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Relentless Veselin Topalov wins again

Position No. 6097: White to play and win. From the game Veselin Topalov-Boris Gelfand, Linares 2010.

Solution to Position No. 6096: Black wins with 1 . . . Rxg3 2 fxg3 (as 2 Rxg3 h4 costs White a Rook) Qb6 3 g4 Qg1+ 4 Kg3 Ra3+ 5 Kh4 (or 5 Kf4 Qd4+ 6 Qe4 Qd6+) g5+ 6 Kxh5 Rxh3+ 7 gxh3 Q

The great double round robin in Linares, Spain, ended in a dramatic victory for world championship challenger Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. Like a crafty pitcher who wins without his best stuff, Topalov succeeded without revealing any opening secrets he had prepared for his April match against champion Viswanathan Anand. Two of his four wins came from inferior positions, and only once did he outplay his opponent thanks to an advantage in the opening.

Topalov’s legendary determination highlighted the final round. His cautious opponent, Boris Gelfand of Israel, reached an obviously drawn endgame, yet Topalov induced an almost imperceptible error that he exploited with an artistic and original finish. See today’s puzzle!

Scores: Topalov, 6 1/2 -3 1/2 ; Grischuk, 6-4; Levon Aronian (Armenia), 5 1/2 -4 1/2 ; and Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan), Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spain) and Gelfand, each 4-6.

Grischuk, who won the 2009 tournament in Linares, played the highest-quality games, but he spoiled a promising position against Topalov in the fifth round. He did win the ninth-round rematch. Aronian was the only undefeated player.

Topalov’s victory boosted his rating seven points, not quite enough to displace Magnus Carlsen of Norway from the top spot on the rating list. According to the unofficial rankings at liverating.com, Carlsen is rated 2812.9, while Topalov is 2812.2. Next are Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), 2789.9; Anand (India), 2788.7; Aronian, 2783.5; and Grischuk, 2769.6.

Sicilian Match

Grandmasters Gregory Kaidanov of Kentucky and Judit Polgar of Hungary tied a four-game match in Hilton Head, S.C., where Black was required to play the Sicilian Defense. The result was discouraging for Sicilian Defense advocates -- four consecutive wins for White. In a blitz tiebreaker, White won the first two games and then Polgar took the match by finally winning with Black.

Local news

The Western Class Championships, an eight-section tournament run by the Continental Chess Assn., takes place Friday through Sunday in the Renaissance Hotel, 30100 Agoura Road in Agoura Hills. Entrants may choose a two-day schedule, beginning Saturday. For more information, see chesstour.com.

The Santa Monica Bay Chess Club, which meets Monday evenings in St. Andrew’s Church, 11555 National Blvd. in Los Angeles, will begin a four-round tournament at 7 p.m. Monday. Call Pete Savino at (310) 827-2789 for details.

Today’s games

GM Judit Polgar (Hungary)-GM Gregory Kaidanov (Kentucky), Game No. 2, Hilton Head 2010: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Be3 Bg7 7 f3 The Yugoslav Attack against the Sicilian Dragon. Nc6 8 Qd2 0-0 9 Bc4 Bd7 10 0-0-0 Rc8 11 Bb3 Ne5 12 Kb1!? A fashionable finesse. The immediate 12 h4 h5 13 g4 hxg4 seems defensible for Black. Re8 The insertion of 12 Kb1 and 12 . . . Re8 favors White, but Black has few other useful moves. He has scored poorly with 12 . . . a5 13 a4 and 12 . . . Nc4 13 Bxc4 Rxc4 14 g4 b5?! 15 b3 Rc8 16 Ndxb5, while 12 . . . a6 13 h4 h5 14 g4!? lets White attack as in the game. 13 h4 h5 14 g4!? hxg4 15 h5 Nxh5 16 Rdg1 The Rook lines up against Black’s King, imagining a variation such as 16 . . . gxf3?? 17 Rxh5 gxh5 18 Bh6 Bg4 19 Qg5 Ng6 20 Qxg6, mating. e6 17 Bh6 Qf6 Black’s last two moves are customary, but hardly cure-alls. He welcomes 18 Bg5? Nxf3 and 18 Bxg7?! Kxg7 19 fxg4 Qf4!, but White selects a third path. 18 fxg4 Bxh6 19 Qxh6 Qg7 20 Qd2 Nf6 21 g5 Nh5 22 Nce2 To eliminate the Knight that blocks the h-file. Nc4 Neither 22 . . . Kf8 23 Qb4 nor 22 . . . Nc6 23 Nb5 helps. If 22 . . . Bc6, hoping for 23 Rh4 d5, White ignores Black’s threat and attacks with 23 Ng3! Nxg3 24 Rxg3 Bxe4 25 Rh4 d5 26 Rgh3. Perhaps Black should return the pawn by 22 . . . d5 23 exd5 exd5 24 Bxd5 Nc4. 23 Bxc4 Rxc4 24 b3 Rc5 25 Ng3 Black cannot prevent disaster on the h-file. The Dragon has been slain again! Nxg3 After 25 . . . Bc6 26 Nxh5 gxh5 27 Nxc6 Rxc6 28 Rxh5 Rec8 29 c4 Qg6 30 Rh4, White’s King is much safer than Black’s. If 30 . . . d5 31 Qh2! Kf8 32 Qe5!, White threatens both 33 Qf6 and 33 cxd5. 26 Rxg3 Rec8 White refutes 26 . . . e5 by 27 Nf5! gxf5 28 Qxd6 f4 29 Qxd7 Rec8 30 Rg4, foreseeing 30 . . . Rxc2 31 g6 and 30 . . . R5c7 31 Qf5 Rc6 32 Rgh4, setting up 33 Rh7. 27 Rgh3! e5 28 Rh4! exd4 29 Qh2 Kf8 30 Qxd6+ Kg8 31 Qxd7 Not 31 Qf6?? Qxf6 32 gxf6 because 32 . . . Rh5 stops checkmate. d3 Black would lose a Rook by 31 . . . Rxc2 32 Qh3 Kf8 33 Rh8+. 32 c4 Qc3 33 R4h2 Very convincing. If Black tries 33 . . . R5c7 34 Qd6 Rc6, one method is 35 Qe7 d2 36 Rxd2! Qxd2 37 Qe5 f6 38 gxf6. b5 34 e5! Qxe5 35 Rh7 R5c7 Or 35 . . . Rf8 36 Qh3 Qxg5 37 Rh8+ Kg7 38 Qh7+ Kf6 39 Rxf8. 36 Qd6!, Black Resigns. It’s mate after 36 . . . Qc3 37 Qf6.

