Sunday, September 19, 2010

Luke McShane Comments

CHESS -19/09/2010
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Chess Diagram 1

Sunday September 19,2010
By Luke McShane

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BY the time this is published I'll be on my way to Khanty-Mansiysk in Siberia, to play for England at the 39th Chess Olympiad.

This year the England men's team is at full strength, seeded twelfth for the open tournament, while the women's team is seeded 38th.

It's no surprise that the Russians are favourites in both sections, but the team to watch is Armenia, who won the Gold in both Turin in 2006 and Dresden in 2008.

Several of the world's top players will be turning out, including Magnus Carlsen, Veselin Topalov, Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian, but alongside the battles on the chessboard, there is a contest which may turn out to be even more pivotal.

Former World Champion Anatoly Karpov will challenge Kirsan Ilyumzinov for the Presidency of FIDE, the powerful international federation.

Many of the changes in international chess over the last few years have been hugely controversial, including repeated arbitrary changes to the organization of the World Championship cycle.
Chess Diagram 2

The organization of many elite events in obscure locations has left an impression that the game's international reputation is on the decline.

One of the stops on Karpov's campaign tour was a spectacular fundraising event in London earlier this month, which was organised by CJ de Mooi of BBC TV’s 'Eggheads' fame.

De Mooi is also the current President of the English Chess Federation.

With generous sponsorship from Darwin Strategic, the 'Howard Staunton Memorial Dinner' took place in splendid surroundings at the traditional chess venue Simpson's-in-the- Strand.

Among the guests were several chess-playing celebrities such as Carol Vorderman, and Richard Farleigh, formerly of 'Dragons' Den'.

It raised funds for several causes, including Karpov's campaign and next year's British Championships.

Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov were once arch rivals, but these days they are united in their efforts to oust Ilyumzhinov.

Kasparov has been working closely with the Karpov campaign, and the dinner was a rare chance to see the champion back in action at the board.


Many of the guests bid for the chance to play in the exhibition games, in which grandmasters and amateurs played alternate moves.

In this exciting game Nigel Short paired with Chess Boxing referee Rajko Vujatovic, against Garry Kasparov and Jon Crumiller, a keen chess collector, who has an extraodinary number of exotic chess sets.

Rajko Vujatovic/Nigel Short - Jon Crumiller/Garry Kasparov
(London, 2010)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3 Be7 7.Qg4 g6 8.Qe2 d6 9.0–0 Nd7 10.a4 b6 11.Na3 Qc7 12.Nc4 Bb7 13.a5 b5 14.Nb6! Nxb6 15.axb6 Qxb6 16.Na5 Bc8 17.Be3 Qc7 18.c4 b4 19.e5! Vujatovic and Short have both found some powerful attacking moves, and White has a great initiative for the sacrificed pawn. 19...Rb8 20.Bd4 f6 21.exf6 Nxf6 22.c5 0–0 23.cxd6 Bxd6 24.Rfc1?! 24.g3! was much safer, and White still has excellent compensation. 24...Bxh2+ 25.Kh1 Qf4! The tables have turned. Black attacks the bishop, as well as threatening Qf4-h6 followed by discovered check. 26.Rxc8 Qxd4 After 26...Rbxc8 27.Qxe6+ Kg7 28.Bxf6+ Qxf6 29.Qxf6+ Rxf6 30.Kxh2 Rxf2 the chances look about even in this endgame. 27.Rc4! Holding the balance. 27.Rxf8+? Rxf8 28.Kxh2 Qh4+ 29.Kg1 Ng4! launches a decisive counterattack. 27...Qd6 28.Rd1 (see diagram)

28...Kh8! A remarkably cool move from Kasparov, ignoring the discovered attack which was threatened with 28.Rd1. 29.g3? The attempt to exploit the precarious bishop on h2 backfires. Alternatively, 29.Bxg6 Qe5! was the idea. Or 29.Nc6 Rb5 30.Bxg6 Rd5! which sees Black defend successfully. 29...Qd5+ 30.Kxh2 Qxa5 31.Qxe6? A blunder. The calmer 31.Kg2 allows White to fight for a draw. 31...Qh5+! 32.Rh4 Qxd1 33.Bxg6 Ng4+! Ending with a flourish. 0–1

I was involved in an interesting game as well, paired with Terry Chapman, who is an enthusiastic amateur and chess sponsor, against Mickey Adams and Allan Beardsworth, who has captained the England team in the past.

Terry and Allan played the odd numbered moves, while Mickey and I played even numbered moves.

Terry Chapman/Luke McShane - Allan Beardsworth/Michael Adams (London, 2010)

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Bf5 4.c4 c6 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Qb3 Qb6 7.Qxb6 axb6 Terry and I had to decide very quickly on a strategy for the opening that would suit us both, and we actually discussed this possibility before the game! The weakened Black queenside promises White a modest but enduring initiative. 8.Nc3 Nc6 9.d3 e6 10.0–0 Bc5 11.Bf4 h6 12.a3 0–0 13.b4 Be7 14.Nb5 Nd7 15.Bd6! A good stategic decision, as the weakened dark squares provide a way into Black's position. 15...Ra4? Preparing to double against the a3 pawn, but the knight on b5 protects the pawn and can't be budged, so the rook ends up out of play. 16.Bxe7 Nxe7 17.Rfc1 e5 17...Nc6 was safer, but Black is under serious pressure after 18.Nfd4. 18.Rc7 Rb8 (see diagram)

19.Nxe5! Nxe5 20.Rxe7 Nc6 21.Rc7 Nxb4 22.Rcc1 Nc6 23.Bxd5 A strategic triumph - White is a pawn up with a big structural advantage. 23...Nd8 24.Rab1 Ra5 25.Rc7 Be6 26.Bxe6 Nxe6 27.Rc3 Kf8 28.e3 Ke7 29.Nd4? It's nice to simplify, but this damages the pawn structure too much. I noticed a pretty solution: 29.Nc7!? Rc5 30.Rxb6! and now Rxc3 allows a fork on d5, while 30...Rxc7 31.Rxe6+! sees White emerge two pawns ahead. 29...Nxd4 30.exd4 Rd5 31.Rxb6 Rxd4 32.Rcb3 Rd7 33.Kf1 Kd8 34.Ke2 The endgame is still very difficult for Black to defend. 34...Kc7 35.Kd2 Rd5 36.R6b4 b6 37.Rc4+ Kb7 38.Re4 Rbd8 39.Re7+! Good judgement, as Terry foresaw the follow-up as well. 39...R8d7 40.Rxd7+ Rxd7 41.Rc3! An excellent move. Exchanging rooks would leave Black in a hopeless king and pawn endgame, so Black's king is cut off from the action. Scrambling with the rook is the only option, but White can advance slowly. 41...Rd5 42.h4 Rf5 43.Ke3 Re5+ 44.Kd2 Rf5 45.f4 Rf6 46.d4 Rd6 47.Kd3 f5 48.a4 Rg6 49.Kc4 Rc6+ 50.Kb4 Rd6 51.Rd3 Kc6 52.d5+ Kc7 52...Rxd5 53.Rxd5 Kxd5 54.Kb5 would be hopeless. 53.Kb5 Kb7 54.Kc4 Kc7 55.Re3 Kd7 56.Re6 Getting the rooks off by force is decisive. 1–0

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