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Sevillano and Matikozyan Tie in Western Class Print E-mail
By Jerry Hanken   
January 23, 2009
Co-champ Matikozyan with Under 2200 champ Michael Yee. Photo chesspalace.com.
IMs Enrico Sevillano and Andranik Matikozyan shared first in the 16th Western Class over the Martin Luther King weekend. The Tournament, coming right before the Inauguration of our first African American President, Barack Obama, gave that weekend added significance.

In the past, the King weekend was used only sparingly for tournaments as many players do not get that Monday off work. This is rapidly changing. MLK day has been recognized as a National holiday for years and even Arizona, the last holdout, fully honors Dr. King's memory on that day.

The Western Class was one of the first Mid Majors to have play on that Monday and this year, it allowed for a seven rounder, the 2nd longest on the West coast after the venerable American Open.

If Agoura Hills were on the East coast, the turnout of 198 players would have been an unmitigated disaster. The Liberty Bell Open, also run by the CCA over the same weekend in Philadelphia, drew a whooping 445 entrants, up about 70 from last year. But yet, the $12000 minimum guarantee at the Liberty Bell was $4000 LESS than the Western Class! The Western Class was based on 230 and paid out about 80% while the Liberty Bell paid the full $20000 projected prizes. (Correction: Due to the higher than usual turnout, The Liberty Bell actually paid MORE than the 20K projected prizes, a total $24,600. CCA president Bill Goichberg points out that the minimum guarantee is lower for the Liberty Bell Open due to the possibility of inclement weather.)

So why does tournament attendance lag on the left coast? That subject has been the focus of discussion and speculation for the last ten years or so. Of course an obvious factor is the tremendous base of USCF members in the Atlantic corridor within easy driving distance of many cities. Gasoline has now dropped in price so much that it is simply not a factor any more. (YHR made a bold prediction on this Website 6 month ago that gas would crash in the fall—see Labor Day Madness in the archives.) But this can hardly be seen as definitive as, only a quarter of a century ago, there were huge turnouts on the West coast. The 1981 US Open in Northern California drew 702 and 2 years later in 198 the largest crowed ever of 846 played in the US Open in Southern California’s Pasadena. The American Open routinely drew 400 in the 70’s and twice broke 500. The Grumette over Memorial Day weekend also drew huge numbers. Now it is lucky to draw 150.
There needs to be a concentrated investigation of this strange anomaly, but we are not going to solve this conundrum in this tournament report, so let's move on.
IM Enrico Sevillano. Photo courtesy chesspalace.com.

In the Master Class, which had 26 official entries, Sevillano, Matikozyan, and Khachiyan went into round seven with the scores of 4.5 of 6. Enrico, who had lost to Matikozyan in round 4, prevailed against the clear leader going into the final round, Alexandre Kretchetov. Kretchetov could have won clear first had he beaten the US Open Champion, or tied for first with a draw.  

With the following last round victory, our U.S. Champion was able to keep up with Matikozyan.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6

A very seldom seen answer to the Lopez. It has the virtue of avoiding "book" lines, which run umpteen moves deep but it, yields a tempo with the Black Bishop on thee dark squares and weakens the King Side.
4.0–0 Bg7 5.c3 d6 6.d4 Bd7 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Bg5 Nge7 9.Qd2 a6 10.Ba4 h6 11.Be3 b6 12.Rd1 Bg4 13.Qe2 Qc8 14.h3 Be6 15.c4 White even has time to make this small move which severely restricts the activity of the e6 Bishop.
 15...0–0 16.Nc3 f5 17.exf5 gxf5 18.Nd5
White is distinctly better here.
Position after 18...Rf7

White gets a long-term grip on the position with this bold move.
19...cxb6 20.Nxb6 Qb7 21.Nxa8 Qxa8 22.Rd6 Qc8 23.Rad1

Enrico demonstrated fine understanding of the position in recognition of the unusual fact that the Rook is a lot better than the Bishop and pawns here. 
23...e4 24.Qe3 Rf8 25.Bxc6 Nxc6 26.Qb6

