THE WEEK IN CHESS 149 - 15th September 1997 by Mark Crowther

Tel or fax      01274 882143 [Bradford England]

1) Introduction
2) Joel Benjamin is the Interplay US Champion 1997
3) 68th FIDE Congress Moldova
4) Korchnoi defeats Bacrot
5) Van Wely vs Jeroen Piket
6) Games from Villarrobledo
7) News from Greece
8) Jonathan Mestel, Problem Solving GM
9) The Closed Icelandic Chess Championship 1997
10) European Junior Chess Festival in Estonia
11) Karpov in Bordeaux
12) Portuguese Chess Championships by Luis Santos

Games section

ch-USA Final Chandler USA 1997      6
Match Monaco 1997                   5
Match Albert FRA 1997               6
7th Open Chania                   170
Rapid Villarrobledo ESP 1997       36

1) Introduction

My thanks to the hard working Matt Guthrie for his excellent job as the US Championships press officer, John Henderson, Luis Santos, Bill Townsend, Christophe Bouton, Daði Örn Jónsson, ChessPlanet, Jacob Shutzman, Christophe Bouton, Stéphane Laborde, Ian Rogers, JAQUE XXI, Argiris Kotsis, Jon Levitt, Jim Grevatt and all those who helped with this issue.

An extremely abbreviated issue due to time spent on continued attempts to sort out a future for TWIC. I will catch up with the games from a number of the events in next weeks issue. Nevertheless an interesting week.

Hope you enjoy this issue


2) Joel Benjamin is the Interplay US Champion 1997

Benjamin runs away with title.

Matt Guthrie reports that the 1997 US Men's and Women's Championships began August 23rd at the San Marcos Hotel in Chandler, Arizona. In the Men's event a slightly original format was being used:

The field was split into two groups of eight, each of which played a round robin. The top two players from each group then advanced, with the winner of each group playing a four game match against the runner-up of the other.

The winners of these matches then played a six game match for the title.

Round by round by Matt Guthrie

US Champ Finals, Round 2. Mon, 8 Sep 1997

Larry Christiansen evened the US Championship Final today with a smooth positional win over Joel Benjamin's Queen's Gambit accepted. Larry gave a textbook example of maneuvering his Knight to occupy weak squares, as observers were treated to c3-d1-f2-d3-c5 tour, followed by the mirror image maneuvre c5-d3-f2-d1, and Joel resigned before the pattern could be completed by the return to c3, which would have meant the immediate demise of the Black b5 pawn. Strong pressure by White down the c-file forced Joel to lash out with 29...Bh3+!?, which if captured would have been followed up by 30...Nf4+!, with lines such as 31.gxf4 Qg6! to come. However Larry's calm refusal of the sacrifice soon forced Black's pieces into retreat. A "petit combination" 33.Rxc7 snagged a pawn, and the error 43...Ke7 left Black unable to protect his b5 pawn from White's nimble Knight, and so portended resignation. "I got an edge out of the opening, and then Joel made some mistakes in time pressure." commented Christiansen, who continued his habit of being substantially ahead on the clock in every game. "I guess I found out I'm not invincible today." said Benjamin, with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

Finals Round 3. Tuesday, 9th Sep 1997

The fighting chess continued today, although the ultimate result of the game was a split point. Benjamin's Advance Variation against Christiansen's French followed a 1989 Kamsky-Kasparov game for 10 moves before Joel varied with 11.Bd3!?, in effect allowing a trade of d-pawn for g-pawn, with a very unclear situation. As White's time pressure increased, Christiansen launched an unclear exchange sacrifice, which he stated after the game was definitely the best move in the position, and not merely an attempt to exploit zeitnot. He did, however, play riskily in exposing his King immediately before the time control. Although Benjamin tried hard to exploit the King's position, it ultimately proved that a perpetual check was the best that White could gain. "A tough game, a real see-saw struggle." Said Christiansen afterward. "I feel like I'm on move the whole time." added Benjamin, referring to Christiansen's rapid rate of play.

