Kramnik, Kasparov Win on the Riviera


March 30, 2001

Position No. 5631: Black to play and win. From the game Lein - Yin Hao, National Open, Las Vegas 2001.

Solution to Position No. 5630: Black wins with 1 . . . Nf4+ 2 exf4 exf4 3 Rxd2 Qxg3+ 4 Kf1 Qf3+ 5 Ke1 Qxh1+ 6 Ke2 f3+ 7 Kd3 f2 8 Rxf2 Bxf2. White fares no better with 3 Rh3 f3+ or 3 Nd4 Qxg3+ 4 Kf1 Qxc3.



World champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Bulgarian grandmaster Veselin Topalov tied for first place with scores of 15-7 in the 10th Amber tournament, which ended Thursday in Monte Carlo. The tournament is the only elite event requiring blindfold play, in which players are told their opponent’s moves but cannot see the pieces. The hefty $137,000 prize fund persuades top stars to try the format and commit an occasional blunder.

Topalov scored 8-3 to win the blindfold competition, a half-point ahead of Kramnik. In the rapid (ordinary 25-minute games) competition, Kramnik and Boris Gelfand (Israel) tied for first place at 7 1/2-3 1/2, and Topalov finished third at 7-4.

The tournament was the second for Kramnik since he dethroned Garry Kasparov of Russia in the Braingames Network world championship in November. Kramnik tied for third place, behind Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand of India, in the Corus tournament in the Netherlands in January.

Other scores: Anand, 13 1/2-8 1/2 overall (7-4 blindfold); Alexey Shirov (Spain), 11 1/2-10 1/2 (7-4 blindfold); Gelfand, 11-11 (3 1/2-7 1/2 blindfold); Peter Leko (Hungary), 11-11 (5 1/2-5 1/2 blindfold); Jeroen Piket (Netherlands), 10 1/2-11 1/2 (5 1/2-5 1/2 blindfold); Ljubomir Ljubojevich (Spain), 9 1/2-10 1/2 (6-5 blindfold); Zoltan Almasi (Hungary), 9 1/2-12 1/2 (5 1/2-5 1/2 blindfold); Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), 9-13 (4-7 blindfold); former world champion Anatoly Karpov (Russia), 9-13 (3 1/2-7 1/2 blindfold); and Loek Van Wely (Netherlands), 7 1/2-14 1/2 (3-8 blindfold).


Dutch philanthropist Joop van Oosterom of the Max Euwe Assn. sponsored the tournament. Amber is his daughter’s name.

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) ran a new event, the World Cup of Rapid Chess, last weekend in Cannes. The scheduling (in conflict with the long-established Amber tournament) and FIDE’s controversial presence tarnished an entertaining tournament featuring Kasparov and 15 other grandmasters. U.S. co-champion Yasser Seirawan withdrew weeks ago when he learned that FIDE was behind the event. Kasparov, usually harshly critical of FIDE, insisted that he was invited by the French organizers and not by FIDE.

The tournament began with two eight-player round robins. Although Kasparov has occasionally stumbled in fast games (25 minutes for the first 50 moves, then 10 seconds per move), he had only one anxious moment en route to an undefeated 5 1/2-1 1/2 in his preliminary section. He lost a Rook for a Bishop against former Russian champion Peter Svidler but drew anyway.

The top four scorers from each preliminary advanced to three rounds of two-game matches. In succession, Kasparov defeated Vladislav Tkachiev (France), Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Evgeny Bareyev (Russia) to take first prize. Grischuk, the 17-year old sensation, put up the most resistance. He drew two games against Kasparov before losing both five-minute tiebreakers.

FIDE’s offshoot, FIDE Commerce, failed in its first attempt to persuade organizers of the most prestigious European tournaments to incorporate their events into the Grand Prix, FIDE Commerce’s projected series of elite tournaments. In an interview posted at FIDE’s Web site,, Artiom Tarasov, the president of FIDE Commerce, bluntly revealed his organization’s latest tactic. Tarasov said, “In certain cases, for the progressive good of chess, we will organize new tournaments. . . . The new Grand Prix events will be likely to take place at the same time as those events rejecting our proposal.”


The winner of February’s U.S. Amateur Team West regional, “AAA Kings,” earned the title of 2001 U.S. Amateur Team champions in a telephone playoff last Saturday. The team of IM Andranik Matikozian, IM Varuzhan Akobian, Minas Nordanyan and Harut Keshishian scored a 3-1 victory over the East champions, “Zen and the Art of Bisguier.” The South and MidWest champions did not participate in the playoff.

