2004 FIDE World Chess Championships
June 18th-July 13th
Tripoli, Libya

Round Four - Game #1

After players of the black pieces have taken a pounding the entire tournament, they scored three wins in the 4th round. The other games were fairly calm with only Krasenkow-Akopian and Smirnov-Radjabov showing any dynamic imbalances. Krasenkow trotted out the "Shabalov Gambit" and while the game had lots of play, it petered out into a trivial draw.

In the latter game, Smirnov may have sensed a Radjabov improvement on
Azaro-McShane, 2002 (mentioned by ChessBase.com) and deviated with 24.Qe4 a draw was agreed. Veselin Topalov narrowly escaped defeat when the "Croatian Sensation" Zdenko Kozul overlooked a combination in time pressure and ended up getting his white king mated.

After employing an enterprising pawn sacrifice, Kozul got tremendous play with his two bishops. He then pried the position open with the bold move, 23.f4! giving him dangerous initiative. Topalov tried to close the door to his camp, but the white queen had already invaded and started to choke the life from his position.  Topalov began a counterattack of his own with 35f4!

Kozul kept plowing ahead and stole a second pawn and the ICC was buzzing with anticipation. White then played
38.c7?? (diagram) further tightening the screws so he thought. Like a viper snaring its prey, the Bulgarian moved swiftly with 39Rxg3+ 40.Kf2  Qf7+! 41.Kxg3 Rd3+ 42.Kg2 Qf3+ and white resigned before being mated.

After 38.c7??, its mate in 7!

After 38.c7??, it's mate in 7!

In the final position, all of Kozul's pieces were watching from the queenside as the black pieces stormed the white kingside and slew the king. Kozul played fighting chess and appeared to be in a good position to steal a point.  He may not get such chances in game 2, but Kozul, an alert tactician, will certainly be coming with guns blazing!

Another decisive game of the round was from Almasi-Kasimdzhanov. In yet another Ruy Lopez, the Uzbek player set up a "Maginot Line" on his 3rd rank on move 25 (Ra6, Qb6, Nc6, Rd6, Be6, Nf6). Almasi tried to set up an attack formation, but in the midst of complications Kasimdzhanov was able to steal white's a-pawn.  Black would then advance his a-pawn all the way into the end zone after which Almasi had to immediately give up a piece. The Hungarian resigned before a nice staircase knight maneuver would corral his breakaway b-pawn.

In marquee match-up, 16-year old
Hikaru Nakamura was on the losing end of the brutal technique of Michael Adams. Adams trotted out the safe Queen's Indian and played a solid methodical style. What is quickly becoming apparent is that opponents seem to be taking too many risks against Adams. Nakamura was saddled with a weak d4-pawn trying to create piece play. However after 25Bg7, tactical threats were created on the pawn, so Nakamura sacrificed it.

A few moves later, after black's 29h5, FM Daniel Fernandez at the ICC found the line 30.Nh6+ Kf8 31.Qf4 f6 32.Ba3+ but black survives after 32Ke8 33.Qg3 g5. Nakamura tried to complicate matters, but may have missed a draw with 34.Nxd5! (diagram) Adams kept his calm and even jettisoned a pawn to get his passed b-pawn rolling. He finished the game with a cute parting shot of 66Qxg2+!

The game won applause from the chess audience which reached over 1000 viewers.
GM Susan Polgar and GM Alejandro Ramirez of Costa Rica were watching at the ICC along with other titled players. Most agreed that Nakamara was playing unnecessarily aggressive.   He will try to equal the score, but may not get a chance to play the Sveshnikov because Adams plays the Rossolimo Sicilian.

After Adams played 33Qc6? there was a question whether the relayed move was correct because 34.Nxd5! appears to draw 34.Qd3? was played instead.

After Adams played 33Qc6? there was a question whether the relayed move was correct because 34.Nxd5! appears to draw 34.Qd3? was played instead.