The poor steed has no good place to go and it is attacked twice and defended only once.
26...Nb8 27.Rd8 Qxc4 28.b3 Qc6 29.Rxb8 Qxb6 30.Rxb6 Bc8 31.Nh4 Re8 32.Rb8 Be5 33.Ra8 Kf7
Position after 33...Kf7

34.Nxf5 Bxf5 35.Rxe8  Kxe8 36.Rd5, would embarrass the black bishops, so Kretchetov threw in the towel here. This is a game well worthy of a Champion. I'm looking for Enrico to earn his next GM norm in the 2009 US Championship in May. 1–0

This was also a fine game by the co-champ.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4
The Panov-Botvinnik attack, while not considered best for White, always produces a lively and entertaining contest.
4...Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bb5 Rc8 9.h3 Bh5 10.Bxc6+ Rxc6 11.g4 Bg6 12.Ne5 Nxc3 13.bxc3
13.Nxc6 Nxd1 14.Nxd8 Nxf2 15.Kxf2 Kxd8 And White has an exchange and a pawn.
13...Qd5 14.0–0!
 Is this legal? (Smile) 14...Rxc3 15.Qa4+ B5 maintains  rough equality.
15...Kd8? 16.Qxa7 f6 17.Bd2 Rc8 18.Ba5+ Ke8
 Black can't get his pieces out.

Position after 19.Rac1

The Rook must go to avoid Checkmate.
19...fxe5 20.Rxc8+ Kf7 21.dxe5 h5 22.Qc5 Qxc5 23.Rxc5 hxg4 24.hxg4 Be4 25.f3 Bc6 26.Rxc6

Being material up allows White to simplify into a totally winning endgame.
26...bxc6 27.Rc1 Rh6 28.Bd2 Re6 29.Rc5 g6 30.g5 Bg7 31.f4 Rd6
Tricky but woefully inadequate.
32.exd6 Bd4+ 33.Kg2 Bxc5 34.d7 Bb6 35.a4

 Two many passers! If Black goes after the queen pawn ,with Ke6, f5+! decides. 1–0

Vadim Kudryavtsev- Jerry Hanken


It is Black to move and I meekly retreated my rook to g7, not calling his bluff!! QXh4! wins if I see that Nf3 is met by Rx Pawn check! and then Qg4 check. I saw it but kept looking at Rg8 check, which is useless as Qg4 Check is a sure win. Black gets two pawns for the exchange for starters while White remains with his King in a box trying to wiggle away with out success.

Michael Armbartsoumiam fans his cash.

In the Under 2200, 14-year-old Michael Yee prevailed with 6/7, gaining 44 rating points along the way. The Under 1800 champ was also a teenager- Michael Ambartsoumiam (pictured above), son of U.S. World Youth coach and IM Armen Ambartsoumian. He plans to use the cash he won on his first car!  Both Michaels are part of the American Chess Academy (ACA), which is spearheaded by co-champion Matikozyan. Michael's father, Jerry said, "Armen and I were very proud fathers too! It was hard to explain the results of both of our sons.....both of whom struggled in their recently played North American Open." The ACA also coached three others to cash prizes: 11-year-old expert Michael Brown took clear 2nd in under 2200, 9-year-old Daniel Mousseri won clear 3rd in the under 1800 and 1st place in the Under 1400 was Minas Betikyan. Correction: Shawn Williams tied for 3rd-4th with Daniel Mousseri in the Under 1800 section.

Jerry Yee congratulates Minas Betikyan

You can see all the winners and the money prizes on chesstour.com and rating changes on the MSA page.

The Renaissance hotel again proved to be a first class venue. On their own initiative, they purchased a life size chess set and put it up in the lobby. Kids could be seen moving Queens and Kings larger than them! The Hotel tells us they will put it up at every chess event--now, that’s real Class.

The Chess Palace in Garden Grove run by the Ong family once again provided the book and equipment sales. Their Website is chesspalace.com.

A good time was had by all and the tournament didn’t lose money, so look out for the 17th Western Class in 2010!