Daniel Gurevich on the Mid-America Open
By Daniel Gurevich   
March 24, 2010
12-year-old Daniel Gurevich and GM Alejandro Ramirez

I had high expectations for the 14th annual Mid-America Open in St. Louis, Missouri - one of the rare FIDE rated events within driving distance of Atlanta. In an unlucky turn of events, I got my first FIDE rating after a disastrous 2009 World Open, where I lost five games in the U2400 section, and so, despite having a 2100+ USCF rating for over a year, I am still struggling to get my FIDE rating over 2000. My main goal at the Mid-America Open was to finally break that barrier so maybe I could get an invitation to Copper State International, taking place this June.

Our eight-hour drive was fairly uneventful, except for a speeding ticket. When we arrived and checked into the hotel on Friday night, the entry list in the 2-day schedule of the Open section had just 3 players. I was the lowest rated and was not looking forward to a one-point bye. To my relief, the open section grew by four more players in the morning, including top seeds GM Alejandro Ramirez and local IM Michael Brooks. I was paired up with Brooks, rated 300 USCF points (450 FIDE points) higher than I was.


1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bb5 Nd4 6.0-0 e6
6...Nxb5 7.Nxb5 d5 8.exd5 a6 9.Nc3 Nf6 is the main line.
7.Nxd4 Bxd4+?!
This move looks logical, but has a problem. Black will have to come back to g7 with his bishop and lose a tempo. Meanwhile, 7...cxd4! does not lose a tempo. Although this move slightly weakens Black's pawn structure, the pawn should not be very weak.
8.Kh1 a6 9.Bd3
The bishop on b5 was stopping Black from playing ...d6 or ...d5.
9...b5 10.e5!
White threatens Ne4, followed by either c3 or Nd6+.
10...c4 11.Be4 Rb8 12.Ne2?!
As Alejandro Ramirez later pointed out, this was not the best move. Better is 12.d3! f5 13.Bf3 Bb7 14.Bxb7 Rxb7 15.dxc4 Bxc3 16.bxc3 bxc4 17.Qd4 is clearly dismal for Black.
12...Bc5 13.d4 cxd3 14.Qxd3
White has a clear advantage because of Black's dark-square weaknesses and White's lead in development.
14...f5 15.Bf3 Nh6!
The idea is ...Nf7 eventually followed by ...d6. I expected 15...Qb6 16.c3 a5, and I had planned 17.b4! axb4 18.cxb4 Bxb4 19.Be3 Bc5 20.Bxc5 Qxc5 21.Rac1 Qb6 22.Rfd1 with nearly unstoppable threats of Bc6! and Rxc8+!.
16.Be3 Bxe3 17.Qxe3 Qc7
Stopping potential mate threats. ...Qc2 is off-limits because of Qa7!
18...0-0 19.Rfd1 Rd8 20.Rd3
Preparing to make an Alekhine's gun.
20...Qxc2 21.Rc1! Qxb2 22.Qa7+-
21.Qxb6! Rxb6 22.Rad1 Nf7 23.Nd4+/- was even better.
21...Nf7 22.Rd1 Bb7!
Black can finally trade the bishop with a tactical trick.
23.Rxd7?? Rxd7 24.Qxd7 Bxf3 25.gxf3 Rd8!-+
23...Rxb7 24.Qb4 Rc7 25.Nd4 Re8
(stopping Qe7)
26.Nf3 Rxc2 27.Rxd7 a5?!
27...Qf2 would be answered by 28.R7d2 Rxd2 29.Qxd2+/=, also with a slight advantage.
This move sets a devious trap.
28...Rd8 29.Rxd8+ Nxd8 30.Qh4 Nf7 31.Ng5 is not easy for Black to defend.
29.Rxf7!! Kxf7 30.Qh4!
Black is powerless against the threats of Rd7+, Qf6+, and Qxh7+. The move 18.h3! turns out to be important: without it, this combination would not work at all!
30...Re7 31.Qxh7+ Kf8 32.Qh8+ Kf7 33.Ng5#; 30...Qf2 31.Rd7+ Kf8 32.Qf6+; 30...Qc7 31.Qxh7+; 30...h5 31.Qf6+ Kg8 32.Rd7
If the pawn had been on h2, Black could have played ...Rb1+ and answered Ne1 with ...h5! Here, 31...Rb1+ is answered with 32.Kh2 and 32...Qg1+ with 33.Nxg1. 1-0

This was my first win over an IM. I hoped it would push my FIDE rating over 2000, but I was disappointed to find out that this game was played at too quick a time control to be FIDE rated.

In round two, Brooks suffered another upset, this time from Kevin Cao. This was also Kevin's first win over an IM.


In the fifth and final round, by a surprising twist of fate, Kevin and I faced each other.

12-year-old Gurevich and 13-year-old Cao face off.


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.c3 Nf6 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+
7...Nxe4 leads to the well-known line that begins 8.Bxb4 Nxb4 9.Bxf7+ Kxf7 10.Qb3+ d5 11.Ne5+
8.Nbxd2 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Qb3 Nce7
I had played these exact moves against Kevin in our game almost exactly a year ago. That game had also been a relatively quick draw. This time around, I wanted no less than a win.
11.0-0 c6 12.Rfe1 0-0 13.Ne4 Qb6 14.Nc3!
With the idea of creating a good knight/bad bishop position.
14...Qxb3 15.Bxb3 Bg4
15...Be6 16.Ng5!
16.Nxd5 Nxd5 17.Bxd5 cxd5 18.Ne5 Be6 19.Nd3
The knight is aiming at both f4 and c5.

This move is the best by far. The idea is that
is answered with
20...b6! 21.Nxe6 fxe6 22.Rxe6 Rc2
I had seen this line, and had come up with a response that was just as good.
23.f3 Rxb2 24.Rc1! Rxa2 25.Re7!
Now I have both open files and complete control of the seventh rank, more than enough compensation for just one pawn.
Passive defense, oddly enough, is the best here!
26.Rcc7 Rg8 27.Rxa7 Rd2 28.Rab7 Rxd4 29.Rxb6 h6
Even if White wins the d5-pawn, the position is a theoretical draw, so after
30.Kf2 Rd2+
we agreed to a draw. 1/2-1/2

We both finished with 3/5, and tied for 5-12th place.

Also see the previous CLO Mid-America wrap up by Steve Immitt and the MSA rated results. For more by Daniel Gurevich, read his article on the 2009 Atlanta US Chess School.