Becerra and Kraai Prevail in Texas
By WIM Alexey Root   
December 1, 2008
Jesse Kraai and Bayaraa Zorigt begin their marathon final round game.
The UTD Invitational ran from November 26-30 and had two sections, an IM-norm section and a GM-norm section. The last game to finish in the IM-norm section was GM Jesse Kraai's 111-move win over WFM Bayaraa Zorigt. After second-place finisher GM Babakuli Annakov and FM Igor Shneider drew in 15 minutes, Jesse only needed a draw to clinch first. However, as Jesse put it , "I came to play chess." Jesse, a full time chess player, recently moved to Berkeley California, to live in the "GM" house.


On a contrary note to this mammoth game, Jesse's favorite win was his miniature, as Black in round four, against NM Taut Vedrickas.


Although Bayaraa lost her last round, her 5/9 (see one of her victories below) was above the WIM-norm requirement. But there was a problem with the composition of the IM-norm section. UTD Chess Program Director Jim Stallings explained, "Bayaraa had enough points for a WIM norm. But due to a last-minute player substitution (which filled the requirement for enough players from other federations but not the requirement for titled players), a norm was not achieved."

There were not any norms in the GM-norm section either, though IM Jacek Stopa came close. Jacek needed a last round win over IM Marko Zivanic in the following game for a GM norm.

GMs Julio Becerra and Babakuli Annakov

GM Julio Becerra won the GM-norm section with 6.5/9. I asked Julio if he had anything he wanted to say to Chess Life Online readers. Julio replied, "Good luck to Dallas Destiny against Boston Blitz in the USCL finals. I'm a Yankee baseball fan, so I don't like Boston winning anything." 

Both Julio and Marko had post-mortem comments on Julio's favorite game, from round 6.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Bd3 Nf6 8.O-O h5 9.h3 Bd6 10.Nxc6 dxc6 11.f4 e5 12.f5 b5 13.a4 Rb8 14.axb5
Position after 14.axb5


Marko said, "14....cxb5 may be better."
 15.Ra7 Rb7 16.Rxb7 Qxb7 17.Bxb5 Ke7 18.Bd3 Qxb2 19.Na4 Qa3 20.Nb6 Bc5 21.Qc1
Position after 21.Qc1

21... Qa5
Julio said, "21....Bxe3+ 22. Qxe3 Ba6 23. Qf3 would be a better choice for Black."
 22.Nc4 Qa7 23.Bxc5 Qxc5 24.Qe3 Qxe3 25.Nxe3 Nd7 26.Ra1 Nc5
Here Julio thought Marko should play 26....Bb7
 27.Ra5 Nxd3 28.cxd3 f6

If 28....Rd8 Julio was considering 29. Ra3 g6 30. fxg6 fxg6 31. Nc4
Position after 29.Ra7+

Julio was proud of his maneuver Ra7, Rb7, with the idea of Nb6.
29... Bd7 30.Rb7 Rd8 31.Kf2 Kf8 32.Nc4 Be8 33.Ke3 Bf7 34.Nb6 Be8 35.g4 hxg4 36.hxg4 Kg8 37.g5

The threat is g6 when Black will be in zugzwang.
37...fxg5 38.Nc4 Rd7 39.Rb8 Re7 40.Nd6 Kf8 41.Kf3
Marko said, "Julio played well in this game."  1-0

GM Section Final Crosstable


IM Section Final Crosstable


GM Alejandro Ramirez with Bayaara Zorigt.

At the opening ceremony for the UTD GM Invitational, I suggested that WFM Bayaraa Zorigt rub GM Alejandro Ramirez's head for good luck. Alejandro and Bayaraa agreed that it couldn't hurt.  In round six, the mutual luck was on as Alejandro won against IM Sal Bercys, while Bayaraa defeated NM Taut Vedrickas. I sat in on both post mortems.