US Champs. Final round 4. Wednesday, 10 Sep 1997

Throughout the entire tournament Larry Christiansen has played every position to win, with very good results. However today this tactic had dire consequences, as overly optimistic play after the time control culminated in a blunder which led to a rapid loss. Larry chose a little known but potent system against the Pirc, and obtained a pull out of the opening. In the post-mortem he preferred 17.Rh3 as abetter way of building the attack. However his Kingside play still looked ominous. "I was worse, but never losing." was Benjamin's evaluation after the game. A long exchanging sequence right before the time control led to the highly unusual ending of R+bP+cP vs.R+gP+fP. In this ending Christiansen first took an unnecessary risk with 42.Rc7+?, and then immediately blundered a pawn with 43.b6?? Benjamin soon converted the extra pawn, and the victory leaves Joel needing one point from the final two games to clinch the match.

US Champs. Final round 5 Thursday, 11 Sep 1997

Game 5 ended in a draw today after Larry Christiansen' Philidor Defence failed to provide sufficient imbalance in the position. Christiansen's 12...Bxe4 induced a long exchanging sequence at the end of which White's position, although seemingly slightly better, failed to offer any significant winning chances. Game 6 takes place tomorrow, at the slightly earlier time of 2p.m. PDT. Benjamin needs only a draw tomorrow to take the title since 1987. A Christiansen win would force a playoff. In such a scenario, a 2 game G/25 match will be played tomorrow, and if subsequent playoffs are needed, they will be postponed until Saturday.

US Championships. Final Round 6 Friday 12 Sep 1997

Joel Benjamin won the 1997 Interplay US Championships today be defending coolly against a raging Larry Christiansen attack and gaining the draw that he needed. Christiansen sacrificed two pawns early in the middlegame of a Rubinstein Nimzo-Indian, but in returned gained the time to point his pieces menacingly at Benjamin's King. 27.f6 opened up the position in front of the Black King, but after the cool 30...f4 (note 31.Rxf4 Bc1!) and 31...Qd6, the Black Queen was able to return to the defence. By the 35th move it was clear that White's position was crumbling, and so Larry accompanied 36.Bxg6 with the draw offer that gave Joel the match. Congratulations to our new Champion, and heartfelt condolences to Christiansen, who gave his all throughout the tournament.


Benjamin, Joel         -  Christiansen, Larry M  1-0   39  D12  Slav defence
Christiansen, Larry M  -  Benjamin, Joel         1-0   45  D20  QGA;
Benjamin, Joel         -  Christiansen, Larry M  1/2   57  C02  French; Advance
Christiansen, Larry M  -  Benjamin, Joel         0-1   50  B08  Pirc; Classical
Benjamin, Joel         -  Christiansen, Larry M  1/2   21  C41  Philidor defence
Christiansen, Larry M  -  Benjamin, Joel         1/2   36  E46  Nimzo indian

Chandler USA (USA), IX 1997
                                    1   2   3   4   5   6 
Benjamin, Joel         g USA 2580    1   0   =   1   =   =   3.5  2607
Christiansen, Larry M  g USA 2550    0   1   =   0   =   =   2.5  2523

Coverage and updates are available through the USCF at:

And a page devoted to background information is:

also Smart Chess are covering the event

3) 68th FIDE Congress Moldova

FIDE's 68th Congress in Moldova took place last week. A number of interesting decisions and facts came out. FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov said that he felt that they were close to getting an agreement with the International Olympic Committee for membership. It is unclear how the IOC feel about this, one of their stipulations in earlier times was that the split between Kasparov and FIDE should be solved.

Iljumzhinov in an independent capacity has offered a deal to FIDE with his "World Chess Foundation". He wants to sign a contract for the next ten championships. He will put up a figure of $50m over that time to hold these events. Funding is said to be coming from the sale of rights to the Championships and such things as a FIDE Credit card.

There were a number of interesting announcements and discussions with reference to the knockout championships in December and January.

Willy Iclicki gives his account of the meeting (which is very interesting) on his ChessPlanet site. He states that "Mr. Kamsky answered that he will not participate. WCs Kasparov and Z.Polgar didn't reply and Mr. Topalov made some conditions". This doesn't seem to quite be the case. Kasparov (in a letter that was sent to IOC President Juan Samaranch) definitely declined to play and this was the channel FIDE chose to appeal to him to play. Jacob Shutzman, husband and manager to Women's Chess World Champion, Zsuzsa Polgar says that they did send a reply which he now sends here for publication.

Zsuzsa Polgar

Women's Chess World Champion

New York - August 23, 1997

To: F.I.D.E President His Excellency, Kirsan N. ILJUMZHINOV

Dear Mr. President,

Enclosed, please find a copy of my biography book. There is also a quote from you (p. 195) and our mutual picture after page 198. I hope you enjoy reading it and looking over the games.

