Throwback Thursday: The 1993 World Juniors

A lost Josh Waitzkin game? IM Matthew Sadler? Shabalov with hair? (Said with love, Alex, from one bald man to another!) That’s right. It’s a Thursday Throwback.

This week’s Throwback comes to us directly from the March 1994 issue of Chess Life. The cover features news on the 1994 U.S. Championship, which was won by Alex Yermolinsky, back before he was everyone’s favorite Uncle, and a hirsute Alexander Shabalov. Among the other articles in the issue, which include John Fedorowicz on the 1993 PCA World Championship match, Loek van Wely’s win at the American Open, and obituaries for both former US Chess Board Member George Cunningham and International Master Boris Kogan, is Leonid Shamkovich’s story on the 1993 World Junior Championship. Shamkovich (1923-2005) was (along with Anatoly Lein) among the first Soviet emigres to arrive in America, heralding the fundamental reconfiguration of American chess in the 80s and 90s by former Soviet players. A frequent writer for Chess Life, Shamkovich authored a number of chess books, and by all accounts he was respected and well-liked by his peers. His piece on the 1993 World Juniors is, in many ways, representative of a different time. The playing field was divided into “Boys” and “Girls” championships instead of today’s more inclusive “Open” and “Girls.” Shamkovich gave the “Girls” event just half a column’s attention, and he mentioned the American representative, Anna Khan (now Hahn), only in passing. So why, then, are we drawing attention to it once more? My interest was piqued when I saw this game by “GM-elect” Matthew Sadler. Chess Life readers will certainly know Sadler, along with recent co-author Natasha Regan, as one our leading chess writers. Sadler and Regan’s Chess for Life (reviewed in Chess Life in June 2016) was a fascinating discussion of chess improvement and aging, while their newest book, Game Changer: AlphaZero’s Groundbreaking Chess Strategies and the Promise of AI has appeared to deserved acclaim. See my review in the April 2019 issue of Chess Life for more on the book. People forget that Matthew Sadler can also play chess pretty well. Before leaving the professional ranks for a career in IT, Sadler was a top 20 player and seemed destined for a stint in the world’s elite. He returned to active play, albeit as a hobbyist, in 2010, and today Sadler pops up in the 4NCL – the British chess league – and events in and around London. Here we see Sadler in his formative years, when he had fulfilled the requirements for the Grandmaster title, but had yet to receive it. The variation he essays against the King’s Indian is offbeat, but – and this is what caught my attention – it has become recently fashionable, and no less than Boris Avrukh has recommended it in a downloadable database for Looking at the game continuation, 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 d6 6. Be3, Avrukh writes:

This is a very interesting move order that has not been particularly popular until the Russian Champion Grandmaster Alexander Riazantsev has started to employ it actively. White's two bishops’ moves resemble the Averbach Variation with Be2 and Bg5, but one of the key ideas of this variation is the possibility of the kingside assault by means of advancing g and h-pawns.

Here’s how Sadler played it back in 1993, with Shamkovich’s original notes.

