- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 31, 2002

The Atlantic was brimming with sharks this year. The 34th edition of the Continental Chess Association's Atlantic Open, held last weekend at the Wyndham Washington Hotel downtown, contained one of the area's strongest fields in memory, with a slew of grandmasters and a whopping 18 players in the Open section with ratings of 2400 or higher.

The 68-player Open section saw a seven-way tie for first, with GMs Igor Novikov, Ildar Ibragimov, Leonid Yudasin, Alexander Wojtkiewicz, Alexander Ivanov, Pawel Blehm and IM Rashid Ziatdinov all finishing at 4-1. The tournament may have been decided by a heroic effort from also-ran GM Alexander Onischuk, who somehow survived a two-pawn endgame deficit to draw Novikov in the final round, producing the pileup at the top.

There was plenty of action in the lower sections as well, as some 360 players entered.

Section winners included: Under 2200 Vladimir Yershov,, Vladimir Polyakin, Rudy Tia, Sam Barsky and Scott Webster, all at 4-1; Under 2000 Andres Hortillosa, John Monickaraj, and my old D.C. Chess League teammate David Slack, 4½-½; Under 1800 Jim A. Kinsman, Jude Ejedoghaobi and Dorian Shevitz, 4½-½; Under 1600 William Gallagher, a perfect 5-0; Under 1400 Timothy Murphy, with the weekend's other perfect 5-0 result; and Under 12000 Kevin Hivick, Eric Kangas and Robert Landolfi, 4½-½.

A measure of the strength of this year's tournament was that GM Evgeny Najer, fresh from his tie for first in the U.S. Open at Cherry Hill, N.J., couldn't make it to the winner's circle here. He led the field with three early wins and a draw with Novikov but fell to Wojtkiewicz, the Polish-born grandmaster, in the fifth and final round.

In a rarely seen Sicilian variation, Wojtkiewicz as Black survives an early central pawn onslaught and achieves a dynamic equality after 18. Bxb5 Rxe1+ 19. Qxe1 Nxd5. Najer's attempts to create something with his a-pawn backfire when his own bishop becomes trapped behind enemy lines.

Thus 21. a6 Qb6! 22. Qe2?! (already starting down a dubious path; on 22. Bc4 d5 23. axb7 Rxa2 24. Bxa2 Qxb7 [Qxb2? 25. Bxd5! Nxd5 26. Qe8+ wins] 25. Qd2, White looks fine) d5! 23. Ra4 bxa6 24. Rxa6 Rxa6 25. Bxa6 c4!. The bishop has an escape route, but extricating the piece will cost White crucial time.

With the bishop locked out of play, Black manages to create multiple threats and eventually pick up a pawn with 27…Bh6! (already eyeing 28…Nxf2! 29. Qxf2 Be3, pinning the queen) 28. Ng5 (Nd4 Bc1!, and the pressure on the b-pawn is awkward; e.g. 29. f3? Bxb2! 30. fxe4 Bxc3 31. exd5 Bxd4+ 32. Kh1 Qb1+ 33. Kh2 Qb8+) Bxg5 29. hxg5 Qd8!, with a double attack on g5 and c8.

Najer might have done better to trade queens with 32.Qc8 Qxc8 33. Bxc8 Nc5 34. Kf1, with some chances of holding a tough ending. His 32. Qf4 Kg7 33. Qe5+ Nf6 34. g3?! (tougher was 34. Qd4, preventing Black's next move) Qb6! forfeits a second pawn, because 35. Bxd5? loses a piece to the pin 35…Qc5.

White's desperate bid for counterplay predictably backfires, as his own king becomes exposed: 36. g4 h6 37. f4 Qc1+ 38. Kg2 g5! 39. fxg5 Qxg5 40. Qd4 h5. Black has reached time control, and trying not to lose a third pawn ends in disaster for White: 41. Kg3 hxg4 42. Bxg4 Kg6 43. Kh3 Qxg4+ 44. Qxg4 Nxg4 45. Kxg4 d4 46. cxd4 c3, with an elementary win. Najer resigned.

