Polish grandmaster Kamil Miton and international master Magesh Chandran Panchanathan of India tied for first place at the 33rd World Open, played in Philadelphia over the Independence Day weekend. They each scored 71/2 points in nine games, and Miton won the title in a blitz playoff. The traditional event attracted some 1,100 players in various sections, including more than 30 grandmasters.
Dark Squares Conquest
The Indian co-winner plays the top board for the University of Texas at Dallas. Sharing first place at the World Open is Panchanathan's best career result. He can play sharply, as a local Virginia master, Stanley Fink Jr., found out in a messy line of the Trompowsky Opening.
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bh4 (This old line of the Trompowsky opening has been resurrected by Spanish grandmaster Juan Bellon Lopez.)
3...g5!? (Leading to a sharp double-edged position. Black can avoid it with the solid 3...d5.) 4.f3 gxh4 5.fxe4 c5 6.e3 Bh6 (White can't oppose this strong bishop.) 7.Nd2!? ( Bellon's discovery. He first tried 7.d5 and only after 7...Bxe3 8.Nd2. Another promising try is 7.Bc4. Protecting the pawn on e3 with 7.Kf2 can be met with 7...d5!) 7...Bxe3 8.Ngf3?! (Allowing black to reign on the dark squares. Bellon prefers to close the position with 8.d5.) 8...cxd4 9.Nc4 Nc6 10.c3 (Now 10.Nxe3 dxe3 11.Qe2 Qb6 12.0-0-0 d6 is better for black.) 10...d6 11.cxd4 Bf4 12.d5 (Conceding the dark squares, but holding the center was difficult. White's position collapses quickly after 12.Nxh4 d5! 13.exd5 Qxd5 14.Nf3 Bg4.) 12...Ne5 13.Ncxe5? (White might have missed black's next move; otherwise he would play 13.Nfxe5 dxe5 14.Qb3.) 13...Qa5+! 14.Nd2 dxe5 15.a3 (Losing more time trying to get out of black's grip.) 15...Bd7 16.b4 Qb6 17.Nc4 Qg6 18.Be2? (A blunder, but white has difficulties even after 18.Qf3 Rc8!, for example 19.Be2 h5! 20.h3 Bg3+ 21.Kf1 f5.) 18...Bxh2!? (Winning a pawn immediately, but even stronger was 18...b5!, for example 19.Nb2 Qxg2 20.Rf1 Bxh2; or 19.Na5 Qxg2 20.Bf3 Qb2 and black should win.) 19.Bf3 (On 19.Rxh2 Qg3+ nets the rook.) 19...Bg3+ 20.Ke2 Rc8 21.Rc1 Bb5 22.Qb3 Qa6 (The pin together with the dominance on dark squares decides, for example: 23.Kd3 Qb6 24.Qb2 Bf2 threatening 25...Qe3+.) White resigns.
In old times we used blitz games to test opening ideas. Lately, however, blitz games have become part of some major tournaments and have found their way even to the FIDE world championship. The blitz playoff game at the World Open got Miton the title and was of relatively high quality.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nc3 dxc4 6.Nf3 0-0 7.0-0 Nc6 8.e3 (Interestingly, this gambit variation of the Catalan opening appeared already in 1900 in London in the game Blackburne vs. Lee. Black played 8...Nd5 and missed a win in the endgame.) 8...a5 (A new reaction, trying to establish a queenside superiority before striking in the center. The central advance 8...Bd6 9.Nd2 e5 was one of the most reliable methods to equalize. Hanging on the pawn 8...Na5 9.e4 gives white a good compensation in a strong center.) 9.Qe2 a4 10.Qxc4 Bd7 (White regained the pawn, but black developed his last light piece.) 11.e4 (After 11.Ne5, black can sacrifice a pawn, 11...Nxe5 12.dxe5 Nd5!? for example 13.Nxd5 exd5 14.Bxd5 c6 15.Bg2 Be6 16.Qc2 f6 17.exf6 Bxf6 with some compensation.) 11...Na5 12.Qe2 c5 (Only now black punches in the center, but white is ready.)
13.d5! exd5 14.e5 Ne8 (The aggressive 14...Ne4 was possible, for example 15.Nxd5 Bc6!) 15.Nxd5 Bc6 (Improving the passive knight 15...Nc7 seems better, e.g. 16.Nxe7+ Qxe7 17.Re1 Ne6 18.Be3 Bc6 19.Rac1 b5 with good game for black.) 16.Nxe7+ Qxe7 17.Re1 Nc7 18.Bg5 Qe6 19.Bd2 Nb5 (This was the moment to play a useful defending move 19...h6.) 20.Be3 b6? (Weakening the diagonal h1-a8 that allows some tactical play later. 20...c4 looks right.) 21.Ng5 Qg6 22.e6!? (A tempting advance, but weakening black's kingside 22.Bxc6 Qxc6 23.Qd3! g6 and taking the central d-file with 24.Rad1 was a good alternative.) 22...Bxg2 23.exf7+ (An unpleasant quest in black's position.) 23...Kh8 24.Kxg2 Nd4 25.Bxd4 Qxg5! (After 25...cxd4? 26.Qe4! black has back rank problems, e.g. 26...Qxg5? 27.Qxa8! Rxa8 28.Re8+ wins; or 26...Qxe4 27.Rxe4 h6 28.Rae1! hxg5 29.Re8 Kh7 30.Rxa8 Rxa8 31.Re8 wins.) 26.Bc3 (Taking the long diagonal with 26.Qf3 was possible, since 26...cxd4 is met by 27.Qxa8!; and after 26...Qg6 27.Bc3 Nc6 28.Qe4! white still has a slight edge.) 26...Nc6? (A blunder. After 26...Qd5+ 27.Kg1 Qxf7 black lives.)
27.Qe4! (Taking advantage of the weak back rank.) 27...Rac8 28.Rad1 h6? (Black saw 28...Rxf7? 29.Qxc6! winning a piece because of mating threats on the back rank. But black's move takes away all escaping squares for the black queen and white could have won with 29.Rd5!) 29.Rd6?! Nd8 (Black can only postpone defeat with 29...Nd4 30.Bxd4 cxd4 31.Qxd4 Rxf7.) 30.Rg6 Qh5 31.Bxg7+ (After 31...Kh7 32.Rg4+ Qg6 33.Qxg6 mates.) Black resigns.
Solution to today's study by V. and M. Platov (White: Kg6,P;d3,e6,h6,h7; Black: Kd5,Bb2,Nc6): 1.d4! Bxd4 2.h8Q Bxh8 3.Kh7 Bf6 4.e7! Nxe7 stalemate; or 4...Bxe7 5.Kg8 Bf6 6.h7 Ne7+ 7.Kf7 draw.