- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2013

As promised last week, here is a list of all the winners at last month’s Eastern Open in Washington, D.C., as well as a nice game from Open section champion IM Daniel Ludwig.

Expert Darius Pour had one of the best weeks of anyone at the Westin Washington Hotel, winning the Eastern’s Under-2200 section by a full 1½ points over fellow experts Apurva Virkud and Andrew Zheng. Pour nearly had the tournament’s only perfect score, conceding a draw in the eighth and last round to Bendeguz Offertaler after having already clinched first place.

Things were considerably tighter in the Under-1900 tournament as Ryan Xu defeated Saad Al-Hariri in the final round to work his way into a three-way tie for first. Xu, Al-Hariri and Alfred Hurd Jr. all finished at 6-2. There was a two-way tie in the Under-1600 section with Tad Mrozek and Andy Huang topping the field with matching 5½-1½ scores.

Last but not least, Class D player Kai Sandbrink earned a nice paycheck in the under 1300 section with winning 6-1 score, a half-point clear of Vishal Menon. Sandbrink bounced back from a Round 2 loss to Laine Massick with four straight wins to take the section.

Ludwig, currently studying at Texas Christian University, pretty much clinched the Open prize with a streak of 3½ points in four games starting in Round 4. By the eighth and final round, he could coast with a draw against FM Ralph Zimmer and still finish a full point ahead of his nearest pursuers.

Ludwig’s Round 7 win over local master Andrew Samuelson illustrates how so much can be conjured from so little in the hands of a capable player. In a Sicilian Scheveningen, White commits a couple of infinitesimal inaccuracies and finds himself inexorably on the path to endgame doom. Throw in a couple of nice finesses from Ludwig and the point — and the tournament — were in the bag. (Thanks to Tournament Director Tom Beckman, whose notes on the game are incorporated liberally in the analysis here.)

Black launches a spirited fight for central control and with 10…e5 11. Nf5 d5! 12. exd5 Qxd5 appears to have achieved a comfortable equality. Instead of ceding bishop for knight with 17. Rd3?!, White could have kept up the tension in the center with something like 17. Bf2 g6 18. fxe5! Nxe5 (gxf5? 19. gxf5 Bxf5 20. Bxd5 Nxe5? 21. Bb7+! Kc7 22. Rxd8 Kxd8 23. Bb6+ Kd7 24. Nd4 Bg4 25. Bxa6, and White is on top) 19. Bd4 f6 20. Nh4 Rg8, with equality.

Ludwig pounces on another less-than-optimal move to steer toward a highly favorable endgame after 25. Kc1 h5! (with the threat of 26…Bh6, winning material) 26. Re4?! (tougher was 26. g5 Kc7 27. Rf3 Ne5! 28. Nxe5 Bxe5 29. Rxf7+ Kb6 30. Rf3 Rd4 31. Ne2 Re4 32. Kd1, which still favors Black despite his material deficit) hxg4 27. Rxg4 Ne5 28. Rh4 Nxd3+ 29. cxd3 Rh8! (far stronger than 29…Rxd3?! 30. Rh7 Be5 31. Rxf7 Bxg3 32. Kc3! Re3 33. hxg3 Rxg3 34. Ra7) 30. Rxh8+ Bxh8 31. Ne4 Be5, and the long-range bishop dominates the knight in this kind of ending.

White’s 37. h4? gives the Black king a clear pathway into the kingside, and by 39. d4 (Kb3 Kf5 40. Kxb4 Kg4 41. Nd2 Bxh4 42. Ka5? Be1) Kd5 40. Kd3 a5 41. b3 Bg7, Samuelson’s knight is locked into defending both the h- and d-pawns and one must fall when White runs out of moves. After 48. Nc4 h2 49. Kg2 f3+ 50. Kh1 Bf4, White resigns facing such hopeless lines as 51. Nb2 f2 52. Kg2 h1=Q+ 53. Kxh1 f1=Q mate.

From Hastings to Groningen to Las Vegas, the year-end holiday season is a traditional time for big-time chess events. Uzbek GM Timur Gareev cashed in some serious chips at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino over the Christmas holiday with a tremendous 8-1 score to win the strong National Open, held annually in Sin City.

The marquee game of the event was Gareev’s final-round showdown with Georgian GM Giorgi Kacheishvili, in which the Uzbek star sealed first place with a queen sacrifice resulting in checkmate.

Kacheishvili gets decent play on the Black side of a Pirc Defense, but backs down in the game’s first flash point: 17. Rxd8 Rxd8 18. Nd6!? Ne6?! (it was better to accept White’s challenge with 18…Qxd6! 19. Rd1 Qc7 20. Bxc5 Qxa5 21. b4 Qc7, with complex play) 19. Nxe8 Qxe8 20. a6 Ba8 21. Bxa7 Nd4 22. Bxd4 exd4 23. Ne2 c5 — White can’t hold his extra pawn, but the pawn on a6 is a real asset and Black’s position is very loose.

White’s exploits that looseness with a nice combination on 28. Ne5 Qf6?! (tougher was 28…Be4! 29. Nf3 Qf6 and Black’s still fighting) 29. Qa5! Be4 30. a7 Ra8 (see diagram; Black’s move was meant for forestall 31. Rxe4! fxe4 32. a8=Q) 31. Rxe4! (anyway!) fxe4 32. Bxc4+!!, when 32…bxc4 loses to 33. Qd5+ Kh8 34. Qxa8+. But Kacheishvili’s king lands in a mating trap anyway on 34. Qxb5 e3 (desperation, but 34…h5 35. Qd5 Rxa7 36. Ng5+ Rf7 [Kf8 37. Nh7+] 37. Qxf7+ Qxf7 38. Bxf7+ Kf8 39. Bxg6 also loses for Black) 35. Qb8+ Bf8 36. Qxa8 Qxf2+ 37. Kh1 e2 38. Qxf8+! Kxf8 39. a8=Q+ Kg7 (there’s nice mirror mate on 39…Ke7 40. Qd8 mate) 40. Qh8 mate.

Samuelson-Ludwig, 39th Eastern Open, Washington D.C, December 2012

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