Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Weekender
by Manny Benitez, Sunday, 1 July 2007


Elimination series set

ALL players wishing to take a crack at the National Training Pool for members of the team to represent the country in the second Asian Indoor Games in Macau later this year should register on or before Saturday, July 21, for the selection tournament set for July 23-27, the National Chess Federation of the Philippines has announced.

The five-day elimination series will be held on the fifth floor of Marketplace Shopping Center on Kalentong Ave., Mandaluyong City.

According to the NCFP website, the start of the series was reset from Sunday to Monday to allow players and coaches from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to compete in the tournament.

The top nine male players and top 10 female players will qualify for the finals, along with the country’s five grandmasters who have been automatically seeded. In the event any of the top seeds fails to join the finals, he will be replaced by the next ranking player from the elimination series.

Registration for the elimination phase is free and there will be no cash prizes, either.

The four top players from the finals for either gender will form the men’s and women’s teams to be sent to Macau for the Asian Indoor Games, which will be held from October 25 to November 2 in the former Portuguese colony on South China’s coast.

Interested parties may call up the NCFP office, tel. No. 536-8507, or send an email to NCFPsecretariat@yahoo.com.



Foreign team leads Chinese, 15.5-12.5

A MULTINATIONAL team of four lesser-known foreign players caught a higher-rated four-man Chinese squad flat-footed and was leading, 15.5-12.5, after seven rounds in the fourth Taiyuan GM Scheveningen event.

Starring for the foreign team was a 31-year-old Russian GM known mainly for his usually unorthodox but fierce attacking style, Vadim Zvjaginsev (2658), who had 5.0 points from three wins and four draws.

On the Chinese side, new No. 1 player Wang Yue, 20, had the highest score with 4.0. Wang Yue (2696) captured the top slot in last Aprils’ Philippine Open at Subic Freeport.

Zvjaginsov had the able assistance of Ivan Cheparinov of Bulgaria, the brilliant second of past Fide world champion Veselin Topalov during his world title match against his successor, reigning world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.

Cheparinov (2657) matched Wan Yue’s 4.0 from board two, followed by Armenia’s Karen Asrian (2608) with 3.5 and Hungary’s Caaba Balogh (2567), 3.0.

Teenage Chinese superstar Wang Hao (2624) had 3.5 on board two while Zhang Pengxiang (2649) on board three and Ni Hua (2681) on board four pitched in with only 2.5 each.

Zvjaginzov proved nearly invincible with the White pieces as he revived old classical openings like the King’s Gambit, supposedly disreputable among modern-day, computer-trained grandmasters.

• V. Zvjaginsev (2658) - Wang Hao (2624)
Rd. 1, 4th GM Match, Taiyuan 2007
King’s Gambit Accepted (C36)

1.e4 e5 2.f4! exf4! The accepted line, which promises to steer the game to lively, double-edged positions 3.Nf3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.d4 Nf6 6.Bxf4 Qe4+ 7.Qe2 Qxe2+ 8.Bxe2 Nd5 9.Bd2 Be7 10.0–0 c6 11.c4 Nf6 12.Nc3 0–0 13.Bd3 Rd8 14.Rae1 Be6 15.Ne2 Nbd7 16.Nf4 Nf8 17.Bc3 Bd6 18.Nxe6 Nxe6 19.Bf5 Nc7 20.Ba5 Nfe8 21.Ng5 g6 22.Bh3 b6 23.Bc3 f6 24.Ne6 Nxe6 25.Bxe6+ Kg7 26.g4 Also playable was 26.d5 cxd5 27.Bxd5 Bc5+ 28.Kh1 Rac8, with White having a huge advantage h6 Safer was 26...a5 27.d5 Bc5+ 28.Kh1, reducing White’s lead 27.Kg2 a5 28.d5 c5? Better was 28...Bb4 29.Bxb4 axb4 30.dxc6 Rd6 29.h4! g5 30.hxg5 hxg5 31.Bf5 Nc7 Not 31...Bf8 because of 32.Rh1 Kf7 33.Rh7+ Bg7 34.Kf3! 32.Bc2 Rf8 33.Rf5 Rae8 34.Rxg5+ Kf7 35.Bg6+ Kg8 36.Bxf6!

The logical end, says Fritz: 36….Rxf6 37.Bxe8+ Kf8 38.Bc6! 1–0


Atalik, Howell lead in top-heavy Canada Open

VETERAN campaigners Suat Atalik of Turkey and David Howell of England led a field of heavyweights with 5.0 points after six rounds in this year’s edition of the Canadian Open Championship.

Snapping at their heels just half a poin behind were such favorites as Bu Xiangzhi of China, Nigel Short of England, Vadim Milov of Switzerland and Sergey Tiviakov of the Netherlands, along with Kamil Miton of Poland and Chanda Sandipan of India, most of them fresh from the World Open in Pennsylvania.

Besides the five runners-up already mentioned, there were 12 others in the batch of 4.5-pointers.

Short was one of the superstars who produced a well-played minigem of a game, against a much lower-ratted local player.

• Short,N (2691) - Kaminski,V (2149) [C18]
Rd. 1, Canadian Open, Ottawa 2007
French Defense (C18)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.h4 Nbc6 8.h5 h6 9.Qg4 Rg8 10.Bd3 Nf5 11.Ne2 Qa5 12.0–0 Qa4 13.Bxf5 exf5 14.Qg3 Ne7 If 14...cxd4 15.Bxh6 dxc3 16.Bxg7 f4 17.Nxf4 Rxg7 18.Qxg7 Qxf4 and White surges on 15.dxc5 Bd7 16.Nd4 Nc6 If 16...0–0–0 17.Rb1! 17.Bxh6 Nxd4 18.cxd4 Kf8? Best was 18...Qxd4 19.Bxg7 f4 19.Be3 Qxc2 20.e6!! Bc6 21.Qd6+! Ke8 22.exf7+ Missing his best shot, 22.Qc7!, e.g., 22...Rf8 23.Bg5! Kxf7 23.Qg6+ Ke7 24.Bg5+! Mate looms: 24…Kd7 25.Qd6+ Kc8 26.Bf4 Qxf2+ 27.Rxf2 Re8 28.Qc7#! 1–0



Arbiters lauded for promoting game
By Alfredo Vergara Chay

GRANDMASTER Eugene Torre and lawyer Sammy Estimo, executive director of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, have lauded the Chess Arbiters Association of the Philippines for its efforts to promote chess in the country.

The two chess leaders paid tribute to CAAP during its recent inaugural tournament at Ramon Magsaysay High School in Cubao, Quezon City, which saw Mandaluyong City’s Ricardo Jimenez and Far Eastern University student James Balicatan, 18, emerge as co-champions.

The first CAAP-sponsored tournament was open to non-masters rated 1950 and below.

The two top players scored 6.5 points each to evenly share the pooled top prizes of P6,000. Jimenez took the title on tiebreak.

Ervill Villa of Laguna finished the event half a point behind the leaders to pocket the third prize of P1,000, while Glenn Caballero of V. Luna Chess Club and Emil Chua had 5.5 points each to share the P1,000 pooled fourth and fifth prizes.

Category winners who each received P500 were kiddies “king” Alcon John Datu of the University of the East, top senior Juancho Caunti of Caloocan City, and top lady Jacqueline Ynot of National University.

Those who finished in sixth to 10th places were given P300 each, namely, Revin Brian Vasaloo, Rogelio Seguban, Emmanuel Emperado (son of Metropolitan Chess Club president Mila Emperado), Randolph Dalauta and QMC Chess Plaza habitué Stephen Manzanero.

At the closing ceremony, Torre, who was the first NCFP president and an alumnus of the host school, recalled the days when the Philippines was lording it over Asia in chess as he urged the 96 participants to further sharpen their playing skills and broaden their knowledge of chess theory with the help of the latest technological tools.

Lawyer Estimo cited CAAP’s role in seeking to unite Filipino chess arbiters nationwide and to standardize tournament arbitration and officiating.

He said he would recommend the affiliation of CAAP to the NCFP board and that the group be tapped for future tournaments to be organized by the federation.

The two NCFP leaders had also earlier sworn into office the CAAP directors and officers at rites held at the Rotary Club of Marikina Building.


QMC plaza habitué Shercila Cua top RP female player

WOMAN National Master Shercily Cua has become the country’s top female player, the NCFP revealed in its official website, which also named GM Joey Antonio as the top male player as earlier reported by The Weekender.

Shercily and her sister, WNM Sherily Cua, usually play at the QMC Chess Plaza on weekends. They won the inaugural Katuwaan Family Tournament organized by the QMC Chess Plaza’s management committee last December.

Both have won major prizes in local tournaments, with Shercila instrumental in the Philippine women’s team landing the top slot in Group C of the 37th World Olympiad held in Turin, Italy last year.

