Chess News April 2003
to "The Scotsman" chess column
29th April, 2003
ONE of the richest prizes in the game is that of U.S. Champion, thanks to the generosity of patron Erik Anderson and his Seattle-based America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C).
Since taking over the ailing title in 2000, the AF4C have revitalized the 'sleeping giant' with some innovative ideas - most prominent being the increase of the prize fund to $250,000. Another novelty was the opening up of what was once a closed event with players qualifying from some of the big U.S. Opens.
In 2004, the field for the Championships will be increased to the "natural" chess figure of 64; of which only 17 players will be seeded: 7 top rated players including 2003 Champion Alexander Shabalov, 6 top rated women players including 2003 Women's Champion Anna Hahn, the 2002 and 2003 Grand Prix winners, and the 2003 and 2004 US Junior Champions. Two players will have wildcard spots as determined by the AF4C, and two will come from a new online tournament of US State Champions.
43 players, with 10 spots reserved for women players, will qualify from 11 US tournaments in the period April 2003 through August 2004 - these include: Foxwoods 2003 and 2004, Chicago Open 2003 and 2004, National Open 2003 and 2004, World Open 2003 and 2004, U.S. Open 2003 and 2004, and the 2003 North American Open.
The first two qualifiers from the Foxwoods Open to book their tickets for the 2004 U.S. Championships were teenage sensation Hikaru Nakamura, and old hand Serge Kudrin, who, among a group of seven, finished equal second on 5.5/7, half a point behind winner Ilya Smirin.
Top-placed qualifier Nakamura is one of a new generation of players looking to make a major breakthrough. The 2004 U.S. Championships will be the 40th anniversary of Bobby Fischer's remarkable feat of winning the crown with a perfect score of 11-0!
The teenager from White Plains, New York is the first really promising home-grown talent the US have had in many years. Recently he broke one of Fischer's records by becoming - at 15 years, one month and 27 days - the youngest American GM ever, and many predict he could just be a good outside tip in 2004 to be the youngest winner of the title since Fischer.
B Kreiman - H Nakamura
Foxwoods Open (7), King's Indian Defence
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Be2 Na6 7 0-0 e5 8 Bg5 h6 9 Bh4 g5 10 dxe5 Nh5 11 Bg3 Nxg3 12 hxg3 dxe5 13 Qxd8 Rxd8 14 Rfd1 Be6 15 Nh2 Nb4 16 Nd5 Nc2 17 Rac1 Nd4 18 Kf1 Rd7 19 Bg4 Rad8 20 Bxe6 Nxe6 21 Ng4 Kh8 22 f3 h5 23 Nf2 Kh7 24 Ne3 Rd4 25 Ke2 h4 26 g4 Nf4+ 27 Kf1 c6 28 Nh3 Bf6 29 b3 Rd3 30 Rxd3 Rxd3 31 Re1 Rd2 32 Nxf4 exf4 33 Nf5 Bc3 34 Re2 Rd1+ 35 Kf2 Rh1 36 a3 f6 37 c5 Kh8 38 b4 Kg8 39 Rc2 h3 40 Rxc3 h2 41 Rd3 Ra1 42 Rd8+ Kf7 43 Nd6+ Ke7 44 Rh8 h1Q 45 Rxh1 Rxh1 46 Nxb7 Ra1 47 Na5 Kd7 48 Nc4 Rc1 0-1
28th April, 2003
SOME of the largest chess tournaments in the United States are best known for the lucrative prize funds that are on offer. It is not unusual for average club players to scoop a first prize in a 'class' section amounting to half a year's salary.
However, it takes some time to adapt to the confusing features that are peculiar only to US tournaments -- the need to provide your own board, pieces and clock, some mind bogglingly complex playing schedules and unusual time controls. The most bizarre aspect is that if you lose early on, you can re-enter the event and try again -- only in America!
The latest big bucks tournament took place in one of the worlds largest casinos at Foxwoods in Connecticut over the Easter weekend, where over 450 players in 8 sections were competing for what was a projected $100,000 prize fund.
Israeli GM Ilya Smirin hit the jackpot with a 6-1 outright winning score in the event, which featured 21 grandmasters in the 128-player top-rated Open section, to take home the first prize of $9,532. A frequent visitor (and winner!) to the big-money US events, Smirin now has a USCF rating of over 2800! Another visitor to Foxwoods was Russian WGM Alexandra Kosteniuk, dubbed the Anna Kournikova of chess, who showed that she wasn't just a pretty face going undefeated with draws against top GMs Ildar Ibragimov, Gregory Kaidanov and Alex Yermolinsky, before succumbing to Jaan Ehlvest in the final round.
Newly-crowned U.S. Champion Alexander Shabalov found the going tough from the start. In one of the shock results of the weekend, Shabalov was outplayed in the opening round by the former National High School champion John Bartholomew, 16, from Minnesota. Proving the result was no fluke for the lowly-rated 2280 Bartholomew, he followed this up with a win over IM Justin Sarkar, and in rounds three and four drew with two more championship contenders in GMs Alexander Ivanov and Sergey Kudrin, before finishing with a score of 4/7.
Final standings: 1 GM I Smirin (Israel) 6/7; 2-8 GM G Kaidanov, GM I Novikov, GM I Ibragimov, GM-elect H Nakamura, GM Y Shulman, GM S Kudrin (all USA), GM P Blatny (Czech Rep.) 5.5.
I Smirin - H Nakamura
Foxwoods Open (5), Sicilian Paulsen
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Bd3 Nf6 6 0-0 Qc7 7 Qe2 d6 8 c4 g6 9 Nc3 Bg7 10 Nf3 0-0 11 Rd1 Nbd7 12 Bf4 Ng4 13 Rac1 Nge5 14 Nxe5 Nxe5 15 Qd2 Rd8 16 Bg5 f6 17 Be3 Ng4 18 Bf4 e5 19 Nd5 Qf7 20 Bg3 Bh6 21 Qa5 Be6 22 Rc3 f5 23 exf5 gxf5 24 Be2 Bxd5 25 Qxd5 Nf6 26 Qxf7+ Kxf7 27 f3 Ke6 28 Rb3 b6 29 Bf2 Nd7 30 c5 d5 31 c6 Nf6 32 c7 Rdc8 33 Rxb6+ Kf7 34 Rc6 a5 35 Bh4 1-0
25th April, 2003
SHINING like green stones on a gray back cloth, the 18 islands that make up the Faeroe group are undeniably beautiful in a North Atlantic, buffeted-by-gales and tossed-by-sea kind of way.
They are one of those remote places that most people would have trouble spotting on a map, and they get little international press. Despite the remote reputation, they aren't that far away considering they are situated midway between Scotland and Iceland. With a population of about 15,000, Tórshavn, named for the Nordic god Thor, stakes its claim as one of the smallest capitals in Europe.
The good news is that chess is quite popular on the islands. In 2000 a large international tournament was held there, which was won jointly by top grandmasters Alexander Grischuk and Ruslan Ponomariov. Recently the FM 2003 Atlantic Airways Cup took place in Tórshavn, running 11th-19th April.
The event, an 11 round Swiss with a 16-player field that had 5 IMs and one veteran GM in Finlands Heikki Westerinen, also incorporated the 2003 Faeroe Championships. Danish IM Kim Pilgaard took the Atlantic Airways Cup with an undefeated final score of 9/11, and Martin Poulsen won the Faeroe Championships with 6/11. Scottish interest was served well by aspiring grandmaster IM John Shaw, who took second behind Pilgaard on 8.5/11.
