- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 26, 2008

Alexandria’s Thomas Jefferson High School made a strong showing individually and as a team at last week’s National High School Championships held in Atlanta.

The Jefferson High squad finished second in the team championships with a combined 19½-8½ score, just a half-point behind Catalina Foothills High of Tucson, which successfully defended the title it won in 2007.

The Alexandria school was paced by junior NM Edward Lu, who finished in a four-way tie for second at 6-1 behind Pennsylvania master Daniel Yeager. Lu’s loss of Yeager in the penultimate round was the only blot on his score sheet.

Thomas Jefferson got balanced scoring throughout its lineup, with its top six players all posting a plus-score. Sophomore Aryan Khojandi finished at 5-2, while senior Byron Hood, junior Joey Regalbuto, freshman Craig Saperstein and eighth-grader Jacob Steinhardt all came in at 4-3.

Lu’s win over promising Chicago expert Kayin Barclay illustrates the challenge of winning a “won” game. Black wins two pawns early on but has great difficulty putting his opponent away, and the win nearly slips out of his grasp.

Barclay appears to get his signals crossed early in this Queen’s Indian Reversed, as 10. Nxd4 Nxd4 11. exd4?! (capturing with the bishop holds the balance) Nc3! 12. Qc2 Bxd4 13. Bxc3 Qxc3 14. Qxc3 Bxc3 wins a pawn for Black. Lu increases his material edge after 21. Rd4 Bxg5 22. Nxg5 Rxg5, but consolidating his position and developing his pieces prove to be a major chore.

After 26. Rh7 Rb8?! (better was 26…e6 [or even 26…e5] 27. Be4 Ke8 28. Rd1 Rf4) 27. Bd5!, when the pressure of White’s well-placed pieces starts to tell. With 29. Rh7 b5 30. cxb5 Rxb5 31. Bxf7, White recovers one pawn, and the second is regained on 32. Rxe5 dxe5 33. Rxg6.

In an intriguing endgame, Black’s doubled e-pawns look ugly, but it is the marooned White king that proves the bigger liability. By 38. Rd2 Rh4 39. Be8 e3! (Rxh3?? 40. Bd7+) 40. Bd7+ Ke5 41. Re2 Kf4, it is Black who has made all the progress. It takes only a little tactical trickery to break the White blockade of the e-pawn and seal the win.

Thus: 42. Kb2 Kf3 43. Bb5 (Bg4+ loses to 43…Rxg4! 44. hxg4 Kxe2) a6! 44. Bd3 (Bc4 Rxc4!) Rd4!, and White resigns as 45. Kc3 fails against 45…Rxd3+! 46. Kxd3 Be4+ 47. Kd4 Kxe2 48. Kxe4 Kf2 and wins.


Bulgarian former world champ Veselin Topalov won the four-player Dos Hermanos rapid knockout tournament earlier this week in Spain, defeating Spanish GM Francisco Vallejo Pons 2½-1½ in the finals Sunday.

The crowd-pleasing cruelties of rapid chess — head-spinning complications that must be “solved” in a half-hour or less — can be seen in Vallejo Pons’ semifinal win over fellow Spanish GM Alexei Shirov. The time limit here was 20 minutes for the game with a 10-second move increment — not enough for even a masterful combinational player like Shirov to work out the right path.

Shirov as White plays one of the sharpest lines of the Caro-Kann Advance, pushing kingside pawns with abandon in a bid to smother the Black bishop. Black in turn gives up the piece in order to launch a highly potent attack on the exposed White king with 10…Nxe5!? 11. fxg6 Nf3+ 12. Kf2 hxg4, when 13. Be3 could be met by the awkward 13…Qf6.

