World Chess Championship Final Four

by E. "Doc" Smith on June 30, 2004

There are just four players remaining in the 2004 World Chess Championship, being held in Tripoli, Libya, including England’s Michael Adams. Joining Adams are former Soviet republic players, Veselin Topolov, Teimour Radjabov, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov. After England’s loss to Croatia in both soccer and tennis, Adams may be their last hope!

Adams defeated Armenia’s Vladimir Akopian with a win and a draw, to move into the semi-finals. He had previously defeated America’s last chance, 16 year old Hikaru Nakamura.

Again a seemingly quiet choice of opening as the players both trotted out the Petroff Defence. This is an opening notorious for a high percentage of draws so black’s choice is clear and psychological. Additionally Adams has played this line of the Petroff quite well with black. I could not find any games of Akopian with the variation chosen so it appears that he had something up his sleeve.

Akopian let loose his novelty 16.Bf4 but this did not have any major effect on the evaluation of the position and after a number of pieces were exchanged it appeared that black had equalized. Adams then compromised his pawn structure with 20.bxc6 and Akopian started to pull ahead. Adams played weakly on move 29 with 29.Rf7. Instead Rad8 would have been stronger and equalizing.

Akopian built up a persistent advantage based on black’s weak pawns. He did not seem to be making much progress around move 35 and repeated the position a few times to gain some time on the clock.

However immediately after the time control Adams equalized with 41.Rf6! After the bishop and bad pawn on c7 were exchanged for their strong counterparts the draw was easy for Adams. Good game by both players. Next up for Adams will be Teimour Radjabov. If Adams wins, he will be only the second Briton in the modern era to play for the title since Nigel Short.

White Adams, Michael
Black Akopian, Vladimir
Petroff Defence

1 e4 c5
2 Nf3 d6
3 d4 cxd4
4 Nxd4 Nf6
5 Nc3 a6
6 Be3 Nc6
7 f3 e6
8 Qd2 Be7
9 O-O-O O-O
10 g4 Nxd4
11 Qxd4 Nd7
12 h4 Ne5
13 Be2 b5
14 Kb1 Bd7
15 f4 Nc6
16 Qd2 Qa5
17 Bf3 Rfc8
18 Ne2 Qxd2
19 Rxd2 Na5
20 b3 Rab8
21 g5 Nb7
22 Rf1 Nc5
23 Ng3 b4
24 f5 Bb5
25 Rg1 Bf8
26 h5 Nd7
27 fxe6 fxe6
28 Bg4 Re8
29 Rf2 g6
30 h6 Ne5
31 Bh3 Rb7
32 Ne2 Bxe2
33 Rxe2 Rf7
34 Rg3 Nd7
35 Bd2 a5
36 c3 bxc3
37 Rxc3 Nc5
38 a4 Rb7
39 Ka2 Rf7
40 Bc1 Na6
41 Ba3 Nb4+
42 Bxb4 axb4
43 Rc4 Rf3
44 Bg4 Rg3
45 e5 dxe5
46 Rxe5 Bd6
47 Bxe6+ Kh8
48 Rd5 Rg2+
49 Kb1 Be7
50 Bg4 Rf8
51 a5 Rf1+
52 Bd1 Rff2
53 Rc8+ Bf8
54 Rd2 1-0

E. “Doc” Smith is a former Rhode Island Amateur Champion, and has won divisional titles in the U.S. Amateur Team Championships for Brown University as well as the Rhode Island Chess League Championships. He has also taught chess to kids in S.F. schools, where he has recently directed several successful citywide tournaments.

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