Sat, 21 Feb 2004

Makita chess tournament heats up at halfway mark

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The race for the championship at the Makita-Lakoni chess tournament has heated up with GM Zhu Chen's loss to IM Danny Juswanto in the fifth round here on Friday.

Danny bounced back from his defeat a day earlier to stop Zhu, the women's world champion from China, at the Graha Kita Karya building in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.

With Indonesian GM Utut Adianto also winning his game and GM Antoaneta Stefanova drawing, four players are now tied at the top of the standings on three points at the halfway mark of the 10- round, six-player strong competition.

Danny appeared to be well prepared for his game against Zhu, who led the tournament entering Friday's match, forcing his opponent to concede after 35 moves in a Sicilian game.

"Danny built a better position and took charge of the game almost from the start. He held the attacking initiative, leaving Zhu on the other side struggling under pressure," Kristianus Liem, a chess columnist, said.

"Zhu herself was almost error-free. She just trailed in the early fight for the attacking initiative," said Kristianus, who admitted to helping Danny by giving him notes on Zhu's past games.

"There were hundreds of games," Kristianus said, adding that he began compiling the collection in November when the players for the Makita tournament were confirmed.

Utut and Susanto were involved in a sharp variation of the Sicilian opening in their all-Indonesian game. Utut, 39, took control of the game against his 16-year-old prodigy when he pushed ahead in the final phase, forcing Susanto to commit a fatal error.

"Utut's maneuver of a rook took its toll as Susanto lost his queen," Kristianus said. The game lasted 35 moves.

Utut has touted Susanto as his likely successor at the top of the Indonesian chess world.

However, Utut's win certainly derailed Susanto's campaign for a GM title, which requires a player to collect at least three GM norms in three different international tournaments.

Susanto collected one GM norm in December and entered this tournament with high hopes of gaining another, which is now almost impossible with this defeat.

To win a GM norm in this tournament, a player must collect seven points. Susanto has just 1.5 points with five rounds left.

Meanwhile Danny's chance of winning a GM norm is still open. However, according to Kristianus, it will be a mounting task for Danny to accomplish.

"He will have to take another four points. That will be difficult, but it is not an impossible task," Kristianus said.

In the other game, Stefanova had the chance to take over the sole lead of the event, but the 19-year-old from Bulgaria had to settle for a draw with IM Hoang Thanh Trang of Vietnam after 45 moves of a Slav game.

It was Hoang's third draw, tying her with Susanto at 1.5 points.

In the sixth round on Saturday, Hoang will be given the chance to avenge her earlier defeat to Susanto in their first meeting.

Utut will face Danny, while Stefanova and Zhu will play each other. In the earlier meeting between these players, both games ended in draws.