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Labor Day Round-up Part I: From US Masters to Southern California Print E-mail
By FM Todd Andrews, Randy Hough & Gary Newsom   
September 4, 2014
US Masters
by Gary Newsom

GM Bartholomiej Macieja
GM Bartholomiej Macieja cleared a field that included 19 GM and won the 2014 US Masters Championship with a score of 7.5 out of 9. Clear second was taken by GM Yaroslav Zherebukh with 7 points. GM Alex Lenderman led a six way tie for third with 6.5 out of 9

Last year's event set a record pace with 8 international norms earned. This year's field couldn't quite keep up with that pace, but there were 4 players who earned IM norms from the event. Congratulations to Razvan Preotu, Kesav Viswanadha, David Hua and Michael Corallo for their achievements. Corralo had an exceptional tournament. Going in with a FIDE rating of 2203, he scored wins vs GM Shabalov and IM Perdomo, along with draws against GM's Hernandez and Romanenko.

Macieja put himself in position to take the tournament with the following win over Sergei Azarov in Round 8


...while Zherebukh made his way to a final round board 1 appearance by grinding down Kayden Troff:


which set up the final round pairing Zherebukh-Macieja with the latter having a half point lead in the tournament. Not for lack of trying, but in that last round matchup GM Zherebukh was unable to crack Macieja's defenses, and a draw was agreed on move 45, clinching the title for Macieja.
US Masters co-organizer Walter High and his wife Karen

The US Masters is the centerpiece of a bigger event, now called the Greensboro International Chess Festival, which includes the North Carolina Open and the Saturday U1000 scholastic. The Festival has become one of the best chess weekends in the US, featuring a nice hotel at a good rate, low entry fees with unconditionally guaranteed payouts, plus good playing conditions. The value here is hard to beat! This year a total of 344 players participated. Preparations are already underway to make next year's event even bigger and better!

Find games and standings on the US Masters website.
See the rated crosstable on MSA here.

Tennessee Open by FM Todd Andrews

FMs Todd Andrews and John Bick
The 66th edition of the Tennessee Open took place over Labor Day weekend at the very professional site of the Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There were well over 100 players in attendance, but the strength at the top was a little bit lighter than usual with only three FMs a three experts weighing in over 2000. After two days of play, FM John Bick, formerly of Louisiana and FM Todd Andrews of Nashville, Tennessee shared the title of Co-Champions of Tennessee for 2014. John recently moved to Nashville to attend college at Belmont University while helping teach chess at the Nashville Chess Center (www.nashvillechess.org). Congratulations also go out to the Class-A Champion Jonathan Beatty, the Class-B Champion Adam Steed and Binula Illukpitiya and Novice Section Co-Champions Johnny Green Jr and Harry Sood. Many thanks to the Tennessee Chess Association and Volkswagen.  

FM Todd Andrews annotates one of his games from the event:

In this game, white simplifies into a much worse position in the middle-game. Black does not have any trouble setting up all of his pieces and begins maneuvering against the numerous dark squared targets.

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.b3 b6 3.Bb2 e6 4.e3 Bb7 5.d4 c5 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.exd4 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Nbd2 d6

The opening has transposed into black choosing a Hedgehog set up against the Colle system.
10.a3 Nbd7 11.Re1 Re8 12.Ng5?! 
This move is a bit superficial. White still needs to continue with setting up his pieces. A game from 1986 between two very famous players, that includes similar middle-game concepts as this game, went as follows: [12.c4 Bf8 13.Bc2 Rc8 14.b4 g6 15.Ba4 Bc6 16.Bxc6 Rxc6 17.Qb3 Rc7 18.Rac1 Qa8 19.Qd3 Bh6 20.Rc3 e5 21.dxe5 dxe5 22.Qe2 e4 23.Nd4 Ne5 24.Rh3 Bg7 25.N4b3 Nd3 26.Bxf6 Nf4 27.Qe3 Nxh3+ 28.gxh3 Bxf6 29.Nxe4 Kg7 30.Nbd2 Rd7 31.Qf3 Qd8 32.Nf1 Bd4 33.Ne3 Rde7 34.Nd5 f5 35.Nxe7 Rxe7 36.Kg2 Rxe4 37.Rxe4 fxe4 38.Qxe4 Qg5+ 39.Kf1 Qe5 40.Qb7+ Kh6 41.Qxa7 Qf4 42.Ke2 Qxf2+ 0-1 Kortschnoj,V (2650)-Portisch,L (2605)/Brussels 1986/CBM]
12...g6 13.f4 Bf8 14.Nde4 h6 15.Nxf6+ Nxf6 16.Ne4 Nxe4 17.Bxe4 Bxe4 18.Rxe4

I know from my years of experience playing and teaching that it is very common for kids to try to simplify down against master players, often in hopes of getting a draw and often just hoping it will be less complicated. However, master players understand structures very well and after black's next move, the structure completely favors black. Therefore, before any simplifications you must be sure you are not left with worse pieces in a worse pawn structure.
Why is this move the best? The only minor piece left on the board are the dark squared bishops. By fixing the white d4 pawn in place, I am creating a target for myself and destroying the future of his bishop on b2.
19.Re3 Rc8

Threatening to win a pawn with ... Qc7.
20.Rc1 Bg7 21.Qd2 Re7

Black gets all of his pieces ideally set up before attacking.

