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Pacific Coast Open Draws Big Summer Crowd Print E-mail
By Jerry Hanken   
July 23, 2009
GM Melikset Khachiyan, Photo Betsy Dynako
The heat was oppressive in Agoura Hills California in mid July where 220 or so intrepid chess tournament competitors, mostly from 25 to 45 miles to the south, made the trek up the Ventura freeway to compete in the CCA 14th annual Pacific coast Open.

Perhaps it was the 110F heat that caused an unusual number of disputes. There were complaints about full point byes, an inevitable result of an uneven number of players in a section, and one player insisted that his opponent offered a draw in a position when the complainer had a dead lost game. It was an old variation of the "resigns" body language trying to snatch a half point with a handshake. The guy went on and on and directors NTD Randy Hough and NTD Steve Immitt showed great patience in hearing and rehearing this players whine. He even appealed to me, mistaking this old reporter for some kind of official. Heck, these days I just play bad chess and report!

Another player was so persistently obnoxious; he had to be put out of the tournament! He had a touch move dispute with a 9-year-old and was about to get a favorable ruling. Instead of making the kid move the piece he touched, he demanded the boy be forfeited. When Steve explained the rule, the guy cut loose with an appalling blast of profanity and abuse at the kid and Steve, disturbing the players around him.

Though the heat outside the hotel was overwhelming, the Renaissance provided a comfortable playing venue with good lighting and roomy conditions. Who knows what bugs were eating at the players but the event was very well run and produced some fine chess

Southern California has but one Grandmaster, the always smiling, very friendly Melikset Khachiyan from Glendale, (A city surrounded by LA). For Melik this competition was a turkey shoot, and he finished a clear point ahead of the field with 5.5/6. His only real competition in the Open section were IMs Emory Tate, who has recently relocated to Southern California (Corr-Northern California), Andranik Matikozyan, also from Glendale, and State Champion IM Enrico Sevillano. The Open was almost decided in round three when Melik produced this exciting fine win over his fellow Armenian ex-patriot, a former two-time winner of this event. The game follows with enthusiastic notes by the GM.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.0-0

I used to play 5.c4,which also leads to interesting lines. But recently I analyzed positions from the Rossolimo and I decided, why not play the old line 5.00? It's very underrated.
 5...Nc6 6.c3 Nf6 7.d4 Nxe4 8.d5 Ne5 9.Nxe5 
Here I believe I could play more sharply with 9.Re1. The idea is to force black's knight to f6 instead of d6. But I wasn't sure about positions, which appear many times in my quick games after -- 9.Re1 Nxf3 10.Qxf3 Nf6 11.Bg5 Qg4.But I guess there is room to improve there.
9...dxe5 10.Re1 Nd6! 11.Rxe5 g6 12.Bg5 0-0-0?!
It's hard to believe to this obvious move could be a  bad decision by black, but White has easy play after this move. I underestimated 12...Nf5  giving black an easy game, probably easy equality.
13.Re1 Nc4?!

Better to play 13...h6 here.
14.b3 Nb6
14...Qxd5 15.Qg4++-
I'm very proud of this brilliant idea. It's a positional sacrifice. I simply give up a rook for a bishop, because in this particular case the black bishop is the main defensive piece, and with cost of an exchange, White will create huge attack. I also noticed that the black knight was not doing well on b6.
15...Bg7 16.Nd2 Bxa1 17.Qxa1
Has to be done to remove pressure from e7 pawn. Also black needs to hurry to remove pressure from c5 pawn in case of Ne4.
17...f6 18.Bf4
This is the main idea. White creates strong pressure on the h2-b8 diagonal.
It was better to play e5 right away.After19.dxe6 Qe7 black has a chances hold a game. If 19.Rxe5 fxe5 20.Qxe5 then in some lines important to have a pawn on g6.For instance here black could play 20...Qd6 and now 21.Qxd6 will lead the game to better endgame for white, but with chances for draw for black, and most important part, since black pawn stands on g6,white doesn't have  Qxg5.Obviosly my opponent completely missed idea of sacrificing rook.
19.Bg3 e5
Great move.
20...fxe5 21.Qxe5 Qf7
21...Qd6 22.Qxg5 Rhg8 23.Qxg8±
Increasing pressure. Black doesn't have any good moves.
22...Na8 23.Qb8+ Kd7 24.Nxc5+ Ke8 25.Qe5+
Very nice chess geometry!
25...Qe7 26.Qxh8+ Kf7 27.Qxh7+ Kf8
Last hope was 28.Ne6 + Qxe6,but....
28.Qh8+ Kf7 29.Qh5+ 1-0

Melikset is a truly remarkable teacher. He had no less than eight of his students playing. He was very proud of  9-year-old Evan Anthopoulos who gained about 100 rating points by scoring plus one in under 1300. The GM thinks that this kid has real talent, which will show more and more soon. But Melik was no less proud of his other students, all of whom were competitive. Sometimes the GM looked like a smiling mother hen, surrounded by her chicks in the hallway outside the tournament room between rounds! 

