Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Chess: Crafty Kamsky

GKamsky vs. Shirov

ata Kamsky won the FIDE 2007 World Cup in December. This earned him the right to compete against Vesslin Topalov, Vladimir Kramnik, and Vishy Anand for the next world chess championship.

Kamsky emigrated to the United States from Russia as a teenager with his family. He was already a chess prodigy. In the mid-90s he was ranked third in the world and was a candidate for the world championship. Unexpectedly, he retired from professional chess and attended law school and then medical school. A few years ago he returned to professional chess.

In the World Cup finals Kamsky faced Alexi Shirov. This week’s position is the final position of game 2, which was the decisive match game. Kamsky, who is white, has just moved his knight from g5 to f7, checking black. Here, Shirov resigned. Please try and find out why before the reading the answer.

In chess notation, the board is a grid: the vertical columns are numbered “1” through “8;” the horizontal rows, “a” through “h.” Each square on the board is identified by a specific letter and number. For example, if the black rook at f6 were to move to c6 the notation would be rc6 (r=rook, q=queen, b=bishop, n=knight, x=takes, etc.).

Black must either capture the knight at f7 or move its king to h7. If the king moves to h7, white's rook at d8 captures the knight with the support of the rook at g1. White now threatens to move its g1 rook to g7, mating black. Black can only stop mate by losing several pieces, and hence the game.

Alternatively, black can take the knight with either its rook or bishop. Taking the knight with the rook results in mate after the d8 rook captures black's knight at g8 with check. After kh7, white plays nxf7, allowing the rooks to mate.

Black’s best move is taking the knight with its bishop. After bxf7, white’s remaining knight takes the bishop, checking black again. Black's rook then captures the knight. White’s rook at g1 now captures the black knight at g8, forcing the black king to retreat to h7.

From here, white’s advanced pawns work in tandem with the rooks to win. White's rook at g8 checks the king from h8, pushing the king over to g7. White’s d8 rook strikes by checking from g8. This pushes the king onto f6.

White continues checking black by advancing the e4 pawn to e5. After the king retreats to e7, white’s g8 rook slides over and checks black from e8. Once again the black king is forced to a specific square, namely d7. This sets up the final blow. The e5 pawn checks black from e6 and forks the king and rook.

Kamsky crafted a long, forced winning line. Such craftsmanship along with his victory at the World Cup show that Kamsky has regained his world championship form.

Courtesy @ http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/