Michael Lim Wins the U.S. Amateur East Print E-mail
By Al Lawrence   
May 31, 2012
Winner Michael Lim with organizer Kenneth Thomas
Thirteen-year-old Michael Lim won five straight and then drew former champion and fellow New Jerseyan Michael Goeller in the final round to clinch clear first at the U.S. Amateur East Championship held in Somerset, New Jersey, over the three-day Memorial Day weekend.

In fact, a half-dozen previous champions-Goeller (5.0), top-seeded Sandi Hutama (5.0), Leonard Chipkin (4.0), Hanon Russell (4.5), Kimberly Ding (4.5), and David Collins (3.5)-tried for a repeat title but couldn't quite keep pace with Lim, sometimes bumping heads in the chase.

Goeller drew in round three with Chipkin (N.Y.). In the final round match-up on board 2 against Chipkin, Hutma (N.J.), whose position as Black at times seemed to teeter on the edge as his f7-square came under triple-attack, won by virtue of a passed pawn that grew too powerful on the seventh. But Hutma had lost to Lim in round four. Ding (N.J.) stumbled against Goeller in round five. Russell (Ct.), started poorly with only a half-point out of two but showed grit in reeling off four straight games during the last two days. Michael Yen, who entered with a rating of 1821 and qualified to play for the Under-13 spot, lost only to Ding. The top six in tie-break order:

1. Michael Lim (5.5)
2. Michael Goeller (5.0)
3. Sandi Hutama (5.0)
4. Kimberly Ding (4.5)
5. Michael Yen (4.5)
6. Hanon Russell (4.5)

Rutar won the Senior trophy. Jeffrey La Comb (N.Y., 4.0)) won the Under-2000 prize; Walter De Jong (N.Y., 4.0), the Under-1900. Maryia Oreshko (N.J., 4.0) took top under-16, and Alan Gu (N.J., 2.5) was best Under-13.

Maryia Oreshko

Even though a young teen, the new Amateur East champion navigated with a deft positional touch. Take his third-round game against third-seeded Vinko Rutar (Pa.), who finished with 4.0. Rutar, an experienced over-the-board warrior who's come very close to winning the title in passed years, rolled out a strategically tricky version of the English.


Comments by Lim, except when in brackets.

1.c4 c6 2.b3 Nf6 3.Bb2 e6 4.g3 d5 5.Nf3 Be7 6.Bg2 0-0 7.0-0 b6 8.Ne5 Qc7 9.d3 Bb7 10.Nd2 c5 11.cxd5 Nxd5 12.Nef3 Nc6

Instead, 12...Bf6 13.Bxf6 Nxf6, trading off the bishop, would be great in this position because he loses control of the e5 square.
13.Ne4 Rac8

13...f5 14.Ned2-the knight needed to be removed because it blocked key squares of my bishop.
14.Rc1 Rfd8

Again, 14...f5 would be good.
15.Qc2 h6 16.Qb1 Qb8 17.Qa1 Bf8 18.Rfd1 Nde7

Threatening to go Nf5-e5 and open up the h1-a8 diagonal.
19.e3 Nb4 20.Ne1 Qa8 21.f3 Ba6

21...Nf5 22.Kf2 a5 is another plan that would get my queen into the game.
22.Bf1 Nf5 23.Kf2 Rd7 24.a3 Nc6 25.Ng2 Rcd8 26.Nf4 Qb8 27.g4 Nd6

27...Nxe3 28.Kxe3 Nd4 might not get material back right away, but there is good compensation for the piece. [After 28. ... Nd4, White can't answer all of Black's threats and his position falls apart in a few moves.-AL]]
28.Ng3 Ne8 29.Qb1 Bd6 30.Nfh5 Be5 31.d4 cxd4

32.exd4 Bxg3+ 33.Nxg3 Bxf1 34.Rxc6 Bb5: White wouldn't be down material, but Black has a better position.
32...dxe3+ 33.Ke1 Rxd1+ 34.Rxd1 Rxd1+ 35.Kxd1 Qd6+ 36.Qd3 Bxb2

