Crystal City just had a golden moment as two of the best open tournaments on the American chess calendar took over the close-in Virginia suburb for the past two-plus weeks.
We have to count GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, the first Iranian ever to achieve the game’s top title, the fortnight’s big winner as he registered the only “double-first” at the third annual D.C. International Tournament and the 43rd running of the World Open, held just days apart at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.
Maghami was part of a four-way tie at the top of the D.C. International with an undefeated 7-2 score, along with English GM Luke McShane (making a rare visit to Washington), Indian GM Magesh Panchanathan and Texas-based Belarus IM Andrey Gorovets.
The D.C. International wrapped up June 30, and the World Open rolled in just four days later. Annually one of the premier Swiss tournaments in the U.S., the World Open this year produced its traditional Fourth of July bumper crop of winners, with Maghami again sharing the honors at 7-2 with no less than seven of his grandmaster friends: Ilya Smirin (Israel); Rauf Mamedov (Azerbaijan); Romain Edouard (France); Illya Nyzhnyk (Ukraine); Alexander Ipatov (Turkey); Axel Bachmann (Paraguay); and Brooklyn’s own Aleksandr Lenderman, the lone American in the top group.
The 25-year-old Lenderman was able to claim bragging rights, winning the World Open crown on tiebreaks in an Armageddon playoff over Mamedov Sunday evening.
It was a heartening sign of the vibrancy of the local chess scene — the World Open and its various class tournaments attracted nearly 1,200 players for the holiday weekend tournament.
Just as impressive is the list of top players who came up just short, with McShane and former U.S. champions Gata Kamsky, Alex Shabalov and Alex Stripunsky among the also-rans at the World Open.
—- GM Artur Jussupow, the 55-year-old Russian-born German star who qualified for three world championship candidate cycles between 1986 and 1992, treated local fans with a rare appearance at the board in both events, finishing just a half-point out of first in the D.C. International despite his very limited playing schedule these days. Jussupow showed some veteran savvy in getting quick win over New York FM Adarsh Jayakumar at the D.C. tournament, finding a neat little swindle to wrap things up in the 16 moves.
Jussupow as White adopts the deceptively placid Colle System with 5. b3, and Black fails to appreciate the danger until it’s too late. Black’s 11. Qf3 g6?! (moving pawns in front of the king when one doesn’t have to often leads to grief) 12. Rad1 Ne8?! (Rc8 13. Qh3 cxd4 14. Bxd4 Nc5 is very playable for Black) already leaves Jayakumar’s king looking a little bereft, and White decides to pounce.
There followed 13. Qh3 cxd4 (on 13…Ng7, Black finds trouble in lines such as 14. Qh6 Nf6 15. Ndf3 Nf5 16. Bxf5 exf5 17. dxc5 Bxc5 18. Nd7! Bxe3+ 19. Kh1 d4 [Nxd7?? 20. Qg7 mate] 20. Nxf6+ Qxf6 21. Rxd4!) 14. Bxd4 Nc5 15. Rf3! (see diagram; objectively, 15. Ng4 is even stronger, but White lays a cunning trap that Black fails to discover), and Black is still playing uphill after 15…Bxe5 16. fxe5 Nxd3 17. Qh6 Qe7 18. cxd3.
But Black fails to sense the danger and it’s over on 15…Qe7?? 16. Nc6!, and Jayakumar stops the clocks as the queen sacrifice is child’s play for a grandmaster after 16…Bxc6 17. Qxh7+! Kxh7 18. Rh3+ Qh4 19. Rxh4+ Kg8 20. Rh8 mate.
Maghami stumbled in the World Open with a Round 2 loss to Canadian FM Michael Song, but got back in to the hunt with four straight wins, including a victory over tough Filipino IM Angelo Young in Round 5 that ranks as one of the best games played in either event.
There’s a fair amount of early positional skirmishing in this Averbakh Modern Defense. When Young’s hoped-for play along the open a-file comes to naught, Black finds his forces ill-placed when White suddenly switches fields. After 32. Rad1 Qf8 33. f4 Qe7?! (better seems 33…Nf6, though White can try a pawn break on the queenside with 34. c5 bxc5 35. bxc5 exf4 36. cxd6!, with a clear edge), Black’s seven pieces make a pretty array along the second rank but prove badly disorganized against Maghami’s spirited assault.
There followed 34. f5! g5 35. f6+! Rxf6 36. Rxf6 Qxf6 (no better were 36…Nxf6?? 37. Nf5+ or 36…Kxf6 37. Bh5! [threatening 38. Qf2+ Kg7 39. Nf5+] Ke6 38. Ncd5 cxd5 39. exd5+ Kf6 40. Qc2 Qg7 41. Rf1+ Ke7 42. Nf5+ and wins) 37. Rxd6!, when 37…Qxd6 runs into the same knight fork on f5.
White keeps throwing material at Black to break down his defenses: 39. Rxh6 Nf6 40. Nd5! Ncxd5 (cxd5 allows fun lines such as 41. Qxe5 Nce8 42. Rh8+ Ng8 [Kf7 43. Bh5+ Nxh5 44. Nh6+ Kg6 45. Qf5+ Kg7 46. Rh7 mate] 43. Nh6 Nef6 44. Qxg5 Ra1+ 45. Kg2 Ke7 46. Rh7+ Ke6 47. Qf5+ Kd6 48. e5+ Kc6 49. Qe6+ Qd6 50. Qxd6 mate) 41. cxd5 Bc8 42. Qxe5 (Black’s defenses collapse with the loss of this pawn) Ng8 43. Rxc6 Bxf5 44. Qxf5+ Rf7 45. Rc8, and it’s over after 45…Rxf5 46. Rxd8+ Ke7 47. Rxg8 and wins.
Jussupow-Jayakumar, 3rd D.C. International, Arlington, Va., June 2015
1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 c6 4. Bd3 Nbd7 5. b3 e6 6. O-O Bd6 7. Bb2 O-O 8. Nbd2 b6 9. Ne5 Bb7 10. f4 c5 11. Qf3 g6 12. Rad1 Ne8 13. Qh3 cxd4 14. Bxd4 Nc5 15. Rf3 Qe7 16. Nc6 Black resigns.
Maghami-Young, 43rd World Open, Arlington, Va., July 2015
1. c4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. e4 d6 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Be3 Bd7 6. Nf3 Nf6 7. d5 Nb8 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O Ng4 10. Bd4 e5 11. dxe6 fxe6 12. Bxg7 Kxg7 13. Nd4 Nf6 14. Qd2 e5 15. Nc2 Bc6 16. Qe3 b6 17. b4 a5 18. a3 Nbd7 19. Qd3 Ra7 20. Nd5 Qa8 21. f3 Rf7 22. Qc3 Nh5 23. g3 Nhf6 24. Nce3 h6 25. Bd3 Qd8 26. Rad1 axb4 27. axb4 Qa8 28. Ra1 Ne8 29. Be2 Bb7 30. Qb2 c6 31. Nc3 Nc7 32. Rad1 Qf8 33. f4 Qe7 34. f5 g5 35. f6+ Rxf6 36. Rxf6 Qxf6 37. Rxd6 Qd8 38. Nf5+ Kf8 39. Rxh6 Nf6 40. Nd5 Ncxd5 41. cxd5 Bc8 42. Qxe5 Ng8 43. Rxc6 Bxf5 44. Qxf5+ Rf7 45. Rc8 Black resigns.
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