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SANDS: Hoyos paces the field to capture chess U.S. Open

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mexican national champion Manuel Leon Hoyos can add a major north-of-the-border title to his resume after winning the 113th U.S. Open Sunday in Vancouver, Wash., in a playoff over veteran Illinois GM Dmitry Gurevich and surprising California FM John Daniel Bryant. All three finished at 8-1, with Bryant reeling off five straight wins to close out the tournament and claim a share of first.

Seattle GM Yasser Seirawan, a local legend and winner of the event in 1985 and 1990, finished in a five-way tie for fourth at 7½-1½. He had a real shot at first place but could only draw with Hoyos in the final round.

Ann Arbor, Mich., high school junior Atulya Shetty also had a memorable time in the Great Northwest, winning the Denker Tournament of High School Champions on tie breaks over top-seeded IM Darwin Yang of Texas. He then ran off five wins and a draw (against GM Alex Shabalov) after moving over to the Open, before suffering his only loss to Seirawan. The Denker win also gave Shetty a full ride to the University of Texas-Dallas, a powerhouse of college chess.

One of Shetty's best games in the Denker came against master Kevin Bu of Minnesota, who finished in a four-way tie for third a half-point back at 4½-1½.

Black concedes way too much space early on in this English Opening, with every White piece finding an effective post by Move 11. After 16. Ne3 Qb6, White already has good long-range control of the board, and Shetty might have considered initiating action with 17. Ndf5!? exf5 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Rxd7 g6 20. Nd5 Qe6 21. Rxa7.

When things do open up a few moves later, naturally it is White who is better positioned for the fight: 19. Ng5! Bxg2 20. Bxf6 g6 (Bxf6?? Qxh7 mate) 21. Qb2!, and Shetty's control of the long diagonal can be felt if Black tries 21. ... Bd5 22. Ng4! Rfc8 23. Bxe7 Qxe7 24. Nh6+ Kf8 25. Qh8 mate.

But Bu's attempts to drive off the attacking forces with his kingside pawns merely open more holes in his defense — 21. ... h6 22. Bxe7 Qxe7 23. Ng4! f6 (unfortunately, 23. ... hxg5 [Qxg5 24. Nf6+ Kh8 25. Ne4+] opens the floodgates after 24. Nf6+ Kg7 25. Ne8+ Kh6 26. Qg7+ Kh5 27. Qh7+ Kg4 28. Ng7! Rfc8 29. Rd4+ Be4 30. Rxe4 mate) 24. Nxh6+ Kg7 25. Rc7! (luring the Black queen to a fatal square) Qxc7 27. Nxe6+ Kxf6 27. Nxc7 Bc6 28. Qd4, and Black resigns as his knight on a7 hangs and White also threatens 29. Ne6 Rfe8 30. Qh4 mate.

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Today's second game might be a candidate for Dutch author Tim Krabbe's popular Chess Curiosities website, the one devoted to games featuring oddities such as multiple underpromotions, castling on Move 89, resignations in winning positions or the record for consecutive captures on a single square.

On his way to capturing his first national title at the just-concluded 99th British Championships in North Shields, English grandmaster Gawain Jones pulled off a remarkable feat in his win over IM Jonathan Hawkins: In the space of the game's final seven moves, Jones sacrificed, in order, a pawn, a knight, a bishop and a rook before delivering mate with his queen. Only the White king was left as a bystander.

In a Rubinstein Nimzo-Indian, Black gives up a bishop for knight on Move 12 to weaken White's pawn structure, but things really get interesting on Jones' 18. Rb1 Na5 19. f5!?. White tries to turn his doubled pawn into an asset, cramping Black's game, clearing f4 for his bishop and -- even with his own king in the vicinity -- preparing a kingside pawn rush. He is rewarded when Black does not respond with sufficient energy after 26. Kh2 Rc6 27. f6! g6?! (gxf6!? 28. g6 fxg6 29. Bxg6 Re7 30. Rg1 Kh8 31. Qg3 doesn't look much better, but at least keeps the position fluid), and the Black king is fatally boxed in for the remainder of the game.

White's ability to play on both wings sets up the remarkable finale after 35. Re2 Nd6 36. Qe1! (with the idea of 37. Qb4! Ne8 38. Re3 Bxb5 39. Qxb5 Rc1 40. Be5 with a dominating position) Nf5 37. Bxf5 gxf5 38. Qb1!, when 38. ... Nxd4 loses to 39. Re7 Nxf3+ 40. Kg2 Qc8 41. g6! (White need not fool around with 41. Kxf3?! f4! 42. Bxf4 Qg4+ 43. Ke3 d4+ 44. Nxd4 Rc3+) fxg6 42. f7+ Kg7 43. Qb2+ Kf8 44. Re8+.

Hawkins tries 39. ... Rc4 (see diagram), and now tick off the cargo jettisoned as White zeroes in on mate: 39. Qxf5! Rxa4 (pawn) 40. g6! Bxb5 (knight) 41. Qxh5 fxg6 (Nf8 42. Qh6 fxg6 43. Re7 is lethal) 42. Qxg6+ Kf8 (Kh8 43. Be5!) 43. Bf4!! Nxf4 (bishop; on 43. ... Qf7, 44. Bd6+ Ke8 45. Rxe6+ is one way to win) 44. Re8+! Qxe8 (rook) 45. Qg7 mate. There have been many attacking games with multiple sacrifices, but few stick so closely to the depth chart on their way to checkmate.

Shetty-Bu, Denker High School Champions Tournament, July 2012

1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 e6 3. Bg2 d5 4. Nf3 dxc4 5. Na3 c5 6. Nxc4 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. b3 O-O 9. Bb2 Rb8 10. d4 a6 11. Rc1 cxd4 12. Nxd4 Na7 13. Qc2 Bd7 14. Rfd1 Qc7 15. Qb1 b5 16. Ne3 Qb6 17. Nf3 Bc6 18. Bd4 Qb7 19. Ng5 Bxg2 20. Bxf6 g6 21. Qb2 h6 22. Bxe7 Qxe7 23. Ng4 f6 24. Nxh6+ Kg7 25. Rc7 Qxc7 26. Nxe6+ Kxh6 27. Nxc7 Bc6 28. Qd4 Black resigns.

Jones-Hawkins, 99th British Championship, July 2012

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Nge2 d5 6. a3 Be7 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Nf4 c6 9. Bd3 Re8 10. O-O Bd6 11. f3 Qc7 12. Qd2 Bxf4 13. exf4 b6 14. b4 Ba6 15. b5 cxb5 16. Nxb5 Qd7
17. a4 Nc6 18. Rb1 Na5 19. f5 Nc4 20. Qf2 h6 21. g4 Nh7 22. Bf4 Na3 23. Rb3 Nc4 24. h4 Rac8 25. g5 h5 26. Kh2 Rc6 27. f6 g6 28. Rbb1 Nf8 29. Rfe1 Rxe1 30. Rxe1 Ne6 31. Bg3 Nd6
32. Re5 Nc4 33. Re2 Nd6 34. Re5 Nc4 35. Re2 Nd6 36. Qe1 Nf5 37. Bxf5 gxf5 38. Qb1 Rc4 39. Qxf5 Rxa4 40. g6 Bxb5 41. Qxh5 fxg6 42. Qxg6+ Kf8 43. Bf4 Nxf4 44. Re8+ Qxe8 45. Qg7 mate.

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

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