Kudrin Wins in Western States
By Randy Hough   
October 26, 2011
kudrinlead.jpgThe Western States Open always attracts a good cross section of western players, and a few others from around the country, to Reno in the fall. The 28th Annual, held at the Sands Regency October 21-23, was no exception, with 214 participants, including three GMs and six IMs. A total of $23,353 in prize money was paid out. Organizer Jerry Weikel hopes that the economic downturn will end one of the these years, restoring the turnout to that of better years (as recently as 2009, it was 257).

One feature of the last two years that was absent was a 10-minute playoff for first place (see stories from 2009 and 2010). The top seed, GM Sergey Kudrin, became the undisputed champion with a 5-1 score in the 39-player Open section. A 4-0 start, including wins over FM Robby Adamson (a reversal of last year's game, featured in our article at that time) and IM David Pruess, enable Sergey to coast in with quick draws against FM Alex Kretchetov and Konstantin Kavutskiy and earn a $3,000 prize check. In the Pruess game, Black gave up his queen early for material compensation, but Kudrin built up an attack and deftly transposed to a won pawn ending.


A frequent visitor to the Western States and the companion Far West in the spring, Sergey says it's his favorite tournament. "Fran and Jerry Weikel are great organizers." He was clear first in the Western States in 2006 and 2008, and tied in 1991, 1999, 2003, and 2007. A 52-year-old from Stamford, Connecticut, Kudrin bemoans the difficulties faced by professional players in the U.S.

Pruess, a young master well known for organizing strong tournaments in the Bay Area, led the second place tie at 4½. He upset the fourth seed, GM Melik Khachiyan (the champion for the last two years) in Round Three with a devilish trap. Annotations are courtesy of his blog on chess.com, where you can also find his thoughts on his game against Kudrin.

White: GM Khachiyan, Melikset
Black: IM Pruess, David


1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 11.Bf4 Qa5+ 12.Bd2 Bb4 13.Ne4 Ngf6 14.Nd6+ Ke7 15.Nxb7 Bxd2+ 16.Nxd2 Qb4 17.Qb3 Qxd4 18.O-O-O Rab8 19.Qa3+ c5 20.Na5

Here he offered a draw. I think the position is about equal. 
20...Rhc8 21.f3 Nd5 22.Rhe1 N7f6 23.c4
he played this thinking my knight could not go to b4 because of 25.Nd6. but since the knight can go to b4, his king is now mortally exposed. Correct was g4 defending the h5 pawn, and the game is balanced.
23...Nb4 24.Ne4 Qe5 25.Nb3
25.Nd6 Nd3+
25...Nxe4 26.Rxe4 
26.Qxa7+ Qc7 27.Qxc7+ Rxc7 28.Rxe4 Nxa2+ 29.Kc2 Rcb7 30.Re3 Nb4+ 31.Kc3 Nd5+ 32.cxd5 Rxb3+ 33.Kd2 Rxb2+ 34.Ke1 Rxg2

With the idea of going to h5 next move. I also considered some other ideas that are not as convincing. 
27.Rd2 Qxh5
Black threatens Qh1+ Rd1 Qxg2 and there is no defense
28.Qxa7+ Kf8 29.Kb1
 29.a3 Qh1+ 30.Rd1 Nd3+ 31.Kc2 Qxg2+ 32.Rd2 ( 32.Kxd3 Rxb3# ) 32...Qxf3 and the rook on e4 is attacked so black wins.
29...Qh1+ 30.Nc1 Nxa2
! a neat finishing blow
31.Kxa2 Ra8; 31.Rf4 Qxc1+ 32.Kxa2 f5
31...Ra8 32.b3

and White resigned. 0-1

Facing Kretchetov (who had a chance to tie for first) in the final round, David uncorked a rare line in the King's Gambit Declined - but failed to surprise Alex, who had seen a game of his and had analyzed it with the new popular engine, Houdini. Alex was in excellent shape until he got the unfortunate inspiration of sacrificing a rook. White's queen was out of play for a long time, he had no organic weaknesses and Black was unable to exploit the lady's absence.


Also in the second place tie was 17-year-old Howard Chen of Washington State. He drew IM Vladimir Mezentsev in the second round, drew Khachiyan in the fourth (as he did in the Pacific Coast Open last summer; see my earlier article; Melik had beaten him in the Los Angeles two weeks ago), and upset the off-form second seed, GM Alexander Ivanov, in the finale.

