GM Ramirez Coasts to Victory at the US Open
By Randy Hough   
August 9, 2010
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Chief TD Franc Guadalupe and US Open Champ, GM Alejandro Ramirez, Photo courtesy Monroi.com
As the 111th Annual U.S. Open ended at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine, California, GM Alejandro Ramirez maintained his lead and took the championship with a score of 8-1, earning a cash bonus for his clear win. Although the top two boards ended in draws, both were fighting games that would have pleased the late Jerry Hanken, the indefatigable chess promoter after whom this Open was named.
 
Alejandro classifies his draw with Julio Sadorra, a Filipino IM who attends University of Texas at Dallas, as "topsy-turvy," and thought he was winning at one point.



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IM Julio Sadorra, Photo courtesy Monroi.com


An examination of the other top game influenced him to acquiesce in the draw. (He believes his wins over Khachiyan, Round 6, and Shabvalov, Round 8, are also worthy of study!)





GM Varuzhan Akobian remained a half-point behind by drawing with young FM Daniel Naroditsky. He feels he missed a win -- 33.Nf5 instead of 33.Rxg7 as he played -- but praises Daniel for his defensive resilience.
 

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FM Daniel Naroditsky's position gives GM Hikaru Nakamura pause for thought, Photo courtesy Monroi.com


Joining Akobian and Naroditsky in second place with 7 1/2 points was veteran GM Alexander Shabalov. His game against FM John Bryant was highly tactical; Alex freely admits he wasn't always sure who was better, but he eventually pulled in the point.
 


Ramirez, a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, has applied for permanent residency and may change his federation, but for now he continues to represent Costa Rica. The 2011 U.S. Championship in Saint Louis goes to the highest scoring eligible player, but Akobian is a near lock to get in on rating, and Shabalov is also likely to make the rating cut. That leaves Naroditsky as a possible qualifier from this tournament.

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GMs Shabalov and Akobian, Photo courtesy Monroi.com
A large "committee" landed another half-point behind, at 7-2. This included GMs Timur Garayev, Melik Khachiyan, Mark Paragua, Dmitry Gurevich, and Larry Kaufman; IMs Andranik Matikozyan, Enrico Sevillano, Salvijus Bercys, Michael Mulyar, Max Cornejo, and Mark Ginsburg; FMs Matthew Beelby, Jouaquin Banawa, and Jim Dean; and NMs Ankit Gupta, Giovanni Carretto, and Bryan Williams Paulsen. The latter six tied for Under 2400 honors. The top Expert, Vanessa West, also scored 7.
 
Five players tied for second Expert: Kevin Mo, Artur Safin, Jeff Phillips, Michael Bowersock, and Marian Nick Nita. The A players we mentioned in the previous report, John Harwell, Steven Cooklev, and Christopher Pascal, lost in the final round, allowing Roland Feng and Kesav Viswanadha to equal their 6-3 score and split that class prize.
 
The top B players, Solomon Ruddell and Daniel Shaw, scored 5 1/2. Five-pointers Agata Bykovtsev, Vic Alfaro, Carlen Melville, and Edward Dennis Collins, at 5-4, split the rest of the money. Class C honors went to Anthony Mack, Kevin Qian, and Bryan Huang, with 4 1/2. Poker star Allen Cunningham was in a group of nine with 4 points for the remaining money, despite having to fold his hand in each of the last three rounds.
 
The leading Class E player, Ryan Perkovich, actually outscored the D players, garnering four points (both classes offered the same prizes). Kyle Perkovich (presumably of the same family), John Yu, Danial Asaria, Alonzo Sanchez, Harini Balakrishnan, took D honors with 3 1/2. Rounding out the top winners, Trevor Stearman and Alvin Cao tied for second E at 3.5, and Erwin Urrutia was best Unrated with 4.
 
The Open drew 474 players, of whom five were re-entries, two were house players, and eight were GMs who played free per USCF policy. Over 92% of the projected $50,000 prize fund was paid out. (Winners of the two special prizes in memory of Jerry Hanken, donated by Neil Bershad, will be announced August 18.)
 
The Open was a great chess experience for serious players as always, with plenty of side events. Organizer Pat Knight Smith and Chief TD Franc Guadalupe and his staff working hard to ensure optimal conditions for the players. But please let this writer (a player  -- I won't be discussing my result in this tournament -- and sometime TD and organizer) mention one annoyance that was insufficiently discouraged -- forfeits. Short of a cell phone with an annoying ringtone going off during time pressure, few things are more disturbing (to me, anyway) than seeing someone sit for an hour waiting for an opponent who didn't have the courtesy to tell the TDs he was withdrawing. It happened on 12 of the 194 boards in the last round -- over six percent! (None of the 12 victims were re-paired.) Let's all be considerate of others and respect the game!
 
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Fun was had at the 2010 US Open! Photo courtesy Monroi.com

And special thanks to Zeljka Malobabic of MonRoi, who broadcast many of the games live, took a tremendous gallery of photos, and helped this technology-challenged writer get his reports in to the Editor! I hope to see many of our readers at the 112th Annual U.S. Open, July 30 - August 7 next year at the Hyatt Regency (coincidence? maybe not) in Orlando, Florida, even closer to Disney World than the Irvine Hyatt is to Disneyland!