Friday, August 19, 2005

Grandmasters Joel Benjamin of New Jersey and Vadim Milov of Switzerland are the co-winners of the 106th annual U.S. Open, besting a field of 455 players in Phoenix.

Milov tripped up tournament front-runner GM Larry Christiansen of Massachusetts in the ninth and final round, while Benjamin also finished 8-1 by beating multiple Open champ GM Alex Yermolinsky. Christiansen had wracked up seven wins and a draw going into the last round.

Christiansen and Maryland’s own GM Alex Wojtkiewicz were among five players a half-point back at 7-1, along with IMs David Vigorito, Amon Simutowe and Greg Shahade.

Another Maryland player starred in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions, traditionally held alongside the Open. Expert Zhi-Ya Hu, a rising sophomore at Montgomery Blair High School, finished in a three-way tie for first with Josh Bakker of Massachusetts and Louisiana high school champ Trevor H. Jackson, all at 5-1.

A reminder: There will be more action on tap right here in Washington as the 37th annual Atlantic Open takes place this weekend at the Wyndham Washington Hotel, at 1400 M St. NW. Come on down to see some of the best local and national players in action.

• • •

Brooklyn GM Gata Kamsky took another big step in his comeback after a lengthy sabbatical, competing in his first international event since his return to competitive play last year.

Kamsky, one of the top five players in the world when he left the game to go to law school, finished in a seven-way tie for second, just behind Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzon, at the strong American Continental Championship in Buenos Aires. A number of top U.S. players, including Alex Onischuk, Alexander Shabalov and Yuri Shulman, opted to play in the Argentine event instead of the U.S. Open.

Kamsky’s positional skills appear to have returned in full force, to judge from his deconstruction of Peruvian GM Julio Granda Zuniga, who also tied for second in Buenos Aires. Kamsky takes an unusual tack on the White side of a Najdorf Sicilian, and the strong Peruvian GM quickly is reduced to helplessness.

White continually cuts down Black’s options, as can be seen after 13. a5! Nxd4 14. Bxd4 Bxd4 15. Qxd4 Rc6 (Rxc2? 16. Ne3) 16. Qd2 Be6 17. Nb6!. One would think that the Black bishop would outrank the White knight, but Kamsky gives Black’s minor piece no targets to shoot at as he constantly grabs space.

By 24. c4 Qh5 25. Rae1, the bind is complete: the Black bishop is useless and the Black rook on e5 is just in the way. Granda Zuniga cannot hold out for long.

White cashes in on 25…Kf7 26. Na4! Rc8 27. Nb2! (getting everything in order before the final assault) Kg7 28. Rc1 (premature is 28. Nd3? Rxc4) Bg8 29. Nd3 Re6 30. f4!, with the simple threat of 31. f5, winning the exchange. As 30…d5 31. fxg5 Qxg5 (Rxe4 32. Rxe4 dxe4 33. gxf6+ exf6 34. Qxd7; or 31…dxe4 32. Nf4) 32. cxd5 Rxc1+ 33. Nxc1 Qe5 (Rd6 34. Rg3) 34. Qc5 Rd6 35. Rg3+ Kh8 36. Qc8 Qd4+ 37. Kf1 Qd1+ 38. Kf2 Qd4+ 39. Kf3 Qd1+ 40. Ne2 Qd3+ 41. Kf2 wins for White, Black resigned.

• • •

The chess-mad Netherlands had reason to celebrate this month as the Dutch squad unexpectedly won the 15th European Team Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden, edging out Israel. Perhaps an even greater shock was the disappointing result of perennial champion Russia, which could manage only a 14th-place result.

Dutch third board GM Sergei Tiviakov provided a critical point in the Round 8 matchup with Greek GM Hristos Banikas. Banikas went 6-2 overall in Gothenburg, but he is quickly blown away on the Black side of this Najdorf Sicilian by the Dutchman.

Black gets caught with too many pieces on the wrong half of the board after 17. Qd2 Ne6 18. Nxe6 Bxe6 19. e5!, opening lines for the White pieces while disrupting the coordination of Black’s game. On 19…Ng4 (dxe5? 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 [gxf6 21. Qh6 f5 22. Rf3 wins for White] 21. Rxf6! gxf6 22. Qh6 f5 23. Bxf5 breaks through) 20. Bxe7 Rxe7 21. exd6 Rd7 (Qxd6?? 22. Bxh7+ is way too easy) 22. Ne4 f5 (see diagram), Banikas hopes to drive the knight from its dominating post so he can organize a defense.

But White counters with 23. Qf4! (the knight won’t move from its perch for the balance of the game), when 23…fxe4? 24. Qxe4 Nf6 25. Qxe6+ Kh8 26. Rxf6! gxf6 27. Qxf6+ Rg7 28. Re1 wins easily. Black tries 23…h6 24. Rbe1 g5 25. Qf3!, when again the knight is immune because of 25…fxe4 26. Qxe4 Bf7 [Nf2+ 27. Rxf2 Qxf2 28. Qxe6+ Qf7 29. Bc4! Rf8 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31. Qxh6+ Kg8 32. Re5 Qxc4 33. Rxg5+ Kf7 34. Qg6 mate] 27. Qh7+ Kf8 28. Qh8 mate.

Black’s defenses collapse anyway on the game’s 25…Rf8 26. h3 Ne5 (Nf6 27. Nxf6+ Rxf6 28. Rxe6 Rxe6 29. Qxf5 Qxd6 30. Bc4 Rde7 31. Qg6+) 27. Qh5 Nxd3 (yet one more time, 27…fxe4 loses, this time to 28. Rxf8+ Kxf8 29. Qxh6+ Kf7 30. Rf1+ Nf3 31. Bxe4 Qxd6 32. Rxf3+ Kg8 33. Bd3) 28. Qg6+!. Black resigns, as 28…Rg7 (or 28…Kh8 29. Nf6 Rxf6 30. Qxf6+ Kh7 31. Rxe6, winning) 29. Qxe6+ Kh7 30. cxd3 Rgf7 31. Nc3 wins a piece.

American Continental Championship, Buenos Aires, August 2005

KamskyGranda Zuniga

1. e4c516. Qd2Be6

2. Nf3d617. Nb6Qc7

3. d4cxd418. c3Rc5

4. Nxd4Nf619. Rfe1Re5

5. Nc3a620. b4Qc6

6. a4g621. Qg4g5

7. Be2Bg722. Re3f6

8. 0-00-023. f3Qe8

9. Be3Nc624. c4Qh5

10. Qd2Ng425. Rae1Kf7

11. Bxg4Bxg426. Na4Rc8

12. Nd5Rc827. Nb2Kg7

13. a5Nxd428. Rc1Bg8

14. Bxd4Bxd429. Nd3Re6

15. Qxd4Rc630. f4Black


15th European Team Championship, Gothenburg, Sweden, August 2005


1. e4c515. Rb1Re8

2. Nc3d616. Bg5Bg4

3. Nge2Nf617. Qd2Ne6

4. d4cxd418. Nxe6Bxe6

5. Nxd4a619. e5Ng4

6. Be3Ng420. Bxe7Rxe7

7. Bc1Nf621. exd6Rd7

8. f4e522. Ne4f5

9. Nf3Nbd723. Qf4h6

10. Bd3Be724. Rbe1g5

11. 0-00-025. Qf3Rf8

12. Kh1exf426. h3Ne5

13. Bxf4Nc527. Qh5Nxd3

14. Nd4Qb628. Qg6+Black


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

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