The NCFP posted the following announcement on its website: “In the women’s division, WNM Shercila Cua wrested the top spot with an ELO of 2224.

“WNM Catherine Pereña is second overall with ELO of 2218, followed by WFM Sheerie Joy Lomibao with ELO of 2174, WIM Beverly Mendoza, with ELO of 2154 and WIM Cristine Rose Mariano with ELO of 2083.”

As reported in the July 1 issue of The Weekender, “Antonio is still the No. 1 player in the country with Elo 2539, followed by GM Eugene Torre with 2538 and GM Mark Paragua with 2525…”



Akobian’s first big win this year

HIS victory over GM Alexander Stripunsky in the Armageddon playoff for the title makes the $400,000 World Open in Pennsylvania the first major event the 23-year-old Armenian-American grandmaster, Varuzhan Akobian, has won this year.

The recent Manila visitor must have had his lucky star hitched to the cash-rich World Open because it was also there that he earned his first GM norm in 2002, just a year after he moved to California from Yerevan, Armenia where he was born on November 19, 1983.

Akobian earned his second norm by topping the Imer Konig Memorial, where he beat such stalwarts as the late GM Alex Wojtkiewicz and six-time US Open champion Walter Browne later that year, and his third in 2003 at the Gufeld Memorial in California.

World Open champion Akobian was one of the foreign titans who competed in the GMA Cup in Parañaque City last November, beating among others GM Joey Antonio.

He also came for the Philippine Open in Subic where he finished in the same bracket (5.5 from nine games) as GM Eugene Torre, whom he had beaten at the San Marino Open soon after the 37th Olympiad in Turin last year.

Vakuzhan learned chess at the age of five during his family’s two-year-stay in Mongolia, where the freezing winds forced him and his sister to stay indoors and play the royal game.

When he and his family moved from Armenia to America in January 2001, the 17-year-old was already a well-established player back home where he was considered to be one of his country’s two top players, the other being Levon Aronian, who won the Kasparov Cup in 1997 with him as runner-up.

• V. Akobian (2574) – D. Howell (2518)
Rd. 4, 35th World Open, Philadelphia 2007
Gruenfeld Defense (D80)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Bh4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 dxc4 7.e3 If 7.Qa4+ Nd7, with equality Be6 8.Rb1 b6 9.Nf3 Bg7 10.Nd2 0–0 10...c5 11.Bxc4 Bxc4 12.Nxc4 should equalize 11.Be2 If 11.Qf3 c6! f5 11...c6 12.a4 would have equalized 12.0–0 Nd7 13.Qa4 c5 14.Bxc4 Bxc4 15.Qxc4+ Kh8 16.Nf3 Qe8 17.Qe6 Bf6 18.Bxf6+ Rxf6 19.Qb3 e5 20.a4 Rb8 21.Rfd1 e4 22.Nd2 Qe6 23.Qb5 Qc6 24.Qa6 If 24.Qxc6 Rxc6 25.d5 Rc7! Qb7 25.Qe2 Qc6 26.Nc4 Rc8 26...cxd4! should be tried, e.g., 27.cxd4 Rc8, with equal chances 27.d5 Qb7 Not 27...Qxa4?? as it’s a poisoned pawn, e.g., 28.Ra1 Qb3 29.Rdb1 Qxc3 30.Ra3 Qxa3 31.Nxa3, and White surges on 28.Rb5 Re8 29.a5 If 29.Qc2 Qb8! a6 Restoring the balance 30.Rxb6!

30…Nxb6 31.axb6 Rxb6 32.Nxb6 Qxb6 33.Qa2 Rd8 34.h3 Kg7 34...Qd6 35.c4 Rb8 36.Rb1 favors White 35.Rb1 Qf6 35...Qc7 may be safer 36.c4! Kh6 37.Qa5 Rc8 38.Rb6 Qh8 39.g3 Ra8 40.Kg2 Qc8 41.Rc6 Qb7 42.Qxc5! Clinching the point, e.g., 42…Qd7 43.Rc7! 1–0

Joel “Cholo” Banawa was unlucky to be paired in the first round against GM Stripunsky, whom Akobian defeated in the playoff, and so lost his first game. The 17-year-old California-based Filipino junior player, however, made up for it by winning his second game.

• J. Banawa (2310) – J. Larsen
Rd. 2, 35th World Open, Philadelphia 2007
Modern Benoni (A69)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 0–0 6.Nf3 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 Re8 10.Nd2 a6 11.a4 a5 12.0–0 Na6 13.Bf3 Nb4 Better was 13...Nd7 14.Qb3, with equality 14.Nc4! Re7 If 14...h5 15.h3 gives White the edge 15.e5 Ne8 16.Ne4 Bf5 17.Ncxd6 Bxe4? 17...Nxd6 was the saving resource: 18.Nxd6 Bc2! 18.Nxe4 Nxd5 19.Nxc5 Qb6 19...Qc7 20.Qxd5 Rd8 gives White tremendous advantage 20.Qxd5 Not 20.Bxd5 Qxc5+ 21.Kh1 Rd7 22.Bxf7+ Rxf7! Rd8 21.Qc4 Rc7 21...Bxe5 hardly improves anything 22.fxe5 Rxe5 23.b4 axb4 24.Be3 Rxe3 25.a5! 22.Be3 Bf8 23.e6!

23…Bxc5 24.exf7! The point Kf8 25.fxe8Q+ Rxe8 26.Bxc5+ Rxc5 27.Qd4 Rd8 27...Rb5 offers the only chance to get some counterplay: 28.Qxb6 Rxb6 28.Qh8+ Kf7 29.Qxh7+! 1–0

Too bad that Cholo, who ranks No. 10 among US juniors, could not pass muster against the likes of GMs Stripunsky and Sergey Erenburg.

Numerous sparkling and instructive games came out of the world’s richest Swiss open tournament, which was dominated by grandmasters, most of them from what was once the Soviet socialist empire and its East European satellites.

All the eight players who finished in a tie of 6.5 points each, including Akobian and Stripunsky, were grandmasters and so were the vast majority of the top 30 in the main event.

There were hardly any non-Americans or non-Europeans among the top players, except two Indian grandmasters—Chanda Sandipan, who joined the top eight, and Abhijit Kunte, who was among the runners-up with 6.0 points.

But first, here’s a minigem won by GM Eugene Perelshteyn, one of the 5.5-pointers.

• E. Perelshteyn (2531) – D. Ludwig (2373)
Rd. 2, 35th World Open, Pennsylvania 2007
Semi-Slav Defense

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.g4 dxc4 8.Bxc4 Nd5 9.Bd2 Qe7 10.Ne4 Bc7 11.g5 f5 11...h6 12.gxh6 Rxh6 13.0–0–0 should equalize 12.gxf6 N7xf6 13.Rg1 0–0 14.0–0–0 Kh8 14...Nxe4 should be tried 15.Neg5 g6 16.Ne5 Bd7? 17.Nxh7! Qxh7 18.Nxg6+ Kg8 19.Bd3!

Bull’s-eye! There’s no way that Black’s queen can dodge the bullet. 1–0

However, Perelshteyn himself fell victim to the slashing attack of India’s Sandipan in a game highlighted by surprisingly high mobility of pieces on both sides of the board and a series of sharp and furious exchanges.

• C. Sandipan (2552) – E. Perelshteyn (2531)
Rd. 7, 35th World Open, Pennsylvania 2007
Sicilian Defense, Maroczy Bind (B37)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Nc2 Bg7 8.Be2 0–0 9.0–0 Nd7 10.Bd2 Nc5 11.b4 Ne6 12.Rb1 a5 13.b5 Ne5 14.f4 Nd7 15.Be1 b6 15...Ndc5 16.Qd2 would have equalized 16.Nd5! Bb7 17.Bh4 Nf6 18.Bf3 Nc5 19.Nd4 Rc8 20.Nc6 Bxc6 21.bxc6 Rxc6 22.Nxf6+ exf6 23.e5! A powerful discovered attack Rc7 24.Qxd6 Rd7 25.Qc6 g5 26.fxg5 fxg5 27.Bg3 Nd3 28.Qxb6 Nxe5 29.Bxe5 Qxb6+ 30.Rxb6 Bxe5 31.Rb5 Bd4+ 32.Kh1 Bc3 33.Rxg5+ Kh8 34.c5 f6 35.Rg4 Rd4 I35...Rd2 would have reduced White’s lead: 36.Rc4 Be5 37.a3 36.c6 Rxg4 If 36...Rd2 37.Rb1! 37.Bxg4 Be5 38.Re1 Rf7 38...Bd6 may be tried 39.Bd7 Bd6 40.Re6 Bc7 If 40...Be5 41.Rxe5! fxe5 42.Kg1! 41.Re8+ Kg7 42.Be6 Rf8 43.Re7+ Kh6 44.h4!

