- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2002

A news-packed week in local chess begins on a sad note as we mourn the passing of the remarkable Oscar Shapiro, a fixture on the local chess scene who died New Year’s Day of cancer at the age of 92. The Boston-born Shapiro was the District champ in the 1940s and 1990s, establishing a record for longevity and quality over the chessboard that may never be matched. Shapiro set a U.S. record by becoming the oldest player ever to achieve a master’s ranking at the ripe age of 74 and he was an active tournament player until just months before he died. In tribute, we offer one of Shapiro’s many wins against notable opponents. His victim here was 20-year-old Hans Berliner, another Washington legend, who would go on to win the world correspondence chess championship. Shapiro won the best-game prize for the win, taken from the 1949 D.C. Championship.
Berliner’s unambitious Philidor setup works out relatively well here, as White’s Nc3-e2-g3 repositioning gives Black time to equalize with the timely 9…d5!, with ample counterplay in the center.
But Black mishandles the ensuing exchanges, losing his vital dark-squared bishop and handing Shapiro a lasting initiative: 11. Nxe4 dxe4 12. e6! (still only good enough for equality, but on 12. Nd4 Nxe5 13. Bf4 Bd6, Black is just better) fxe6? (exf3! 13. exd7+ Bxd7 14. Qxf3 is dead equal; trying to keep the position alive, Berliner lands in hot water) 13. Nh4! Bxh4 (Bd6 14. Qh5+ Kd8 15. Bg5+ Nf6 16. Bxf6+ gxf6 17. Qg6 Rf8 18. Rad1 is unpleasant for Black) 14. Qh5+ g6 15. Qxh4.
Material remains equal, but the White dark-squared bishop now has free rein. Shapiro wisely avoids exchanges, emerging with domination of the long diagonal and a powerful attack.
Things come to a head on 21. f3 e3 (Nxc3 22. fxe4 Nxe4 23. Rxe4! wins for White, a line pointed out by FM Stuart Wagman, as 23…Qxe4 24. Qxf8+ is crushing) 22. Bxd5 Qxd5 (and here 22…cxd5 23. Rxe3 Qxc2 24. Rxe6! [even stronger than Wagman’s suggested 24. Re4] Bxe6 25. Qxe6+ Rf7 26. Qxh6 Qh7 27. Qxg5+ wins, as 27…Kf8 28. Bb4+ Ke8 29. Re1+ Kd7 30. Qxd5+ Kc7 31. Qd6+ Kc8 32. Re8 is mate) 23. Qe7 Qd7 24. Qc5 b6 25. Qe5.
On Black’s 25…Ba6, the White rook on f1 has nowhere to run, but White is hunting bigger game: 26. Rxe3! Rf5 (Bxf1 27. Qh8+ Kf7 28. Qf6+ Ke8 [Kg8 29. Qg6+ Qg7 30. Qxg7 mate] 29. Rxe6+, winning easily) 27. Qh8+ Kf7 28. Qh7+ (Qxa8 was good enough as well) Ke8 29. Qxf5.
In the final position, Black’s last-gasp hope, 32…Qd1, is refuted by 33. Qxc6+ Kb8 34. Qc7 mate. Rest in peace, Oscar.

The Orange Bowl didn’t go so well, but the juggernaut chess team from the University of Maryland Baltimore County is back on top, having won its fifth Pan-Am intercollegiate team title last weekend in Providence, R.I. UMBC and archrival University of Texas at Dallas, last year’s winner, tied once again on match points, with UMBC taking the title on tie-breaks.
GM Alex Wojtkiewicz, alternate Joey Gasis and faculty adviser Alan Sherman took home board prizes in the 26-team competition. Rounding out the champion UMBC A team roster: IM Eugene Perelsteyn, FM William Morrison and masters Bryan Smith and Yevgeniy Gershov.

