Canberra Times Chess Column for July 2

Foreign domination of the early events in the Koshnitsky Festival continued
last weekend with success for the visiting Grandmasters in the Gold Coast
Open.
Top seed Predrag Nikolic took a modicum of revenge for his modest
performance at the Parkroyal International by defeating Lubomir Ftacnik in
a lightning playoff.
Nikolic had never before competed at the time limit used for the GC Open
(one hour per player per game) but the Bosnian GM was in danger only once,
against Australian IM John-Paul Wallace, when a desperate counter-attack
gave the top seed victory against the run of play.
Nikolic, 39 and no longer ranked among the world's top 20, is treating his
Australian tour as something of a holiday but, while thanking his opponents
for "playing well only for part of a game", Nikolic proved that he still
has the determination and skill to win key games when needed.
Nikolic's relaxed attitude is probably a product of the difficulties he has
faced over the past decade, with the Bosnian war forcing him to relocate to
the Netherlands.
Nikolic, a Serb, continued to represent Bosnia in international events
during and after the war. As a prominent sportsman, he was lambasted in the
Serbian press for his anti-war views and his insistence that the World
Chess Federation enforce UN sanctions against Yugoslavia, a stand which led
to a Yugoslav team being thrown out of the European Championships.
With Holland no longer so welcoming - Nikolic was prevented from defending
his Dutch Championship title by a new ruling which excluded him but allowed
a computer to compete - Nikolic now divides his time between Holland and
Sarajevo.
**
This week's game enabled Ftacnik to match Nikolic in the Gold Coast Open,
the Slovakian Gm scoring a key victory over the third seed.

Gold Coast Open 2000
White: I.Rogers
Black: L.Ftacnik
Opening: Pirc Defence

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2 0-0 6.0-0 c6 7.a4 a5!? 8.h3 Na6
9.Re1?!

9.Be3 is more testing for Black.

9...Nb4 10.Bf1 e5 11.Bg5 exd4 12.Nxd4 Re8 13.Bc4!?

Exceptionally risky but White has no active alternative.

13...h6 14.Bh4 g5 15.Bg3 d5! 16.exd5 Rxe1+ 17.Qxe1 Nh5!

17...Nxc2 18.Qd1 Nxa1 19.Nc7 is at least equal for White.

18.Be5! c5 19.Ndb5 Nxc2 20.Bc7! Qf8 21.Qe2!?

Searching for more than the draw available after 21.Bd6 Qd8 22.Bc7.

21...Nxa1 22.Qxh5 Nc2 23.d6 Bd7 24.Qg6?

24.Nd5 Re8 25.Ne7+ Rxe7! is also good for Black but the text move fails
tactically.

24...Nd4 25.Nxd4 cxd4 26.Ne4 Kh8! 27.Bxf7 d3! 28.Bb6

White had originally intended 28.Nxg5 hxg5 29.Qh5+ Bh6 30.Bb6 Bf5 31.d7 but
this fails to 31...Kg7! 32.Bd4+ Kh7.

28...Bxb2 29.Nxg5!? Qg7 30.Nf3 Rf8 31.Qxg7+ Kxg7 32.Bb3 Bc3

The rest is relatively simple for Ftacnik.

33.Be3 Rf6 34.Nd2 Bxd2 35.Bxd2 Rxd6 36.Bxa5 d2 37.Bd1 Bxa4 38.Bxa4 d1Q+
39.Bxd1 Rxd1+ 40.Kh2 Rd3 41.Kg1 Ra3 42.Bc7 b5 43.Kf1 Ra2 44.Ke1 b4 45.Bb6
b3 46.Kd1 Rc2 47.Bd4+ Kf7 48.g4 Ke6 49.Bg7 Rc7! 50.Bh8 Kd5 51.f3 Rc2! 52.h4
Kc4 0-1

Gold Coast Open
Leading final scores:
1eq. Nikolic, Ftacnik 6.5/7;
3eq. Rogers, Johansen 6.
*****