It's a win from here. I am going to get another pawn on a3 and then trade off pieces.
37.Ke2 Qxd3+
[37. ... Nd4+, followed by ... g6, looks like an immediate kill.-AL]
38.Bxd3 Bxa3 39.Kxe3 Bc1+ 40.Kf2 Nd6 41.Ne4 Nxe4+ 42.Bxe4 Nd4 43.b4 Bd2 44.h4 Bxb4

45.g5 hxg5 46.hxg5 Bd2 47.f4 b5 48.g6 f5 49.Bd3 Kf8 50.Ng3 Bxf4 51.Ne2 Nxe2 52.Kxe2 b4 53.Kf3 Bc1 54.Ke2 Ke7 55.Kd1 Bb2 56.Kc2 Bd4 57.Kb3 a5 58.Kc4 Bc3 59.Kb3 Kf6 60.Ka4 e5 61.Kxa5 e4 62.Bb1 Kxg6 0-1

Besides chess, Michael Lim competes in fencing tournaments. His twin brother Matthew, who also played in the Open section, shares an interest in chess but prefers racquetball to fencing.

In round three, however, Matthew demonstrated a sharp tactical blade and an eye for a direct thrust at his opponent's king.


1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qc2 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.e4 g6

11...b4 kept Black in the game.
12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 exd5 14.Bh6 Re8 15.e6 Nf6

15...Nf8 loses to 16. exf7+ Kxf7 17.Ne5+
16.exf7+ Kxf7
17.Bxg6+! hxg6 18.Ng5+ and it's mate in two.

Fred Ivens turned in the only perfect score of the event to win the Reserve section.

Reserve Section (Under-1800) winners:

1. Fred Ivens (N.J.) 6.0
2. Joseph Holmok (N.J.) 4.5
3. Elizabeth Lakata (Pa.) 4.5
4. Leon Wu (N.J.) 4.5
5. Mike McCaffery (N.J.) 4.0
Senior: Michael Polito (N.J.) 3.5
Top Under Age 16: Jason Yan (N.J.) 3.5
Top Under Age 13: Edwin Jin (N.Y.) 4.0
Top Under 1600: Andy Lindstrom (N.J.) 4.0
Top Under 1500: Joseph Prentice (N.J.) 3.5

Zehao Shen allowed one draw in round four, winning the rest of his games, to take clear first in the Booster section.

Booster Section (Under-1400) winners:

1. Zehao Shen (N.J.) 5.5
2. Nelson Lin (N.J.) 5.5
3. Ashley Jiang (N.J.) 4.0
4. Marko Van Selous 4.0
5. Stan Rydz (N.J.) 3.5
Senior: Steven Danko (N.Y.) 3.5
Top Under Age 13: Ryan Feng (N.Y.) 3.5
Top Under 1200: Jonathan Chin (N.J.) 3.5
Top  Under 1100: John Cook (N.J.) 3.5
Top Under 1000: Ellexis Cook (N.J.) 3.0
Top Under 900: Sarah Yen (N.J.) 3.0
Top Under 800: Claire Cao (Pa.) 2.0

Complete results are posted on www.entryfeesrus.com.

Organizer Kenneth Thomas moved this year's event to the Somerset-Bridgewater Hotel, just off I-287, to improve conditions for the players. The hotel, under new management and branding, provided excellent rooms, free wifi, and food services that were open late. There was even a Starbucks inside the lobby, just down the hall from the playing site.  

This year's Amateur may be the last national event organized by "Captain" Thomas. Legendary for his service to chess on both the state and national level, he has directed more than 1,000 tournaments and organized quite a number of successful clubs. Thomas will continue to organize club and regional events. Next year's Amateur East will be in good hands, managed by his long-time assisting team of Aaron Kiedes and Noreen Davisson, two very experienced organizers in their own right.