- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 12, 2002

Another year, another championship, another new format. The 2002 U.S. Championship got under way this week in Seattle, boasting a new look. An elite field of 56 qualifiers men and women will play a nine-round Swiss tournament for the title, a break from the various round-robins, one-on-one matches and knockout formats of years past.
The Seattle Chess Foundation is organizing the event, and the early results are encouraging. The tournament features a heavy sprinkling of the usual suspects - GMs Joel Benjamin, Yasser Seirawan, Alex Yermolinsky and Boris Gulko along with an intriguing mix of dangerous IMs and some virtual unknowns.
Former U.S. champ Alexander Shabalov got off to the quickest start, winning his first four games, before falling to the current leader, GM Larry Christiansen, in Round 5. The Pittsburgh-based Shabalov took first after a difficult, unbalanced struggle with GM Alex Fishbein in Round 3.
Shabalov and Fishbein both thrive on double-edged positions and quickly achieve one after 12. Qe1 a5 (a novelty 12…a6 is the usual move here) 13. a4 Nb4 14. Kb1 e5 15. c3 Na6 16. Bc4 Nc7 17. Be3 Qc6 18. Qe2 d5!?
White would seem better posted for the opening of the center, but Fishbein apparently felt it was either make the break or risk suffocation. White pushes for a material imbalance almost immediately with 21…dxe4 22. Qd8+!? (just a temporary queen sacrifice, but the tactics still are very tricky) Bxd8 23. Rxd8+ Ne8 24. Nc5.
More testing now seems to be the straightforward 24…Rxc5 25. Rxe8+ (Bxc5 exf3 26. Bxe8 [Rxe8+ Qxe8 27. Bxe8 Bf5+] Qg6+ 27. Ka1 Qg5 28. Rhd1 h6, and Black seems OK) Qxe8 26. Bxe8 Rc7 27. fxe4 Rc4 28. Rd1 Bg4, and Black may even be better. It would be interesting to know what Shabalov had in mind. Black's 24…Qe7 25. Rxe8+ Qxe8 26. Bxe8 exf3 does pick up another pawn because of the threat to win the bishop with 27…Bf5+.
After 30. Nd3 Bd7 31. Kc2 (Nxc5 Bxb5 32. axb5 Re7 33. Bd4 Rce8 34. Nd3 Re2, and Black's rooks are activated) Bxb5?! (Black will miss his minor pieces in the ensuing play) 32. axb5, Fishbein has two rooks and seven pawns for White's rook, knight, bishop and four pawns as well as attacking hopes using the a-pawn as a battering ram.
But as John Fernandez noted in his annotations on the game for the This Week in Chess Web site (www.chesscenter.com/twic/event/chus2001), rooks tend to fare poorly whether blockading or escorting passed pawns. Although Black manages to get three pawns to the seventh rank in the course of the game, not one crashes through, while White's queen-side pawns prove unstoppable.
The White minor pieces prove useful as martyrs, picking off dangerous Black pawns just before the finish line: 46. b3 h2 (see diagram) 47. Bxh2! Rxh2 48. c4.
Although the White pawns appear less advanced, Fishbein proves helpless in holding them back, especially when they work in tandem with the knight. The valuable knight sacrifices itself at the end to finally clinch the point: 60. Nh4 f3 61. Rxf8+ Rxf8 62. Nxf3!, when 62…Rxf3 63. b8=Q+ just wins for White. Fishbein resigned.
Local hopeful IM Larry Kaufman from Potomac made some early noise in Seattle with a Round 1 upset of GM Dmitry Gurevich from the Black side of a Queen's Gambit Accepted (by transposition). Kaufman calmly turns back a premature attack by his opponent and finishes with a flourish.
The grandmaster seeks an early battle with 10. e4 cxd4 11. e5 Nd5 12. Ne4?! (simply 12. Nxd4 Rc8 13. Bb2, developing a piece, looks saner here) Nc3! 13. Nxc3 dxc3. Now seeking to regain the pawn with 14. Qc2 Bxf3 15. gxf3 b5 16. Bd3 b4 leaves Black solidly in charge, so White plunges ahead with 14. Ng5 Nc5 15. Qh5 g6 16. Qg4.
White threatens tricks like 17. b4 Nd7 18. Nxf7, obliterating the Black defensive shield, but Gurevich's ambitions prove unjustified. The timely 16…b5! 17. b4? (Bf1 Rc8 is much more passive, but now White hands his opponent a ton of tempi) bxc4 18. bxc5 Bxc5 19. Qxc4 Rc8 (threat: 20…Bxf2+) 20. Qa4+ Qd7! 21. Qg4 (Qxd7+ Kxd7 22. Nxf7? Rhf8 23. Rd1+ Bd5 24. Ng5 Bxf2+ 25. Kh1 c2 26. Rf1 Bd4 traps the rook) h5 22. Qg3 0-0.
While White has made five queen moves, Black has castled and gotten every piece into the game. Aided by the superbly placed Black army, the passed c-pawn becomes a monster.
As Gurevich desperately tries to rekindle his attack, Black breaks through with 28. h4 Qxc1! (simple and brutal, though Black had to see past one last trap) 29. Rxc1 Rd1+ 30. Kh2 Rxc1 31. Qf4.
White threatens the rook on c1 as well as 32. Qxf7+ and mate next, but Kaufman's 31…Rh1+! 32. Kg3 (Kxh1 c1=Q+ 33. Qxc1 Rxc1+ leaves Black a rook up) Rf8 ends things abruptly, as the mate threat evaporates and the c-pawn can't be stopped. White resigned. With a Round 5 win over GM Gennady Sagalchik, Kaufman stands at a respectable 3-2 just past the tournament's midpoint.