IM Josh Friedel, 20, is the No. 2 junior player in the USA, next only to former US champion Hikaru Nakamura, 19, the top seed in the World Open. But Friedel, who upset US champion Alex Shabalov in the US Nationals, fared quite poorly in Philadelphia but for occasional flashes of brilliance.

• Bry Smith (2386) – J. Friedel (2474)
Rd. 7, 35th World Open, Pennsylvania 2007
Ruy Lopez, Archangelisk/Moller Defense (C78)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Rb8 7...Bb7 could be tried 8.axb5 axb5 9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10.d4 Bxd4 11.Qxd4 d6 12.f4 Nc6 If 12...Ng6 13.Nc3 13.Qc3 Ne7 14.e5 Ne4 15.Qe1 d5 16.Nd2 Nxd2 17.Bxd2 c5 18.e6 If 18.c3 0–0 c4 Equalizing 19.Qe5 19.Ba2 should be played to restore the balance: 19...0–0 20.Ba5 Qb6+! 20.Be3 f6 21.Qc3 Qc6 22.Ba2 Bxe6 Not 22...Qxe6 because of 23.Bc5 d4 24.Qxd4, and White would have a clear advantage 23.Bd4 Kf7 If 23...b4 24.Qf3! 24.Bb1 If 24.Qf3 Rhe8! Ra8! 25.Rxa8 Rxa8 26.Qd2 Bf5 27.c3 Re8 28.Qd1 g6 29.g4 Be4 30.Qe1 Bxb1 31.Qxb1 Qe6 32.h3 32.Qd1 Nc6 33.Bc5 Qe4 favors Black Qe4 33.Qe1 Qxe1 34.Rxe1 Rd8 35.Ra1 Nc6 36.Bc5 d4 37.cxd4 Nxd4 38.Ra5 Missing his best shot 38.Kf2! Ne2+!

Black now has overwhelming advantage.

39.Kh2 Rd2 40.Ra7+ Ke8 41.Re7+ Kd8 42.Rxh7 Rxb2 43.Be7+ Kc8 44.Bxf6 c3 45.f5 gxf5 46.gxf5 Nd4+ 47.Kg3 c2 48.Bg5 Nxf5+ 49.Kg4 Nd4 50.h4 Rb1 51.h5 White resigns realizing the futility of further resistance. 0–1



Anand crushes Topalov to cop plum

WORLD No. 1 Viswanathan Anand of India showed he is still the man to beat in the forthcoming World Championship when he handily disposed of past Fide world champion and world No. 2 Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in the Ciudad de Leon Rapid KO Tournament of Champions in Spain last Monday.

Anand, who was 2000-01 Fide world champion, and Topalov, 2005-06, had earlier knocked out the two other former Fide world champions, Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine, 2001-02, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan, 2004-05, respectively.

Anand totally outclassed Ponomariov, 3-1, while Topalov had a little more difficult time in subduing Kasimdzhanov, 2.5-1.5.

In their final match, Anand showed he was leagues ahead of Topalov in rapid chess by outplaying him, 3-1—the same score with which he had knocked out Ponomariov.

Like Ponomariov, the best that Topalov could do was to draw two games against Anand as he lost twice in their best-of-four match.

• V. Anand (2786) – V. Topalov (2772)
Final game, Ciudad de Leon, Spain 2007
Sicilian Scheveningen (B84)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.0–0 b5 9.a4 b4 10.Nc6 Qc7. 11.Nxb4 d5 12.Nxa6 Bxa6 Not 12...Rxa6 because of 13.exd5 Ra5 14.dxe6 fxe6 15.Nb5! 13.exd5 Bd6 Not 13...Bb4 because of 14.dxe6 fxe6 15.Nb5 Bxb5 16.Bxb5! 14.h3 14.Bxa6! Rxa6 15.Qd3! was playable exd5 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Qxd5 Bb7 Best was 16...0–0!? 17.Bxa6 Rxa6 17.Qc4! Bc6 18.b4 Qb7 18...Ne5 favors White, e.g.,19.Qc3 Ng6 20.Bb5 Bh2+ 21.Kh1 Bxb5 22.Qxc7 Bxc7 23.axb5! 19.Rad1 Be7 19...Ne5 20.Qd4 Bc7 was playable 20.b5! White is clearly ahead Bxg2 21.Rxd7 Kxd7 22.Qg4+! Ke8 22...f5! was better: 23.Qd4+ Qd5 23.Qxg2 Qxg2+ 24.Kxg2 Rxa4 25.b6 Ra5 26.Rd1 Bg5?? A blunder under terrible pressure, but the game was lost in any case, says Fritz: 26...Bc5 27.b7 Ke7 27.b7 Ke7 28.Bb6 Re5 29.Bd8+!!

A beauty. If 29…Rxd8 30.Rxd8 Kxd8 31.b8=Q+! 1–0

Topalov is to challenge the winner of the World Cup, which will be held later this year.


Ivanchuk wins Pivdinny Bank Cup, Grischuk second

NEW World No. 4 Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine has continued his winning streak by topping the Pivdinny Bank Cup in Odessa just half a point ahead of his closest rival, world No. 14 Alexander Grischuk of Russia, in a neck-and-neck race down the homestretch.

Ivanchuk’s finest performance was his win with Black against the world’s highest-rated junior player, 20-year-old Teimour Radjabov of Baku, Azerbaijan (see also page 10).

• T. Radjabov (2747) – V. Ivanchuk (2729)
Rd. 4, Pivdenny Bank Cup, Odessa 2007
Modern Benoni (A70)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 d6 5.Nc3 exd5 6.cxd5 g6 7.h3 Bg7 8.e4 0–0 9.Bd3 a6 10.a4 Nbd7 11.0–0 Re8 12.Re1 Qe7 13.Bf4 Nh5 14.Bh2 Rb8 If 14...b6 15.Qd2! 15.g4 Nhf6 16.e5 dxe5 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.Rxe5 Qxe5 19.Bxe5 Rxe5 20.Qb3 20.Qd2 Bd7 should give White the edge h5 20...b6 may be tried, says Fritz 21.Qb6 Bd7 22.f3 hxg4 23.hxg4 Re3 24.Qd6 24.Bxa6 Rxf3 25.Qd6 Re8 was playable Rbe8 25.Bxg6 25.g5 may be tried Rxf3! Restoring the equilibrium 26.g5 Bh3 27.gxf6 Rxf6 28.Qxf6?? A grievous error. Best was 28.Bxf7+! to stay in the game. Bxf6! Seizing the lead and the initiative 29.Bd3 Re3 30.Rd1 Bd4 31.Kh2 Kf8 32.d6 Be5+ 33.Kg1 Bd4?? Black’s turn to blunder. Best was 33...Bd7! 34.Kh2 Bg4 35.Rd2 Rh3+ 36.Kg2 Be3 37.Rd1 Bf4 38.Be2 Rh2+ 39.Kg1 Bd7 40.Bf3? Missing his best shot, 40.Rd3! Rxb2! 41.Ne4 Be3+ 42.Kh1 Bd4 43.Ng5 f6 44.Ne4 Bxa4 45.d7 Ke7 46.Rc1 Bb5 Missing the decisive 46...Bc6! 47.Rd1 Ba4 Although Black missed his best call, 47…Bxd7!, White resigns in the face of certain defeat: 48.Rc1 Bc6! 0–1

Ivanchuk started his climb back to the top 10 by winning all major tournaments he entered last year.

The Ukrainian superstar finished with 7.0 points from nine games after winning his last game—with White against a compatriot, cellar-dwelling Vladimir Tukmakov.



Sevillano soaring high again!

NATIVE Cebuano turned American IM Enrico Sevillano is continuing to soar high in his adopted homeland since becoming the first Filipino to qualify and finish among the top 20 in the United States Championship last May.

His latest feat was to make a sweep of the first four rounds of the Southern California State Championship, beating along the way IM Jack Peters, Los Angeles Times chess columnist.

Peters had a week earlier edged him out of the top prize by half a point in the Pacific Southwest Open. Sevillano ended up second.

Early last month, the California-based former Asian junior champion also won the third prize in the prestigious US National Open in Las Vegas, Nevada, soon after topping the Lina Gurnette Memorial Classic in Los Angeles, California.

In both events, he finished ahead of Peters. Both shied away from the $400,000 World Open in Philadelphia where another Filipino, Virginia-based Anton del Mundo, topped the Under-2400 event.

Yet another Filipino, 17-year-old Joel Banawa of Los Angeles, California, faltered, however, in the second half of the main event and finished with only 3.0 points and lost 15 points in the process. Cholo, however, clung to his 10th ranking among the top US junior players with Elo 2400 (USCF rating).

