- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 3, 2015

There was an unfamiliar name at the top of the leaderboard as GM Felipe El Debs emerged as the sole winner of the second annual Washington Chess Congress last month at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, going 7½-1½ in the 47-player Premier section field that included five grandmasters and a number of other titled entrants.

The 30-year-old Brazilian is not so well known in this hemisphere, though he did gain some notice with a tie for ninth in this summer’s World Open in Arlington. He showed some fight in his key win over Richmond-based GM Sergey Erenburg in their key Round 6 game — as David Hater writes up in his nice tournament summary (WashingtonChessCongress.com), the top-rated Erenburg offered a draw on Move 6 but El Debs decided to play on. The result: a 25-move win and a stranglehold on first place that the Brazilian never relinquished.

We pick things up from today’s diagram, where White’s attack in the Queen’s Gambit Accepted is already gathering force. Black has just played 19…g6 to try to oust the White pieces gathering around his king. Instead, the assault only gathers speed after 20. Nf6+! Nxf6 21. exf6 (boxing in the Black king and setting up mate threats on g7) Qd6 (gxf5?? 22. Bf4, threatening both the Black queen and a quick mate with 23. Qg3+) 22. Bc2, when 22…Bc7 is met by 23. Re7! Qh2+ 24. Kf1 Qh1+ 25. Ke2 Nd5 26. Bh6 Nxe7 27. fxe7 Re8 28. Qf6 and mate to come.

Erenburg tries a counterattack, hitting both White bishops with 22…Qc5, but White concludes things nicely with 23. Bh6! Qxc2 24. Bxf8 Nd5 (Kxf8 25. Qf4! sets up deadly checks at both d6 and h6) 25. Bd6!, and Black resigns as evicting the killer pawn backfires after 25…Nxf6 26. Qxf6! Bxf6 27. Re8+ Kg7 28. Bf8+ Kg8 29. Bh6 mate.

IM Steven Zierk, the 2010 world under-18 champion who is now a senior at MIT, played one of the event’s nicest attacking games, dealing fellow IM Justin Sarkar his only loss of the tournament in Round 5.

White’s handling of this Grunfeld Defense misfires badly — 10. Nb5?! looks like a serious loss of time and his late attempt for kingside action with 18. h4 utterly fails to deflect Black’s attention. Helped by the subtle 14. e5 Qe8!, freeing the bishop and letting the rook take over the d-file, Black’s queenside pressure quickly gathers force.

The attack produces a picturesquely geometric finale, with White’s king having nowhere to hide: 19. Ne1 Qa4! (the queen returns to the action; the a2-g8 diagonal serves as a light-squared superhighway for Black’s pieces, while White’s bishop remains parked in the driveway on f1) 20. Bd2 Nc4 21. Nd3 b6 22. Re1 Qb3. The queen, bishop and two knights are nicely lined up on the diagonal, 23…Nxa3+ is already a threat, and combinations are in the air.

It’s over after 23. Ka1 Nb4! 24. Bxb4 (axb4 axb4+ 25. Kb1 Na3+ 26. Ka1 Nc2+ 27. Kb1 Ra1 mate) Nxa3! 25. d5 (Bxa3 Qa2 mate; White tries to plug the diagonal, but it’s too little too late) axb4, and White resigned as 26. axb3 (dxe6 Nc2+ mates again) Bxd5 is completely winning.

Congratulations to all the section winners: Under 2100 — Milad Memarian, 6-1 (with my old D.C. Chess League teammate Paul Yavari tied to second a half-point back); Under 1700 — Vernon McNeil and Andrew Wu, 6-1; and Under 1300 — Jason Zipfel, 6-1. Sarkar, who finished in a tie for third in the Premier tournament, shared first in the WCC blitz side event with FM Rostislav Taborsky. Congratulations to all.

Sarkar-Zierk, 2nd Washington Chess Congress, October 2015

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nb6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Qd6 10. Nb5 Qd7 11. Kb1 a6 12. Na3 Rd8 13. Ne2 f5 14. e5 Qe8 15. Qc1 Nb4 16. Nc2 a5 17. a3 N4d5 18. h4 Be6 19. Ne1 Qa4 20. Bd2 Nc4 21. Nd3 b6 22. Re1 Qb3 23. Ka1 Nb4 24. Bxb4 Nxa3 25. d5 axb4 White resigns.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at [email protected]

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