Finally, the 2001 Eastern Open (usually our lead item in the New Year’s column) was won by GM Leonid Yudasin and FM Daniel Fernandez, with a 61/2-11/2 result in the 39-player Open section.
Class winners included: Under 2200 - Robert Fischer, 61/2-11/2; Under 1900 - Robert Walker, 7-1; Under 1600 - Kebadu Belachew, 71/2-1/2; and Under 1300 - Johnny Parra and Allen Parrish 61/2-11/2.
Yudasin’s win over rising teen-age star Hikaru Nakamura in the penultimate round was a grandmasterly affair. Applying pressure on both sides of the board with the center firmly closed, Yudasin manages to force all the action to take place in front of his opponent’s king, finally breaking through with a forceful combination.
In a Closed Sicilian, White collects a positional trump on 21. Be3 b4?! 22. axb4 Nxb4 23. Nxb4 Bxb4. The White b-pawn and the Black a-pawn are equally weak, but a swap of the two will only leave the shaky Black king even more exposed.
White gains more ground on 28. Nc2 Be7 (the dark-squared bishop is needed for kingside defense against the White queen) 29. Na3 Bc6 30. Qg4! Bf8 31. Qf4 f5 32. exf6, opening up the h2-b8 diagonal for the White bishop and queen.
With 36. Rxa5 Rxb3, the two weak pawns fall, but now the open a-file and the two White bishops are decisive: 37. Nd3 Ne4 (see diagram; Black is trying to add another defender to the c5-square, but it’s already too late) 38. Nc5! (threatening both the rook on b3 and 39. Nd7+) Bxc5 39. dxc5 Qc7 (the pawn is immune: 39…Nxc5?? 40. Bf4+ is a crush) 40. c6!.
This time the c-pawn can’t be ignored, but its capture costs Black an exchange after 40…Bxc6 41. Ba7+ Kb7 (Ka8 42. Bb6+) 42. Ba6+ Kxa7 43. Bxc8+ Kb8 44. Bxe6, and White has a decisive material advantage.
Yudasin’s 48. Qh3+ Qe6 49. Qc3! is the cleanest kill, denying Black any drawing opportunities in a rook-vs.-bishop ending. On 52. Rc1 Kd8, White avoids 53. Rxc6?? Re1+ 54. Qxe1 Qxe1+ with a draw. Instead, it’s lights out after 53. Qb6+, when 53…Ke8 54. Qxc6+ Kf8 55. Ra8+ Kf7 56. Qg6+ Ke7 57. Re8+ Kd7 58. Qc6 is mate. Nakamura resigned.
District City Championship, Washington D.C., 1949
1. e4e517. Rae1Nf6
2. Nf3d618. Bc3g5
3. d4Nd719. Qg30-0
4. Bc4c620. Qd6Nd5
5. a4Be721. f3e3
6. 0-0h622. Bxd5Qxd5
7. Nc3Qc723. Qe7Qd7
8. Ne2Ngf624. Qc5b6
9. Ng3d525. Qe5Ba6
10. dxe5Nxe426. Rxe3Rf5
11. Nxe4dxe427. Qh8+Kf7
12. e6fxe628. Qh7+Ke8
13. Nh4Bxh429. Qxf5Bxf1
14. Qh5+g630. Rxe6+Kd8
15. Qxh4Qe531. Qf6+Kc8
16. Bd2Qf532. Re7Black

2001 Eastern Open, Washington D.C., December 2001
1. e4c528. Nc2Be7
2. Nf3d629. Na3Bc6
3. Bc4e630. Qg4Bf8
4. 0-0a631. Qf4f5
5. Re1Nc632. exf6Nxf6
6. c3Be733. Nc2Bb7
7. Bb3Nf634. Ne1Bd6
8. d4cxd435. Qh4Rc3
9. cxd4d536. Rxa5Rxb3
10. e5Nd737. Nd3Ne4
11. Nc3Na538. Nc5Bxc5
12. Bc2b539. dxc5Qc7
13. Ne2Bb740. c6Bxc6
14. Nf4Rc841. Ba7+Kb7
15. Re2Qb642. Ba6+Kxa7
16. h4h643. Bxc8+Kb8
17. h5Kd844. Bxe6Qd6
18. b3Kc745. Bf5Rb4
19. a3Kb846. Bxe4Rxe4
20. Nd3Nc647. Rb1+Kc8
21. Be3b448. Qh3+Qe6
22. axb4Nxb449. Qc3d4
23. Nxb4Bxb450. Qb4Qe8
24. Bd3Rc351. Ra7Qe5
25. Rea2a552. Rc1Kd8
26. Ne1Rhc853. Qb6+Black
27. Bf1R3c7resigns

* David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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