GM Alexander Grischuk (Russia)-GM Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan), Linares 2010: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 d6 5 Nc3 exd5 6 cxd5 g6 The theoretically suspect Modern Benoni. Gashimov is the only elite GM to rely on it regularly. 7 g3 The solid Fianchetto system. Gashimov faced 7 Bf4 in his other three Benonis in Linares. Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Re8 10 Bf4 Na6 Most common is 10 . . . a6, and alternatives include 10 . . . Nh5 and 10 . . . Ne4. 11 Re1 Bg4 12 Qb3 Squelching . . . b7-b5, Black’s best hope for counterplay. Both 12 h3 and 12 Nd2 obtain an edge too. Nh5 Inviting 13 Qxb7? Nb4 14 Rac1?? Nxf4 15 gxf4 a6, as 16 . . . Re7 will trap White’s Queen. 13 Bg5 Qd7 14 Nd2 h6 15 Be3 Bf5 The natural 15 . . . Rab8 16 a4 Nb4 17 Nc4 Bf5 18 Rac1 leads to the same position as the game. It’s doubtful that Black can improve by 15 . . . Bh3 16 Bf3 or 15 . . . Nc7 16 a4 b6 17 Nc4. His position is simply poor. 16 Nc4 Nb4 17 Rac1 Rab8 18 a4! Correctly disregarding the ineffective Knight at b4. b6?! Black gets no freedom from 18 . . . a6 19 Nb6 Qd8 20 a5, although this may be his best chance. The computer’s miserable suggestion, 18 . . . Bf8, will lose to 19 Nb5 a6 20 Nbxd6! Bxd6 21 Nxd6 Rxe3 (worse is 21 . . . Qxd6? 22 Bxc5) 22 Qxe3 Qxd6 23 Qxc5. 19 Nb5 Bf8 20 Bd2 Very unpleasant for Black, as 20 . . . Na6 drops material to 21 e4 Bg4 22 f3 Bh3 23 Bxh3 Qxh3 24 Nbxd6 Red8 25 Nb5 Nxg3 26 Nxa7. a6 21 Nbxd6! A sham sacrifice, as White will regain the piece advantageously after 21 . . . Bxd6 22 e4 Bg4 23 h3. b5!? A good try, but nothing can rescue Black’s position. 22 Nxe8 bxc4 23 Qxc4 Rxe8 Or 23 . . . Qxe8 24 g4. 24 Bxb4 cxb4 25 e4 Bg4 Similar is 25 . . . Bh3 26 Bxh3 Qxh3 27 e5. The Rook and center pawns will overpower Black’s two pieces. Against 25 . . . Rc8, White heads for an easy endgame by 26 Qxa6 Rxc1 27 Rxc1 Bg4 28 f3 Bh3 29 Bxh3 Qxh3 30 Qc8, with two deadly passed pawns. 26 e5 Qf5 A piece goes after 26 . . . Bf5 27 e6 fxe6 28 g4. Even 26 . . . Qc8 27 Qd4 Qd7 doesn’t help, as 28 Rc4! Nf6 29 Rec1 will win the Bishop or the Knight. 27 e6 fxe6 28 dxe6 Be7 29 f3! Now White plans 29 . . . Bxf3 30 Rf1. Bh3 30 g4 Qg5 31 Bxh3 Nf4 32 Bf1 Rf8 33 Qc7 h5 34 Qe5! Qh4 35 Re4 Nh3+ If 35 . . . g5 36 Rc7 Bf6, White finishes elegantly with 37 Qxf6! Rxf6 38 e7 Rf8 39 Bc4+. 36 Bxh3 Qxh3 37 Qg3 Quicker is 37 Rf4, but Grischuk’s choice rules out swindles. hxg4 38 Qxh3 gxh3 39 Kf2 Rd8 40 Ke2, Black Resigns. A very one-sided game, by the standards of elite grandmasters.


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