- The Washington Times - Friday, August 20, 2004

There was an eclectic mix atop the leader board as the 105th U.S. Open wrapped up in Hurricane Charley-lashed Florida Sunday.

Some of the usual suspects — GMs Alex Wojtkiewicz, Alexander Onischuk, Ildar Ibragimov — were among the seven players who tied for first at 71/2-11/2 in Fort Lauderdale. However, there also were some new names in the mix at the country’s most prestigious open event, including Chilean IM Rodrigo Vasquez, Cuban IM Renier Gonzalez and California master Andran Matikozyan.

Florida master Marcel Martinez used the home-field advantage and a last-round upset of GM Julio Becerra to round out the slate of winners.

The Maryland-based Wojtkiewicz tied for first in the 2001 Open but needed a win in the ninth and final round in Florida to catch the leaders. He withstood a tricky attack from IM Dean Ippolito and wrapped up the full point in just 25 moves.

Wojtkiewicz owes his win to cool defense in a delicate position. Ippolito plays the Black side of this Catalan aggressively, offering up a pawn for attacking lines. After 13. Qxc5 e5!?, getting greedy with 14. dxe5? allows 14…Bh3 15. f3 Bxf1 16. exf6 Bxe2 17. fxg7 Rfe8 18. Nd2 Bxf3 19. Qf2 Bg4 20. Nxc4 Re2 with an overwhelming attack.

White hustles to develop his queen-side as Black seeks to land a decisive blow: 16. f3 Rae8 17. Nc3 Ng4! 18. Ne4 (not 18. fxg4?? Qg2 mate) Kh8 (preparing 19…f5 without having to worry about 20. Qxc4+) 19. Bf4 f5 20. Ng5! Rxe2 (h6 21. Nxh3 Rxe2 22. Bxh6! Nxh6 23. Nf4 Qxb2 24. Qxb2 Rxb2 25. Ng6+ Kg8 26. Nxf8 Kxf8 27. Rac1 maintains White’s edge), with the nasty threat of 21…Rg2+ 22. Kh1 Nf2+ 23. Qxf2 Rxf2.

But someone once said the “forced moves can be good moves,” and White finds the only move that holds his game together: 21. Rd2! h6 (Rxd2 22. Bxd2 Re8 23. Nxh3 Qxf3 24. Bc3 defends everything) 22. Rxe2 hxg5 23. Bd6! Rd8 24. fxg4 Qc6 25. Rd2. Since 25…Bxg4 26. Rc1 just leaves Black a rook down, Ippolito resigned.

In other national championship news, Scotland’s Jonathan Rowson is the new British champion, edging England’s Peter Wells and Simon Williams in the 91st British championships, which concluded last Saturday.

• • •

Uzbek GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov got a rude reception in his first competitive event after winning FIDE’s world championship tournament in Libya last month.

At a middling strong open event in the Dutch city of Vlissingen, the new champ could only manage a 6-3 score, including an embarrassing endgame loss to hitherto unknown Dutch IM Jan Werle. Kasimdzhanov could be suffering a Libyan hangover, but the result doesn’t speak well for the international chess federation’s much-criticized method for picking its world champion.

The Uzbek GM still had a chance for a respectable result but suffered a second painful loss in the final round to Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran, who tied for first in Vlissingen with Dutch stars Sergei Tiviakov and Daniel Stellwagen at 71/2-11/2.

In a Richter-Rauser Sicilian, Sasikiran as Black does not wait around for White to build up pressure on his pawn center, making a break for it with 20. Rhd3 d5!? 21. e5 (a sluggish reaction; perfectly acceptable was 21.exd5 Qxf4+ 22. Kb1 Ne5 [Nf2? 23. Rf3] 23. Re3) Rc8 22. Qd2 Qb8.

