The Old and the New at the Pacific Coast Open
By Randy Hough   
July 30, 2013
John Bryant, Photo STL Chess Club
The 18th edition of Continental Chess's Pacific Coast Open took place July 18-21 at the Sheraton in Agoura Hills, at the west end of the San Fernando Valley. It marked a mixture of the "old": a 200+ player turnout - 216, with 90% of the prize fund based on 230 target reached after adjustments, and two U.S. Championship participants, GM Timur Gareev and "FM with two GM norms" John Bryant, tying for first in the 47 player Open section.

The new included the successful West Coast debut of the mixed doubles concept. This calls for the scores of male and female self-designated partners, regardless of section, to be combined with additional money prizes at stake. With 10% of the players being female, one fifth of the participants were on a team - something for the "good, but we have a long way to go" category, as getting more women and girls into tournament chess is an obvious goal of mixed doubles. In this tournament the average rating for a team was capped at 2199; for comparison, in the current U.S. Open, which is in one section, it's 1799.

The 25-year-old Gareev, the third ranked player in the U.S., is now living in San Diego,  setting up a scholastic chess program and looking forward to more blindfold simultaneous exhibitions as he sets his sights on the world record (his pre-U.S. Championship effort in Saint Louis was reported here.
GM Timur Gareev in Hawaii

Gareev unexpectedly showed up the day before the two-day schedule began, upsetting some other players' plans. Forty-five minute games rarely produce topflight games, but his Round 3 victory over Milov (with two sets of doubled pawns in an ending!) demonstrated his practical play.  


Gareev also notes the line 6.Bd3 c5 7.d5 (7.Nge2 Nc6 8.Qa4 Ba5) 7...exd5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 and that White could try 14.Bg3 Bxd3 15.Qxd3 d6.

Gareev's fourth round win over fellow GM Sevillano displayed fine technique, as he defused the dangerous Modern Benoni and slowly prepared the e4-e5 break. The light notes are Timur's.


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8.Bb5+ Nfd7 9.a4 Qh4+ 10.g3 Qd8 11.Nf3 0-0 12.0-0
12.Kf2 a6 13.Bd3 Nf6 14.h3
12...Na6 13.Re1
13.f5 Ne5 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.Bh6 Nb4
13...Nb4 14.h3
14.e5 a6 15.Bf1 Re8 16.e6 fxe6 17.dxe6 Nf6 18.Ng5 d5
14...a6 15.Bf1 Re8 16.Be3 b6 17.Qb3 Bb7 18.Bf2 Qf6 19.Rad1 Rab8 20.Re3 Qd8 21.Rd2 Ba8 22.Qd1 Qc7 23.Bc4 Rbd8 24.Re1

24.Qe2 Bb7 25.e5 dxe5 26.d6 Qc6 27.Nd5
24...Qb7 25.g4 Kh8 26.Kh2 Re7 27.Bh4 Bf6 28.Bg3 Rde8 29.Rde2 Bg7 30.e5

30...dxe5 31.fxe5 h6 appears to improve
31.Bh4 dxe5 32.Bxe7 Rxe7 33.d6 Re8 34.Ng5
31...Qxd6 32.Ng5 Rxe2+ 33.Rxe2 Rf8 34.Re8 Qf6 35.Qe2 h6 36.Nxf7+ Qxf7 37.Re7 Qf6 38.Rxd7 b5 39.axb5 axb5 40.Bxb5
40.Nxb5 Qxb2 41.Qxb2 Bxb2 42.Nc7 Bd4 43.Ne6 Rc8 44.f5
40...Qd4 41.Bc4 1-0

A draw against Jonathan Homidan (more on his breakout result below) and an uneventful last round contest with Matikozyan followed, assuring Gareev a tie for first.  

Bryant, 22 (Sevillano's stepson) also played in the fast schedule but followed a different course, losing to 2195-rated Leonid Furman in the first round and needing five straight wins to land in the winner's circle. His fifth round win over the talented young Texas Master Jonathan Chiang set the stage.