The Wilshire Chess Society held its monthly tournament last Sunday at the Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles. Sid Rubin and Gregory Yakubovich won their sections, and another section ended in a tie among Ped Bashi, Dwayne Copeland and Jonathan Hanish. For information about the club, call Michael Jeffreys at (310) 473-6291.


Leland Farrar won last Sunday’s tournament at Chess Academy in Hollywood. Bill Faulk and Steve Herceg tied for second place. Faulk and Steve Labollita drew against GM Eduard Gufeld in a simultaneous exhibition.

The club will conduct another tournament and simul on Sunday. For details, call (323) 883-0164 or (323) 512-4564.

The Exposition Park Chess Club, which meets Sunday afternoons in the public library, 3665 S. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles, hosts a free nonrated tournament on April 1. Register at the site at 1 p.m., or call the library at (323) 723-0169.


GM Christiansen (U.S.A.) - WGM Zhu Chen (China) #3, Summit Match, Seattle 2001: 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e5 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 d4 Instead of the usual 4 g3. exd4 5 Nxd4 White discarded this variation of the English Opening decades ago because Black gets excellent prospects from 5 . . . Bb4 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bh4 Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 d6. Bc5?! 6 Nxc6 bxc6 7 e3 Not bad, although Black faces more problems after 7 g3. 0-0 8 Be2 Qe7 9 0-0 Ne4!? Another idea is 9 . . . Rd8 10 Bf3 d5. 10 Nxe4 Qxe4 11 Bd2 Qe7?! Black should exchange Bishops by 11 . . . Rb8! 12 Bc3 Bb4. If 13 Qd4 Qxd4 14 Bxd4, then 14 . . . c5 15 Be5 d6 16 Bg3 Ba5! 17 b3 Bc3 relocates the Bishop, with near equality. 12 a3 Bd6 13 Qc2 c5?! With 13 . . . Be5 14 f4 Bf6 15 Bd3 g6 16 Rae1 d6, Black gains more control of the a1-h8 diagonal. 14 Bd3 Qh4 A hazardous post for the Queen, as the game demonstrates. However, White would meet 14 . . . g6 or 14 . . . h6 with 15 f4, followed by e3-e4-e5. 15 f4 Bb7 16 e4 f6 Black must weaken her Kingside, as she cannot stand 16 . . . Rfe8 17 Rf3 Bf8 18 Rh3 Qe7 19 e5. For example, 19 . . . h6 20 Bc3 d6 allows 21 Rxh6!, while 19 . . . g6 20 f5! Qxe5 loses the Queen to 21 Bc3 Qd6 22 fxg6 fxg6 23 Bxg6 (seeing 23 . . . hxg6? 24 Rh8+ Kf7 25 Qf2+ Ke7 26 Qh4+) Qxg6 24 Rg3. 17 Rf3! h6 Not 17 . . . Rae8? because 18 Rh3 Qg4 19 Rg3 Qe6 20 e5! fxe5 21 Bxh7+ Kf7 22 f5! Qf6 23 Bg5 and 19 . . . Qh4 20 e5! fxe5 21 Rh3 Qg4 22 Bxh7+ Kf7 23 Rg3 Qh4 24 Qg6+ Ke7 25 fxe5 Bxe5 26 Bg5+ cost Black her Queen. 18 Raf1 Rae8? Traffic jam! Black had to retreat by 18 . . . Qh5, although 19 Rg3 Qe8 20 Re1 prepares the devastating e4-e5. 19 Rg3 Kh8 Now 19 . . . Qh5 loses to 20 e5! fxe5 21 Bg6 Qh4 22 Bxe8 Rxe8 23 Qg6 Qe7 (not 23 . . . Re7? 24 Rg4) 24 f5! e4 25 f6. 20 Qd1! Threatening the Queen by 21 Rh3. f5 21 e5 Be7 22 Be1! Bd8 23 Rxg7 Qxe1 Also hopeless is 23 . . . Kxg7 24 Bxh4 Bxh4 25 Qh5 Bd8 26 Bxf5. 24 Rxe1 Kxg7 25 Bxf5! Spotting 25 . . . Rxf5 26 Qxd7+. Re7 26 Qh5 Kg8 27 Re3! Rg7 28 Rg3 Bg5 As good as any. 29 Qg4 Bf6 30 Qh3 Bg5 Or 30 . . . Rxg3 31 hxg3 Bg7 32 Bxd7, and White wins easily. 31 fxg5 Rgf7 32 gxh6+, Black Resigns.