Upsets, Miniatures and Muzak at the North American Open
By Randy Hough   
December 27, 2009
Vincent Huang, here pictured with his father at the 2008 Pan-American Championships
One of the premier tournaments in the U.S., the North American Open appears on track to again attracting over 600 players to Bally’s in Las Vegas for CCA’s mend of the year extravaganza.

The opening round of the four-day schedule included eight GMs: Varuzhan Akobian, Alex Shabalov, Victor Mikhalevski, Sundarajan Kidambi, Josh Friedel, Alex Yermolinsky, Mesgen Amanov and Anthony Lein. And one was the victim of a stunning upset by a 2203-rate FM from Washington State:

Friedel,Joshua - Schill,William [B68]
North American Open 2009 (1), 26.12.2009
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0–0–0 Bd7 9.f4 Be7 10.Nf3 b5 11.e5 b4 12.exf6 bxc3 13.Qxc3 gxf6

A rather familiar position in the Richter-Rauzer. White has scored well with 14.Bh4, though 14.Kb1 and several other moves are fine also. Instead, Josh innovates and incurs immediate disaster.
14.Rxd6?? 14...Bxd6 15.Bxf6 Bb4
And as White's queen cannot continue to defend the bishop, White comes out a rook behind. 0–1

The neighboring board saw another quickie, but with the expected result:

Holliman,Robert - Yermolinsky,Alex [B51]
Noth American Open 2009 (1), 26.12.2009
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.0–0 Ngf6 5.Re1 e6 6.c3 Be7 7.d4 0–0 8.e5 Nd5 9.Bd3 cxd4 10.exd6 Bxd6
Now 11.cxd4 and 11.Nxd4 are about equal, but White, perhaps sensing upsets in the air, strikes out blindly...
11.Bxh7+ Kxh7 12.Ng5+ Kg8 …

and now realizes that Black's only problem after 13.Qh5 is deciding which knight to move to f6. 0–1

Board Eight featured a 301-point upset. The Black player, though untitled, has had some outstanding swiss results lately and is rated 2489.


1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7 11.exf6 Bb7 12.g3 c5 13.d5 Bh6 14.Bxh6 Rxh6 15.Qd2 Qxf6 16.Ne4

This position from Botvinnik's anti-Slav line has occurred before. Black should play 16...Qf3 to preclude White's reply.
16...Qe5? 17.0–0–0 Qxe4 18.Qxh6 Bxd5 19.Rg1

Now, though Black does everything he can to complicate matters, his compensation for the Exchange is simply insufficient.
19...c3 20.Qh8+ Ke7 21.Qxc3 b4 22.Qc2 Qxc2+ 23.Kxc2 Rh8 24.h4 Ne5 25.Be2 Nc6 26.Kb1 Nd4 27.Rd2 Be4+ 28.Kc1 a5 29.Re1 Bd5 30.b3 Kd6 31.Bd1 a4 32.bxa4 e5 33.h5 c4 34.f4 f6 35.fxe5+ fxe5 36.g4 c3 37.Rf2 Ne6 38.Kb1 Nf4 39.Re3 Be6 40.Rh2 Bf7 41.h6 Ne6 42.Bc2 Nd4 43.Be4 Rf8 44.Re1 b3 45.axb3 Bxb3 46.h7 Rh8 47.a5 Ba4 48.a6 Nb3 49.a7 Nd2+ 50.Kc1 Nb3+ 51.Kc2 Nd4+ 52.Kxc3 Rc8+ 53.Kb4 Bb5 54.a8Q Rc4+ 55.Ka3 Rc3+ 56.Kb2 1–0

Fifteen-year-old Huang maintained his composure throughout!

The tournament started on time, with everything in the huge ballroom properly set up by Bill Goichberg and his staff – except for one little detail. The muzak remained on for 24 minutes into the round. (Oh well, I’ve heard much worse). The three-day schedule doesn’t begin until 5 pm Sunday. Standings are posted and updated at and you can also follow live games powered by Monroi throughout the tournament.