Invitational Winners Finish in the Black

IM Praveen Balakrishnan and Andy Huang, both of Virginia, Photo Henk Prinsloo
All three of the junior Champion of Champions had to win as Black in the last of six rounds on Tuesday afternoon at the US Open Chess Championship in Middleton, Wisconsin, to clinch their titles, an $800 check, and a $5,000 scholarship to a college of their choice. Denker champ repeats IM Praveen Balakrishnan (Virginia) repeated as winner of the Denker Tournament of High School Champions, banking his second $5,000 scholarship sponsored by the US Chess Trust. His favorite game featured a smartly conducted kingside attack against 2018 US Girls’ Champ FM Carissa Yip (Massachusetts), who finished 2nd-3rd.

[Event "2018 US Open Invitationals"]
[Site "Madison, WI, United States"]
[Date "2018.07.29"]
[Round "3.2"]
[White "Balakrishnan, Praveen"]
[Black "Yip, Carissa"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "B99"]
[WhiteElo "2496"]
[BlackElo "2408"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[TimeControl "6000+1510"]
[WhiteClock "0:03:15"]
[BlackClock "0:32:39"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 {4} e6 {4} 7. f4 Be7
8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O Nbd7 10. g4 b5 {95} 11. Bxf6 Nxf6 12. g5 Nd7 13. f5 O-O 14.
h4 b4 15. Nce2 Bb7 16. Bg2 Rac8 17. Kb1 e5 18. f6 exd4 19. fxe7 Rfe8 20. Nxd4
Rxe7 21. Qf4 Ne5 (21... Nc5 {looks solid--for example:} 22. Nf5 Ree8 23. Qxd6
Bxe4 24. Bxe4 Nxe4 25. Qxc7 Rxc7 26. Rhe1 Kf8) 22. h5 Qc5 23. h6 Ng6 24. Qh2
Bxe4 25. hxg7 Bxc2+ 26. Ka1 Ne5 {This discovers a guard on the h7-square. But
once again, moving the knight to this outpost appears to be a mistake. Black
should capture the g7-pawn while she has the chance. Now White finishes the
game forcefully.} (26... Kxg7 27. Qxh7+ Kf8 28. Nxc2 Qxc2 29. Bd5 Rec7 $11) 27.
Rc1 Ng4 28. Qh4 Qxd4 29. g6 $1 Qxg7 30. gxh7+ Kh8 31. Qxe7 b3 32. axb3 {50} Nf2
33. Rxc2 $1 {1-0} *[/pgn]
Perseverance pays off in Barber NM Andy Huang (Virginia) justifiably pressed on—and on and on—in the last game going in any of the sections, a 127-move queen-and-pawn ending with a number of interesting twists, to win the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions and another scholarship sponsored by the US Chess Trust, through the generosity of Dewain Barber (S. California). Barber is the originator and impresario of both the Denker and Barber events, which paved the way and set the pattern for the two newer invitationals.

