Azarov Wins in Washington, Sevian Nabs Final Norm
By Michael Regan   
August 18, 2014
GM Azarov
The 3rd Annual Washington International was held from August 9-14 in Rockville, MD. GM Sergei Azarov (BLR) won the A section with a score of 7/9 and took home the $4000 first place prize. A full point behind the winner, six players tied for 2nd: GM Yaroslav Zherebukh, GM Ioan Cristian Chirila, IM Akshat Chandra, IM Samuel Sevian, IM Levan Bregadze, and IM Justin Sarkar.

The 53-player A section had a strong field with a median rating of 2400. There was strong representation of the top young players in the US with seven of the top 10 under 21 players participating.

The race for GM norms was dominated by 13-year-old IM Samuel Sevian (MA) and 15-year-old IM Akshat Chandra (NJ).

3rd Washington International (5.9), 11.08.2014

I was going into round five after a good start 3.5/4. Had a very interesting game with Illya Nyzhnyk in round 4 playing Botvinnik variation of Slav. This game was also complex thanks to my opponent's challenging play.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nge7

The Steinitz Defense.

I've also played 5. c3 before.
5...g6 6.c3 Bg7 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 b5 9.Bc2

The Bishop stands better on c2 here than on b3, because after I play d4-d5, Na5 does not come with tempo. 9.Bb3 0-0 10.d5 Na5.
9...d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Bg5 Nce7 is also playable.
10.d5 Na5
10...Nb4 11.Bb3 a5 12.a3 Na6 13.d6 cxd6 14.Qxd6. White is slightly better because of Black's weakness on d7.

White offers material for a strong attack. Surprisingly after the game when I checked this line, I saw the Game Zherebukh-Zvagintsev! So I had played his "Novelty" against him! I had to calculate the following lines, which seemed to lead to a strong initiative.
11...Bxb2 12.Bxa5 Bxa1 13.Nc3 Bxc3 (13...Bb2 14.d6 Nc6 15.Bxc7 Qe8 16.Nd5) 14.Bxc3 d6 (14...f6 15.e5!) 15.Bf6 Bg4 16.Qd2 Bxf3 17.gxf3+-; 11...Nc4 12.Bc3 Nxb2 (12...Bxc3 13.Nxc3 Nxb2 14.Qd4) 13.Qc1 Nc4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Bb3 Nb6 16.Qc3+ f6 17.Nbd2.
12.d6 1-0 Zherebukh,Y (2560)-Zvjaginsev,V (2663)/ Aix-les-Bains 2011/CBM 142 (41)

12...d6 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.b3 Gives White an extra option of developing the knight to d2 after Bg4 with subsequent capture on f3.
13.Nxc3 d6 14.b3

I restrict his knight on a5. 14.h3 stops ...Bg4 allowing the knight on a5 to get out 14...Nc4 15.b3 Na3 16.Bd3 f6 with interesting play.

I anticipated this move, as the Knight on f3 plays the key role in supporting the e4-e5 advance, also vacating space in the queenside for the pieces. 14...b4 15.Na4 Bd7 16.Nb2.
15.h3 Bxf3 16.Qxf3 Nc8
Improving the knight position
I played this move a bit too fast, I thought that the main plan was to play e4-e5 , and I impatiently started into it, instead I first had to improve the position of my knight. 17.Nd1! Nb6 18.Ne3 From here the white knight can go to g4, and support the f4 f5 advance.
Now black threatens b4 followed by c4.
Stopping b4.
18...b4 19.axb4 cxb4 20.Na2 Qc7 21.Rc1±.
The knight goes to g3 to support f4-f5.
19...Nd7 20.Ng3 Nb7
20...Qf6 21.Qg4 Rcd8 22.f4 Qg7 23.Rf2
21.Qe3 Qf6 22.f4
with the idea e5 de f5
He took off his gloves and I did too. 22...Qg7 23.Rf2 Rce8 24.Rb1 Nb6 25.Qf3 but white has a strong attack.
23.Rf2 Qxa3 24.e5 c4 25.f5!!

White has no time to waste with e6
25...cxb3 26.Bb1
The bishop must stay on this diagonal.
26...dxe5 27.Qh6 Qe7
Here I spent 15 minutes calculating white's options reaching one minute mark. Yaroslav had pretty much a minute as well. The rest of the game was played on the increment.
28.f6 Nxf6 29.Nf5 gxf5 30.Rxf5 Ne4!! (30...Kh8 31.d6 Nxd6 32.Rxf6 e4 33.Rfxd6) 31.Bxe4 f6 32.Rh5 Rc7 33.Rd3 Kf7 Black keeps the extra material; 28.Ne4 gxf5 29.Rxf5 f6 30.Rf3 Kh8 The attack seems to have stopped.
28...gxh5 29.f6 Nxf6 30.d6!

30.Rxf6 e4
30...Nxd6 31.Rxf6 e4 32.Rfxd6
Despite seeming material equality the Black King is way too exposed.
32...Rfe8 33.R1d5 Kh8 34.Bxe4; 32...Rc7 33.Bxe4 Qxe4 34.Rd8; 32...Rc5 33.Qe3 Qe5 34.Qxb3 Rc1 Keeps black in the game]
33.R6d5 Kh8 34.Qf4?
After I played it I immediately realized I had Bxe4 [34.Bxe4 Qxe4 35.Qf6+ Kg8 36.Rg5+ Qg6 37.Rxg6+ hxg6 38.Qxb2

White should be winning for the following reasons, after opening of the h-file with g2-g4 the white rook will transfer to the h-file and connect with the queen on h8. or white could just trade the rook and bring the King to h6.
34...Rc4 35.Re5 Qa7+ 36.Kh2
36.Kh1! f6 37.Rxe4.
36...f6 37.Rxe4 Qb8!=
37.Rxf5 Rxf5 38.Qxf5 Qc7+ 39.Kh1 Qe7


Here he flagged but white is simply winning anyway. For instance:
40.Rd7 Rc1+ 41.Kh2 Rc5
41...Qxd7 42.Qf8#
42.Qf2! Qe5+ 43.g3 Qf5 44.Qd4+ Qe5 45.Rd8+ Kg7 46.Qd7+ Kh6 47.Qd2+ Kg6 48.Bxe4+ Qxe4 49.Qd6++- 

They both started strong when, after five rounds, Samuel was at +4 and Akshat was at +3. That small edge gave Samuel the advantage when the two, both with scores of 5.5/8, were paired in the last round. Samuel needed a draw to get a GM norm, while Akshat, playing black, needed a win.
 In the end, the game was drawn and only Samuel earned a GM norm (his third). Akshat would have earned his norm if the average rating of his opponents had been 2 points higher.

Sevian vs Chandra

The other player who was able to earn a norm was 14-year-old FM Kesav Viswanadha (CA). Kesav faced tough opponents, playing four GMs and three IMs in his first seven games, allowing him to earn the norm prior to his final draw against IM Raja Panjwani (CAN).

FM Kesav Viswanadha
The tournament was kicked off by a blitz tournament on Friday that was won by GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez. Running in parallel with the norm tournament was the 29-player B section for players rated less than USCF 2201. The winner of the B section was local player Jeffery Chang (MD) who scored 6.5/7. In second place was WFM Jennifer Yu (VA) with a score of 6/7, one and a half points ahead of third place.

More Information

Final Standings
PGN file with games from the A section
Photo Gallary from the tournament