SANDS: Kaidanov’s chess homework pays at Eastern Open

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Kentucky GMGregory Kaidanov is perhaps better known today as a chess teacher than a competitor. But he gave his students an object lesson on the value of doing one’s homework while winning the 39th annual Eastern Open, held last week at its traditional home at the Westin Washington hotel downtown.

With 2½ points in the tournament’s final three rounds, including victories over fellow GMs Alexander Ivanov and Magesh Panchanathan, the affable Kaidanov posted an undefeated 6-1 result, a half-point ahead of Ivanov and New Jersey IM Dean Ippolito. A total of 170 players competed in the event’s four sections.

Kaidanov revealed after his critical Round 5 win over Ivanov that he had worked out fully two-thirds of the game’s 35 moves at home while going over a sharp Classical Nimzo-Indian line. Key to his preparation was 12. Be5 0-0?! (in light of what White has in store, Black might have considered 12…f6!? 13. Bxb8 [Bxf6?! Rf8 14. Bd4 Nxc3 and now Black’s bishop on f5 is protected] Rxb8 14. Nd4) 13. Nd4 Re8 (see diagram) 14. Nxf5!, a move that previously had enjoyed a dubious reputation.

Ivanov must go along for the ride with 14…Rxe5 15. Nxh6+ Kg7 16. Ng4 Re6 17. Bd3! Nxc3 18. 0-0! (White’s last two moves are key Black will not be able to hold the extra piece, and his development will be lagging badly) Ne4 19. a3 Qxc5 (Bxc5 20. b4 Bxb4 21. axb4 Qxb4 22. Rfb1 Qe7 23. Qb2+ Kg8 24. Ra5 is very good for White) 20. Qd1 Bd2 21. Bxe4 Rxe4 22. h3 f5 23. Nh2, and Black again runs into trouble trying to save the bishop after 23…Ba5 24. b4 Bxb4 25. axb4 Rxb4 26. Qh5.

By 26. Qg4 Rg3 27. Qf5, with the nasty threat of 28. Ng4, Black’s lack of development and his exposed king begin to tell. Black can’t defend both h6 and f6 from the White queen’s incursion, and Kaidanov wraps things up neatly: 31. Qh6+ Kg8 32. Rae1 Qg7 (Qf8 33. Qg6+ Qg7 [Kh8 34. Nf6 Qg7 35. Qh5+] 34. Nf6+ Kf8 35. Re8+ Rxe8 36. Qxe8 mate) 33. Nf6+ Kf7 34. Qxg7+ Kxg7 35. Nh5+, winning the exchange and forcing resignation as 35…Kg6 36. Nxg3 fxg3 37. Re6+ Kg7 38. Re3 Rd8 39. Rxg3 is an elementary endgame win.

Kaidanov-Ivanov after 13...Re8.

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Kaidanov-Ivanov after 13…Re8. more >

Other section winners at the Eastern included: Under 2200 Virginia experts Francisco Morales and Jeevan Karamsetty, both at 5½-1½; Under 1900 Meghesh Pansari of New York and Ian Morton of South Carolina, also tied at 5½-1½; and Under 1600 Maryland Class C player Leo Keats, who had the week’s best score at 6½-½, a full point clear of Virginians William Overman and Ryan Xu.

They didn’t take home the title, but University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s powerhouse chess players once again have qualified for this year’s President’s Cup, the so-called “Final Four of College Chess,” following last week’s Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championship in Dallas. A loss to archrival (and 2011 Pan Am champ) University of Texas-Dallas left the Retrievers in second place with a match score of 5-1.

Rounding out the Final Four, to be held March 30 through April 1 in Herndon, are Texas Tech and New York University.

Since the days of Morphy and Pillsbury, young American stars have crossed the Atlantic over the holiday break to test themselves on the European chess scene. GM Robert Hess, an undergraduate at Yale who quietly has become one of the country’s strongest young players, was the latest to find success in the Old World, tying for first in the annual open tournament held in the noted chess city of Groningen, Netherlands. Hess’ 7-2 result was matched by Ukrainian GM Alexander Kovchan, who took the trophy on tiebreaks.

GM Sergei Tiviakov is an experienced competitor on the European circuit, but it was Hess who showed poise and positional maturity in his game against the Dutch veteran. A perfectly timed pawn break allows the young American to translate his strategic advantage into a convincing final attack.

Black does not get a bad position out of this very trendy Scandinavian Defense line with 3…Qd6, but Tiviakov never gets any real activity to compensate for White’s spatial edge and his better posted rooks. With 30 Ra4 Nxg3 (not a great trade, as Black’s bishop will prove far less effectual than White’s knight) 31. hxg3 Rc7 32. Ra6 Kf7, Hess’ pressure is forcing his opponent’s pieces onto awkward squares, with Black having to be vigilant about potential sacrifices on e6 and knight forks of his king and queen.

Just when every Black piece is relegated to passive defensive chores, White strikes with 34. b4 Rb5 35. d5!, when 35…exd5 (cxd5 36. c6 is highly annoying) 36. Nd4 Rbb7 37. Nxc6 Bf8 can be met by 38. Re6!! Kg7 (Qxe6 39. Nd8+; 38…Kxe6 39. Nb8+) 39. Rxf6! Kxf6 40. Qa1+ Kg5 41. Ne5 Qf5 42. Qc1+ Kh5 43. g4+. But White penetrates decisively on 35…Qxd5 36. Rxa7 Rxa7 37. Qxa7+ Kg8 38. Qe7! Rxb4 39. Ra1! (much stronger than 39. Qxf6?! Bg7 40. Qxe6+ Qxe6 41. Rxe6 Bf8 42. Rxc6 Rc4) Bf4 (on the tricky 39…Ra4, hoping for 40. Rxa4 Qd1+, Hess can simply play 40. Rb1, while on 39…Rb8, White has 40. Ra7) 40. Ra8 Rb1+ 41. Kh2 Qh5+ 42. Nh4 Qh6 43. Qxe6+ Kh8 (Kg7 44. Ra7+ Kh8 45. Qxf6+ Kg8 46. Qf7+ Kh8 47. Ra8 and wins) 44. Qf7.

Black resigns, as mate is inevitable.

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About the Author
David R. Sands

David R. Sands

Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.

At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...

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