World women's champion shows her cool in a pawn assault

Irina Levitina defeated Lydia Semenova by a 7-to-5 score in the finals of the women's candidates' matches. Previous to this match she vanquished a former world titlist, Nona Gaprindashvili, 6 to 4, in the quarterfinals, and in the semifinals she downed former challenger Nana Alexandria with a particularly hard-fought 71/2-61/2 victory. Levitina and all these opponents are from the Soviet Union, as is the current champion, Maya Chiburdanidze.

Incidentally, this is likely to be the last set of women's candidates' matches, since under the new World Chess Federation regulations, subsequent challengers will qualify from candidates' tournaments, rather than matches.

Levitina is a worthy challenger, but it is likely that she will bite off more than she can comfortably ingest when she tries to dethrone Chiburdanidze in a match to be held later this year. Chiburdanidze, who has held the title since 1978, was the sole female and the winner of a 12-player international tournament in New Delhi that ended March 1.

Today's game, taken from that tournament, features her defeating Eduard Gufeld, a grandmaster and leading Soviet theorist. The manner in which Chiburdanidze responds to Gufeld's rather impetuous pawn storm by logical and cool central counteraction is most admirable and worthy of emulation.

Sicilian Defense Gufeld Chiburdanidze1. P-K4 P-QB4 2. N-KB3 P-Q3 3. P-Q4 PxP 4. NxP N-KB3 5. N-QB3 P-K3 6. P-B4 P-QR3 7. B-Q3 Q-B2 8. O-O QN-Q2 9. K-R1 B-K2 10. Q-K2 P-QN4 11. P-QR3 B-N2 12. B-Q2 O-O 13. QR-K1 N-B4 14. P-QN4 NxB 15. PxN KR-K1 16. P-KN4 (a) P-N3 17. P-B5 KPxP 18. PxP QR-B1 19. R-B1 Q-Q2 20. Q-N2 N-R4 21. PxP RPxP 22. N-B5 B-B1 23. N-R6 ch BxN 24. BxB P-Q4 (b) 25. PxP? (c) RxN Time forfeit (d)

A. In this variation of the Sicilian, this advance is endemic for White-side players, but it cuts two ways. While it gains space and prepares to open files on the Kingside for the White rooks, the position of the White king is also rendered somewhat precarious. In particular, the diagonal that aims at the White King is a dangerous avenue which must always be guarded.

B. One of the great Wilhelm Steinitz's principles was that an attack on the wing should be met by counterplay in the center. Black's move is thus both logical and justified, and completely negates White's attacking chances.

C. This outright blunder spoils the game and deprives us of the opportunity to enjoy Chiburdanidze's technique. White should play 25. NxQP, BxN; 26. PxB, RxR; 27. RxR, when 27. . . . R-K4 will enable Black to regain her pawn with substantial positional advantage because of her safer king and sounder pawn structure.

D. White was not unhappy to forfeit on time, since after 26. RxR, BxP; 27. R-B3, R-K8 ch, the game was over anyway.

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