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Global and U.S. chess organizations have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and have taken action to punish Russia and support Ukraine. FIDE, the International Chess Federation, is removing the 2022 Chess Olympiad from Russia and terminating its sponsorship agreements with Russian firms. The U.S. Chess Federation has established a GoFundMe campaign, seeded by a $10,000 donation from the Kasparov Chess Foundation, to help Ukrainian chess players during their time of need.

Many of the world’s leading chess players, including former World Champion Gary Kasparov and other current and former Russian players, are also speaking out. Kasparov, a long-time critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, says the rest of the world should “Support Ukraine militarily, immediately. … Bankrupt Putin’s war machine. … Kick Russia out of every international and financial institution.”

Several of Ukraine’s leading chess players remain in their home country and are at risk. Grandmaster Evgeny Shtembuliak, who competed for the Texas Tech chess team before moving back to Kyiv, is using his Texas Tech business and marketing studies to good effect. In a recent appearance on U.S. Grandmaster Benjamin Finegold’s YouTube channel, he urged viewers to “raise their voice” and “spread the word” in opposition to Russia’s actions.

Shtembuliak is best known in the chess world for winning the 2019 World Junior Championship, a title that he will hold until the next World Junior competition later this year. He was the seventh-ranked player at the start of the tournament, but smoothly moved to the top position by winning seven of his 11 games, with no losses. Shtembuliak clinched his title by defeating the talented but young Volodar Murzin of Russia in the final round of play.

2019 World Junior Chess Championship, Round 11

White: Evgeny Shtembuliak, Ukraine

Black: Volodar Murzin, Russia

1d4 Nf6 c4 e6 3Nc3 c6 White usually responds to this defense by developing his kingside pieces. Shtembuliak opts to start with queenside development, giving him the option of castling on either side of the board.

4cxd5 exd5 5Qc2 Nf6 Black could have played 5…Bd6, delaying the development of his king knight, to discourage white from playing Bg5.

6Bg5 Nbd7 7e3 h6 8Bh4 g5!? 9Bg3 Nh5 Black plans to exchange his knight for white’s bishop on g3, but weakens his kingside.

10Bd3 Nxg3 11hxg3 Qe7 12 0-0-0 Nb6 13e4 White begins his attack while the black king remains in the middle of the board.

13…dxe4 14Bxe4 Bg7 15Nf3 Be6 16Rhe1 g4 17 Ne5 0-0-0

White to move

18Nxf7! This knight sacrifice is only temporary and challenges black to find a good way to defend his position.

18…Qxf7 19Bg6 Qc7 Black can’t save the bishop on e6. If 19…Qe7 20Rxe6 Qxe6? 21Bf5 wins black’s queen.

20Rxe6 Bxd4 21Bf5 Kb8 22Bxg4 White’s tactical play has netted him a pawn, but black can create counterchances with active play.

22…Qg7 23Bf3 Rd7 An interesting alternative is 23…Nc4!, which threatens to disrupt white’s queenside. After 24Rg6 Qe5 25 Rg4 Rhf8, black’s active pieces, and his potential threats against the white king, would provide compensation for his pawn deficit.

24Ne4 Rhd8 25Kb1 Nd5 26Nc5

Black to move

26…Bxc5?! Black misses his last opportunity to counterattack. After 26…Nc3+! 27Qxc3 (27bxc3 Bxc5 is fine for black) Bxc3 28Rxd7 Rxd7 29Re8+ Kc7 30Ne6+ Kd6 31Nxg7 Bxg7, black is still a pawn down but would have good defensive chances thanks to the bishops of opposite color.

27Qxc5 Qh7+ 28Kc1 Nc7

White to move

29Ree1 White is now in position to trade off pieces and use his extra pawn to win the game.

29…Nb5 30Qe5+ Ka8 31Bg4 Rxd1+ 32Rxd1 Qg8 33Rxd8+ Qxd8 34Bh5 Nd6 35Bg6 a6 36f4 Ka7 37Bd3 Ne8 38Qe3+ Ka8 39Be2 Nf6 40a3 Nd5 41Qd4 Qe8 42Kd2 h5 43Bf3 Qg6 44Bxd5 cxd5 45Qxd5 Qxg3 46f5 h4 47Ke2 Qf4 48b4

Black to move

48…h3 This is a last-ditch effort to expose white’s king to perpetual check, but white demonstrates the correct way to thwart this plan.

49gxh3 Qh2+ 50Ke3 Qxh3+ 51Ke4 Advancing the king lets white use both his queen and passed pawn to shield his king from checks.

51…Qh4+ 52Ke5 Qe7+ 53Qe6 Qc7+ 54Kd5 Qd8+ 55Qd6 Qg8+ 56Kc5 Qg1+ 57Qd4 Qc1+ 58Kd6 Qc6+ 59Ke7 Qc7+ 60 Ke8 Qc6+ 61Qd7 Qe4+ 62Qe6 Qg4 63Kf8 and black resigns.

Black to move

Black is out of checks and cannot stop white from advancing his f-pawn to create a second queen.

To view this game on a virtual board, go to https://lichess.org/n4Jw478w#1

Keith Holzmueller

Keith Holzmueller has been the head coach of the Evanston Township High School Chess Club and Team since 2017. He became a serious chess player during his high school years. As an adult player, he obtained...

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