20 Mar

Summits Up

A seminal moment for the long era of Soviet chess supremacy was a crushing 15.5-4.5 victory in a famous 1945 match against the United States, who were then four-time Olympiad champions.  Moves were transmitted by radio, and the match took place from Sept. 1 to Sept. 4 1945 - the American team played out of the Henry Hudson Hotel in New York, and the Soviets at the Central Club of Art Masters in Moscow.

A second Soviet-American match, in June 1954, was a face-to-face encounter in New York City at the Hotel Roosevelt; this time, though, the score was less lopsided - 20-12, in favor of the Soviet Union. These showdowns were intended to foster cultural exchanges and defuse tensions in the early years of the Cold War.

Later, the USSR narrowly defeated the Rest of the World in two historic matches in 1970 and 1984. And after a long lapse, summit chess re-emerged again in 2001 in Seattle, as the US took on China in a match that was organized and sponsored by the Seattle Chess Foundation, the forerunner of America's Foundation For Chess, who run First Move.

Two Asian powerhouses in chess met recently in Hyderabad for the India-China Summit match. This pitted four players from each country in a double-round ‘Scheveningen System’ tournament, whereby each member of each team plays each opponent. China had the stronger team on paper and, not unsurprisingly, they won the match by a clear margin: 18-14.

Scant consolation for India came in the form of being on the winning-side of a particularly brutal miniature, as Baskaran Adhiban made short work of the young 15-year-old Chinese prodigy, Wei Yi, who is Beijing’s big hope for a future world-title challenger to take on Magnus Carlsen.

B Adhiban - Wei Yi
India-China Summit Match, (3)
Sicilian Najdorf, Poisoned Pawn
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 The so-called 'Poisoned Pawn' variation of the Sicilian Najdorf, made famous by Bobby Fischer. 8.Qd3 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.Be2 Nbd7 11.0–0 Be7 12.Kh1 h6 13.Qh3 Qc5 14.Rbd1 Qc7 15.Bh4 Nc5 16.Bxf6! Bxf6 If 16...gxf6 17.Bh5 Kf8 18.f5 with a very promising attack, exploiting the weak white squares in the Black camp. 17.e5! dxe5 (See Diagram) 18.Ndb5! axb5 19.Nxb5 Qb6 20.Nd6+ Ke7 21.fxe5 With all of White's pieces playing their part in the attack, Black will soon be forced into resignation. 21...Nd7 22.exf6+ Nxf6 23.Qg3 Kf8 24.Nxf7 Kxf7 25.Bh5+ 1–0 There's no defence. If 25...Kf8 [25...Kg8 26.Rxf6] 26.Qg6 Qc7 27.Qe8 checkmate.  

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