Untitled Konstantin (Kostya) Kavutskiy was also in the tie. The precocious 18-year-old recent college graduate is now focusing on chess as a player, coach, budding journalist (he writes articles for CLO on the U.S. Chess League and will be covering the North American Open for CLO in December), and manager/player for the LA Vibe in the USCL. He pulled stunning upsets of IM Enrico Sevillano and Ivanov before the last round draw. White has done well in the line selected by Ivanov against the French, but 9.b4 may be a better choice. Kavutskiy fully held his own, and on move 29 prepared to switch to the kingside with a winning attack (the immediate 30...Qf8 also appears winning).


The last player in the second place tie (the Under 2400 prize money was pooled with the place prizes, as all but Pruess met that criterion) was another young master, Michael Pearson of the Bay Area. His last three rounds featured a draw with Khachiyan and wins over IM Raymond Kaufman and FM Adamson.

Two Under 2400 players with 4 points split those honors. Idaho's Luke Harmon-Vellotti, our top 12-year-old, downed FM John Bryant and drew Pruess and IM Mackenzie Molner, and Sarah Chiang of Texas, at 14 the top U.S. girl under 16, beat FM Nick Raptis and Bryant the final day. Sarah's brother Jonathan (top U.S. 11-year-old), beat Canadian FM Dale Haessel in the last round to reach 3½. I was happy to see Jonathan (despite his Texas provenance) sporting a UC Berkeley hoodie; his parents are alums.  Go Bears!

The remaining four-pointers, Khachiyan, Molner, and Kretchetov, took place prizes, and Adamson's 3½ earned him a bit.

Paul Romero of Klamath Falls, Oregon, topped the Expert section at 5-1. Last year's winner, Fred Kleist of  Washington, tied for second with Udit Iyengar, Colin Chow and Danny Goodman of Northern California.  In Class A, Northern Californians Leonard Hill, Jamshid Alamehzadeh, and Virgil Vigil were joined in a first place tie at 4½  by Drayton Harrison of Seattle and Michael Reed of Tucson's always-powerful Catalina Foothills High.

Five points earned B honors for Timothy Brennan of Colorado, Chris Jenson of Utah, and Gabriel Bick of California.  In Under 1600, Matthew Rudd scored 5½, but was ineligible for prize money. The money winners at 4 ½ were Mathias Grabiak and Ivan Troufanov of Northern California, Kerry Van Veen of Washington, and Francisco Baltier of Arizona. Finally, Matthew Reed topped the Under 1400 section with 5½. The "two Matthews" are both from the Redding Chess Club in far Northern California. It is not yet a USCF affiliate and has only ten members, but five of them showed up in Reno!

The Western States, in addition to displaying 12 demo boards, name plates for all Open players, and state flags for the top three boards in the other sections, always offers a variety of extras. Kudrin gave a clock simul, giving up just one draw to Tony Chinnici (as he did previously!). GM Lubosh Kavalek won all his simul games and offered a reminiscence of Reno's GM Larry Evans, who died shortly after last year's tournament: "I had the privilege to play next to him at the 1976 Olympiad in Haifa, when the U.S. team won the gold medal. He was an excellent positional player, a tough-minded counterpunching defender who didn't mind grabbing pawns and taking risks. He was hard to beat." Lubosh also pointed to Larry's extensive journalism and major contribution to Bobby Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games. Beginnimng in 2012,  the Far West tournament will be renamed the Larry Evans Memorial.

Lubosh and IM John Donaldson also provided a popular clinic to review players' games. And another IM, Cyrus Lakdawala (whose copus of opening books is growing rapidly) played in and duly won the Quick tournament. Special prizes in the main tournament went to top-scoring seniors Leonard Hill and Kharrazi, and to the best-scoring club, Seattle, in a close finish over Capital City (Sacramento).

Tournaments sometimes feature someone playing in the main and side event at the same time, generally allowed by organizers.  The one player who made that choice on this occasion was, shall we say, not the most mobile, and had to rush some distance back and forth. His opponent in the Open had not been notified of this circumstance because of miscommunication among the TD staff, and he and his parents were understandably perturbed. Hurt feelings were eventfually assuaged.

Jerry Weikel and his staff continue to uphold a great tradition, and everyone should make the trip to Reno once - you'll want to come back!

For USCF rated results, see the MSA report