Sevillano migrated to America a year after his fine performance in the 1992 Manila Olympiad. He has since made a name for himself and soon was playing under the US flag as a member of the US Chess Federation.

Almost all other Filipino players who have moved on to America are still affiliated with the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

In the July ratings list issued by the World Chess Federation, IM Sevillano (2497) ranks No. 33 in the whole USA.

In his latest outing, Sevillano showed the same supreme self-confidence he had apparently gained when he finished 18th in the US Championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma and was bolstered further when he won the third prize in the US Open in Las Vegas.

• Jack Peters – E. Sevillano
Rd. 4, SCCF State Ch, LA 2007
Ruy Lopez (C84)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 b5 6.Bb3 Be7 7.d4 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Bb7 10.Nbd2 Nd7 11.Re1 Bf6 12.Nf1 Ne7 13.Ng3 g6 13...c5 14.Be3 should equalize 14.Bh6 Bg7 15.Qd2 c5 16.Rad1 exd4 17.cxd4 c4 18.Bc2 Kh8 19.Bg5 f6 20.Bf4 d5 21.h4 dxe4 22.Nxe4 Nd5 If 22...Nb6 23.h5 gxh5 24.Nh4 Bxe4 25.Rxe4 23.Bd6 23.h5 f5 24.Neg5 Nxf4 25.Qxf4 Bxf3 26.Nxf3 Qb8 gives White the edge Re8 24.h5 N7b6 25.Bc5 c3 26.bxc3 Nc4 27.Qc1 g5 If 27...gxh5 28.Bd3 28.Bb1 28.Nfd2 Nxd2 29.Qxd2 Qd7 was playable Qd7 29.Qc2 29.Nfd2 Qg4 30.Nxc4 bxc4 also gives White the edge Bh6 29...Nde3 30.fxe3 Bxe4 31.Qf2! 30.Ng3 Bf8 31.Nf5! Qf7 32.Bxf8 Rxf8 33.h6 Na3 34.Qb3 Nxb1 35.Rxb1 Better than 35.Qxb1 Nxc3 36.Qc2 Nxd1! Qg6 35...Qd7 36.Qc2 leads to equality 36.Nd6! Bc6 37.c4 37.Re6 should be tried, e.g., 37…Qh5 38.Ne4! Nf4 Keeping the balance 38.cxb5 axb5 39.Nxb5 40.Nh2 Bxg2 41.Nc3 41.Nc7 should be tried: 41...Rad8 42.a4, with equal chances Bc6 42.Re3 Nh3+ 43.Rxh3 Qxh3 44.d5 Bd7 45.Ne4 Qxh6 46.Nc5 Bf5 47.Rd1 If 47.Re1 Rfb8 48.Qc4 Rc8, and Black surges on Qh5 47...Rfc8 was stronger, e.g., 48.Qe3 Rxa2, with overwhelming advantage 48.Rc1 Qe2 49.a4 Rac8 49...Rfc8 was best 50.Nf3??


The start of White’s collapse. Fritz suggests 50.Nf1 to keep White in the game.

50...Be4 Missing 50...Rxc5 51.Rxc5 g4! 51.Nd4?? Hastening his own doom Qg4+ 52.Kf1 Bg2+ 53.Ke1 Qxd4! The end: 54.Nd3 Rfe8+ 55.Kd2 Rxc1 56.Kxc1 Re2 57.Kb1 Bxd5 58.Qb2 Qxd3+ 59.Qc2 Qxc2+ 60.Ka1 Re1#! 0–1

• E. Sevillano (2497) – Pavel Savine (2014)
Rd. 1, 47th Pacific Southwest Open, Burbank 2007
Sicilian Defense (B22)

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2 e6 7.h3 Bh5 8.0–0 Nc6 9.Be3 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Be7 13.Rd1 Qc6 14.Nd2 0–0 15.Nf3 Rfd8 16.Rd3 Qb5 17.Bxf6 Rxd3 18.Bxe7 Qd7 19.Ne5 Rd2 20.Qe1 Qd5 21.c4 Qd4 22.Nf3!

White wins a piece. 1–0



Blackburne, the ‘Black Death’

ONE great player who enlivened the chess world because of his extraordinary combinative powers, with or without sight of the board, as well as his love for whiskey was a swashbuckling English chess pirate known as the “Black Death.”

Joseph Henry Blackburn was born in the English midland city of Manchester on December 10, 1841 and died in ordinary circumstances back in his home city on September 1, 1924, three months before his 83rd birthday.

Although he learned chess in his late teens while working in a hosiery warehouse, he found the game much to his liking, inspired as he was by the genius of Paul Morphy.

Blackburne left the knitting industry to devote his time to chess and soon became one of the greatest players in England. For a time, he was even ranked No. 2 in the world, next only to Wilhelm Steinitz.

It was in Vienna, Austria in 1873 that the tournament book christened him the “Black Death” for his powerful performance with the black pieces, ending up equal first with Steinitz but losing to the future world champion in the playoff.

Indeed, Blackburne was arguably the strongest tournament player of his time, always ending at the upper end of the table, but a rather poor match player—one reason for his failure to become world champion.

Among his match conquerors was the great Johannes Zukertort, the rival Steinitz defeated in his first defense of his crown in 1886.

He mastered blindfold chess to such a degree that it was by playing without sight of the board against as many as 16 players that he earned most of his money, which is why he would tour Britain at least twice a year.

It is said that he rarely lost a game in simul and was equally adept at it without sight of the board.

Blackburne’s fondness for whiskey was legendary. Once somebody berated him for downing a player’s glass of whisky while he was walking around the boards during a simultaneous display, and he retorted: “He left it en prise and I took it en passant!”

It was in endgame mating combinations that he excelled, and this is the subject in this week’s “Chess Magic” series.

• Emanuel Lasker – J.H. Blackburne
London 1899
Ruy Lopez. Steinitz Defense (C62)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 Bd7 5.d5 Nb8 6.Bd3 Be7 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Ne2 c6 9.c4 Na6 10.Ng3 Nc5 11.Bc2 b5 11...a5! may also be played 12.b4 Nb7 13.dxc6 Bxc6 14.cxb5 Bxb5 15.a4 Bd7 16.0–0 g6 If 16...a5 17.b5 17.h3 h5 18.Be3 a5 19.b5 Rc8 20.Rc1 Nc5 21.Nd2 21.Bb3 was stronger h4 22.Ne2 g5 Fritz suggests 22...Be6 23.Bxg5 White now surges ahead Rg8 24.Bxh4 Missing 24.Bxf6! Bxh3 25.Bg3 Be6 26.Re1 Ng4 27.Nf1 Bg5 28.Rb1 Rh8 29.Nc3 Bf4 30.Nd5 Qg5 31.f3??

Giving Black a chance for counterplay. Best was 31.Bxf4!

31…Rh1+!! A sacrifice in the best tradition, says Fritz 32.Kxh1 Bxg3 33.Nxg3 Nf2+ 34.Kg1 Nxd1 35.Nf5 Bxf5 36.exf5 36.Rbxd1 won’t work because of 36...Be6 37.Ne3 Nb3! Qd2 37.Rexd1 Qxc2 38.Rbc1 Qxf5 Rd8 40.Nc4 Nb7 Missing the clincher 40...Qf4! 41. Qf4 42.Kf2 Qxa4 43.Rc7 Nc5 44.Rh1 Rd7 45.Rc8+ Ke7 46.Rhh8 46.Rd1 was necessary Qd4! It’s all over: 47.Rce8+ Kf6 48.Rh6+ Kg5! 0–1

• J.H. BlackburneH – A. Nimzowitsch
St. Petersburg 1914
Irregular Opening (A00)

1.e3 d6 2.f4 e5 3.fxe5 dxe5 4.Nc3 Bd6 5.e4 Be6 6.Nf3 f6 7.d3 Ne7 8.Be3 c5 9.Qd2 Nbc6 10.Be2 Nd4 11.0–0 0–0 12.Nd1 Nec6 13.c3 Nxe2+ 14.Qxe2 Re8 15.Nh4 Bf8 16.Nf5 Kh8 17.g4 If 17.b3 b5, with equality Qd7 18.Nf2 a5 19.a3 b5 20.Rad1 Rab8 21.Rd2 b4 22.axb4 axb4 23.c4 Ra8 24.Qf3 Ra2 25.g5 g6 26.Ng4! gxf5 26...fxg5 may be played, e.g., 27.Nf6 g4! 27.Nxf6! Nd4 28.Qf2 Not 28.Qh5 because of 28…Qf7 29.g6 Qxg6+ 30.Qxg6 hxg6 31.Nxe8 Nb3! Qc6 29.Nxe8 Qxe8 30.Bxd4 exd4 31.exf5 Bd7 32.Re1 Qf7 33.Qh4 Ra8 34.Rf2 Bc6 35.Qg4 Re8 36.Rxe8 Qxe8 37.Re2 Qd7 38.Re6 Ba8??

