Amateur Championships Underway
By Steve Ferrero and Enrique Huerta   
May 24, 2009
Amateur West by Enrique Huerta

In the U.S. Amateur West in Tucson, Arizona, there are 189 players in 4 sections (Championship, Reserve, Booster and 3 scholastic events) which is a new record, beating out last year's 168 players. In the championship section we have 11 experts led by Joseph Kruml, Kevin Zhang, and Benjamin Marmont. GM Alejandro Ramirez is here to analyze players' games, give a simul and a lecture to the tournament participants (or anyone else that happens to come on by). IM Altounian, FM Daniel Rensch, and FM Robby Adamson have also made an appearance.

There was a Blitz tournament Friday night, which is open to all ratings. IM Levon Altounian won with a perfect 10 - 0.

Here are a few games from the main event:

Amateur East by Steve Ferrero

It’s 11:00AM on Saturday morning at the  66th Annual US Amateur East in Somerset, NJ at the Ramada Inn. The tension is already high as the participants pace hurriedly to and from the director’s room to the crowded hallway respectively.  Veteran TD, Ken Thomas with his capable assistants, Aaron Kiedes and Noreen Davisson with their usual efficiency take some last minute onsite entries to make sure the first round comes off on schedule.
As a participant myself in the U2200 section in this event, and after what feels like an eternity, the clock strikes 12:00 as the hallway walls undergo the usual frenzy as the first round pairings post.  After perusing the pairing sheets quickly across all sections, I come across many familiar faces whom I greet casually as I cut my way through the crowd to see my pairing.  I see I will have the black pieces against Bhairov Chandrashekar on board 17.  It appears I have caught the lowest or next to lowest pairing since my rating just squeezed into the top half of the section.  My best estimate would suggest that my young opponent is perhaps 10-12 years old and playing up several sections so I must stay focused and alert to avert disaster!

Latvian Gambit

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nc3 d6 4.exf5 Bxf5 5.d3 Nc6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Be2 Be7 8.Qd2 Ng4 9.Bg5 Bxg5 10.Nxg5 Nd4 11.h3 Nf6 12.Nge4 Nxe2 13.Qxe2 O-O 14.O-O-O c6 15.g4 Bg6 16.d4

 Black now wins a pawn because of the black queen check on g5 at the end of the line.
 16...Nxe4 17.Nxe4 Bxe4 18.Qxe4 Rxf2 19.dxe5 Qg5+ 20.Kb1 Qxe5
 White should probably trade queens and try to hang on to the pawn minus ending trying to target black’s weak central pawn although his work would be cut out for him.
 21.Qd3 d5 22.Rhf1 Raf8 23.Rde1
I suspect that White never expected my rejoinder, 23...Rf8f3.  White cannot contemplate 24.Rxd5? due to the mate in commencing with ...Rxf1+ 25.Qxf1 Rxf1+ 26.Re1 Rxe1#.  Alternatively, 24.Rxf2? would fare no better since ...Qxe1 mates after white is forced to jettison his queen on d1.  If 24.Qxf3,  ...Rxf3 and the black queen remains untouchable due to the back rank mate.  Similarly, the black f3 rook is also taboo due to the other back rank mate on e1.  Therefore, once the white queen moves to...let’s say d1, at a minimum, black has 24...Rxf1 25.Rxf1 (forced due to the still latent back rank mate threats) 25...Rxh3 and black is firmly in control with two pawns to the good and an aggressive posture.
Now, White loses by force
24...Rxf1 25.Qxf3 Qxe1+
White Resigns
My young adversary should be commended, however, for almost finding his way through a rather unusual and very tactical gambit opening.  At such a young age, I’m confident that his abilities will shine in his next tournament.

In the U2200 section, the photo below shows my opponent, Bhairov Chandrashekar (foreground left) can be seen pondering his move while Alexander Ross Katz (foreground right) deep in thought concentrates on finding his best move against Paul Tong.
Photo Steve Ferrero

Here's that game:

Photo Steve Ferrero

Now, there’s a happy player – longtime friend whom I haven’t seen in many years -- Euclides Soto smiling for the camera!  Sitting next to Euclides is Satyajit Malagu.

Photo Steve Ferrero

In the U2200 section, we have Anna R. Matlin (orange shirt) who eventually went on to win a very tough game against the resilient Maximillian R. Sherer.

Look for final reports from the U.S. Amateur East and West early next week.