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SANDS: Negi and Gang of 10 capture big local chess events

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Northern Virginia suburbs have been the focus of the U.S. chess world for the past two weeks, hosting two high-profile events back-to-back in Crystal City, including the first-ever World Open in the event's four-decade history not held in New York or Philadelphia.

Indian GM Parimarjan Negi took sole first in the D.C. International held just before the World Open began, edging Canadian IM Bindi Cheng on the strength of an epic last-round win over IM Justin Sarkar. Kansas GM Conrad Holt and Illinois IM Adarsh Jayakumar tied for fourth a point back at 6-2 in the 71-player event.

The World Open attracted more than 1,000 players in one of the strongest fields the area has seen since the 1996 U.S. Open came to Alexandria, with nearly 50 grandmasters and other titled players in the field. In the end, it was the classic World Open cluster at the top with Negi, Holt and eight fellow GMs tying for first: Lazaro Bruzon and Quesada Yunieski of Cuba, Viktor Laznicka of the Czech Republic, Tamaz Gelashvili of the Republic of Georgia, Varuzhan Akobian of Kansas, Sergey Erenburg of Pennsylvania, Alejandro Ramirez of Texas and Yury Shulman of Illinois. Akobian claimed bragging honors in a blitz playoff, defeating Yunieski in the finals.

Sarkar-Negi was one of the last games for finish at the D.C. International, capped by a 50-move rook-and-pawn ending where a doughty Sarkar was able to generate some ingenious stalemating threats. In the end, the Indian GM's precise play brought him the full point and sole first place.

After some intricate middlegame maneuvering, Black starts dictating the play after 20. Bxe5 Rxe5 21. Ba4!? b5! 22. cxb5 Nb6 23. Qc2 Rxd5, when 24. bxa6? Nxa4 25. Qxa4 Rxa6 26. Qb3 leaves Black with the better game. The rook ending after 33. a4 a5 34. Rc1 favors Black as both his rook and king are more active, but cashing in will take infinite patience and another 51 moves for the Indian grandmaster.

White decides to jettison his a-pawn to activate his rook, and Black must slowly work his kingside pawns down the board if he hopes to win. He appears to be helped by White's 41. Kg2 h4 42. f4?, which looks a bit premature and allows Black's pawns to hem in the White king. After 57. Kg2 (Rxf5 a2 58. Ra5 Rf1+) a2, for example, 58. Kf2? loses to the well-known trick 58...Rh1 59. Rxa2 Rh2+, skewering the rook.

Just with victory in sight, though, things get a little tricky given the cornered White king: 76. Ra8 f3 77. Re8+ Kf1 78. Re2!? (losing, but why not?) Rd1 (Kxe2?? stalemate; though 78...fxe2 79. Kh1 e1=Q 80 Kh2 Qf2+ was a quicker win) 79. Rxa2 Rd7 80. Rb2 f2 81. Ra2 Ke1 82. Ra1+ Rd1 83. Rxd1+ Kxd1 84. Kg2 Ke2 85. Kh2 Kf3! — not yet 85...f1=Q?? stalemate — and White finally concedes.

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Before the pacific final round (all the top boards drew), the World Open saw a slew of unlikely upsets, as a number of grandmasters went down to lower-rated players in the early rounds. Justus Williams, the young NM from the Bronx, N.Y., featured in the documentary "Brooklyn Castle," is living up to his early promise with some impressive results over the board. In Arlington, he ambushed Macedonian-born Illinois GM Nikola Mitkov in Round 2 with a knight sacrifice that inaugurated a vicious mating attack.

White gets the better of the early play in this Queen's Indian after 13. e4 dxc4 14. Nd2! b5 (cxb3?! 15. axb3 Bb7 16. Rxa7 Ba8 17. Nc4, with good pressure) 15. bxc4 bxc4 16. Bf1 Nb6 17. a4 c5 18. d5 exd5 19. a5 Nbd7 20. exd5, recovering the pawn with the better game. When Black fails to fight back, Williams takes control of the position with a string of forceful moves: 24. Ne4 Nf6?! (Qh4!?, just to change the dynamic of the position, was indicated; e.g. 25. Ncd6?! [Rab1 is also available] Bxd6 26. Nxd6 Qg4+ 27. Kh1 Qf3+ 28. Kg1 Re2 29. Qxe2 Qxe2 30. Nxc8 Qg4+ 31. Kf1 Qxf4, and Black is doing well) 25. f3 Nh5? (Nxe4 26. fxe4 Qf6 was a tougher defense) 26. d6! Ra8 27. d7 Re6 28. f5!, blunting Black's hopes of a kingside attack and allowing White's own central thrust to continue.

