- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2017

There was some real Filipino flavor atop the leaderboard at the ninth annual Chesapeake Open this month at the Rockville Hilton.

GMs Julio Sadorra and Mark Paragua tied for first in the Maryland Chess Association event at 6-1, a full 1½ points clear of the field. Maryland IM Levan Bregadze and FMs Prav Balakrishnan of Virginia and Sahil Sinha of Maryland were the top local scorers, finishing in a tie for third with veteran New Jersey GM Alexander Fishbein at 4½-1½.

In a nice write-up of the event on Chess Life Online (new.uschess.org), Sadorra told reporter Jamaal Abdul-Alim that he, Paragua and fellow Philippine GM Oliver Barbosa, all in the field in Rockville, go way back together.

“It’s nostalgic in a good way, because no one knew that we would end up playing together, winning tournaments together, when we were just 10 years old, 12 years old, playing the international kiddies,” said the Texas-based Sadorra, a graduate of the college chess powerhouse University of Texas at Dallas and now a coach and trainer at the North Texas Chess Academy.

Despite their roots, the three friends did not go easy on one another. Sadorra’s game with Paragua was a long, hard-fought draw, and his Round 4 win over Barbosa was one of the best games of the event, featuring a vicious attack on his old buddy’s king.

The Slav Exchange line (3. cxd5 cxd5) is not the sharpest of opening choices, but it does clarify the central pawn structure early and sets the stage for a nice positional battle. Both sides methodically develop their positions, and once the pieces are in place with 16. Rac1 Bb4 17. Rfd1, the real show begins.

Barbosa’s 17. Bxc3!? is the first real committal move of the contest, saddling White with a backward pawn on the half-open c-file. Sadorra counters with a line-opening central break with 18. bxc3 b5 19. f3 Qe7 20. e4!, and Black doubles down on his queenside play with 20…Qa3?! 21. Qd4 Nc4 (trying to counter White’s play on the other flank with 21…Nh5 is bad because of 22. exd5! Nxf4? 23. Qxf4 exd5 24. Qf5!, threatening mate on h7 and the loose rook on c8) 22. Nxc4 bxc4 23. Bb1. Black’s initiative appears to stall as the White bishop does double duty defending a2 and controlling the critical b1-h7 diagonal.

Barbosa underestimates the danger with 23…Nd7? (removing the Black king’s last, best defender; tougher was 23…Ba4 24. Bxh6!? Ne8! [Bxd1? 25. Bxg7 Kxg7 26. Qg5+ Kh7 27. exd5+] Re1 gxh6 26. Qxh6 Ng7 27. exd5, although White is still better) 24. exd5 exd5 (see diagram) 25. Bxh6!, a classic line-opening sacrifice that rips open the pawn cover around the Black monarch. Even with the White rooks still far from the action, Sadorra’s queen and bishop prove sufficient to do the job.

After 25…gxh6 26. Qxh6 f5 (the only move to avoid immediate catastrophe) 27. Qg5+ Kh8 28. Bxf5, covering up with 28…Rf7 is inadequate in light of 29. Re1 Qf8 30. Re6 Nf6 31. Rxf6 Rxf6 32. Bxc8, and White is three pawns to the good. After the game’s 28…Rxf5 29. Qxf5 Qf8 (Qxa2 30. Re1 Qd2 31. f4 Rb8 32. Rcd1 Qb2 33. Re7 and wins) 30. Qxd5 Nf6 31. Qg5 Rc7 32. Re1, White’s material edge is good enough for an easy endgame win, but Sadorra would rather wrap things up sooner.

Black’s clustered pieces after 37. Re5 Bf5 make for a pretty family portrait, but they are no match for White’s buzzing rooks and queen. After 38. Rh8 Rh7 39. Qg3+ Kh6 40. Rxf5!, Black resigns as it’s hopeless after 40…Rxh8 41. Qh4+ Kg7 42. Rg5+ Kf8 43. Qxh8+ Ke7 44. Rg7, and the queen is lost.

Congratulations to TD Mike Regan for a successful event and to all the Chesapeake section winners: Under 2200 — Eugene Hua, 6-1; Under 2000 — Konstan Molodtsov, 6-1; Under 1800 — Ferdinand Supsup, 6½-1½; Under 1600 — Ganesh Rayavarapu and William Stoner, 5-1; Under 1300 — Christopher Wang, 6-1; Under 1000 — Isaac Stevens, Allison Tay and Dawit Abrham, 5-2.

Sadorra-Barbosa, Chesapeake Open, Rockville, Md., January 2017

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Bf4 Nc6 5. e3 Nf6 6. Nc3 Bf5 7. Qb3 Na5 8. Qa4+ Bd7 9. Qc2 Rc8 10. Bd3 e6 11. Nf3 Be7 12. h3 0-0 13. 0-0 h6 14. Ne5 Be8 15. Qe2 a6 16. Rac1 Bb4 17. Rfd1 Bxc3 18. bxc3 b5 19. f3 Qe7 20. e4 Qa3 21. Qd2 Nc4 22. Nxc4 bxc4 23. Bb1 Nd7 24. exd5 exd5 25. Bxh6 gxh6 26. Qxh6 f5 27. Qg5+ Kh8 28. Bxf5 Rxf5 29. Qxf5 Qf8 30. Qxd5 Nf6 31. Qg5 Rc7 32. Re1 Rg7 33. Qf4 Bd7 34. Rb1 Kh7 35. Rb8 Qf7 36. Qh4+ Kg6 37, Re5 Bf4 38. Rh8 Rh7 39. Qg3+ Kh6 40. Rxf5 Black resigns.

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

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