- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2004

The 30th annual edition of the Eastern Open is in the books, with a familiar name atop the leaderboard.

Maryland GM Alex Sherzer, back in the area after an extended sabbatical in Europe for medical studies, closed with two wins to catch Belarus IM Stanis Smetankin and tie for first in the 53-player Open section. The two finished at 6-1, a half-point better than Connecticut GM Sergey Kudrin. The 23-year-old Smetankin owns the bragging rights to the tournament, defeating Sherzer in their individual matchup in Round 6 and being the only player in the Open section to finish undefeated.

The Open section was the only one that failed to produce a clear winner. In the Under-2200 competition, the District’s Christian Vogler took first place ahead of Bruce Altschuler, Eric Santarius and Michael Guber, while Gansukh Sandagsuren of Utah won the Under-1900 section just ahead of Matthew Harding.

Virginia’s Daniel O’Connor was the winner of the Under-1600 section, edging James Frawley, James Barbieri and Jerry Richard — while another Virginian, Andrew Psaltis, took the Under-1300 prize with John Fite Sr. second.

A total of 174 players competed. Thanks once again to tournament director Mike Atkins for the results and the scores of today’s games, both taken from last weekend’s play.

Kudrin, who has long been one of the country’s strongest players, saw his hopes seriously damaged when he was upset by FM Ilye Figler in Round 6. The New York-based Figler has often found himself in the thick of local tournaments, only to lose to a top player in the late rounds. This time, he survives the grandmaster’s early bid for a knockout and counterpunches his way through the ensuing complications to victory.

In a Caro-Kann, Kudrin as White looks to exploit the undeveloped Black kingside with the tricky 14. Ne5 Rd8 15. Ng6!?. A second knight sacrifice looks to give White a clear edge if Black takes on 15…fxg6? 16. Qxg6+ Ke7 17. Nf5+! exf5 18. Rhe1+ Ne4 19. Qxf5 Ndf6 20. Ba5 Qb5 21. Rxe4+! Nxe4 22. Qxe4+ Kf7 23. Qg6+ Kg8 (Ke7 24. Re1+ Kd7 25. Qe6 mate) 24. Qe6+ Kh7 25. Qe4+ Kg8 26. Bxd8 Qxh5.

Black instead battens down, and while White’s pressure looks tremendous after 19. Rc1 Nb6 20. Qf5 Rd6, Figler’s defensive shell proves hard to crack. After 21. Nxf8 (c5 Rd5 22. Rxe6+? Kd8 23. Re5 fxg6 costs White material) Nxc4!, Black switches to the attack while banking on collecting the White knight at his leisure. Bad would have been 21…Rxf8? 22. Qc5 Rd7 23. b3 Qa6 24. Nf5 Rg8 25. Nd6+ Kd8 26. Qxc6.

After the game’s 22. Rxc4 (wild would have been 22. Bf4 Qb4 23. Re2 Rd5 24. Nxe6!? Rxf5 25. Nxg7+ Kd8 26. N7xf5 with an unbalanced position) Qxc4 23. Nh7 Nd7! (still not letting the knight out for free) 24. Qf3 Rxd4 25. Rc1 Qd5 26. Qxd5 Rxd5 27. Rxc6 Nb8 28. Rc2 Rh8, the knight is finally run to ground.

Kudrin should probably have taken the draw with 29. Nf6+ gxf6 30. Ne4 Rd8 31. Rc7 f5 32. Nf6+ Kf8 33. Bb4+ Kg7 34. Bc3 Kf8 35. Bb4+, because his 29.. Bxh6?! Rxh7 30. Be3 Rd1+ 31. Bc1 Kd7 just leaves him a clear exchange down.

The bad position of the White bishop soon costs Kudrin his g-pawn and Figler with 40. Kc2 Rxe2! 41. Rxe2 Rxd4 42. Rg2 Kf6 alertly simplifies down to a dead-won ending. Kudrin resigned.

