Leading a strong contingent of Cuban players, GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez last week captured the second annual Washington International in Rockville with an undefeated 7-2 score.
The 29-year-old Quesada Perez, a two-time national champion in Cuba, was part of the knot of 10 players who tied for first in last month’s World Open across the Potomac in Arlington, but he was all alone in first this time, taking home the $5,000 first-prize pot. He finished a half-point ahead of top-seeded Israeli GM Ilya Smirin and U.S. IMs Daniel J. Ludwig and Michael Mulyar. Fellow Cuban GMs Fidel Corrales Jimenez and Ayram Abreu were part of a group of seven players another half-point back at 6-3. Quesada Perez defeated Jimenez in a critical Round 7 game that put him in control of the tournament.
The field was impressively strong for the fledgling event, especially coming so close on the heels of the U.S. Open. A dozen grandmasters from eight countries competed in the 61-player premier section, with Mulyar — who tied for first at the U.S. Open — and Ludwig both achieving a grandmaster norm.
Utah expert Scott Treiman captured the event’s B section with a 71/2-11/2 score, edging fellow experts Tom Polgar-Shutzman (GM Susan Polgar’s son) and Matthew Shih. Congratulations to all.
Quesada Perez notched what might be called a very professional win in his Round 8 encounter with Indian GM Kida Sundararajan, allowing an early queen trade in a positional Reti Opening, taking advantage of the one tactical opportunity the position allowed, and closing out the game with superb technique.
After 12. a5 Bc5 13. Nc3 Ne5, Black’s superior bishops give him perhaps the slightest of edges, as White’s hoped-for play along the open a-file never materializes. Quesada Perez targets the weak White pawn on c2 to force his opponent into a clumsy defensive set-up that allows for a tidy little combination: 17. Be1 (White’s eagerness to simplify will cost him) Nd4! 18. Rd2?! (on 18. Rac1 Rhd8 19. Kh2 Bc6, White is holding on but very passively placed) Rhd8 19. Kf1 (see diagram; 19. Rc1 [Rad1 Nxc2] Nf3+ 20. Bxf3 Rxd2 21. Bxd2 Rxd2 22. Nd1 f5 also gives Black a clear edge) Nb3! 20. Rxd7 (cxb3 Rxd2 21. Bxd2 Rxd2) Nxa1 21. Rxd8+ Kxd8 22. Na4 Ba6+! (Nxc2?! 23. Nxc5 bxc5 24. Bc3 gives White real drawing chances because of the doubled Black pawns) 23. Kg1 Bf8! 24. f4 (the point is that saving the c-pawn with 24. c3? loses the White knight to 24…b5) Nxc2, finally collecting the weak c-pawn.
Cashing in on his advantage, Black eliminates White’s potentially dangerous bishop pair and methodically advances his queenside pawns. The finale echoes the middlegame — after 50. Bxf6 gxf6 51. Ng4 f5! 52. Nxh6 Be6, and the White knight is trapped on the edge of the board. White resigns as Black need only push his pawns to win.
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The other main attraction of the Rockville gathering proved to be not nearly so competitive. A team competition of four veteran (male) grandmasters and four younger (female) stars resulted in a Y chromosome rout as the men scored a convincing 101/2-51/2 victory in the Yuri Razuvaev Memorial, the event organized to honor the legendary Russian chess coach.
GM Boris Gulko, who knew Razuvaev before defecting to the U.S. in the mid-1980s, was the star of the men’s team, with three wins and a draw in his four games. In his game against reigning U.S. women’s champion Irina Krush, Gulko was able to out-combine one of the best tactical players — male or female — in the country, wrapping up the win in fewer than two dozen moves.
On the Black side of a 4. e3 Nimzo-Indian, Krush is doing fine until she makes an uncharacteristic lapse, taking her own knight away from a key defensive post just as White’s attack is gathering steam. The punishment is immediate, and harsh.
The stage is set with 17. d5!? (a key freeing 0advance for White in this variation, which Black must counter energetically) exd5 18. Nxd5 Bxb2 19. Rad1, when Black should tread warily in this open position with a defensive idea like 19…Kh8 20. Ba2 Rc8 21. Qf5 Ba8, with balanced play.
But Krush tries a more aggressive tack that goes badly astray on 19…Na5?? 20. Ne7+ Kh8 21. Qf5!, and suddenly Black has no defense; e.g. 21…Qc7 (Bc8 22. Qxf7! Rxf7 23. Rxd8+ Kh7 24. Bxf7 and wins; or 21…g6 22. Qf4 g5 23. Nxg5 hxg5 24. Qxg5 Qc7 25. Qh6 mate) 22. Ng5! hxg5 23. Qh3 mate.
In the game, Black opts for 21…Qxd1, but resigned after 22. Rxd1 Bxf3 23. Bd3!, when 23…g6 leads to disaster on 24. Nxg6+! fxg6 25. Qxg6, and Black must give up major material just to stave off checkmate.
2nd Washington International, Rockville, August 2013