IM Justin Sarkar Photo Jennifer Shahade
by FM Todd Andrews
Driving into Cincinnati from the south at night offers you a view of the Ohio River skyline. This sets a great mood and has always made the Kings Island (KI) Open a must each year on my tournament calendar. The KI resort itself in Mason, Ohio also provides excellent conditions as does the tournament staff. This was the 15th time around for the Continental Chess crew and this year's field had surprisingly few top players. Only two Grandmasters made the trip: Zviad Izoria "The 50 grand man", and the cagey veteran Anatoly Lein. By 2:00 pm Saturday both of them had been beat. Three IMs and 4 FMs also attended. With both grandmasters losing and there being no perfect scores going into the final day this made way for anyone to break through. There were plenty of dog fights to get there, such as this game where we see the first GM go down.
White maintained a slight advantage until 23. Rbc2 and the position remained equal even after this mistake. 29. Nd7?? is the culprit though where white needed to kick the knight out of d4 by pushing the e-pawn. This was still great play out of the eventual 1st place winner, IM Justin Sarkar of New York. Justin is a graduate of Columbia University, but told me he has not quite figured out where he is going to go career wise.
IM Sarkar rockin the shades
Tying for the first place money, but losing the playoff game for a little bit extra, was FM Andrew Boekhoff of Florida. Andrew is a Japanese translator and interpreter for a company in Lexington, KY now. Andrew single handedly beat the USCL's Tennessee Tempo drawing me and beating FM Bereolos and LM Wheeler to which was remarked What else is new? Ed. Note: The Tennessee Tempo has had a hard time of it in their first season in the USCL, earning only 1.5/10.
In the final round Andrew was able to take out GM Lein to tie with Justin with 4.0/5.
FM Andrew Boekhoff tied for first with 4/5, but finished 2nd on tiebreak.
Sarkar made it to four points by holding yours truly to a draw in the last round with Black. There was still plenty of life left in the position when I offered the draw but a lack of energy and the desire to get some celebration time in on my 25th birthday made me content with a draw. Justin had achieved a good position as well and caught me off guard with his Albin Counter-gambit.
The board one match up for first place
Many thanks are due to the Monroi company, out of Montreal for providing live web games from Kings Island and these photographs. This was my first experience with the Monroi devices which are small, electronic score keeping devices. (Read an article on monroi and a related controversial rule change.) Each touch screen has a chess board on it and you simply make your move on the little board which is then transmitted via wireless Internet to the monroi operator and then out to cyberspace. You can check it out and download a complete Kings Island pgn file at monroi.com.
Brana Malobabic-Giancristofaro of Monroi.
The French Defense
The French was a prevalent opening in the top boards of Kings Island. I have defended the black side of the French for about ten years now because I remember hearing over and over as a young player how it was feared or annoying to play against. It has a reputation for being a solid defense with sometimes little or no space to work with. Often black must grab a pawn or a weakness and then hold on for dear life, but I am here to say the French defense is an attacking opening!
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 Qb6 8.Nf3 cxd4 9.cxd4 f6 10.exf6 Nxf6 11.0-0 Bd6 12.a3 [12.Nc3 Bd7 13.Bg5 (13.a3 Nxd4 14.Nxd4 Qxd4 15.Bg6+ hxg6 16.Qxd4 Bxh2+ 17.Kh1 Be5+ is a similar trap that occurred in Chow-Andrews World Open 1998) 13...Nxd4!? 14.Nxd4 Qxd4 15.Nb5 (15.Bg6+ hxg6 16.Qxd4 Bxh2+ 17.Kh1 Be5+ 18.Qh4 Rxh4+ 19.Bxh4 were I have always liked Black.) 15...Qe5 16.f4 Qe3+ 17.Kh1 Qb6 18.a4 a5 19.Re1 0-0 20.Nd4 Bc5 21.Nf3 Ng4 22.Bh4 Rxf4 23.h3 Ne3 24.Qe2 Nf5 25.g3 Rxh4 26.Bxf5 Rh6 27.Bg4 Rf8 28.Ne5 Bc8 29.Nd3 Bd4 30.Rac1 Bd7 31.Ra1 Qd6 32.Nf4 e5 was from the second round game with Garret Smith. 0-1] 12...0-0 13.Qc2?! I believe the Queen will be vulnerable on the c-file and she does indeed end up losing valuable time. 13...Bd7 14.b4 Rac8 15.Qb1 e5 16.dxe5 Nxe5 17.Nxe5 Bxe5 18.Bb2 Bxh2+! The Greek Gift! 19.Kxh2 Ng4+ 20.Kg3 [20.Kg1 Qh6 21.Bxh7+ Kh8 22.Be5 Nxe5 and then the knight just returns to g4.] 20...Rxf2 21.Bxh7+ Kh8 22.Qg6 Qc7+ 23.Kh4 Qh2+ 24.Kg5 and now the moment of truth. I must stop mate on g7 and I want my knight off the g-file because it is shielding the white king. I found an idea with Nh6 to defend down the h-file as well. But it did not cross my mind that f6 was the square! 24...Qxh7? [24...Nf6! 25.Bxf6 Rxg2+ 26.Ng3 Qxg3+ 27.Kh5 Rh2+ 28.Bh4 Rxh4#] 25.Rh1 Nh6 26.Bxg7+ [26.Rxh6 Rxg2+; 26.Qxh6 Rf5+ 27.Kg4 Rh5+] 26...Qxg7 27.Rxh6+ Kg8 28.Nf4 Rc4 and it should be a draw after the queen's are traded...heck, White may even be better, but my opponent missed my final cheapo attempt. 29.Rah1 Rxg2+! 30.Nxg2 Rg4+ 31.Kh5 Rxg6 32.Rxg6 Be8 33.Nf4 Bxg6+ 34.Nxg6 Qh7+ 0-1
Todd Andrews is a French aficionado from Tennessee.
There was plenty of good chess being played in KI, but it may not continue unless the declining attendance starts going back up again. So be there next year!
1st-2nd IM Justin Sarkar NY: (won 1st place bonus on tiebreaker) and FM Andrew Beokhoff FL- 4 points
Place 3 - 8, 3.5 points: GM Zviad Izoria NY, IM Dmitriy Berkovich OH, FM Todd Andrews TN, John Cole IN, Richard Shtivelband OH, Annath Pappu OH
Correction: The first CLO report that said Justin Sarkar defeated Andrew Beokhoff in a playoff game was an error. Sarkar did win on tiebreak, but there was no playoff game.