- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2003

Walking a tightrope the entire tournament, resilient master Daniel Miller won his second Virginia state title in Richmond over the Labor Day weekend. Miller took possession of the Moorman Cup with a perfect 5-0 score, a full point ahead of expert Andrew Samuelson and Class A player Danny Derby.

The top-seeded Miller’s perfect score masks a series of near-death experiences, starting in Round 1 when the new champ found himself down a queen for a rook with little counterplay against Class A player Ronald Chatham. Miller found himself in tight spots in virtually every game but found a way to win every time, reclaiming the trophy he first won in 2000.

Justin Burgess also went 5-0 to win the state amateur title, half a point ahead of Edward Lu. A total of 98 players competed.

Typical of Miller’s weekend was his touch-and-go performance against veteran Virginia expert Robert J. Fischer in the final round, a sharp tactical affair in which Fischer missed a critical defensive resource that might have altered the result.

Both sides come out swinging in this Caro-Kann, and Black offers a piece right out of the opening on 13. f3 0-0! (tricky: 14. fxe4? Nxd4 15. Qd3 dxe4 16. Qxe4 Bxc3+ 17. bxc3 Nxb5 turns out badly for White) 14. Nxc6 Nxc6 15. Be3 Qf6 16. fxe4 Nxd4 17. Bxd4 Qxd4. White gets his piece, but his c3 square is under tremendous pressure and his king cannot castle on either wing.

By 20. Kf1 dxe4, Black has collected four pawns for the piece, and Miller, despite the vulnerability of his own king, decides to risk all in a direct mating attack: 21. h6! Qe5 22. hxg7 Kxg7 23. Kg2 Rc3 24. Bd3! (exploiting the pin on the e-pawn to stop Black’s threatened invasion at g3) f5 25. Qe3.

White threatens to infiltrate via g5 or h6, but tournament director Mike Atkins sends along some computer-inspired defense that should have held for Black. Best now is the hard-to-find 25…Kh8!, when 26. Qh6 (Rxh7+? Kxh7 27. Qg5 Qg7, winning) Rf7 27. Qh4 Qf6 covers all Black’s soft spots.

Instead, White takes charge 25…Qf6?! 26. g5 Qg6? (Black’s last move was suboptimal, but this is fatal; with 26…Qe5 27. Qh3 Rg8! 28. Qxh7+ Kf8 29. g6 [Rh6? exd3 30. Rxf6+ Qxf6 31. Qxg8+ Kxg8 32. gxf6 dxc2 and Black wins] Qf6 30. Be2 Qxg6+ 31. Qxg6 Rxg6+ 32. Kf2 Rxc2 33. Rd7, it’s still a game) 27. Rh6!.

If the queen retreats, the unfortunate Black rook on c3 gets picked off by 28. Qd4+. Fischer tries 27…Rd8 (Qf7 28. Qd4+) 28. Rxg6+ hxg6 29. Qf4 exd3, but loses the rook anyway on 30. Qe5+. Black resigned.

• • •

Four U.S. players qualified for December’s FIDE knockout world championship with strong performances at last month’s Panamerican Continental Championships, an 11-round Swiss tournament held in Buenos Aires.

GMs Alexander Goldin, Yuri Shulman, Alexander Onischuk and Hikaru Nakamura will all compete in the FIDE knockout tournament set for December. For the 15-year-old Nakamura, the Buenos Aires result is just the latest confirmation that the young New Yorker is one of the most promising American players to come along in quite some time.

Nakamura has been playing with growing confidence, as is evident in his victory over fellow American GM Gennady Sagalchik in Argentina. In a dynamically balanced position, Nakamura as Black is not afraid to upset the equilibrium with 23. Nf1 Rxg3!? 24. Nxg3 Bxf4+, trading a rook for a knight and two pawns.

Both sides have assets and liabilities in the resulting position, but Black appears to make the stronger effort to stay on the attack. Nakamura does not bother to defend his loose h-pawn, instead positioning his rook on the open g-file for what will be the deciding combination.

In the game’s critical passage, it is the older grandmaster who loses his way: 32. cxd5 (Bxf7 Rg1+ 33. Ka2 dxc4 34. Bxc4?! b5 35. Bxb5 axb5 36. Rxb5 Ba6 wins) b5 33. Nc3 (intriguing would have been 33. Nxc5!? Qxc5 [Nxc5?! 34. Rxe5! Rg1+ 35. Ka2 Ra1+ 36. Kxa1 Nxb3+ 37. Qxb3 Qxe5 38. Qc3 Qxc3 39. bxc3 f6 40. Bf3 is very pleasant for White] 34. Bxf7 Rg1+ 35. Ka2 Qxc2 36. Rxc2 Bb7, with chances for both sides) c4.

White spots a mini-tactic, but Black apparently saw a little bit farther: 34. Rxb5? (mandatory was 34. Rb4 Bd6 35. Qxf5 Bxb4 36. axb4, with counterchances for White) Bxc3! (axb5?? 35. Nxb5+ may have been what Sagalchik banked on) 35. d6 Qxd6 36. Rxf5 Rg1+ 37. Ka2 (see diagram).

Now 37…Bd4 38. Bxf7 would give White some reason to play on, but Nakamura has a more convincing argument prepared: 37…Qxa3+!!, when both 38. Kxa3 and 38. bxa3 allow 38…Ra1 mate. White resigned.

Virginia State Championship, Richmond, September 2003


1. e4c616. fxe4Nxd4

2. Nc3d517. Bxd4Qxd4

3. Nf3Bg418. Rd1Bxc3+

4. h3Bh519. bxc3Qxc3+

5. exd5cxd520. Kf1dxe4

6. Bb5+Nc621. h6Qe5

7. g4Bg622. hxg7Kxg7

8. Ne5Rc823. Kg2Rc3

9. d4e624. Bd3f5

10. Qe2Bb425. Qe3Qf6

11. h4Nge726. g5Qg6

12. h5Be427. Rh6Rd8

13. f30-028. Rxg6+hxg6

14. Nxc6Nxc629. Qf4exd3

15. Be3Qf630. Qe5+Black



Panamerican Continental Championships, Buenos Aires, August 2003


1. d4Nf620. d5Rhe8

2. Nc3d521. Nc3a6

3. Bg5e622. Rhe1Rg8

4. e4Bb423. Nf1Rxg3

5. Nge2dxe424. Nxg3Bxf4+

6. a3Be725. Kb1Bxg3

7. Bxf6gxf626. Re2Bc8

8. Nxe4f527. Rd3Be5

9. N4c3c628. Na4Ka7

10. g3b629. Rb3Nd7

11. Bg2Bb730. Bf3Rg8

12. Qd3Nd731. Bxh5exd5

13. Nd1Qc732. cxd5b5

14. c40-0-033. Nc3c4

15. Ne3Kb834. Rxb5Bxc3

16. Qc2Bd635. d6Qxd6

17. f4h536. Rxf5Rg1+

18. h4Nf637. Ka2Qxa3+

19. 0-0-0c5White


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

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