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Sicilian Upsets Kick Off Western Class Print E-mail
By Randy Hough   
March 14, 2010
Varun Krishnan, Photo Elizabeth Vicary from the San Diego US Chess School
The CCA's Western Class Championships has been a staple at the Renaissance Agoura Hills northwest of Los Angeles for several years. When Bill Goichberg decided to move it to March, replacing King Weekend with the Golden State Championship up north, some observers feared that the Western Class would do poorly on a "normal" weekend with only five rounds. 

Happily, such is not the case. The turnout of 203 players and four re-entries (198 paid, for an 86% payout on the $20,000 prize fund based on 230 players) slightly exceeds last year's. And there are two GMs (up one) and four IMs (also an increase of one) in the 30-player Master section. Update: Maitkozyan and Ramirez tie for first. Full story coming soon.

The first round saw one major upset as 12-year-old Varun Krishnan of San Diego (rated 2078) took out a veteran FM:


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Qa5 11.Kb1 Rfc8 12.Bb3 Ne5 13.g4 b5
Something of a sideline.
14.Bh6 Bxh6 15.Qxh6 
Now Black has dynamic equality with 15...Rxc3 16.bxc3 Qxc3 or 15...b4 16.Nce2 Nc4. Instead he opts to aim the Nf6 at White's king, but the price is too high - not in material, it turns out, but in the safety of his own monarch..
15...Bxg4?! 16.fxg4 Rxc3 17.bxc3 Nxe4
18.Ne2, returning some material, isn't bad, but Varun has calculated a mating attack.
18...gxf5 19.gxf5
And the g-file is White's unstoppable road to victory.
19...Nxc3+ 20.Ka1 Nxd1 21.Rg1+ Ng6 22.Rxg6+ hxg6 23.Qxg6+ Kh8 24.Qh5+ Kg8 25.Qxf7+ Kh8 26.Qh5+ Kg7 27.Qg6+ Kh8 28.Qh6# 1-0

GM Alejandro Ramirez (who reportedly will be moving to Southern California soon) and IM Jacek Stopa are joined by two other University of Texas Dallas players in the section, and by the third round TD Steve Immitt determined that using the "team" function to avoid pairing them with each other could not be sustained. Ramirez then drew with teammate Chaitanya Vaidya, and Stopa came a cropper against the Southern California FM known for his Fabio-like hair.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f4
Casella feels, and this Najdorf player agrees, that the decrease in this move's  popularity is more a matter of fashion than of any intrinsic demerits.
6...e5 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.a4 Be7 9.Bd3 0-0 10.0-0 exf4 11.Bxf4 Qb6+?!
11...Ne5 has scored best here.
12.Kh1 Qxb2 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5
Black has accepted a known pawn sack and needs accurate play to get away with it. His next move appears inferior to either 14...Nf6, 14...Re8, or the redeployment 14...Qb6.
14...Qb4?! 15.c4 Nf6?
And now challenging the bishop with 15...Nc5, as played in two master games, is definitely in order.
16.Qc2 Qc5?
Black is in big trouble, but 16...Qa5 or 16...Qb6 improve somewhat.
17.Rae1 Bd8
17...Qc7 18.c5 is no help.
18.Ng5! h6 19.Nh7 Nxh7 20.Bxh7+ Kh8
21.Bxh6! Bd7??
Black wearies of the defensive task. Of course, 21...gxh6 22.Rxf7 is curtains, but 21...Qc7 reinforces f7 and keeps the game going.
22.Bxg7+ and it's mate in five. 1 - 0   

Michael once told Chess Life readers that he likes to decorate his refrigerator with pictures of GMs he's beaten. No pic this time, but the 2572-rated Stopa is certainly no slouch!

Round 3 marked the merge of the three- and two-day schedules. Khachiyan drew with IM Enrico Sevillano and they joined Ramirez, Vaidya, Casella, IM Andranik Matikozyan (the only two-day player in the mix, he downed IM Tim Taylor after the merge), and Ron Hermansen (who took a half-point bye in Round 3 - because of babysitting exigencies, he'll have you know!) in the lead with 2½. Stay tuned as we move into the final stretch!

For more crushing White Sicilian wins, see The Sicilian Slayed: Kaidanov on Polgar Match.


July - Chess Life Online 2010

The Chess Party Begins in Irvine Irina Krush Victory Rap The Odds at the DenkerPan-Am Youth Squad Heads to BrazilNew FIDE Titles for AmericansBullyproof Chess Arbiter Update: From the World School to Online TrainingUS Chess School Comes to Dallas US Women's and Juniors Closing Gallery Datta Wins Record Smashing U.S. Junior OpenThe Denker Turns 25 in Irvine, California The US Senior Open Returns to Boca Raton Berkeley International Returns in 2011Chess Boy Scouts Merit Badge Announced in Saint Louis Tatev Abrahamyan Wins 2010 US Women's Fighting Spirit Award Sevillano Triumphs in Agoura HillsA Perfect Storm Leads IM Sam Shankland to US Junior titleNietman and Walters Elected to USCF Executive Board Krush crowned; three-way tie atop Junior leaderboardMitkov Takes 2010 Chicago Class Krush and Zatonskih Tied in Women; Zhao Creeps Closer to Robson in JuniorsA Chess Mom on the US Junior Closed Zatonskih Maintains Lead; Robson Pulls Away in JuniorsYang and Liou Share Cadet TitleZatonskih Still Leads at the US Women's; Zhao FaltersLiou Leads the 2010 Cadet ChampionshipZatonskih and Zhao bring their A-GameKislik and Naroditsky Earn IM Norms in HungaryAdelberg and Ostrovskiy Take An Early Lead In CadetZhao Leads Junior Closed, Zatonskih and Krush WinUS Cadet Championship OpensHarper Leads Juniors; Favorites Break Streak at the Women'sDaniel Naroditsky Earns IM Norm in Hungary Stage Set for Epic Showdown at U.S. Women's ChampionshipFighting Chess in round 1 of US Womens and US Juniors Pairings Set for 2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed ChampsChess Talk with Yasser Seirawan The Scoop on the World Open A Parent's Perspective on Chess Camps July Grand Prix Update Vik(c)tors Top the World OpenNakamura to Comment on Opening Weekend of US Junior and US Women's The Origins of National Chess Day Laznicka Pulls Away at the World Open GMs Battle as World Open Merge Approaches Hilton on Arriving in Valley Forge The July Check is in the Mail The US Chess Scoop on Valley Forge: Part I