A Yugoslav's victory plows new ground in and old defense
Six players earned $7,167 each and shared first place in the prestigious International section of the New York Open. Grandmasters Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Larry Christiansen, Sergey Kudrin, and Yasser Seirawan and International Masters Nick deFirmian and Maxim Dlugy all scored 7-2 in the 138-player, nine-round Swiss-system event. In the early rounds it appeared that GM Lev Alburt would repeat his success of the 1984 US Championship as he notched five straight wins in the first five rounds, and even after two successive draws in Rounds 6 and 7 he maintained a clear lead. Then disaster struck as he was crushed by Ljubojevic in Round 8 with today's game, which is of more than ordinary theoretical interest, and also lost to deFirmian in the last round to miss out on the top prizes.
The Ljubojevic-Alburt game followed one played by the US champion in his recent match against British titleholder Nigel Short until Ljubojevic improved with his 12th move. Supersharp trenchant play by the Yugoslav grandmaster ensured the victory and added another question mark to Alekhine's Defense. This win was largely responsible for Ljubojevic's sharing first prize. Alekhine's Defense Ljubojevic Alburt Ljubojevic Alburt
1. P-K4 N-KB3
2. P-K5 N-Q4
3. P-Q4 P-Q3
4. N-KB3 P-KN3
5. B-QB4 N-N3
6. B-N3 B-N2
7. N-N5 P-K3 (a)
8. Q-B3 Q-K2 (b)
9. N-K4 PxP 10. B-N5 Q-N5 ch 11. P-B3 Q-R4 12. B-B6 (c) BxB 13. QxB O-O (d) 14. QxP(5) (e) N-B3 15. QXBP NxP 16. O-O NxB (f) 17. PxN QxR 18. N-B6 ch K-N2 19. Q-K5 R-Q1 20. N-Q2 QxP 21. N(Q)-K4 Q-K7 22. N-Q7 ch (g) K-R3 23. Q-N5 ch K-N2 24. Q-B6 ch K-R3 25. N-K5 R-B1 26. P-B3 Q-K6 ch 27. K-R1 N-Q2 28. N-N4 ch K-R4 29. N-N3, mate
A. This and his next are Alburt's trademark. He believes in exerting optimal pressure on the White center. The move does suffer the drawback of weakening the dark squares.
B. If 8. . . . O-O; 9. Q-R3, P-KR3; 10. N-KB3 (also possible but more complicated is 10. N-K4), then White threatens Black's KRP and K-side, while Black has no effective counterplay.
C. This simple move effectively delineates the weaknesses of Black's position. 12. N-B6 ch, K-B1; 13. P-Q5, as played by Short against Alburt, is less convincing.
D. Black counted on this move, which incidentally illustrates that it is legal to castle if the rook is attacked, as long as the king isn't in check and doesn't have to pass through check.
E. Other variations are less convincing; e.g., 14. PxP, 14. . . . N(1)-Q2, followed by 15. . . . QxKP and Black can successfully defend. 14. Q-N5, N-B3; 15. N-B6 ch, K-N2 (not 15. . . . K-R1; 16. Q-R6); 16. N-R5 ch, K-N1, and White has numerous ways to force perpetual check, but there is no apparent win. After the text, Black should probably acquiesce to the exchange of queens, though White maintains a clear spatial and positional advantage, bolstered by his pawn at K5. Characteristically optimistic, Alburt avoids this line, hoping in vain that his counterplay will negate White's attack.
F. In for a penny, in for a pound. Black accepts the proffered material, hoping White has no more than a perpetual check. He could avoid the worst of the attack by retreating -- 16. . . . N-B3 -- aiming for 17. . . . Q-K4, but that would be inconsistent with his previous play.
G. Here White misses a faster and more elegant win with 22. N-K8 ch, K-B1; 23. Q-B5 ch, K-N1 (23. . . . KxN; 24. N-B6 Mate and 23. . . . R-Q3; 24. QxR ch only stalls mate one move); 24. N(4)-B6 ch, K-R1; 25. Q-B8 mate.