Bouncing back from the disappointment of the recent U.S. Open, New York GM Alex Lenderman easily captured the top prize at last week’s Atlantic Open, finishing alone in first at 4½-½ at the District’s traditional end-of-summer tournament.
Lenderman led for much of this year’s U.S. Open in Madison, Wis., before faltering in the final two rounds, but held up well in the Atlantic, giving up only a final-round draw to Connecticut IM Ryan Goldenberg after opening the event with four straight wins. Lenderman collected $2,000 for his effort, along with a bonus $100 for finishing alone in first place. Goldenberg and Virginia master Andrew Samuelson tied for second at 4-1 in the 46-player Open section.
My old D.C. Chess league teammate Paul Yavari was part of a three-way tie for first in the Atlantic’s Under 2100 section, tying fellow Marylander Alex Bai and Vignesh Rajasekaran of Virginia at 4-1. Other section winners included: Under 1900 — Denis Liu of Virginia, 4½-½; Under 1700 — Toyin Gbenle of Texas, also at 4½-½; Under 1500 — 6-year-old Pranava Prem of Virginia, 4½-½; Under 1300 — Bryan Simonaire of Maryland and Dusty Myers of Pennsylvania, both at 4½-½; and Under 1000 — unrated senior Fridrikh Aronov, 4½-½. As the highest scoring senior participant at the Atlantic, Aronov also collected a bonus $800 prize.
Congratulations to all. We’ll have some action from the key games of the Atlantic in upcoming columns.
In some breaking tournament news, former world champ Vladimir Kramnik has captured the 2013 FIDE World Cup knockout tournament in Tromso, Norway, defeating fellow Russian GM Dmitry Andreikin in the final 2-. Kramnik did not lose a game in the seven rounds of the 128-player event.
The Web-based U.S. Chess League opened its ninth season of play last week — with still no representative from the nation’s capital in the 16-team league.
There was still plenty of prime action to track from Week 1, including the round’s “Move of the Week” taken from the match between Golden State rivals the Los Angeles Vibe and the San Francisco Mechanics. Expert Siddharth Banik nailed down a crucial point in the Mechanics’ 3-1 win with a very smartly played attack against Vibe expert Nicky Korba, culminating in a queen offer that White can’t accept and dare not refuse.
After 13. e5 d5 14. f4 in this Sicilian Scheveningen, it may appear as if White’s attack is moving ahead in good order. But after 14…b5 15. Qe3 Nb6 16. h4!? (better might have been the preventative 16. b3 Bd7 17. h4 Qc7 18. Kb1 Rfc8 19. Rd2, with equal play) Nc4 17. Qg3 Qa5 18. Kb1 Bd7 19. f5 b4 20. Ne2 Rfc8 21. Nc1 Qc7, it is clear that the initiative has passed to Black.
After 23. Ne1 (on 23. Qf2, Black can try 23…Nxb2! with a fierce attack; e.g. 24. Bxb2 Bxc2+ 25. Ka1 b3 26. Qd2 Qc4! 27. Nc1 bxa2 28. Nd3 Qb3 and the White king is in mortal danger) Bc5 24. Bxc5 Qxc5 25. f6 (desperately trying to change the dynamic, but now Black breaks through decisively), a knight offer sets up a pretty finale against the cornered White monarch.
Thus: 25…Na3+! (also winning was 25…Bxc2! 26. Nxc2 Na3+ 27. bxa3 Qxc2+ 28. Ka1 b3) 26. Ka1 (bxa3 bxa3+ 27. Ka1 [Kc1 Qxc2+! 28. Nxc2 Rxc2 mate] Qb4 28. Nd3 Qc3+ 29. Nb2 Qxb2 mate) Nxc2+ 27. Nxc2 Bxc2 28. Rfd1 b3 29. Qf2 (one nice touch is that 29. a3 loses to 29…Rb4! 30. axb4 [Rf4 Bd1! 31. Rxd1 Qc1+ and mate next] Qb5 with mate on the a-file to follow) Qa3!!, the brutal intrusion that forces White’s resignation. It’s mate on both 30. Qxc2 Qxa2 and 30. bxa3 b2. A very clever conclusion.
It may fall a bit short of a true masterpiece, but we end up with a nice little work by a pair of Dutch masters. At the BDO Challengers invitational in Haarlem last month, master Arthur Pijpers handed FM Jaap De Jager his only defeat of the event, a loss that would cost De Jager a share of first place in the end.
The game plays out like one of those old-school morality plays on the evils of early pawn-grubbing, as the White queen’s foray to scarf up Pijper’s b-pawn gives Black a massive lead in development.
White’s already in trouble following 14. Nc3 hxg3 15. hxg3?! (fxg3! looks better, as 15…Qa5 16. Nxe4 Qh5?? is turned back now by 17. Rxf6! Qxh2+ 18. Kf1 gxf6 19. Nxf6+ Ke7 20. Bg5 and White wins) Qa5!, and the looming queen shift to the kingside is hard to counter.