After scoring his first GM norm at the Gibraltar Masters, John decided to opt out of the Scottish Championships as no GM norms were made available, and instead accepted a prior invitation to Tórshavn as the organizers had originally intended the event would qualify as a GM norm tournament - but alas for John, as he goes on the hunt to secure two more norms to become Scotland's fourth GM, the tournament failed to deliver. Nevertheless, our hero yet again had another superb international outing with an unbeaten score and a TPR of 2516.
J Shaw H Olsen
FM Atlantic Airways Cup (11), Caro-Kann Defence
1 e4 c6 2 c4 d5 3 cxd5 cxd5 4 exd5 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nxd5 6 Nf3 e6 7 Bc4 Nxc3 8 bxc3 Be7 9 0-0 0-0 10 d4 Nc6 11 Re1 b6 12 Bd3 Bb7 13 h4 Rc8 14 Ng5 h6 15 Nh7 Re8 16 Qg4 Kh8 17 Ng5 Bxg5 18 hxg5 g6 19 gxh6 f5 20 Qg3 Kh7 21 Bf4 Qd5 22 Re2 Na5 23 Rc1 Nc4 24 Qg5 b5 25 Rce1 Qd7 26 Bxf5 gxf5 27 Rxe6 Be4 28 Qg6+ Kh8 29 Rxe8+ Rxe8 30 Bg5 Re6 31 Bf6+ Rxf6 32 Qxf6+ Kh7 33 f3 Nd2 34 fxe4 1-0
ONLY in the week of the English celebrating St George's Day! Just prior to Nigel Short's memorable victory in Budapest, another English chess success was achieved in the Hungarian capital as 12-year-old East Sussex wunderkind David Howell became the youngest westerner to win an International Master event - and in doing so finally achieved his first IM norm.
Playing in the April edition of Laszo Nagy's First Saturday tournament that ran 5-18 April, Howell was at his devastating best as he obliterated the field. Showing a maturity of play that belied his age, Howell scored 7.5/9 (seven wins!) and his margin of victory was such that he finished 1.5-points ahead of nearest rival (and the only player he lost to in the tournament), Hungarian top seed IM Miklos Galyas - and in doing so, the youngster almost achieved a GM performance with a TPR of 2563.
Although the Hunguest Hotels "Talent and Courage" tournament was one of the strongest Hungarian events in 75 years, Nagy's First Saturday tournaments, held in their traditional rooms of the Hungarian Chess Federation beside the Hungarian Parliament, have become world-famous and continue to be excellent opportunities for ambitious players to make their norms or achieve FIDE ratings. As the name implies, these events begin on the first Saturday of every month "with the punctuality of a Swiss watch," in Laszlo's own words.
First started in 1991, the tournament has attracted players from every country in the world who were in the hunt for a norm or a rating - even a future world championship contender! En route to becoming the world's youngest GM in 1993, Peter Leko scored a GM norm at a First Saturday tournament.
S Farago - D Howell
First Saturday (3), Ruy Lopez
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 0-0 8 a4 Bb7 9 c3 d5 10 d3 Na5 11 Bc2 dxe4 12 dxe4 Qxd1 13 Bxd1 Bxe4 14 Nxe5 Bd6 15 Nd2 Bd5 16 b4 Rae8 17 Nef3 Rxe1+ 18 Nxe1 Re8 19 Kf1 Nc4 20 Be2 Nxd2+ 21 Bxd2 Ne4 22 Nf3 Be5 23 Ra3 c6 24 Be1 Bf6 25 axb5 axb5 26 Nd4 Nd6 27 Ra6 Bxd4 28 cxd4 Nf5 29 Bc3 g6 30 Bf3 Bc4+ 31 Kg1 Nxd4 32 Bxc6 Ne2+ 33 Kh1 Rd8 0-1
23rd April, 2003
OFFICIALLY, the Hunguest Hotels "Talent and Courage" event was staged to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Hungarian capital. In 1873 Buda, Obuda and Pest were unified, forming Budapest. Unofficially, the event was intended as a major showcase for the homegrown talents, with one of the strongest tournaments to be held in Budapest in 75 years.
In 1928 Cuba's Jose Raul Capablanca, by far the strongest player of his day despite the title loss the year previous to Alekhine, dominated the Budapest tournament with a +5, 7/9 score to win ahead of Marshall, Kmoch and Spielman - the five Hungarians also in the field proving to be out of their league among such august company. This time it was supposed to be the other way around, with the field being made up of some has-beens and the winner emerging from the five-strong young Hungarian Olympiad squad that so nearly snatched gold from the Russians - specifically world title challenger Peter Leko, fresh from his Linares victory, or even world's top female player Judit Polgar.
Unfortunately for the chess-mad Budapest fans who anticipated a victory for local heroes Peter Leko or Judit Polgar, forgotten man Nigel Short, a decade after being pummeled in a bruising world championship match by Garry Kasparov, decided to reign on Hungary's parade with a superb virtuoso performance to take first place ahead of Polgar and Leko.
Their only conciliation was the performance of Polgar, playing the best chess of her career, who had her second clear second place of the year. Her undefeated finish behind Anand at Corus Wijk aan Zee in January was her best-ever result and after she won her first three games in Budapest it looked like it was going to go her way.
After losing to Leko, she showed resilience by immediately bouncing back with a spectacular win over Berkes, only to go on to lose the decisive game of the tournament to her favourite "customer" Short. Still, she added even more rating points to her career peak of 2715 and finished ahead of Leko as a bonus.
J Polgar - F Berkes
Hunguest Hotels (7), French Defence
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 dxe4 5 Nxe4 Be7 6 Bxf6 Bxf6 7 Nf3 0-0 8 Qd2 Nd7 9 0-0-0 Be7 10 Bd3 b6 11 Neg5 h6 12 Bh7+ Kh8 13 Be4 hxg5 14 g4 Rb8 15 h4 g6 16 hxg5+ Kg7 17 Qf4 Bb7 18 Rh7+ Kxh7 19 Qh2+ Kg8 20 Rh1 Bxg5+ 21 Nxg5 Qxg5+ 22 f4 Qxf4+ 23 Qxf4 Bxe4 24 Qxe4 1-0
22nd April, 2003
IT only took a "short", last round draw lasting nine moves for Nigel Short to record his biggest tournament victory of recent years, as the former world championship challenger took first place a full point ahead of Judit Polgar at the Hunguest Hotels Super Chess Tournament in Budapest.
It's been a long road to rehabilitation for the Englishman, who became a household name in 1993 by becoming Garry Kasparov's last, official FIDE challenger (after beating Anatoly Karpov and Jan Timman) in a world title match. Despite his valiant efforts in the match, Short suffered a huge psychological blow to his game when he lost heavily, 12.5-7.5 (and -5 after nine games) - a result that took him many years to recover from.
Greece-based Short has become a chess globetrotter of late rather than competing in elite tournaments, which he once commented to me that he was seriously considering giving up as they were "zonking his brain." In the past year he has played in China, the Dominican Republic, and even Iran. The outspoken columnist for the Sunday Telegraph has even turned his hand to being the match commentator last year for the Vladimir Kramnik-Deep Fritz match in Bahrain. All of which indicated a retirement of sorts from the elite tournament circuit.
Now, for the first time in his career, remarkably Short could be on the cusp of breaking the 2700 Elo barrier following his superb result in Budapest. As a player, he was always much better in match-play situations rather than tournament play; though he has in the past won some top tournaments, namely Reykjavik 1987 (ahead of Tal), Amsterdam 1988, Parnu 1996, and Pamplona 1999 - his last victory of note up until Budapest.
