lost badly in the first round to Bareev. However he came storming back in the second round to beat up Kramnik, who looks to be suffering for his lack of match fitness (his last classical tournament was as far back as Dortmund 2001) after missing the stunning 38 Qg6+!


R Ponomariov - V Kramnik
Corus (2), Nimzo-Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Nge2 d5 6 a3 Be7 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 Bd2 Nd7 9 g3 b6 10 Nxd5 exd5 11 Bg2 Nf6 12 0-0 Ne4 13 Rc1 Bb7 14 Qc2 Rc8 15 Rfd1 Bd6 16 Bb4 Qf6 17 Nc3 Nxc3 18 Qxc3 c6 19 Bxd6 Qxd6 20 b4 Rc7 21 a4 Bc8 22 a5 Ba6 23 Ra1 Bb5 24 Rdc1 Re8 25 axb6 axb6 26 Bf1 Bxf1 27 Kxf1 Rb8 28 Ra6 Qd7 29 Kg1 h6 30 Qa3 Rcc8 31 h4 Qf5 32 Ra7 g5 33 h5 Qf3 34 Qd3 Kh8 35 Qa6 Kg7 36 b5 c5 37 dxc5 bxc5 38 Qg6+ 1-0

13th January, 2003

A sole leader has now emerged from the pack after three rounds of the AF4C US Championships taking place in Seattle, as top seed Gregory Kaidanov remains the only player of the elite field of 58 on a maximum score of 3/3.

Kaidanov, 43, moved to the US from Moscow in 1990 and settled in Lexington, Kentucky. Ever since he's never looked back and has established himself as one of the most consistent winners on the notoriously tough US tournament circuit. In 1992 he was the undisputed leader of the Open circuit in the US after winning the World Open, the National Open, the U.S. Open and the Novag Grand Prix.

During his career he's amassed more than 30 international tournaments victories. Among his latest conquests was a memorable return home to his native Moscow in late January of last year, when he stormed to victory at the Aeroflot Open by taking the first prize of $18,500 - regarded as one of the strongest open tournaments in the history of chess with 82 out of 120-player field being seasoned grandmasters.

Yet, despite all his success on the circuit, Kaidanov has never won the coveted US title that was made famous by Bobby Fischer, which this year has a record prize fund of $255,000, with $25,000 slotted for the winner. After a bright start to the defence of his title following an opening round win, defending champion Larry Christiansen now finds himself a full point behind Kaidanov after ceding two draws.


L Kaufman - L Christiansen
AF4C US Ch. (1), Nimzo-Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 c5 5 dxc5 0-0 6 a3 Bxc5 7 Nf3 b6 8 Bf4 Nh5 9 Bg5 Be7 10 h4 f6 11 Bd2 f5 12 e3 Bb7 13 0-0-0 Na6 14 Nd4 Qe8 15 Ndb5 Nf6 16 f3 Qf7 17 Kb1 Rfc8 18 Bc1 d5 19 cxd5 Nxd5 20 Qd2 Nac7 21 Nxc7 Rxc7 22 Nb5 Rd7 23 Bc4 Rc8 24 Qe2 a6 25 Nd4 b5 26 Bb3 Bf6 27 Ka1 Kh8 28 Rhf1 Rdc7 29 Bd2 Qe7 30 g3 g6 31 Rc1 e5 32 Rxc7 Rxc7 33 Nc2 e4 34 Nd4 exf3 35 Qxf3 Nb6 36 Qf2 Bd5 37 Ba5 Bxb3 38 Bxb6 Rc8 39 Ba5 Bg8 40 h5 Qf7 41 b4 Qb3 42 Qb2 Qxe3 43 Bb6 Rc3 0-1

2003 US Chess Championships, 9-18 January Northwest Rooms, Seattle

Round 2

At the end of day two of the AF4C US Chess Championships taking place in Seattle, there’s a five-way tie at the top as the elite 58 chess player’s from around the US do battle once again for the crown made famous by Bobby Fischer, which this year has a record prize fund of $255,000 – the biggest annual prize for a chess tournament anywhere in the world.

