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The Scotsman

Chess News March 2003

to "The Scotsman" chess column

31st March, 2003

WITH a decisive final round blindfold win over nearest rival Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, India's Vishy Anand extended his lead at the top for a decisive victory ahead of the field in the 12th Amber Tournament in Monte Carlo.

Anand, who beat Topalov 1.5-0.5 for a final tally of 14.5/22, took the title a full point ahead of Peter Leko of Hungary and defending champion Alexander Morozevich of Russia. This was Anand's third victory at the Amber tournament, his others being in 1994 and 1997.

However, unlike Anand's last victory here in 1997, when he dominated the event to take all three titles (Rapid, Blindfold and Combined), the Indian ace only won the champion's crown this year - the first time in the history of this unique event, the only one in the chess world that combines the disciplines of Rapid and Blindfold, that the overall winner hasn't also took one of the individual titles.

The winner of the Rapid event was Evgeny Bareev of Russia on 8/11; a half point ahead of Anand and Leko. In the Blindfold event, world champion Vladimir Kramnik took the title on 8/11, a full point ahead of Morozevich.

Maecenas Mr JJ Van Oosterom, a wealthy Dutch chess enthusiast who is also one of the world's leading correspondence grandmasters, sponsors this annual tournament held in Monte Carlo to celebrate the birthday of his daughter, Melody Amber. The prize fund for the event is $193,250 with awards for the best scores in each section and overall.


Combined standings: 1 V Anand (India) 14.5/22; 2-3 P Leko (Hungary), A Morozevich (Russia) 13.5; 4-5 V Kramnik (Russia), V Topalov (Bulgaria) 13; 6 B Gelfand (Israel) 12; 7 A Shirov (Spain); 8 E Bareev (Russia) 11; 9 Z Almasi (Hungary) 9.5; 10 V Ivanchuk (Ukraine) 9; 11 L Van Wely (Netherlands) 8; 12 L Ljubojevic, (Yugoslavia) 3.5.


V Anand - V Topalov
Amber Blindfold (11), Sicilian Sveshnikov

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Nd5 Nxd5 8 exd5 Nb8 9 c4 Be7 10 Bd3 0-0 11 0-0 Bd7 12 a4 f5 13 c5 Bxb5 14 axb5 e4 15 c6 Nd7 16 Be2 Ne5 17 f4 exf3 18 gxf3 Bf6 19 Kh1 b6 20 Ra2 Qc7 21 f4 Ng6 22 b3 Ne7 23 Bc4 Rae8 24 Re1 Nc8 25 Rae2 Rxe2 26 Rxe2 Qf7 27 Re6 Re8 28 Qe2 Kf8 29 Ba3 Rxe6 30 dxe6 Qe7 31 Bd5 g6 32 Qc2 Qc7 33 Bb2 Qg7 34 Bxf6 Qxf6 35 c7 Qd4 36 Bb7 Qxf4 37 Qc4 Qf2 38 Bxc8 Qe1+ 39 Kg2 Qd2+ 40 Kf3 d5 41 Qf4 Qc3+ 42 Kg2 Qc2+ 43 Kh3 1-0

28th March, 2003

LOOKING for his third Amber title, world number three Vishy Anand, who has won previously in 1994 and 1997, takes a slender lead into the crucial final round of the 12th edition of the tournament taking place at the Vista Palace Hotel in Monte Carlo.

With just one more round remaining in the 12-player double round robin tournament that uniquely combines blindfold and rapidplay games in each round, Anand holds a half point lead over his nearest rivals Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Linares champion Peter Leko of Hungary in the overall combined standings. However, in the final round, Anand faces a potentially difficult encounter with nearest rival Topalov - a match up that could ultimately decide the overall winner of the $193,250 tournament.

Defending champion Alexander Morozevich has slipped to fourth spot in the combined standings, while Boris Gelfand was knocked totally out of contention by being relegated from fourth to sixth position in the space of just two rounds, when the Israeli lost to world champion Vladimir Kramnik by 0.5-1.5 in round nine, and by a similar margin to Alexei Shirov in round ten.

In the blindfold event, Kramnik leads on 7.5/10, a full point ahead of Morozevich; while in the rapidplay, Evgeny Bareev leads on 7.5/10, half a point ahead of Anand.


Combined standings: 1 V Anand (India) 13/20; 2-3 P Leko (Hungary), V Topalov (Bulgaria) 12.5; 4 A Morozevich (Russia) 12; 5 V Kramnik (Russia), 11.5; 6 B Gelfand (Israel) 11; 7-8 A Shirov, (Spain), E Bareev (Russia) 10; 9 Z Almasi (Hungary) 9; 10 V Ivanchuk (Ukraine) 8; 11 L Van Wely (Netherlands) 7.5; 12 L Ljubojevic (Yugoslavia) 3.


A Shirov - B Gelfand
Amber Blindfold (10), 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 Nb4 9 Be2 0-0 10 Nc3 Bf5 11 a3 Nxc3 12 bxc3 Nc6 13 Re1 Re8 14 cxd5 Qxd5 15 Bf4 Rac8 16 Qa4 Bd7 17 Rab1 Qf5 18 Bg3 Bf8 19 Rb5 Qf6 20 Rxb7 Nd8 21 Qxd7 Nxb7 22 Be5 Qd8 23 Qg4 Nd6 24 h4 Rb8 25 c4 f6 26 c5 fxe5 27 cxd6 cxd6 28 dxe5 Be7 29 Bd3 Rf8 30 Qh5 g6 31 Bxg6 hxg6 32 Qxg6+ Kh8 33 Re4 Rxf3 34 Qh6+ Kg8 35 Rg4+ 1-0

27th March, 2003

PERHAPS the purists prefer trudging down to a drafty hall on a wet evening, but one of the most vibrant chess clubs in the world can be accessed from the comfort of your own home - and with a 24-7 service!

The Internet Chess Club (ICC) has a reputed worldwide membership of over 25,000 logging in at www.chessclub.com, where, for an annual fee of $49 ($24 for students, and there's a seven-day free trial period for all), they host a variety of events that caters for all levels of play from Grandmaster to beginner.

The ICC is radically changing the way chess enthusiasts play, learn, and communicate. Once logged on (and usually with a nom de guerre, such as "PORTER", the Russian GM Vladimir Potkin, who recently won the Dos Hermanas ICC event), members can play games and get a rating, watch grandmasters play while discussing the game, take lessons, play in tournaments, play in simultaneous exhibitions, try chess variants or simply play a top chess program.

Today the ICC is firmly established as the premier on-line chess club. PC Computing Magazine includes the ICC in its annual "Best of the Web" list, and the activities of the ICC have been described by Forbes, Newsweek, The Economist, the New York Times, Chess Life, and New in Chess.

Online tournaments hosted by the ICC, such as the recent Dos Hermanas event, which attracted an entry of 1,117 players from 75 countries, are proving popular. Top British player Luke McShane, who plays under the highly-original title of "MCSHANE", reached the quarterfinals of the 5,000 euro event, before losing out to defeated Argentinean finalist GM Pablo Zarnicki - who must have had nerves of steel as the kitchen sink was being thrown at him to find all the accurate moves. If 24 ..Kxg8, 25 Rg6+ mates.