Many forget that Short was once the world no.3 on the July list of 1988 behind chess superstars Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. On the latest world rankings published on April 1st, he's No.18 with an Elo rating of 2686 - just one-point ahead of his January 1992 high of 2685. Welcome back, Nigel!
Final standing: 1 N Short (England) 6.5/9; 2 J Polgar (Hungary) 5.5; 3 P Leko (Hungary) 5; 4-6 B Gelfand (Israel), C Lutz (Germany), P Acs (Hungary) 4.5; 7-8 V Korchnoi (Switzerland), S Movsesian (Slovakia) 4; 9 F Berkes (Hungary) 3.5; 10 Z Almasi (Hungary) 3.
N Short - B Gelfand
Hunguest Hotels (6), Sicilian Najdorf
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 0-0 0-0 9 Kh1 Nc6 10 Be3 Be6 11 Qd2 a5 12 Rfd1 a4 13 Nc1 Qc8 14 f3 Rd8 15 Bb6 Rd7 16 Nd5 Bd8 17 Bxd8 Qxd8 18 Bb5 Qa5 19 c4 Qxd2 20 Rxd2 Rdd8 21 Nb6 Ra5 22 Ne2 a3 23 b3 Kf8 24 Rad1 Ke7 25 Kg1 Ne8 26 Nc3 Nc7 27 Bxc6 bxc6 28 b4 Ra7 29 c5 Ne8 30 b5 Rc7 31 g4 Kf8 32 Nba4 cxb5 33 Nxb5 Rb7 34 Nac3 Rc8 35 cxd6 Bd7 36 Rb1 Rc6 37 Kf2 f6 38 Nxa3 Rxb1 39 Naxb1 Nxd6 40 a4 Ke7 41 Nd5+ Kf7 42 Rb2 Ra6 43 Rb6 Rxb6 44 Nxb6 Bc6 45 Nc3 Nb7 46 Ke3 Ke6 47 Kd3 Na5 48 Nb5 Nb3 49 Kc4 Nd2+ 50 Kc5 Bb7 51 Nc4 Nxf3 52 Ncd6 1-0
21st April, 2003
NIGEL Short looks set for his best result in recent years, as a penultimate round victory over bête noir Judit Polgar gives the outspoken Englishman a virtually unassailable lead going into the final round of the Hunguest Hotels Super Chess Tournament in Budapest.
Theres no love lost between Polgar and Short, who once famously described the famed Polgar sisters as nothing more than trained monkeys. He even ventured to suggest before the rise of Judit Polgar that women would never be great chess players as "they just don't have the killer instinct".
However, despite the macho talk from Short, much to his chagrin Polgar does posses the killer instinct and especially when it comes to playing the former world championship challenger! At one stage in their personal duels, Polgar had an unbelievable record of 11-0 against Short, who could do no right when playing the worlds top female player.
Nevertheless, Short, who has been in inspired form in the tournament with an unbeaten +3 score with victories over Lutz, Gelfand and Berkes, managed to overcome his personal demons to outplay Polgar in an epic 75-move marathon to take the sole lead and at the same time taking the scores between the two now to just 13-3. The day turned into a double tragedy for Hungary, as third placed Peter Leko also found himself being cut down to size by his fellow countryman and the 2001 world junior champion, Peter Acs, who outplayed the world title challenger in a wild game to knock him out of contention.
In the final round, Short, with the luxury of a one-point advantage over his nearest rival, only needs a draw against the out of form Hungarian back marker Zoltan Almasi to win the tournament, while Polgar has the tough task of needing to beat Israeli Boris Gelfand, while simultaneously relying on a Short defeat to tie for first.
Standings after round 8: 1 N Short (England) 6/8; 2 J Polgar (Hungary) 5; 3-6 P Leko (Hungary), S Movsesian (Slovakia), P Acs (Hungary), B Gelfand (Israel) 4; 7-9 V Korchnoi (Switzerland) 3.5, C Lutz (Germany), F Berkes (Hungary) 3.5; 10 Z Almasi (Hungary) 2.5.
N Short J Polgar
Hunguest Hotels (8), Sicilian Najdorf
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 0-0 0-0 9 Kh1 Nc6 10 Be3 Be6 11 Qd2 d5 12 exd5 Nxd5 13 Nxd5 Bxd5 14 Rfd1 Bxb3 15 axb3 Qxd2 16 Rxd2 Rad8 17 Rad1 Rxd2 18 Rxd2 Rd8 19 Bd3 g6 20 c3 a5 21 f3 h6 22 g3 Bg5 23 f4 exf4 24 gxf4 Bf6 25 Kg2 g5 26 Bc4 Re8 27 Re2 gxf4 28 Bxf4 Rxe2+ 29 Bxe2 Kg7 30 Bg4 Bg5 31 Bc7 Bd8 32 Bg3 Kg6 33 Bc8 b6 34 Kf3 f5 35 Bd7 Ne7 36 Bh4 Kf7 37 Bf2 Bc7 38 h4 h5 39 Ke2 f4 40 Kf3 Ng6 41 Bf5 Ne5+ 42 Ke4 Ng4 43 Bd4 Ne3 44 Bh3 Ng4 45 Kf5 Ne3+ 46 Kg5 Nc2 47 Bf2 Ne3 48 Kxh5 Kf6 49 Bg4 Bd6 50 Be1 Bf8 51 b4 axb4 52 cxb4 Nd5 53 b5 Bb4 54 Bxb4 Nxb4 55 Be2 Kf5 56 Kh6 Kf6 57 Kh5 Kf5 58 b3 Nd5 59 Bd3+ Ke5 60 Kg4 Nf6+ 61 Kf3 Ng8 62 h5 Nh6 63 Bg6 Ng8 64 Bc2 Nh6 65 Bd3 Ng8 66 Kg4 Nf6+ 67 Kg5 f3 68 h6 f2 69 Kg6 Nd5 70 Bc4 Ke4 71 Kf7 Ne3 72 Be2 Nf5 73 h7 Ke3 74 Bf1 Ng3 75 Bg2 1-0
18th April, 2003
AFTER her superb start to the Hunguest Hotels Super Chess Tournament taking place in Budapest, Judit Polgar's unbeaten run was finally halted in round five, as her 'Battle of Budapest' duel with Peter Leko had the nation abuzz.
Polgar came face to face with world title challenger Peter Leko in a match up that lived up to all its expectations. There were no-holds barred as both Hungarian superstars went for the jugular in a very wild Sicilian Sveshnikov, which Leko won to move himself into contention for first. The result allowed Nigel Short, having a renaissance of sorts by producing his best chess in recent years, to draw level with Polgar; and with Leko now just a half point behind the joint leaders, the race is now on between the top three to the finish.
One of the reasons for the event being staged in Budapest is to help fine-tune Leko's final preparations for his forthcoming world title challenge with Vladimir Kramnik, in the first defence of his title since dethroning Garry Kasparov in November 2000. Einstein Plc (who owns the rights to the world crown once held by Kasparov) has yet to officially announce the specifics of the match; though speculation is mounting that one could be imminent.
During the opening ceremony, Hungarian Prime Minister Dr. Peter Medgyessy, in an effort to help boost Leko's chances of winning the world crown in his home town, heavily hinted to the press that he was doing "everything he possibly can" to bring the match to the Hungarian capital to give their man home advantage.
