It's Almira vs Irina in New York

by ChessBase
8/19/2004 – On September 16 the web search company Accoona will be staging a spectacular rapid chess match between the best female players in America and France. Former US champion Irina Krush faces former European champion Almira Skripchenko. The latter has annotated a key game for us, and also took us on a spectacular tour around her home town of Paris

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Press release

The Accoona French-American Women’s World Chess Championship

Irina Krush, Accoona American Champion, and Almira Skripchenko, Accoona French Champion, will compete at the Russian Samovar, 256 W 52nd Street, NYC, (212) 757-0168 on Thursday, September 16, 2004. 1:00 PM Interviews and pictures, drinks and hors d’oeuvres!! 2:00 PM Matches Begin. To R.S.V.P please contact Paulina (212) 842-4999, or

Almira Skripchenko was crowned European Women’s Champion in 2001 and active Top-Rated French Woman in Chess for 2004. Irina Krush, in 1998 was the youngest woman to win the American Championship and is currently the active Top-Rated Woman Player in the USA.

For more Information and Pictures please visit the Accoona web site.

Accoona is launching the World’s First Artificial Intelligence Search Engine employing the meaning of words as an alternative to key word search. Accoona is launching the World’s Largest Business and Products Database consisting of hundreds of millions of records on companies previously not available on the Internet. Accoona is launching December 8, 2004 in China and the US.

Skripchenko vs Krush

The match between Almira Skripchenko and Irina Krush is a very close affair. Irina is nominally six points stronger than Almira, but the French girl has more international titles and championship wins to her name. Just recently Almira won the strongest women's chess tournament ever held, the North Urals Cup (see her beautiful picture report). At that event one of the key – and grudge – games was against Irina Krush. Almira has annotated this game for us.

Skripchenko,A (2453) - Krush,I (2459) [B51]
2nd North Urals Cup Krasnoturinsk RUS (8), 31.07.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.d4 Ngf6 5.0-0 a6 6.Bxd7+ Nxd7 7.Nc3 cxd4?! 7...e6 8.dxc5 Nxc5 9.Bg5 Qc7 is the main line of this variation, but probably Irina wanted to surprise me with a rare continuation

8.Qxd4. White's queen on d4 makes it very difficult for Black to develop her dark square bishop

8...e6 9.Rd1

9...f6?! A very rare move which I consider quite dubious, I analysed this position several years ago and the verdict was without appeal: Black is condemned to a very passive play with a long-lasting advantage for White. 9...Qc7? 10.Bf4! e5 11.Nd5 Qb8 12.Qc3 exf4 13.Nc7+ Kd8 14.Nxa8 Qxa8 15.e5± as in a game Tkachiev-Suhendra which ended with a mate on the board: 15...Be7 16.exd6 Bf6 17.Qc7+ Ke8 18.Re1+ Kf8 19.Re7 Bxe7 20.dxe7+ Kxe7 21.Re1+ Kf8 22.Qd8#.

10.Qc4! I remembered my analysis so far! :-) This is a very important move in order to prevent the black queen from getting to c7 and attacking the e6 pawn simultaneously

10...Nb6. 10...Ne5 11.Nxe5 fxe5 12.a4 Be7 13.a5 0-0 14.Be3 with an unpleasant position for Black.

11.Qd3. I was not sure which was the best square for the queen, but 11.Qb3 Qc7 followed by 12.Rd4, to prevent the manoeuvre Nc4 and b5, and with the threat Rb4, was a much better option

11...Qc7 12.b3 with a small threat Ba3 and restraining the black knight. 12...Nd7. The knight is very badly placed on b6 so it is natural for Irina to redirect it towards more natural squares c5 or e5.

13.Nd4 Ne5 14.Qg3!

14...Kf7?! 14...b5 15.f4 Nc6 16.f5 Nxd4 17.Rxd4 b4 18.Na4 with a complicated position, but I still prefer White

15.a4! Be7 16.Nce2. White is improving gradually her pieces, meanwhile Black is deprived of all counterplay. 16...Bd7 17.Be3 Nc6. 17...b5 18.axb5 axb5 19.f4 Ng6 20.f5±.

18.c4. Finally I set up the Maroczy bind! 18...Rab8 19.f4 Nxd4. Maybe Irina should have tried 19...g6

20.Nxd4 f5 21.exf5 exf5 22.Nf3! 22.Qf3 Bc6! 23.Qh3 g6 and Black has managed to replace the white square bishop on a long diagonal.

