- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 6, 2020

As the Good Book says, a little child shall lead them.

A month of U.S. championship tournaments got off to a nice start for 13-year-old California IM Christopher Yoo, who easily captured the U.S. Cadet Championship last week with an undefeated 6-1 score. The event for the top American players younger than 16 often provides an early glimpse of future stars.

In quick succession, U.S. Chess officials this month will be staging the national championship, the women’s national championship, the junior and junior girls’ titles and the U.S. Senior Championship. Like the Cadet in these COVID-19 inflected times, the 2020 title tournaments will have a rapid format and be conducted entirely online.

Look for Yoo to be playing at the grown-ups’ table in the very near future, to judge from his 1½-point victory margin. His score sheet included a fine win over fellow California NM Robert Shlyakhtenko from the Black side of a King’s Indian Reversed, as Yoo equalizes in the open position with fine diagonals for both of his bishops.

Searching for a plan, White finds trouble on 23. Qb3 Bc6 (a6!? 24. Na3 Bc6, playing for the b5-break, was another way to go) 24. Re2 Ne7 25. Bf4 Qd7, and the pressure on the d-pawn induces 26. Ne5?! (safer was Be4 Bd5 27. Rae1, with a solid game) Bxe5! (the light squares around White’s king will prove far more vulnerable than the dark squares around Black’s) 27. Rxe5 (Bxe5 Qxd3 28. Rae1 Bxg2 29. Kxg2 c4 just gives black a clear pawn) Bxg2 28. Kxg2 Qc6+! (better than the immediate 28…Qxd3!? 29. Bxh6 Nc6 30. Re3) 29. Kg1 Rxd3 30. Bxh6 Nf5 — White has managed to keep the material equal, but his kingside is full of holes.

Black breaks through on 31. Bf4 (the dangers are evident in lines like 31. Qc4 Rcd8 32. Qf4 Rf3 33. Qg5 Rdd3 34. Rae1 Rxf2! 35. Kxf2 Qf3+ 36. Kg1 Nxg3 37. R5e3 Qh1+ 38. Kf2 Rd2+ 39. R3e2 Ne4+ 40. Ke2 Rxe2+ 41. Kxe2 Qh2+ 42. Kf3 Nxg5+ 43. hxg5 Qxb2 and wins) Nd4! 32. Qc4 Nf3+ 33. Kf1 Nxe5 34. Bxe5 Qh1+ 35. Ke2 Qf3+, and the White king is in a mating net.
White gives up three moves later, as 39. Ke1 Qxe1+ 40. Kf3 Qxf2+ 41. Ke4 f5 is mate.

Shlyakhtenko had a nice moment of his own in the event with a sparkling miniature win over Connecticut FM Maximillian Lu, in a game illustrating the dangers of early queen pawn-grubbing.

White neglects his development as his queen goes in search of booty, and the punishment is drastic: 15. Qc6 Bb4 16. Qxb5 Rb8 (Black’s developmental lead is already alarming, and now White overlooks the main threat) 17. Qc6? (Qe2 Qa5 18. a3 Bxd2+ 19. Qxd2, and Black can either regain the pawn with 19…Qxd2+ 20. Kxd2 Rxb3, or keep the White king in the center with 19…Qb5!?) Nc5!, when 18. dxc5 Qxd2+ 19. Kf1 Qxb2 20. Qxe6+ Kh8 21. Rd1 Bxc5 is winning for Black.

There’s a certain rough justice to the finale — 18. Rd1 Nd3+ 19. Ke2 Nxb2 20. Qxe6+ Kh8 21. Rb1 Rb6! 22. Qe5 Nd3!, and the White queen finds herself trapped in the middle of the board. Lu resigned.

As promised, here’s the solution to the ingenious two-mover from English composer H.D. O’Bernard we ran last week. (We first came across it online in the 1904 column of the previous incarnation of The Washington Times.)

Particularly clever is how so many promising tries — 1. Qg7 and 1. Be6, for example — fall just one variation short. The White rook on e1 appears to be doing yeoman’s work protecting the e-pawn, but the solution shows it is unexpectedly in the way: 1. Ra1!! (opening up access to the b1-square) Kf5 (1…d5 2. Bd3 mate; 1…e6 or 1…e6 2. Nxd6 mate) Qb1 mate.
A little old-fashioned perhaps, but a fun concept.

Shlyakhtenko-Yoo, U.S. Cadet Championship, September 2020

1. e4 c5 2. d3 d5 3. exd5 Nf6 4. Nf3 Nxd5 5. g3 g6 6. Bg2 Bg7 7. O-O Nc6 8. Nbd2 O-O 9. Re1 b6 10. Nc4 Bb7 11. c3 Qc7 12. Qb3 Rfd8 13. a4 Rab8 14. Qa2 Ba8 15. Ng5 e6 16. Bd2 Qd7 17. h4 h6 18. Ne4 Nce7 19. Ned6 Nc8 20. Nxc8 Rbxc8 21. Ne5 Qd6 22. Nc4 Qc7 23. Qb3 Bc6 24. Re2 Ne7 25. Bf4 Qd7 26. Ne5 Bxe5 27. Rxe5 Bxg2 28. Kxg2 Qc6+ 29. Kg1 Rxd3 30. Bxh6 Nf5 31. Bf4 Nd4 32. Qc4 Nf3+ 33. Kf1 Nxe5 34. Bxe5 Qh1+ 35. Ke2 Qf3+ 36. Kf1 Rcd8 37. Re1 Qh1+ 38. Ke2 Rd2+ White resigns.

Lu-Shlyakhtenko, U.S. Cadet Championship, September 2020

1. b3 d5 2. Bb2 Bg4 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 Nf6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. h3 Bxf3 7. Bxf3 Bd6 8. c4 c6 9. d4 Ne4 10. Bxe4 dxe4 11. e3 O-O 12. Qc2 f5 13. Nd2 b5 14. cxb5 cxb5 15. Qc6 Bb4 16. Qxb5 Rb8 17. Qc6 Nc5 18. Rd1 Nd3+ 19. Ke2 Nxb2 20. Qxe6+ Kh8 21. Rb1 Rb6 22. Qe5 Nd3 White resigns.

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

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