1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 a6

 Alejandro asked, "Is this called a Paulsen?" Sal replied, "Yes, of course."
 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qc7 6.Be2 Nf6 7.0–0
Alejandro asked if he was playing the opening correctly. Sal answered that the game so far was exactly following "A World Open game where I got killed as Black."
7...Bb4 8.Qd3 Nc6 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.f4 d5 11.e5 Nd7 12.Kh1 0–0
Sal thought he might have played 12....a5 with the idea of 13....Ba6.
13.Qh3 f5 14.g4 Rb8
In addition to Alejandro and Sal, Taut Vedrickas, Francisco Guadalupe, and Bayaraa Zorigt were watching the post mortem. No one liked 14....Rb8. Recommended instead were 14....Bxc3 15. bxc3 or 14....Nc5 15. Be3. Sal said he had played 14....Rb8 because he didn't know what to do, and "I played a move that attacked something eventually."
15.gxf5 exf5 16.Be3 Nb6
If instead 16....Bc5 17. e6 Bxe3 18. exd7 Qxd7 19. Qe3 d4 20. Qe5 winning for White. Alejandro said, "I don't remember seeing this but I figured there had to be something."
17.Rad1 Nc4
According to the post mortem crowd, if instead 17....Bxc3 18. bxc3 c5 (with the idea of Nc4) 19. Bf3 Bb7 20. Qg2.
18.Na4 Be7 19.b3 Nxe3 20.Qxe3 a5
Position after 20...a5

Sal considered instead 20....Be6 21. Bxa6, sacrificing a pawn for activity. He thought for 25 minutes before rejecting 20....Be6. Alejandro commented, "Sal is the kind of player that thinks 25 minutes and then plays 20....a5. I tried to use the Dvoretsky method (prophylactic thinking) to figure out the point of a5, but I think it was to defend a pawn."
 21.c4 Be6 22.cxd5 Bxd5+ 23.Bf3 Bxf3+ 24.Qxf3 Rfd8 25.Nb2 g6 26.Nc4 Rxd1 27.Rxd1 Rd8 28.Kg2 Rxd1 29.Qxd1 Qa7

The alternative of 29....Qd8 instead of ....Qa7 was discussed.
30.a4 Kf7 31.Qd2 Bb4 32.Qd8 Qe7 33.Qh8
Position after 33.Qh8

 Alejandro played this move quickly, which Sal commended as the best winning try.
33...Qh4 34.h3 Qh5 35.Qf6+ Kg8 36.Qd8+
"After this move, I was pretty sure I was winning, and that I could hold back his counterplay and prevent a perpetual."
Kg7 37.Qd3 Qh4 38.Qd4 Qe1 39.e6+ Kg8 40.Qe5 Qh4 41.Nxa5 Bxa5 42.e7 1-0


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Bg2 c5
Bayaraa said, "This is the first time that I played this opening, but I prepared by looking at some games. Taut had two games similar to this line."
7.d5 exd5 8.cxd5 Nxd5

Position after 8...Nxd5

Bayaraa said, "White gives up a pawn but has a lot of compensation."
9.0–0 Be7 10.Rd1 Nc6 11.a3
 Bayaraa said, "I had prepared for 11. Qf5 Nf6, where the game is equal."
 Bayaraa said, "Better was 11....Nc7 directly."
12.e4 0–0 13.Nc3 Ne8 14.Bh3 d6 15.Bf4 Nc7 16.Rd2 Ne6 17.Bxe6 fxe6 18.Qb3

Position after 18.Qb3

Taut said, "I'm already pretty much losing."
Both players felt 18....Qc8 was the best way to defend the e6 pawn.
19.Nb5 Na5 20.Qc2
 Taut said, "If I played 20. Qa2, I thought she would play 20....c4."
20...e5 21.Bg5 Bxg5 22.Nxg5 Qg4
Position after 22...Qg4

Taut said Bayaraa's 22....Qg4 was a good move.
 Taut considered 23. h4 h6 24. f3 Qxg3+ 25. Rg2 Qxh4 26. Ne6 Rf7 27. Nxd6 Qf6.
 23...Qxg5 24.Nxd6
Not 24. bxa5 because of Bxe4, where the R on d2 is vulnerable.
24...Nc6 25.Nxb7 Nd4 26.Qc4+ Kh8 27.Rd3 Qe7 28.Qd5 Rab8 29.bxc5 Rxb7

29...Qxb7 30.Qxe5 Nf3+ 31.Rxf3 Rxf3 32.c6 Qc8 33.Rd1 Rf7 34.Rd7 Rxd7 35.cxd7 Qd8 Taut looked at this long variation, decided it didn't work for White but played Rxb7, which is also winning for Black.
 30.c6 Rc7 0–1

See more games from the UTD Invitational on or the Internet Chess Club.
Dr. Alexey Root is a WIM and former U.S. Women's Champion. You can find out more about her and her books in the following links: , Science, Math, Checkmate and Children and Chess.