38...Ba4 offered the chance, says Fritz.
39.g6! hxg6 40.Rxg6 Qh7 41.Qg3 Qh5 42.Rg4! The end: 42…Qxf5 43.Rh4+ Qh7 44.Qe5+ Kg8 45.Rg4+ Qg7 46.Rxg7+ Bxg7 47.Qxc5! 1–0

A fine win by a man pushing 74!



JH’s miniature mating gems

ENGLISH wizard Joseph Henry Blackburne’s main strength was his ability to combine piece-and-pawn play in such a uniquely harmonious or even startling way that his combinations could not easily be anticipated, especially in mating attacks.

It must be emphasized that Blackburne worked out his combinations over the board through the sheer power of his intellect, without the aid of computers or guideposts found in books. His was pure talent.

A romantic, he was a product of his time—a swashbuckling daredevil in the game of kings.

I have chosen a few sparkling miniature mating gems he carved in the hope readers will find them as instructive as they are inspiring.

• NN – J.H. Blackburne
England 1880
Giuoco Pianissimo, Hungarian Defense (C50)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+?? 4.Nc3 was best, maintaining the balance Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ “I used to call this the Kentucky opening. For a while after its introduction it was greatly favored by certain players, but they soon grew tired of it,” Blackburne said in a note to this move g6 Fritz suggests 6...Ke6!, e.g., 7.f4 Qf6, with Black way ahead 7.Qxe5! d6?? Fritz condemns this as turning over the advantage to White and suggests 7...Qe7 8.Qxh8 Qxe4+ 9.Kd1 Qxg2 10.Qxh7+ Kf8, with Black way ahead 8.Qxh8 Qh4 9.0–0 Best was 9.d4 Nf6 10.Nd2 Bxd4, with a clear edge Nf6 10.c3?? What a pity, victory was in sight!, says Fritz: 10.Qd8 Bb6 11.e5 dxe5 12.Qd3! Ng4! 11.h3 Bxf2+ 12.Kh1 Bf5! 13.Qxa8 Qxh3+!! Giving White no time to rest or regroup his pieces for the defense 14.gxh3 Bxe4#!

A pretty picture! 0–1

• J. H. Blackburne - NN
Kidderminster, Worcestershire 1863
Danish Gambit (C21)

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 3.Qxd4 Nc6 4.Qe3 Nf6 leads to equality dxc3 4.Bc4 If 4.Nxc3 Bc5, with equal chances d6 If 4...cxb2 5.Bxb2 Qe7 6.Nd2! 5.Nxc3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Ne5?? The equalizing 6...Nf6 was much better 7.Nxe5+- dxe5 8.Bxf7+! Ke7 Not 8...Kxf7+ because of 9.Qxd8! 9.Bg5+ 9.Qb3 Nf6 10.Be3 was stronger Nf6 10.Qh5 10.Qb3 c6 11.Be3 Qc7 was more precise c6 Best but inadequate was 10...Bg4 11.Qxg4 Kxf7 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.Rd1 Qa5 12.f4 Qc5 13.fxe5 Qxe5 14.0–0 h6 15.Be8 Be6 6.Rxf6! Removing a guard gxf6 If 16...Qxf6 17.e5! 17.Rd7+! Decisive Bxd7 18.Qf7+ Kd6 19.Qxd7+ Kc5 20.Be3+! Kb4 21.Qxb7+ Ka5

“I announced mate in three,” says Blackburne 22.b4+! Bxb4 23.Bb6+!! axb6 24.Qxa8#! The nicest combinations are those leading to mate, Fritz quips 1–0

• Harper – J.H. Blackburne
London 1868
Two Knights Game, Max Lange Attack (C55)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.0–0 5.e5 Ng4 6.0–0 d6 should keep the balance d6 6.Ng5 Ne5 7.Qxd4 h6 8.Nf3 Nxf3+ 9.gxf3 Bh3 10.Re1 Nd7 11.f4 Qh4 12.Qe3 g5 13.Qg3 Rg8 14.Bf1?? 14.Nc3 was the balancing move gxf4 Black is now way ahead 15.Qxg8 Nf6 16.Qh8?? “The white queen is completely out of the game,” says Blackburne Qg4+ Missing a mating line, 16...f3! 17.Bb5+ Ke7 18.Qg7 Bxg7 19.Bf4 Qxf4 20.Bf1 Ng4 21.Bxh3 Qxh2+ 22.Kf1 Qxf2#! 17.Kh1 f3 18.Bxh3 Qxh3 19.Rg1 Ng4 20.Rxg4 20.Qxf8+ won’t workl, e.g., 20...Kxf8 21.Bxh6+ Ke8 22.Rxg4 Qxg4 23.Nd2 Qg2#! Qxg4 A queen’s mate on g2 can be delayed but not stopped: 21.Qg8 Qxg8 22.Bg5 Qxg5 23.Nd2 Qg2#! 0–1

• J.H. Blackburne – T.H. Worrall
Manchester 1880
French Defense (C10)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 c6 4.Bd3 dxe4 5.Bxe4 Nf6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Bxf6 Bxf6 8.Nf3 Nd7 9.0–0 0–0 10.Qe2 Nb6 11.Rad1 Nd5 12.Ne5 Bxe5 13.dxe5 f6 14.exf6 Qxf6 15.Bxd5 exd5 16.Rd3 Be6 17.Re1 Rae8 18.Rf3 Qg6 19.Rxf8+ Kxf8 20.Qd2 Bd7 21.Rxe8+ Bxe8 22.Ne2 Qf6 23.c3 Qg6 24.h3 Qe4 25.f3 Qc4? 26.Nd4 Qxa2?? Qf4+ Kg8 28.Ne6 Qb1+ 29.Kh2 It’s mate next move and the only way to delay it is via 29…Bf7 30.Qb8+! Be8 31 Qxe8#! 1–0



Triumvirate of Wizards

AS far as The Weekender is concerned, there are three players from the current crop of superstars still active on the international circuit that can be called the “Wizards of Chess” owing to their highly creative and artistic, albeit too risky, style of play.

They are former Fide world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, and Alexei Shirov of Spain.

From the Weekender’s point of view, they can be compared to the likes of the legendary wizards Henry Joseph Blackburne of England, Frank Marshall of the United States and Mikhail Tal of the defunct Soviet Union.

Topalov, Ivanchuk and Shirov proved this in their latest efforts—Topalov in Ciudad de Leon, Spain, where he lost to the “speedy, safe and sure” Anand but not without first carving a magical gem, and Ivanchuk and Shirov in the Pivdinny Bank Cup in Ukraine (see also page 6).

In journalist Ignacio Dee’s view, the third game, Gelfand-Shirov, “belongs to the ages.”

• V. Topalov (2772) – R. Kasimdzhanov (2677)
Rd.1, Ciudad de Leon, Spain July 7,.2007
Closed Catalan (E06)

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0–0 6.Qc2 Nc6 7.0–0 Nb4 8.Qb3 a5 9.a3 Nc6 10.Bf4 a4 11.Qc2 dxc4 12.Qxc4 Nd5 13.Nc3 Nb6 14.Qd3 Bd7 15.Rad1 Na5 16.h4 Nac4 17.Ng5 Bxg5 18.Bxg5 Qe8 19.Bc1 Bc6 20.e4 Rd8 21.Rfe1 f6 22.g4 Qf7 23.Qg3 Kh8 24.Rd3 f5 25.Rf3 Rxd4 26.gxf5 e5 27.Bg5 Nd7 28.Bc1 Nf6 29.Rd3 Rfd8 30.Red1 Qe7 31.Nd5 Rxd3 32.Rxd3 Bxd5 33.exd5 Nd6 34.Bh3 Nde4 35.Qe3 Nc5 36.Rd1 Nb3 37.Bg2 c6! 38.Qa7 Not 38.dxc6 because of 38...Rxd1 Nxc1 39.d6 Ne2+ 40.Kf1 Qf7 Best was 40...Nf4, e.g., 41.Bxc6 Qf7! 41.Kxe2 Qc4+ 42.Ke1 Qb5?? 43.Rd2 e4 44.Bf1 Qe5 45.Be2 h6?? 46.Qxb7! e3 47.fxe3 Qxe3 48.Qe7 Qg1+ 49.Bf1 Rd7 50.Qe6 Kh7 51.Rd3 Qh2 52.Be2 Qxh4+ 53.Kd1 Qf4 54.Kc2² c5 55.Rd1 Qf2 56.Rd2 Missing his best short, 56.Kb1! Qf4! Restoring the equilibrium 57.Bb5 Rd8 58.d7 With a clear edge h5? Better was 58...c4, reducing White’s lead 59.Qe7 Now White is again surging ahead Qb8 60.Rg2 Ng4 61.f6! Rg8 Not 61...Ngxf6 because of 62.Qexg! 62.f7 62.Rxg4! hxg4 63.Bc4! would have clinched the point Rf8 63.Rxg4! Qxb5 64.Qe4+ Missing a mating line via 64.d8=Q! Qb3+ 65.Kb1 Qxf7 66.Rg1 Rxd8 67.Qxf7 Rd1+ 68.Rxd1 Kh6 69.Rd5 g6 70.Qf8+ Kh7 71.Rd7#! Kh8 65.Rg5 Qb3+ 66.Kc1 Qxf7 67.Rf5!!

