Ontario once again won the (19th annual) Canadian Chess Challenge, this year held in Quebec City. The Upper Canadians scored 92.5 points out of 108. La belle province placed second with 85, while the eternal battle for third place could not have been closer, with the two most westerly provinces tied at 64 points each. Manitoba placed fifth with 50 points.
The hegemony of demographics was not so evident in the grade championships. Ontario won five times: Christopher Knox (Grade 4); Aquino Inigo (6); Arthur Calugar (7); Karoly Szalay (8); and Shiyam Thavandiran (9). BC won in grades 2: Janak Awatramani; and 5: Tanraj Sohal. Manitoba won grade 11: Trevor Vincent. Nova Scotia won grade 3: Adam Dorrance. And Quebec provided bookends to the competition with victories in grade 1: Kelly Wang, and grade 12: Jean-Marc Benoit-Deschamps.
As usual, the rapid chess event was run by the Chess and Math Association.
China won the first-ever Women's World Team Championship in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The host country placed second, followed by Ukraine and Georgia. There was no team from the western hemisphere.
Alex Shabalov won the Frank K. Berry (no relation) United States Championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The likeable ex-Latvian, who now lives in Pittsburgh, is known for wild attacks, but his most reliable weapon in Stillwater was a direct and disarming strategical approach. Alex Onischuk placed second, while Gregory Kaidanov, Yuri Shulman and Julio Becerra tied for third.
Vassily Ivanchuk once again won the Capablanca Memorial in Havana, this time two points ahead of the field. Unfazed by the heat, the Ukrainian played a practical brand of chess, but when pushed was not afraid to reveal genius. In the first round, he had Black against Peter Heine Nielsen of Denmark.
1.d2-d4 Ng8-f6 2.c2-c4 e7-e6 3.Ng1-f3 c7-c5
An opening crossroads. b7-b6 is the Queen's Indian Defence, d7-d5 the Queen's Gambit, Bf8-b4+ the Bogo-Indian and this, the fourth most popular move, is an offer to shift to the Benoni Defence after 4.d4-d5.
4.Nb1-c3 c5xd4 5.Nf3xd4 Bf8-b4
In the wacky world of opening nomenclature, this is, almost logically, called the Anglo-Benoni, as it usually arises from the English Opening 1.c2-c4 and then c7-c5.
Another important juncture. The main alternative is to castle.
7.Qd1-d3 Bb4xc3+ 8.b2xc3 Ne4-c5 9.Qd3-f3 d7-d6 10.Bc1-a3
A new idea. True, it has been played a couple of times, but always followed by the automatic move Bf1-g2.
10...O-O 11.Ra1-d1 Qd8-a5 12.Nd4-b5
There is nothing wrong with the simple 12.Nb8-c6, letting the d6-pawn go, when Black has compensation in the form of active pieces and play against the doubled c-pawns, but the move in the game, threatening at c6 and b5, while leaving Black's queenside up for grabs, is a challenge. You and me, skin only, here, now.
13.Ba3-b4 Qa5xa2 14.Bb4xc5
Also unappetizing is 14.Nb5xd6 Nb8-a6.
14...d6xc5 15.Nb5-c7 Bd7-a4!
An abject lesson in the value of development and castling. If White had castled, he could ignore the threat and play Qf3xb7.
16.Rd1-c1 Nb8-c6 17.Nc7xa8 Qa2-a3! 18.Qf3-e3 Nc6-a5!
White gains not a moment's respite. The threat is Na5xc4; Qe3-f4 e6-e5; Qf4xc4 Qa3xc1 mate. So White makes space for the king.
19.f2-f3 Na5xc4 20.Qe3-f4 b7-b5!
With the threat of e6-e5 renewed, White must waste another move with the rook.
21.Rc1-b1 Qa3xc3+ 22.Ke1-f2 Nc4-d2 23.Rb1-e1 Rf8xa8
Time to digest. The e1-rook is horribly placed, even after eating up four moves. Black is winning.
24.Bf1-g2 c5-c4 25.Qf4-c7 Qc3-d4+ 26.e2-e3 Qd4-d8
Often when nursing the initiative, it is good to keep queens on the board, but here Black profits from judicious offers to trade them. White's queen is the last piece that might slow the progress of the passed pawns.
27.Qc7-e5 Ra8-c8 28.Qe5-c3 Qd8-d3 29.Qc3-a5 c4-c3 30.Re1-e2 Nd2-b3 31.Qa5xa7 c3-c2
Sergei Movsesian won the Bosna Sarajevo tournament, a point ahead of Borki Predojevic. Ivan Sokolov and Alexander Morozevich tied for third. Toronto's Igor Zugic scored 50 per cent in the still very strong B section.
Veselin Topalov recovered from a slow start once again to win the M-tel tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. Topalov defeated the leader, Krishnan Sasikiran, to throw the latter into a four-way tie for second place, in the six-player round robin.