- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2005

Big Swiss events such as last week’s Eastern Open tend to spread the wealth, with multiple players splitting the top prize and the top prize money.

But the Eastern, which attracted 180 players to the Wyndham Washington Hotel over the holiday break, proved a distinct exception. As we noted here last week, Massachusetts GM Alexander Ivanov took the big prize, winning the 80-player open section outright with a 7-1 score. But three of the other four class events also produced sole winners, each taking home $1,000 for their three-day effort.

In the under-2200 section, expert Jon Sjogren coasted to victory with a last-round draw against Bruce Altschuler, edging Robert Walker and Tim Rogalski by a half-point with a 6- score.

The tournament’s only first-place tie came in the under-1900 section, where Stephen Jablon and Jude Ejedoghaobi split the pot with identical 6-1 scores. The two drew in the penultimate round and came through with crucial victories in the final round, Jablon upending Emanuel London and Ejedoghaobi defeating the section’s No. 1 seed, William Barrow.

North Carolina Class C player Yakov Shlapentokh-Rothman turned in the tournament’s most impressive result, blitzing the under-1600 field with a 7- score. Shlapentokh-Rothman’s only draw came against Daniel Lacker, who finished alone in second at 6-2.

Leo Keats bounced back from a seventh-round loss to unrated Michael Serrate with a victory over Lawrence Ink to claim the under-1300 section and the $1,000 top prize with a 6-1 score. Serrate — who overcame a slow start to finish with four straight wins — landed in a four-way tie for second with Class D players Kyle Ward-Dahl, Brian Cheng and Benjamin Yastrov.

And in a blitz double-round-robin tournament organized in conjunction with the main event, master Alex Barnett and FM Braden Bournival tied for first, with Ivanov and IM Oladapo Adu a half-point back. Congratulations to the winners and to all who competed.

FM Stephen Muhammad finished in a seven-way tie for third, but his hopes for a higher finish were derailed by an upset loss to master Ralph Zimmer in round five. The game featured some high-wire tactics and some nice positional judgment by the winner.

Zimmer as White breaks open the Black Dutch Stonewall center and the play reaches a early crossroads after 15. bxc3 16. Nb4 Nxf4!? (see diagram). Black threatens 17…Nxe2+, and the White queen also has sentry duty against the dangerous Black pawn on b3.

But Zimmer cuts through the fog with the nicely calibrated 17. Qxf4!, emerging on top after the complications following 17…b2 18. Nxa6 Nxa6 19. Bxc6 bxc1=Q+ 20. Rxc1 Rb8 21. Bb5 Nc7 22. Nc6 Nd5 23. Qg3 Qd6.

White could now win back the exchange with 25. Nxb8 Nf6 26. Qf3 Rxb8 27. Qc6, but Zimmer prefers to get his central pawns rolling with 25. c4! Nf6 26. Qf3 Rb7 27. c5. Black’s clumsy pieces are poorly placed to meet White’s continuing threats, first against the weak e-pawn, and then against the king on 30. Bd7 Rf6 31. Rb1, with the nasty idea of 32. Rb8+ Rf8 33. Bxe6+ Rcf7 34. Bxf7+ Kh8 35. Rxf8 mate.

Muhammad’s knight and rook are almost comically helpless against the White pawn duo after 39. c7 g5 (the desperate 39…Rxe6 40. dxe6 Nc8 still leaves Black paralyzed in lines like 41. Nc6 Kg6 42. Kg2 Kf6 43. Ke7 Kf7 44. h4 Nd6 45. Kf3 Ke8 46. Kxf4 Kd7 47. Na7! Kxc7 48. Nb5+ Kd7 49. Nxd6 and wins) 40. d6! Rxe6 41. dxe7. Because one of the White pawns must queen, Muhammad resigned.

The Drammen Chess Festival in Norway featured what is likely to be one of the most memorable pairings of the past year: ageless Swiss wonder Viktor Korchnoi against 14-year-old Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen, whom many tip as destined for big things. This time, experience triumphed over youth as the 73-year-old Korchnoi took his young opponent to school with a smooth win.

In a Symmetrical English, the wily veteran may have clinched matters with the simple 15. Nf4! Bxe3 16. Qxe3 17. Rfd1 Qf6 (Qc7 18. Qc5 keeps the pressure on) 18. Bxc6 bxc6, busting up the Black queenside. With 21. Rad1 c3!? (Rad8?? 22. e4 wins a piece, and 21…Re4 22. Rxe4 Bxe4 23. f3 Bf5 24. e4 Be6 25. Rd2 still leaves the Black c-pawn indefensible in the long run) Nxd5 cxd5 23. bxc3 Rxe2 24. Rxd5, the back-rank mate threat costs Black a pawn.

Korchnoi smoothly wraps things up, allowing Black no chance for counterplay. It wasn’t clear if Carlsen resigned or lost on time, but he was facing a lost ending against a player whose technique is legendary. The win was just a matter of time.

31st Eastern Open, Washington, December 2004


1. Nf3f522. Nc6Nd5

2. d4Nf623. Qg3f4

3. g3e624. Qg4Qd6

4. Bg2d525. c4Nf6

5. 0-0Bd626. Qf3Rb7

6. c4c627. c5Qd5

7. Nc30-028. Qxd5Nxd5

8. Bf4Bxf429. Ne5Rc7

9. gxf4dxc430. Bd7Rf6

10. Ne5Nd531. Rb1h5

11. Qd2b532. Rb8+Kh7

12. a4b433. c6Nc3

13. Na2Ba634. Kf1Nd5

14. Rfc1c335. Re8a5

15. bxc3b336. Bxe6Re7

16. Nb4Nxf437. Rxe7Nxe7

17. Qxf4b238. d5Kh6

18. Nxa6Nxa639. c7g5

19. Bxc6bxc1=Q+40. d6Rxe6

20. Rxc1Rb841. dxe7Black

21. Bb5Nc7resigns

Smartfish Masters, Drammen Chess Festival, Drammen, Norway, December 2004


1. c4Nf621. Rad1c3

2. Nc3c522. Nxd5cxd5

3. g3e623. bxc3Rxe2

4. Nf3Nc624. Rxd5g6

5. Bg2d525. R5d2Rxd2

6. cxd5exd526. Rxd2Rc8

7. d4Be727. Rc2Rc4

8. Be3c428. Kf1Kf8

9. Ne50-029. Ke2Ke7

10. 0-0Be630. Kd3Ra4

11. Nxc4dxc431. Rd2Ke6

12. d5Nxd532. c4Ra3+

13. Nxd5Bf633. Ke4h5

14. Qd2Bd434. f4f6

15. Nf4Bxe335. Re2Ra4

16. Qxe3Re836. Kd4+Kd6

17. Rfd1Qf637. Rf2Ra5

18. Bxc6bxc638. Kc3Kc5

19. Qd4Qxd439. Kb3Ra6

20. Rxd4Bd540. Rd2Black


David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washingtontimes.com.



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