- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

Washington’s two big year-end events played out very differently as local fans gorged on a cornucopia of chess to close out 2006.

Upsets were the order of the day at the 33rd annual Eastern Open, where top-seeded GM Jaan Ehlvest went down to Illinois expert Kayin Barclay in the very first round.

Employing the dreaded “Swiss Gambit,” Ehlvest clawed his way back into a four-way tie for first at 6-2 with fellow GM Sergei Kudrin and two dark horses — Georgia master Kazim Gulamali and 14-year-old New York IM Fabiano Caruana. Among the Open also-rans were GMs Alex Ivanov (who lost to Caruana) and Alex Stripunsky, defeated by Ehlvest in the final-round marquee match-up.

Just a few blocks away, there were no surprises in the 60th annual Pan-Am Inter-Collegiate Team Championships, as the two top-seeded entries from the University of Texas at Dallas dominated the event. UTD’s “B” squad actually took the title on tiebreaks, with the Texas twins drawing their individual clash and winning all five of their other matches.

The University of Maryland-Baltimore County, the other perennial powerhouse of the college game, tied for third with Miami Dade College, Duke and the University of Peru. UMBC was strong on the top boards with GM Pawel Blehm and IM Bruci Lopez, but it could not match the depth of the Texas teams. In the critical Round 4 match, UTD “B” edged UMBC on the strength of Board 4 alternate IM Jacek Stopa’s win over UMBC expert Andrew Hubbard, rated 400 points lower.

UMBC gets another crack at Dallas as the top four American schools qualified for the U.S. college chess “final four” in March.

The Eastern attracted over 200 players, and there were fine performances in all of the class events. David Paulina took the Under-2200 section, while octogenarian Solomon Verbitsky and Dimitri Barabanov shared the Under-1900 section honors at 61/2-11/2.

Other winners: Under-1600 — Jesse Bickford (7-1); Under-1300 — Alexander Gilbert and Alex Chen (6-2); Blitz — GMs Ehlvest and Ivanov (8-2); and Amateur Blitz — Dilip Panjwani and Curtis Winter (71/2-21/2). Congratulations to all.

Stripunsky led the field by a half-point going into the final-round pairing with Ehlvest and perhaps deserved a better fate in their Sicilian Scheveningen. Ehlvest as Black sacrifices the exchange for dubious compensation, and White perhaps could have kept a safe material edge with 26. g6 Bf6 27. c3 Qxe4+ 28. Ka2, when the pinned knight is lost.

Black emerges a pawn up when the complications subside after 26. exf5?! Bxf5 27. g6 Bf6 28. Re1 Be4! 29. Rxe4 (Rg4?? Qxb2 mate) Qxe4 30. Qxd2 Kd7 31. gxh7 Rxh7, and Ehlvest shows no fear of the opposite-colored bishop ending with 52. Rd2 Rh2!, forcing a rook trade.

White’s crippled queenside eventually costs him the pawn on b2, and Black uses a beautiful endgame finesse to take the point: 65. Kf1 a4! 66. Bxa4 (the bishop is lured off the long diagonal because 66…bxa4 b3 67. Bf5 b2 68. a5 Kh2 69. Be4 g3 70. a6 g2+ 71. Bxg2 b1=Q+ wins for Black) d5!!, and if White recaptures the pawn on d5 will get in the way of his own bishop.

It’s hopeless after both 67. cxd5 (Bb5 g3 68. Bd7+ Kh2 69. cxd5 g2+) g3 68. Bd7+ Kh2 and 67. Bc6 dxc4 68. bxc4 b3 69. Be4 g3 70. Bg2+ Kh2 71. Be4 b2 71. Bb1 g2+, and the pawn queens. Stripunsky resigned.

UMBC’s Lopez already had one of his Pan-Am wins in the other paper this week, but he generously played two striking tactical gems last weekend. Here he mercilessly pounces on a single defensive lapse by University of Toronto expert Allan Cai.