The high caliber of the competition didn't always translate into sparkling over-the-board play. Local IM Larry Kaufman needed only 16 moves to defeat master Zakhar Fayvinov after the latter suffered a severe defensive breakdown barely out of the opening. More typical in this Scotch variation is 8…Ba6, but Kaufman's 8…Nb6 9. b3 a5 Bb2 is also well-covered in the opening manuals.

Black's early queen-side pressure looks menacing, but White is actually doing fine up through 14. Qd1 Bb4, when moves like 15. Bd3 Qa5 16. Bb2 promise a long and interesting struggle.

But the odd geometry of the queen-side lineup apparently confuses White, for his 15. Qb1?? completely overlooks the Black riposte 15…Qa5!. Suddenly the White queen is needed for double duty protecting the knight and the bishop and can't fulfill both mandates at once. Since, after 16. Qb2 Bxd2+, the White bishop on a1 must fall, Fayvinov resigned.

Maryland GM Alex Sherzer, recently returned to the area after medical studies in Hungary, did Kaufman two moves better by defeating FM Luis Chiong in a 14-move miniature. It would be Chiong's only loss of the event, and he would wind up in a tie with Onischuk, Najer and a host of others at 3½-1½.

As in the previous game, Chiong starts off fine but runs into trouble with a premature attempt to resolve the pressure on his game. The failure to develop leaves Black open to an unexpected and devastating tactic.

After 10. Nd5 Qd8 11. Bg5, Black just needs to work his pieces into the flow of play. Perfectly playable now is the natural 11…Nc6, when the sharp 12. e6!? (Qe2 h6 13. Bf4 Bg7 or 13…Nb6 is fine for Black) fxe6 13. Nf4 Qa5+ 14. c3 Nde5 leaves Black with plenty of chances and an extra pawn to boot.

But Chiong just can't abide the knight at d5 and moves to evict it with the misguided 11…Nb6?? (see diagram) 12. Nf6+! (not profound, but pleasing in its way, as White makes a sacrificial offer that Black literally cannot refuse) exf6 13. Qxd8+ Kxd8 14. Bxf6+

The bishop forks the king and rook, and Chiong has no compensation for his material deficit. Black called it a day.

Atlantic Open, Washington, August 2002


1. e4c521. a6Qb6

2. Nf3g622. Qe2d5

3. d4Bg723. Ra4bxa6

4. d5Nf624. Rxa6Rxa6

5. Nc30-025. Bxa6c4

6. e5Ne826. Bc8Ne4

7. Be2d627. h4Bh6

8. exd6Nxd628. Ng5Bxg5

9. 0-0Bg429. hxg5Qd8

10. Re1Nd730. Qg4Nxg5

11. a4Re831. Bb7Ne4

12. a5a632. Qf4Kg7

13. Ra4Nf633. Qe5+Nf6

14. Bf4Bd734. g3Qb6

15. Ra2Bb535. Bc8Qxb2

16. Nxb5axb536. g4h6

17. Bxd6exd637. f4Qc1+

18. Bxb5Rxe1+38. Kg2g5

19. Qxe1Nxd539. fxg5Qxg5

20. c3Nf640. Qd4h5

White resigns

Atlantic Open, Washington, August 2002


1. e4 e59. b3a5

2. Nf3Nc610. Bb2a4

3. d4exd411. Nd2axb3

4. Nxd4Nf612. axb3Rxa1+

5. Nxc6bxc613. Bxa1Qa3

6. e5Qe714. Qd1Bb4

7. Qe2Nd515. Qb1Qa5

8. c4Nb616. Qb2Bxd2+

White resigns

Atlantic Open, Washington, August 2002


1. e4c58. e5dxe5

2. Nf3d69. fxe5Nfd7

3. d4cxd410. Nd5Qd8

4. Nxd4Nf611. Bg5Nb6

5. Nc3a612. Nf6+exf6

6. f4Qc713. Qxd8+Kxd8

7. Nf3g614. Bxf6+Black


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

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