- The Washington Times - Monday, September 5, 2011

There’s no thrill quite like beating your first grandmaster. So I’m told.

Virginia expert Eric Most can offer a firsthand account of the experience in the wake of his stunning shared first place in last month’s 43rd annual Atlantic Open downtown. Most upset Maryland GM Larry Kaufman and former U.S. champion GM Alex Shabalov in successive rounds on his way to a 4 1/2- 1/2 tie with New York IM Yury Lapshun, a half-point ahead of another grandmaster, Sergey Kudrin of Connecticut.

Neither win was a fluke, and the victory over Shabalov came after an absorbing struggle of 78 moves. Shabalov as White chooses one of the most aggressive King’s Indian systems, and Black’s queen-side counterplay arrives just as White appears to be preparing a knockout blow: 26. Nh6+ Kh8 27. e5 Nc4 28. Rxc4!? (the grandmaster may have felt obligated to play for a win against his lower-rated opponent, with the idea that the advanced Black rook will have trouble finding an escape route) Rxc4 29. Qd3 Rc2 30. e6 Bxh6! a well-timed capture as Black holds on the scary 31. exf7 Rxe3! 32. Qxe3 Bg7 33. Qe8+ Nf8.

With the time control looming, White regains the exchange but can’t quite scratch his way back to equality after 33. Qxb3 Qxe6 34. Qxc2?! (the interpolation 34. Bd4+!? cxd4 35. Qxc2 might have offered better chances) Qxe3+ 36. Qf2?! (Rf2 Qxf4 36. Qxg6 Qc1+ 37. Rf1 Qg5+ 38. Qxg5 Nxg5 39. Bd5 and White may survive) Qxf4 36. Bc6 Qg5+ 37. Qg2 Qe3+ 38. Qf2 Qg5+ 39. Qg2 Qxg2+ (the queens come off anyway) 40. Kxg2 Rf8 41. Re1 Ng5.

The smoke has cleared, and Black is a pawn up with White’s h-pawn not long for the world. White struggles mightily but can’t stave off the inevitable. After 77. Kg1 Kg3 78. Bf1 Ne4, Most can play …Rb1 and …Nd2 and trade down to a won pawn ending; White resigned.

Here’s the full roster of Atlantic section winners: Under 2100 Gaibo Yan of Pennsylvania 4 1/2- 1/2, a half-point ahead of Charles Yang, Michael Lim and Jeffren Viera; Under 1900 William Alston of Virginia 4 1/2- 1/2, edging Scott Zimmerman, Ralph Deline, William Gallagher and Sebastian Spitz; Under 1700 Tim Murphy of Maryland and William Stoots of Virginia, both at 4 1/2- 1/2; Under 1500 Ryan Cowdin of Louisiana 5-0, a full point clear of Chase Gwinn and Duong Nguyen; Under 1300 Clark Smiley of Virginia 5-0, a point ahead of Ryan Xu, Bryan Simonaire and Ly Van Do; and Under 1000 Alex Jiang of Virginia, also with a perfect 5-0 result, a half-point ahead of Neil Duggal.

Congratulations to all.

GM Gata Kamsky is the last American still in the field at the FIDE World Cup knockout tournament, entering the Sweet 16 round this week in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Kamsky won his rapid playoff against young Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, while Hungarian great GM Judit Polgar was eliminating the 128-player event’s top seed, Sergey Karjakin of Russia.

Also going through in a bit of a surprise was Russian GM Vladimir Potkin. Potkin played one of the best attacking games of the event in eliminating strong Spanish GM Alexei Shirov in Round 2. Shirov as Black plays one of the sharpest QGD Semi-Slav lines, but by 12. Qe2 Be7 13. e5!, White already enjoys a nice edge in space and development.

Potkin gives a clinic on how to exploit both advantages to whip up a winning attack and does it against one of the best attacking players in the game: 21. b4! Bf8 (one more Black piece heads for the back rank, but 21…Bxb4? 22. Nc6 loses a piece) 22. f5! (opening lines at all costs; now 22…Qxe5 might lead to 23. fxe6 fxe6 24. Nxe6 Rxe6 25. Qf3! Nf6 [or 25…Bb7 26. Qf7+ Kh8 27. Qxe6] 26. Qxa8 Qxe3+ 27. Kh1 Kh8 28. Bxe6 Qxe6 29. Rd8 and wins) Nxe5 23. Bf4 Bd6 24. Nc6! and the rout is on.