Einstein are believed to be at an advanced stage of negotiations with the Hungarian government, and an announcement could be made for a $1.2 million title match between Kramnik and Leko by the end of the month, which is likely to be a 12-game match with a start date of mid June - and almost certain to clash with the rival $1 million FIDE title match in Buenos Aires between Garry Kasparov and Ruslan Ponomariov.
Standings after round 5: 1-2 N Short (England), J Polgar (Hungary) 3.5/5; 3 P Leko (Hungary) 3; 4-5 S Movsesian (Slovakia), B Gelfand (Israel) 2.5; 6-10 C Lutz (Germany), F Berkes (Hungary), P Acs (Hungary), V Korchnoi (Switzerland), Z Almasi (Hungary) 2.
J Polgar - P Leko
Hunguest Hotels (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 Qh5 Rg8 13 g3 Rg5 14 Qd1 Bxd5 15 exd5 Ne7 16 Nxb5 Qb6 17 Na3 Qxb2 18 Nc4 Qc3+ 19 Kf1 Rd8 20 Rb1 e4 21 Be2 f4 22 Rb3 Qf6 23 gxf4 Qxf4 24 Ne3 Bg7 25 Bxa6 Nf5 26 Ng2 Qe5 27 h4 Rg6 28 Rhh3 Kf8 29 Qb1 Bf6 30 h5 Rg8 31 Be2 Nd4 32 Rbe3 Bg5 33 Qb6 Re8 34 Reg3 f5 35 Nh4 Nxe2 36 Kxe2 f4 37 Rb3 f3+ 38 Kf1 Qxd5 39 Nxf3 Qc4+ 40 Rd3 exd3 41 Qxd6+ Be7 42 Qh6+ Rg7 43 Rg3 dxc2+ 44 Kg2 Qc3 0-1
17th April, 2003
WHILE the chess world may be perceived to still be a 'man's world', this is certainly not the case when you have a tournament that has Hungary's Judit Polgar among the field.
Judit, 26, is certainly striking a major blow for sexual equality at the Hunguest Hotels tournament in her hometown of Budapest. After four rounds, the world's top female player of all-time has proved to be in virtual "maneater" form and leads the field with a remarkable unbeaten score of 3.5/4.
Polgar got off to the best possible start in the tournament with three successive victories (over Korchnoi, Acs and Almasi) before her superb winning run was halted in round four by German's Christopher Lutz. Polgar's rich vein of form has also overshadowed Nigel Short's superb start, and the former world championship challenger has to be content with second place on 3 behind Polgar.
Judit, the youngest and best of the famed Polgar Sisters, first came to prominence at 13, when she captured the world's under-14 crown for boys. She then the headlines in 1991 after breaking a 30-year record of Bobby Fischer's by becoming, at 15, the world's youngest grandmaster. Unlike her two sisters Susan and Sofia, Judit deliberately shunned women-only events in preference for tournament's that would allow her to compete on equal terms with the world's top male players. She was at one point ranked 7th in the world, and she came close to winning the FIDE (world) men's championship a few years ago.
Standings after round 4: 1 J Polgar (Hungary) 3.5/4; 2 N Short (England) 3; 3-5 P Leko (Hungary), B Gelfand (Israel), S Movsesian (Slovakia) 2; 6-8 C Lutz (Germany), V Korchnoi (Switzerland), Z Almasi (Hungary) 1.5; 9-10 F Berkes (Hungary), P Acs (Hungary) 1.
P Acs - J Polgar
Hunguest Hotels (2), Sicilian Najdorf
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 f3 Qb6 7 Nb3 e6 8 g4 Nc6 9 g5 Nd7 10 h4 Qc7 11 Be3 b5 12 h5 Bb7 13 Rh3 Nb6 14 Qd2 Ne5 15 Qf2 Nec4 16 Bd4 b4 17 Nd1 d5 18 e5 Nd7 19 f4 Be7 20 Ne3 a5 21 Nd2 Nxd2 22 Qxd2 Nc5 23 g6 hxg6 24 hxg6 Rxh3 25 Bxh3 Bh4+ 26 Kf1 Ne4 27 Qd1 Bf2 28 Qg4 Bxe3 29 Bxe3 d4 30 gxf7+ Kf8 31 Qh4 Qc4+ 32 Kg1 dxe3 33 Bg4 e2 0-1
16th April, 2003
DESPITE such a rich chess heritage and having some of the brightest talents in the game, Hungary has, in recent years, failed to organize an elite tournament to help better showcase their talents.
Not any more. As part of the celebrations to commemorate the 130th anniversary of Budapest, birthplace of chess superstars Peter Leko and Judit Polgar, a new top level event featuring 10 world-class competitors is now taking place in the Hungarian capital. The patron of the event is Hungarian Prime Minister Dr. Peter Medgyessy, and the event, billed as the "Talent and Courage" tournament, is sponsored by the Hungarian government in conjunction with the Hunguest Hotels Co.
Running 11-20 April, the event, a round-robin category 17 (average rating 2663) tournament, aims to give opportunities on home soil for the most talented young Hungarian grandmasters in order to acquire greater experience.
The Hungarian line-up is made up of their successful silver-medal winning Olympiad squad that last year in Bled took the Russians to the wire: Peter Leko, Judit Polgar, Peter Acs, Zoltan Almasi and Ferenc Berekes. Making up the field is five foreign grandmasters: Boris Gelfand (Israel), Nigel Short (England), Sergei Movsesian (Slovakia), Christopher Lutz (Germany) and Viktor Korchnoi (Switzerland).
The home fans had plenty to cheer about in the opening round, as in-form Judit Polgar turned on the style to beat the venerable Viktor Korchnoi in an eye-catching game.
V Korchnoi - J Polgar
Hunguest Hotels (1), Queen's Indian Defence
1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 b6 3 Nc3 Bb7 4 d4 e6 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 g5 7 Bg3 Nh5 8 e3 Nxg3 9 fxg3 Bg7 10 Bd3 Nc6 11 0-0 Qe7 12 a3 0-0-0 13 Rc1 h5 14 c5 g4 15 cxb6 gxf3 16 bxc7 Kxc7 17 d5 Qg5 18 dxc6 Qxe3+ 19 Kh1 fxg2+ 20 Kxg2 Bxc6+ 21 Be4 Bxc3 22 Bxc6 Qd2+ 23 Kh3 h4 24 Rxc3 hxg3+ 25 Kg4 Rhg8+ 26 Kf3 dxc6 27 Qxd2 Rxd2 28 hxg3 Rxb2 29 Ke4 f5+ 30 Ke5 Rg6 31 Rh1 Re2+ 32 Kf4 Re4+ 33 Kf3 Reg4 34 Kf2 e5 35 Rf3 Kd6 36 Rh7 a6 37 Ra7 Ra4 38 Rd3+ Ke6 39 Rc3 Kd5 40 Rd7+ Rd6 41 Rf7 f4 42 Rb7 Rc4 43 Rd3+ Kc5 44 Rdb3 Rd2+ 45 Kf3 fxg3 46 Kxg3 Rdc2 0-1
15th April, 2003
THE 110th Scottish Championships ended in a two-way tie for the national title, as defending champion GM Paul Motwani and Woman Grandmaster Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant finished equal first on 7/9.
Going into the final round, overnight leader Motwani had the benefit of a half point lead over his nearest rival. Yet, despite the advantage, Motwani found the going tough playing Anglo-Irish IM Mark Orr, who defended accurately to force a draw in the top board clash. This left the way open for lone female player Arakhamia-Grant to catch up with Motwani, and she did so by brushing aside the challenge of GM Colin McNab for the full point.
