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Three Lead American Open at Halfway Point Print E-mail
By Randy Hough   
November 28, 2009
GM Melikset Khachiyan, IM Andranik Matikozyan, and Master Julian Landaw lead the 45th Annual American Open at the Renaissance Montura Hotel in Los Angeles at the halfway point with 3½ of 4. The recent passing of Jerry Hanken, who had played in every previous Open and saved the tournament when it lost its corporate sponsorship in 1990, cast a pall over what is normally a festive holiday occasion.

Their paths have been rather different. Khachiyan, playing in the traditional four-day schedule, was unhappy with his play, getting into big trouble in Round One against young Howard Chen of Washington State. Surviving a strong attack and winning, he then downed FM Takashi Iwamoto and the second seed, IM Enrico Sevillano, with a draw against low master Vadim Kudryavtsev sandwiched in. (He also gave a well attended lecture.) Kudryavtsev also downed Sevillano in the big upset of the tournament thus far. Eleven-year-old Kayden Troff of Utah (whose fall schedule had already taken him to San Diego and Reno) is among the three-pointers after upsetting FM Eugene Yanayt.

The three-day Open field proved unexpectedly strong, with the 2006 winner, IM Vladimir Mezentsev, entering at the last minute. Top seed Matikozyan was impressive, with wins over the second and fifth ranked players, FM Alexandre Kretchetov and WFM Tatev Abrahamyan, plus a draw with Mezentsev. Ninth seed Landaw, a UC Berkeley (go Bears!) sophomore who has little time for chess these days, drew Mezentsev and beat FM Greg Small.
With the two schedules merging, Matikozyan will play Khachiyan and Landaw faces Iwamoto on the top two boards.

The turnout of 197 players is frankly disappointing after last year’s 231. The Northern California Federation’s decision to move its open championship (traditionally placed on Labor Day weekend as most states do) doubtless cost a number of entries.

In this preliminary report we give Kudryavtsev’s big (324 point upset).

Kudryavtsev,Vadim - Sevillano,Enrico [D64]

American Open (2), 26.11.2009
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.d4 Be7 5.Bg5 0–0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Rc1 c6 8.a3 Re8 9.Qc2 Nf8 10.Bd3 N6d7 11.Bf4 Bf6 12.0–0 Qe7 13.Bg3 Ng6 14.Rfe1 dxc4 15.Bxc4 e5 16.Ne4 Nb6 17.Nxf6+ gxf6 18.Be2 Bd7?

After Bd7

Having played an uninspired game and being forced to weaken his kingside (17…Qxf6? 18.Nxe5 simply wins a pawn for White), Sevillano misses the chance to keep things unbalanced with 18…e4 or 18…Nd5.  Now White’s attack begins…
19.h4! Bg4?
…and Black simply blunders. 19…e4 still made the best of an unpromising position.
 20.Nxe5! fxe5 21.Bxg4 exd4 22.exd4 Qxe1+ 23.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 24.Kh2
The two rooks and two knights are no match for the queen and beautiful bishops.
 24…f6 25.h5 Nf8 26.Qb3+ Kg7 27.Bf4 Re7 28.Bd6 Rae8 29.Qg3 Kf7 30.Bf5 Nd5 31.h6 Ng6 32.Bxe7 Rxe7 33.Bxg6+ hxg6 34.Qb8 Re8

 35.Qxe8+! 1–0
A nice finishing touch.

On the opposite coast, see standings and live games on Monroi from the National Chess Congress , where GMs Robert Hess, Michael Rohde and Alexander Stripunsky have joined in for the two-day Premier.