Two small addenda to our item last week on the late Oscar Shapiro. The game score for Shapiro-Berliner should have read 18. Bc3 and 31…Kc8. Also, in addition to his brother Harold, Mr. Shapiro is survived by a sister, Edith Stevens, who lives in Boston. Thanks to alert reader Walter Nicoson for keeping us honest on the game scores and to Frank Stevens, Mrs. Stevens husband, for the additional family information.

U.S. Championships, Seattle, January 2002

1. e4c532. axb5a4
2. Nf3d633. Rxg2a3
3. d4cxd434. Bb6Rc4
4. Nxd4Nf635. Nxe5a2
5. Nc3Nc636. Rg1Re4
6. Bg5e637. Nd3Ra8
7. Qd2Be738. Ra1Re2+
8. 0-0-00-039. Kb3Rxh2
9. Nb3Qb640. Bd4h5
10. f3Rd841. Nc5Rg2
11. Nb5Rd742. Nxb7Rg6
12. Qe1a543. Kb4h4
13. a4Nb444. Na5h3
14. Kb1e545. Be5Rg2
15. c3Na646. b3h2
16. Bc4Nc747. Bxh2Rxh2
17. Be3Qc648. c4f5
18. Qe2d549. b6Rb8
19. Nxc7Rxc750. c5f4
20. Bb5Qe651. b7Rc2
21. Qd3dxe452. Kb5g5
22. Qd8+Bxd853. c6g4
23. Rxd8+Ne854. Nc4Re2
24. Nc5Qe755. Nd6Re7
25. Rxe8+Qxe856. Kb6g3
26. Bxe8exf357. Nf5Rh7
27. Bb5fxg258. Rxa2Rf8
28. Rg1Bf5+59. Ra8Rhf7
29. Kc1Rac860. Nh4f3
30. Nd3Bd761. Rxf8+Rxf8
31. Kc2Bxb562. Nxf3Black
U.S. Championships. Seattle, January 2002

1. Nf3d517. b4bxc4
2. c4dxc418. bxc5Bxc5
3. e3Nf619. Qxc4Rc8
4. Bxc4c520. Qa4+Qd7
5. d4e621. Qg4h5
6. 0-0a622. Qg30-0
7. Nbd2Nbd723. Bf4c2
8. b3b624. a4Rfd8
9. Re1Bb725. Rac1Bb4
10. e4cxd426. Rf1Bd2
11. e5Nd527. Bxd2Qxd2
12. Ne4Nc328. h4Qxc1
13. Nxc3dxc329. Rxc1Rd1+
14. Ng5Nc530. Kh2Rxc1
15. Qh5g631. Qf4Rh1+
16. Qg4b532. Kg3Rf8
White resigns

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



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