When Fischer won his record-breaking eighth title in 1966, he only took home $2,500. This year there’s $25,000 slotted for the winner of the nine round event taking place at the Northwest Rooms at the Seattle Centre, which runs daily until 18 January.

Early leaders on full points with two wins from two games are top seed Gregory Kaidanov (Kentucky), Yury Lapshun (Brooklyn), Gennadi Zaitshik (Philadelphia), Varuzhan Akobian (California) and Jesse Kraai (New Mexico) – four of whom will have to play each other in round three. On their tail however is an ominous chasing pack of 16 just a half point behind the pace setters, including defending champion Larry Christiansen (Massachusetts) and six-time former champion Walter Browne (California), who celebrated his 54th birthday during round two. We organised a present of a bottle of vintage wine for Walter and it was placed by his board. We even went as far as wishing this living-legend a Happy Birthday before the start of play. We were even prepared to give him a rousing rendition of 'Happy Birthday'. Typically Walter arrived 5 minutes late and missed everything!

Big shock of the day was the defeat of second seed Alexander Goldin, formerly of Israel. Though he's been in the United States for quite a few years now, this is his first Championship and he is one of the pre-tournament favourites. He has won numerous tournaments in the USA, and managed to maintain a very high FIDE rating (he is 2621 in January 2003) while playing in these opens. His defeat to IM Yury Lapshun therefore comes as a big surprise - and also makes Goldin's task of becoming one of the few to win on their debut even harder.

Also falling behind at an early stage is three-time winner and local hero Yasser Seirawan. A second successive draw to tournament 'old hand' Anatoly Lein (a sprightful 71) likewise leaves Seirawan one point of the lead and leaves him now playing catch-up with the leaders. Someone who is however pleased with her two draws is last year's woman's champion Jennifer Shahade, who looks to be continuing where she left off last year. After an opening round draw with Hikaru Nakamura, the defending champion followed this up with a solid draw against GM Gregory Serper.

US Championships, Round 2:

1 GM Gregory Kaidanov 1-0 GM Alex Fishbein; 2 Julia Shiber 0-1 GM Gennadi Zaitshik; 3 GM Boris Gulko draw GM Walter Browne; 4 GM Dmitry Gurevich draw GM Alexander Shabalov; 5 WIM Jennifer Shahade draw GM Gregory Serper; 6 GM Larry Christiansen draw IM Eugene Perelshteyn; 7 GM Maurice Ashley draw GM Alex Yermolinsky; 8 IM Yury Lapshun 1-0 GM Alexander Goldin; 9 GM Nick De Firmian draw FM Igor Foygel; 10 IM Ben Finegold 0-1 IM Jesse Kraai; 11 IM Michael Mulyar 0-1 IM Varuzhan Akobian; 12 GM Anatoly Lein draw GM Yasser Seirawan; 13 GM Joel Benjamin draw FM Stephen Muhammad; 14 IM John Donaldson 0-1 GM Alexander Stripunsky; 15 WGM Irina Krush 1-0 Anna Levina; 16 GM Alexander Ivanov draw IM Stanislav Kriventsov; 17 GM Sergey Kudrin 1-0 David Pruess; 18 IM John Watson 0-1 IM Hikaru Nakamura; 19 IM Boris Kreiman draw IM Justin Sarkar; 20 GM John Fedorowicz 1-0 FM Allan Bennett; 21 WGM Elena Donaldson 1-0 WIM Olga Sagalchik; 22 IM Greg Shahade 1-0 FM Gregory Markzon; 23 Marc Esserman 0-1 FM Tegshsuren Enhbat; 24 IM William Paschall 1-0 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg; 25 WIM Anna Hahn 0-1 FM Aaron Pixton; 26 IM Dean Ippolito 1-0 WIM Esther Epstein; 27 WIM Cindy Tsai 0-1 IM Ron Burnett; 28 WFM Laura Ross draw IM Larry Kaufman; 29 WIM Elina Groberman draw WGM Kamile Baginskaite.


