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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 2, 2012

Years after his chess debut, Kamsky tries to become world champ

In the last 20 years, many players who were born in what was then in the Soviet Union, have emigrated, and now reside in a variety of countries, including the United States.  Gata Kamsky was a rising star when he came to the United States in 1989, at the age of 15.

His father, Rustam Kamsky, a former professional boxer who sought to actively manage his teenage son's career, was an extremely controversial figure from 1989 through 1996, as Gata was quickly recognized as one of the strongest players in the United States, winning the U. S. championship in 1991, and becoming a world champion contender in the early 1990s.

After losing a 20-game match for the world championship against Anatoly Karpov in 1996, Kamsky retired from chess, graduated from Brooklyn College, and attended medical school for a year, before ultimately attending and graduating from law school.  He did not return to serious chess until 2004.

Now, Kamsky has decided to make a serious effort to become world champion, but has promised to give up his efforts if he does not achieve his goal by the time that he is 40 (in 2014).

He lost to Boris Gelfand of Israel in the semifinals of the Candidates’ match tournament  to determine the 2012 challenger. (Gelfand ultimately won the tournament and will play a match for the world championship against V. Anand in May of this year.)

Obtaining a positive score in the world’s strongest annual tournament, together with his result last year, indicates that he may achieve his goal, despite his current rank of 20th in the world.

Tata Steel

The Armenian Levon Aronian, despite complaining about his play, nevertheless led the field at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament with one round left to play.  He agreed to a "Grandmaster draw" in only 12 moves, to win first place and the €10,000 first prize with a score of 9-4.

The highest rated player in the world, 20-year-old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, tied for second through fourth with Fabiano Caruana and Teymour Radjabov at 8-5.

American Hikaru Nakamura, who won last year, tied for fifth and sixth with Vassily Ivanchuk at 7½ - 5½, and United States champion Gata Kamsky finished seventh with a score of 7-6.

Four still in the running for Albany chess champ

Last week, I drew my game against Dean Howard, and John Lack defeated Arthur Alowitz. (The game, where both players missed wins before settling for a hard-fought draw in severe time pressure, is excellently annotated by Bill Little on the ENYCA blog.)

As a result, four players are now tied with five points: defending Champion Howard, Gordon Magat, John Lack, and myself. The only remaining game is my game against Cory Northrup.

The top two players will play a two-game match to determine the championship.  If I win or draw, I will finish first, and play against Howard who will be second on tie breaks.  If I lose, there will be a four-way tie for first.

The top two under 1800 will play a two-game match to determine the under-1800 champion.  Unrated Chris Caravaty, who finished with an even score of 4-4, and Art Alowitz, with 3-5, presently lead, but Northrup at 2½ - 4½ can possibly qualify for the playoff if he draws or wins his last game.

This week's problem

Two weeks ago, the problem was a mate in 5.  Alert readers may have noticed that it was possible to delay the checkmate by a meaningless interposition of a piece to force a sixth move.

Last week, the problem did not involve a forced checkmate, but instead involved a subtle positional move.  This week, we will return to a straightforward forced mate in two moves, from a game played in 1915 between two relatively unknown players.

— By Peter Henner

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