Saturday, August 3, 2002

The much-missed D.C. Open is being resurrected to honor a much-missed D.C. chess legend. It’s a fitting tribute.
After a six-year hiatus, the event returns to the area chess calendar this fall and will be known as the Oscar Shapiro D.C. Open. Shapiro, a two-time city champion, passed away earlier this year at the age of 92 after a playing career that spanned seven decades. I can’t think of a better salute to a real gentleman of the game.
The tournament is set for the weekend of Oct. 26 and 27 at the Gonzaga College High School’s Carmody Center gymnasium at 19 I St. NW. The top-scoring D.C. resident in the Open section earns the title of city champion.
The August dog days actually will see a pickup in local chess activity as two major events take place this month. The Atlantic Open, annually among the strongest local competitions, will be held Aug. 23 through 25 at the Wyndham Washington Hotel downtown at 1400 M St. NW. Call 845/ 496-9658 or log on to for more
The very next weekend, the 66th annual Virginia Closed State Championship takes place starting Aug. 31 at the Mount Vernon Best Western in Charlottesville. For information, click on

New Yorker Aaron Pixton is the new U.S. junior champion, having scored a decisive win in the 10-player invitational last month in Dallas, which included victories over his top three pursuers. The luster of the 16-year-old’s victory was only slightly dimmed by the absence of such under-18 stars as IM Hikaru Nakamura and Irina Krush from the field.
Pixton went an impressive 7-2 in the event, 1 points ahead of Californian Vinay Bhat. The new champ played some opportunistic chess, repeatedly pressuring his opponents and pouncing on their mistakes.
In his first-round game against Daniel Fernandez, Pixton exploits an early middle-game inaccuracy to secure lasting pressure and efficiently wraps up Black’s king when Fernandez makes a defensive lapse.
White’s 19. Re2 a5 20. Rde1 Bb4 20. Nd5! (Rxe8+ Rxe8 22. Rxe8+ Nxe8 is very pleasant for Black) keeps the game unbalanced and after 21…Rxe2 22. Nxf6+ gxf6, saddles Fernandez with a permanently problematic king-side. But Black holds on well until 31. Re8 f4 32. Nh4 Qf6? (Qg5! 33. Rxg8+ Kxg8 34. Qe8+ Kg7 35. Qd7 leaves White with just a small edge) 33. Qg4+!.
Pixton finds just the right check to trap the Black king in a mating net, because, unfortunately for the defense, 34…Qg7 35. Qxg7+ Kxg7 hangs the bishop on 36. Nf5+. After 34…Kf8 35. Qc8+ Kg7 (Ke7 36. Nf5+ forces Black to give up his queen to stave off mate) 36. Nf5+ Kg6 37. g4!, the threat of 38…Qg8+ is deadly.
If now 37…Kg5, White has 38. h4+! Kxg4 39. Ng7+ Kxh4 40. Qh3+ Kg5 41. Qh5 mate. Fernandez tries 37…f3+, but resigns on 38. Kxf3, since it’s hopeless after 38…Qg5 39. Qg8+ Kf6 40. Qd8+ Kg6 41. Qxd6+ and wins.

Polish master Kamil Miton earned some bragging rights by winning a speed playoff among the nine players who tied for first in last month’s 30th annual World Open up the road in Philadelphia. In the tournament itself, Miton pinned a nice loss on Scottish GM Jonathan Rowson, who would bounce back to match Miton’s 7-2 final score and claim his own share of the top prize.
In a Benoni, Miton scores at least a moral victory with 14. Nb5 Qd7 15. Nxd6! Qxd6 16. e5. The combination doesn’t win material, but Rowson is lured into complications that he’s not in the best position to exploit.
His queen-side badly extended, Black goes pawn-hunting only to run into a powerful White central counterattack: 21. Bxf8 Kxf8 (threatening to win back the exchange with 22…Nc3, but White strikes first) 22. d6! Be6 (Nc3 23. d7 Bxd7 [Qxf2+ 24. Kxf2 Nxd1+ 25. Rbxd1 Bxd7 26. Rxd7 is no better] 24. Qd6+! Kg8 25. Qxb8+ Bf8 26. Rxb4 and wins) 23. d7 Rd8 24. Qd6+ Kg8 (see diagram).
Black still hopes for some counterplay from his bishop pair and his queen-side pawns, but Miton finds a nice interference tactic that wins the exchange: 25. Bd5!! Bf8 (the best defensive try as the bishop is immune: 25…Qxd5 26. Qxd5 Bxd5 27. Re8+ Bf8 28. Rxd8, or 25…Bxd5 26. Re8+ Bf8 27. Qxf8 mate) 26. Qxf8+ Kxf8 27. Bxa2 Bxa2 28. Rxb4 Nc5 29. Ra1 Be6 30. Rxa7, wiping out the queen-side pawns.
Black might have some drawing chances but for the unfortunate position of his king, pinned to the back rank by the powerful White rooks. After 35. Kg2 f5? (Rc2+ 35. Kh3 Nf2+ 37. Kh4 Rc5 makes White work harder) 36. Rxh7, it’s mate soon after 37…Rc2+ 37. Kh3 Nf2+ 38. Kh4 g5+ 39. Kh5, and the White rooks will deliver the kill. Rowson resigned.

U.S. Junior Championship, Dallas, July 2002
1. d4d520. Rde1Bb4
2. c4c621. Nd5Rxe2
3. Nf3Nf622. Nxf6+gxf6
4. Nc3dxc423. Rxe2Qf4
5. a4Bf524. Qc2Kh8
6. Nh4Bc825. Re4Qh6
7. e3e526. g3Rg8
8. Bxc4exd427. Kg2Qh5
9. exd4Be728. Rf4Qg6
10. 0-00-029. Qe2Bd6
11. Re1Na630. Re4f5
12. Bg5Nc731. Re8f4
13. Qb3Rb832. Nh4Qf6
14. Nf3Be633. Rxg8+Kxg8
15. Rad1Bxc434. Qg4+Kf8
16. Qxc4Re835. Qc8+Kg7
17. Bf4Rc836. Nf5+Kg6
18. Bxc7Qxc737. g4f3+
19. Re2a538. Kxf3Black

30th World Open, Philadelphia,
July 2002

1. d4Nf619. Rb1Qxa2
2. c4e620. Bxc5Na4
3. g3c521. Bxf8Kxf8
4. d5exd522. d6Be6
5. cxd5b523. d7Rd8
6. Bg2d624. Qd6+Kg8
7. e4Nbd725. Bd5Bf8
8. f4Rb826. Qxf8+Kxf8
9. Nh3g627. Bxa2Bxa2
10. 0-0Bg728. Rxb4Nc5
11. Re1Nb629. Ra1Be6
12. Nc30-030. Rxa7Bxd7
13. Nf2b431. Rd4Ke8
14. Nb5Qd732. Rd5Rc8
15. Nxd6Qxd633. Ne4Nxe4
16. e5Qd834. Rdxd7Rc1+
17. exf6Qxf635. Kg2f5
18. Be3Qxb236. Rxh7Black

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

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