Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2008 arrow March arrow Spotlight on Palina Churun
Spotlight on Palina Churun Print E-mail
By Betsy Dynako   
March 19, 2008
Photo Betsy Dynako
WFM Palina Churun was the only player out of 60 to emerge victorious from the Chess for Peace triple threat simul . The formidable trio included former World Champ Anatoly Karpov and GMs  Alexander Onischuk and Yury Shulman.

Palina was born on January 18,1982 in Minsk, Belarus and learned to play chess when she was seven years old. She moved to the U.S. in 2004 and settled in Wisconsin where she is completing a business management program at the University of Wisconsin. She teaches through the program "Chess-Ed." Apart from chess, Palina loves swimming, tennis, skiing and traveling.

Palina said: "My win against a former World Champion Anatoly Karpov has inspired me to become a better chess player and I hope it will do likewise to other chess players, particularly girls. Mr. Karpov was always one of my favorite chess players and I often demonstrate his famous games during my lessons." Palina kindly annotated the game for CLO readers.

Palina teaching at the 2007 Illinois All Girls Championship
 Photo Betsy Dynako


  1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 0-0 6. Be2 Nbd7

The first six moves identified the King’s Indian Defense, Classical variation
7. 0-0 e5 8. Be3 c6 9. Qc2 Re8 10. Rfe1 h6 11. Rad1 Ng4 12. Bc1? exd4 13. Nxd4

Position after 13.Nxd4

 In the diagram above, I missed a knight sacrifice on f2 that would have caused considerable defensive problems for white. For instance, 13…Nxf2! 14. Kxf2 15. Qh4+ Kg1 (15… Kf116. Bxd4 Rxd4 17. Qf6+ fork) 16. Bxd4+ Rxd4 (16. Kh1 Be5) 17. Qxe1+ with a decisive advantage for Black.
14. Bxg4 Qxg4
After exchange on g4, the game takes on a more positional style. Protracted maneuvering and typical for the KID fighting for the control over the dark squares, particularly the a1-h8 diagonal ensued.
15. h3 Qh4 16. Nf3 Qf6 17. Be3 Ne5 18. Nd2 Be6 19. Ne2 c5 20. Nf4 Nc6 21. b3 Rad8 22. Nf3 Ne5 23. Nh2 Kh7 24. Nxe6 Qxe6 25. Bd2 Nc6 26. Nf3 Qf6 27. Re3 Qf4 28. R3e1 Qf6 29. a3 Re6 30. Re3 Qf4 31. R3e1 Qf6 32. b4 Qe7 33. b5 Nd4
 White tries to gain some space by advancing on the queen-side while Black takes the control over the d4 square.
 34. Nxd4 Bxd4 35. Kf1 Re8 36. f3 Qf6 37. Be3?

Position after 37.Be3

A surprising mistake that allows black to win a pawn on e4 due to an absolute pin on the f-file
37. Rxe4 38. Bxd4 Rxe1+ 39. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 40. Kxe1 Qxd4
With the exchange of the pieces black’s advantage becomes more apparent.
41. Ke2 Qg1 42. Kd3 Qd4+ 43. Ke2

Position after 43.Ke2

At this moment a draw was offered by GM Onischuk. When I declined it, a clock was introduced to the game and time became a critical factor. I kept my cool and focused on winning.
43... d5 44. exd5 Qxd5 45. Qa4 c4
 A dangerous passed pawn on the c file coupled with an active black queen ensures Black’s win
46. Qxa7 c3 47. Qe3 Qxb5+ 48. Qd3 Qb2+ 49. Kd1 Qxa3 50. Qc4 Qa1+ 51. Ke2 Qa6!

Position after 51...Qa6

Another absolute pin that leads to a queen exchange and an elementary won pawn endgame. At this point the Karpov team resigned.

Yury Shulman, Alexander Onischuk and Anatoly Karpov, with WFM Palina Churun in the background