Fritz calls this “the crowning sacrifice.”

67...Qxf5 68.Qxf5 Rxf5 69.d8=Q+ Kh7 70.Qe8! 1–0

• V. Korchnoi (2623) – V. Ivanchuk (2729)
Rd. 6, Pivdenny Bank Cup, Odessa 2007
Queen’s Gambit Accepted (D27)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e3 a6 6.a4 c5 7.Bxc4 Nc6 8.0–0 Be7 9.dxc5 0–0 10.Qc2 Bxc5 11.Rd1 Bd7 12.Ne4 Nb4 13.Nxf6+ Qxf6 14.Qe2 Bc6 15.e4 Rfd8 16.Rxd8+ Qxd8 17.Bd2 Nc2 18.Bg5 Nd4 19.Nxd4 Qxd4 20.Bd3 Qb4 21.Qc2 Bd4 22.Ra2? Overlooking the lethal queen-check in the back rank! 0–1

• B. Gelfand (2733) – A. Shirov (2699)
Rd. 7, Pivdenny Bank Cup, Odessa 2007

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Rb1 0–0 9.Be2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 11.Qd2 Qc7 12.Bb2 may be better Qxa2 Equalizing 12.0–0 Bg4 13.Be3 Nc6 14.d5 Na5 15.Bg5 b6 16.Bxe7 Rfe8 17.d6! Nc6 18.Bb5 Nxe7 19.h3 Bxf3 20.Qxf3 Qe6 21.Bxe8 Rxe8 22.dxe7 Rxe7 23.Rfe1 Bd4 24.Rbd1 Qe5 25.Rd3 a5 26.Qd1 Bc5 27.Re2 Re6 28.g3 Rd6 29.Kg2 Rxd3 30.Qxd3 a4 31.Rd2 a3 32.Qc4 Kg7 33.Rd7 Qf6 34.f4 34...Qb2+ 35.Kf3 Qf2+ 36.Kg4 h5+ 37.Kh4 g5+ 38.fxg5 Kg6 39.Qc3?? Giving Black new chances. Best was 39.Rd3! f6 40.Rd5 a2 41.Rf5?? 41.Rxc5! would have led to better counterplay, e.g., 41…bxc5 42.Qe5 fxg5+ 43.Qxg5+ Kf7 44.Qxh5+ Ke7 45.Qe5+ Kd7 46.Qd5+ Kc7 47.Qe5+ Kb6 48.Qc3! Qf4+!!

Shirov’s immortal stroke, a sacrifice of the queen to clear the way for his bishop.

42.gxf4 If 42.Rxf4+ fxg5! Bf2+! 43.Qg3 Bxg3+ 44.Kxg3 a1=Q! The point 45.Rxf6+ Kg7 46.e5? 46.f5 was better but it won’t change the course of events, e.g., 46…b5 47.Rg6+ Kf8 48.Kh4 Qe1+ 49.Kxh5 Qe2+ 50.Kh6 Qxe4 51.Rf6+ Kg8 52.Rg6+ Kh8 and Black would still be winning b5 47.Kh4 b4 48.Kxh5 Qd1+ 49.Kh4 b3 50.e6 b2 51.Rf7+ Kg8 52.Rb7 b1=Q 53.Rxb1 Qxb1 54.Kg4 Qe4! White toppled his king in the face of certain defeat: 55.Kg3 Qe3+ 56.Kg4 Qxe6+ 57.Kg3 Kh7! 0–1



Hou Yifan, 13, China’s wonder girl

CHINESE national women’s champion Hou Yifan is only 13 years old, but her string of successes in her career will likely surpass those of most female players two, three or even four times her age.

If her progress continues on a steady and even keel, barring any unforeseen tempests along the way, she will likely catch up with or even surpass her idol, Hungarian wonder woman Judit Polgar, regarded as the strongest female player ever.

Yifan first got into the global limelight in 2003 when she won the world under-10 girls’ championship in Halkidiki, on the Grecian island of Crete, according to her bio-sketch in chessgames.com.

In 2004, she competed with the boys in the same age group and won the bronze, also in Halkidiki.

In 2005, she finished fifth in the Arrows Cup in Jinan, China with a performance rating of just below 2400.

That same year, Yifan qualified for the women’s World Championship and became the youngest ever—at the age of 12—to vie for the highest crown a girl could aspire to in this game of kings and queens.

She reached the third round in the Fide knockout series where she lost to IM Nino Kurtsidze of Georgia after knocking out IM Nadezhda Kosintseva of Russia in the first round and WGM Natalia Zhukova of Ukraine (see game below) in the next to post a decent performance rating of 2504.

Last year was another busy year for 12-year-old Yifan who, like Filipino IM Wesley So, played in the 37th Olympiad in Turin and won the silver medal on board four for scoring11 points from 13 games with a performance rating of 2506.

Soon after that, she landed the fourth place in China’s National Championship for women, but, like everybody else, she also had her dismal hour later when she fared poorly—only 3.0 points from nine games—in the North Urals Cup, won by Ukrainian wonder girl, Katerina “Katya” Lahno.

She recovered quickly, however, and made up for it by finishing second to her compatriot, Yang Shen, in the women’s World Junior Championship.

This year, she started auspiciously by taking the fifth prize in Group C of the annual, three-tier Corus Tournament at Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands for which she received the WGM title. How Yifan performs against male rivals can be seen in the second featured game.

Finally, last month, Hou Yifan won the women’s national crown in the historic city of Chonqing.

• Hou Yifan (2269) - Natalia Zhukova (2432) [C24]
FIDE Women's World Ch, Ekaterinburg 2006
Bishop’s Opening (C24)

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 d6 7.Nge2 Nbd7 8.0–0 8.a3 gives Black a chance to equalize, e.g., 8…b5 9.Ba2 0–0 Nf8 Better was 8...g5 9.Bg3 h5! 9.d4 exd4 10.Nxd4 Ng6 11.Bg3 0–0 12.Kh1 Bb6 13.f3 Bc7 Missing 13...Nh5 14.Bf2, with equal chances 14.Bb3 a6 15.Qd2 Nh5 16.Bf2 Bb8 17.Rad1 Qc7 18.Bg1 Nf6 19.Nf5 d5 20.Ng3 dxe4 21.fxe4 Ng4 21...Kh7 22.Bc5 Re8 23.Qf2 keeps the balance 22.Nce2 22.Rxf7 Rxf7 leads to drawing lines b5? 22...Ba7 and Black hangs on, says Fritz 23.Bc5 Ne7 24.Bxf7+!

Sharp and deadly.

24...Kh7 Not 24...Rxf7+ because of 25.Qd8+! 25.h3 Nf6 26.Bb3 Re8 27.Qd3 Kh8?? 27...Ng6 was better 28.Nf4! Nfg8 29.Bxg8 Kxg8 30.Qb3+ Kh7 31.Qf7 Bd7 32.Bxe7. 1–0

• John Van der Wiel (2511) – Hou Yifan (2509)
Rd. 3, Corus Group C, Wijk aan Zee 2007
Sicilian Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qc7 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.f5 Nc6 10.fxe6 fxe6 11.Be2 Nxd4 12.Qxd4 Qf7 13.Na4 Bd7 14.Nb6 Rd8 15.0–0 Be7 16.Nxd7 Rxd7 17.Qc4 Rg8 18.Rf4 Rg5 19.Bg4 Re5 20.Qc8+ Bd8 21.Raf1 Rc7 22.Qb8 Kd7 23.c4 Be7 24.Kh1 Qe8 25.Qa7 Qc8 26.Be2 b5 27.Qd4 bxc4 28.Rh4 f5 29.exf5?? 29.Rd1 should be tried, Rxe2! The best 30.f6 Qg8 31.Rg4 Bxf6!

The final nail.
32.Qf4 Qd8 33.Qf3 Re5 34.Rf4 Be7 35.Rf7 Rcc5 36.Qb7+ Qc7 37.Qa8 Rf5! 0–1



Basic Checkmates

DO you remember your first steps in learning chess? My experience is that most of us start from watching other people play, become fascinated with the silent war going on, try a game with another beginner, perhaps your brother or classmate, win your first game, and then are forever hooked on the sport.

