- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It’s as if Alabama’s football team found itself in the college Final Four lining up against Alabama, Alabama and some random fourth entrant.

That’s roughly how the St. Louis powerhouse Webster University fared at last month’s Pan-Am Intercollegiate team championships in New Orleans. Packed with grandmasters on scholarship while many other schools are lucky to have one, Webster so thoroughly dominated the event that its “A” and “B” teams tied for first (the “B”s actually claiming the title on tiebreaks), with the school’s “C” team a half-point back in a tie for third.

University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s once-dominant team has been swamped by the Webster wave, but still managed a respectable tie for eighth. Since Webster can’t play itself in the Final Four in late March, the school will square off against St. Louis University, Texas Tech and the University of Texas-Dallas.

UMBC may have come up short, but there’s room for individual glory in team events. The Retreivers’ GM Tanguy Ringoir went 5½-½ against some pretty tough competition to take the prize for best score on top board at the Pan-American. He scored UMBC’s only point against the Texas Tech squad with a nice positional win over the Horned Frogs’ GM Andrii Baryshpolets.

In a Closed Catalan, Ringoir as White cleverly exploits Black’s somewhat awkward queenside development to get real pressure after 11. Rc1 Nbd7 12. Nc3 b5!? (an ungainly thrust, but the natural 12…Rc8? loses material to 13. Qa4!) 13. a4 Qb6 14. axb5 Bxb5 15. Nxb5 Qxb5 16. e3, when White would happily trade queen for two rooks after 16…Rfc8?! 18. Qxc8+ Rxc8 Rxc8+ Bf8 19. Rxa7, with a much better game.

Black’s a-pawn turns out to be much weaker than White’s b-pawn, and Ringoir cashes in on 19. Ra4 Qb6 20. Bxd6 Qxd6 21. Rac1 Rfc8 (see diagram) 22. Rxa5!, inviting 22…Rxc2 23. Rxa8+ Nf8 24. Nxc2 g6 25. b4, and Black’s clotted pieces will have great difficulty corralling the passed pawn. White emerges a pawn to the good, and despite Baryshpolets‘ efforts to complicate the play, White never gives up his advantage.

A nice finesse to protect the vulnerable White pawns is 29. Bxe2 Nf8 30. Bf1! (Ne5?! Rxb4 31. Rxf7 Rxd4 32. Raa7 Ne6 is far less persuasive) Ne6 31. Bh3!, pinning the knight. As so often happens, the losing player’s increasingly desperate attempts to generate counterplay lead to his own demise.

Thus: 31…Rc3? (Rc4 was tougher, but White still keeps his edge on 32. Ra8! Rf8 33. Bxe6 fxe6 34. Rxf8+ Kxf8 35. Ra8+ Ke7 36. Ne5) 32. Bxe6 Rxd3 (fxe6 33. Nc5 Rxb4 34. Nxe6 Ne8 35. Re7 Rb8 36. Kg2 and Black is in a dreadful bind) 33. Rxf7 Kh8 34. Raa7 Rxd4 35. Rxg7, and the White pieces swarm around the Black king.

It’s over after 37. Rg6 R4b6 (Ng8 38. Rb6! Ne7 [R4xb6 39. Rh7 mate] 39. Rxh6+ Kg8 40. g4!, with the killer threat of simply 41. g5. On 40…Ng8 41. Bh7, Black must lose the pinned piece and Baryshpolets resigned. A very nice positional win.

Ringoir-Baryshpolets, Pan-Am Intercollegiate Team Championship, New Orleans, December 2016

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O c6 8. Qc2 b6 9. Bf4 Ba6 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. Rc1 Nbd7 12. Nc3 b5 13. a4 Qb6 14. axb5 Bxb5 15. Nxb5 Qxb5 16. e3 a5 17. Bf1 Qb4 18. Ne1 Bd6 19. Ra4 Qb6 20. Bxd6 Qxd6 21. Rca1 Rfc8 22. Rxa5 Rab8 23. Qe2 e5 24. Ra6 Qe7 25. Nd3 h6 26. Ra7 Qe8 27. b4 exd4 28. exd4 Qxe2 29. Bxe2 Nf8 30. Bf1 Ne6 31. Bh3 Rc3 32. Bxe6 Rxd3 33. Rxf7 Kh8 34. Raa7 Rxd4 35. Rxg7 Re4 36. Bf5 Rexb4 37. Rg6 R4b6 38. Rxh6+ Kg8 39. g4 Kf8 40. Rh8+ Ng8 41. Bh7 Black resigns.

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

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