8...Nb4 is an unusual move in the Alapin Sicilian, and the recapture on move ten with the queen rather than bishop does not inspire confidence. Chiang delayed castling, giving Bryant the chance to uncork some tactics on the e-file. A better alternative for Black was 16...exd5 17.Bxd5+ Be7, but White has a small but clear edge after 18.Bxc4.


In yet another Alapin Sicilian, Black left his e6 pawn weak with the aggressive 13...f5, but defended and counterattacked well...until after time pressure, when 41...e5! would have virtually equalized. Instead, 41...Ba3? forced White's rook to the optimal e-file, and the ...e5 break came too late as White's attack crashed through, leaving Bryant tied for first place.

The PCO also marked a big splash by 16-year-old Jonathan Homidan, who broke Master only recently (his certificate was presented during the tournament) but made 85-point rating gains in both the Pacific Southwest Open two weeks before and in the PCO. After upsetting GM Vadim Milov in the "fast" (Game/45) schedule, Jonathan downed IM Roman Yankovsky in the fourth (merged) round.


The IM's offbeat line against the French left him with better pawn structure but Black with more dynamic piece play, which Jonathan utilized well. A time pressure blunder (34.Qf6 wins the e-pawn and maintains virtual equality) cost White the game.

Top seed Gareev was next in line for Homidan. He appeared somewhat distracted during the game and made some second best moves (for instance, either capture on d4 improves on move 12) that left White with an edge because of the two bishops and protected past pawn that must be blockaded. Jonathan was content to take a draw. And Coach Jay Stallings, organizer of the Superstate scholastic championship and the Master-Junior simul, fulfilled his possibly rash promise to shave off his mustache and beard (nine-year fixtures) if Jonathan didn't lose.


Jay Stallings & Jonathan Homidan

And in the final round came GM Enrico Sevillano, who trailed Gareev and Homidan by a half point.


The GM's pawn sac is speculative but requires careful defense, which Jonathan provided, though 24...Bc2 probably improves. At that point Enrico could have restored the balance with 25.f5, one idea being 25...gxf5 26.Rg3+ Kh8 27.Bxf5 exf5 28.Rxf5 Rc4 29.Rgf3 with dynamic equality. Instead, after 25.g4 Qg7! Black would have had a definite edge (if 26.f5 gxf5 27.Kh1, both 27...f4 and 27...Bc2 appear good), but after the game moves Black's advantage is minimal and both players avoided tempting fate.

Thus Homidan finished at 4½ - 1½,  a half point out of first but a full point ahead of the other Under 2300 players. He will be a senior at The Webb School in Claremont, California this fall. Jonathan now has an undefeated streak of 36 games, many against masters, going back to the American Open in November 2011. Despite his relatively infrequent tournament play, he studies and takes weekly lessons from IM Andranik Matikozyan.

Homidan and Matikozyan were joined the third place tie by Iranian GM Ehsam Gahem Maghami (who won three straight after losing to Homidan in the last round of the fast schedule) and FM Luis Carlos De Arco of Colombia (winner of four straight after a bye and a loss to young Albert Lu). 

Class winners included Kevin Moy of Northern California, who recently turned 13 (Under 2100; a recent high school grad from the Bay Area who spent the weekend on crutches, Ojas Chinchwadkar (Under 1900 and rated 1898 - sometimes the favorites come through); and local players James Gould (Under 1700) and Chris Lane (Under 1500). The Under 1200s were divided into adult and junior sections (it's true, sometimes the older players would rather not play young kids), with David Fujii winning the former and Alex Shaham and Albert  Xu tying in the latter.

As for the Mixed Doubles, the lady carried most of the load for the winning team, from the bay Area. Seventh grader Trina Chatterjee scored 5-1 (and gained 204 points) in Under 1500, while Cal McCarty-Snead, a third grader, earned 2½ in Under 1700. Trailing a half-point behind at 7 points were Arizonans Liulia Cardona in Open (3) and Cardona's student Justin Frielander in Under 1500 (4). The West's appetite has been whetted!

Steve Immitt, Quan Luong, and this writer directed for CCA. We'll be back at the Sheraton for the Los Angeles Open in October.

All results can be viewed on MSA.