[Event "2018 US Open Invitationals"]
[Site "Madison, WI, United States"]
[Date "2018.07.31"]
[White "Costello, Alexander"]
[Black "Huang, Andy"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "B23"]
[WhiteElo "2271"]
[BlackElo "2276"]
[PlyCount "254"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:01:46"]
[BlackClock "0:11:43"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nge2 e5 4. Nd5 g6 5. g3 Bg7 6. Bg2 Nge7 7. O-O O-O 8. d3
Nxd5 9. exd5 Ne7 10. b3 d6 11. Bb2 Bd7 12. Qd2 Nf5 13. c4 Re8 14. Rfe1 b6 15.
Be4 h5 16. Qc2 b5 17. cxb5 Bxb5 18. Bxf5 gxf5 19. f4 Rc8 20. Rad1 Bd7 21. Qd2
h4 22. Kg2 a5 23. Ng1 {White is in a tough position. Perhaps best would have
been the cold-blooded 23. Rg1.} hxg3 24. hxg3 Qb6 25. Ne2 Qb7 26. Nc3 Be6 {
White goes after a pawn-plus, which eventually wins him the game. But ...} (
26... Re6 {provides an interesting opportunity to "lift" the rook into the
attack.} 27. fxe5 dxe5 28. Kf2 Rg6 $19) 27. Kg1 Bxd5 28. Nxd5 Qxd5 29. fxe5 Qf3
30. Qf4 Qh5 31. Rb1 (31. exd6 $1 {is White's tactical way out!} Bxb2 32. d7
Bd4+ 33. Qxd4 $1 Qxd1 34. Rxd1 cxd4 35. Rf1 $1 Kf8 36. dxe8=Q+ Kxe8 37. Rxf5)
31... Re6 32. Kg2 dxe5 33. Qf3 Qxf3+ 34. Kxf3 Rd8 35. Ke2 Red6 36. Red1 e4 37.
Bxg7 Kxg7 38. Rbc1 exd3+ 39. Kd2 Rd5 (39... Re6 {also looks attractive:} 40.
Rxc5 Re2+ 41. Kc1 (41. Kc3 Rc2#) 41... Rxa2) 40. Rc3 Re8 41. Rxd3 Rxd3+ 42.
Kxd3 Rd8+ 43. Ke2 Rxd1 44. Kxd1 Kf6 45. Ke2 Ke5 46. Ke3 {After trading off the
pieces to emphasize his pawn-plus, Black finds himself in a dilemma. How to
proceed?} Kf6 (46... f6 47. a3) (46... Kd5 47. Kf4 $2 (47. Kd3 $1 $11) 47...
Kd4 48. Kxf5 Kc3 49. g4 Kb2 50. Kf6 Kxa2 51. Kxf7 Kxb3 52. g5 c4 $1 53. g6 c3
54. g7 c2 55. g8=Q c1=Q 56. Kf6+ Qc4 $19) 47. Kf4 Kg6 48. Ke3 Kg5 49. Kf3 Kf6
50. Kf4 Ke6 51. Kf3 Kd5 52. Kf4 Kd4 53. Kxf5 Kc3 54. Kf6 Kb2 55. Kxf7 Kxa2 56.
g4 Kxb3 57. g5 a4 {Should only draw. As in the line above, 57. ... c4! forces
the win.} 58. g6 a3 59. g7 a2 60. g8=Q a1=Q 61. Qb8+ (61. Ke7+ $1 c4 62. Qb8+
Kc2 63. Qh2+ Kd3 64. Qh7+ {should draw by perpetual.}) 61... Kc4 62. Qf4+ Qd4
63. Qf1+ {The six-piece Nalimov tablebase shows a forced Black win in 57.
Huang didn't take many more moves than that computer-perfect play to nurse his
extra pawn for a scholarship-winning victory on move 127, in the last game to
finish in all the invitational sections.} Qd3 64. Qc1+ Kd4 65. Qf4+ Kd5 66.
Qg5+ Kc4 67. Qf4+ (67. Qc1+ Kb4) 67... Kb3 68. Qb8+ Kc2 69. Qh2+ Qd2 70. Qh7+
Kc3 71. Qg7+ Kb4 72. Ke6 c4 73. Qb7+ Kc3 74. Qg7+ Kc2 75. Qh7+ Kc1 76. Qh1+ Qd1
77. Qh6+ Kb2 78. Qh2+ Kc3 79. Qe5+ Kc2 80. Qf5+ Qd3 81. Qf2+ Qd2 82. Qf5+ Kb3
83. Qf3+ c3 84. Qb7+ Kc2 85. Qe4+ Kc1 86. Qh1+ Kc2 87. Qe4+ Kd1 88. Qb1+ Ke2
89. Qb5+ Qd3 90. Qh5+ Kd2 91. Qa5 Qg6+ 92. Ke7 Qc6 93. Kf8 Kd1 94. Qh5+ Kc2 95.
Qh2+ Kc1 96. Qf4+ Kb1 97. Qb8+ Ka2 98. Qa7+ Kb3 99. Qb8+ Ka3 100. Qa7+ Qa4 101.
Qe3 Qb3 102. Qa7+ Kb2 103. Qd4 Ka2 104. Ke8 c2 105. Qf2 Ka3 106. Qc5+ Kb2 107.
Qf2 Kb1 108. Qf5 Qb2 109. Qd3 Qb6 110. Qe4 Kb2 111. Qe2 Kb3 112. Qd3+ Kb2 113.
Qe2 Qc7 114. Qd2 Qc8+ 115. Ke7 Qc7+ 116. Ke8 Qc6+ 117. Ke7 Kb3 118. Qe3+ Qc3
119. Qe6+ Qc4 120. Qe3+ Ka2 121. Qf2 Kb3 122. Qe3+ Qc3 123. Qe6+ Kb2 124. Qe2
Qc5+ 125. Ke8 Qd5 126. Qf2 Qe6+ 127. Kf8 Kb1 *[/pgn]
Untitled NGTOC champ, but not for long Untitled Veronika Zilajeva, an Expert from Oklahoma, had to run the gauntlet of four of her titled competitors to win 2018 National Girls Tournament of Champions and the $5,000-dollar scholarship funded by Richard and Barbara Schiffrin of Pennsylvania. Zilajeva drew WFM Sasha Konovalenko (Michigan) in Round 3, beat WIM Naomi Bashkansky (Washington) in Round 4, beat WCM Marissa Li (Illinois) in Round 5, and overcame top-seeded and hard-pressing WIM Thanh Tien Nguyen (Arizona), who was all-in for a win, in the sixth and final game.