White’s 23. Re1?! a5 24. Nd1? is the beginning of an odd and obscure plan by Kasimdzhanov, who uses up eons of time removing a marginally annoying Black knight on g4. He accomplishes his mission, but by the time the trade comes, Black has prepared a strong counter on the queen-side.

Thus: 26. Nxg4 hxg4 27. axb4 axb4 28. Kd1 (already feeling the heat) Ree8 29. Ree3 Rc4 30. b3 (see diagram; White hopes to drive back the Black pieces, but Sasikiran just keeps pressing forward) Ra8!, when 31. bxc4 dxc4 32. Ke1 (Rb3 cxb3 33. Rxb3 Ra4 34. Ke2 Bc6! forces White either to cede the long diagonal or trade knight for bishop and give Black control of the board) cxd3 33. Rxd3 Bc6 invites 34. Nxc6 Qg1+ 35. Ke2 Qxg2+ 36. Ke3 Qf3+ 37. Kd4 Qxc6, winning.

White tries 31. Nxe6, only to run into 31…Re4! (Bxe6? 32. bxc4 dxc4 33. Rd6) 32. Rxe4 dxe4 33. Rxd7 Qg1+, when the exposed White king seals the champ’s fate: 34. Ke2 Qxg2+ 35. Ke3 (Ke1 Ra1+) Qf3+ 36. Kd4 fxe6 37. Kc4 (Kc5 g3 38. Kxb4 [Rd8+ Rxd8 39. Qxd8+ Kh7 40. Qg5 g2 41. h5 Qf2+] g2 39. Qe1 e3 also wins for Black) e3! 38. Rd8+ Rxd8 39. Qxd8+ Kh7 40. Qd3+ Kh6 41. Qd8, and White gave up before Black could close things out with 41…Qe4+ 42. Kc5 Qd5+ 43. Qxd5 exd5 44. Kxd5 e2, and the passed pawn wins.

U.S. Open, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., August 2004

Wojtkiewicz Ippolito

1. d4 Nf6 14. Rd1 exd4

2. Nf3 d5 15. Qxd4 Bh3

3. c4 e6 16. f3 Rae8

4. g3 Be7 17. Nc3 Ng4

5. Bg2 dxc4 18. Ne4 Kh8

6. 0-0 0-0 19. Bf4 f5

7. Ne5 Nc6 20. Ng5 Rxe2

8. Bxc6 bxc6 21. Rd2 h6

9. Nxc6 Qd7 22. Rxe2 hxg5

10. Nxe7+ Qxe7 23. Bd6 Rd8

11. Qa4 c5 24. fxg4 Qc6

12. Qa3 Qb7 25. Rd2 Black

13. Qxc5 e5 resigns

Hogeschool Zeeland Tournament, Vlissingen, Netherlands, August 2004

Kasimdzhanov Sasikiran

1. e4 c5 22. Qd2 Qb8

2. Nf3 d6 23. Re1 a5

3. d4 cxd4 24. Nd1 b4

4. Nxd4 Nf6 25. Nf2 Qb6

5. Nc3 Nc6 26. Nxg4 hxg4

6. Bg5 e6 27. axb4 axb4

7. Qd2 a6 28. Kd1 Ree8

8. 0-0-0 Bd7 29. Ree3 Rc4

9. f3 Be7 30. b3 Ra8

10. h4 h6 31. Nxe6 Re4

11. Be3 h5 32. Rxe4 dxe4

12. Bg5 Ne5 33. Rxd7 Qg1+

13. f4 Neg4 34. Ke2 Qxg2+

14. Qe1 Qc7 35. Ke3 Qf3+

15. Rh3 b5 36. Kd4 fxe6

16. a3 0-0 37. Kc4 e3

17. Be2 Rfe8 38. Rd8+ Rxd8

18. Bxg4 Nxg4 39. Qxd8+ Kh7

19. Bxe7 Rxe7 40. Qd3+ Kh6

20. Rhd3 d5 41. Qd8

21. e5 Rc8 and White resigns

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

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