Labor Day Madness, Part II
By Gary Kevin Ware   
September 4, 2008
IM Enrico Sevillano, Photo Gary Kevin Ware
The winner of the 30th Annual Southern California Open, held this Labor Day weekend in Pasadena, is considered the State Champion.

However, over the previous two weekends, a State champion (technically, the State Close Champ) was  determined at an 8-player invitational tournament, the SCCF State Championship. Four players are invited, based on rating, and four more qualify by finishing in the top four at the SCCF Candidates Tournament, the invitees to that tournament being those who had top scores at local tournaments throughout the year. Going into the last round, there was a 4-way tie for first between Enrico Sevillano, Andranik Matikozian, Jack Peters and Alexandre Kretchetov at 4-2. Sevillano and Kretchetov won their games but Matikozian-Peters was drawn in this wild game.

So Sevillano and Kretchetov tied for first place at 5-2 but Sevillano took home the title on tiebreaks, no Armageddon game here! Here's a highlight from Sevillano's result there.

Going back to Labor Day, The Southern California Open wound up in a four-way tie, between Enrico Sevillano, Melikset Khachiyan, Tatev Abrahamyan and Andranik Matikozyan, all at 5-1.

GM Melikset Khachiyan. Photo Gary Kevin Ware

GM Melikset Khachiyan a fixture on the Southern Californian chess scene turned into the following two wins:

Sevillano got revenge for his upset loss to Christian Tanaka, at the SCCF State Championship, and again took home the trophy on tiebreaks. There could have been a 5-way tie for first place but Vadim Kudryavtsev and Garush Maukyan, who both had 4 points going in, drew their game.

Tatev Abrahamyan tied for first in the Southern California Open. Photo courtesy

With regards to my personal experience, first of all, it was a disappointment that just months after moving from Pasadena, the tournament was being held there. Instead of just walking to the tournament, I would have to make a long commute via public transportation. Fortunately, a chess friend of mine, who lives in Pasadena, stepped in, and offered to let me stay at his house over the weekend. Here is one of his wins:

I entered into the Amateur section, and was hoping to end up "in the money." I was very lucky on Saturday, as in both games, I was in time pressure against lower rated players, and in the first game, after I had taken over half an hour in deliberating on my move, my opponent almost immediately hung a piece and I crushed him after that. In the second round, after getting into time trouble, I lost the exchange, but I kept fighting on. I created a passed pawn, and when my opponent moved his King over to attack it, I was able to fork his King and Rook with a Bishop check, and he resigned immediately. On Sunday morning, I played much better, grinding out a victory, after being a pawn down, on the Black side of the main line of the 4 Ng5 Two Knight's Defense, although my opponent played the unorthodox retreat 8 Bd3. So I was 3-0, and feeling pretty good. I had plenty of time between rounds, and so, for better or worse, I went for a long walk, around my old neighborhood. It might have worn me out, but the main thing was that I let myself get in time trouble again and so I did not have enough time to analyze the critical moves. I was White in the following position against Aram Kavoukjian.

I took too long to analyze it, although not deep enough, but I played 29 Rxf8+ Kxf8 (forced, since 29...Q or Rxf8 leads to 30 Qh7#) 30 Qh8+ Ke7 31 Qxg7+ Kd8. But now, being in time trouble, I played the superficially appealing 32 Qf7. It looks good because it keeps the Rook from stopping the pawn and my Queen guards the potential queening square. But after 32...Qe7, Black has nearly equalized. After the game, my friends were saying that the winning move was 32 Qf6+, but the actual winning move was 32 Qh7!. In  hindsight, that is not where I totally lost the game. After 33 Qxe7+ Kxe7 34 h5 Bf3 35 h6 Kf8 36 Nf2 Rc5 37 g7+ Kg8, I only had seconds left, and I played 38 Ne4, when I should have played 38 Be4. He cannot take it, because then I would be both attacking his Rook and threatening 39 Nf6+. So he would have to play 38...Rxe5 39 Bxf3 Rf5, and after 40 Bg4, again he cannot take the piece because of 41 Bxe6+. But after 38 Ne4, he traded, and I played on for about 20 moves, before resigning. So that was very disappointing, considering the fact that I should have won the game. But I was fresh the next morning, and in, believe it or not, my second Steinitz Variation in the Scotch Game, 4...Qh4, after having my Queen chased around from pillar to post, and finally untangling my pieces, I was able to hold my extra pawn, and after sacrificing it to allow my King to penetrate, I reached the following position.

My opponent, Zheng Zhu, set a trap with 44 h5. But because of my knowledge of endgame studies, (see, for instance, g6, 64 Square Problem Tour), I saw that if I played 44...Kxg5, he plays 45 h6 gxh6 46 f6. So I played 44...h6, and then he set another trap with 45 g5, as if 45...hxg5 46 f6 (or h6) gxf6 47 h6. But I did not fall into that trap either and played 45...Kxg5, and he resigned. So once again I was looking good, but I wore myself out with another long walk, and I got into time trouble again in my last round game. However, in my Austrian Attack against his Pirc Defense, I tactically won a pawn, but my kingside pawn attack was too slow and/or overextended and with a well-timed 19...f6, he broke up my pawn structure, and in time trouble, I overlooked that he could take back a pawn with his Queen and both threaten mate and attack a loose Rook. I played on for a few more moves before resigning.

 So it was disappointing that I finished out of the money, especially since I should have won my fourth round game. But if I had won that game, that would not be a guarantee that I would score 5 or more points, since I would then be facing, presumably, stronger opponents. I actually won all 3 games as Black and was only 1-2 as White. A chess tournament like this is not a sprint, but a marathon. It is potentially 3 days of 12 hours of chess. One has to be in good shape both physically and mentally to overcome all of the stresses and strains. I was like the rabbit who set the early pace but fell back in the end. I am not in marathon shape!