Leader board: 1-5 Kaidanov, Akobian, Zaitshik, Lapshun, Kraai 2/2; 6-19 Gulko, Shabalov, De Firmian, Stripunsky, Christiansen, Yermolinsky, Kudrin, Nakamura, Fedorowicz, Browne, Gurevich, Foygel, Ashley, Perelshteyn 1½; 20-42 Goldin, Seirawan, Benjamin, Finegold, Ivanov, Serper, Kreiman, Fishbein, Mulyar, G. Shahade, Enkhbat, Paschall, Pixton, Kriventsov, Ippolito, Burnett, Lein, E. Donaldson, Krush, Muhammad, Sarkar, J. Shahade, Shiber 1; 43-52 J. Donaldson, Kaufman, Baginskaite, Watson, Pruess, Bennett, Ross, Groberman, Markzon, Esserman ½; 53-58 Battsetseg, Hahn, Epstein, Tsai, Sagalchik, Levina 0

You can follow all 29 games live over the Internet at www.af4c.org.


About America’s Foundation for Chess

Founded in 2000, America's Foundation for Chess (formerly the Seattle Chess Foundation) is committed to bringing chess into every U.S. classroom. By first making chess a larger part of America's cultural fabric — accessible in schools and in popular culture — AF4C hopes to elevate the profile of chess in America. To this end, AF4C is providing chess instruction materials and training to teachers, who have little or no chess background. In addition, by sponsoring high-level competitions such as the U.S. Chess Championships, AF4C is cultivating chess role models and a venue for chess excellence in America. By forging partnerships with schools and corporations, AF4C plans to make chess a part of every classroom experience.

10th January, 2003

FOR the third year running, hip Seattle plays host to the cerebral challenge of the prestigious US Chess Championships, as the country's top chess masters battle it out (from January 9-18) for a cool quarter of a million dollars.

Since taking over the rights to one of the most historic national titles in 2000, the America's Foundation for Chess (www.af4c.org) has dramatically increased the prize fund. With a further hike this year of $50,000, the event offers a record prize fund of $255,000, with $25,000 slotted for the winner - a far cry from 1966 when Bobby Fischer took home only $2,500 after winning his record-breaking eighth US title.

Twenty top players (12 men, 8 women) - including defending champions Larry Christiansen and Jennifer Shahade, and the 2001 and 2002 Us Junior champions Aaron Pixton and Hikaru Nakamura - were automatically seeded into the new open-format event. Also competing will be 36 players (32 men, 4 women) who battled for a cherished spot in some of the many qualifying events held throughout the U.S., such as the National Open, the U.S. Masters, Foxwoods Open, the Chicago Open, the World Open and the U.S. Open. The field is completed with two top junior wild card entries determined by the AF4C, which this year went to Laura Ross, 14, and 2002 recipient of the prestigious Samford Fellowship. 18-year-old Varuzhan Akobian.

The North American Open, held December 26-29 at Ballys Casino in Las Vegas, saw a big jump in attendance with over 600 players competing, including 17 Grandmasters. GMs Nikola Mitkov of Macedonia and Ildar Ibragimov, formerly of Russia but now representing the United States, shared the first prize of $5,000 in the Open section after both players tied for first with a final score of 5 from 6.


