- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 10, 2013

It was a popular win as Wisconsin GM Josh Friedel took top honors at the just-concluded 114th U.S. Open that wrapped up Sunday evening in the state capital of Madison.

Friedel finished in a three-way tie for first with Texas GM Julio Sadorra and Arizona IM Mackenzie Molner at 8-1, then defeated Molner in a playoff game to claim the trophy and the guaranteed spot in next year’s U.S. championship tournament. New York GM Alex Lenderman led for much of the tournament, reeling off seven wins at the start, but lost to Sadorra in the ninth and final round to fall into a four-way tie for fourth. A total of 519 players competed in the tournament.

Sadorra, whose only loss came at the hands of Friedel in Round 6, bounced back with three wins in the final three rounds, including his last-round heroics against Lenderman. The Texan’s most impressive effort may have come in Round 8, when he dealt strong young New York GM Robert Hungaski his first loss of the event in just 25 moves.

Sadorra as White seeks only a slight edge in this modest QGD Exchange line, but he poses a problem Black never manages to solve — where to place his king. After 11. h3 g6!? 12. Nf3 Ng7 (this knight maneuver looks a bit artificial) 13. g4, castling short walks into a strong attack after 13…0-0?! 14. Kb1 Be6 15. Rdg1 Nc4 16. h4, and White’s advance is in full swing.

But castling on the opposite wing leaves Hungaski vulnerable along the half-open c-file, and White’s attack at times seems to play itself: 15. Ne5 0-0-0 16. Na4! (wasting no time clearing the lines for the attack) Nxa4 17. Qxa4 Kb8 18. Rc1, already threatening to win material with 19. Qxc6! bxc6 20. Nxc6+ Kb7 21. Nxe7 Rde8 22. Nc6. After 18…hxg4 19. Rc3! (not getting distracted by 19. Qxc6?! gxh3! 20. Qb5 Ka8 21. Rc3 h2 and Black turns the tables) Qc7 20. Rhc1, all of White’s pieces are lined up for the assault, while only Black’s queen and rook do useful defensive work; the end is near.

Zhou-Chakraborty after 25...Bg7.
Zhou-Chakraborty after 25…Bg7. more >

White breaks through on 20…gxh3 21. Ra3 a5?! (h2? 22. Qxa7+ Kc8 23. Qa8+ Qb8 24. Rxc6+! bxc6 25. Ba6+ Kc7 26. Qc6 mate; best was 21…Rd6, though White stays on top after 22. Qxa7+ Kc8 23. Nxc6 Rxc6 [bxc6 24. Qa8+ Qb8 25. Rxc6+ Rxc6 26. Qxc6+ Kd8 27. Ra8 and wins] 24. Rxc6 bxc6 25. Qa8+ Kd7 26. Qxh8 h2 27. Bxg6! h1=Q+ 28. Qxh1 fxg6 29. Qh8 Bf5+ 30. Ka1 Ke6 31. Qa8) 22. Nxc6+ Qxc6 (bxc6 23. Rb3+ Ka7 24. Rxc6) 23. Rxc6.

Black may have counted on the pinning 23…Bd7 to give him some hopes of surviving, but Sadorra finishes the job with 24. Rb3! (Qxa5?? Bxc6 25. Qa7+ Kc7 26. Rc3 h2 27. Rxc6+ Kxc6 28. Qc5+ Kd7 29. Qxd5+ Kc8 and White only has a perpetual check) h2 (Bxc6 25. Qxc6 and mate is inevitable, while 24…Bc8 loses to 25. Qxa5 Rd7 [Ne6 26. Ra3 bxc6 27. Qa7 mate] 26. Ra6 b5 27. Rxb5+ Bb7 28. Ra8 mate) 25. Rxb7+, and Black resigned facing 25…Kxb7 26. Qb5+ Ka7 27. Ra6 mate.

Virginia’s Kevin Zhou finished a very creditable fourth in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions, traditionally held alongside the U.S. Open. As in the Open, three players shared the laurels — Kapil Chandran of Connecticut, Safal Bora of Michigan and Michael Brown of California — but Zhou turned in one of the event’s best attacking games against Arizona entrant Dipro Chakraborty.

Black’s Pelikan Sicilian can be a tough nut to crack but must be played very precisely, given the scary kingside build-up White achieves. Chakraborty may have erred with 17. Qh4 Qd8?!, when the more straightforward 17…Nxd3 (getting off a premier White attacking piece while he can) 18. cxd3 Be7 19. Rh3 Nf8 20. Rc1 Qd8 promises a tougher defensive stand.

A second inaccuracy sends Black’s game quickly spiraling down to defeat: 20. fxe5 Qe7? (Black had to try 20…Bb7!?, when things get very interesting very quickly in lines like 21. Rxf7!? Kxf7 22. Qxh7 Nxe5! 23. Rxd8 Raxd8 24. Ne4 Rd1+ 25. Kf2 Ng4+ 26. Ke2 Bxe4 27. Qxe4 Nxe3 28. Qxe3 Rd5) 21. Rxd7! (eliminating a critical defensive piece is well worth the exchange) Qxd7 (Bxd7 22. Ne4 h6 23. Nf6+ Kh8 [gxf6 24. gxf6 Qb4 25. Nd4 Bc6 26. Rg3+ Kh8 27. Kf2 Rad8 28. Qg4] 24. Bc5 Qd8 25. Rd3 Bxc5+ 26. Nxc5 Qc7 27. Nfxd7, with a decisive material edge) 22. Rh3 h6 23. gxh6 g6 (Qe7 24. hxg7 Qxh4 25. gxf8=Q+ Rxf8 26. Rxh4 and wins) 24. h7+ Kh8 25. Qf6+ Bg7 (see diagram) 26. Bh6!!, a very slick geometrical pin that “forces” Black to accept the proffered.

The finale: 26…Bxf6 27. exf6 Qa7+ 28. Kf1 Rg8 (Kxh7 29. Bg7+ Kg8 30. Rh8 mate) 29. Bg7+!, and Black resigned as it’s checkmate after 29…Rxg7 30. fxg7+ Kxg7 31. h8=Q mate.

Endnotes … Play in the 2nd annual Washington International gets underway Tuesday and will run through Sunday at the Rockville Hilton, 1750 Rockville Pike in (naturally) Rockville. Molner and Lenderman are among the grandmasters already signed up to play. Check out http://www.washingtoninternationalchess.org. for more details. … English GM Michael Adams has won the prestigious Dortmund GM Tournament in Germany, a half-point clear of Russian former world champ Vladimir Kramnik, a 10-time winner of the event. … French star GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave emerged from a four-player playoff to claim top honors at 46th Biel International Chess Tournament in the Swiss town.

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