Bachmann Prevails in Western Class
By Randy Hough   
March 16, 2011
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The 18th edition of CCA’s Western Class Championships was not one for big surprises. The turnout (212 plus seven reentries) at the Renaissance Agoura Hills Hotel was just a bit better than last year’s, and the top seed (and only GM in the field; he’s held the title for three years) won. 21-year-old Axel Bachmann of Paraguay, a student (international business) at the Americas-oriented University of Texas at Brownsville, scored 4½ of 5, finishing with a nice win over Los Angeles IM Andranik Maztikozyan. Axel was playing in California for the first time.



White’s 16.Ng3 in an even position was the first step downhill, though Fritz cites 17. e5 dxe5 18.fxe5 Nxb3 19.axb3 Ng4 20.Nce4 Bxe4 20.Qxe4 Rc8 as approximately equal. In the game continuation, White’s e-pawn proved untenable. Axel took home a nice prize of $1850 (including an $88 bonus for clear first place).

Recent UT Dallas grad Jacek Stopa of Poland finished with 4 points. He’s now living in Northern California while awaiting admittance to a masters program. He downed IM Tim Taylor (score undecipherable, alas) in the last round.

A local player, Tatev Abrahamyan, also tied for second with a nice win over the powerful IM Enrico Sevillano, picking up 36 rating points. She’s a student in political science and psychology at California State University Long Beach, and is looking forward to the U.S. Women’s Championship in Saint Louis. Tatev still plays as a Woman FIDE Master; though qualified for a higher title, she’s waiting for unadorned International Master honors.



Black’s 17…Be7 in this topical Sveshnikov Variation appears too passive (17…Qe7!), and White eventually got a winning “heavy pieces and opposite bishops” attack while Black’s rooks remained uncoordinated.

FM David Roper of Washington State took Under 2300 honors with 3½. Who knows what would have happened had he not taken a last round bye to fly home? He ruined Matikozyan’s tournament in the first round:



White’s sac of a piece for two pawns was actually not justified, and after 31…Nb7! 32.Bxe5 Bxe5 33.Rxe5 Nd6 with a Nimzovichian blockade of the passed d-pawn, Black should win. Instead, the light squares open up for White’s attack and the pawn wreaks vengeance, allowing a cute queen “pseudo-sac.”

Sevillano and Ankit Gupta also scored 3½.

Fifth seed, Peruvian IM Max Cornejo (another UTB player), coming out of an unusual opening, showed that closed positions do not always remain so! Black’s 11th move was one culprit.



One perfectionist, local FM Mike Casella, typically withdrew after four rounds while still in the money. His amusing first round game shows the potential power of that fianchettoed bishop on g2 when Black plays …dxc4.



Vanessa West has been a popular favorite in Los Angeles for some years. On this occasion she seemed to be in time pressure in a tactical position every round, with a small crowd observing. She emerged unscathed with a perfect 5-0 to win the Expert section, gaining 43 points and earning her first Master rating. Vanessa is a senior at UCLA, studying English literature. Two other local players, Takashi Kurosaki (unusually, playing all five rounds!) and Jacob Lopez, trailed by a point.

Alex Guillermo, of the local high desert city of Lancaster, was also perfect, tallying 5-0 in Class C – and not surprisingly earning a robust 160 point rating gain. He could have clinched a tie with a final round draw, but gave his rivals no chance to catch up.

Other section winners included Northern California youngster Udit Iyengar and local guy Ruperto “Junior” Dilig (tied with 4½ in Class A); Central Californian Mark Keller (4½ in Class B), and another local player, Richard Ahorro, who racked up 4½ in Class E. Class D ended in a four-way tie at 4-1, among local youngsters Kevin Yao and Mick Peterson, Northern California junior Aaron Green, and USC freshman Sloan Christopher Setiadikurnia (whew!).

Fittingly for a tournament with a regional designation, nine states besides Southern California were represented. The balmy temperatures and beautiful view of the Conejo Valley (just west of the San Fernando Valley) marked a pleasant contrast to the winter conditions prevailing in much of the nation. Once again, no one forgot about Daylight Savings; perhaps all those pastel signs warning of the imminent time change had something to do with that! Steve Immitt and this writer directed for CCA.

See MSA rated results and prize breakdowns on westernclass.com. Another UTB student, GM Timur Gareyev tied for first with GM Mark Paragua at another major Grand Prix, the Marchand Open. See that crosstable here.