- The Washington Times
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Chess has devised a wealth of ways to preserve the memory of the game’s greatest and most notable figures.

There is the World Chess Hall of Fame connected to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in St. Louis. There are anthologies and game collections of top players. Invent a popular opening variation (the Richter-Rauzer Sicilian) or a signature positional idea (the “Maroczy bind” or the “Marshall swindle”), and your name will live on for as long as the game is played.


But perhaps the most satisfying way to remember a chess player is by playing chess in his honor. Some of the world’s greatest stars competed this month in the second annual Vugar Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, honoring the popularity and skill of the Azerbaijani star who died of a brain tumor at the age of 27 in January 2014.

This year’s event produced a worthy champion — world titleholder Magnus Carlsen of Norway — and some extremely fine chess, including a brilliant win by former world champ Viswanathan Anand of India over young American GM Wesley So. Anand would finish alone in second, a full point behind Carlsen’s brilliant 7-2 result.

Against So, Anand adopts the more modest 6. d3 plan in this Ruy Lopez, but White soon turns on the aggression, starting with 10. Ng5!? and following up with a piece sacrifice for the attack: 13. Qxe2 h6 14. f4!? (the retreat 14. Nf3 offers no prospect of an advantage for White) hxg5 15. fxg5 Ng4 16. g6, with strong pressure on the vulnerable f7-square. After 16…Bg5 (d5?! 17. Bxd5 Bc5+ 18. Kh1 Qh4 19. g3 Qh3 looks scary, but White has 20. gxf7+! Kh8 21. Bxa8 Nxh2 22. Qxh2, and 22…Qxf1+ is out because the Black queen is pinned.

So’s ill-placed knight becomes a key target for the White attack, eventually succumbing after 21. g4 c6?! (the best hope, according to Anand, may have been 21…Rf4! 22. g5 Qf8, with a better-organized defense) 22. Rxf8+ Qxf8 23. Rf1 Qe7 24. g5 Rf8 25. gxh6 Rxf1+ 26. Kxf1 Qf8+ 27. Ke2, producing a queen-and-pawn ending where White’s protected passed pawn on g6 will prove the difference.

With Black locked down on the kingside, Anand slowly finds an opening on the other flank, with his king always nicely shielded from annoying checks. So resigns after 44. Qb3 Qa7 45. d4, as one winning line for White would be 45…exd4 46. Kd3 Qd7 47. Qa2 Kg7 48. Qh2 Qe6 49. Qc7+ Kf6 50. Qd8+ Kg7 51. Qxd4+ with an overwhelming edge.

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Memorial tournaments are a hallowed tradition in chess. Exactly 100 years ago this year, German-born American shipbuilder and noted chess patron Isaac Rice passed away suddenly while planning a tournament to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his “discovery” in 1896 of the Rice Gambit line in the Kieseritzky King’s Gambit. His widow financed the tournament in his honor the next year, and despite the difficulties of travel because of the war in Europe, organizers managed to put together one of the strongest tournaments during World War I.

The immortal Cuban great Jose Raul Capablanca, who in five years would be crowned world champion, took first place, but the top brilliancy prize went to his closest pursuer, France’s David Janowski, for his win over strong New York master Oscar Chajes. (Capablanca pulled off one of his most famous positional masterpieces in his own win over Janowski, but that game apparently lacked the sizzle of Janowski’s sacrificial massacre.)

With 1. d4, there would be no Rice Gambit here, but White does gambit a lot more than a pawn after Black unwisely puts his queen out of play with 13…Qb6? (Rc8 was tougher). White strikes with the speculative 14. Ne5 Rfe8 15. dxc5 Nxc5 16. Bxf6!? (Janowski famously loved his bishop pair, so to give one up voluntarily shows he is after something even bigger) Bxf6 17. Bxh7+ — a fairly standard sacrifice in these positions, but one that here will need a good deal of finesse to justify.

Black hurts his own cause after 17…Kxh7 18. Qh5+ Kg8 19. Qxf7+ Kh7?, when 19…Kh8! 20. b4 is highly unclear. White now finds a string of striking tactical blows to run the Black king to ground.

There followed: 20. Nd7! Nxd7 21. Rxd7 Bc6 (see diagram) 22. Ne4!! Bxb2 (Bxd7 23. Nxf6+ Kh6 24. Qh5 mate; or 22…Bxe4 23. Qxf6 Rg8 24. Qh4+ Kg6 25. Qxe4+ and wins) 23. Ng5+ Kh6 24. g4! g6 (no better was 24…Kxg5 25. Qh5+ Kf6 26. Rf7 mate) 25. h4 Rh8 26. Qh7+!, and Chajes resigned as 26…Rxh7 27. Rxh7 is mate.

Anand-So, 2nd Vugar Gashimov Memorial, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 2015

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. Nc3 d6 9. a3 Nb8 10. Ng5 Nc6 11. Ba2 Nd4 12. Ne2 Nxe2+ 13. Qxe2 h6 14. f4 hxg5 15. fxg5 Ng4 16. g6 Bg5 17. h3 Bxc1 18. Raxc1 Nh6 19. Qh5 Be6 20. Bxe6 fxe6 21. g4 c6 22. Rxf8+ Qxf8 23. Rf1 Qe7 24. g5 Rf8 25. gxh6 Rxf1+ 26. Kxf1 Qf8+ 27. Ke2 gxh6 28. Qg4 Qf6 29. h4 d5 30. h5 d4 31. b4 Kg7 32. Qf3 Qe7 33. Kd1 Kg8 34. Qf2 Kg7 35. c3 dxc3 36. Kc2 Qc7 37. Qc5 Kg8 38. Qe3 a5 39. Qh3 axb4 40. Qxe6+ Kf8 41. axb4 Qa7 42. Kxc3 Qa3+ 43. Kc2 Qa4+ 44. Qb3 Qa7 45. d4 Black resigns.

Janowski-Chajes, Rice Memorial, New York, February 1916

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 Be7 6.Nf3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 a6 8.O-O b5 9.Bd3 c5 10.Qe2 Bb7 11.Rfd1 Qb6 12.Rac1 O-O 13.Ne5 Rfe8 14.dxc5 Nxc5 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Bxh7+ Kxh7 17.Qh5+ Kg8 18.Qxf7+ Kh7 19.Nd7 Nxd7 20.Rxd7 Bc6 21.Ne4 Bxb2 22.Ng5+ Kh6 23.g4 g6 24.h4 Rh8 25.Qh7+ Black resigns.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.


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