Unlike most national titles the Scottish Championships is not decided by tiebreak or by a playoff - if the players tie, then they share the title.
For Motwani, the shared title win puts him on seventh heaven as he equalled the modern-day record of IM Roddy McKay (achieved between 1971-1988) with seven title wins in the Championship roll of honour - still some way off the all-time record of 11 titles won during a golden 30 year period from 1932-1962 by the eminent bridge designer WA Fairhurst (not to mention the 10 titles won during the same period by his arch-rival, Dr. James Aitken).
As for Arakhamia-Grant, one of the world's top female players who now lives in Edinburgh, it's her first national title win - and she now emulates the feats of Hungary's Judit Polgar by having the distinction of entering the record books by becoming the first woman to win the national title.
Despite a highly-creditable third place with a Boys Own stuff performance, Graeme Kafka could only draw with Joe Redpath and thus fails to get the IM norm.
Final standings: 1-2 GM P Motwani, WGM K Arakhamia-Grant 7/9; 3 G Kafka 6; 4-7 IM C Pritchett, I Gourlay, J Grant, M Fraser 5; 8-12 GM C McNab, IM M Orr, A Grant, J Redpath, I Robertson 4.5; 13-14 A Burnett, J Stevenson 4; 15-17 E Spencer, S Brown, C MacDonald 3; 18 D MacArainn 1.5.
K Arakhamia - C McNab
110th Scottish Ch. (9), Pirc Defence
1 e4 g6 2 d4 d6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 Be3 Nf6 5 Qd2 c6 6 Nf3 Qa5 7 Bd3 Bg4 8 0-0-0 Nbd7 9 Kb1 e5 10 dxe5 dxe5 11 Bc4 0-0 12 h3 Bxf3 13 gxf3 Rfd8 14 a3 Qc7 15 Ba2 Bf8 16 Qe2 b5 17 Bg5 Be7 18 h4 Nf8 19 Bxf6 Bxf6 20 h5 Rd4 21 Rdg1 Rad8 22 Qe3 Qd6 23 hxg6 hxg6 24 Ne2 Rd7 25 Nxd4 exd4 26 Qd2 Qe5 27 Rg4 c5 28 Bd5 Rxd5 29 exd5 Qxd5 30 Qe2 c4 31 Qe4 Qd6 32 f4 b4 33 f5 Bg7 34 fxg6 fxg6 35 axb4 1-0
14th April, 2003
GRANDMASTER Paul Motwani looks to be heading for a seventh national title at the 110th Scottish Championships taking place at George Heriot's School in Edinburgh, as the defending champion and top seed takes a crucial half point lead over nearest rival Woman Grandmaster Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, going into the final round.
In round seven, Motwani easily mowed down Alan Grant to extend his lead at the top, as Arakhamia-Grant drew with IM Craig Pritchett. In the penultimate round, with a win over the hapless Alan Grant, Arakhamia-Grant cut Motwani's lead back again to half a point after he drew with long-standing Dundonian rival GM Colin McNab - their 54th meeting in competitive play, Motwani now ahead by 3 in their personal duel by a score of 28.5-25.5.
With the title at stake in the final round, Motwani has white against Anglo-Irish IM Mark Orr, and Arakhamia-Grant, vying to be the first female to win the national title, also has white against McNab.
While the natural order of things has been restored at the top after sixteenth seed Graeme Kafka sensationally led the tournament at the midway point, he continues to be the revelation of this year's Championship. In round seven, Kafka defeated Orr and went on to draw with Iain Gourlay to be firmly placed in third behind the leaders going into the final round - and crucially a full point ahead of the rest of the field.
Having played four of the five titled players in the tournament, Kafka has turned in a 2400+ performance so far, and now only needs a win in the final round against good friend(!) Joe Redpath to unbelievably record his first International Master norm.
Fortune favoured the lucky in round seven, when our hero beat Orr from an inferior position to prove that old adage that when you're on a roll, you're on a roll. Instead of 26 ..a4?, Orr was winning after 26 ..Bb5! 27 Kg3 Qe1.
Standings after Round 8: 1 GM P Motwani 6.5/8; 2 WGM K Arakhamia-Grant 6; 3 G Kafka 5.5; 4-6 GM C McNab, IM C Pritchett, I Gourlay 4.5; 7-13 IM M Orr, A Grant, J Grant, J Redpath, M Fraser, I Robertson, A Burnett 4; 14 J Stevenson 3.5; 15-17 E Spencer, S Brown, C MacDonald 2.5; 18 G MacArainn 1.5
G Kafka - M Orr
110th Scottish Ch. (7), French Advanced
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nf3 Bd7 6 Be2 Nge7 7 Na3 cxd4 8 cxd4 Nf5 9 Nc2 Qb6 10 0-0 a5 11 Kh1 Nb4 12 Be3 Be7 13 g4 Nxe3 14 fxe3 0-0 15 Na3 Rac8 16 Qd2 Rc7 17 Rfc1 Rfc8 18 Rxc7 Rxc7 19 h4 Nc2 20 Nxc2 Qxb2 21 Bd3 Rxc2 22 Qxc2 Qxa1+ 23 Kg2 g6 24 h5 gxh5 25 Bxh7+ Kg7 26 gxh5 a4 27 Bd3 Bc6 28 Qf2 a3 29 Qg3+ Kf8 30 h6 Qxa2+ 31 Kh3 Qa1 32 h7 Qh1+ 33 Nh2 1-0
11th April, 2003
THE Boys Own stuff performance of Graeme Kafka at the 110th Scottish Championships came to a dramatic halt in round five, as reality set in for the overnight leader with his first loss of the tournament.
Facing WGM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant in the top board clash of the round, Kafka soon reverted to type as he found himself being outplayed by one of the world's leading female players who ended his remarkable unbeaten run. Despite the set back, the turnaround in Kafka's performance this year has to be compared with last year's Scottish Championships in Stirling, when he finished the tournament on the same point's haul he has now: 3.5/9!
Arakhamia-Grant's victory gives her a share of first place on 4/5 as the tournament reaches the decisive stages - and opens the possibility of the Edinburgh-based Georgian internationalist becoming the first female player to win the national title. She's joined in the top spot by defending champion Paul Motwani, whose spectacular knight sacrifice made short work of former champion IM Craig Pritchett.
With both leaders having already played each other, the race for the 2003 title will now depend on their performance against the rest of the field. In round six, Motwani will have black on top board against Iain Gourlay, while Arakhamia-Grant - who just may find herself facing husband Jonathan Grant in the run-in for the title! - faces Anglo-Irish IM Mark Orr.
Standings after Round 5: 1-2 GM P Motwani, WGM K Arakhamia-Grant 4/5; 3 G Kafka 3.5; 4-8 IM M Orr, IM C Pritchett, I Gourlay, A Grant, M Fraser 3; 9-11 GM C McNab, J Grant, I Robertson 2.5; 12-14 E Spencer, J Redpath, S Brown 2; 15-16 A Burnett, J Stevenson 1.5; 17-18 C MacDonald, D MacArainn 1.
