CHESS; Third Women's Title Is Won By a Brooklyn Grandmaster

By Robert Byrne

Anjelina Belakovskaia of Brooklyn, a 29-year-old women's grandmaster, won the Interplay United States Women's Championship in Salt Lake City in September. This was the third time she has triumphed in this series, having tied for the title with Sharon Burtman in 1995 and taken solo first in 1996.

In Salt Lake City, Belakovskaia scored 7-2 in the 10-player round-robin competition. Eighteen-year-old Jennifer Shahade of Philadelphia was the runner-up with 6 1/2-2 1/2.

In the old days, few women became dedicated students of openings. That is no longer true. One can observe in a fifth-round game between Belakovskaia and Beatriz Marinello, formerly of Chile and now living in New York, that these players were in the forefront of today's theory. Belakovskaia won by virtue of her superior grasp of the middle game.

The thrust 5 f4 introduces the Four Pawns Attack against the King's Indian Defense. The plan is to swamp Black in the center.

After 7 . . . a6, the prevailing opinion is that White should prevent 8 . . . b5 9 cb ab 10 Bb5 Ne4 11 Ne4 Qa5 by 8 a4. The old counter in the center with 8 . . . e5 9 fe de 10 Bg5 h6 11 Bh4 was known for yielding White a slight advantage, but what Black has in mind nowadays is a gambit with 9 . . . Ng4!?

If 10 ed, then 10 . . . f5 11 Bd3 Bc3 12 bc fe 13 Be4 Re8 14 Ng5 Nf6 (14 . . . h6? 15 Ne6!) 15 O-O Ne4 16 Nf7 Qh4 17 Qf3 gives White dangerous attacking chances, though it is unclear whether they are fatal. Belakovskaia preferred the less hectic 10 Bg5 Qb6 11 Qd2, letting Marinello recover her pawn with 11 . . . Ne5.

But after 12 a5, Marinello wrongly strengthened the white center with 12 . . . Nf3?! 13 gf. She should have retreated at once with 12 . . . Qc7 and looked toward 13 Be2 Nbd7 14 O-O Re8 followed by 15 . . . Nf8.

Instead of wasting a tempo with 22 . . . Bf5?!, she should have mobilized immediately with 22 . . . Rab8 and opened the b line for counterattack. She might have thought she was forcing Belakovskaia's hand with 23 O-O-O, but that's where the white king was bound to go anyway.

After 25 Bh3, Marinello could not defend the gaping hole at e6. Realizing that passive defense was hopeless, she sacrificed a piece with 25 . . . Ne4 26 fe Re4 to scrape up some play against the white king.

But after 27 Bxd7 Qxd7 28 Ne6 Qa4 29 Kb1, Marinello got her queen rook over to the defense with 29 . . . Re8 30 Rdh1 Re7, but not in time. Belakovskaia's 31 Qg2! Qc4 32 Qg6!, induced Marinello to give up in the face of 32 . . . hg 33 Rh8 Kf7 34 Rf8mate.


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