I would like to thank you for inviting me to participate in the World Championship KO style in Groningen.

As the Women's World Champion every chess competition is very important for me and I need to prepare at least 6 months in advance. This event has caught me by surprise, as the target of my preparation so far has been to defend my title as a world champion against the next challenger.

In addition, it seems to me that to play in the first round of this competition would be belittling my title and stature in the chess world. I would consider playing at a higher round if I may (closer to where Mr. Karpov enters the event).

At the present conditions I can't accept the invitation to play, however, I'm willing to honor the event and the opening ceremony with my presence. I am also willing to lecture on chess or give a simul exhibition, in order to add prestige to this big event.

Please, let me know if there is interest in any of my suggested activities. I'll be happy to discuss the conditions for my appearance.

As a side note, I'd like to mention to you that I have opened a very beautiful chess center in Queens (New York) and I hope you'll get a chance to visit it in the near future. I wish you the best of luck with this venture and the promotion of chess.

Sincerely Yours,

Zsuzsa Polgar

Karpov and Kramnik attended the meeting and spoke over the question of the seeding of Karpov through to the final. FIDE will not change this seeding but conceded that this is less than ideal and won't happen in future editions of the Championships. Groningen will hold the semi-finals instead of Elista to reduce the problems of travel. Elista will host next year's Olympiad and there will be elections for FIDE President and other leading positions.

On the most important question of game copyright FIDE intends to press ahead with their contention that chess games are copyright. They will allow coverage on the internet and in newspapers for nothing (presumably just this time) but ask books and databases to pay. They did give some reasons as to why they think they can claim these rights but also there was a note of caution and a resolution to consult more experts. Essentially I believe the same thing as before, they have no chance of getting a ruling that would allow them (and straight afterwards ALL other events) to charge for games.

4) Korchnoi defeats Bacrot

Christophe Bouton reports that Etienne Bacrot lost a 6 game match in the Jeu de Paume theater in the town of Albert (departement de la Somme close to Etienne's home village). The match was held between 10-15 September with the games starting at 2:30 pm. The time rate was 40 moves in two hours, 20 moves in one hour followed by 30 minutes to finish the game. The match extends Korchnoi's personal record against Bacrot.

Bacrot, Etienne   -  Korchnoi, Viktor  0-1   54  D53  QGD;
Korchnoi, Viktor  -  Bacrot, Etienne   1/2   57  E55  Nimzo indian
Bacrot, Etienne   -  Korchnoi, Viktor  1-0   37  D41  QGD; Tarrasch Defence
Korchnoi, Viktor  -  Bacrot, Etienne   1-0   46  A20  English; 1.c4 e5
Bacrot, Etienne   -  Korchnoi, Viktor  1/2   20  D53  QGD;
Korchnoi, Viktor  -  Bacrot, Etienne   1-0   51  A20  English; 1.c4 e5

Albert FRA (FRA), IX 1997
                                1   2   3   4   5   6 
Korchnoi, Viktor  g SUI 2610    1   =   0   1   =   1   4.0  2670
Bacrot, Etienne   g FRA 2545    0   =   1   0   =   0   2.0  2485

5) Van Wely vs Jeroen Piket

Jeroen Piket and Loek Van Wely are playing an eight game match organised by the Association Max Euwe. Monaco is the venue for this match between the two top rated Dutch players which ends on September 18th. Piket raced to an early lead but tonight Piket struck back in an extraordinary game including a rook sacrifice from Piket. Its hard to say whether any of this was sound at this stage.

Piket, Jeroen   -  Van Wely, Loek  1/2   21  A58  Benko gambit
Van Wely, Loek  -  Piket, Jeroen   1-0   43  C45  Scottish
Piket, Jeroen   -  Van Wely, Loek  1/2   34  E04  Nimzo indian
Van Wely, Loek  -  Piket, Jeroen   1-0   45  C45  Scottish
Piket, Jeroen   -  Van Wely, Loek  1-0   32  E04  Nimzo indian

Monaco (MCO), IX 1997
                              1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 
Van Wely, Loek  g NED 2655    =   1   =   1   0   .   .   .   3.0  2702
Piket, Jeroen   g NED 2630    =   0   =   0   1   .   .   .   2.0  2583

6) Games from Villarrobledo

The games published in TWIC146 from this event had a large number of errors in them. My thanks to JAQUE XXI for sending a corrected file.