[Event "2018 US Open Invitationals"]
[Site "Madison, WI, United States"]
[Date "2018.07.31"]
[Round "6.6"]
[White "Nguyen, Thanh"]
[Black "Zilajeva, Veronika"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D78"]
[WhiteElo "2144"]
[BlackElo "2030"]
[PlyCount "78"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:45"]
[BlackClock "0:20:32"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O d5 5. c4 c6 6. d4 O-O 7. Ne5 Nbd7 8. Nc3
dxc4 9. Nxc4 Nb6 10. Nxb6 Qxb6 11. Na4 Qd8 12. e4 Re8 13. f4 Bg4 14. Qd3 Qa5 (
14... Be2 15. Qxe2 Qxd4+ {and Black comes out at least slightly better.}) 15.
Nc5 b6 (15... Nd7) 16. Bd2 $14 Qb5 17. Qxb5 cxb5 18. e5 (18. Na6) 18... bxc5
19. Bxa8 Rxa8 20. exf6 Bxf6 21. dxc5 {The new position is a field of dreams
for a bishop pair. Black is at no disadvantage.} Bxb2 22. Rae1 Be6 23. Be3 a6
24. Rf2 Bc3 25. Rd1 b4 26. Bc1 Bg4 27. Rd5 Be6 28. Rd1 Bg4 29. Rd3 Bf5 30. Rd1
Bg4 31. Rd3 Bf5 {Zilajeva threatens to draw by repetition. Nguyen, higher
rated by more than 100 points, plays at all costs for a win needed to share
first.} 32. Rxc3 $6 {This Exchange sac forces a position that seems to allow
only "two results," and White had on Move 32 turned down the best for her of
the two.} bxc3 33. Rf3 c2 34. c6 (34. Rc3 {Puts up stiffer resistance.} Rd8 35.
Kf2) 34... Rd8 $19 35. a3 Rd1+ 36. Kf2 Rxc1 37. Rc3 Rd1 38. g4 c1=Q 39. Rxc1
Rxc1 {0-1} 0-1

Ursula Foster Awards The Ursula Foster Awards are sponsored annually by Clifford and Rick Lester in memory of their mother, a Holocaust survivor and classmate of Anne Frank, who mentions Foster by name in the famous book The Diary of a Young Girl. Foster was comforted by chess while hiding from the Nazis as a child in Holland in World War II. She ultimately came to live in Modesto, California, where she devoted herself to helping those in need and promoting literacy. This year the Ursula Foster Awards of $500 each were presented by Clifford Lester to Carissa Yip, the top under-16 finisher in the Denker, and to Shravani Patil (New Hampshire), the top under-13 finisher in the NGTOC. Every player in the junior invitationals that lead off each year’s US Open Championship venue is the chosen representative champion of his or her home state. The US Chess Trust sponsors many cash stipends for the competitors. Denker to Senior Champ in “just” 33 years While all this was going on, GM Alex Fishbein (New Jersey), winner of the first Denker Tournament of Champions in 1985, tied for first in the inaugural Tournament of Senior Champions by defeating GM Alonso Zapata in a must-win game in the final round. Zapata went into the game with a perfect 5-0, while Alex had drawn NM Eric Cooke (Florida) in Round 3 and GM Michael Rohde (New York) in Round 4. Rohde, who drew three games and won the rest, finished tied for 3rd -5th along with FM Karl Demelt (Pennsylvania) and GM Enrico Sevillano (S. California). Rohde will also be contributing a piece to CLO on his experience at the Senior. Fishbein’s son Mitch finished a very respectable 17th in the Denker.

