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Ramirez Wins in St.Louis Print E-mail
By Paul Fricano   
March 4, 2008
Alejandro Ramirez won the Mid-American Open. Photo Dmitry Schneider

From the regal valet whose friendly smile welcomed you to the Crown Royale Plaza to the chess fanatic who only fancied waltzing his checkered matilda, the relationships, the friends, and the laughter set the stage for the Mid-American Open (St.Louis, Feb.29-March 2) 212 players from 23 states entered, including two Grandmasters, GM Alejandro Ramirez and GM Alexander Yermolinsky. Alejandro was fresh from winning the Morelia Open, and he reeled in another  impressive performance. He now looks forward to the collegiate clash in Baltimore, the Final Four (April 5-6.)

Here is Alejandro Ramirez's fourth round win over USCF expert Tim Steiner, who you will see below, must have been still buzzing from his previous round.


Tim Steiner, rated 2030, posted a performance rating of 2568 and showed that applying a gentle squeeze is easier than crashing through against one of America’s finest Grandmasters.  Tim Steiner first appeared in CLO with his human interest piece about Kansas City, Missouri mayor Mark Funkhouser. Here Tim annotates his upset win against Yermolinsky.


I also played Yermo last year at the Governer's Cup in South Dakota.  I achieved a fairly balanced middle game position.  Yermo wasn't making progress and I became bored and I decided to open up the game and I lost a pawn, then my position and then the game.  It was pretty devastaing to me since I thought I could easily draw.  What did I learn from this game?  I'll tell you later on.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 c6 6.Qc2 Na6 7.a3 Nc7 8.e3 Ne6 9.Bh4 Be7 10.Bd3 g6 11.Nge2 0–0 12.f3 b6 13.0–0 Bb7 14.Rad1 Re8 15.Kh1
 So far, so good.  We have proceeded down some normal channels.  However, usually by this time Black has followed up with a few exchanges on f5.  Or usually Black has played c5 already and gotten counterplay on the queenside.  None of these things have happened yet.  Here we go again with Yermo just sitting there waiting for a mistake playing rope-a-dope.
15...Qd7 16.Bf2 Nh5 17.Ng3 Nhg7 18.f4 Nc7 19.f5 Rad8 20.Be1 Bf8

Position after 20...Bf8

Instead of doing what was expected of me, I decided to play Yermo style and slowly squeeze. I declined my chance to play 21.e4. I figured: Why take the big center right now when he will simply play c5 and undermine the entire center? But maybe he can't play c5 after all: 21...c5?! 22.dxc5 Bxc5 23.exd5 Nxd5 24.Be4 Ne3 25.Rxd7 Bxe4 26.Qxe4+-
 21...c5 22.Qf3 Bc6 23.h4 Bd6 24.h5 Bxg3?!
this doesn't really impact the game situation, but now the dark squares around Black's king will be forever weak.  All this for a pawn?  Sign me up!
25.Bxg3 Nxh5 26.Bh4?!

not the greatest follow up, but I did have a reason for doing so.  I realize that Be5 is better, but I didn't want him sacrificing the exchange to stem the tide.  Also, I didn't want his light squared bishop to enter the game...you know my king and queen are on a sensitive diagonal. 26...Rc8 27.g4 Ng7 28.Rf2
It was here I realized what White's breakthrough square would be...h7...there's absolutely no way to protect it.  It also prevents any forced trades of material on b5.  I kind of wanted to keep my light-squared bishop.
28...Rf8 29.Rh2
29.Qf4 with the idea of invading on the dark squares right away.
Can't be good to open lines against his own king
30.Bf6! And I miss this winning maneuver...for example 30...Nce8 31.g5! with all kinds of options to follow up(31.Bxf5 this is simple enough to win too 31...Nxf6 (31...Qc7? 32.Bxh7+ Kh8 33.Be5 Qd8 34.Bf5+ Kg8 35.Rh8+ Kxh8 36.Qh3+ Qh4 37.Qxh4+ Kg8 38.Qh7#; 31...Nxf5? 32.gxf5 Nxf6 33.Qg3+ Kh8 34.Qe5 Qd8 35.Rg1 Rg8 36.Rxh7+ Kxh7 37.Qh2+ Nh5 38.Qxh5#) 32.Bxd7 Nxd7 33.Qh3) ]
30...f6 31.Rg1 Nce8 32.Bg3 Rf7 33.Bf4 Nd6 34.Qh3
I was giving serious consideration to lop of the knight which would have reduced his ability to protect the g7 knight but I decided against it.  Why dampen my attack?
34...Kf8 35.Bh6?!
and here I think I miss my opportunity to seal the deal [35.Qh6 Ndxf5 36.Bxf5 Qxf5 37.Rhg2+-]
35...Ke8 and believe it or not, this move will actually save Black's game.  White cannot press his initiative anymore.  My opponent was in some pretty serious time trouble though.
Position after 36.Rhg2

32...b5 37.Ne2 c4 38.Bc2 Kg8 39.Nf4 Kh8 40.Ne6 Rc7 41.Bd1 Qc8 42.Bh5 with forced mate in about 8-9 moves. 
Wasn't it Karpov who said to use all your pieces?  I'm trying Toyla.  What did I learn from my last encounter with Yermo?  You have to be more patient than your opponent.  It wasn't the easiest choice to slowly build.  I had multiple ways to be violent about my pathway. 1–0



Alejandro Ramirez- 4.5/5
Alexander Yermolinsky and Carl Boor- 4/5
Michael Brooks, Ronald Burnett, Tim C. Steiner, Trevor S.Magness- 3.5/5

The Under 2000 section saw local Steve Saidi take top honors with a 5.0 perfect score. The under 1800 prize was taken by Wisconsin native Stephan F Desmoulin who gained 100+ rating points for his effort. Meanwhile, the under 1600-section saw a tie for first place between Joshua Fazekas and Gage L. Edgar. In the under 1400 section another cruise to victory was registered by Jianlin Ding, with four straight wins and a final round draw to clinch first. In the under 1200 section the provisional Ryan Joseph Slattery showed with a pointed sword that it is time to move into the next section with his perfect score. Finally, the cream of the crop in the under 900 section proved to be Stephan J. Zhang and Lucas M Johnson.  They won all of their games except when they played and drew each other in round three.