P Motwani - C Pritchett
110th Scottish Ch. (5), English Hedgehog
1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 b6 3 Bg2 Bb7 4 0-0 e6 5 c4 c5 6 Nc3 Be7 7 Re1 d6 8 e4 a6 9 d4 cxd4 10 Nxd4 Qc7 11 Be3 0-0 12 Rc1 Nbd7 13 f4 Rfe8 14 g4 g6 15 g5 Nh5 16 Nde2 f5 17 exf5 gxf5 18 Nd5 exd5 19 Bxd5+ Bxd5 20 Qxd5+ Kh8 21 Bd4+ Ng7 22 Ng3 Ne5 23 fxe5 dxe5 24 Bxe5 Qc5+ 25 Kg2 Qxd5+ 26 cxd5 Bxg5 27 Rc6 1-0
10th April, 2003
THE surprise package of this year's Scottish Championships taking place at George Heriot's School in Edinburgh has unquestionably been that of Scotland's top junior Graeme Kafka, and the success story continues as he now moves into the sole lead in the tournament.
With the four overnight leaders tied in first place on 2.5/3, all had to play each other in round four. The all-title clash on top board between defending champion GM Paul Motwani and WGM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, one of the world's top female players, proved to be a lively sacrificial encounter that, despite the excitement, ended in a draw.
On the next board, however, Kafka again proved to be in inspired form as he literally blew his opponent, Mark Fraser, off the board with a devastating sacrificial attack to win the game. Undefeated on 3.5/4, the win now gives Kafka an unlikely half point lead over the field as the tournament reaches its midway point. To show the remarkable turnaround in Kafka's performance this year, we only have to look at last year's Scottish Championships in Stirling, when he finished the tournament on the same point's haul he has now: 3.5/9!
Kafka will now play Arakhamia-Grant in the top board clash of round five. On board two, defending champion Motwani will play IM Craig Pritchett, who has now moved back to Scotland from London, and is making a much welcomed return to the national tournament. Pritchett, whose one and only title win was in 1977 in Glasgow, moved into contention as he joined the chasing pack of Motwani and Arakhamia-Grant on 3-points after beating Ed Spencer.
Standings: 1 G Kafka 3.5/4; 2-4 GM P Motwani, WGM K Arakhamia, IM C Pritchett 3; 5-6 I Gourlay, M Fraser 2.5; 7-12 GM C McNab, IM M Orr, A Grant, J Grant, E Spencer, J Redpath 2; 13-14 I Robertson, A Burnett 1.5; 15-17 S Brown, C MacDonald, G MacArainn 1; J Stevenson 0.5
G Kafka - M Fraser
110th Scottish Ch. (4), Advanced French
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nf3 Qb6 6 a3 Bd7 7 Be2 c4 8 Nbd2 Na5 9 g3 f6 10 0-0 Nh6 11 Re1 Nf7 12 Bf1 0-0-0 13 Bh3 f5 14 Qe2 Re8 15 Nf1 Nb3 16 Rb1 Nxc1 17 Rexc1 g5 18 Bg2 g4 19 N3d2 Bh6 20 Ne3 Bxe3 21 Qxe3 Qc6 22 b3 b5 23 bxc4 bxc4 24 Rb4 Qa6 25 Rcb1 Bc6 26 Qe2 Nd8 27 Qe3 h6 28 f3 gxf3 29 Qxf3 Qxa3 30 Rb8+ Kc7 31 Nxc4 dxc4 32 Qxc6+ 1-0
9th April, 2003
DEFENDING champion Paul Motwani looks as if he's not going to have it all his own way as he aims for a seventh title in the 110th Scottish Championships being played at George Heriot's School in Edinburgh, as he went through the unexpected trial of a determined challenge from one of Scotland's leading juniors, Graeme Kafka.
Playing white, the odds were firmly on pre-tournament favourite Motwani to effortlessly progress onto 3/3. Undeterred by his chances, Kafka emerged from the complications from the opening with the better position and an extra pawn after the dust had settled. Unfortunately for his heroic efforts, Kafka couldn't stop Motwani steering the game into a technically drawn ending.
Kafka's "metamorphosis" from top junior to a leading contender is proving to be the highlight so far in the tournament. Kafka's tournament performance rating (TPR) has now reached the dizzy heights of 2477 - over 450 points more than his published rating. Although it is too early to view him as a leading contender for the title, his superb start gives him a big chance to aim for a first International Masters norm.
The surprise result on the top board allowed others to join Motwani and Kafka in the lead. Top female player WGM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, after beating Iain Gourlay, joins the leaders on 2.5/3 - and another in the hunt for the title and a first IM norm is Musselburgh's Mark Fraser, who tops the table with a TPR of 2570. After beating Anglo-Irish IM Mark Orr in the game of the day from round three, Fraser also joins the leading pack at the top on 2.5/3.
Standings: 1-4 G Kafka, GM P Motwani, WGM K Arakhamia-Grant, M Fraser 2.5/3; 5-6 E Spencer, IM C Pritchett 2; 7-10 I Robertson, IM M Orr, I Gourlay, GM C McNab 1.5; 11-16 S Brown, J Redpath, G MacArainn, J Grant, A Grant, C MacDonald 1; 17-18 A Burnett, J Stevenson 0.5.
Orr soon finds himself being rocked after Fraser's stunning rook sacrifice after 17 Rxh6!!, from which there is no defence: 17 ..Bxh6 18 Qg6+ Bg7 19 Ng5 is mating.
M Fraser - M Orr
110th Scottish Ch. (3), Caro-Kann Defence
1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 g6 4 h3 Bg7 5 Nf3 Nh6 6 e5 0-0 7 Bf4 f6 8 Qd2 g5 9 Be3 Nf5 10 0-0-0 Nxe3 11 Qxe3 Bf5 12 g4 Bg6 13 h4 h6 14 hxg5 fxg5 15 Bd3 Bxd3 16 Qxd3 e6 17 Rxh6 Rxf3 18 Qg6 Kf8 19 Rdh1 Qd7 20 Rh8+ Bxh8 21 Rxh8+ Ke7 22 Qg7+ 1-0
8th April, 2003
IT may be the early stages of the 110th Scottish Championships as the national flagship event reaches the second round at George Heriot's School in Edinburgh, but already defending champion Paul Motwani looks odds-on to capture his seventh title.
In round two, Motwani, one of a group of four overnight leaders on full points, effortlessly moved on to 2/2 after beating first round hero Ian Robertson of Dunfermline, surprise victor over second seed and four-time champion Colin McNab in the opening round.
Motwani is now joined at the top on full points by one of Scotland's top junior's Graeme Kafka, who beat Ed Spencer. Both players must now play in round three in a forced pairing - Motwani looking the more likely to overcome any "trial" set by Kafka to progress in the tournament to 3/3.
After his opening round shock, McNab's agony in the tournament continued after he was held to a draw in round two by Edinburgh junior Joe Redpath, and the second seed has now fallen 1.5-points off the pace set by the early leaders.
Standings: 1-2 GM P Motwani, G Kafka 2/2; 3-6 WGM K Arakhamia-Grant, IM M Orr, I Gourlay, M Fraser 1.5; 7-11 IM C Pritchett, J Grant, E Spencer, I Robertson, G MacArainn 1; 12-17 GM C McNab, J Redpath, S Brown, A Burnett, J Stevenson, C MacDonald 0.5; 18 A Grant 0.
In the opening round, Motwani's "caveman" tactics quickly saw off the spirited challenge of Joe Redpath, who saw his pet-line of the Prybil System being ruthlessly savaged by Scotland's first grandmaster. In the game, taking on c2 with the bishop may have been better - but nevertheless just as dangerous: 14 ..Bxc2 15 f5 Re8 16 Nf4 Bd6 17 Ne6 Bd3 18 Rf2 and this isn't the sort of position you would like to defend as black against Motwani.