I Ibragimov - T Ishkhamov
North American Open (2), QGD Tarrasch Defence

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 e3 e6 4 Nc3 d5 5 Nf3 Nc6 6 cxd5 exd5 7 Bb5 c4 8 0-0 a6 9 Bxc6+ bxc6 10 Ne5 Bd6 11 Qa4 0-0 12 b3 cxb3 13 axb3 c5 14 Ba3 Qc7 15 Rac1 Bxe5 16 dxe5 Qxe5 17 Bxc5 Bd7 18 Qa3 Rfc8 19 Bd4 Qg5 20 Bxf6 gxf6 21 h4 Qe5 22 Na4 Bb5 23 Rfd1 Rxc1 24 Qxc1 Bxa4 25 bxa4 Rd8 26 Rd4 f5 27 g3 Kg7 28 Qc5 Rd6 29 a5 Qe6 30 Rb4 Rc6 31 Qd4+ Qf6 32 Qxf6+ Kxf6 33 Rb6 Re6 34 Kg2 Ke5 35 Rb7 d4 36 exd4+ Kxd4 37 Rxf7 Re2 38 Kf3 Ra2 39 Kf4 Rc2 40 Rxh7 Re2 41 Ra7 Kc3 42 h5 Kb4 43 h6 1-0

9th January, 2003

FOLLOWING hard on the heels of Garry Kasparov's recent defeat to arch-rival Anatoly Karpov in New York, the world No.1 was hit by a double whammy of an underhand legal move that has now led to the cancellation of the warm-up leg of his match against the Israeli supercomputer Deep Junior.

Whist recovering from his defeat in the US, Kasparov received the sort of 'present' you don't want to receive on Christmas Eve as the First International Bank of Israel (FIBI) threatened to personally sue the former world champion for failing to repay a $1.6 million debt owed by his dot com folly Kasparov Chess Online, which went spectacularly out of business last year losing millions.

The legal move was soon put into check after being rebuffed by a US judge in Delaware, who refused to grant FIBI a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction against Kasparov Chess Online and several of its board members. The ruling came after the Israeli bank filed to force the company to reconnect its Web site on the theory that this would assist in trying to recoup the $1.6 million the bank loaned the failed Internet venture.

"At the end of the day, this is about a financial institution trying to squeeze individuals to pay a corporate obligation," said Kasparov's attorney Richard Conn. "The bank was attempting to seize permanent control of the world-class asset of Garry Kasparov's name and likeness."

Although the directors associated with Kasparov had majority control of the company in theory, the physical location of the site was in Israel, and the Israeli directors refused to comply with instructions from the majority Kasparov directors and insisted on the continuing use of Kasparov's name and likeness. The Israeli directors are believed to have utilized their personal relationships with the Israeli bank to obtain the loan.

Ignoring customary practices, the bank sought to hold both the company and its corporate directors responsible for the loan. The company's directors did not guarantee the loan. However, First International Bank of Israel did not sue the company's entire board of directors, but instead sued only those directors associated with Garry Kasparov and excluded the company's Israeli directors from the suit.

Despite the partial legal victory, Kasparov has been forced to cancel the intended two-game warm-up match in Israel, which was due to start this week in Tel Aviv. Fearing an archaic Israeli law that could have seen the removal of his passport pending a further case whilst there, on legal advice Kasparov has now cancelled, and will now only play the all-important six-game match of his $1 million Man vs. Machine World Championship challenge, which is due to start January 26th in New York.


A Kosteniuk - L McShane
Hastings Premier (9), Sicilian Sveshnikov

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5 9 Bxf6 gxf6 10 Nd5 f5 11 Bd3 Be6 12 0-0 Bxd5 13 exd5 Ne7 14 c4 e4 15 Be2 Bg7 16 Qd2 bxc4 17 Nxc4 0-0 18 Rac1 Rb8 19 b4 Rb5 20 Ne3 f4 21 Nc2 Rxd5 22 Qxf4 Re5 23 Bxa6 d5 24 Rcd1 f5 25 Bc4 Kh8 26 Rfe1 Qc8 27 Bb3 Ng6 28 Qc1 f4 29 Rxd5 Nh4 30 Qd1 f3 31 Rxe5 Bxe5 32 Rxe4 Rd8 33 Nd4 Bf6 34 g3 Nf5 35 Qxf3 Rxd4 36 Re6 Rd2 37 Rxf6 Nd4 38 Rf8+ 1-0

8th January, 2003

THE line-up for the Spanish super-tournament at Linares has just been announced, and it looks likely to be one of the highlights of the year with a full-bloodied confrontation on the cards between the four players who this summer are set to contest two world championship matches.

