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Chess: Alejandro Ramirez wins U.S. Open

August 15, 2010|By Jack Peters, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Position No. 6120: White to play and win. From the game Jimmy Mardell-Joel Eklund, Sweden 2010.

Solution to Position No. 6119: White wins with 1 e5! Bc6+ 2 Kf2, as 2…dxe5 permits 3 Rxh6+! Qxh6 4 f6+ e4 5 Qg7 mate.

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez of Costa Rica won the 111th U.S. Open in Irvine last Sunday. Ramirez, a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, yielded draws only to top-seeded GM Varuzhan Akobian and his former UTD teammate, IM Julio Catalino Sadorra. His 8-1 score included a victory against GM Melikset Khachiyan and a crucial eighth-round upset of GM Alexander Shabalov.

Akobian, Sadorra, Shabalov and 14-year-old phenom Daniel Naroditsky shared second place at 7 1/2-1 1/2. Southern Californians Khachiyan, IM Andranik Matikozyan, IM Enrico Sevillano, masters Joel Banawa, Matthew Beelby, Ankit Gupta and Bryan Williams Paulsen and top expert Vanessa West all finished among the 18-way tie at 7-2. West defeated four masters and gained more than 70 rating points.

The official attendance of 468 players was the largest since the 2006 U.S. Open in Illinois.

The U.S. Open serves as the annual business meeting for the U.S. Chess Federation. The delegates discussed the USCF's support of former world champion Anatoly Karpov's campaign to unseat Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as president of the World Chess Federation. Less momentous but more relevant to tournament players was the decision to eliminate a five-minute deduction for those who use digital clocks with a time-delay function. Such clocks have rendered analog models obselete.

Local news

The second annual Central California Open takes place next weekend at the Radisson Hotel, 2233 Ventura St. in Fresno. It's a six-round Continental Chess Assn. tournament with a guaranteed minimum prize fund of $12,000. For details, see

The Westwood Summer Open, a five-round tournament of 40-minute games, will be held next Sunday at the Los Angeles Chess Club, 11514 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles. See for information and online entry.

The Bill Smith Memorial, a six-round tournament, begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Senior Citizens building, 405 S. Santa Anita Ave. in Arcadia. More information is posted at

A new club, Metropolitan Chess, will meet five days per week in the penthouse (13th floor) of the California Market Center, 110 E. Ninth St. in Los Angeles. Call Ron Morris at (562) 587-1152 to learn more.

Today's games

GM Alexander Shabalov-GM Larry Kaufman, U.S. Open, Irvine 2010: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Qb3 Botvinnik's 1950s favorite against the Grunfeld Defense. dxc4 6 Qxc4 0-0 7 e4 a6 The Hungarian variation, developed in the early 1970s. 8 e5 b5 9 Qb3 Nfd7 10 e6!? A wild variation that fits Shabalov's style. White has also tried the immediate 10 h4 and the more sedate 10 Be3 Nb6 11 Rd1. fxe6 11 Be3 White can gain material by 11 Qxe6+ Kh8 12 Ng5 Nf6 13 Nf7+ Rxf7 14 Qxf7, but 14…Nc6 fights back. Nb6 12 h4 Nc6 13 h5 Rxf3 14 gxf3 Nxd4 15 Rd1 c5 16 Bxd4 cxd4 17 hxg6 h6 The problem with 17…hxg6 18 Qc2 Qe8 is 19 Bd3! dxc3 20 Bxg6 Qf8 21 Bh7+ Kh8 22 Rh4, when White attacks relentlessly. 18 Rh4 Black has struggled in this variation since Kasparov beat Svidler in 1999 with 18 Rh5 Qe8 19 Ne2 Qxg6 20 Rh1 Kh8 21 Rg1 Qf7 22 Nxd4. Shabalov's new move negates Kaufman's preparation and retains a durable initiative. Nd5 Reasonable. Black can also consider 18…Bf6!? 19 Rh5 (not 19 Rxh6? Qf8) Kg7 or 18…Qd6 19 Ne2 Bb7 20 Nxd4 Bd5, but he should reject 18…Qe8? 19 Rhxd4! Bxd4 20 Rxd4 Bd7 21 Bd3, as White will attack h6. 19 Rhxd4 The alternative 19 Ne2 e5 20 f4 e6 21 Rh5 Nxf4 puts less pressure on Black. Bxd4 20 Rxd4 Bb7?! Inaccurate, as Black needs to defend e6. White has only a small advantage after 20…Qb6 21 Re4 Qc5 or 20…Qb6 21 Rh4 Qd6 22 Rxh6 Nf4. 21 Bh3 Qd6 22 Re4 Nf4?? Only 22…Bc8 23 Ne2 e5 resists. 23 Rxf4! The third exchange sac. Qxf4 24 Qxe6+ Kf8 No better are 24…Kh8 25 Qxe7 and 24…Kg7 25 Bf5. 25 Bf5! Qc1+ Hoping to defend f7 by 26 Ke2?? Qxb2+ 27 Kf1 Qc1+ 28 Ke2 (or 28 Kg2 Qg5+ 29 Kh2 Qf6) Bxf3+! 29 Kxf3 Qxc3+ 30 Kg2 Qf6. 26 Nd1 Qc4 27 g7+! Kxg7 28 Qg6+ Kf8 29 Be6 Qb4+ 30 Nc3, Black Resigns.

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