22...Bf6 23.Bd4 Bxd4+ 24.Rxd4 Rhe8 25.Rad1 Qc5 26.Qf2 Bc6

27.Rxd6. I hesitated for a while between the text move and 27.Ne5, which wins the queen: 27.Ne5+ dxe5 28.Rd7+ Qe7 29.Rxe7+ Rxe7 30.fxe5 Rxe5 31.Re1 Rbe8 32.Rxe5 Rxe5 and it is not easy to win this position.

27...Qxf2+ 28.Kxf2 Bxf3 29.Kxf3 Re7 30.Rd7! Rbe8 31.R1d6 g6 32.a5 Kg7 33.b4 Kh6 34.Rxe7 Rxe7 35.Rb6 Kh5 36.c5 Rc7 [36...Rd7 37.Rd6] 37.g3 h6 38.h3 Rg7 39.Rd6 Rh7 40.g4+ Kh4 41.Rxg6 Kxh3 42.gxf5 h5 43.f6 1-0.

Almira in Paris

On a recent trip to Paris we got together with Almira, who hails from Moldavia but now lives in and plays for France. Almira took us on a spectacular tour of her new home town.

At the entrance of one of the most beautiful buildings in the world – the Paris Opera – we meet an old friend

Yes we most certainly are, Almira.

Well, hmmm... Shall we say 34?

A dangerous encounter in front of the Paris Opera

Almira points to a very important figure on the side of the Opera

It is none other than the composer and chess player Philidor

François-André Danican Philidor (born Sept. 1, 1726, died August 31, 1795) was a composer of classical music and one of the strongest chess players of his day. The name Philidor was passed on through his grandfather from King Louis XIII, a tribute to this family of royal musicians.

During years of waiting to perform in the chapel of Versailles, the young Francois learned the moves of chess and became the best player in the chapel. Philidor supported himself by giving music lessons, arranging and copying music. Spare time was spent at the Cafe de la Regence in Paris. There he learned from the strongest player in France, M. de Kermur, Sire de Legal. In 1745, Philidor went to Rotterdam and then to London accompanying a music company.

Due to unexpected cancellation of the concerts, his focus shifted to chess to earn a living. During 1747, he played a 10-game match with Phillip Stamma one of the strongest players of his time. He gave him odds of a move and the drawn game would count as a win for Stamma. Philidor trounced Stamma with a score of 8 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss. When he was in his prime, few opponents could challenge him without receiving odds or placing him under a blindfold. Often he would play two or three blindfolded at the same time. His published chess strategy, "L'Analyse du Jeu des Echecs", stood for a hundred years without significant addition or modification. He preached the value of a strong pawn center, an understanding of the relative value of the pieces, and correct pawn formations. We still remember his motto, that "pawns are the soul of chess." Unfortunately, none of his games from his prime exist today.

Philidor died in London, after being denied a passport to return to France for a demonstration match. The newspaper obituary read "On Monday last, Mr. Philidor, the celebrated chess player, made his last move, into the other world." [From Sarah's Serendipitous Chess Page].

The Arc de Triomphe – commissioned by Napoleon as a memorial to the French Grand Army, completed in 1836.The Arc de Triomphe is built on the model of ancient Triumphal Arches, but its monumental size: 50 meters tall and 45 meters wide, is typical of the Empire architecture.

How the constructor – Napoleon Bonaparte – saw himself

A church in Paris named after an American College football team. Amazing how accurately it was reconstructed from the Charles Laughton and Anthony Quinn movies...

A draw in this position? No way man!

The inside of the Cathedral of Saint Chappel

Overlooking Paris: the famous Basilique du Sacré Coeur on the butte Montmartre

Artists at the Place du Tertre on Montmartre. They remind us of the many penniless artists who lived a Bohemian life here in the early 20th century (Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso among others).

The most famous art gallery in the world – the Louvre

The Eiffel Tower, which the French call La Tour Eiffel ("lah tour effell")

The Place de la Bastille, where there was some unrest and turmoil back in 1789. Almira lives in a very quiet area just a stone's throw away.

The Colonne de Juillet in the centre of the Place de la Bastille. On the column are inscribed the names of those who fought during the revolution. The gilded statue at the top represents a winged personification of Liberty.

Dog lover Almira in her beautiful flat in Paris

... and at the command centre of a modern chess grandmaster.

Photos and report by Frederic Friedel

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