The sharper lines of the Sicilian often give the defender no margin for error, and Black’s troubles here can be traced to 14. fxe5 dxe5 15. Nf5 Bf8? (Bxf5 16. Rxf5 Ne6 17. Nd5 [Rxf6!? Nd4! 18. Qg4 Bxf6 19. Nd5 Qd6 20. Rf1 Bd8 covers up nicely] Nxd5 18. cxd5 Bc5+ 19. Kh1 Nd4 20. Bxd4 exd4 holds the position) 16. Nh6+ gxh6 17. Rxf6 Ne6 18. Nd5, and White has a strong attack.

Black appears to be surviving on 18…Qc5+ 19. Kh1 Bg7 (see diagram), only to be rudely disabused by 20. Rxf7!! Nd4 (accepting the offer loses to 20…Kxf7 21. Qh5+ Kf8 [Kg8 22. Qxe8+] 22. Rf1+ Nf4 23. Nxf4 exf4 24. Qxc5+) 21. Qh5.

Black may have banked on his 21…Bg4, as 22. Qxg4? Kxf7 23. Rf1+ Kg8 24. Nf6+ Kh8 25. Nxe8 Rxe8 26. Rf7 Rg8 leaves White with some work to do. But Lopez’s rook is just warming up: 22. Rxg7+! Kxg7 23. Qxg4+ Kh8 (Kf8 24. Rf1+ Nf5 25. Rxf5 mate) 24. Qd1.

Black’s material deficit is modest, but his exposed king and shaky hold on the long diagonal prove fatal.

The finish: 24…Nxc2 25. Qxc2 Qd6 26. Qc3 Re6 27. c5 Qd8 28. Qg3!, and Black can’t deal with the multiple threats in lines like 28…Qb8 (Qg5 29. Qxg5 hxg5 30. Nc7) 29. Nb6 Ra7 30. Rf1 and White will soon cash in. Cai resigned.

33rd Eastern Open, Washington, December 2006

StripunskyEhlvest

1. e4c534. Bd5b6

2. Nf3d635. c3Be5

3. d4cxd436. Rg2a5

4. Nxd4Nf637. Kc2b5

5. Nc3e638. Be4Rh4

6. g4h639. Bd5b4

7. h4Rc640. c4Kc7

8. Rg1h541. Bf7Kb6

9. gxh5Nxh542. Bd5Kc5

10. Bg5Nf643. Be6Rf4

11. Qd2Qb644. Bd7Rf3

12. Nb3a645. Bg4Re3

13. 0-0-0Bd746. Bd7Bf6

14. Rg2Rc847. Rf2Rg3

15. f4Nh748. Ba4Be5

16. Na4Qc749. Rf8Kd4

17. Qf2Na550. Bc6Rh3

18. Nb6Nxb3+51. Rf2Ke3

19. axb3f652. Rd2Rh2

20. Nxc8Bxc853. Rxh2Bxh2

21. f5fxg554. Bd7Be5

22. hxg5Qa555. Kc1g5

23. Kb1Qe556. Kc2Kf3

24. Bc4Be757. Bc6+Kf4

25. Rh1exf558. Kd3Bxb2

26. exf5Bxf559. Ke2Bd4

27. g6Bf660. Kf1Kg3

28. Re1Be461. Bd7g4

29. Rxe4Qxe462. Ke2Bb6

30. Qd2Kd763. Kf1Kh3

31. gxh7Rxh764. Ke2Bc5

32. Re2Qd465. Kf1a4

33. Qxd4Bxd466. Bxa4d5

White resigns

Pan-Am Intercollegiate Chess Championship, Washington, December 2006

LopezCai

1. e4c515. Nf5Bf8

2. Nf3e616. Nh6+gxh6

3. d4cxd417. Rxf6Ne6

4. Nxd4a618. Nd5Qc5+

5. Bd3Qc719. Kh1Bg7

6. 0-0Nf620. Rxf7Nd4

7. Qe2d621. Qh5Bg4

8. c4Nbd722. Rxg7+Kxg7

9. b3Be723. Qxg4+Kh8

10. Bb20-024. Qd1Nxc2

11. Nc3Nc525. Qxc2Qd6

12. Bc2Re826. Qc3Re6

13. f4e527. c5Qd8

14. fxe5dxe528. Qg3Black

resigns

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

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