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Matikozyan and Ramirez Top Western Class Print E-mail
By Randy Hough   
March 18, 2010
GM Alejandro Ramirez
Our account of the Western Class Championships resumes with seven players tied for first after three rounds.

On Sunday morning GM Alejandro Ramirez drew with IM Enrico Sevillano, as did Ron Hermansen with FM David Roper of Washington. GM Melik Khachiyan also halved the point, with Mike Casella, who had winning chances despite a 300-point rating difference and the Black pieces. IM Andranik Matikozyan took the clear lead with an exciting win over UTD student Chaitanya Vaidya.


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3
The Saemisch is an infrequent visitor these days, but will surely come back into fashion.
5...0-0 6.Be3 Nc6 7.Nge2 a6 8.Qd2 Rb8 9.h4 h5
Black's ninth move is the most common. 10.Nc1, going to b3, is a major alternative for White here.
10.0-0-0 e5
Little explored; the logical follow up 10...b5 has been preferred.
11.d5 Na5 12.Ng3 b6 13.Be2 Bd7 14.Nf1 b5 15.Bh6?!
15.Nxb5 or 15.c5 keeps it even. Now White gets tied up on the queenside.
15...b4 16.Nb1 Ba4 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Re1 Bb3! 19.Qg5 Bxc4 20.Bxc4 Nxc4 21.b3 Nb6 22.g4 Rh8 23.Ng3 Kf8
Black's kingside discomfort is temporary, while he remains a pawn up.
24.Ref1 Nbd7 25.Nd2 Nc5 26.Kc2  
Now Black offers a temporary pawn sac, securing the beautiful d4 square for his knight. 26...c6! 27.dxc6 Ne6 28.Qe3 Qb6 29.Nc4 Qxe3 30.Nxe3 Nd4+ 31.Kb2 Nxc6 32.g5 Nd7 33.Ne2 Nb6 34.Rc1 Rc8 35.Rhd1 Ke7 36.f4 Rhd8 37.f5 Na7 38.Rb1 Nb5 39.Rd3 Rc6 40.Rf1 Rdc8 41.fxg6 fxg6 42.Rf6 Na3?!
An attractive concept, but holding on with 42...Rg8 is preferable.
White cannot afford 43.Rxg6 Rc2+ 44.Nxc2 Rxc2+ 45.Ka1 Nc8.
43...Rg8 44.Ng3 a5 45.Nd5+ Nxd5 46.exd5 Rc7?
46...Rc3 is equal.
47.Re6+ Kf7 48.Ne4 Kg7 49.Nf6
Why not 49.Nxd6; can't White believe he's suddenly better?
49...Rf8 50.Rxd6 Rfc8 51.Rd7+ Rxd7 52.Nxd7 e4 53.Nb6??
53.d6 or 53.Re2 and it's equal.
53...e3 54.Re2 Rf8 55.Rxe3 Rf1
And that potential mating net finally becomes reality. 0-1

With White against Khachiyan in the final round, Matikozyan was able to make a quick draw. Ramirez easily beat a fatigued Casella (who in the vagaries of the swiss system got two blacks the last day). Sevillano, in time pressure against Hermansen, passed up a chance to press for a win and halved the point.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.c3 Bg7 12.Bd3 Be6 13.Qh5 0-0 14.Ne3 f4 15.Nf5 Bxf5 16.Qxf5 Ne7 17.Qh3 d5 
Out of book, finally! 18.0-0 and 18.Rd1 have been played.
18...Ng6 19.Nc2 d4 20.Nb4 dxc3 21.bxc3 Rc8 22.Nd5 Re8 23.Bc2
As Black didn't immediately challenge the Nd5 with 22...Ne7, White grabs the opportunity to place his bishop on the a2-g8 diagonal - at a price.
23...Ne7 24.Bb3 Nxd5 25.Bxd5 Qa5! 26.Rc1 b4 27.c4 b3+ 28.Kf1 bxa2 29.Kg2
White's passed pawn and potential pressure on f7 give him compensation for that nasty-looking pawn on a2.
29...Rb8 30.g5 Re7 31.c5 Rb2 32.Rhf1 Qd2?
32...Rc7, preventing the check and blockading White's c-pawn, gives good winning chances.
33.Qc8+ Bf8 34.Qxa6 f3+
The IM goes for perpetual check, though he could still try to win with 34...Rd7 (or, subsequently, 35...Rd7).
35.Kxf3 Qf4+ 36.Kg2 Qg4+ 37.Kh1 Qf3+ 38.Kg1 Qg4+ 39.Kh1 ½-½

