- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 17, 2002

This month's U.S. Open in Cherry Hill, N.J., proved to be one of the strongest on record and a coming-out party of sorts for a bright new talent from Florida.

A total of 20 grandmasters from six countries were in the 523-player field, and more than 30 IMs also competed. As noted here last week, Russian-born New Jersey GM Yevgeny Najer and French GM Gennady Zaitshik tied for first with 8-1 scores, with Zaitshik enjoying the better tie-breaks.

One of the stars of Cherry Hill was Miami high school senior Bruci Lopez, who beat out 41 other state representatives to win the Denker High School Chess Tournament of Champions with a dominating 5½-½ score. Maryland's Ruixin Yang, who lost to Lopez in Round 3, finished at a respectable 4-2, while the District's Johnny Sadoff posted a 1½-4½ result.

Lopez was not through, going 7-2 and a tie for 10th in the open, including upset wins over three IMs and Texas GM Babakouly Annakov. The high schooler's only losses, in fact, were to tournament co-champs Najer and Zaitshik, the latter a final-round clash that helped decide the tournament and is our first game today.

Young Lopez holds his own out of the opening against the grandmaster, challenging White's central control and space advantage with his own demonstrations on both flanks. After 18. Nxf4 Nxf4 19. gxf4, Black's only real liability is that queen-side bishop, which he seeks to rectify by opening the center: 19…d5 20. Rf3 Kh7 21. Kh1 (both sides rush to occupy the open g-file) dxc4!?.

Black's last proves to be a fateful decision (closing up the board with the Stonewall-like 21…c6 produces a very different struggle), as after 22. bxc4 b5 23. d5 Bxb2 24. Qxb2, White enjoys compensation for his embattled pawn center in his iron grip on the long diagonal and the resulting threats against the Black king.

The struggle comes to a head as Zaitshik maneuvers for the final breakthrough: 28. h3 (preparing to get his king off the long diagonal) c3!? (exd5 29. Kh2 c5! appears to present a more active defense) 29. Qxc3 Bxd5 30. Kh2 Bxf3 (done under duress, as White threats included 31. Bh5 Re7 32. Bg6+ Kg8 33. Bf7+! Kxf7 34. Qg7+ Ke8 35. Qg8 mate) 31. Qxf3.

The light square weaknesses around the Black king prove fatal; if now 31…Qd4, White has 32. Qh5 Rf6 33. Qh4! Rbf8 34. Rg7+ Kh8 35. R1g6 Rxg6 36. Rxg6, winning. White conquers anyway on the game's 31…e5 32. Qg2 Re7 33. Rg8!.

Facing 33…Rb6 34. Rh8+! Kxh8 35. Qg8 mate and 33…Qe6 34. Qg7+ Rxg7 35. R1xg7 mate, Lopez resigned.


Indian IM R.B. Ramesh is the new British champion, the first Indian-born player to win the title since the great prodigy Sultan Khan nearly 70 years ago.

The Indian contingent this year at the tournament in Torquay, England, was particularly strong, but Ramesh's victory was something of a surprise. He bounced back from a loss to compatriot GM Pentala Harikrishna in Round 6, winding up with four straight wins to finish alone in first at 8½-2½.

WGM Humpy Koneru, another rising star of the thriving Indian chess scene, easily won the British women's title with a 7-4 score.

The 26-year-old Ramesh played some strong chess in his closing spurt, including a final-round domination of British junior champ Luke McShane. Two rounds earlier, against Indian GM Abhijit Kunte, Ramesh showed off his attacking skills, fashioning a remarkable king-side attack from the White side of a Sicilian without moving either his g- or h-pawn.

Just out of the opening, White seeks to take advantage of Black's slow development scheme with some brisk central play: 13. Qd2 Nf7 14. f5 Qc6 (keeping things closed with 14…e5 15. Nd5 creates a permanent weakness along the d-file) 15. e5!? fxe5 (scary but still unclear is 15…Nxe5 16. fxe6 Qxe6 17. Nd5 Qc6 18. Bxe5 fxe5 19. Qg5 0-0 20. Bc4) 16. fxe6 dxe6 17. Bd3.

Black has an extra pawn but needs active play now to compensate for his development lag. But 18. Rhe1 Bxc3 (seeking relief in exchanges) 19. bxc3 Bd7? (Qc5! 20. Re4 b5 21. Rg4 0-0 22. Qe2 Bb7 23. Rxg7+ Kxg7 24. Qg4+ Kh8 doesn't work now for White) 20. Re4! Rc8 21. Rg4 0-0 22. Bh4 only increases White's piece pressure.

Already White has threats like 23. Bf6 g6 24. Bxg6! hxg6 25. Rxg6+ Kh7 26. Rg7+ Kh8 27. Rf7+ Kg8 28. Rg7+ Kh8 29. Qh6 mate. On 23. Qe2 e4? (see diagram; 23…Rg8 was Black's last chance to organize a defense, though White looks better after 24. Rc4 Qd5 25. Rxc8 Bxc8 26. Bxh7 Qxa2 27. Bxg8 Kxg8 28. Qg4) 24. Rg7!! exd3 (Kxg7 25. Qg4+ Kf6 26. Bf6 leads to mate; now 25. Qg4? Qxc3 holds for Black) 25. Bf6!!.

The White queen is immune because of the threat of 26. Rg6 mate, while 25…e5 26. Qxd3 e4 27. Qxe4! Ng5 (Qxe4 28. Rg6 mate again) 28. Rxh7+ Kg8 29. Qg6 also is mate.

But Kunte also is forced to concede on the game's 25…Qxc3 26. Rg8+! as 26…Kxg8 27. Qg4+ Ng5 28. Qxg5+ Kf7 29. Qg7+ Ke8 30. Qe7 is mate.

2002 U.S. Open, Cherry Hill, N.J., August 2002


1. Nf3Nf618. Nxf4Nxf4

2. c4g619. gxf4d5

3. d4Bg720. Rf3Kh7

4. g30-021. Kh1dxc4

5. Bg2d622. bxc4b5

6. 0-0Nc623. d5Bxb2

7. Nc3a624. Qxb2Bb7

8. b3Rb825. Rg3Qd7

9. Nd5Ne426. Bf3bxc4

10. Bb2e627. Rdg1Rf7

11. Nf4f528. h3c3

12. Nd3Ne729. Qxc3Bxd5

13. Qc1h630. Kh2Bxf3

14. Nd2Nxd231. Qxf3e5

15. Qxd2g532. Qg2Re7

16. f4Ng633. Rg8Black

17. Rad1gxf4resigns

Smith & Williamson British Championship, Torquay, England, August 2002


1. e4c514. f5Qc6

2. Nf3e615. e5fxe5

3. d4cxd416. fxe6dxe6

4. Nxd4Nc617. Bd3Bd4

5. Nc3Qc718. Rhe1Bxc3

6. Be3a619. bxc3Bd7

7. Qd2Nf620. Re4Rc8

8. 0-0-0Ng421. Rg40-0

9. Bf4Nge522. Bh4Kh8

10. Bg3Nxd423. Qe2e4

11. Qxd4f624. Rxg7exd3

12. f4Bc525. Bf6Qxc3

13. Qd2Nf726. Rg8+Black


David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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