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Five Tie in Vegas; Akobian Top on Tiebreaks Print E-mail
By Randy Hough   
December 30, 2009
GM Alexander Shabalov, three-time winner of the North American Open, Photo Chris Bird
Five GMs emerged atop the Open section of the North American Open at Bally’s in Las Vegas. Varuzhan Akobian (who also tied for first at the National Open in Vegas earlier this year); Josh Friedel of the Bay Area (rebounding from his first round upset), Victor Mikhalevski of Israel, Alex Shabalov of Pittsburgh, and Alex Yermolinsky of South Dakota (at 51, the senior in this group) also scored 5 ½ of 7. Each earned $3790 with Varuzhan Akobian taking home an extra $200 on tiebreak. This marked Shabba’s third NAO win and Akobian’s second.

The last round pairings were set up in Round Six when Friedel downed the talented Northern California youngster, FM Steven Zierk, Akobian drew with Mikhalevski, Shabalov downed IM Emory Tate, and Yermolinsky drew with the sensational 14-year-old Daniel Naroditsky.


North American Open 2009 (6), 29.12.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 b5

The Traxler Variation produces the sort of tactical positions that Friedel favors.
This has scored better than 6.Bxb5 Qxd5.
6...h6 7.Nf3 Qxd5 8.Nc3 Qe6 9.Bxb5 Bb7 10.0–0 0–0–0 11.Re1 Bc5 12.Qe2

Rybka prefers challenging he bishop immediately with 2.Na4.
12...Nd4 13.Nxd4 Bxd4 14.Nd1
Too passive. 14.a4, preparing to attack on the queenside, appears best.
14...Nd5 15.Bc4 Qg6 16.Bxd5
The Black queen should first be challenged with 16.Qd3.
16...Bxd5 17.Ne3 Bxe3 18.fxe3 Qxc2 19.d4?
After 19.b3 preparing Ba3, Black's advantage is minimal at best.
19...Qe4 20.b3 Rhe8 21.Bb2 Re6 22.Qd2 Bb7 23.Rac1 Rdd6 24.Rf1 Rf6 25.Rfe1? 

White has defended well despite Black's better coordinated rooks, and now 25.Rxf6 is equal. The error in the game allows Black to again build up an initiative, remembering the old adage that opposite colored bishops favor the attacker.
25...Rc6 26.dxe5 Rxc1 27.Bxc1 Rg6 28.Re2 Rc6 29.e6 Rxe6 30.Qc2?
The last culprit; 30.Bb2 offers good chances to defend.
30...Rc6 31.Qb2 Qd3 32.Rf2 Ba6 33.Bd2 Rc2 34.Qd4 Rxd2 0–1


Yermolinsky, Alex – Naroditsky, Daniel

Yermolinsky-Naroditsky, White to Move

Rybka shows a mate in 12 beginning with 1.Be8; Yermo would have been satisfied with 1.Bc4, when 1…Rf8 loses to 2.Kg4 Kg6 3.Be4+ Kh6 4.Rh7 #. Instead, he fell for 1.Be6? Rf8 2.Kg4 Kxg6! 3.f5+ (3.Rf7 leaves White a pawn up, but without the opposition) 3…Kh6 4.Kxh4 Rxf5!! when taking the rook is stalemate. Alex tested Daniel with rook and bishop against rook for 50 moves, to no avail.

In the finale, Friedel and Akobian drew quickly, Shabalov beat GM Mesgan Amanov, Yermo downed Siddharth Ravichandran, and Mikhalevski topped FM Alex Kretchetov.  Missing the chance to join the first place tie, Naroditsky and GM Dmitry Gurevich drew, as did IM Mark Ginsburg with IM Lev Milman. David Zimbeck split the point with FM Michael Lee, who had a half-point less. Naroditsky, Zierk, Ginsburg, and FM Kazim Gulamali split Under 2500 honors, and Zimbeck took Under 2300.


