Polgar in clear first after two rounds in Budapest

4/13/2003 – Judit Polgar didn't let getting the last number in the draw of the Hunguest Hotels tournament get her down. Undaunted by having black in the first two rounds, she went out and beat both Korchnoi and Acs. Her 2/2 score puts her in clear first. Only one other player (Nigel Short) has scored even a single win. Favorite Peter Leko has yet to make his move. Report and games here.

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The matriarch leads Hungarian showcase

After her best-ever result (her words) at Corus Wijk aan Zee in January, Judit Polgar has not slowed down. After two rounds of one of the strongest tournaments in Budapest in many years, Polgar has jumped out to an early lead with a perfect 2/2 score. A half-point back is Nigel Short, the only other player to win a game. Top seed Peter Leko, who is waiting for the announcement of his world championship match with Vladimir Kramnik any day now, is in the large pack with two draws.

The event is a showcase for Hungary's top players and future stars. The Magyar nation has always produced top-class talent and Judit Polgar, still young at 26, was the leader of the current generation. Her top spot has been usurped by Leko, 23, in the past few years, although she currently has her highest rating ever at 2715. Together they are a one-two punch that Hungary hasn't had since Portisch, Sax, and Ribli were winning tournaments around the world.

The other Hungarians playing in Budapest are not to be overlooked. Zoltan Almasi, 26, is a solid professional who has already spent time in the top 20. Peter Acs is 21 and recently won the Essen tournament ahead of Khalifman and Polgar (!). Ferenc Berkes is just 17 and is rapidly moving up the rating list despite being limited to mostly playing in junior events. The future of Hungarian chess looks as bright as the present.


Standings after round two

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The rest of the field is an interesting mix of players. Israel's Boris Gelfand is the veteran of dozens of supertournaments and is always a threat to win an event of this level. His habitual spot in the top ten has been occupied by youngsters like Ponomariov and Grischuk in recent years. Nigel Short is another former heavyweight who has found it hard to fend off the advance of so many strong young players. His classical attacking prowess should never be underestimated and he is off to a good start with a spectacular win over Lutz and a draw with black against Leko.

Movsesian and Lutz are both accomplished professionals. Sergei Movsesian has changed federations faster than we can update his ChessBase flag and according to FIDE he has now jumped from the Czech Republic to neighboring Slovakia. Regardless of what country he's representing he is a dangerous attacker. Christopher Lutz (left) is the top native German player, although he has not reached the heights of his predecessor, Robert Huebner. He recently worked as an assistant to Vladimir Kramnik.

We save Viktor Korchnoi for last only because everything about him has already been said. The 72-year-old recently finished equal second in a category 15 tournament in Reykjavic and shows no signs of slowing down.

So far it has been Polgar's show. In the first round she beat Korchnoi in a very sharp fight. She came out of the complications with two extra pawns and won the four-rook endgame without too many adventures. In the second round Acs played a new aggressive move against her Sicilian (9.g5) only to be wiped out by Polgar's counterattack. Her play in Wijk aan Zee may have looked strangely quiet at times, but taking Polgar on in complications is still usually an invitation to pain.

Speaking of pain, that's what Lutz was feeling against Nigel Short in the first round. There are few players in the world with Short's experience and feel for attacking the Sicilian Defense. In a sideline of a sideline Short sacrificed a knight and then pushed his h-pawn up the board. Lutz managed to hang on to his extra piece but couldn't seem to do anything about White's slow but stready kingside push.

The wheels had already come off for Black when Short finished in high style with 43.Rxf7+!, which Fritz will take a few seconds to tell you is checkmate in ten.

Lutz resigned after 43...Kxf7 44.Qf5+ Kg7 45.Qxd7+ Kg6 46.Qe6+ 1-0

The violent conclusion would be 46...Kh5 47.Qh3+ Kg6 48.Qh6+ Kf7 49.Rf5+ Bf6 50.Qxf6+ Ke8 51.Qe7#

Despite the high percentage of draws the games have been interesting and hard fought. The players have also disputed some of the sharpest opening lines in current praxis. Just about every game played so far is worthy of a closer look, so don't miss our online replay page.

Peter Leko has played two very tough battles. In the first round he played one of the more surprising moves of the tournament so far. Although this deflection theme is far from unique, the follow-up is a little unusual.

In this position, with Leko to play as black, he threw down with 18...Bh3!?, the point being 19.Bxh3 Qd6! and the knight is pinned against the rook. (Not 19...Qxd5?? 20.Nd7.) Berkes declined the offer with 19.e4 and survived to draw.

 

Photos by John Henderson, all rights reserved.


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