Fight­ing se­niors lead the way into busy hol­i­day sea­son

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - DAVID R. SANDS David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at dsands@wash­ing­ton­

Hap­pens ev­ery year — when the rest of the world is go­ing over the meadow and through the snow for a well-earned hol­i­day rest, the chess world is gearing up for per­haps its busiest sea­son.

Or­ga­niz­ers are gearing up for an­other run of a great Wash­ing­ton tra­di­tion: the 43rd an­nual East­ern Open, a sev­en­sec­tion Swiss tour­na­ment start­ing Dec. 27 at the Dou­bleTree Ho­tel in Bethesda, Mary­land. Some of the coun­try’s top grand­mas­ters and ris­ing ju­nior stars are ex­pected to com­pete in the Open sec­tion.

And with the world chess ti­tle tilt in Man­hat­tan be­tween Nor­way’s Mag­nus Carlsen and Rus­sian Sergey Kar­jakin barely in the rearview mir­ror, vir­tu­ally all of Carlsen’s ex­pected chal­lengers in his next ti­tle de­fense are in the field at the Lon­don Chess Clas­sic, in­clud­ing the Amer­i­can Big Three of GMs: Fabi­ano Caru­ana, Hikaru Naka­mura and Wesley So.

For all the at­ten­tion on Carlsen’s dra­matic over­time win in the Big Ap­ple, that wasn’t the only world chess cham­pi­onship on the line last month. The Czech city of Mar­i­anske Lazne played host to the World Se­nior Cham­pi­onships, with sep­a­rate tour­na­ments for the over-50 and the over-65 crowns.

Some fa­mil­iar names were among the over-65 win­ners: French GM Anatoly Vaisser won his fourth se­nior crown on tiebreak­ers, while leg­endary Ge­or­gian for­mer women’s world cham­pion Nona Gaprindashvili eas­ily took her third straight cham­pi­onship and fifth over­all.

There has been con­sid­er­able post-match grum­bling about the high num­ber of draws in the Carlsen-Kar­jakin af­fair, with each player manag­ing only one win in the 12 clas­si­cal games be­fore the rapid play­off.

Some of that can be cred­ited to the Rus­sian’s in­cred­i­ble de­fen­sive skills, but there were also sev­eral col­or­less games in which nei­ther player gen­er­ated a sin­gle

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Czech IM Josef Pribyl. The play both Al­ready­sides is by ad­mirable.16. Ng5 g6 17. Qg4 Nd8?! (see di­a­gram; 17... Bf6 18. Be4 Na5, chal­leng­ing the pres­sure of White’s two bish­ops, was more pru­dent, Pushkov’s at­tack­ing ar­ray looks for­mi­da­ble, and White doesn’t wait around to get his at­tack go­ing.

Thus: 18. Nxh7!? (not win­ning, but Black’s de­fense will be very tricky) Kxh7 19. h5 Bf8!? (equally sharp was 19...Bf6 20. hxg6+ Kg8!, lead­ing to such lines as 21. gxf7+ Kxf7 22. e4 Kf8 23. e5 Bh8 24. Bg6 Rg7! 25. Qh5 Rxg6 26. Qxg6 Qg7 27. Qxg7+ Bxg7, with rough equal­ity) 20. hxg6+ fxg6 21. Bxg6+ Kg8 22. c4, try­ing to get his dark­squared bishop into the at­tack.

Pribyl puts up a spir­ited de­fense with 22...Bg7 23. d5!? (White pushes his at­tack with ad­mirable en­ergy) Bxb2 24. dxe6 Rg7!, sidestep­ping 24...Rxd1+? 25. Rxd1 Bc6 26. e7! Qxe7 27. Qxc8 Bf6 28. Rxd8+ Qxd8 29. Qxc6 and wins.

But it all goes bad for Black with one mis­cal­cu­la­tion. Af­ter 25. Rd7, Black had to try 25... Rxd7! (also muddy is 25...Qe5!? 26. Rxg7+ Qxg7 27. Rd1 Bd4 28. exd4 Nc6 29. Bf7+ Kf8 30. Qf4 Ne5 31. Bh5+ Kg8 32. d5 Rf8) and hope to hang on af­ter 26. Bf7+ Kf8 27. Qg8+ Ke7 28. Qe8+ Kd6 29. Rd1+ Bd4 30. exd4 Qc6 (Re7?? 31. dxc5+ Ke5 32. Qh8+ Kf5 33. Qh5+ Kf6 34. Qg6+ Ke5 35. Qg5+ Ke4 36. Bg6 mate) 31. Qxd7+ Qxd7 32. dxc5+ Kc6 33. exd7 Rb8, with an un­clear po­si­tion.

In­stead, 25...Bxc1?? leaves Black up a rook, bishop and knight but short one king af­ter 26. Bh7+!, when it’s mate af­ter 26...Kf8 27. Qxg7+ Ke8 28. Qe7 mate; Pribyl re­signed.

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