- The Washington Times - Friday, July 11, 2003

The 31st World Open, the traditional event held over the Fourth of July weekend in Philadelphia, featured an appropriately worldly cast of prizewinners as four foreign-born international stars and six foreign-born Americans finished in a 10-way tie for first at 7-2.

GMs Ilya Smirin (Israel), Leonid Yudasin (Israel), Jaan Ehlvest (Estonia) and master Nazar Firman (Ukraine) joined U.S.-based GMs Alexander Onischuk, Alexander Goldin, Alexander Shabalov, Alek Wojtkiewicz, Gennadi Zaitshik and Babkouly Annakov in the crowded winner’s circle. Ehlvest and Smirin had the best tie-breaks, and Ehlvest won a one-game speed playoff to take home an extra $500 and the nominal champion’s title.

Maryland-based Wojtkiewicz was just one of a number of local players to make a mark in the 258-player Open section, which included 37 grandmasters.

Maryland master John Rouleau finished at a highly respectable 6-3 score, and Northern Virginia master Macon Shibut upset Russian WGM Alexandra Kosteniuk, the runner-up at the recent women’s world title match.

Maryland expert Stan Fink also produced some of the best attacking fireworks of the patriotic weekend in his Round 7 win over fellow expert Robert Plunkett of Minnesota.

Black gets in an early …d5 in this Sozin Sicilian, obtaining free piece play. Fink’s 13. 0-0-0 Ng4!? looks provocative, removing any piece protection from his king, but it turns out that Black’s queen-side play comes on more quickly than the White king-side attack. White seeks counterplay with a queen probe, and the complications come thick and fast.

Thus: 20. Qb6 Bf5 21. Qc7 Bd8 22. Qe5 Bg6 (Black’s bishop pair dominate the board) 23. f4 Bf6 24. Qd6 Bg5! 25. Qxc6 (covering c2; 25. fxg5?? Bxc2+) Bxf4 26. Nb6. Here it looks as if Black can win a piece with 26…Ra6 27. Rxd5 Rxb6! 28. Qxb6 Bxc2+, again picking off the queen, but then we all would have been cheated out of the satisfying finale.

Plunkett claws back into the game on the less forceful 26…Rab8?! 27. Nd7 Rxb3 28. Nxf8 Be5, but misses a last chance for survival with 29. Nxg6! Rxb2+ 30. Ka1 Rxc2+ (hxg6?? 30. Qe8+ Kh7 31. Qxe5 wins for White) 31. Nxe5 Rxc6 32. Nxc6 Qxc6 33. Rd3, and White has some hopes of establishing a defensive fortress with his rooks along the third rank.

The game’s 29. Qe8? (see diagram) attacks the bishop and threatens mate on the move, but White never gets the chance for the follow-up: 29…Bxc2+! (much stronger than 29…Rxb2+? Ka1 30. Rb8+ 31. Qxe5 Rxf8 32. Rxd5) 30. Kxc2 (Ka2 Rxb2+ 31. Ka1 Rb3+! 32. Qxe5 [Ka2 Rxa3+!! 33. Kxa3 Qe3+ 34. Ka2 Qb3 mate] Qb6 33. Qe7 [Ka2 Rxa3+! 34. Kxa3 Qb3 mate] Qc6 34. Qe5 Qc5, and mate on a3 is unstoppable) Rxb2+ 31. Kd2.

Now a long-distance check completes the mating net: 31…Qa6+! 32. Ke3 Qe2 mate.

One of the hardest things in chess for a defender is knowing when and how far to simplify. In today’s second game, popular Chess Life writer Jerry Hanken, an expert, actually acquits himself well under heavy early pressure from strong Pennsylvania master Stanislas Kriventsov, counterattacking effectively and nearly stealing the point. But just as Black steers for the safe harbor of an endgame, he starts to sink.

With the center closed and Black’s pieces locked out, White launches an attack with 10. Nf4 e6 11. h4, forcing Black to react quickly or be overrun. Things quickly get sticky: 14. h5 g5 (gxh5!? 15. Nxh5 [15. c3 may be more solid here] Nxf2! 16. Kxf2 Qh4+ 17. Ng3 Bxd4+ 18. Be3 Be5 gives Black real pressure for the sacrificed material) 15. Nh3 h6 16. Nfxg5 e5! (if Black can get in e5-e4, the White attack will grind to a halt) 17. Nh7 (f3 e4! 18. fxg4 Bxd4+ 19. Kh1 hxg5 20. Bxg5 Qd6 is at least equal for Black) Nxf2 18. Nxf2 Rxf2!.