22.c3 Rec7 23.b4 with the attempts to create a fortress would be no fun for white, but might offer the best defensive possibilities.
 22...Rec7 23.a5 bxa5 24.Bc3

24.Qxa5 Qf6 Threatening pawns on f4 and c2
24...Qf6 25.Bxa5 Qxd4 26.Qf2

 Overworking the white Queen...
27.Rxc2 Rxc2 28.Qxc2 Qxe3+ 29.Kh1 Bd4 30.Qd1 Qxf4 31.Bd2 Be3

...and here white resigned. It could have ended quickly with...
32.Bxe3 Qxe3 33.h3 d4 34.Qc2 d3 35.Qc8+ Kg7 36.Qc3+ e5 37.b4 Qe2 38.Kh2 d2 39.Qc2 d1Q 40.Qxd1 Qxd1 ...and the rest is very clear. 0-1


by Randy Hough

GM Timur Gareyev, Photo STL Chess Club

For the fourth straight year, the San Diego Chess Club hosted Southern California's Open Championship, drawing 166 players, down a bit from last year. The 35-player was typically strong, featuring three GMs and three IMs. To say that no one ran away with it would be an understatement, as five tied with 4½ of 6: the top seed, GM Timur Gareyev; IM Dionisdio Aldama (the Southern California with the best tiebreaks and therefore Open Champion); GMs Melikset Khachiyan (last year's winner) and GM Enrico Sevillano; and FM Michael Brown. This represents a good mix of experience and youth; Aldama and Sevillano are 46; Khachiyan, 44; Gareyev, 25; and Brown, 16.

No one got out of the starting gate too fast; after three rounds nine players led with 2½. Gareyev had an attractive win in the first round; see how White's knights dominate after move 19 and a positional advantage is converted into a tactical win:


Timur beat Brown in Round 2, but IM John Bryant then nicked him for a draw. They were joined in the lead by Khachiyan and 14-year old Craig Hilby, who seems to improve every day, who had drawn their game. And also by Sevillano (a draw with 13-year-old Albert Lu),  FM Joel Banawa, and Varun Krishnan. Two more of those leaders had played in the two-day schedule and drawn their game: Aldama and the wily master Ilia Serpik, who had drawn their contest.

Sevillano had outmaneuvered FM Akopyan on the kingside in the third round:


The next two rounds saw some decisive games: Gareyev and Khachiyan over Bryant; Aldama over Krishnan; and Brown catching up with wins over Serpik and Bruce Baker. That left four players with 4-1 and five with 3½: Sevillano, Hilby, Lu, IM Keaton Kiewra, and Illinoisan William Aramil. Of course they hoped for draws on the top two boards (though Lu drew quickly with the lower-ranked Nicky Korba)...and that's what happened!

Gareyev countered Aldama's Ruy Lopez with the tactical Schliemann variation, but they promptly went into a sideline. A gaggle of spectators gathered when White apparently offered a rook on move 14. However, 14...Qxa1 15.Qb3 Qf6 16.Bb2 Be5 17.Nxe5 Rxe5 18.Qxe5 Qxe5 19.Bxe5 just leads to a drawn opposite bishop ending, and after Gareyev's king "got out of Dodge" by moving to h6, a draw was soon agreed in an even position.


Khachiyan tried to surprise Brown with an English instead of his usual 1.e4, but after extensive maneuvering, he could get only a minor piece ending with a nominal advantage. After move 46, watchers speculated that Black's knight might get trapped (and Michael later confessed to a momentary fear), but Melik couldn't find a way to bring home the point. Michael, a former Denker and Barber scholastic champion, is self-effacing enough to claim that he didn't play any great games in this event, but he will no doubt remember the pressure of this ending!


That left four players striving to get into the tie at the top. Hilby held an ending with a rook against bishop and split pawns against Kiewra, while Aramil and Sevillano  contested a Modern Benoni, with White holding an edge for much of the game. Black's 22nd move appears faulty, as the tactic 23. Bg5! Qxg5 (after 23...Nf6 24.b4 White's advantage has increased) 24.Nxd7 White is much better and even has a repetition available (not that either player wanted that result!).


Kiewra, Hilby, and FM Alex Ketchetov tied for the remaining place prizes, while Lu and Serpik split the Under 2300 honors.

Twelve-year-old Aaron Chang, who reached 2150 and should soon be a Master, took the Under 2200 section with 5-1, winning the last game to end, a tough ending against Agata Bykovtsev.  Dmitry Cherkasky, Michael Lum, and Ke Chen (she's a chess teacher), tied in Under 2000, also at 5-1.

The other section winners left some daylight between them and their pursuers: youngster James Bui by a point in Under 1800; veteran Arthur Taylor, who got off his floor with a bang (166 point gain), by a point in Under 1600; and Texan Ramon Rodriguez by a point and a half in Under 1400. Roger Pedersen took Under 1200 honors in that section.

At least one game from the class sections deserves to see the light of day. Another rapidly improving 12-year-old Gabriel Sam, gets the advantage and punishes his opponent for a bit of greed, concluding with an underpromotion mate while threatened with mate himself:

Southern California Open (Under 2200), 2014


The Town and Country Resort again provided an attractive venue. Thanks to Chuck Ensey and the San Diego Club for another great event. They'll be putting on their next one on King Weekend in January.

Find the full Southern California crosstable on MSA.

Our next CLO Labor Day round-up will feature the New York State Championship, among other events. Labor Day weekend also spanned Fabiano Caruana's awesome run and Carissa Yip's victory over a Grandmaster.