Melik has had some notably successful students such as Steve Zierk who is now over 2300. Two of his other students are known in junior circles, WFM Simone Liao and 9-year-old Leo Kamgar. He teaches and gives lectures to help aspiring players improve their understanding on chess.com. He is also available for in person one one on one instruction.  Email him at [email protected].

In conclusion, your reporter wishes to express congratulations for his fine play and thanks for sharing his thoughts with us in his two key games.

In the 4th round Khachiyan drew with Tate, who had 2 other draws, one with Master Ron Hermansen, and in the last round with Andrainic. This set the stage for the big showdown between the GM and Sevillano. After Melik prevailed in that game, he had only to defeat Expert (NOW MASTER!) Yiam Liou, to finish a full point ahead of the 34-player-field.

The prizes were $30,000 based on 250 and that was right on the button as 80% was guaranteed and exactly that was paid! Bill Goichberg has an uncanny ability to predict turnouts, probably based on running tournaments for 40 plus years.

Melik got the big payday of $2500, which he certainly earned. Tate and Matikozyan each picked up $893 for a good weekend's work.

Following is Khachiyan's clinching win over State champion Enrico and again the Grandmaster has provided his own notes.


1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5
I like to play this line in the Sicilian. The idea is at some point to capture on c6, create double pawns, and then try to create attack on kingside. The play is similar to the Grand Prix Attack in the Sicilian Defence.
One of the main responses. Also possible is 3...e6 or 3...e5.
The theory suggests 4.Bc4 but I like my move. With my move order things get interesting.
Also very interesting is 4...g6, trying to keep the knight on d4.
5.Nxb5 a6 6.Nc3 d6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 e6?!
So far, Black was repeating my game from recent US Championship vs. Eckert, where my opponent played 8...e5. I think even after 8...e5 white's position remains better. Enrico tries to play differently, but in fact he found himself in trouble, because Black is really getting behind in development. Better was 8...Bg4.
9.Bg5 Ne7
9...Nf6 could be met by e5 at any time.9...Be7 is also bad, since the g7 pawn will hang.
10.0-0-0 h6 11.Bh4 Nc6 12.Qd2 Qa5
Very typical and important move. White avoids a possible check and guards the pawn on a2.
13.Kb1 b5?

The best try was to play 13...Bd7 following by Rc8. Black hoping to build some counterplay on queenside, but Black completely underestimated White's attack.
14.e5! d5 15.Nxd5!

Winning instantly. Now on 15...Qxd2 I  prepared 16.Nc7+ Kd7 and then the killing 17.Nxa8!!,and now black lost, since if they take on d1,17...Qxd1 18 Rxd1+ Ke8 19 Nc7 mate! The only move is 17...Qd5 and after 18.Nb6+ it's still win. Also bad is capturing on d5 16.Qxd5 Qc7 17. Qxc6+ Qxc6 and 18 Rd8 #.
15...b4 16.Ne3 Bc5 17.Nc4 Qc7 18.Nd6+ Bxd6
White has a decisive advantage. The rest is just matter of technique.
19.exd6 Qb7 20.Rhe1 Ra7 21.Ne5 Nxe5 22.Rxe5 0-0 23.Rc5 Bd7 24.Rc7 Qb6 25.f3 Rb7 26.Bf2 Qb5 27.Qd3 Rd8 28.Bh4 g5 29.Bf2 Qxd3 30.Rxd3 Bc8 31.Rxb7 Bxb7 32.Bb6 Rd7 33.Ba5 f5 34.Bxb4 Kf7 35.Bc3 e5 36.Bxe5 Ke6 37.Re3 1-0

Among the class players, notable was the performance of full time chess teacher Jay Stallings in the 32-player under 2100 section. Jay, a congenial fellow from nearby Santa Clarita, gave up only one draw in six games to finish a half point ahead of Roland Rodriguez. Not only did Jay pick up $1500, his rating crossed the 2100 threshold. WAY TO GO JAY!

There was a 4-way tie in Under 1900 at 5-1, achieving that score were Marek Jankowski, Alejandro Ruiz, Vincent Davies, and Joe Russell. This was the largest section with 57 entries.

Bud Stamper won the 36-player under 1700 section clear with 5.5 and Joshua Rose was clear first in the under 1500 section, which had 34 players.

The 25-player under 1300 section was claimed by Timothy Abadilla with a clear 5.5 and, finally, the under 1000 section was won with the same clear score by Rodrigo Casiano.

For complete results and prize money check Chesstour.com or the USCF MSA for rating changes. 