[Event "2018 US Open Invitationals"]
[Site "Madison, WI, United States"]
[Date "2018.07.31"]
[White "Fishbein, Alexander"]
[Black "Zapata, Alonso"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A55"]
[WhiteElo "2572"]
[BlackElo "2467"]
[PlyCount "171"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:24:05"]
[BlackClock "0:06:29"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. d4 Nbd7 4. Nc3 c6 5. e4 e5 6. Be2 a6 7. O-O b5 8. b4 Bb7
9. a4 exd4 10. Nxd4 bxc4 11. Bxc4 Ne5 12. Ba2 c5 13. Nf5 Nxe4 14. Nxe4 Bxe4 {
Black's pieces are stacked up on the open e-file, and he hasn't castled.} 15.
Ng3 Bd3 16. Re1 c4 17. f4 Be7 18. fxe5 dxe5 19. Bb2 O-O 20. Bxe5 (20. Rxe5 Bf6
21. Qe1 Bxe5 22. Qxe5 f6 23. Qe6+ Kh8 24. Bxc4 {is another way.}) 20... Bxb4
21. Qg4 Qb6+ 22. Bd4 Qg6 23. Qxg6 hxg6 24. Red1 Rfd8 25. Bb6 Rd6 26. a5 Bc3 (
26... c3) 27. Rac1 Bb2 28. Rxc4 $18 Bxc4 29. Rxd6 Bxa2 {But now Black's pieces
are again stacked up, waiting for simple tactics!} 30. Rd2 Rc8 31. Rxb2 Bd5 32.
Rd2 Rc1+ 33. Kf2 Be6 34. Ne4 f6 35. g3 g5 36. Ke3 Kf7 37. Rb2 Kg6 38. Nc5 Bc4
39. Kd2 Rh1 40. Kc3 Rc1+ 41. Kd4 Bf1 42. Kd5 Kh5 43. Kc6 Kg4 44. Kb7 Kh3 45.
Nxa6 Bg2+ 46. Kb8 Kxh2 47. Bc7 Kh3 48. Nb4 Re1 49. a6 Re8+ 50. Ka7 f5 51. Rxg2
Kxg2 52. Kb7 f4 53. gxf4 g4 54. a7 g3 55. Bb8 Re7+ 56. Kc6 Rxa7 57. Bxa7 Kf3
58. f5 Ke4 59. Nd5 Kxf5 60. Nc3 Kf4 61. Ne2+ Kf3 62. Ng1+ Kg2 63. Kd5 g5 64.
Ke4 g4 65. Kf4 Kh1 66. Kxg4 g2 67. Kf3 Kh2 68. Kf2 Kh1 69. Nf3 g1=Q+ 70. Nxg1
Kh2 71. Bb6 Kh1 72. Ne2 Kh2 73. Ng3 Kh3 74. Kf3 Kh4 75. Ne4 Kh5 76. Kf4 Kg6 77.
Ng5 Kh5 78. Kf5 Kh6 79. Ne6 {1-0 No surprise--Grandmaster Fishbein knows how
to mate with knight and bishop. It's mate in 7 whichever way Black's king goes,
for example:} Kh5 80. Bd8 Kh6 81. Bg5+ Kh7 82. Kf6 Kg8 83. Kg6 Kh8 84. Kf7 Kh7
85. Nf8+ Kh8 86. Bf6# 1-0

Jon Haskel (Florida) serves as the hardworking and humble Chief TD of the invitationals. The equally efficient Kelly Bloomfield (Ohio) monitored the broadcast of the games. The championships are held under the auspices of and with space provided by US Chess. NGTOC final standings  Denker Final Standings  Barber Final Standings  Senior Tournament of Champions Follow US Open pairings here, and find live games and our live twitch stream here


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

In the Costello - Huang game white could have held a draw with 52.Ke3 Ke5 53.a3 f6 54.a4 and black has no way to make progress. Tough to see under time pressure, of course.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A huge thank you to all of the participants and volunteers who have been a part of the Denker Legacy over these 34 years. It has been my pleasure to serve as a volunteer in support of the creation of all four events.

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