And so Matikozyan, a 30-year-old who has lived in Southern California for ten years, tied for first with Ramirez, who epitomizes precocity in every way! The Costa Rica native earned his GM title at 15, and at 21 is about to get his masters degree in video design from UTD, and plans to work in Southern California. Each earned $1294, with Matikozyan receiving a small bonus for his superior tiebreak. Khachiyan, Sevillano, and Vaidya (who downed young Oregonian Steven Breckenridge in the last round) split third.

Hermansen's win was dispiriting to five Under 2300 players, who would have been happy to see him lose and finish with 3, or win and tie for first place. As it was, they earned $69 each for equal second Under 2300! They deserve mention, however, because Ankit Gupta and 15-year-old Michael Yee made Master for the first time. The latter broke 2000 in a previous Western Class; he drew with IMs Jacek Stopa and Tim Taylor in this one. The other Under 2300's with 3 points were Roper, 12-year-old Varun Krishnan, and Ryan Moon, a 14-year-old master who just moved to Southern California. Two peripatetic young players, Luke Harmon-Vellotti of Idaho and Kayden Troff of Utah, had somewhat disappointing results.

Class winners included Francisco Alonso, Tony Miller (two senior citizens!) and Marian Nick Nita in Expert. Alonso demonstrated that a bit of luck never hurts:


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nf3 e6 4.g3 Ne4!? 5.Bg2 Bb4+ 6.Bd2  7.0-0 0-0 8.e3
An unnecessary weakening of the light squares. Eiher 8.d5 or 8.a3 improves.
8...f5 9.b3 g5 10.a3 Be7 11.Ne1 Qe8?!
11...d5 is better.
12.Nd3 Bf6 13.Nc3 Qg6 14.Qc2?!
Setting up some tactics for Black. 14.Nb5, hitting the vulnerable c7 square, is best, as White can withstand anything Black throws at the kingside.
14...Bxd4 is an alternative, giving Black three pawns and a rook for two pieces after 15.exd4 Nxd4 16.Qa2 Nxd2 17.Qxd2 Nxb3, but Alonso continues to play for kingside attack and is soon rewarded.
15.f3 Nxd4!??
Objectively best, and equal, is 15...Nxc3...
16.exd4 Bxd4+
White drops his guard and walks into a mate in three. 17.Nf2 is good for him, with a move favorable version of two pieces versus rook than the variation above.
! 0-1

Simone Liao tied with Jim Castro in Class A, and Leo Kamgar was first B. Simone, 11, and Leo, 9, are both students of GM Khachiyan. The other class winners were James Horton in C, Cory Bernard in D, Michael Scrivner and Andrew Santoso in E, and Marcus Sparks in Under 900. As an unrated player, Sparks won only $100.

Though the tournament had its share of minor disputes, it featured one highly positive attribute. A typical Sunday morning round in a large tournament usually entails a couple of forfeits, and the advent of Daylight Savings time would have been expected to exacerbate the problem. In fact, there were none, as players heeded the ubiquitous written and verbal warnings and made sure to set their clocks ahead.

And the Western Class proved that though six rounds and a three-day weekend are preferable, it can do fine on a "regular" weekend too.

See the Western Class Championships MSA with rating changes and final crosstables.  

March - Chess Life Online 2010

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