- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2008

First Tokyo. Now Springfield.

Master Shinsaku Uesugi, the Maryland high schooler who last fall won Japan’s national chess championship, has another title to his credit after winning last weekend’s 40th Virginia Open on tiebreaks over Virginia state champ Edward Lu. Both scored 4½-½ in the tournament, held at its traditional Springfield site.

Tiebreaks also decided the Under-1800 Amateur section, with Ilya Kremenchugskiy taking the honors after finishing in a four-tie for first with fellow Virginians Shane Lewis, Richard Frazer and Nicholas Cravotta. The four all finished at 4½-½.


American GM Hikaru Nakamura staged a remarkable comeback to win the 6th Gibtelecom Masters, a strong Swiss event staged on the British island of Gibraltar late last month.

After an indifferent start, Nakamura motored past a pack of contenders by winning his last five games, then swept a two-game rapid playoff against Chinese GM Bu Xiangzhi to take the $24,000 first prize. The New Yorker’s most impressive game during his closing kick may have been his quietest, a masterful positional win over the excellent young Ukrainian GM Zahar Efimenko.

It’s not clear why Black willingly parts with a bishop for knight as early as the fourth move here, but it works out poorly for the Ukrainian. White builds up his space advantage with natural moves, and several lovely finesses soon have Black’s game on the ropes.

Thus 14. Nd4! g6 15. Nc2! Ng7 16. Ne3 is an excellent repositioning of the knight. Black is induced to weaken his king’s position, and the knight now guards the c4-pawn and puts Black’s prize knight at e5 in danger of eviction.

A second subtle idea is 23. Rb2! Rab8 24. Rbf2!. The two-step rook shuffle entices the Black rook to b8, leaving the Black pawn on a6 unguarded in some variations and, more important, setting up a long-range attack on the rook by White’s bishop on g3.

With his army in perfect array, White’s simple pawn break proves almost immediately decisive: 25. c5! bxc5 (Nf7 26. cxd6 Nxd6 27. Nc4 Nxc4 28. Bxb8 b5 29. Bg3 wins the exchange cleanly) 26. dxc5 Nxc5 27. Qxd6 Qxd6 (no better was 27…Rbe8 28. Qxe7 Rxe7 29. Bd6 Nxe4 30. Bxe7 Re8 31. Bxe4 Rxe7 32. Rf4 g5 33. hxg5 fxg5 34. Rf8+ Kg7 35. Nf5+ Kxf8 36. Nxh6+, winning) 28. Bxd6 a rare triple skewer by a bishop.

The exchange is lost, and soon Black’s game collapses as well: 30. g5 Ng4 31. Nxg4 Bxg4 32. Rxf6 Rc8 (Rxf6 33. Rxf6 Nxc3 34. Rxc6 Ne2+ 35. Kf2 a5 36. Ra6) 33. R1f4 Bd7 34. Bf1, and Black faces 34…Nb6 (White’s threat was 35. Bc4+ Kg7 [Kh8 36. Rf8+ Rxf8 37. Rxf8+ Kg7 38. Rg8 mate] 36. Rf7+ Kg8 38. Rf8+ Kg7 38. R4f7 mate) 35. c4! Be8 36. c5 Nd7 37. Bc4+ Kg7 38. Re6, with crushing threats. Efimenko resigned.


Another strong Swiss and another hot streak featured in the play at the 4th Moscow Open, winding up in the Russian capital.

The 22-year-old Russian GM Alexander Riazantsev set the early pace with four wins in his first four games, including a whirlwind mating attack against compatriot GM Valeri Yandemirov. In a Grunfeld, White’s attacking scheme is not subtle, but he needs to find a series of star moves and a couple of sacrifices to make it work.

White’s push with 15. e5! c5 (Black must find counterplay and fast) 16. Qg5 cxd4 17. cxd4 e6 18. h4 makes his intentions plain enough, and Black hustles his knight back to the king-side to shore up the defense.

With so much Black defensive attention focused on the g6-square, White must find a creative way to break down the fortress. Riazantsev answers the challenge with 22. Nf4! Qxd4 23. Bc2 (hxg6 hxg6 24. Nxg6?! is premature in light of 24…fxg6 25. Bxg6 Qxd1+ 26. Kh2 Bxe5+ 27. Qxe5 Nf5 28. Bxe8 Qd8!, as noted on the chessvibes.com Web site) Qc5 24. hxg6! (ignoring the attack on his bishop to go after the Black king) Qxc2 (see diagram) 25. Rd8!! (any less forcing move allows Black to consolidate with 25…hxg6) Rxd8 26. g7!.

Now Black’s only defensive chance was 26…Qd1+ 27. Kh2 Nf5 28. gxh8=Q+ Kxh8 29. Nh5 f6 30. Bg7+ Kg8 32. Bxf6+ Kf7 and the king escapes the coffin corner. But White in any case stays on top in lines like 32. Bxd8 h6 33. Qf6+ Ke8 34. Qh8+ Kd7 35. Nf6+ Kc6 36. Bxb6!. Instead, Yandemirov chooses the faster fate with 26…Rd1+? 27. Kh2 Nf5, and packs up after 28. gxh8=Q+ Kxh8 29. Nh5! f6 30. Qxf6+ Kg8 31 Qf8 mate.

6th Gibtelecom Masters, Gibraltar, England, January 2008


1. c4Nf618. g4c6

2. Nc3e519. Ra2Ne6

3. g3Bb420. Bg3Neg5

4. Bg2Bxc321. Qd3Qe7

5. bxc30-022. h4Ne6

6. d3d623. Rb2Rab8

7. e4Nc624. Rbf2Nh6

8. Ne2Bd725. c5bxc5

9. h3Ne826. dxc5Nxc5

10. 0-0a627. Qxd6Qxd6

11. a4b628. Bxd6Nxa4

12. f4exf429. Bxf8Rxf8

13. Bxf4Ne530. g5Ng4

14. Nd4g631. Nxg4Bxg4

15. Nc2Ng732. Rxf6Rc8

16. Ne3f633. R1f4Bd7

17. d4Nf734. Bf1Black


4th Moscow Open, Moscow, February 2008


1. d4Nf617. cxd4e6

2. c4g618. h4Nc6

3. Nc3d519. Rfd1Ne7

4. cxd5Nxd520. h5Rac8

5. e4Nxc321. Rxc8Bxc8

6. bxc3Bg722. Nf4Qxd4

7. Bc40-023. Bc2Qc5

8. Ne2Nc624. hxg6Qxc2

9. 0-0Na525. Rd8Rxd8

10. Bd3b626. g7Rd1+

11. Be3Qd727. Kh2Nf5

12. Rc1Bb728. gxh8=Q+Kxh8

13. Qd2Rfe829. Nh5f6

14. Bh6Bh830. Qxf6+Kg8

15. e5c531. Qf8 mate

16. Qg5cxd4

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

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