L McShane - P Zarnicki
Dos Hermanas ICC (3.2), French Tarrasch

1 d4 e6 2 e4 d5 3 Nd2 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 f4 c5 6 c3 Nc6 7 Ndf3 Qb6 8 a3 a5 9 b3 Be7 10 h4 0-0 11 Bd3 f5 12 Be3 cxd4 13 cxd4 Bxa3 14 g4 Bb4+ 15 Kf1 fxg4 16 Ng5 Ndxe5 17 Bxh7+ Kh8 18 Kg2 Nd7 19 h5 Nf6 20 Qd3 Ne7 21 h6 Bd7 22 Bf2 gxh6 23 Rxh6 Bb5 24 Bg8+ Kg7 25 Rh7+ Kxg8 26 Qc2 Rac8 27 Qb1 Nf5 28 Rh1 Qc6 29 Ra2 Qc1 0-1

26th March, 2003

WORLD number one Garry Kasparov once remarked a few years ago, that "chess is the perfect medium for the Internet." He was proved right as chess fans around the world now watch in their thousands live, online coverage of big tournaments such as Linares and Wijk aan Zee.

Sometimes the GMs don't even have to leave the confines of their homes to earn a living thanks to the growth of Internet chess. With a total prize fund of 4,850 euros, players can opt for events such as the IV Internet Chess Tournament Ciudad de Dos Hermanas, hosted by the Internet Chess Club (ICC), held 14-22 March.

This online event, sponsored by the Spanish city of Dos Hermanas and now in its fourth year, proved popular as ever - 1,117 players (from 75 countries) entering to play online, among them 67 Grandmasters and 103 International Masters.

Eventually the field was whittled down to 32 top players who met in the knockout finals over the weekend. Russian GM Vladimir Potkin (whose playing handle on the ICC is "PORTER") won through to the best of two game final to play Argentinean GM Pablo Zarnicki. In final, Potkin defeated Zarnicki 2-0 to take the first prize of 1500 euro (with the runner up taking 750 euro). Top placed British player was GM Luke McShane, who lost out 1.5-0.5 in the quarterfinals to the beaten finalist.


1 GM V Potkin (Russia); 2 GM P Zarnicki (Argentina); 3-4 GM V Golod (Israel), IM R Reinaldo (Spain); 5-8 GM K Sakaev (Russia), GM L McShane (England), GM C Bauer (France), IM C Balogh (Hungary).


V Potkin - P Zarnicki
Dos Hermanas ICC (5.1), Sicilian Sozin

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bc4 Qb6 7 Nb3 e6 8 Bf4 Ne5 9 Be2 Bd7 10 Qd2 Be7 11 0-0-0 0-0 12 g4 Bc6 13 f3 Rfd8 14 Be3 Qc7 15 g5 Ne8 16 f4 Nd7 17 Nd4 Nc5 18 Bf3 Rac8 19 h4 d5 20 exd5 exd5 21 Bg4 Rb8 22 h5 Nd6 23 g6 Nc4 24 Qe1 Re8 25 h6 hxg6 26 Ndb5 Bxb5 27 Nxb5 Qb6 28 Bd4 Bf6 29 Qc3 Re3 30 Bxf6 Rxc3 31 Bxc3 Qxb5 32 hxg7 f6 33 Rh8+ Kxg7 34 Rxb8 Qa6 35 Kb1 Ne3 36 Re1 Ne4 37 Bc8 Ng2 38 Rxb7+ Qxb7 39 Bxb7 Nxc3+ 40 bxc3 Nxe1 41 Bxd5 g5 42 Kc1 1-0

25th March, 2003

AS the 12th Amber tournament draws to its conclusion in Monte Carlo, steady play from world number three Vishy Anand sees the Indian ace holding what could be a vital half point lead over the field in the combined standings.

As Anand heads for what could be his third Amber title, hot on his tail after a very productive eighth round is defending champion Alexander Morozevich, who caused a major sensation by beating world champion Vladimir Kramnik in both their games to take the full points - a result that rocked four-time winner and top seed Kramnik to his foundations, as it knocked him out of contention for the top spot and a fifth title.

The double whammy from Morozevich catapulted the young Russian into joint second in the overall standings with Boris Gelfand on 10/16. Gelfand leads the blindfold section on 6/8; ahead of Kramnik on 5.5 and Veselin Topalov on 5. In the rapidplay section, Anand is in the joint lead with Evgeny Bareev on 6/8, both a half point ahead of Morozevitch.


Combined standings: 1 V Anand (India) 10.5/16; 2-3 A Morozevich (Russia), B Gelfand (Israel) 10; 4-5 P Leko (Hungary), V Topalov (Bulgaria) 9.5; 6 V Kramnik (Russia) 8.5; 7 E Bareev (Russia) 8; 8 Z Almasi (Hungary) 7.5; 9-10 V Ivanchuk (Ukraine), L Van Wely (Netherlands) 7; 11 A Shirov (Spain) 6.5; 12 L Ljubojevic (Yugoslavia) 2.


Kramnik missed his chance to salvage a half point from his blindfold encounter with Morozevich: 36 Rxb7! Qxb7 37 Ne7+ Bxe7 38 fxe7 Re8 39 Nf6+ Rxf6 40 Qxf6 Qd5 should draw.


V Kramnik - A Morozevich
Amber Blindfold (8), French Tarrasch

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 f4 c5 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 Be3 Be7 8 dxc5 0-0 9 Qd2 Nxc5 10 a3 b6 11 Bb5 Bb7 12 0-0 Rc8 13 Rad1 Qc7 14 Qe1 Rfd8 15 Bxc6 Bxc6 16 Nd4 g6 17 Bf2 Bf8 18 Bh4 Re8 19 Kh1 a6 20 Bf6 Nd7 21 Qh4 Nxf6 22 exf6 Qd8 23 f5 exf5 24 Nxf5 Re6 25 Nd4 Rd6 26 Qf4 b5 27 Rde1 Bb7 28 Re3 Qb6 29 Nce2 a5 30 Ng3 b4 31 axb4 axb4 32 Nh5 Qd8 33 Nf5 d4 34 Re7 Rb6 35 Rfe1 Qd5 36 R1e2 Qxf5 37 Qxf5 gxf5 0-1

24th March, 2003

YESTERDAY, one of the games indefatigable veterans, Viktor Korchnoi, celebrated his 72nd birthday - and incredibly still shows no sign in slowing down despite his advancing years.

Born in 1931, he survived the Siege of Leningrad to make a winning debut with his first USSR Junior Championship title in 1947, but only rose to prominence with the first of his four victories in the ultra-strong Soviet Championship in 1960.

A veteran of six Candidates cycles (against the likes of Reshevsky, Tal, Geller, Karpov, Mecking, Petrosian, Polugavesky and Spassky) and an unsuccessful challenger in two world championship matches against Karpov, Korchnoi is one of the few players in modern history whose results actually improved after his 40th birthday. He's played in over 150 elite international tournaments throughout his illustrious career, winning or sharing over 40 of them spanning five different decades from the 1950s through to the 1990s.

Even at 72, Korchnoi has not lost any of his appetite for the game that he once described as "his life". Though he has yet to win a major in the new millennium, the cunning old fox (or, as Nigel Short would have it, "the cantankerous old git"), who is ranked world number 43, came very close to doing so recently during the Hrokurinn Festival in Reykjavik. After beating the top seed and world number five Michael Adams, he was in devastating form losing only one game in the category 15 tournament to finish equal second behind winner Alexei Shirov, on a score of 6/9.