P Motwani - J Redpath
110th Scottish Ch. (1), Prybil System
1 d4 d6 2 e4 Nf6 3 Nc3 c6 4 f4 Qa5 5 e5 Ne4 6 Qf3 d5 7 Bd3 Na6 8 Nge2 f5 9 exf6 exf6 10 Bxe4 dxe4 11 Qxe4+ Kf7 12 0-0 Bf5 13 Qf3 Nb4 14 g4 Nxc2 15 gxf5 Nxa1 16 Bd2 Nb3 17 axb3 Qxf5 18 Ng3 Qc2 19 Nce4 Qxb2 20 Ng5+ fxg5 21 fxg5+ Ke8 22 Qe2+ Be7 23 Nf5 1-0
7th April, 2003
THE first of the chess double-headers got underway at George Heriot's School in Edinburgh, as MSP Iain Gray, Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Life-long Learning, accompanied by John Glendinning, the president of Chess Scotland, officially declared the 110th Scottish Chess Championships open.
Formalities aside, top seed Paul Motwani got off to the best possible start to the defence of his title as he outwitted Joe Redpath in a sharp game, when the Edinburgh junior's pet-line in the Prybil System was blown apart by Motwani's legendary, tactical prowess.
Motwani's opening day victory puts him on the road to retaining his title - and his chances of doing so were helped by the fact that the other four titled players didn't win a game! IM Craig Pritchett, a whole piece up, let his position slip against Andrew Burnett and had to settle for the draw; WGM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant was held to a draw by Mark Fraser; and likewise IM Mark Orr, who could only draw with Steven Brown.
The biggest opening day shockerooney, however, came on board two with the defeat of second seed and four-time champion GM Colin McNab, who came unstuck and found himself surprisingly being checkmated in a wild and complicated game by Ian Robertson - who himself was a reluctant last-minute championship replacement for IM Douglas Bryson.
Leader board: 1-4 GM P Motwani, E Spencer, G Kafka, I Robertson 1/1; 2-14 IM C Pritchett, WGM K Arakhamia-Grant, IM M Orr, A Burnett, I Gourlay, J Stevenson, M Fraser, S Brown, C MacDonald, J Grant 0.5; 15-18 GM C McNab, A Grant, J Redpath, G MacAriann 0.
Game analysis: Instead of the dubious 16 ..Nd4, Black could have maintained an advantage with 16 ..Be2 17 Re1 Nd4 18 a4 Bd6 19 d3 c6 20 Be3 Bh5. In a complicated position, White misses his chance to unravel with the better position: 22 Nxf5! Rf6 23 d4 exd4 24 Qd3 Raf8 25 Nh4 Qe1 26 Nf3 Qf2 27 Bg5 and white's much better.
C McNab - I Robertson
110th Scottish Ch. (1), English Opening
1 c4 Nc6 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 e6 4 e4 Bb4 5 Qc2 d6 6 h3 0-0 7 Ne2 d5 8 e5 d4 9 exf6 d3 10 Qb1 dxe2 11 Bxe2 Qxf6 12 0-0 e5 13 Bd3 Bxh3 14 Bxh7+ Kh8 15 Be4 Bg4 16 Nh2 Nd4 17 Nxg4 Ne2+ 18 Kh1 Ng3+ 19 fxg3 Qxf1+ 20 Kh2 f5 21 Ne3 Qf2 22 Bxf5 Bc5 23 Bg6 Rad8 24 d4 Rxd4 25 Nf5 Rg4 26 Bh5 Rxf5 27 Bxg4 Qg1+ 28 Kh3 Qh1# 0-1
4th April, 2003
WITH the Chess Scotland cup finals having been decided and Easter now on the horizon, it's that time of the year on the domestic scene when the league seasons are coming to an end with all the titles more or less decided.
In Scotland, there are ten leagues (eleven if we count the Scottish National League which is available for all teams across the country to compete in - and which next season may incorporate all of Chess Scotland's cup events such as the Richardson, Spens and Rosebowl) for the club player that covers the length and breadth of the country, stretching from the North East Scotland League (which takes in the Aberdeen, Peterhead and surrounding areas) down to the Dumfries & Galloway League.
However, by far the most important (and strongest) league titles are the two that are joined at each end of the M8 motorway: the Edinburgh & Lothians Chess Association (ELCA) Premier League, and the Glasgow Chess League (GCL).
Over on the East, Edinburgh Chess Club retained their ELCA Premier League title, scoring 18 points out of a possible 20 to take first place ahead of Wandering Dragons on 14 points. Over in the West, Cathcart Chess Club, with the formidable trio of IM Roddy McKay, IM Stephen Mannion and Alan Grant on the top boards, easily secured their sixth GCL Division 1 title this week after an emphatic 6-2 defeat of Glasgow Montrose. Cathcart took the title on 17 points out of a possible 18, ahead of Shettleston on 13 and Polytechnic on 12.
S Mannion - E Davis
Glasgow Chess League (Div 1) Cathcart vs. Poly A, French Tarrasch
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 c3 c5 6 Bd3 Nc6 7 Ne2 cxd4 8 cxd4 f6 9 exf6 Nxf6 10 Nf3 Bd6 11 0-0 Qc7 12 Nc3 a6 13 Bg5 0-0 14 Bh4 Bd7 15 Bg3 Bxg3 16 hxg3 Be8 17 Qe2 Bf7 18 Rfe1 Rae8 19 Rac1 Bh5 20 Qe3 Ng4 21 Qg5 Qf7 22 Qd2 h6 23 Bc2 Bg6 24 Bxg6 Qxg6 25 Ne2 Nf6 26 Nf4 Qf7 27 Nd3 Ne4 28 Qe3 Rc8 29 Nc5 Nxc5 30 Rxc5 Rfe8 31 Rec1 Qd7 32 Qc3 Ne7 33 Ne5 Qd6 34 Rxc8 Rxc8 35 Qxc8+ 1-0
3 April, 2003
CHESS fans are in for a treat of a veritable chess bonanza in Edinburgh, as the capital prepares itself for the double-header of the British and Scottish Chess Championships - both taking place at George Heriot's School in Lauriston Place.
The Scottish, which takes place 5-13 April, moves from its traditional summertime berth to make way for the British, which will run July 20-August 2. MSP Iain Gray, Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Life-long Learning, gets things underway at 12.45pm this Saturday, as he officially declares the 110th Scottish Championships open.
The 18-player field vying for the title is headed by Scotland's first grandmaster Paul Motwani, and the other four titled players looking to dethrone the defending champion will be GM Colin McNab, WGM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, IM Mark Orr and IM Craig Pritchett.
The Championships include an Open, Challengers, Major and Seniors. They also incorporate the Scottish Lightning Championship and the annual Easter Edinburgh Congress (April 11-13). Phone Graham Clarke 0131 336 1193 for further details.
Championship contestant Alan Grant, from Cathcart, was the winner of the Glenrothes Congress, held 7-9 March at the Lomond Centre in Glenrothes. Unlike other conventional tournaments, Glenrothes bucks the trend by using the football scoring system of 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. With an undefeated score of 13/15, Grant took first place ahead of Andrew Burnett, Ed Spencer and Scott Fraser on 10/15. The Major was won by Andrew Green on 13/15, and likewise the Minor by Brian Bonnyman on 13/15.
