The busy summer schedule of open tournaments in the United States began with the strong Chicago Open, played over the Memorial Day weekend in Oak Brook, Ill. Grandmasters Alexander Shabalov and Jaan Ehlvest shared first place and won $7,500 each. They scored six points in seven games.

Shabalov, the current U.S. champion, defeated the top U.S. junior, Hikaru Nakamura, 16, in the last round in the Russian variation of the Grunfeld defense. Shabalov skillfully navigated the sharp middlegame and turned the game into a masterful positional lesson on an endgame domination.

Shabalov-Nakamura

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4 Na6 (Played and analyzed by Dutch grandmaster Lodewijk Prins in the 1940s. The knight supports the c7-c5 strike in the center.) 8.Be2 c5 9.d5 e6 10.0-0 exd5 11.exd5 Bf5 12.Be3 Qb6 13.b3 (Last year in Los Angeles Shabalov played 13.Qb5 against Ehlvest. But it was not a serious attempt, because they soon agreed to a draw.) 13...Rfe8 14.Rad1 (The passed d-pawn is a big nuisance. It ties down black's pieces and can't be easily blocked.)

14...Ng4?! (Nakamura tries to make this knight leap work. The exchange sacrifice 14...Rxe3!? may not quite cut it, although after 15.fxe3 Ng4 16.Na4 Qd6 17.Qf4 Qxf4 18.exf4 Nb4 the invasion of black knights equalized in a few games. But 14...Rad8!? 15.h3 Qa5 16.Rfe1 Nd7 17.Na4 Nb4!?, played in Khalifman-Kasparov, Linares 2000, gives black a good counterplay.) 15.Bd2 Rad8 16.Rfe1 Bd4?! (Not a natural way to equalize, but 16...Nb4 17.Na4 Qd6 18.Bf4 Qf8 19.Bc7 Rd7 20.d6 favored white in Ree-Chandler, Thessaloniki 1984.) 17.Nxd4 cxd4 18.Na4 Qc7 (The threat 19...Qxh2+ allows black to get the queens off the board, but the endgame is not pleasant for him.) 19.Bxg4 Qxc4 20.bxc4 Bxg4 21.f3 Bd7 (After 21...Bf5 22.Bg5! is strong.) 22.Nb2 b5 23.Ba5 Rxe1+ 24.Bxe1 bxc4 25.Nxc4 Bb5 (After 25...d3 26.Rxd3 Bb5 27.Rd4 it transposes to the actual game.) 26.Rxd4 Bxc4 27.Rxc4 Rxd5 (Black struggled to restore the material balance. But the white bishop now dominates the black knight and the pawn on a7 is doomed.)

28.Bc3! (With a mating threat 29.Rc8+.) 28...Rd8 (Black can't stop the threat from the square c5: After either 28...Rc5 29.Rxc5 Nxc5 30.Bd4 or 28...Nc5 29.Bd4 Ne6 30.Rc8+, black loses the pawn on a7.) 29.Bf6 Re8 30.Bd4 Nb8 (After 30...Ra8 31.a3! white threatens to win with 32.Rc6.)

31.Bxa7 (White is a clear pawn up and should win easily. From now on black is just pushing wood: a sad way to play chess.) 31...Nd7 32.Bd4 Ra8 33.Rc7 Nf8 34.Ra7 Rd8 35.Be3 Kg7 36.a4 Ne6 37.a5 Rd3 38.Kf2 Ra3 39.Bb6 Rb3 40.Ke2 Kf8 (After 40...Rb2+ 41.Kd3 Rxg2 42.a6 Rxh2 43.Rb7 Ra2 44.a7 and white threatens 45.Rb8 to promote the a-pawn.) 41.Kd2 Ke8 42.Kc2 Rb4 43.Kc3 Rb1 44.Be3 Ra1 45.Kb2 Ra4 46.a6 Kd8 47.Ra8+ Kd7 48.a7 h5 49.Rb8 Nc7 50.Kb3 Ra1 51.h4 Ra6 52.Bf2 Ra1 53.Bb6 Kc6 54.Bxc7 Rxa7 55.Bf4 (Black could have peacefully resigned.) 55...Kd7 56.Rb6 Ra1 57.Kc3 Rg1 58.Rb2 f6 59.Kd3 Rh1 60.g3 Ke6 61.Rb6+ Kf5 62.Bd2 Rd1 63.Ke2 Black resigned.

Richard Delaune, 1954-2004

International Master and four-time Virginia champion Richard Delaune passed away on May 29 at the age of 49. He won four Virgina Opens and was successful in several local, national and international events.

He preferred to build up his games slowly, but could also attack with vigor. It took him only 21 moves to defeat Christopher Brandon with a cascade of sacrifices in the Four Knights variation of the Sicilian defense. The game was played at the 1996 U.S. Open in Alexandria.

Brandon-Delaune

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Be3 a6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.a3?! (A waste of time. White was afraid of 8...Bb4.) 8...d5! 9.exd5 exd5 10.Be2 Rb8 11.Rb1 Bd6 12.0-0 0-0 13.Na4 Re8 14.c4 Ne4! (Signaling a strong offensive. The knight jump opens the way for the black queen to h4.) 15.cxd5 cxd5 (The immediate 15...Qh4!? 16.g3 Nxg3 17.fxg3 Bxg3 18.hxg3 Qxg3+ 19.Kh1 Rxe3 20.Rf3 Qh4+ 21.Kg1 Re5 gives black a powerful attack.)

16.g3?! (Weakening the kingside allows a nice combination. Not playable is 16.Qxd5? because of 16...Bxh2+.) 16...Bh3 17.Re1 Nxg3! 18.hxg3 Rxe3!! (A brilliant follow-up, breaking down white's defensive wall.) 19.fxe3 (After 19.Qxd5 Qe7! 20.Kh2 Bd7 21.fxe3 Qh4+ 22.Kg1 Bxg3 black wins.) 19...Qg5 (The white king is outnumbered.) 20.Bg4 (A desperation move, but after 20.g4 Qe5! white is mated.) 20...Bxg4 21.Qd2 Bxg3 (After 22.Rf1 d4! 23.Qxd4 Qh5 24.Qd2 Be2 black wins.) White resigned.

Browne in Town

Walter Browne, a six-time U.S. champion, will perform a simultaneous exhibition and give a lecture at the Arlington Chess Club on June 17 at 7 PM. The colorful Berkeley grandmaster will also participate in the Virginia Open, scheduled June 18-20 at the Holiday Inn Express in Springfield. For information on both events contact Michael Atkins at matkins2@cox.net. Solution to today's study by A. Herberg (White: Kf7,P:a6,b5,d2; Black: Kb2,Bh4,P:a7): 1.b6 Bf2 2.d4!! Bxd4 3.b7 Be5 4.Ke6 Bh2 5.Kd7 Kc3 6.Kc8 Kb4 7.b8Q+ Bxb8 8.Kxb8 Kb5 9.Kxa7 Kc6 10.Kb8 wins.

White wins.