V Korchnoi - E Bacrot
Hrokurinn Festival (9), Slav Defence

1 c4 Nf6 2 Nf3 c6 3 d4 d5 4 Qc2 dxc4 5 Qxc4 Bf5 6 g3 e6 7 Bg2 Nbd7 8 Nc3 Be7 9 Qb3 Qb6 10 Nd2 Bg6 11 Nc4 Qxb3 12 axb3 Nd5 13 0-0 f5 14 Na5 0-0-0 15 Bxd5 exd5 16 Bf4 Nb8 17 Rfc1 Bd6 18 Nxd5 Bxf4 19 Nxf4 Rxd4 20 Nc4 Bf7 21 Rxa7 Bxc4 22 Rxc4 Rd1+ 23 Kg2 Re8 24 Rc2 Kc7 25 Ra5 g6 26 Nd5+ Kc8 27 Ne3 Rd4 28 Ra4 Red8 29 Rxd4 Rxd4 30 Nc4 Rd1 31 Rd2 Rb1 32 b4 b5 33 Ne5 Kc7 34 h4 Kb6 35 Kf3 Na6 36 Nd7+ Kc7 37 Nf8 Nxb4 38 Nxh7 Nd5 39 Nf8 Nb6 40 Nxg6 Nc4 41 Rc2 Nxb2 42 Ne5 b4 43 Rxc6+ Kb7 44 h5 1-0

21st March, 2003

FRESH from his big win at Linares, Peter Leko's purple patch continues as the young Hungarian leads the field at the midway point of the Amber tournament being played at the Vista Palace Hotel in Monte Carlo.

With a hefty prize fund of $193,250, the Amber tournament is the most original of chess events, and seen as a throwback to the golden era of chess with the cream of the world's elite players having to combining the disciplines of blindfold chess and rapid chess - and all staged annually in Monte Carlo to honour the birthday of Melody Amber, the teenage daughter of Dutch philanthropist and chess addict, J.J. Van Oosterom.

Unbeaten on a combined score of 5.5/8, Leko, looking for his first Amber title, has the comfort of a half point lead over a formidable chasing pack that includes four-time winner Vladimir Kramnik, two-time winner Vishy Anand, defending champion Alexander Morozevich, and Boris Gelfand.

Strangely enough, Leko isn't leading in either category. Kramnik holds top spot on 3.5/4 in the blindfold section, while Anand, Bareev, and Morozevich lead in the rapid section with 3/4.


Combined standings: 1 P Leko (Hungary) 5.5/8; 2-5 V Anand (India), V Kramnik (Russia), B Gelfand (Israel), A Morozevich (Russia) 5; 6-8 V Ivanchuk (Ukraine), E Bareev (Russia), V Topalov (Bulgaria) 4; 9 L Van Wely, (Netherlands) 3.5; 10 Z Almasi (Hungary) 3; 11 A Shirov (Spain) 2.5; 12 L Ljubojevic (Yugoslavia) 1.5.


L Ljubojevic - A Morozevich
Amber Blindfold (4), Chigorin Defence

1 d4 d5 2 c4 Nc6 3 cxd5 Qxd5 4 e3 e5 5 Nc3 Bb4 6 Bd2 Bxc3 7 bxc3 Nf6 8 c4 Qd6 9 d5 Ne7 10 Qb1 0-0 11 e4 Nd7 12 Bb4 Nc5 13 Nf3 b6 14 Qb2 f5 15 Qxe5 Nd3+ 16 Bxd3 Qxb4+ 17 Nd2 Ng6 18 Qd4 c5 19 dxc6 Nf4 20 e5 Qb2 21 Qxf4 Qxa1+ 22 Bb1 Re8 23 0-0 Qxe5 24 Qxe5 Rxe5 25 Nf3 Rc5 26 Re1 Ba6 27 Ne5 g6 28 Bc2 Re8 29 f4 Bxc4 30 Ra1 Rexe5 31 fxe5 Rxc6 32 Ba4 b5 33 Bb3 Kf7 34 Rd1 Ke6 35 Rd8 a5 36 Re8+ Kd5 37 Rb8 Kxe5 38 Kf2 Kd4 39 Rb7 h6 40 Bd1 b4 41 Ra7 Rc5 42 Rd7+ Kc3 43 Rd6 Rd5 0-1

20th March, 2003

THE opulent surroundings of the RAC Club in Pall Mall, London, played host last weekend to the cerebral equivalent of the Boat Race, as Oxford and Cambridge met up for the 121st Varsity Chess Match.

First contested in 1873 at the City of London Chess Club, chess luminaries such as Howard Staunton and Wilhelm Steinitz encouraged and supported the fixture in its early days by attending the annual match between the two famous universities - which is now firmly established in the record books as the oldest traditional fixture in the chess world.

Former alumni from Varsity Match of the past have included Kingsley Martin, who went on to become editor of the New Statesman, astronomer Fred Hoyle, and polymath Jacob Bronowski. This year, it was the turn of former old boys Barry Martin and Henry Mutkin to keep the tradition going by generously agreeing to sponsor the event.

The "glittering prize" this year went again to the Light Blues of Cambridge, led by Scottish IM Eddie Dearing (Peterhouse College) on top board, who easily retained the Margaret Pugh Gold Cup with an emphatic 6.5-1.5 victory over Oxford. Cambridge now leads the historic series by a margin of 54 wins to Oxford's 49, with 18 matches drawn. David Hodge (Trinity College) completed the rout for Cambridge by winning the best game prize for his victory on board five over Oxford's Erik Tonning (Lincoln College).

It's now been five years since Oxford last won the Varsity Match; however next year they look to be firm favourites to do so with a dramatic strengthening of their squad. Not only will they be acquiring the services of top GM Luke McShane, they will also have at their disposal Eddie Dearing, who is defecting from Cambridge to continue his legal studies at the rival university.


Oxford 1.5-6.5 Cambridge

1 IM R Palliser (Worcester) draw IM E Dearing (Peterhouse); 2 B Merim (Wadham) draw WGM H Hunt (St John's); 3 A Bigg (Jesus) 0-1 J Vigus (Clare); 4 K Ozeren (Balliol) 0-1 J Conlon (Christ's); 5 E Tonning (Lincoln) 0-1 D Hodge (Trinity); 6 H Meyer (Lincoln) 0-1 D Garner (Peterhouse); 7 M Buckley (St. Hilda's) draw A Domnick (St John's); 8 D Gunlycke (Merton) 0-1 P Wallden (St John's)


D Hodge - E Tonning
121st Varsity Match (Bd.5), French Tarrasch

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 f4 c5 6 c3 Nc6 7 Ndf3 cxd4 8 cxd4 Qb6 9 a3 a5 10 b3 Be7 11 h4 f6 12 Bd3 Nf8 13 h5 Bd7 14 Ne2 0-0-0 15 Rb1 Rg8 16 b4 axb4 17 Bd2 Qa5 18 axb4 Bxb4 19 0-0 Bxd2 20 Nxd2 Be8 21 Nb3 Qa7 22 Nc5 b6 23 Na4 Nd7 24 Bb5 Kb7 25 Bxc6+ Kxc6 26 Qc2+ Kb7 27 Rfc1 Kb8 28 Qc6 Nc5 29 Rxb6+ Nb7 30 Qc7+ Ka8 31 Qc8+ 1-0

19th March, 2003

BLINDFOLD chess, in moderation, has been recommended by many sources as a method for improving a player’s analytical powers. However, this was not the medical advice in the former USSR, where in 1930 it was banned as a health hazard.