G Neave - A Grant
Glenrothes Open (5), Closed Sicilian
1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 d6 3 g3 Nc6 4 Bg2 g6 5 d3 Bg7 6 Be3 Nd4 7 Qd2 Qa5 8 f4 Rb8 9 Nf3 e5 10 0-0 Ne7 11 fxe5 dxe5 12 Bh6 0-0 13 Bxg7 Nxf3+ 14 Rxf3 Kxg7 15 Qg5 f6 16 Qh4 b5 17 Raf1 Rb6 18 a3 b4 19 axb4 cxb4 20 Nd1 Qc5+ 21 R3f2 a5 22 b3 Qd4 23 Bh3 Rc6 24 Bxc8 Rfxc8 25 Kh1 Ng8 26 g4 h6 27 Qg3 Rxc2 28 h4 Rxf2 29 Nxf2 Ne7 30 g5 hxg5 31 hxg5 f5 32 Kg2 f4 33 Qh3 Rc2 34 Qh4 Qe3 35 Kh1 Qf3+ 36 Kg1 Qh5 37 Qxh5 gxh5 38 d4 exd4 39 Nd3 Ng6 40 Nxf4 Nxf4 41 Rxf4 a4 0-1
2nd April, 2003
WITH Scotland having the second oldest chess associations in the world (formed in 1884), it's only naturally that their annual cup competitions also have a rich heritage.
In 1898, to coincide with his term as president of the national association, Mr J.B. Richardson offered a stunning silver trophy to be competed for by the leading clubs in the country as Scotland's premier cup competition; Dundee being the inaugural winners in 1899.
Following the death in 1900 of Sheriff Walter Spens, a leading Glasgow legal officer of his day and one of the original founding-members of the Scottish Chess Association (which has now become Chess Scotland), a public subscription among the membership was organised for a fitting memorial in his name. So, in 1902, the Spens Cup was initiated as a subsidiary event to allow teams to qualify for the Richardson Cup.
Last year, thanks to a nifty piece of detective work by Scotland On Sunday columnist IM Douglas Bryson (who was captain of centenary winners Shettleston), it was discovered that the original Spens Cup was destroyed in a fire at the club premises of the Jewish Institute during the war years between 1939 and 1945; and in 1946 the present cup was gifted by the Jewish Institute to the SCA as a suitable replacement.
On finals day on Saturday at the Grangemouth Sports Centre, Holy Cross and Irvine Porthead fought it out for in 101st Spens Cup Final. Despite having a decisive rating advantage, Holy Cross soon found themselves in trouble on the top two boards. However, Irvine failed to capitalize on their chances as Holy Cross won the top three boards to take their first Spens title with an emphatic 4.5-1.5 victory. And, in a closely-fought Jack Campbell Rosebowl Final, Dunfermline beat Dumfries 4-2.
A rather entertaining top board skirmish from the Spens Cup Final. Black may well have been better after 23 ..Qxf8! However, the game turns when Black, not realizing the strength of the queen sacrifice, turns down the forced draw after 25 ..Nh3+ 26 Kh1 Nf2+ (26 Kf1? Ng1! 27 Qd1 Qb5+ wins) repeating the position.
Spens Cup Final: Holy Cross 4.5-1.5 Irvine Porthead (HC white on odds)
1 A Stalker 1-0 T Barrett; 2 G King 0-1 S Tweedie; 3 T Donohue 1-0 A Birnie; 4 R Yates draw C Tweedie; 5 M Hanley 1-0 R Loughran; 6 R Gourlay 1-0 D Rooney.
A Stalker - T Barrett
Spens Cup Final (Bd.1), Leningrad Dutch
1 d4 f5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 g6 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 0-0 0-0 6 b3 d6 7 Bb2 c6 8 Nbd2 Qe8 9 Re1 Na6 10 c4 Ne4 11 Nxe4 fxe4 12 Ng5 d5 13 cxd5 cxd5 14 f3 h6 15 Nh3 exf3 16 exf3 Bf5 17 Nf4 Nb4 18 Rc1 a5 19 Rc7 Bf6 20 Ne6 Nd3 21 Nxf8 Nxb2 22 Qe2 Bxd4+ 23 Kh1 Nd3 24 Ne6 Nf2+ 25 Kg1 Bd3 26 Nxd4 Bxe2 27 Rxe2 Nd3 28 Rexe7 Qf8 29 Ne6 Qf6 30 Rg7+ 1-0
1 April, 2003
NEXT weekend sees the start of the 110th Scottish Championships at George Heriot's School in Edinburgh. The move from its traditional summertime slot clears the way for a veritable chess bonanza this year in Edinburgh, as the capital city also plays host to the British Championships from 20 July to 2 August at the same venue.
The early start to the Scottish Championships also means a slightly earlier date for the finals of the Chess Scotland team competitions, which were held on Saturday at the Grangemouth Sports Center. In a repeat of last year's Richardson Cup Final, defending champions Glasgow Polytechnic yet again ran up easy victors over Edinburgh West, who now have the unlucky distinction of having lost all four of their finals in the last six years.
The 5.5-2.5 victory for "Poly" was perhaps a little flattering in an evenly matched encounter where all the games were closely contested. Poly took the lead after David Watt, in a superior position, won on time on bottom board over Bruce McNally. This was followed with a draw on the top board between IM John Shaw and WGM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant. The match was soon tied at 1.5-1.5 as Edinburgh West's Joe Redpath, the youngest player in the match, beat Poly stalwart Ian Swan in the board two encounter. However, Poly, with a wealth of experience in the middle order, ground out the necessary wins to retain their title as Scotland's top club.
Poly has now notched up eleven wins in the 104-year history of Scotland's premier cup competition and is placed third in the order of merit for Richardson wins. The now defunct Glasgow Club's record haul of 33 wins keeps them alive in name only in the history books ahead of their former rivals - though very much still in existence! - Edinburgh with 23 wins. However, this year's win gives Poly a fifth successive victory in the competition, a feat equalled only by Glasgow in the late 1960s.
Glasgow Polytechnic 5.5-2.5 Edinburgh West (Polytechnic white on odds)
1 IM J Shaw draw WGM K Arakhamia-Grant; 2 J Redpath 1-0 I Swan; 3 E Davis 1-0 J Grant; 4 N Farrell draw M Perez; 5 L Kirk 1-0 W Buchanan; 6 G Neave draw D Byrne; 7 G Rattray 1-0 P McInally; 8 B McNally 0-1 D Watt.
J Redpath - I Swan
Richardson Cup Final (Bd. 2), Queen's Pawn Opening
1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 c5 3 dxc5 e6 4 c4 Bxc5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 e3 Nf6 7 a3 a5 8 b3 0-0 9 Be2 Nc6 10 Bb2 Bg4 11 0-0 Qe7 12 Nc3 Rad8 13 Nb5 Ne4 14 Nbd4 f5 15 Nxc6 bxc6 16 Ne5 Bxe2 17 Qxe2 Rc8 18 Rac1 Bxa3 19 Nxc6 Qd6 20 Nd4 Bxb2 21 Qxb2 f4 22 Rxc8 Rxc8 23 Nf5 Qd7 24 Qe5 Re8 25 Qxf4 Rf8 26 g4 g6 27 f3 Nd2 28 Nh6+ Kg7 29 Qd4+ Kxh6 30 Qxd2 Qa7 31 Kg2 g5 32 h4 gxh4 33 e4+ Kg6 34 Qxd5 Qc7 35 Qh5+ Kg7 36 Qxh4 Qc2+ 37 Qf2 Qxb3 38 Qa7+ Rf7 39 Qxa5 Qc2+ 40 Rf2 Qc1 41 Qe5+ Kg8 42 Qb8+ Rf8 43 Qb3+ Rf7 44 Rc2 Qe1 45 Rc8+ Kg7 46 Qb2+ Kg6 47 Rc6+ 1-0
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