[pgn] [Event "Wch U20"] [Site "Calicut"] [Date "1993.??.??"] [Round "11"] [White "Sadler, Matthew D"] [Black "Istratescu, Andrei"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E73"] [WhiteElo "2540"] [BlackElo "2470"] [Annotator "Shamkovich"] [PlyCount "101"] [EventDate "1993.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "13"] [EventCountry "IND"] [SourceTitle "EXT 2004"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2003.11.25"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2003.11.25"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Be3 e5 ({White's uncommon system could be met with} 6... c5 $5) 7. d5 a5 8. g4 $1 Na6 9. g5 Ne8 10. h4 f5 11. Nf3 Nc5 12. Nd2 b6 13. h5 Rf7 ({Black's bishop would be buried forever after} 13... f4 $2 14. Bxc5 dxc5 15. h6) 14. Qc2 Na6 ({Black prepares 15. ... f4, but he could try it right away:} 14... f4 $5 15. Bxc5 dxc5 {, intending to bring his knight to d6.}) 15. Nf3 gxh5 $2 ({Simply} 15... Bf8 $5 {was plausible.}) 16. Rxh5 f4 17. Bd2 Bf8 18. O-O-O Bg4 19. Rh2 $1 Bxf3 ({This could be a good moment to bring the knight back:} 19... Nc5 $5) 20. Bxf3 Rg7 21. Rg1 Be7 22. Bg4 $1 Bxg5 23. Bf5 ({White has nice compensation for the pawn in view of strong pressure on the kingside, but more accurate seems} 23. Qd3 {. }) 23... Nf6 ({Last chance to hinder White from transferring his queen:} 23... Nc5 $5) 24. Qd3 $1 Nc5 25. Qh3 Qe7 26. Rhg2 h6 27. Kc2 Kf7 28. f3 Kf8 29. Be1 $1 {Now Black cannot prevent the decisive breakthrough on the kingside.} Qf7 30. Bh4 Ke7 31. Nb5 c6 $5 {Black tries to create complications.} ({On} 31... Kd8 32. Bxg5 hxg5 33. Rxg5 {just favors White.}) 32. Nc7 $1 {Black may regret his last move.} Rf8 {[#]} 33. dxc6 $1 {A precise calculation.} (33. Bxg5 { is not so clear.}) 33... Qxc4+ 34. Kb1 Kd8 35. Rc2 Qd3 36. Na8 $1 Rfg8 37. Bxg5 hxg5 38. c7+ Rxc7 39. Nxc7 Kxc7 40. Qh6 Ne8 41. Be6 Rg7 42. Bc4 Qd4 ({After} 42... Qxf3 43. Bb5 {Black falls apart.}) 43. Rxg5 Re7 44. Rc1 a4 45. a3 Kd8 46. Rg8 {White is ready for 47.Bb5 again.} Nd3 $5 47. Bxd3 Qxd3+ 48. Ka1 Qd2 49. Rc3 b5 50. Qh3 $1 {The threat of mate on c8 will be hard to meet.} Rd7 51. Qe6 1-0 [/pgn]
Besides the aforementioned Anna Khan, the U.S. sent two representatives to Calicut: Boris Kreiman, the official Boys representative, and Josh Waitzkin, who (for unknown reasons) played jointly under the FIDE and U.S. flags. Most readers will know Waitzkin from the book Searching for Bobby Fischer, written by his father Fred Waitzkin, and from the movie by the same name. None of the three Americans had particularly successful tournaments, as the tournament table on page 39 shows. Waitzkin finished with 7/13, while Kreiman was a half-point behind him at 6.5/13. Anna Khan ended her tournament with 6/13. Among the games Shamkovich includes in his report are two of Waitzkin’s efforts in the 4. c4 Exchange French, a line that he (along with Maurice Ashley) made famous. I know more than one player, in fact, who picked it up from Waitzkin’s contributions to the ChessMaster series of playing programs. Here’s the first, a game that Waitzkin was lucky to win.
[pgn] [Event "Wch U20"] [Site "Calicut"] [Date "1993.??.??"] [Round "5"] [White "Waitzkin, Joshua"] [Black "Bukal, Vladimir Jr"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C01"] [WhiteElo "2345"] [Annotator "Shamkovich"] [PlyCount "103"] [EventDate "1993.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "13"] [EventCountry "IND"] [SourceTitle "EXT 2004"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2003.11.25"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2003.11.25"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. c4 $5 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 ({Or} 5... Be7 $1 { as in the next game.}) 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 O-O 8. Nge2 Nc6 9. O-O Bf5 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Rc1 a6 12. Re1 Qd7 13. Ng3 Bg6 14. d5 Na7 15. d6 ({Correct is} 15. Qf3 $5 Nc8 16. Nf5 $1 {(note that this just hangs a piece - JH)}) 15... Qxd6 ({Or} 15... cxd6 16. Rxe7 $1 Qxe7 17. Nd5 Qd8 18. Qf3) 16. Qf3 Nc6 17. Bf4 Qb4 18. Nd5 Nxd5 19. Bxd5 Bf6 20. Bxc7 Bxb2 {Black is better.} 21. Rcd1 Nd4 22. Qf4 Bc2 23. Bd6 Qa5 24. Qg5 Ne6 25. Rxe6 Bxd1 26. Bxf8 Rxf8 27. Re7 {Threatening 28. Bxf7+.} Kh8 28. Nh5 Bxh5 29. Qxh5 Bf6 30. Re3 g6 31. Qf3 Kg7 32. g3 b5 33. Kg2 Qb6 34. h4 h5 35. Re2 Rd8 36. Rc2 Qd6 37. Bb3 a5 38. Rc6 Qe5 39. a4 bxa4 40. Bxa4 Rd4 41. Bb3 a4 42. Ba2 Rd2 43. Bc4 Rc2 44. Bd5 Rb2 ({Or} 44... Rxc6 { with some edge.}) 45. Bc4 Qe7 $2 46. Qd5 $1 Qa7 $4 {A gift of destiny.} ({ Black should play} 46... Be5 $5 {with a probable draw.}) 47. Rxf6 $1 Kxf6 48. Qd6+ Kg7 49. Qe5+ Kh7 50. Qxb2 $18 a3 51. Qf6 a2 52. Qa1 1-0 [/pgn]
The second, which is not in MegaBase 2019, features a thematic f4 push and a nice kingside attack.
[pgn] [Event "Wch U20"] [Site "Calicut"] [Date "1993.??.??"] [Round "8"] [White "Waitzkin, Joshua"] [Black "Akhundov, Rouslan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C01"] [Annotator "Shamkovich"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "1993.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "13"] [EventCountry "IND"] [SourceVersionDate "2019.05.23"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. c4 $5 Nf6 5. Nc3 Be7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 O-O 8. Nge2 Nbd7 ({Sensible is} 8... Nc6 $5 {as well.}) 9. O-O Nb6 10. Bb3 Bg4 $2 ( {Black should fight for d5 with} 10... c6 $5) 11. f3 Bh5 12. Ng3 Bg6 13. f4 $1 {Suddenly Black's bishop is a non-participant, giving White a clear advantage.} h6 14. f5 Bh7 15. Be3 c6 16. Qf3 Kh8 17. Rad1 Nbd5 18. Bc1 Qd7 19. Nge4 Nxe4 20. Nxe4 f6 21. Qh5 Rfe8 22. g4 $1 Bf8 23. Bc2 Bg8 24. g5 $1 {[#]} fxg5 25. Bxg5 {Threatening 26. f6.} Bf7 26. Qh4 Kg8 27. f6 $1 g6 28. Bxh6 Rxe4 $5 { Otherwise Black is just crushed.} 29. Bxe4 Bxh6 30. Qxh6 Qg4+ 31. Bg2 Nxf6 32. h3 Qe6 33. Rde1 Qd6 34. Qf4 Qxf4 35. Rxf4 {and White, up the exchange, won on the 68th move.} 1-0 [/pgn]
Josh Waitzkin retired from chess in the early ‘aughts, turning his attention to the martial arts. He describes this shift in his well-received The Art of Learning, but Chess Life subscribers will want to read Maurice Ashley’s interview with Fred Waitzkin in the forthcoming June issue for further updates.