A glimpse at heavyweight US Invitational. New Jerseyite heads a tight field in Pennsylvania; Briton stumbles
Michael Wilder, a 26-year-old international master who comes from Princeton, N.J., won first prize, worth $6,000, in the 1988 United States Invitational Chess Championship. The tournament was held Oct. 1-17 at the Riverside Inn in Cambridge Springs, Pa., in the northwestern corner of the state. Wilder won three games, lost one, and drew seven, for a winning total of 6 points.
Half a point behind, in a tie for second and third places, were grandmasters Boris Gulko and Yasser Seirawan.
Seven players finished in a 4th- to 10th-place tie with 5 points each: They were Joel Banjamin and Nick deFirmian (last year's co-champions), Maxim Dlugy, John Fedorowicz, Victor Frias, Sergei Kudrin, and Michael Rohde. All of them are grandmasters except Frias, an IM. Lev Alburt, who was the titleholder in 1985 and 1986, scored 5 points to finish 11th.
The measure of the strength of this year's event is that Anthony Miles finished last with four points. Miles, who was the first Englishman to be awarded the grandmaster title and who had often been ranked in the top 10 chess players in the world, left England to take up residence in the United States about a year and a half ago. He has been in a playing slump recently, as this subpar performance shows.
Wilder started well and remained in the lead for most of the tournament, but as the above scores show, the event was very closely contested, with but 2 points separating first from last place. Today's featured game, a short but very exciting encounter from Round 2, may help us to understand why Miles did so poorly. He flirts with danger, ignoring precepts of simple development, and then comes a cropper when he overlooks the impact of a beautiful piece sacrifice offered by deFirmian. The finale is sure to please. Pirc Defense DeFirmian Miles 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 c6 4. f4 Qa5 (a) 5. Bd3 e5 (b) 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. dxe5 dxe5 8. fxe5 Nfd7 9. Bf4 (c) Bb4 10. O-O O-O (d) 11. Nd5 Bc5+ (e) 12. Kh1 Bd4 13. e6 (f) fxe6 14. Bc7 Qa4 15. Ne7+ Kh8 16. Ng5 (g) h5 17. Rxf8+ Nxf8 18. Qf1 Nbd7 19. Qf7 Nf6 20. e5 (h) Resigns
A.When a beginner makes a move of this sort, we are apt to dismiss it as a ``duffer's'' move; when it is made by a world-class GM, we are inclined to reassess its worth. Black violates the tenets of sound development by developing his queen before attending to his minor pieces, but he has expectations of exploiting White's pawn center, which he hopes will become vulnerable.
B.The point of his preceding move. Should White now proceed 6.dxe5, dxe5; 7.fxe5; Black responds; 7.... Ng4 with splendid play, as he recaptures the e-pawn at his convenience, possibly inserting 8....Bc5, if feasible.
C.Miles was not unfamiliar with this position, having had the White pieces against Netherlander Rob Hartoch. In that game he returned the pawn with 9.e6, but gained no apparent advantage.
D.Had Miles anticipated White's next, he might have tried 10....Bxc3 to eliminate the intrepid knight. This would not solve his difficulties, however, whether or not he engaged in pawn grabbing after 11.bxc3, Qxc3 or 11....O-O; 12.Qe1, and White goes over to the attack on the kingside.
E.Accepting the sacrifice with 11.cxd5; 12.exd5 obviously gives White splendid chances, with two strong center pawns and attacking possibilities for the proffered pieces. One variation, 12....Nb6 (not 12....Qxd5; 13.Bxh7+); 13.Bxh7+, Kxh7; 14.Ng5+, Kg8; 15.Qxg4, and Black can hardly defend his denuded kingside. Unfortunately for Miles, refusing the sacrifice still allows a virulent attack, and he has no material to compensate him for his travails.
F.A fine line-clearing sacrifice, freeing his bishop and preparing to infiltrate on the ``f'' file.
G.The queen offer is absolutely decisive. If 16....Bxd1; 17.Rxf8+, Nxf8; 18.Nf8 mate.
H.The knight at f6 cannot move under penalty of 21.Qg8 mate, so Black abandons his miserable position.