The World Open 'Knights' in Valley Forge and a little bit of Shakespeare.


Just a couple of weeks ago, the 35th World Open (projected prize fund of $400,000) was going full speed in the Valley Forge Convention Center (20 minutes drive from downtown Philadelphia). Thanks to the short commute, I visited the event almost every day, checking on my friends as well as my students. Also, spending time with the always busy dealers (Rochester Chess Center and Chess4Less); the store was packed with newest as well as rare chess stuff. And, of course, I mingled with readers of my books. I even played in a side event. The World Open will be covered in depth in many chess media outlets. I’d like to share with you here a few interesting positions that I spotted scanning the boards and the common theme of them is the actions of the Knights.


The Cavalry in Pursuit


The first position is from 4th round scramble between my good friend 2007 US Champion GM Alex Shabalov and talented FM Bryan Smith. The position is quite wild and difficult to play, especially in sever time trouble (yet quite normal for these particular player known for their aggressiveness and imagination).


Smith - Shabalov

White to Move


White has small material advantage. Both Kings are in danger, especially the White K, which is harassed by the aggressive Black Ns. In sever time trouble White self-destructed -  

30.d6? 30...Ndxb2+ 31.Kc2?? Nxd6 32.Qxf5+ Nxf5 0-1




A few minutes later I caught up with Shabalov and Smith analyzing the position from the diagram above. Someone from the crowd recommended 30.b3 trying to force the Nc4, which is the defender of d6, to leave. Several variations were reviewed very quickly. As much as these instant analysis lacked accuracy, the players compensated this by producing some fascinating ideas. For example,


30. b3 Bxc3 31.Nxc3 Bg4+ 32.Kc2 Nb4+ 33.Kc1 Nd3+ 34.Kb1 Na3+ 35.Ka1 Nc2+ 36.Kb1 Na3+ with perpetual check. 


Quite unusual setup (see diagram on the right)



The Cavalry in the Slaughter House

The next picturesque position I saw, involved one of the local players whom I know well. He is a very nice gentleman and I chat with him frequently. Unfortunately his position looked grim. (This may not be the exact position as I only recall placement of the critical pieces). I am sure you can guess which side he was? 

Both Black Ns are frozen on very bad spots. This position could serve well in the basic manual on chess strategy when describing misplaced pieces. 



Repositioning the Calvary


I took part in one of the side events. Game in 10 minutes. My first tournament in 5 years. My result was so-so – 3.5 / 5 against lower rated opposition. However, my last round game saw a nice actions of my N.


Khmelnitsky – NN

White to Move


White has advantage mainly because of the Black’s defective pawn structure (White has a virtual extra pawn on the Q-side). Also, the Black N is temporarily misplaced and needs repositioning (Nc7-d5). My plan was to send my N, which has very little potential on f3, to the K side to disturb Black’s defensive setup. 

The question was - whose cavalry would arrive first to it's optimal destination.

1.Nd2 Rac8 2.Nc4 Qxb3 3.axb3 Rxe1+ 4.Rxe1 Nc7 (the Black N is ready to go to d5 or e6, so it is time to 'shoot' it) 5.Bxc7 Rxc7 6.Re8 Re7 7.Rxe7 Bxe7 8.Na5 c5 9.d5 b5 10.Nb7 (diagram on the right) 10 moves later, the N arrived to b7. 

In order to stop the d-pawn, Black had to give up the B and soon resigned.



Where is my Calvary?


Finally, the most exciting position on the subject matter doesn't even have a N. How come, you may ask. Take a look

1 Black to Move

Stripunsky - Najer

Black to Move


A wild and unclear position (1). Black's best choice was probably 51...Ph3, instead he made a naturally looking 51...Qc3 threatening Qxe1+. Then White unloaded a shocking 52.Qxc7+!!. After 52...Qxc7 53.Pe7 Black was facing a situation that looked great, but ... (2)


It could have inspired Shakespeare to write these famous lines in his Richard III.

2 Black to Move

3 White to Move

After the planned 53...Ph3 (3), the White King is in grave danger (54.Pe8Q Ph2#) and: 

Richard III: A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.  Catesby: Withdraw, my lord; I'll help you to a horse. 

54.Pe8N+!! (4) and 55.Nxc7, winning.


Black did recognize this idea and, in (2), instead of 53...Ph2, gave up the R  after 53...Re6 54.Rxe6. Then, after a few checks, the Black Q arrived to e8 and blocked the Pe7. However, soon thereafter, two White rooks chased down the Black K forcing the resignation. Note that no horses where available to save him. 

4 Black to Move



I hope you enjoyed this mini collection. Keep on the lookout for detailed reports on the 2007 World Open in Chess Life, New in Chess and other leading chess media.




What do you think about this article? For comments send email or this form

More on chess training (serious and enlightening)

Chess Exam and Training Guide (2004)  $24.95 + shipping

Chess Exam and Training Guide: Tactics (2007)  $19.95 + shipping

CE + CE Tactics (Special) - $39.95 - insured shipping in US is included

Chess Training Services


Copyrighted @ 2007 Igor Khmelnitsky

For comments or permission to reprint please send inquires via email or this form