In the game between Pennsylvania master Norman Rogers and New York expert Teddy Coleman, Black isn’t up to the defensive chore, falling to a well-timed exchange sacrifice. In a Sicilian Dragon after 12. h4 b5 13. h5, it’s clear that White’s attack is coming faster. If now 13…0-0, then 14. Nd5 Nxd5 15. exd5 Qc7 16. hxg6 fxg6 17. Qh2 h6 18. Bxh6 Nxf3 19. Nxf3 Bxh6 20. Bd3 stops Black’s attack while White’s rages on.

A Black oversight opens the floodgates on 15. exd5 gxh5 16. Rxh5 Nc4? (Qa5 17. Be2 Ba4 18. Rdh1 Ng6 19. Bd3 Nf4 20. Bxf4 Bxd4 21. Rxh7 is also very nice for White) 17. Bxc4 Rxc4 18. Qd3! (hitting c4 and h7) Qc8 (getting the queen off the back rank with 18…Qc7 was marginally better) 19 Rxh7 Rg8 (see diagram) 20. Rxg7! Rxg7 21. Rh1.

Black’s back-rank woes are severe, as protecting against mate could cost Coleman his queen. The rest is a rout: 21…Rg8 (Kd8 22. Rh8+ Be8 23. Nf5 Rg6 24. Bb6+ Kd7 25. Qb3! Rc5 [e6 26. Qa4+ Rc6 27. Rxe8 Kxe8 28. Nxd6+ wins] 26. c4 bxc3 27. Bxc5 Qxc5 [dxc5 28. Qa4+ Kc7 29. Rxe8] 28. Qb7+ Qc7 29. Qxa6 e6 30. Qa4+ Kc8 31. Qa8+ Qb8 32. Rxe8+ Kd7 33. Qc6 mate) 22. Qh7 Rf8 23. Qg7, with the simple, annihilating threat of 24. Rh8, when the rook can’t be taken or ignored.

Black tries 23…Rxd4, only to run into 24. Bxd4 (following through with Rh8 also would have won in a walk) e5 (Ba4 25. Qxf8+! Kxf8 26. Rh8 mate) 25. Be3 f6 26. Rh7. But with 26…Qd8 (Kd8 27. Bb6+ Ke8 28. Qe7 mate) 27. Qg6+ Rf7 28. Qxf7 mate in store, Black resigned.

30th Annual Eastern Open, Washington D.C., December 2003


1. e4c622. Rxc4Qxc4

2. d4d523. Nh7Nd7

3. Nc3dxe424. Qf3Rxd4

4. Nxe4Bf525. Rc1Qd5

5. Ng3Bg626. Qxd5Rxd5

6. h4h627. Rxc6Nb8

7. Nf3Nd728. Rc2Rh8

8. h5Bh729. Bxh6Rxh7

9. Bd3Bxd330. Be3Rd1+

10. Qxd3e631. Bc1Kd7

11. Bf4Qa5+32. b3Rg1

12. Bd2Qb633. f3Rh8

13. 0-0-0Ngf634. Kb2Rc8

14. Ne5Rd835. Rd2+Ke7

15. Ng6Rg836. Ne2Rxg2

16. Rhe1Qb537. Kb1b4

17. c4Qa438. Bb2Rc5

18. Kb1b539. Bd4Rd5

19. Rc1Nb640. Kc2Rxe2

20. Qf5Rd641. Rxe2Rxd4

21. Nxf8Nxc442. Rg2Kf6

White resigns

30th Annual Eastern Open, Washington D.C., December 2003


1. e4c514. Nd5Nxd5

2. Nf3d615. exd5gxh5

3. d4cxd416. Rxh5Nc4

4. Nxd4Nf617. Bxc4Rxc4

5. Nc3g618. Qd3Qc8

6. Be3Bg719. Rxh7Rg8

7. f3Nc620. Rxg7Rxg7

8. Qd2Bd721. Rh1Rg8

9. 0-0-0Rc822. Qh7Rf8

10. g4Ne523. Qg7Rxd4

11. Kb1a624. Bxd4e5

12. h4b525. Be3f6

13. h5b426. Rh7Black


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

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