Taking part in the tournament, regarded by many as the 'Wimbledon of Chess', will be Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Leko and Ruslan Ponomariov, who will all play each other for two vying world titles - the winner's of which, according to the Prague Agreement, will then go forward to play in a unification match scheduled to be played before the end of 2003. And, just to spice up the field, the remaining contestants at Linares will be world No.3 Vishy Anand, Teimour Radjabov and Spanish ace Francisco Vallejo Pons. Though the dates haven't been finalized yet, the Linares tournament looks set to run 22nd February to 9th March.

Another fine year-ending tradition can also be found in Spain, where the Basque city of Pamplona, perhaps best known for letting people with suicidal streaks to run with the bulls during the San Fermin Festival, plays host to a somewhat safer and more sedate attraction of a chess festival.

The Pamplona 2002 Festival took place 21st-28th December, with the main feature being a double round robin four-player Category 16 event. Rustam Kasimdzhanov won a blitz playoff 2-0 against Viktor Bologan after the players tied for first place.


Final Standings: 1-2 GM R Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan), GM V Bologan (Macedonia) 3.5/6; 3 GM F Vallejo Pons (Spain) 3; 4 GM I Sokolov (Netherlands) 2.


V Bologan - R Kasimdzhanov
Pamplona (2), Petroff's Defence

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 d6 4 Nf3 Nxe4 5 d4 d5 6 Bd3 Nc6 7 0-0 Be7 8 c4 Nf6 9 h3 Nb4 10 Be2 dxc4 11 Bxc4 0-0 12 Nc3 Nbd5 13 Re1 c6 14 Qb3 Nb6 15 Bd3 Be6 16 Qc2 h6 17 a3 Nbd5 18 Na4 Nd7 19 Bd2 Re8 20 Rad1 Bf6 21 Ne5 Qc7 22 f4 Nf8 23 Nc5 Rad8 24 Bc1 Bc8 25 Qf2 Ne6 26 Ne4 Be7 27 Bc4 Nf8 28 f5 Nh7 29 Bf4 Qb6 30 Bxh6 gxh6 31 Qg3+ Ng5 32 h4 f6 33 hxg5 hxg5 34 Ng6 Kf7 35 Qh3 Kg7 36 Bxd5 cxd5 37 Nf2 Bd6 38 Rxe8 Rxe8 39 Ng4 Bxf5 40 Qh6+ Kf7 41 Nh8+ 1-0

7th January, 2003

THE Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen has won the 78th Hastings Premier in dramatic style, as the second seed rode a virtual rollercoaster of a tournament to take the first prize of £2,000.

Leading at one stage by a full point, Nielsen suffered a major setback en route to victory following two successive defeats. However he soon fought his way back into first place by proving to be the most aggressive and determined player in the field, and a penultimate round victory over co-leader Pentala Harikrishna clinched the title and first place for the Dane.

And, with a quick last round draw against Keith Arkell, Nielsen secured himself outright first on 6/9; in the process emulating the feats of his more famous countryman Bent Larsen, who during the 1960s and 1970s was a perennial favourite at the world’s most famous international tournament.

Just a half point behind in joint second was British Grand Prix winner Keith Arkell (the only unbeaten player in the field, who was also making his debut at the Premier), and Harikrishna on 5.5/9. Despite proving to be tough opposition at times, the young GMs Sergey Karjakin and Luke McShane couldn’t raise their game high enough to cause a major sensation by winning the tournament.


Final Standings: 1 GM P Heine Nielsen (Denmark) 6/9; 2-3 GM K Arkell (England), GM P Harikrishna (India) 5.5; 4-5 GM A Barsov (Uzbekistan), GM S Karjakin (Ukraine) 5; 6-7 GM L McShane (England), GM K Sasikiran (India) 4.5; 8 GM G Flear (England) 4; 9 WGM A Kosteniuk (Russia) 3; 10 GM V Tseshkovsky (Russia) 2.


