Int. Herald Tribune

Robert Byrne

Paris, Tuesday, May 30, 2000

As they exist now, the two world championships are like the skew lines in solid geometry: they will never meet. The players in the European Zonal Tournament, in Pula, Yugoslavia, believe that they are on a path to play for the world championship, but this process will not result in a match with Garry Kasparov for the world title.

Kasparov, who has organized his own title match with Vladimir Kramnik in the fall, pays no attention to formal organizations and will conduct no conversations with them. So, the would-be contenders in the European Zonals strive without knowing whether they will have a chance to appear on the grand stage.

The top scorer in Pula was Alexsander Beljavsky of Slovenia. He dispatched the German grandmaster Joerg Hickl in brilliant style.

The Robatsch Defense, which arises after 3...Bg7, differs from the Pirc Defense in postponing ...Nf6, but the hypermodern strategy is the same. Black allows the opponent to expand in the center with the intention of undermining it by pressure from the flanks.

The Austrian Attack, 4 f4, raises the stakes. White tries to organize a central stampede, but the punishment can be drastic, if Black succeeds in uncovering weak points.

Lately it has been rearing its head again, presumably because the quiet, conservative 4 Nf3 is not producing the desired delicate, safe positional advantage at which it aims.

In place of the aggressive thrust with 7 e5, White also got the upper hand following 7 O-O Nd7 8 e5 e6 9 Ne4 Be4 10 Be4 d5 11 Bd3 c5 12 c3 Ne7 13 g4 cd 14 cd Qb6 15 Kg2 in a Sax-Angskog game in the Rilton Cup at Stockholm last year.

If Black counters 7 e5 by 7...c5, then 8 dc dc 9 Be3 c4 10 Be4 gives the white forces superior mobility.

The probe 8 Ng5 was not to be forced back by 8...h6?! because 9 Nf7! Kf7 10 e6! Kf8 11 ed Qd7 12 Be3 yields Beljavsky strong attacking chances.

After 10 Nce4, the white pieces dominated the board, Hickl made a radical attempt to get them off his back with 10...f5, but he could not have reckoned with the sharp riposte 11 Bb5!

If 11...ab, then 12 Qb5 c6 13 Qb7 fe 14 Qc6 Nd7 15 Ne6 Qc8 16 Qa8 Qa8 17 Nc7 Kd8 18 Na8 Kc8 19 e6 Nf8 20 Nb6 Kb7 21 Nd5 Ne6 22 c3 gives Beljavsky a decisive material superiority.

So, Hickl tried 11...c6, yet after 12 Qc4! Kd7 13 Qf7 cb 14 Qg7 Be4 15 Ne4 fe 16 f5 gf 17 Qh8 Ne6 18 d5 Nc7 19 Qh7, he threw in the towel.

If 19...Nd5, then 20 Qf5 e6 21 Qe4 puts Beljavsky ahead by a rook and a pawn for a knight.

Original article