Now 19. Kxf2 Qh4+ 20. Kg1 e4 21. Bf1 Bg4 22. Be2 Bxe2 23. Rxe2 Qxh5 collects the knight on h7 with a double-edged game. But White comes very close to losing on the game’s 19. dxe5?! Qh4 (threatening 20…Rxg2+! 21. Kxg2 Bh3+ 22. Kh2 Bg4+, winning the queen) 20. Re3, when very strong would have been 20…Bxe5! 21. Nf6+ (Rxe5 Rxg2+! 22. Kxg2 Bh3+ again wins the queen) Bxf6 22. Qe1 Rf4 23. Re8+ Kg7 24. Bxf4 Nxe8 25. Qxe8 Bd4+ 26. Be3 Bf5 wins; e.g. 27. Qxa8 Bxe3+ 28. Kf1 Qf2 mate.

Hanken still obtains total equality after 20…d4? 21. Qe1 dxe3 22. Bxe3 Rxg2+ 23. Kxg2, but seeking to suck all the life out of a too-exciting position, he goes one trade too far with 23…Qh3+ (Bh3+ 24. Kh1 Qxh5, and White’s shaky king defenses leave him struggling to draw) 24. Kg1 Bxe5 25. Bxe5 25. Qf2 Bg4 26. Be4 Bh2+ (aiming for more exchanges, but the ending will favor the stronger player) 27. Qxh2 Qxe3+ 28. Qf2 Qxf2+ (Qxe4?? 29. Nf6+) 29. Kxf2 Kh8 30. Nf6 Rf8 31. Kg3, and the White knight has made a miraculous escape.

With each trade now, the White bishop shows its superiority to the Black knight, and the rook trade after 45. Rc7+ Rf7 46. Rxf7+ Kxf7 47. Kd5 leaves the Black knight and king in very poor shape. With pawns on both wings, the bishop’s mobility is even more pronounced.

After 61. a5 bxa5 62. Kxc5, the passed c-pawn will decide. Hanken resigned.

31st World Open, Philadelphia, July 2003


1. e4c517. Kb1a5

2. Nf3d618. Na4Be6

3. d4cxd419. a3Be7

4. Nxd4Nf620. Qb6Bf5

5. Nc3e621. Qc7Bd8

6. Bc4Be722. Qe5Bg6

7. Be30-023. f4Bf6

8. Qe2d524. Qd6Bg5

9. exd5exd525. Qxc6Bxf4

10. Bb3Bb426. Nb6Rab8

11. Qd3Nc627. Nd7Rxb3

12. Nxc6bxc628. Nxf8Be5

13. 0-0-0Ng429. Qe8Bxc2+

14. h3Nxe330. Kxc2Rxb2+

15. Qxe3Qf631. Kd3Qa6+

16. Qd4Qh6+32. Ke3Qe2 mate

31st World Open, Philadelphia, July 2003


1. e4g632. Ng4Bxg4

2. d4Bg733. Kxg4Ne6

3. Nc3c634. Re1Rf4+

4. Nf3d535. Kg3Rf6

5. h3Nf636. Rd1Nf8

6. Bd30-037. Kg4Kg7

7. 0-0Nbd738. Bf5Rf7

8. e5Ne839. Rd6c5

9. Ne2Nc740. Kf4Re7

10. Nf4e641. a4b6

11. h4f642. Rc6Rb7

12. exf6Nxf643. b3Rf7

13. Re1Ng444. Ke4Rf6

14. h5g545. Rc7+Rf7

15. Nh3h646. Rxf7+Kxf7

16. Nfxg5e547. Kd5Kf6

17. Nh7Nxf248. Bg4Kg5

18. Nxf2Rxf249. Be2Kf4

19. dxe5Qh450. Kc6Ke5

20. Re3d451. Kb7Kd6

21. Qe1dxe352. Kxa7Kc7

22. Bxe3Rxg2+53. Bg4Nh7

23. Kxg2Qh3+54. Ka6Nf6

24. Kg1Bxe555. Bf3Nd7

25. Qf2Bg456. Kb5Ne5

26. Be4Bh2+57. Be4Nf7

27. Qxh2Qxe3+58. Kc4Kd6

28. Qf2Qxf2+59. Bg6Ne5+

29. Kxf2Kh860. Kb5Kc7

30. Nf6Rf861. a5bxa5

31. Kg3Bc862. Kxc5Black


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

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