P Nielsen - P Harikrishna
Hastings Premier (8), Catalan Opening

1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 g3 d5 4 d4 Bb4+ 5 Bd2 Be7 6 Bg2 c6 7 Qb3 Nbd7 8 Bf4 0-0 9 0-0 b6 10 Nc3 Ba6 11 cxd5 exd5 12 Rfd1 Re8 13 Ne5 Bb7 14 e4 Nf8 15 Nxc6 Bxc6 16 exd5 Bb7 17 d6 Bxg2 18 dxe7 Qxe7 19 Kxg2 Ne6 20 Be3 Ng4 21 Re1 Qf6 22 d5 Nxe3+ 23 Rxe3 Nd4 24 Rxe8+ Rxe8 25 Qd1 Nf5 26 Qd2 Qe5 27 Rd1 Nd6 28 Qd3 g6 29 Rd2 Qf6 30 Re2 Rxe2 31 Qxe2 Qd4 32 Qd1 Qb4 33 Qd2 Kf8 34 b3 Nf5 35 Qd3 Nd6 36 Ne2 Qe1 37 Nc3 Qe5 38 Qe3 Qf5 39 Qd4 Kg8 40 a4 Qd7 41 Qe5 h5 42 h3 Kf8 43 f3 Qc7 44 g4 hxg4 45 fxg4 Qc5 46 Kf3 Qb4 47 Ke2 Qa3 48 Kd3 Qb4 49 h4 Ne8 50 Qd4 Qa3 51 h5 gxh5 52 gxh5 Kg8 53 Qe5 Qf8 54 Ne4 f5 55 Ng5 Nf6 56 Qxf5 Qh6 57 d6 Nxh5 58 d7 Qd6+ 59 Ke3 Qe7+ 1-0

SEATTLE -- For the third year running, hip Seattle plays host to the cerebral challenge of the prestigious US Chess Championships, as 58 of the country's top chess masters battle it out over nine rounds (9-18 January) for the biggest prize in chess history for a national title.

Since taking over the ailing historic championships in 2000, the America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C) has now boosted the prize fund to make the event the biggest annual prize in chess anywhere in the world. With an increase this year of a further $50,000, the prize fund increases to an unprecedented $250,000, with $25,000 slotted for the winner - all a far cry from 1966 when Bobby Fischer, after winning his record-breaking eighth US title, took home only $2,500.

Twenty top-rated players (12 men, 8 women) - including the 2002 U.S. Champions Larry Christiansen and Jennifer Shahade, and the 2001 and 2002 U.S. Junior Champions, Hikaru Nakamura and Aaron Pixton - were automatically seeded into the event. Also competing will be 36 players (32 men, 4 women) who survived the qualifying events held at the U.S. Masters, the National Open, Foxwoods Open, the Chicago Open, the World Open and the U.S. Open.

In our search to find the new Bobby Fischer, this new open-competition format has allowed many young, non-titled players to compete for the first time for a cherished spot in the national championship. And in addition to the above field, the AF4C board, in furthering their mission of promoting chess among young people, has allocated their two wildcard entries to 16-year-old Laura Ross, as well as the winner of the prestigious 2002 Samford Fellowship, 18-year-old Varuzhan Akobian.

The full playing field (including pictures and biographies) for the championship and details of the AF4C can be found on our website at www.af4c.org. The nine-round event, starting daily at 1.30 pm to close of play at 7.30pm, will run from January 9-18 (rest day Tuesday, 14th January) at the Seattle Center, home to Seattle's famous landmark, the Space Needle.

6th January, 2003

WHILE the first day of January heralds in a new year, for the chess world it also sees the publication of the latest FIDE rating list, which since Prof. Arpad Elo's mathematical system was universally accepted in 1970, has been the most reliable guide to the form and world rankings of chess players.

As ever, the new list shows Garry Kasparov as world No.1, as he pulls away from the chasing pack following his superb Olympiad performance that saw an increase in his rating by a further 9 points to 2847, just 4 points shy of his all-time high.