This could have something to do with the fact that two of the greatest blindfold exponents from the first half of the last century, Pillsbury and Alekhine, died rather young and supposedly suffered great headaches after these “séances” - although it is well-documented that Pillsbury died from syphilis, Alekhine through alcohol abuse. Such is the life of a chess master!

The earliest blindfold performance dates back as far as 1265 when the Saracen expert, Buzecca, dazzled the courts around Europe with his feats of playing one or two games blindfold. It took until 1774 before Philidor attempted the same feat, despite being begged by his friend Diderot, who pleaded in public for him not to risk his sanity in such a dangerous pursuit!

At the Amber tournament in Monaco, the players are aided during the blindfold games, as they sit facing a computer screen and make their moves on a computer with a mouse on a board with no pieces; eliminating the possibility of illegal moves. While this may lack the 19th century mystique of the master sitting with his back to the crowd with a silk scarf tied over his eyes, it’s thought to be more comfortable.

Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov, despite the handicap of being unable to physically see the board, produced in round two perhaps one of the greatest blindfold games of all-time. In the final position, black cannot prevent mate: if 39 ..Be7 40 fxe7+ Ke8 41 Kd6; 39 ..hxg5 40 Ra7.


V Kramnik – V Topalov
Amber Blindfold (2), Sicilian Scheveningen

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Be3 Nf6 7 f4 a6 8 Qf3 Qc7 9 0-0-0 Bd7 10 Nb3 Rc8 11 Kb1 b5 12 Bd3 Nb4 13 g4 Bc6 14 g5 Nd7 15 Qf2 g6 16 Rhf1 Bg7 17 f5 Ne5 18 Bb6 Qd7 19 Be2 Qb7 20 Na5 Qb8 21 f6 Bf8 22 a3 Nxc2 23 Kxc2 Bxe4+ 24 Kb3 Ba8 25 Ba7 Qc7 26 Qb6 Qxb6 27 Bxb6 h6 28 Nxb5 Kd7 29 Bd4 Bd5+ 30 Ka4 axb5+ 31 Bxb5+ Bc6 32 Bxe5 Bxb5+ 33 Kxb5 Rc5+ 34 Kb6 Rxe5 35 Rc1 Rxa5 36 Rc7+ Kd8 37 Rfc1 Rc5 38 R1xc5 dxc5 39 Kc6 1-0

18th March, 2003

IT’S that time of the year again when the cream of world chess collectively close their eyes and move quickly, as they meet in Monte Carlo to celebrate the birthday of a thirteen-year old girl in a unique event: the Amber tournament.

This year the twelve-player round-robin moves to the new venue of the Vista Palace Hôtel in Roquebrune Cap-Martin, Monaco. The 12th Amber tournament, the only elite event that combines the disciplines of rapidplay and blindfold, is held annually in honor of Melody Amber, the daughter of Dutch philanthropist and chess addict Joop van Oosterom.

And, with no rating points at stake, and a hefty prize fund of $193,250 on offer at an exclusive location, what more could a chess pro ask? Apart from the notable exception of world no.1 Garry Kasparov, almost all of the world’s elite have played in this novelty event, seen as a throwback to the golden era of chess, when the likes of Morphy and Steinitz would often supplement their meager income by playing blindfold in exhibition matches.

The players list, in alphabetical order, is: Zoltan Almasi (Hungary), Viswanathan Anand (India), Evgeny Bareev (Russia), Boris Gelfand (Israel), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), Peter Leko (Hungary), Ljubomir Ljubojevic (Yugoslavia), Alexander Morozevich (Russia), Alexei Shirov (Spain), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Loek Van Wely (Netherlands).

In-form Peter Leko, fresh from his big win at Linares, is the early leader after two rounds with a combined score of 3.5/4, a full point clear of the field.


Combined standings: 1 P Leko (Hungary) 3.5/4; 2-6 V Anand (India), V Kramnik (Russia), B Gelfand, (Israel), E Bareev (Russia), V Ivanchuk (Ukraine) 2.5; 7-8 A Morozevich (Russia), V Topalov (Bulgaria) 2; 9 L Van Wely (Netherlands) 1.5; 10-11 L Ljubojevic (Yugoslavia), Z Almasi (Hungary) 1; 12 A Shirov (Spain) 0.5.

P Leko – A Shirov
Amber Rapid (2), French Defence

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 dxe4 5 Nxe4 Nbd7 6 Nf3 Be7 7 Nxf6+ Bxf6 8 h4 0-0 9 Bd3 c5 10 Qe2 cxd4 11 Qe4 g6 12 0-0-0 e5 13 Bxf6 Qxf6 14 Bb5 Rd8 15 Rhe1 Kg7 16 h5 Re8 17 Rxd4 Re7 18 Qe3 gxh5 19 Rh4 Qh6 20 Qxh6+ Kxh6 21 g4 Kg7 22 Rxh5 f6 23 g5 f5 24 Bxd7 Bxd7 25 Rxe5 Rae8 26 Rxe7+ Rxe7 27 Kd2 Bc6 28 Nh4 Rd7+ 29 Kc1 f4 30 c4 Be4 31 Rh6 Rc7 32 b3 b5 33 Re6 Bd3 34 Kd2 bxc4 35 bxc4 Bxc4 36 Nf5+ Kf8 37 Rf6+ Rf7 38 Rxf7+ Bxf7 39 a3 Ba2 40 Ke2 Bb1 41 Nd4 Ke7 42 Kf3 Kd6 43 Kxf4 Kc5 1-0

17th March, 2003

TOP o' the mornin' to you! And with today being St. Patrick's Day, I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to look at one of two international tournaments held in Ireland, the Bunratty Congress.

Bunratty is situated near Limerick in the west of Ireland (some 200km from Dublin), and each year enjoys a "friendly" chess rivalry with Kilkenny for the title of Ireland's top tournament. A mere ten years ago, the thought of a grandmaster visiting Ireland to play in a weekender was unheard of. Ireland's top players had to pack their bags and travel to foreign lands to get the opportunity to play titled players. Now things have changed - the Kilkenny Congress and the Bunratty Chess Festival regularly provide this opportunity to Ireland's elite.

This year the Bunratty Congress, held 21-23 February at the Fitzpatrick Hotel in the shadows of Bunratty Castle, set a record for chess tournaments in the Emerald Isles - with 317 players competing in four different sections. While most of the field was Irish, there were visitors from the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Slovakia, U.S. and Austria.

Three GMs headed the pack in the Masters Section: Dr John Nunn, former British Champion and multi-Olympiad gold medallist; Three-time US Champion Joel Benjamin, and Irish No.1 Alexander Baburin, originally from Russia. In a tense struggle, the Masters ended in a five-way tie on 4.5/6 between IM Brian Kelly, GM John Nunn, Dr Yuri Rochev, GM Alexander Baburin and Lorin D'Costa, each receiving 350 euros.

The Irish eyes were smiling as last year's winner, Brian Kelly, defeated top seed John Nunn in convincing style in round four and looked set to retain his title. Unfortunately the luck of the Irish ran out, as Nunn got his revenge in the five-way blitz playoff to win the title and the Tipperary Crystal trophy.