Then you play other beginners and maybe after you start losing you would either look for someone to teach you, or buy a chess book and learn something about the strategies and tactics of the game.

It is from the beginner’s books that you learn about Fool’s Mate and Scholar’s Mate. As everyone knows Fool’s Mate is 1.f3 e5 2.g4 Qh4# and Scholar’s Mate is 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Qh5 Nf6 4.Qxf7#

Oh joy! Having learned these two cheap tricks you then proceed to mate your beginner-friends. Of course soon they will catch on to your tricks and you have to go back to your books and look for more. And when they catch up to that or buy their own books to research your “cheap tricks” become a bit deeper – you start studying whole opening systems! And that, is when you become an “openings’ expert”. Then you play in a school league game and find out that your knowledge of the openings is very superficial – your opponents know everything in your arsenal and more. It is then that you start with the Openings Encycopedias, Chess Informants, databases, etc etc.

Marish Production (Ramon Quesada) wrote a short biography on Eugene Torre back in the 70s called “Beyond the 13th Move”. The title refers to his game vs GM Robert Byrne of the USA during the 1974 Nice Olympiad – Eugene needed only a draw to qualify as an International Grandmaster and this precious half-point was granted on the 13th move.

In the second half of the book Eugene annotated his 15 Memorable Games”. You know what game he chose for no. 1? I quote it here with his original notes (in italics—Ed.).

Torre,Eugene - Torre,Jorge [C50]
skittles game, 1964
[GM Eugene Torre]

Here is an exciting game I remember playing against my brother Jorge wherein I tried to employ the first trap. Before the game, Jorge offered me the usual extra knight which I proudly refused this time. I was intent on beating him fairly and squarely.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6

My big brother tries to avoid a possible jump of my knight to g5. Theoretically this is unnecessary and a waste of tempo in this early part of the game. Jorge was not fond of reading chess books.

4.Nc3 d6 5.d4

Tension grips me. Will Jorge sense I am up to something?


Jorge, it seems, is oblivious of my deadly plan!


As I take the pawn, I can feel the warm flow of blood inside me. You can imagine the excitement of a little boy about to beat his big brother.


Jorge finally does it!!! It's hard to believe, but he falls right smack into the trap. He could still have avoided the trap by 6...dxe5 or even 6...Bxf3 followed by 7...Nxe5.

7.Nxe5! Bxd1?!

I put a question mark and then an exclamation point after Black's last move because this leads to an immediately mate for him while granting White an artistic victory.

8.Bxf7+ Ke7 9.Nd5# 1–0

I daresay that the seeds of an International Grandmaster were planted in this humble game.

Are “cheap traps” only useful for these beginner’s games? Definitely not. Cheap traps introduce the novice to simple tactics from which pattern recognition would be born. Here is a recent brilliant game which refuted a White opening line. If you look at it carefully you might detect that it bears a remarkable similarity to GM Eugene’s tactic.

Ahn,Martin (2302) - Ruck,Tamas (2334) [C45]
TCh-BEL 2006-7 Belgium BEL (9), 25.02.2007
Scotch Game

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4

This, of course, is the Scotch Game. Black has a major decision to make here. He can either opt for the complications of 4...Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4, or the simpler 4...Bc5 5.Nxc6 Qf6 6.Qd2. Kasparov and Adams prefer the first, Short and Beliavsky like the second.

4...Bc5 5.Nb3

When Kasparov started playing 5.Nxc6…, but we shouldn't forget that previous to that it was 5.Nb3 which was considered to give Black more problems.

5...Bb6 6.Nc3

Usually White precedes this move with 6.a4 a6 and only then plays 7.Nc3 however, in a recent game there continued 7...Qf6 8.Qe2 Nge7 9.h4 (9.Nd5 Nxd5 10.exd5+ Ne7 11.h4 d6 12.Bg5 Qe5 was very comfortable for Black in Hanset-Van Weersel, Belgium 2005) 9...h6 10.g4 Nd4 11.Nxd4 Bxd4 12.Bd2 d6 13.f4 g6 14.Bg2 Bd7 15.g5 hxg5 16.hxg5 Rxh1+ 17.Bxh1 Qe6 18.Qd3 and White was regretting putting his pawn on a4. Ansell,S (2379)-Ganguly,S (2536)/ Edinburgh 2003 0–1 (37)


Black has 6...d6 and 6...Qf6. The text is supposed to be weak because it exposes the knight to the dangerous pin Bg5. Let's look at what happens.

7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 d6 9.a4

After this game nobody will play this move anymore. Perhaps Radulov's move 9.Qe2 is best, because the other moves are bad:

1. 9.Nd5? Nxe4 10.Bxd8 Bxf2+ 11.Ke2 Bg4+ 12.Kd3 Ne5+ 13.Kxe4 f5+ 14.Kf4 Ng6#;
2. 9.f3 Be6 10.Qd2? Nxe4! 11.Qf4 Ng5 12.0–0–0 Ne5 13.Bd3 Bxb3 14.axb3 Ne6 15.Qa4+ Qd7 16.Bb5 c6 17.Be2 Be3+ 18.Kb1 Nc5 Black is a pawn up with a fine position. Alapin,S-Janowski,D/ Vienna 1898 0–1 (51).

Now look at this position and compare it with the Torre game above. What do you think is Black's next move?

9...Nxe4!! 10.Bxd8 Bxf2+ 11.Ke2 Bg4+ 12.Kd3 Ne5+!

Taking back the queen 12...Bxd1 is not good enough. After 13.Nxe4 Nb4+ 14.Kc3 Be1+ 15.Nbd2 Bxd2+ 16.Nxd2 Nd5+ 17.Kd4 Bxc2 18.Bc4 Rxd8 19.Bxd5 White has a knight for three pawns. Black will need to play well to draw this one.

13.Kxe4 f5+ 14.Kd5 Rxd8 15.Qxg4

Forced, otherwise he is mated.

15...c6+ 16.Ke6 0–0!

This is the attraction of the game - Black doesn't want the queen!
17.Nd5 fxg4 18.Bd3 g6 19.Rhf1 Kg7 20.Nd4 Rfe8+ 21.Ne7 Bh4 22.Bxg6 Rxe7+ 23.Kf5 Rf8+ 24.Ke4 Nxg6+
[24...d5+ 25.Ke3 Nc4+ 26.Kd3 Re3#]
25.Kd3 Ne5+ 26.Kc3 Bf2 0–1

Reader comments and/or suggestions are urgently solicited. Email address is bangcpa@gmail.com.

This column was first published in BusinessWorld on Monday, July 9, 2007.



Ivanchuk surges back

The World’s Top 10 Players

As of July 2007

1 GM Viswanathan Anand IND 2792
2 GM Veselin Topalov BUL 2769
3 GM Vladimir Kramnik RUS 2769
4 GM Vassily Ivanchuk UKR 2762
5 GM Alexander Morozevich RUS 2758
6 GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AZE 2757
7 GM Peter Leko HUN 2751
8 GM Levon Aronian ARM 2750
9 GM Teimour Radjabov AZE 2746
10 GM Dmitry Jakovenko RUS 2735

Significant Rise:

1) Vassily Ivanchuk (38 yrs old) rejoins the top 10 list
2) Dmitry Jakovenko (24 yrs old), already acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost endgame experts, has made it to the top 10 for the first time.

Significant Fall:

1) David Navara (2656) lost 64 points to drop from 14th to 54th in the world. David is a very intriguing character – how can one apparently so fragile play such powerful chess? He is extremely modest, polite, apologizing all the time, speaks in a monotone and has a habit of looking at the floor while he talks. Always immaculately dressed, during play he never bends over the board and in fact prefers to sit as far as possible from it so as not to disturb his opponent.

2) Former top-10 players Alexey Dreev and Viktor Korchnoi both dropped out of the top 100 list. In the case of Viktor the Terrible he has been in and out, but for Dreev this is the first time he has fallen out since god-knows-when. Korchnoi is already 76 but Dreev continues to be an active player at 38 and will surely barge back soon.

The most impressive rise was that of Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk who gained 33 points in the past three months and climbed back into 4th position. You will recall that back in 1990 “Chuckie” was already no. 4 in the world (he actually reached no. 3 in 1992) and now, 17 years later, he is back at fourth. This is a testament to his high class. Many GMs had commented over the years that when it comes to chess understanding Ivanchuk was in no way inferior to Kramnik or Anand – it is only a recurring problem with nerves that keeps him away from the highest title in the world.

I recently saw in a blog the lines written by a chess fan: “Ivanchuk is like a god of chess. I love how he plays the game. You never now just how Chucky is going to beat you: mating attack, endgame grind, strange material balance, etc. In contrast to Chucky's versatility, every Kramnik win looks the same.”

Ivanchuk is in the middle of a great run. He scored 6/9 in the Russian Team Championships, in the process defeating Alexander Morozevich, then proceeded to Havana where he dominated in the Capablanca Memorial (7.5/9, 2 pts ahead of second placer Lenier Dominguez), and then 3.5/4 in the German Bundesliga. His rating does not yet include the Aerosvit Tournament in Foros, Crimea:

Aerosvit Foros 17th-30th June 2007

1 GM Vassily Ivanchuk UKR 2729, 7.5/11
2 GM Sergey Karjakin UKR 2686, 7.0/11
3-6 GM Alexander Onischuk USA 2663, GM Peter Svidler RUS 2736, GM Loek Van Wely NED 2674, GM Alexei Shirov ESP 2699, 6.0/11
7 GM Lenier Dominguez CUB 2678, 5.5/11
8 GM Sergei Rublevsky RUS 2680, 5.0/11
9-10 GM Dmitry Jakovenko RUS 2708, GM Pavel Eljanov UKR 2686, 4.5/11
11-12 GM Krishnan Sasikiran IND 2690, GM Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu ROM 2693, 4.0/11

Average Elo: 2693 <=> Category: 18

He stands to gain more than 10 pts from this win, and that should catapult him past Topalov and Kramnik for the no. 2 position in the world.

This July Ivanchuk did not slow down and came from behind to win the 2007 Pivdinny Bank Cup, a three-day round-robin rapid event in Odessa, Ukraine. Grischuk started out with 3/3 on the first day, including a win over Ivanchuk. But Chucky came back with his own 3/3 on the second day to tie for the lead. On the last day Ivanchuk scored wins over Smirin and Tukmakov to take first place alone on 7/9.

Pivdenny Bank Chess Cup (Rapid)
Odessa, Ukraine
4th-6th July 2007

1 GM Vassily Ivanchuk UKR 2729, 7.0/9
2 GM Alexander Grischuk RUS 2717, 6.5/9
3-4 GM Teimour Radjabov AZE 2747, GM Alexei Shirov ESP 2699, 5.5/9
5 GM Boris Gelfand ISR 2733, 5.0/9
6 GM Yuri Drozdovskij UKR 2558, 4.0/9
7 GM Etienne Bacrot FRA 2709, 3.5/9
8 GM Viktor Korchnoi SUI 2625, 3.0/9
9-10 GM Ilia Smirin ISR 2650, GM Vladimir Tukmakov UKR 2551, 2.5/9

It is a pity that Ivanchuk is not participating in the world championship later this year in Mexico. His chess mastery will be missed.

Shirov,Alexei (2699) - Ivanchuk,Vassily (2729) [C91]
Aerosvit Foros UKR (10), 28.06.2007

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 b5 6.Bb3 Be7 7.d4 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.Re1 Bg4 10.Be3 exd4 11.cxd4 d5 12.e5 Ne4 13.Nc3 Nxc3 14.bxc3 Qd7

A multi-purpose move, first to keep a watch on the white squares in the diagonal c8-h3, and also to make way for his knight on e8.

15.h3 Bh5 16.g4 Bg6 17.Nd2
Intending f2-f4-f5.

A new move, Ivanchuk intends to exchange white-squared bishops. Black has countered the f-pawn advance threat by 17...f5 18.Qf3 Rad8 (18...fxg4?? 19.Qxd5+ wins a piece) 19.Qg3 Na5 20.Bf4 Qe6 21.g5 c5 with counterplay. Arencibia,W (2485)-Servat,R (2450)/ Matanzas 1995 1/2 (37).

18.f4 a4 19.Bc2 Bxc2 20.Qxc2 f5 21.exf6

White cannot make progress without this move, as otherwise his bishop on e3 will just become one big pawn.
21...Bxf6 22.Nf3 Rae8 23.Bf2 h5!? 24.Qg6
Not 24.g5? Qxh3.
24...Re4 25.Rxe4 dxe4 26.Nh2?

After 26.Nh2

White should have played 26.Ng5. The text allows a brilliant combination.
26...Nxd4!! 27.cxd4
[27.Rd1?? Ne2+]
27...Bxd4 28.Rb1

What else?
1 28.Re1 Bxf2+ 29.Kxf2 Qd2+ 30.Re2 Rxf4+ 31.Kg3 h4+ 32.Kxh4 Qxe2;
2 Or 28.Rf1 e3
28...e3! 29.Bg3 h4! 30.Bxh4 Rxf4 31.Qd3 Qd5!
With the threat of ...e3-e2+.
32.Nf1 Rf2 33.Nxe3
[33.Bxf2 exf2+ 34.Kh2 Be5+ wins the queen]
33...Rg2+ 34.Kh1
[34.Kf1 Qf3+ 35.Ke1 Bc3+! 36.Qxc3 Qe2#]
34...Qf3! 0–1

Reader comments and/or suggestions are urgently solicited. Email address is bangcpa@gmail.com.

This column was first published in Businessworld on Friday, July 13, 2007.


Despite playing White always, Ehlvest loses to champion Rybka

ONCE again, a super grandmaster has lost miserably to a super software program, confirming that no man can match wits with a strong chess-playing machine.

Former interzonal champion Jaan Ehlvest (2629) failed to win a single game against the current world computer chess champion Rybka, a software programmed by American cyber expert IM Casik Rajlich.

Rybka won, 4.5-1.5, despite playing Black in all six games. The machine won three and drew three, going through the match unbeaten.

The machine demonstrated its mastery of human-designed opening systems, winning with the Nimzo-Indian Defense in the first round, the Reti Opening in the third round and the Center Counter (Scandinavian Defense) in the fourth.

It held Ehlvest to draws in the second round against a Queen’s Pawn Opening, in the fourth with a Gruenfeld Defense and in the sixth with the Scandinavian


Kramnik DVD tells of career highlights

WORLD champion Vladimir Kramnik has recorded a DVD that will reveal rare glimpses of his life and career.

Chessbase News said he made the recording in Hamburg earlier this week, before rushing off to Cologne to give moral support to his friend, heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitchsko, who was defending his IBF title.

Dr. Klitchsko and his brother Vitali, a former heavyweight boxing champion, are close friends of Kramnik’s.

The Klitchsko brothers also give their support to Kramnik with their presence during important matches.

In the DVD, Kramnik tells the story of how he reached the top and gives glimpses of how he prepares for major tournaments and matches.



Ian Rogers, Aussie model player

GRANDMASTER Ian Rogers, 47, has retired from active chess competition, according to the latest Australian Chess Federation’s newsletter that I received early yesterday morning. Australia’s No. 1 player for the past 25 years, Rogers is said to have retired for reasons of health on advice of his doctor.


GM Rogers and his wife, Cathy Rogers, also a chess celebrity Down Under, are familiar figures to Filipinos as they have visited Manila a number of times in the past. Rogers first came in 1976 and has taken part in Philippine events, including the 1992 Manila Olympiad.


HE has also been one of the closest rivals of GM Joey Antonio and other Filipino players in the Bangkok Open, as well as in the Dato Arthur Tan Open In Kuala Lumpur, a great number of times. In fact, Ian also competed in the Cebu Grandmasters Tournament of 1992 where he won a major prize (was it the top one?).


I FIRST saw Rogers, along with another future Aussie grandmaster, Darryl Johansen, in the Asian Cities Championship that Hong Kong hosted annually in the late seventies and early eighties. The two steered Sydney to a number of victories in that series, if my memory serves me correctly.


THE last time I saw GM Ian Rogers was in the Commonwealth Championship of 1984 where I represented Hong Kong but lost almost all my games because I had to leave the tournament hall for work two hours earlier than the rest. You see, I foolishly entered the event without getting a proper leave of absence from the SCM Post!


ALTHOUGH he won’t be competing anymore in tournaments either in Australia or overseas, GM Rogers will
continue serving as coach and chess writer. He is a regular contributor to Chess Life of the US Chess Federation and other popular international chess publications.


THE ACF newsletter paid tribute to GM Roger: “Australian chess players will miss Ian on the tournament scene. Fortunately, he will still be able to write and coach, two activities that helped create his reputation as arguably the most influential chess player Australia has produced…” He coaches the ACF Junior Squad.


IT would do well for our top players to make the same contribution that Rogers is doing for gifted youngsters in his homeland. Passing the torch to younger talents by coaching and training them is the best legacy a player worth his salt can leave behind. Don’t you think so, too?


GOOD to know that the Selection Tournament for the National Training Pool will not be taxing the players with registration fees and that, in turn, there will be no cash prizes. This is as it should be. After all, qualifying as a national trainer is enough reward.


Chess quote

“Some part of a mistake is always correct.” - Savielly Tartakower

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