Kasparov first took the coveted top spot on the January 1st list of 1984, when he replaced arch-rival Anatoly Karpov (who has now dropped to 20th on 2688 in the latest list) with a rating of 2710. And, apart from the 'blip' of the July 1985 list, when Karpov temporarily regained the top spot, and the January 1996 list, when Vladimir Kramnik took, by virtue of playing more games took also took the top spot, Kasparov has continually held the title of world No.1.

In the January list of 1995, Kasparov reached a new milestone in the game when he became the first player in the history of chess to break the 2800 barrier; going on to reach his highest ever rating of 2851 on the July list of 1999.


Top 14 players (all 2700 and above): 1 G Kasparov 2847 (+9); 2 V Kramnik 2807 (=); 3 V Anand 2753 (-2); 4 V Topalov 2743 (=); 5 P Leko 2736 (-7); 6 M Adams 2734 (-11); 7 R Ponomariov 2734 (-9); 8 E Bareev 2729 (-8); 9 A Shirov 2723 (+24); 10 A Grischuk 2712 (+10); 11 V Akopian 2703 (+14); 12 A Khalifman 2702 (+12); 13 J Polgar 2700 (+15); 14 B Gelfand 2700  (-4).


A Barsov - A Kosteniuk
Hastings Premier (6), Semi-Slav Defence

1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c6 4 e3 Nf6 5 Nf3 Nbd7 6 Qc2 Bd6 7 g4 Bb4 8 Bd2 Qe7 9 Bd3 dxc4 10 Bxc4 b5 11 Be2 Bb7 12 g5 Bxc3 13 bxc3 Nd5 14 a4 bxa4 15 c4 Nb4 16 Bxb4 Qxb4+ 17 Kf1 Qe7 18 c5 e5 19 Qe4 exd4 20 Qxe7+ Kxe7 21 exd4 h6 22 Rg1 hxg5 23 Rxg5 g6 24 Kg2 a5 25 Bd1 Nf8 26 Rb1 Ra7 27 Bxa4 f6 28 Re1+ Kd8 29 Rg4 g5 30 d5 Ng6 31 dxc6 Bc8 32 Rd4+ Kc7 33 Rd6 Nf4+ 34 Kg1 Kb8 35 Rb1+ Ka8 36 Nd4 Nh3+ 37 Kf1 Rc7 38 Rb6 Nf4 39 Nb5 Re7 40 Rd7 Bxd7 41 Nc7+ 1-0

2nd January, 2003

A sole leader has finally emerged from the leading pack in the 78th Hastings Premier taking place at the Horntye Park Sports Complex on the Sussex coast, as second seed Peter Heine Nielsen moves into a half point lead at the end of the third round.

After beating Vitaly Tseshkovsky, Nielsen has now established a half point lead over the chasing pack with an unbeaten score of 2.5/3. His overnight co-leaders missed the chance to join him at the top as Alexandra Kosteniuk lost a hard-fought game to Pentyla Harikrishna, and Keith Arkell drew with Krishnan Sasikiran.

After losing in just twenty moves in the opening round to Nielsen, 12-year-old Sergey Karjakin bounced back with a marathon 109 move win in round two as the youngster ground down Glenn Flear. However Karjakin, who is the world's youngest ever grandmaster, suffered another setback on his Hastings debut after being similarly ground down in 80 moves by Luke McShane, the UK's youngest ever grandmaster.

McShane recently returned home with the silver medal after his performance at the world junior championships in Goa, India; in the process becoming the first UK medallist in the event since Nigel Short was runner-up to Garry Kasparov in 1980.


Leader board: 1 GM PH Nielsen (Denmark) 2.5/3; 2-3 GM K Arkell (England), GM P Harikrishna (India) 2; 4-7 WGM A Kosteniuk (Russia), GM K Sasikiran (India), GM V Barsov (Uzbekistan), GM L McShane (England) 1.5; 8-9 GM G Flear (England), GM S Karjakin (Ukraine) 1; 10 GM V Tseshkovsky (Russia) 0.5.


P Nielsen - V Tseshkovsky
Hastings Premier (3), Benko Gambit

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 b5 4 Nf3 g6 5 cxb5 a6 6 b6 d6 7 Nc3 Nbd7 8 a4 a5 9 e4 Bg7 10 Be2 0-0 11 0-0 Nxb6 12 Bf4 Bg4 13 h3 Bxf3 14 Bxf3 Nfd7 15 Rb1 c4 16 Be3 Qc8 17 Qc2 Rb8 18 Nb5 Rb7 19 Bg4 h5 20 Bxd7 Nxd7 21 Rfc1 Ne5 22 b3 Nd3 23 Rd1 Nb4 24 Qxc4 f5 25 Qxc8 Rxc8 26 exf5 gxf5 27 Rbc1 Rbb8 28 Rxc8+ Rxc8 29 Bb6 Rc2 30 Bxa5 Na6 31 Bd8 Kf7 32 a5 Rb2 33 Nd4 Bxd4 34 Rxd4 Rxb3 35 Rf4 e6 36 dxe6+ Kxe6 37 Rh4 Nc5 38 Rxh5 Ra3 39 Rh6+ Kd7 40 Bb6 1-0

1st January, 2003

TO many people, the Sussex coastal resort of Hastings is famed for a historic clash of arms in 1066. The famous battle also proved to be the turning point for chess in Britain, as the Norman Conquest is believed to have introduced the game to these shores.

Ever since, 'Hastings' and 'chess' have become synonymous with each other. The great interest shown in the game during the Victorian era of the 1880s led to the first Hastings Congress of 1895 - widely regarded even to this day as the greatest chess tournament ever held, as America's Harry Pillsbury, amongst a field that contained the world's top twelve players, unexpectedly took first place ahead of the Russian champion Mikhail Chigorin and newly-crowned world champion Emanuel Lasker.

And, since 1920 (when the Christmas and New Year tradition started), Hastings has become something of an institution with nearly all the world champions (save for Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik) of the game being lured there by the fine tradition of the longest-running tournament in chess history.

After two rounds of the 78th Hastings Premier taking place at the Horntye Park Sports Complex, three players - Peter Heine Nielsen, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Keith Arkell - with an unbeaten score of 1.5/2, share the early lead.


Leader board: 1-3 GM PH Nielsen (Denmark), WGM A Kosteniuk (Russia), GM K Arkell (England) 1.5/2; 4-7 GM K Sasikiran (India), GM A Barsov (Uzbekistan), GM S Karjakin (Ukraine), GM P Harikrishna (India) 1; 8-10 GM V Tseshkovsky (Russia), GM G Flear (England), GM L McShane (England) 0.5.


V Tseshkovsky - A Kosteniuk
Hastings Premier (2), King's Indian Attack

1 g3 d5 2 Bg2 Nf6 3 d3 c6 4 Nd2 Bg4 5 h3 Bf5 6 e4 Bg6 7 f4 e6 8 Qe2 Be7 9 g4 h6 10 Ngf3 Qb6 11 f5 Bh7 12 fxe6 fxe6 13 exd5 exd5 14 Kd1 c5 15 Re1 Nc6 16 g5 hxg5 17 Nxg5 Bg6 18 Nc4 Bh5 19 Nxb6 Bxe2+ 20 Rxe2 axb6 21 c3 Kd7 22 Ne6 Rh7 23 Nf4 d4 24 h4 dxc3 25 bxc3 Bd6 26 Bh3+ Kc7 27 Ne6+ Kb8 28 Bg5 Nd5 29 Rc1 Ra3 30 Rec2 g6 31 Bg2 Nde7 32 Rb1 Ka7 33 Be4 Rf7 34 Rb3 Ra4 35 Rcb2 Ra6 36 Re2 Ra4 37 Reb2 Ra6 38 Bxe7 Rxe7 39 Bxc6 bxc6 40 Nd8 b5 0-1

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