North American Open 2009 (7), 29.12.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f4 Qc7 9.g4 h6 10.g5 hxg5 11.fxg5 Nfd7 12.Bg4 Nb6 13.g6 Be7

A nice unbalanced position for a "money game"!
14.0–0 N8d7
14...Bf6 to close the f-file appears to improve.
15.Bxe6 fxe6 16.Qg4 Qc4 17.Be3 Nd5 18.Nxd5 exd5 19.Nd2 Qb5?

19...Qc8 is much better.
20.Rf7 Nf6 21.Qe6 Qd7 22.Rxf6 d4 23.Nc4 Qxe6 24.Rxe6 dxe3 25.Nb6 Rd8 26.Re1 Kf8 27.Rxe3 Bg5 28.Rf3+ Bf4 29.Nd5 Rh4 30.h3 Rc8 31.c3 Rd8 32.Kf2 a5 33.Re7 Rh6 34.Re6 Kg8 35.Ne7+ Kf8 36.Nf5 Rh5 37.h4 d5 38.Rd3 Bc1 39.c4 d4 40.Kf3 Bxb2
Time control has been reached, and Black's desperate efforts to complicate matters have failed.
41.Kg4 Rh8 42.Rb6 Bc1 43.Rxb7 Bh6 44.c5 Ke8 45.c6 1–0


North American Open 2009 (7), 29.12.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3

An old line of the Vienna, giving both players scope for inventiveness.
3...d6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nge2 Nbd7 6.h3 h5 7.d4 c6 8.a4 b6 9.Be3 a6 10.0–0 0–0 11.f4 Bb7 12.Qe1 b5 13.Rd1 Qc7 14.Qf2 Rae8 15.dxe5 dxe5 16.b3
16.fxe5 Nxe5 17.Bb6 keeps equality.
16...b4 17.Nb1 c5 18.Nd2 c4! 19.Nxc4 Nxe4 20.Bxe4?

White will come to regret giving up the two bishops. 20.Qe1 minimizes Black's advantage.
20...Bxe4 21.fxe5 Nxe5 22.Nxe5 Qxe5 23.Bd4 Qg5 24.Be3 Qf6 25.Nf4 Rd8
25...Qf5 or 25...Rc8, attacking c2, keep more pressure on.
 26.Rd4 Qf5 27.Qe2 Rxd4 28.Bxd4 Rd8 29.Nxh5 Qg6 30.Bf2 Bg5 31.Be3? Bb7?

Letting White back into the game. 31...Bxe3+ was indicated.
32.Bxg5 Qxg5 33.Rd1?
Losing. 33.h4 appears to hold, as White will be able to play Nf4 and prevent ...Rd2.
33...Rxd1+ 34.Qxd1 g6
And the knight is lost.
35.Qe1 gxh5 36.Qxb4 Qxg3+ 37.Kf1 Bf3 38.Qe7 Qxh3+ 39.Kf2 Qf5 40.Qd8+ Kh7 41.Ke3 Qe4+ 42.Kf2 h4 43.Qd2 Bg4 44.Qd8 Qe2+ 45.Kg1 Qe1+ 46.Kg2 h3+ and it's mate in two. 0–1

Class winners included George Qi, Michael Chiang, and Jeremy Mandelkern (Under 2100); Pablo Pena, Kola Adeyemi,Vladimir Kolorev and William Li (Under 1900); Mohammed Yousef (the 88th seed in Under 1700); Bekhtur Bayoraa, Peter Shedor; and Nestor Garcia (Under 1500); Michael Higgins (Under 1300); and Peter Kirby, Jinhui Liao, and Michael Zhao (Under 1000; unrated player Sean Crozier scored a perfect 7 but his prize was capped at $200). The turnout of 613 plus 39 re-entries generated a prize payout of over $114,000. See complete standings, photographs and more on the tournament website.

My thanks to Bill Goichberg and the tournament staff, especially “Mon Roi Man” Chris Bird, for their help in getting these reports to you.