Why is this man smiling?

4/20/2003 – England's Nigel Short rose to the challenge and defeated one of his bêtes noires, Judit Polgar, to claim sole first place in the eighth round of the Hunguest Hotels tournament. Short needs only a draw in Sunday's final round to take first place. The last two rounds have seen almost as many decisive games as the first six. Check out some of the wild sacrificial games and replay them online here.

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The Nige rises to the challenge

If Nigel Short had to play every game against Judit Polgar he would probably give up chess for something more rewarding, like Arctic ice fishing. Counting all their encounters before Saturday he had thirteen losses and just two wins against her over the years.

Then came round eight in Budapest with Short and Polgar tied for first place. Short had the white pieces, Polgar had the home-field advantage. They played a tame line of the Najdorf, if such a thing can be said to exist. Polgar forced exchanges and gave up the bishop pair, something she would regret for the rest of the game. Short's bishops tortured her in the endgame for 45 moves before she was forced to resign on move 75.

This huge win left Short in the lead by a full point. He faces cellar-dweller Almasi in the final round. Despite the loss Polgar is almost guaranteed second place. Both players chasing her, Leko and Movsesian, also lost on Saturday. Polgar has white against Gelfand in on Sunday.

The tempo has definitely accelerated in Budapest. There were three decisive games in round seven and four in round eight. There had only been eight in the first six rounds! All the blood in the water didn't have much impact on the tight standings. Short and Polgar are playing in a different event at the top of the table. Only a point and a half separate the other eight players.


Standings after round eight

Official siteGame replay and download page rounds 7-8

From looking at the games you might think they players believe this is a Sicilian Thematic tournament. The field is loaded with 1.e4 players and this has been answered with 1...c5 in 18 games. We have been treated to several wild Sicilian attacking fiestas. But one of the most brutal games of the event was Polgar's demolition of Berkes in a French Defense in round seven.

Polgar gave up a knight on move 13, forced lines open with the fantastic and subtle 14.g4, and then sacrificed a rook for a mating attack! Berkes must have felt like he had walked into a time warp and come out on the wrong side of an Adolf Anderssen game. Look for this game in a tactics book coming to a chess store near you.

Here Polgar played 18.Rh7+!! Kxh7 19.Qh2+ Kg8 20.Rh1 and Berkes had to give up his queen to avoid mate. 20...Bxg5+ 21.Nxg5 Qxg5+ 22.f4 Qxf4+ 23.Qxf4 Bxe4 24.Qxe4 1-0. The young Hungarian decided that knight and rook wasn't enough for the queen and resigned. A good lesson for the junior from the famous Polgar School of Tactics.

Germany's Christopher Lutz has been having a dismal tournament and he decided that he might as well go out with a bang. He threw the kitchen sink at Movsesian in the eighth round, as well as a few pots, pans, and spatulas. It could take quite a while to figure out exactly what was going on in this wild battle.

What we do know is that Movsesian toppled like a Saddam statue after Lutz's shock and awe campaign against the white king. This position is a good test for your brain and for your chess software.

White is to move and the obvious choice is 22.exd5 to gain a pawn and kick the bishop off the a2-g8 diagonal. Your computer program will also be happy with this move, at least for a while. (The attack-happy Junior 7 seems to understand this position much faster than other programs I tried.)

After 22...Bf5 23.Nxb3 Rfc8 Rc1 it looks like White has survived the storm. But then comes 24...Rbc8!! moving the same rook again and giving it up for the bishop now that the c1 square has been taken away from the white king! This seems to end up as a draw but White would have to defend perfectly after 25.Bxb8 Qa3+ 26.Kc3 Rxb8.

So maybe White has to try 22.Rg1, but it's clear that white is going to have a lot of work to do to escape with even a half point. In the game Movsesian gave up a piece to connect his rooks and deflect the black bishop with 22.Bh3. He was blown off the board after 22...Bxh3 23.Nxb3 d4 24.Qg3 g6 25.Nexd4 Rxa7 26.Nc2 Qc4 27.Qf2 Rb7 28.Nca1 Nc5 29.Qe3 Be6 30.Rc1 Nd3+ 0-1

Finally, also in the eighth round, Peter Acs did something that Kasparov and Kramnik both failed to do in Linares a few months ago: beat Peter Leko. Not only did Acs beat him, but he beat his Sveshnikov Sicilian! They followed the line Leko used to beat Polgar in round five until Acs played the older move 16.c3. Play followed thematic lines with Black on the kingside and White on the queenside until Acs found the nice invasion 24.Qd7!

Leko decided that the threat of 25.Nc6 was too strong and gave up the exchange with 24...Rxb4. This only slowed the white initiative and Leko went for a desperate attack against the white king. Acs found a few defensive moves and Leko had to resign before being mated. This dropped the Linares winner to an even score.

See all the round 7-8 games, several with analysis notes, here.

 

 

Mig Greengard
ChessNinja.com


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