B Kelly-J Nunn
Bunratty Masters (4), English Opening

1 c4 g6 2 Nc3 Bg7 3 g3 Nf6 4 Bg2 0-0 5 Nf3 d6 6 0-0 Nc6 7 d3 a6 8 Rb1 b5 9 Ne5 dxe5 10 Bxc6 Rb8 11 cxb5 axb5 12 b4 Bh3 13 Re1 Qd6 14 Bf3 c5 15 a4 bxa4 16 b5 Rfc8 17 Qxa4 c4 18 dxc4 Qd4 19 Nd5 e4 20 Nxe7+ Kh8 21 Nxc8 exf3 22 Qa7 Ne4 23 exf3 Qc3 24 Qe3 Rxc8 25 fxe4 Qc2 26 Ba3 Rxc4 27 b6 Bd4 28 Qe2 Bg4 29 Qxc2 Rxc2 30 Rf1 1-0

14th March, 2003

MY 60 Memorable Years would have been an ideal title for a follow-up book to Bobby Fischer's timeless classic, My 60 Memorable Games, but alas a combination of paranoia, hubris, and hatred, forcing him into a self-imposed early retirement, proved to be the unravelling of the game's most revered icon.

However, on the final day of Linares (March 9th), as Garry Kasparov paid his own little personal tribute to his favourite player with a Fischer-like rant aimed towards the journalists and the organisers during the prize giving ceremony, the chess world was again abuzz with reminiscences of the most charismatic and enigmatic player in the history of the game, as Fischer celebrated his 60th birthday.

Fischer's achievements were staggering: in his time he was the youngest U.S. master (fourteen), the world's youngest grandmaster, and the youngest candidate for the world championship (fifteen). Asked to explain his sudden emergence on the world stage at such a young age, the precocious youngster simply shrugged his shoulders and said, "I just got good."

No longer welcome in the US after being indicted by the Treasury Department for breaking a UN sanction when he came out of retirement in 1992 to play a $5 million match in war-torn Yugoslavia with his old foe Boris Spassky, Fischer now lives in his adopted Japanese home of Tokyo.

This year there was a strong 126-player field for the Anibal Open that ran alongside the Linares elite tournament. Among the field (by a strange coincidence as 'Gentleman' Jim Plaskett would have it) was 15-year-old Japanese-born Hikaru Nakamura, who only last month broke Fischer's 44-year record of being America's youngest grandmaster. Nakamura, who moved to America with his US-born mother as a young child, was up amongst the leading group in the Anibal Open before losing out in spectacular style in the penultimate round to joint winner Ernesto Inarkiev of Russia.


The leading final scores at the Anibal Open were: 1-5 A Korobov (Ukraine), E Inarkiev (Russia), A Kharlov (Russia), S Del Rio Angelis (Spain), A Delchev (Bulgaria) 7.5/10; 6-10 A Beliavsky (Slovenia), S Vasquez (Chile), V Kotronias (Cyprus), E Najer (Russia), E  Gleizerov (Russia) 7.


H Nakamura - E Inarkiev
10th Anibal Open (9), King's Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Be2 e5 7 0-0 Nc6 8 d5 Ne7 9 b4 a5 10 Ba3 b6 11 bxa5 Nh5 12 Re1 f5 13 Nd2 Nf6 14 Bd3 Bh6 15 Nb3 Kh8 16 f3 bxa5 17 Nd2 c5 18 Nb5 a4 19 Bb2 f4 20 Nf1 g5 21 g4 Ng6 22 Nd2 Rf7 23 Kf2 Bf8 24 h3 h5 25 Rh1 Rh7 26 Be2 Be7 27 Qc2 Kg7 28 Rhg1 hxg4 29 hxg4 Rh2+ 30 Ke1 Qh8 31 Qd3 Qh4+ 32 Kd1 Qf2 33 Rf1 Qg2 34 Re1 Nh4 35 Na3 Bd7 36 Rb1 Rh8 37 Bc3 Bc8 38 Rb8 Qf2 39 Rf1 Qg3 40 Kc1 Nxg4 41 fxg4 Rxe2 42 Qxe2 Bxg4 43 Nf3 Rxb8 44 Be1 Bxf3 45 Qd3 Be2 0-1

13th March, 2003

LUDEK Pachman, one of post-war Czechoslovakia’s strongest and yet controversial grandmasters, who gained worldwide recognition as an unlikely political activist during the Soviet invasion of his homeland in 1968, died last Thursday in the German city of Passau, aged 78.

Born on May 11, 1924 in the small Czech town of Bela pod Bezdezem, Pachman went on to become one of the leading players of his generation. He honed his chess skills in Prague during World War II under the expert tutelage of world champion Alexander Alekhine, going on to become a seven-time Czech champion and a prolific chess author and journalist.

Despite being a devout communist from his youth, Pachman became a cause célèbre of Alexander Dubcek’s ill-fated Prague Spring, when he suddenly turned into a fierce critic of the communist regime. During this turbulent period in Czech history, he was thrust into the limelight by editing an underground edition of Rudé právo, the former communist newspaper that was taken over by its staff following the Soviet invasion, where previous his only title was that of chess correspondent.

On his subsequent capture, he was imprisoned several times and described in graphic details in his 1975 Faber and Faber biography, “Checkmate in Prague”, how he drew international attention to his plight by intentionally jumping head first from his prison bed to cause permanent head and spinal injuries.

He was released from prison due to health reasons in late 1970, only to find himself deprived of his livelihood by apparatchiks who had taken control of the Czech Chess Federation. Rather than being a thorn in their side as a political martyr, in 1972 the authorities allowed Pachman to emigrate to the west, and he eventually settled in West Germany after being turned down by his first choice of Holland. In Germany, he soon became know as a political activist, with strong anti-communist views, who would make frequent appearances on political tv shows.

Later that same year of his release to the west, he returned once again to the chess arena with an invitation to Britain to compete in the Islington Open, where, again amongst the media spotlight, in the opening round he faced one of England's top juniors, Jon Speelman.


L Pachman – J Speelman
Islington Open (1), King’s Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 Bg5 d6 5 e3 0-0 6 Be2 c5 7 Nf3 h6 8 Bh4 Qa5 9 0-0 g5 10 Bg3 Nh5 11 Rc1 Nxg3 12 hxg3 Nd7 13 a3 Nf6 14 Nd2 Bf5 15 d5 e6 16 e4 Bh7 17 Re1 Rae8 18 Bd3 Qd8 19 Qc2 exd5 20 cxd5 Ng4 21 Rf1 Ne5 22 Bb5 Re7 23 Rce1 a6 24 Be2 g4 25 f4 gxf3 26 gxf3 f5 27 f4 Nd7 28 Bd3 Bd4+ 29 Kg2 Nf6 30 exf5 Ng4 31 Nd1 Qe8 32 Nf3 Rxe1 33 Rxe1 Qh5 34 Nh4 1-0

12th March, 2003

THE legendary New York Open, with its record prize funds, may only be a distant memory, but the legacy of big-bucks Swisses continues - most notably last month's record-breaking $150,000 Aeroflot Open in Moscow.

This was followed by the unlikely little Dunkirk suburb of Cappelle la Grande, which in late February traditionally plays host to the largest open event on the tournament circuit. This year Cappelle attracted a field of 608 (down from a high of 702 in 2001) competing in the 19th Open, comprising of 80 GM's and 50 IM's.

With such a strong line-up, inevitably an outright winner proves elusive. And indeed there was a seven-way tie for first on 7/9, with Vladimir Burmakin of Russia taking the title on tiebreak. There was also a five-strong Scottish delegation competing, led by Kilmarnock's John Shaw looking for his second successive GM norm.

After his good fortune in the final round last month at Gibraltar where a mishap gifted him the norm, John found the opposition at Cappelle in the final rounds not in such a generous mood as 'Gentleman' Jim Plaskett proved to be. After being outplayed by former winner Suat Atalik in the penultimate round, John let slip a golden opportunity from a favourable position in the final round that would have secured him another norm.


Final Standings: 1-7 GM V Burmakin (Russia), GM E Rozentalis (Lithuania), GM P Schlosser (Germany), GM A Areshchenko (Ukraine), IM J Geller (Russia), IM D Bocharov (Russia), GM E Miroshniche (Ukraine) 7/9.

Scottish scores: GM Colin McNab 6, IM John Shaw 5.5, Paul Roberts 5.5, Tim Upton 5 and IM Douglas Bryson 4.


S Atalik - J Shaw
Cappelle la Grande (8), Reti's Opening

1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 c6 4 0-0 Bf5 5 c4 e6 6 cxd5 cxd5 7 Qb3 Qc8 8 d3 Be7 9 Nd4 Bg6 10 Bf4 Nc6 11 Rc1 Qd7 12 Nxc6 bxc6 13 Nd2 Bh5 14 e4 0-0 15 e5 Rfb8 16 Qc2 Ne8 17 Qxc6 Qxc6 18 Rxc6 Rxb2 19 Nb3 Bd8 20 Bc1 Re2 21 Be3 Bb6 22 Bf1 Rb2 23 Bxb6 axb6 24 Rxb6 Rbxa2 25 Rxa2 Rxa2 26 Rb8 Kf8 27 d4 Rb2 28 Bb5 f6 29 Nc5 Bf3 30 Nxe6+ Ke7 31 Rxe8+ Kf7 32 Nd8+ Kg6 33 Bd3+ f5 34 Rf8 Rd2 35 Ne6 Rd1+ 36 Bf1 Kh6 37 Nf4 g5 38 Rf6+ Kg7 39 Ne6+ 1-0

11th March, 2003

ALL good things must come to an end, and for Garry Kasparov at Linares it proved be the end (and a bitter one at that) of his remarkable four-year winning-streak at elite tournaments as the world number one finished behind Peter Leko and Vladimir Kramnik.

In a remarkable turnaround in his game (and his health due to the false and tasteless rumours of his death in a car crash last year!), Leko, who in the past has been dubbed one of the most boring players on the circuit due to his many draws, again produced the best fighting chess of the tournament to deservedly take the title on tiebreak (decided by the fewest draws) ahead of Kramnik, who was the only unbeaten player among the field.

In the last round, Leko expertly neutralized Kramnik's advantage in their game to hold the draw for his first Linares title as the two Einstein World Championship contestants finished equal first on a plus two score of 7/12. Coupled with his victory last year at the Dortmund Candidates, Leko now looks to be a formidable force to reckon with, and the forthcoming world title clash between Kramnik and Leko now looks to be an intriguing contest with two of the toughest players in the world going head to head.

Einstein TV, who have already outlined their plans to FIDE, are reported to be making a statement next month as to the full details of the upcoming Kramnik-Leko match; the winner of which is set to play the victor of the FIDE Buenos Aires showdown between Kasparov and Ponomariov in a unification match set for November.

For world number one Kasparov, as age catches up with him as he fast approaches 40, it was the end of a record-breaking ten consecutive elite tournament victories stretching from Wijk aan Zee 1999 through to Linares 2002. As expected, Kasparov fought to the bitter end in an interesting tussle with old foe Vishy Anand, who avoided all the complications to hold the draw. The main difference in the scores between Kasparov, Leko and Kramnik proved to be Kasparov dropping 1.5 points to Baku teenager Teimour Radjabov, who finished at the foot of the table at his first Linares.

According to reports on the Spanish website "Jaque" (http://www.jaque.tv/kasparov_colera03.htm), it seems that the press really knows how to kick a man when he's down - despite the Herculean efforts in the past of his ten elite tournament victories.

Radjabov was controversially awarded (in a vote decided by journalists) the tournament's 'beauty prize' for his win against Kasparov - anything but the best game of the tournament. While the Baku teenager - with his proud mother videotaping the proceedings - was being handed the prize, an enraged Kasparov stormed up to the microphone and said, "I don't believe that this was the best game of the tournament. It has been selected only because it was the only game that I lost and I consider this to be a public insult and humiliation."

While everyone looked on in shock, Kasparov went after a group of journalists and worked his rage up to shouting level. "This is the worst insult you have ever done to me in my life! It is an insult to me and to chess! You consider yourselves chess journalists? If you think this was the most beautiful game of Linares, you are doing a great deal of damage to chess with your reports and articles. Radjabov was completely lost in that game!"


Final Standings: 1-2 P Leko (Hungary), V Kramnik (Russia) +2 (7/12); 3-4 V Anand (India), G Kasparov (Russia) +1 (6.5); 5 R Ponomariov (Ukraine) -1 (5.5); 6 F Vallejo Pons (Spain) -2 (5); 7 T Radjabov (Azerbaijan) -3 (4.5).


V Kramnik - P Leko
Linares (14), Sicilian Defence

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 e5 4 Bc4 d6 5 d3 Be7 6 0-0 Nf6 7 Ng5 0-0 8 f4 exf4 9 Bxf4 h6 10 Nf3 Be6 11 Nd5 Bxd5 12 exd5 Na5 13 Nh4 Nxc4 14 dxc4 Nxd5 15 Qxd5 Bxh4 16 Rad1 b6 17 Bxd6 Be7 18 Be5 Bg5 19 Bd6 Be7 20 Bf4 Bf6 21 c3 Qxd5 22 cxd5 Rad8 23 Bxh6 Bxc3 24 bxc3 gxh6 25 Rfe1 Rd7 26 c4 a6 27 a4 b5 28 axb5 axb5 29 cxb5 Rb8 30 d6 Rxb5 31 Re7 Rbb7 32 Rxd7 Rxd7 33 Kf2 Kg7 34 Kf3 Kf6 35 Rd5 draw

10th March, 2003

DON Luis Rentero, the former "godfather" of Linares, once campaigned vociferously against drawn games (particularly those of the short, grandmaster variety), even going as far as fining players for a lack of fighting spirit at his prestigious tournament, hailed as the "Wimbledon of Chess".

This wasn't the only ploy the cunning old fox would use to "persuade" players to fight hard at Linares. He wasn't averse to bribing them by showing an envelope stuffed with money in his inside jacket pocket, and telling them that it would belong to them at the end of the day - but only if they fought hard and made sure the game lasted more than 40 moves!

Rounds 9 through 11 at Linares could well have done with some of Rentero's legendary powers of persuasion - three rounds, nine games and remarkably nine draws (most of which being boring). Thankfully the draw impasse at Linares was finally broken by round twelve, as the players suddenly woke up to the fact that the tournament was nearing its conclusion.

Indian ace Vishy Anand joined the leaders after easily beating Teimour Radjabov to inflict yet another defeat on the teenager from Baku, as he struggles for survival at the foot of the table in his first Linares. However, the shock of the round was the surprise defeat of leader Peter Leko, who lost out in a tactical struggle to local Spanish hero Francisco Vallejo Pons.

In round 13, Leko quickly recovered any lost ground from the previous round by squeezing Anand off the board to overtake him and once again join Vladimir Kramnik at the top; both players on a +2 score of 6.5/11 going into the final round. And what better pairing could we have for the final round, as the leaders all face each other: Kramnik vs Leko and Anand vs Kasparov.


Standings: 1-2 V Kramnik (Russia), P Leko (Hungary) +2 (6.5/11); 3-4 G Kasparov (Russia), V Anand (India) +1 (6/11); 5 F Vallejo Pons (Spain) -1 (5/11); 6 R Ponomariov (Ukraine) -2 (4.5/11); 7 T Radjabov (Azerbaijan) -3 (4.5/12).


F Vallejo Pons - P Leko
Linares (12), English Opening

1 Nf3 c5 2 c4 Nf6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 e4 Nb4 6 Bc4 Nd3+ 7 Ke2 Nf4+ 8 Kf1 Ne6 9 b4 g6 10 bxc5 Bg7 11 Bxe6 Bxe6 12 d4 Nc6 13 Be3 Bc4+ 14 Kg1 Qa5 15 Rc1 0-0-0 16 Nb1 Qa6 17 d5 f5 18 Rxc4 Qxc4 19 Nbd2 Qxa2 20 dxc6 bxc6 21 g3 Rd3 22 Kg2 fxe4 23 Ng5 Rf8 24 Ngxe4 Be5 25 Re1 h5 26 h4 Rfd8 27 Qb1 Qxb1 28 Rxb1 Bc7 29 Nc4 R8d5 30 Ra1 Kb7 31 Ra4 Rd7 32 Ng5 R3d5 33 Ne6 Rf5 34 Nd4 Rf6 35 Rb4+ Ka6 36 Rb1 Rd5 37 Nc2 Rd7 38 Nb4+ Kb5 39 Nd2 Ka4 40 Ne4 Re6 41 Nc3+ Ka5 42 Nc2 Ka6 43 Nd4 1-0

7th March, 2003

THERE'S one thing everyone knows about chess and Iceland. In 1972 Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky fought out what turned literally into a USA vs. USSR cold war battle of the mind in Reykjavik, which conveniently was strategically placed in-between the two superpowers.

The enormous worldwide interest created by this epic encounter led to a chess explosion, especially in Iceland. Over the years, many chess fans would make the pilgrimage to the Icelandic Chess Federation's headquarters in Reykjavik just to see the hallowed shrine of the original table and chess set used in that epic 1972 encounter.

Last year on Icelandic TV, when Nigel Short and Hannes Stefansson played a six-game match using for the first time since 1972 "that" original table and chess set from the world championship match (sacrilage, some would say), the nation's Parliamentary Speaker, Fridrik Olafsson, announced, "Things are really happening in Icelandic chess again." And if anyone should know, then it is 68-year-old Olafsson, who in the late 1950s became Iceland's first grandmaster of chess, going on to become a Candidate for the world crown - and for an all but brief period the President of FIDE.

Immediately following the Hrokurinn Chess Festival, most of the competitors moved across the capital city to the Reykjavik City Theatre, where a few days later they were joined by more of the world's top elite for another new exciting event: the Edda Rapidplay, sponsored by Iceland's largest publishing house with a prize fund of $30,000. In conjunction with the Hrokruinn Chess Club, Edda is also involved in a major scheme to take chess into schools in Iceland.

The tournament was decided by a swashbuckling final round encounter between Hrokruinn Festival winner Alexei Shirov and the Belgium champion Mikhail Gurevich. With an unbeaten score of 8/9, Gurevich won the $10,000 first prize by beating Shirov to deprive the Latvian (who plays under the Spanish flag) of an Icelandic double.


Final standings: 1 GM M Gurevich (Belgium) 8/9; 2-3 GM I Sokolov (Holland), GM E Sutovsky (Israel) 7; 4-12 GM J Lautier (France), GM A Shirov (Spain), GM M Adams (England), L Van Wely (Holland), GM P Nikolic, (Bosnia), GM J Ehlvest (Estonia), GM E Bacrot (France), GM V Bologan (Moldavia), GM J Votava (Czech Rep) 6.5.

A Shirov - M Gurevich
Edda Rapidplay (9), French Defence

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 dxe4 5 Nxe4 Nbd7 6 Nxf6+ Nxf6 7 Nf3 h6 8 Be3 a6 9 Bd3 b6 10 Qe2 Bb7 11 0-0-0 Qd5 12 Kb1 b5 13 Ne5 Bd6 14 c4 bxc4 15 Bxc4 Qa5 16 Rhg1 Rb8 17 Ka1 Bxe5 18 dxe5 Qxe5 19 f4 Qa5 20 Bd4 0-0 21 g4 Ne4 22 g5 hxg5 23 Bd3 Bd5 24 Bb1 Rb4 25 a3 Rb3 26 Rd3 Rxd3 27 Qxd3 Rb8 28 Bxg7 Kxg7 29 Qd4+ Kf8 30 Bxe4 Qb5 31 Bxd5 exd5 32 Re1 c5 33 Qd2 d4 34 f5 f6 35 b3 c4 36 b4 c3 37 Qf2 Qd3 38 Re6 Qd1+ 0-1

6th March, 2003

THE Hrokurinn Chess Festival, which took place at the Reykjavik Art Museum in chess-mad Iceland, was dominated by Alexei Shirov who was back to his brilliant best to win the category 15 tournament with an impressive, unbeaten score of 7/9.

Shirov's only difficult game during the tournament came against top seed Michael Adams, who uncharacteristically blundered badly in a better position to leave his opponent with a gift of a mate in one!

The tournament turned out to be nightmare for the world number five, who barely scrapped home with a par score after also losing to the venerable Viktor Korchnoi. At 71, Korchnoi's performance of equal second with European Champion Bartlomiej Macieja, especially amongst such a strong field, is yet another unbelievable result for the veteran.

The new tournament is all part of the Hrokurinn Chess Club's ambitions to revitalize the Icelandic chess scene. As part of their campaign, the top Icelandic club joined forces recently with the country's top publishing house, Edda, to also take chess into the classroom. Every 8-year-old in Iceland received a free gift of a chess book written by Anatoly Karpov in conjunction with Walt Disney, entitled, "Disney's Chess Guide". The eventual aim of the joint campaign is to see chess on the curriculum for all 7 year olds in Iceland.


Final scores: 1 GM A Shirov (Spain) 7/9; 2-3 GM B Macieja (Poland), GM  V Korchnoi (Switzerland) 6; 4-5 GM I Sokolov (Holland), GM L McShane (England) 5.5; 6 GM M Adams (England) 5; 7 GM E Bacrot (France) 3.5; 8 GM H Stefansson (Iceland) 3; 9 GM H Gretarsson (Iceland) 2.5; 10 IM S Kristjansson (Iceland) 1.


S Kristjansson - A Shirov
Hrokurinn Festival (5), Scotch Game

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 Nxd4 Bc5 5 Be3 Qf6 6 c3 b6 7 Bc4 Nge7 8 0-0 Bb7 9 Nb5 0-0-0 10 Bxc5 bxc5 11 Nd2 Ne5 12 f4 Nxc4 13 Nxc4 d5 14 Ne5 a6 15 Qg4+ Kb8 16 Na3 dxe4 17 Nd7+ Rxd7 18 Qxd7 Nd5 19 Nc4 Nxf4 20 Ne3 g5 21 Qg4 Rd8 22 Rad1 Rd3 23 Qf5 Qe7 24 Rfe1 f6 25 Ng4 c4 26 Ne3 Qd6 27 g3 Qb6 28 gxf4 Rxd1 29 Rxd1 Qxe3+ 30 Kf1 gxf4 31 Qxf6 Bc8 32 Qf8 Qf3+ 33 Ke1 e3 0-1

5th March, 2003

TEENAGE sensation Teimour Radjabov again proved to be a thorn in the side of Garry Kasparov at Linares, dealing another setback to the world number one as he aims for eleven successive supertournament victories by holding him to a draw in round 9.

Radjabov, 15, ended Kasparov's incredible run of over four years without losing a game in an elite tournament following his sensational win in round 3. The loss was also Kasparov's first since 1996 with White.

In their second encounter, Radjabov easily held off Kasparov to win their personal duel 1.5-0.5. Coupled with Kasparov's draw with back marker Francisco Vallejo, the indifferent results against weaker opposition he would normally be expected to defeat could deprive Kasparov of a remarkable winning record in elite events that stretches back to Wijk aan Zee 1999.

The player best placed to end Kasparov's run is rival Vladimir Kramnik, the player who also ended his fifteen year reign as world champion. A draw with FIDE champion Ruslan Ponomariov keeps Kramnik out in the lead with Peter Leko (who sat out round 9) at +2, with Kasparov and Vishy Anand on their tail.

The players now head for the final rest day at Linares. When they return for round 10, Kramnik has an ideal opportunity to extend his lead at the top as he plays Vallejo, whilst Kasparov has the more difficult task of playing an in-form Leko; and Anand having the bye.


Standings: 1 V Kramnik (Russia) 5/8; 2 P Leko (Hungary) 4.5/7; 3-4 G Kasparov (Russia), V Anand (India) 4.5/8; 5-6 T Radjabov (Azerbaijan), R Ponomariov (Ukraine) 3/8; 7 F Vallejo Pons (Spain) 2.5/7.


V Kramnik - R Ponomariov
Linares (9), Ruy Lopez

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 0-0 9 h3 Na5 10 Bc2 c5 11 d4 Nd7 12 Kh1 Bb7 13 d5 f5 14 exf5 Nc4 15 Nbd2 Nxd2 16 Qxd2 Nf6 17 Ng5 Bxd5 18 f4 Qc7 19 Ne6 Bxe6 20 fxe6 Nh5 21 Qd5 Rad8 22 f5 Ng3+ 23 Kh2 Nxf5 24 Rf1 Nh4 25 Bg5 Ng6 26 h4 Nf4 27 Bxf4 exf4 28 g3 f3 29 Rxf3 Rxf3 30 Qxf3 Rf8 31 Qd3 g6 32 Rf1 Qc8 33 Rxf8+ draw.

4th March, 2003

THE big Linares  showdown between the world's top two players, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik, ended in an entertaining draw as the world numbers one and two battled it out to a 33-move perpetual check.

The result left the way open for Vishy Anand and Peter Leko to make up some lost ground on the leader, as both faced the teenage wannabes of FIDE Champion Ruslan Ponomariov and Teimour Radjabov. However, for the second successive game, Anand uncharacteristically let slip a crucial half-point after building up what seemed an almost winning position, only for an oversight allowing Ponomariov to miraculously salvage a draw from the jaws of defeat.

Following his promising start with a spectacular defeat of Kasparov using the French Defence, Radjabov's favourite opening has now come under the scrutiny of the elite microscope. After losing horrifically in round six to Kramnik after a ferocious kingside attack, this time it was the turn of Leko to show up the weaknesses in the teenager's repertoire with a similar mauling on the hapless black king on the queenside.

The McCutcheon variation, one of the most complex lines in chess praxis today, is named after the Pittsburgh amateur John Lindsay McCutcheon, who first played it against Steinitz during a simultaneous display at New York in 1885. The (full) point to Leko's game-ending, dazzling queen sacrifice is that if 32 ..Qxf8, then after 33 Nb5 there is no way to prevent the threat of Nd6+ followed by c7+ and c8(Q) mating.


Standings: 1-2 V Kramnik (Russia), P Leko (Hungary) 4.5/7; 3-4 G Kasparov (Russia), V Anand (India) 4/7; 5-6 T Radjabov (Azerbaijan), R Ponomariov (Ukraine) 2.5/7; 7 F Vallejo Pons (Spain) 2/6.


P Leko - T Radjabov
Linares (8), French McCutcheon

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Bb4 5 e5 h6 6 Bd2 Bxc3 7 bxc3 Ne4 8 Qg4 g6 9 Bd3 Nxd2 10 Kxd2 c5 11 h4 Bd7 12 h5 g5 13 f4 Nc6 14 fxg5 Qa5 15 dxc5 d4 16 Nf3 0-0-0 17 Rab1 dxc3+ 18 Ke2 Rhg8 19 Qe4 Qc7 20 g4 Ne7 21 Bb5 hxg5 22 Rb3 Nd5 23 Rhb1 Bc6 24 Bxc6 Qxc6 25 Nd4 Qa6+ 26 Ke1 Rd7 27 c6 Rc7 28 Rxb7 Rxb7 29 Rxb7 Nb6 30 Qh7 Rf8 31 Qg7 Qa3 32 Qxf8 1-0

3rd March, 2003

THERE'S an old adage that you should never write off Garry Kasparov, and, as if on cue, the world number one came storming back into contention at Linares with a brace of wins to move to within half a point of tournament leader Vladimir Kramnik.

Following his disastrous start, Kasparov bounced back with two consecutive wins, first over FIDE champion Ruslan Ponomariov, the Ukrainian teenager whom he's set to meet in a $1 million FIDE title match this Summer, and then world number three Vishy Anand from India, the player he beat in 1995 to retain the world title.

The two wins move Kasparov into joint second alongside Anand and Leko, and ominously to within striking distance of arch-rival Kramnik, who took over the sole lead of the tournament again by virtue of a round six mauling of Baku teenager Teimour Radjabov. The 'Big Two' are now set to meet in a round eight showdown in Linares, as Kasparov and Kramnik go head to head in what could ultimately be the most decisive game of the tournament.

Kasparov's contention has always been that Linares sorts out just exactly "who is who" for the year. He has won Linares every year since 1999; tieing for first with Kramnik in 2000, before going on to lose his world crown to the same player later that year. Now, as the tournament prepares for the second half as all the players meet again (this time with opposite colours), Kasparov will need to draw on his vast experience and resources to attempt three wins in-a-row to overtake his nemesis.


Standings: 1 V Kramnik (Russia), 4/7; 2-4 G Kasparov (Russia), V Anand (India), P Leko (Hungary) 3.5; 5 T Radjabov (Azerbaijan) 2.5; 6-7 F Vallejo Pons (Spain), R Ponomariov (Ukraine) 2.


V Kramnik - T Radjabov
Linares (6), French Defence

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 f4 c5 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 Be3 cxd4 8 Nxd4 Bc5 9 Qd2 0-0 10 0-0-0 a6 11 Qf2 Nxd4 12 Bxd4 Qc7 13 Bd3 b5 14 Qh4 h6 15 Ne2 f6 16 Qg4 Bxd4 17 Nxd4 Nc5 18 Qg6 Nxd3+ 19 Rxd3 Qc4 20 Rhd1 Ra7 21 Kb1 Qc7 22 f5 Qb6 23 Rh3 fxe5 24 Rxh6 Rf6 25 Qe8+ Rf8 26 Rh8+ Kxh8 27 Qxf8+ Kh7 28 Nf3 Qc7 29 fxe6 e4 30 Ng5+ Kh6 31 h4 Kh5 32 Qf5 g6 33 g4+ Kxh4 34 Rh1+ Kg3 35 Rg1+ Kh4 36 Qf6 1-0

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