After 13. Nf4 Bxc5+ 14. Kg3 Nc6 (iffy is 14…Rxh4!? 15. Be2 Rxh1 16. Qxh1 Qf6 17. gxf7+ Qxf7 18. Qh8+ Bf8 19. Nb5!) 15. Bg2!? (h5, shutting down the kingside temporarily, also was worth a long look) Nxh4 16. Qxg4 (Qd3 Nd4!, and White faces the threat of 17…Nhf5+ 18. Kf2 [Kxg4 Qh4+! 19. Rxh4 Rxh4+ 20. Kg5 f6 mate] Rxh1 19. Bxh1 Nxc2+) Nd4, Black threatens 17…Ndf5+ 18. Kh3 [Kh2 Nf3 mate!] Nxg6+ 19. Nh5 Qb8! 20. Ne2 Ne5 21. Qg5 f6, and the queen must abandon the knight on h5.

If this were a correspondence game, with each side having days to ponder its options, Shirov might have tried 17. gxf7+ Kxf7 (see diagram) 18. Kf2!!?, when it’s still a total mess after 18…Nxc2+ 19. Ke2 Qf6 (one point is that 19…Nxa1?? loses to 20. Qxe6+ Kf8 21. Rxh4! Rh6 [Rxh4 22. Ng6 mate] 22. Ng6+! Rxg6 23. Rh8 mate) 20. Rf1 Nf5, with complications still too deep to fathom.

Instead, White “clarifies” things to his regret with 18. Rxh4? Qxh4+! (White may have been hoping for 18…Nf5+?! 19. Qxf5+! exf5 20. Bd5+ Kf6 [Ke7? 21. Rxh8 Qxh8 22. Ng6+, winning] 21. Nh5+ Kg6 [Ke7? 22. Bg5+] 22. Nf4+ Kf6 23. Nh5+, with a draw by perpetual check) 19. Qxh4 Nf5+ 20. Kh2 Rxh4+ 21. Nh3 Rah8, when White’s tangled-up pieces will cost him more material.

After 22. Bd2 Bd6+ 23. Kg1 Rxh3 24. Bxh3 Rxh3 25. Rf1 Rh2, White is down two pawns with no compensation and no way to complicate the game; Shirov resigned.

National High School Championships, Atlanta, April 2008


1. e3c523. Bh1Rf5

2. Nf3Nf624. Rxh4Rxf2+

3. b3g625. Ka3Kd7

4. Bb2Bg726. Rh7Rb8

5. g4h627. Bd5Ke8

6. h3Nc628. Rh8+Kd7

7. d4Ne429. Rh7b5

8. Nbd2Qa530. cxb5Rxb5

9. c4cxd431. Bxf7Re5

10. Nxd4Nxd432. Rxe5dxe5

11. exd4Nc333. Bxg6Bb7

12. Qc2Bxd434. Rh4Rf4

13. Bxc3Qxc335. Rh5Kd6

14. Qxc3Bxc336. Rh8e4

15. 0-0-0d637. Rd8+Ke6

16. Bg2Be538. Rd2Rh4

17. Rhe1h539. Be8e3

18. g5h440. Bd7+Ke5

19. Nf3Bf4+41. Re2Kf4

20. Kb2Rh542. Kb2Kf3

21. Rd4Bxg543. Bb5a6

22. Nxg5Rxg544. Bd3Rd4

White resigns

XIV Rapid Tournament, Dos Hermanos, Spain, April 2008

ShirovVallejo Pons

1. e4c614. Kg3Nc6

2. d4d515. Bg2Nxh4

3. e5Bf516. Qxg4Nd4

4. Nc3e617. gxf7+Kxf7

5. g4Bg618. Rxh4Qxh4+

6. Nge2Ne719. Qxh4Nf5+

7. f4c520. Kh2Rxh4+

8. dxc5Nec621. Nh3Rah8

9. h4h522. Bd2Bd6+

10. f5Nxe523. Kg1Rxh3

11. fxg6Nf3+24. Bxh3Rxh3

12. Kf2hxg425. Rf1Rh2

13. Nf4Bxc5+White resigns

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

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