We are the world, or at least we will be for a couple of years. The Continental Chess Association, which organized the Continental Class Championships in Arlington featured in this column last week, announced it will be temporarily relocating its flagship World Open tournament to the area in 2013 and 2014 from its traditional home in Philadelphia. The Swiss event, held over the Fourth of July holiday, is one of the strongest events of its kind on the American chess calendar.
The news gives us an excuse to complete our coverage of the Class Championships, won by Texas GM Alejandro Ramirez on tiebreaks over fellow GM Sergey Kudrin and Baltimore IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat.
Enkhbat was not the only player with local ties to do well, as Virginia, Maryland and D.C. players all brought home honors in the lower sections. The full roster of Class winners: Experts - Daniel Malkiel and Lorand Kis of Pennsylvania, both at 7-1; Class A - William Alston of Virginia, 6-1; Class B - Greg Kogan of the District, 6 1/2- 1/2; Class C - Xiaogun Xu of Pennsylvania, 5-1; Class D - Kelly Onuosa of Maryland, 6-0; and Class E - Michael Krain of Virginia, 5-1. Congratulations to all.
Team chess is not for the faint of heart. A match, a title, an entire season can hang on a single move, and typically you are trying to figure out your own game while always keeping in mind how your teammates are faring at the next table over.
That may be why some of the most enjoyable and provocative chess emerges from team events. In a recent U.S. Chess League game, WGM Tatev Abrahamyan provided the critical point against FM Eric Rodriguez to help her Los Angeles Vibe down the Miami Sharks 2 1/2-1 1/2, with a powerful kingside assault that won her the USCL’s weekly “Best Move” award.
In an unusual Sicilian sideline, Black’s 14. g4 Nd7?! (something like 14. … d5!? 15. g5 hxg5 had to be tried, if only to divert White’s attention) 15. g5! Bxg5 16. Bxg5 hxg5 17. Qh5 Nb6 (f6? 18. Bc4+ d5 19. Nxd5 Nxd5 20. Rxd5!) 18. Rxg5 shows that something has gone badly wrong for the second player, as White has obtained a powerful kingside attack at no positional cost.
Black tries to shore up the beleaguered g6-square, but White finds ways to increase the attacking pressure: 21. Rdg2 Be8 22. Bb5! (a nice way to distract the defending bishop) Nc6 (Bxb5 23. Rxg6+! fxg6 24. Rxg6+ Qxg6 25. Qxg6+ Kh8 26. f6 is curtains) 23. Nd5 Nxd5 24. exd5 Ne7 25. Nd2!, preparing to redeploy to e4 with devastating effect.
The g-file finally gives way on 27. Ne4 Qe7 (the tricky 27. … Ne3 fails to 28. Qf3 Nxg2 29. Nxf6 Kxf6 30. Rxg2) 28. Bxe8 (removing the critical defender) Raxe8 29. f6+! Qxf6 (Nxf6 30. Rxg6+ fxg6 31. Qxg6+ Kf8 32. Rf2 is deadly) 30. Nxf6 Nxf6 31. Rxg6+!, and Black resigns as 31. … fxg6 (Kf8 32. Rxf6) 32. Qxg6+ Kf8 33. Qxf6 is mate.
Even more troubling to a team captain’s digestion was today’s second game from the powerful German Bundesliga, where many of the world’s top grandmasters compete. Here Georgian GM David Baramidze and Moldovan star Victor Bologan mix it up in a back-and-forth contest in which Bologan’s pair of queens winds up trumping his opponent’s tandem.
Baramidze’s 25. Nb3 Qe7 26. Rxd7!? (Qd4 d5 27. c4 appears to keep White’s modest edge) Qe8! 28. Bc6! Qc8!? (bxc6 29. Rxc7 Rf7 30. Qxc6 Rxc7 31. Qxc7 Qb5 looks equal) 29. Qd4 produces highly unbalanced play, with White eventually emerging with a trio of queenside passed pawns as compensation for the lost exchange. Black’s counterplay grows dangerous after 40. Kxd2 Qxh4! 41. Qe2 Nxf2, and both sides walk a tightrope in the wild climax.
Two pawns are poised to queen when White misses a key tactical trick which costs him the game: 46. a5 Nd1 47. Qc2!? (Bf3! deserved a long look; e.g. 47. … e4 48. Qa6! Qe5 [exf3?? 49. Qf6+] 49. Bxd1 Rxd1 50. Qc8+ Kg7 51. a6) e4 48. a6 Qe1 49. Qc1 (Black’s threat was 49. … Ne3 50. Qb2 Qd1+ 51. Ka2 [Ka3 Nc4+] Rd2) e3 50. a7 e2 51. Ne6 Re8 (see diagram), when now again 52. Bf3! was the star move: 52. … Kg8 (Qxc3+ 53. Qxc3+ Nxc3 54. Bxe2 Nxe2 55. b5 Nc1+ 56. Ka4 Ra8 57. b6, and the pawns overwhelm Black’s rook) 53. Nd4 Qxc3+ 54. Qxc3 Nxc3 55. Nxe2 Nxe1 56. a8=Q Rxa8 57. Bxa8 Kf7, with a tricky endgame in store.
Instead, Black’s queens break through on the game’s 52. Bc6? Qg3! (the pressure of the two queens on c3 will be decisive) 53. Bxe8 e1=Q 54. a8=Q Qgxc3+ 55. Ka2 (Qxc3+ Qxc3+ 56. Ka4 [Ka2 Qb2 mate] Qa1+ picks off the White queen) Qe2+, and Baramidze resigned facing 56. Kb1 Qxb2+ 57. Qxb2+ Qxb2 mate.
Abrahamyan-Rodriguez, U.S. Chess League, October 2011