Selected Games

GM Zdenko Kozul (CRO) - GM Veselin Topalov (BUL), 0-1
GM Pavel  Smirnov (RUS) - GM Teimour Radjabov (AZE),-
GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA) - GM Michael Adams (ENG), 0-1
GM Zoltan  Almasi (HUN) - GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov (UZB), 0-1
GM Michal  Krasenkow (POL) - GM Vladimir Akopian (ARM), -

Round Four - Game #2

The spectacular run has ended for Nakamura after bowing out to Adams by the score of 1-.  There were a few surprises in store for chess fans and perhaps Adams. Nakamura trotted out the Alekhine's Defense which does not have the best reputation when playing for a win. Nevertheless, Nakamura would fight to create imbalances in the position. Adams was not goaded into unnecessary complications (even after Nakamura's 18g5!?), played solidly and left no chances for an upset victory. Nakamura will be met with a hero's welcome upon his return to the U.S. 

Topalov continued to roll through the field by ousting Kozul and now has scored a remarkable seven victories in eight games. In a classic Sicilian Rauzer battle, Kozul's pawn storm combined with 11Qb8 and 12Rfc8 made his intentions clear while Topalov had a pawn storm of his own. Kozul forced a weakness in front of the Topalov's king, but the Bulgarian was able to defend and get the queens off the board. In the ensuing endgame, Topalov was able to exploit weak pawns and create two connected pawns on the a- and b-files. These pawns would steamroll up the board and Kozul had to eventually resign.

GM Veselin Topalov

GM Veselin Topalov

In Akopian-Krasnkow, this game ended in a complicated endgame battle after the Armenian had pocketed a pawn and penetrated black's position. In the final analysis, Akopian's active rook and material advantage wrapped up the point. Like Topalov and Adams, Akopian has played the minimum amount of games (to win four matches) which will come in handy when he faces Adams.

One player on the ICC asked why no one is talking about
Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Perhaps they should take notice. The Uzbek player defeated Vassily Ivanchuk and has suddenly put together a string of impressive wins including his clinching thriller against Hungary's Zoltan Almasi. He plays Alexander Grischuk in the next round. Matches to be decided via tiebreak are: Dominguez-Dreev, Kharlov-Nisipeanu, Beliavsky-Grischuk and Radjabov-Smirnov.

Selected Games

GM Michael Adams (ENG) - GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA), -
GM Veselin Topalov (BUL) - GM Zdenko Kozul (POL), 1-0
GM Vladimir Akopian (ARM) - GM Michal Krasenkow (POL), 1-0
GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov (UZB) - GM Zoltan Almasi (HUN), 1-0
GM Leinier Dominguez (CUB) - GM Alexey Dreev (RUS), -


In Dominguez-Dreev's second rapid tiebreak, the game steered into a strange French position with opposing fianchettoed bishops along the a8-h1 diagonal. The Cuban grabbed central squares and closed off the kingside with a pawn wedge on e5. After the attack gained momentum, Dominguez hit him with the winning 21.f7+! He followed with a series of pinning tactics and ended up netting a piece.

Beliavsky-Grischuk went to blitz tiebreaks after the previous games were drawn. In a blistering battle, Grischuk went for the win and built up an imposing attack formation. Beliavsky failed to liquidate white's center and later missed 33.d5! when black would suffer massive losses. After a few more moves, the veteran resigned.  Powerful performance by "Alexander the Great."

Radjabov-Smirnov was decided in second blitz battle. Radjabov got to play his beloved Sveshnikov, a defense which relies on positional dynamism and incredible piece play. Radjabov has played many times and recently scored an important win over Francisco Vallejo-Pons at the 2004 Linares tournament. Apparently, Smirnov was not familiar with these games and his position went up in smoke in 26 moves.

Kharlov-Nisipeanu, exciting wins were traded in the two rapid tiebreaks and two hard-fought draws were traded in the blitz tiebreak. Both players sat down knowing only one would survive. Nisipeanu would play the white pieces with a 6:5 time advantage, but Kharlov holds "draw odds." Both players played at a distance in the middlegame. Needing to force a win, Nisipeanu attacked frantically, but lost two pawns and later conceded the match.

Selected Games

GM Alexey Dreev (RUS) - GM Leinier Dominquez (CUB), - (1st rapid)
GM Leinier Dominguez (CUB) - GM Alexey Dreev (RUS), - (2nd rapid)
GM Alexander Grischuk (RUS) - GM Alexander Beliavsky (SLO), 1-0 (1st blitz)
GM Pavel Smirnov (RUS) - GM Teimour Radjabov (AZE), 0-1 (2nd blitz)
GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (ROM) - GM Andrei Kharlov (RUS), 0-1 (sudden death)

4th Round Games (PGN format)

Posted by The Chess Drum: 27 June 2004