White breaks through impressively after one last Black lapse: 28...Rh6? (Black had to batten down with 28...Re7) 29. Ne5! Qc7 (see diagram; 29...Be7 30. Qc4 Qf8 31. Rab1 Rd8 32. Ng4 Rc6 33. Rb7 a6 34. Qd5, with a winning edge) 30. Nxf7! Kxf7 31. Qc4+ Ke7 32. Nxc5!? (good enough, but deadly was 32. Ng5! Rf6 33. Qe4+ Kd8 34. Qe8 mate) Kd8 33. Ne6+ Rxe6 34. Qxe6 Bc5+ 35. Kh1 Nf6 36. Rac1 Rb8 (Black has near material parity but his exposed king will prove fatal) 37. Re1 Qd6 38. Qe8+!, when 38...Nxe8 39. dxe8=Q+ Kc7 40. Re7+ Qxe7 41. Qxe7+ Kc6 42. Rxc5 is mate.

But the grandmaster fares no better in the game's 38...Kc7 39. Rxc5+! Qxc5 40. Qxb8+ Kxd7 41. Qb7+ Kd8 42. Qxg7 Qxf5 (Qc3 43. Qe7+ Kc8 44. Qe3 and wins) 43. Qe7+ Kc8 44. Rc1+ Kb8, and Black resigned facing 45. Qc7+ Ka8 46. Qc6+ Kb8 47. a6 Qd7 48. Rb1+ Qb7 49. Qxb7 mate.

We'll have a full rundown of the action and the section winners next week. Tournament information and prizewinners can also be found at chesstournamentservices.com/cca/tag/world-open-2013-standings.

Sarkar-Negi, D.C. International, July 2013

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bg5 c5 8. Rc1 O-O 9. Nf3 Bg4 10. d5 Qd6 11. Be2 e6 12. O-O exd5 13. exd5 Nd7 14. c4 Rfe8 15. h3 Bxf3 16. Bxf3 Bd4 17. Qd2 b6 18. Bd1 a6 19. Bf4 Be5 20. Bxe5 Rxe5 21. Ba4 b5 22. cxb5 Nb6 23. Qc2 Rxd5 24. Bb3 c4 25. Bxc4 Rc8 26. Qb3 Rxc4 27. Rxc4 Rxb5 28. Qc3 Nxc4 29. Qxc4 Rb2 30. Re1 Kg7 31. Qc3+ Qf6 32. Qxf6+ Kxf6 33. a4 a5 34. Rc1 Rb4 35. Rc6+ Ke7 36. Rc7+ Ke6 37. Rc6+ Kd7 38. Ra6 Rxa4 39. g4 h5 40. gxh5 gxh5 41. Kg2 h4 42. f4 f5 43. Kf3 Ra3+ 44. Kg2 a4 45. Ra5 Ke6 46. Kf2 Kf6 47. Ra6+ Ke7 48. Ra5 Ke6 49. Re5+ Kf6 50. Ra5 Ra1 51. Ra6+ Ke7 52. Kg2 a3 53. Ra5 Ra2+ 54. Kf3 Ke6 55. Ra6+ Kd7 56. Ra5 Ra1 57. Kg2 a2 58. Ra6 Kc7 59. Ra7+ Kc6 60. Ra5 Kb6 61. Ra8 Kc5 62. Ra4 Kb5 63. Ra8 Kc4 64. Ra3 Kb4 65. Ra8 Kc3 66. Rc8+ Kd3 67. Rd8+ Ke3 68. Re8+ Kxf4 69. Ra8 Ke5 70. Kh2 f4 71. Ra4 Kd5 72. Ra8 Ke4 73. Ra3 Kd4 74. Ra8 Ke3 75. Ra3+ Ke2 76. Ra8 f3 77. Re8+ Kf1 78. Re2 Rd1 79. Rxa2 Rd7 80. Rb2 f2 81. Ra2 Ke1 82. Ra1+ Rd1 83. Rxd1+ Kxd1 84. Kg2 Ke2 85. Kh2 Kf3 White resigns.

Williams-Mitkov, World Open, Arlington, July 2013

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 Bb4 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 c6 7. O-O Nbd7 8. Qc2 b6 9. Rd1 Ba6 10. b3 O-O 11. Bf4 Rc8 12. Nc3 Re8 13. e4 dxc4 14. Nd2 b5 15. bxc4 bxc4 16. Bf1 Nb6 17. a4 c5 18. d5 exd5 19. a5 Nbd7 20. exd5 Nh5 21. Bxc4 Bxc4 22. Nxc4 Nxf4 23. gxf4 Bf8 24. Ne4 Nf6 25. f3 Nh5 26. d6 Ra8 27. d7 Re6 28. f5 Rh6 29. Ne5 Qc7 30. Nxf7 Kxf7 31. Qc4 Ke7 32. Nxc5 Kd8 33. Ne6 Rxe6 34. Qxe6 Bc5 35. Kh1 Nf6 36. Rac1 Rb8 37. Re1 Qd6 38. Qe8 Kc7 39. Rxc5 Qxc5 40. Qxb8 Kxd7 41. Qb7 Kd8 42. Qxg7 Qxf5 43. Qe7 Kc8 44. Rc1 Kb8 White resigns.

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

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