With Black’s pieces being pushed back, a king-side thrust quickly ends things: 26. f6 gxf6 (b5+ 27. Bc5 Qc7 28. axb5 axb5 29. Qg4 g6 30. Qg5 Nxb4 31. Bxb4 Qb6+ 32. Kh1 e5 33. Qh6) 27. Rxf6 Ne7 (see diagram; no better was 27…b5+ 28. Bc5 29. Bd3 Ne5 30. Qh5 Ng6 31. Rdf1) 28. Rxf7!, and Black resigned as his exposed king can’t survive in lines like 28…Kxf7 29. Rf1+ Kg7 (Nf5 30. Qh5+ Kf6 31. Rxf5+ exf5 32. Qh6 mate) 30. Qe5+ Kg8 (Kg6 31. Qf6+ Kh5 32. Be2 mate) 31. Bxe6+ Bxe6 32. Qxe6+ Kg7 33. Be5 mate.

Shabalov-Most, Atlantic Open, August 2011

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. f4 O-O 6. Nf3 c5 7. d5 e6 8. Be2 exd5 9. cxd5 Bg4 10. O-O Re8 11. h3 Bxf3 12. Bxf3 a6 13. a4 Nbd7 14. g4 h6 15. h4 Nh7 16. g5 hxg5 17. hxg5 Rb8 18. Be3 b5 19. axb5 axb5 20. Qc2 b4 21. Nd1 Qc7 22. Nf2 b3 23. Qd2 Rb4 24. Rac1 Qb7 25. Ng4 Nb6 26. Nh6+ Kh8 27. e5 Nc4 28. Rxc4 Rxc4 29. Qd3 Rc2 30. e6 Bxh6 31. gxh6 fxe6 32. dxe6 Qe7 33. Qxb3 Qxe6 34. Qxc2 Qxe3+ 35. Qf2 Qxf4 36. Bc6 Qg5+ 37. Qg2 Qe3+ 38. Qf2 Qg5+ 39. Qg2 Qxg2+ 40. Kxg2 Rf8 41. Re1 Ng5 42. Re7 Rf7 43. Re8+ Kh7 44. Rb8 Kxh6 45. b4 cxb4 46. Rxb4 Rc7 47. Bd5 Rc2+ 48. Kg3 Rd2 49. Bb7 Ne6 50. Kf3 Rd3+ 51. Ke2 Rd4 52. Rb6 Kg5 53. Ke3 Kf6 54. Be4 g5 55. Rb5 Rd1 56. Bd3 Re1+ 57. Kf2 Re5 58. Rb8 Ra5 59. Re8 Ke5 60. Be2 Ra4 61. Bb5 Rf4+ 62. Ke3 Rf8 63. Re7 d5 64. Be2 Kd6 65. Ra7 Re8 66. Kd2 Ke5 67. Rf7 Nc5 68. Ke3 Ne4 69. Bg4 Nf6 70. Bf3 g4 71. Bg2 Rb8 72. Re7+ Kf5 73. Rf7 Rb3+ 74. Kf2 Ke5 75. Rg7 Kf4 76. Rf7 Rb2+ 77. Kg1 Kg3 78. Bf1 Ne4 0-1.

Potkin-Shirov, FIDE World Chess Cup, August 2011

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 dxc4 6. a4 Bb4 7. e4 Qa5 8. Bd2 c5 9. Bxc4 cxd4 10. Nxd4 O-O 11. Nc2 Qc7 12. Qe2 Be7 13. e5 Nfd7 14. f4 Nc6 15. O-O b6 16. Nb5 Qb8 17. Ncd4 Nxd4 18. Nxd4 Bc5 19. Be3 Re8 20. Rad1 a6 21. b4 Bf8 22. f5 Nxe5 23. Bf4 Bd6 24. Nc6 Nxc6 25. Bxd6 Qa7 26. f6 gxf6 27. Rxf6 Ne7 28. Rxf7 1-0.

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