On a personal note, your reporter does not consider himself competitive in high-class circles any more, despite a VERY occasional flash of old form. (Ed.Note-For one example of such a"flash", check out Hanken's win over Yeager in Jonathan Hilton's World Open report.) As I approach three quarters of a century, it gets more and more challenging. But I do love to play against strong players so you will still see me play in Open sections of events, upon which I report, but seldom more than 2 or 3 games.

I played two games in this event, losing miserably with Black to FM Ali Morshedi (A real gentleman who started by telling me how much he loves to read my stories-a sure way to soften up the decrepit one!), and then losing a very interesting game to 8-year-old Expert Sam Sevian. This was a game worthy of publication, in which, with my English, I parted with an exchange for a center pawn and two bishops for knight and rook. I am pretty sure it was sound and I was winning but my nearly 75-year-old head just does not function in the fourth hour and I tried a number of equivocating plans. Finally, I let the wee ones' knight settle on my f4 square where, in time pressure, the lad made a great move to finish me off. He was beside himself with joy and, believe it or not, I shared this to some extent as we analyzed. Sam gained two rating points to go to 2061. He lost to long time Master, now 2177, Richard Borgen, and drew Master Evgeny Shver. This was my chance because if you don/t get ‘um at 8, you may never get them!  I expect to hear a lot more of this Armenian youngster in the future.

Christian Tanaka, Photo Dujiu Yang
Speaking of promising youngsters, 15-year-old Christian (Tiger) Tanaka picked up under 2300 money. This young man played well in the Cadet and had beaten me twice before he turned 13. His progress has not been as fast as I thought it would be but I feel certain he will be gobbling up international titles in the next few years. In this tournament, he slipped back into the Master class where I predict he will now stay. He comes from a genuinely nice and supportive family and seems to have adult social skills. That's' the best thing I can say of a young player.

I was going to show you my game with Sam, but it will take some time to get it out of my MonRoi (Yes, Brana, I remain technologically challenged), and I am already past my deadline here. (Do I hear a collective sigh of relief??) So if you wish to see one of the Old Duffers' efforts, (HAH!), MonRoi will be in Indianapolis at the 110th US Open and my games will be broadcast. I will also be doing "Hankens' Corner" for the Bulletins and some of these droppings of wisdom may make their way into CLO!  I hope to see my fans, (all 3 of them), there and I also hope to see YOU!!   How can I resist telling you it will be my 37th in a row and my 43rd overall!  Obviously, I can't!

July - Chess Life Online 2009

The Chess Party Begins in Indiana U.S. Chess School Comes to the Marshall: Part II Yang Dai Sweeps in Texas!Nakamura Chess960 World Champ!Josh Blogs From Brazil GM Joel on Judging a Sacrifice Nakamura to Face Aronian in Chess960 Final Yang Dai 4-0 with a round to go in Texas Howard Stern Auction Benefits Heisman Charity 2009 U.S. Open Chess in Education Workshop U.S. Chess School Comes to the Marshall 60 Girls Arrive in Texas to Vie for National Title Continental Kicks Off in Brazil Jean on Gary’s Adventures in Chess CountryExecutive Board Election Results are in Jesse Wins Futurity; Dean Wins 1st FIDE EventPacific Coast Open Draws Big Summer Crowd U.S. Open Coming Soon: Simuls and Details on the Five SpotsWrap-up from Milwaukee: Fun & AnalysisGurevich Takes Chicago Class Becerra Takes on all Online ComersAmericans in CanadaTandem Analysis: Robson and LendermanNewsflash: Becerra Wins U.S. Class Update From the U.S. Class The U.S. Chess Scoop Episode 4 GM Joel on How to Make FMHouston Open set for July 24-26Access Delgates Call Bryan Smith is Norm-Hunting in CreteNakamura Wins in San Sebastian Newsflash: Robson Wins Junior Closed Chess Without Borders: Philanthropy on the Board Live From Milwaukee: Robson Leads and Analyzes Live From Milwaukee: Sam Annotates and Photos from Open Andrew Ng is the 2009 Cadet Champion! U.S. Junior Closed Begins with UpsetRosen Wins Junior Open as Closed Kicks Off No Mercy Nakamura in Spain Dr.Ira Lee Riddle, 1946-2009 Andrew Ng Leads Cadets Agarwal, Shen, and Tanaka Take Early Lead at CadetsKasparov and Obama Meet in Russia Nakamura Beats Karpov in SpainHilton on the World Open: Lenderman Dances; Nakamura and Najer Tie for 1stHilton on the World Open: Nakamura and Mikhalevski Lead The U.S. Chess Scoop: Episode 3Jennifer Shows a Hulachess ExcerptU.S. Junior Closed Field & Schedule Set The Stars Come Out for the World Open