7) News from Greece.

Argiris Kotsis sends news of two events from Greece. Firstly the 7th International Chess Tournament «Battle of Creta» Chania 03-11.09.1997 which was a Swiss System tournament won by Alexander Nenashev from amongst others Anthony Miles. The 17th Acropolis tournament is on now and covered at his site

Final Standings - Chania 1997

1.  NENASHEV ALEXANDER GM UZB             7.5 
2.  MILES ANTHONY J. GM ENG               7.0 
4.  ZAHARIEV ZAHARI IM BUL                7.0 
5.  BAGATUROV GIORGI IM GEO               6.5 
9.  GUCHASHVILI ZAURIS GEO                6.0 
12. MAMEDOVA RENA OFM UZB                 6.0 
13. DUCI ILIA ALB                         6.0 
15. HALKIAS STELIOS FM SA PDM-TH          5.5 
16. ARASLANOV FARID RUS                   5.5 
19. WAGNER BERND GER                      5.5 
20. BRAS EMANOUEL OF HRAKLEIOY            5.5 
21. JENSSEN JENS GER                      5.5 
82 players.

8) Jonathan Mestel, Problem Solving GM

Jonathan Mestel already an over the board GM became a Grandmaster at problem solving during the World Chess Solving Championships in Pula Croatia reports Jon Levitt and Jim Grevatt.

Jonathan Mestel has just achieved a unique feat in becoming a Grandmaster in Chess Problem Solving, to add to his grandmaster title in over-the-board play. No-one in the world has done this before. Jonathan won the individual title at the World Chess Solving Championships, giving him his 3rd GM norm, at Pula, Croatia, on 10th September. The British team of Jonathan, Graham Lee and Michael McDowell came a very creditable third after Israel and (on time) Germany, with 158 points out of 180. Try your hand at one of the problems below: Both seem simple, but they gave the experts some trouble. In the first, some fell for one of three likely moves which don`t quite work. In the second, the two solutions are not perfectly matched.

3Nrq2/1pKQ4/1ppR4/1P2kpP1/5p2/2R2P1n/1NBP2n1/5bb1// Mate in 2

M. Mladenovic, to appear in The Problemist

1Rdd3? Nxg5! 1Bd3? Ne3! 1d3? Qg8! 1rcxc6!

K2Br2Q/8/3npP2/1PRB2P1/PqN5/rpk4P/2n5/8// HELP MATE IN 2

Twin b3=white pawn, E. Rosner, to appear in The Problemist

1 Qxc4 Qf8 2 Kb4 Rxc4 1 Kxb3 Qh4 2 Kxa4 Nb2

9) The Closed Icelandic Chess Championship 1997

The Closed Icelandic Chess Championships of 1997 are taking place in Akureyri 9–20.9 1997. Full coverage next week but internet coverage is available at:

10) European Junior Chess Festival in Estonia

European Junior Championships After the 6th round there are three leaders in the boys' tournament: Andrey Belozerov (RUS), Alexander Rabinovich (ISR) and Dimitri Tyomkin (ISR) with 4,5/6. In girls' tournament Iweta Radziewicz (POL) is leading with 5/6. Full coverage here next week but there is an official www site at:

11) Karpov in Bordeaux

Anatoly Karpov is due in Bordeaux on October 2nd and 3rd. He is invited by AEROSPATIALE (ARIANE ESPACE) and the community of BORDEAUX. He will play a special simultaneous game against 7 personalities. The event is organized by TACTIQUE who yet organized past 24th of May the first "Internationaux d'Echecs de Bordeaux" Public rapid tournament with video screen and comentaries, won by GM Glenn FLEAR against Zsofia POLGAR. This event will be followed by the "TOP 16" the 11 and 12 of October which will qualify the first french player to the second "Internationaux d'Echecs de Bordeaux" that will be played the 4th of April of 1998 in a theater of Bordeaux with a special guest : Alexei SHIROV ! A second qualification tournament will qualify two players on 28 and 29 March of 1998. Informations at Information from Stéphane Laborde

12) Portuguese Chess Championships by Luis Santos

The Portuguese Championships were won by Fernando Ribeiro. Full coverage next week. Luis Santos reports that it will be held until September 14 in the HOTEL DA TERMAS DO VIMEIRO, in Maceira, a well known holiday resort in the north of Lisbon District. Internet coverage at: