- The Washington Times - Friday, August 29, 2003

This year’s U.S. Open was a throwback: a full 12-round Swiss event after the abbreviated nine-round format of recent years.

The arduous schedule produced some thrilling final fireworks, with multiple decisive final-round games on the top boards.

Winner GM Alexander Shabalov of Pittsburgh caught one of those breaks you need in a long open event in his Round 11 win over IM Anthony Saidy. The veteran Saidy already had claimed one top grandmaster scalp with his upset win over Peruvian GM Julio Granda Zuniga in Round 10 but lost a cute miniature to Shabalov that allowed the eventual champion to rest up for his final game.

Saidy as Black sidesteps a lot of the complications of the main Ruy Lopez lines with the Modern Steinitz variation but finds himself under early pressure as he falls behind in his development. Black’s half-open b-file matches White’s half-open g-file, but a little tactical trick sends Saidy to an early shower.

After 14. Rhg1 Qf6 15. Qa4, 15…Kd7?! 16. Nd5 Qxf3 17. Nb4 Qxe4 18. Rde1 Qc4 19. Rxe7+! Kxe7 20. Nxc6+ wins for White. But Black’s king finds new trouble on 15…0-0 16. Qxc6 Qxf3 17. Nd5 Bf6 (see diagram; )

Shabba’s clever 18. e5!, exploiting Saidy’s loose queen on f3, surprisingly, wins on the spot. If the bishop moves away, 19. Nf6+ wins the queen, while on 18…Bxe5 (dxe5 19. Nxf6+ Qxf6 20. Qxf6 and the g-pawn is pinned), 19. Ne7+ snares the queen. Black resigned.

Kentucky GM Alexander Kaidanov was tied for first with Shabalov and Armenian GM Artashes Minasian going into the final round but had to take a half-point bye to leave for the Pan American Continental Championships, now under way in Buenos Aires. Shabalov defeated Minasian to relegate the Kentuckian to a five-way tie for second.

Kaidanov led for much of the event, benefiting from a fast start that included a powerful Round 5 win over FM David Pruess. Winning material just out of the opening, White douses any Black hopes of a comeback with some elegant concluding tactics.

An unusual bishop foray picks up on the exchange on 17. Bg5 Qc7?! (f6 16. exf6 Nxf6 17. Re1 Qc7 18. Qc2 is loosening but playable for Black) 18. Bd8! Qd7 17. Qxd7 Bxd7 18. Be7, attacking the immobile rook.

Just as Pruess appears to be obtaining counterplay, Kaidanov shows he has things firmly in control: 33. f3 (cutting off the knight’s escape and threatening 34. Rec1) f6 34. exf6+! Kxd6 (declining with 34…gxf6 35. Nf5+ Kd7 36. Rxc3 Nxc3 37. Bxe6+ also wins for White) 35. Rxc3! gxf6 (Nxc3 36. Rxe6+ Kd7 37. fxg7 Nxa4 38. Re8! Rxe8 39. Bxa4+ Ke7 40. Bxe8 Kxe8 41. g8=Q+) 36. Rd3 Rd8 37. Bxd5 Bxd5 38. Rxd5+!.

The Black rook is skewered on 38…Kxd5 39. Rd1+ Kc4 40. Rxd8 Kb3 41. Rb8. Facing a hopeless endgame, Pruess gave up.

Granda Zuniga, one of South America’s strongest players, conducted one of the event’s best attacks against fellow GM Ildar Ibragimov, overcoming stout defense in this complex Ruy Lopez.

The point of White’s exchange sacrifice on Move 26 becomes clear on 25. Qe2 Bg6 26. Rd1! Bxe4 27. Nxe4, when Granda Zuniga already threatens to recover a piece with 28. Bxb6 while Black’s king-side looks dangerously underpopulated.

White soon collects two pawns for the exchange, and Ibragimov does well to hold off the White army until time control. But a clever final tactic does Black in: 42. Qg6 Qf7? 43. Qh7+!! (the combination is nice in itself, but White probably had to foresee the ensuing endgame before offering his queen) Kxh7 44. Ng5+ Kg8 45. Bh7+ Kh8 46. Nxf7+ Kxh7 47. Nxe5 c3 48. Kf1!.

White had to have calculated that it’s still a win on 48…c2 49. Nd3 Ba3 50. a5! c1=Q+ 51. Nxc1 Bxc1 52. a6, and the Black bishop has no way of stopping the passed pawn. Ibragimov resigned.

U.S. Open, Los Angeles, August 2003


1. e4e510. Bxe7Qxe7

2. Nf3Nc611. 0-0-0Bxf3

3. Bb5a612. gxf3Qg5+

4. Ba4d613. Kb1Be7

5. Bxc6+bxc614. Rhg1Qf6

6. d4exd415. Qa40-0

7. Qxd4Bg416. Qxc6Qxf3

8. Nc3Ne717. Nd5Bf6

9. Bg5Qd718. e5Black


U.S. Open, Los Angeles, August 2003


1. c4e622. Rd2h6

2. d4d523. Ne4b6

3. Nf3c624. Nd6c3

4. g3Nf625. bxc3Nxc3

5. Bg2Nbd726. a4a6

6. 0-0Bd627. Rb2N7d5

7. Nc30-028. Rc2a5

8. Nd2Be729. Bf1Rd8

9. e4c530. Bc4Kf8

10. e5Ne831. Bb3Ke7

11. Nf3dxc432. Re1Rb8

12. d5exd533. f3f6

13. Nxd5Nb634. exf6+Kxd6

14. Nxe7+Qxe735. Rxc3gxf6

15. Bg5Qc736. Rd3Rd8

16. Bd8Qd737. Bxd5Bxd5

17. Qxd7Bxd738. Rxd5+Kxd5

18. Be7Nc739. Rd1+Kc4

19. Bxf8Rxf840. Rxd8Kb3

20. Ng5Nbd541. Rb8Black

21. Rfd1Be6resigns

U.S. Open, Los Angeles, August 2003

Granda ZunigaIbragimov

1. e4e525. Qe2Bg6

2. Nf3Nc626. Rd1Bxe4

3. Bb5a627. Nxe4Nf8

4. Ba4Nf628. Nfg5Rc6

5. 0-0Be729. Qh5Rg6

6. Re1b530. e6f5

7. Bb3d631. Nxh7Rexe6

8. c30-032. Bxb6Qxb6

9. d4Bg433. Nxf8Bxf8

10. Be3exd434. Qxf5Qc6

11. cxd4Na535. Rd8Re8

12. Bc2Nc436. Rxe8Qxe8

13. Bc1c537. Qxa5Re6

14. b3Nb638. Qd5Qc6

15. Nbd2Nfd739. Qf5Qe8

16. h3 Bh540. Qg4Qe7

17. Bb2Re841. Qf5Re5

18. a4Rc842. Qg6Qf7

19. dxc5dxc543. Qh7+Kxh7

20. e5bxa444. Ng5+Kg8

21. bxa4c445. Bh7+Kh8

22. Bd4Bc546. Nxf7+Kxh7

23. Re4a547. Nxe5c3

24. Rb1Bb448. Kf1Black


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

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