Return to Foxwoods

For several months before the 13th Annual Open at Foxwoods, held April 17-21 at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, chatter had been building among chess players about the big return to Foxwoods. Well, it’s not really annual, as for the previous 4 years, CCA had held its Easter / Passover holiday tournament in Philadelphia (calling it the Philadelphia Open). The 12 previous Opens at Foxwoods were actually in the years 2003 - 2014. In my mind I pictured that “everyone” would be going to Foxwoods for the big reunion and celebration. But chess players are creatures of habit, and since the last Foxwoods event was five years ago, the momentum for attendance has to be rebuilt. Entries in the event did not surpass the amount needed to generate prizes over the minimum guarantee of 75% of projected prizes. Still, this meant that the prize fund totaled $75,000 across the different sections. I have always found big open tournaments in gambling settings to be particularly attractive. When I noticed that the Open at Foxwoods was offering two good prizes for the FIDE u2400 class within the open section, I decided to compete. Foxwoods was also a norm-eligible event, given that it was 9 rounds over 5 days. It is important to remember that only for the 9-rounders does CCA use FIDE ratings for prizes and pairings (although still using USCF ratings to compute mixed doubles eligibility). I have noticed that several other tournaments this spring (Cherry Blossom, National Open) are following suit and going to the 9-round norm format. 17-year-old GM John Burke played fantastically and captured another major open title by winning the tournament clear, powered by a very impressive streak of late-tournament victories. It turned out that Burke had extensive coattails in effect, as, following in his footsteps, the winners of every section but one were also teenagers, or younger! So this spring and summer, I am expecting to see young players out in force at the upcoming major open events. A nice delegation from University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley competed in the Open, several weeks after their successful title defense of the National Collegiate Championship. The school pays for them on some trips which they can designate, typically the US Masters in August, and at least one other big open during the year. Coach Bartek Macieja competed, along with Hovhannes Gabuzyan, Kamil Dragun, Vladimir Belous, Guillermo Vazquez, Carlos Hevia Alejano, Joshua Ruiz, and Yannick Kambrath. I took two byes for the first two rounds of the Foxwoods Open because I couldn’t get there until round 3 on the Thursday evening. By that time, Hans Niemann had already jumped out to another good start with two wins, and in round 3 faced the highest-ranked player in the event, Vasif Durarbayli:

[Event "13th Foxwoods Open"]
[Date "2019.04.18"]
[Round "3.1"]
[White "Niemann, Hans"]
[Black "Durarbayli, Vasif"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D85"]
[WhiteElo "2477"]
[BlackElo "2628"]
[Annotator "Rohde,Michael"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[EventDate "2019.04.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 c5 8.
h3 O-O 9. Be3 Nc6 10. Be2 cxd4 11. cxd4 Qa5+ 12. Bd2 Qa3 13. d5 Ne5 (13... Nb4
{is very sharp, but problematic after} 14. O-O a5 15. Bc1 Qc3 16. Rb1 Nxa2 17.
Bb2 Qc7 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Rb3 Kg8 20. Qa1 a4 21. Qxa2 axb3 22. Qxa8 Qc2 23. Bd1
Qxe4 24. Qa3) 14. O-O Bd7 (14... Nxf3+ 15. Bxf3 Bxa1 16. Qxa1 f6 (16... Bxh3
17. Bc1 {and White will drive the queen off and be able to capture on h3.}) 17.
Rb1 Qd6 18. Bb4 Qd8 19. e5 {is promising for White.}) 15. Nxe5 (15. Nd4 Rfc8
16. Qb3 Qxb3 17. axb3 Nd3 {is satisfactory for Black.}) 15... Bxe5 16. Rb1 Rfc8
(16... Qxa2 17. Rxb7 Ba4 18. Qe1 Rfb8 19. Rb4 Rxb4 20. Bxb4 Rc8 {should
generate enough play.}) 17. Rxb7 Ba4 18. Qb1 a5 {Black may even be slightly
better here due to all of the insane activity on the queenside.} 19. Bc1 Qd6
20. Be3 Bc2 21. Qb5 Bxe4 22. Rd1 Bc2 23. Re1 Qb4 {played with a view towards
the following repetition.} 24. Qxb4 axb4 25. Rxe7 Bc3 26. Rc1 Bb2 27. Re1 Bc3
28. Rc1 1/2-1/2

I won in round 3, and decided that I had enough time to open another revenue stream. So I headed to the poker room. For chess players who are at least partially poker-addicted, the gambling-setting tournaments can be particularly difficult due to the risk of doing badly at poker, which would then distract from playing good chess. During the course of the event, I would have a chance to play poker with a number of chess players, including one of my actual opponents during the event, and one of the tournament directors. When I first sat down at the tables, I was minding my own business at a 1/2 No Limit Hold ‘em game, hoping that nobody would notice that I was playing like a total locksmith, when someone called out “Grandmaster”. I used to not like being outed as a chess player while playing poker (feeling that it would make the opposition more cautious and circumspect when battling against me), but really there were so many chess players in the poker room that it didn’t matter. A much bigger problem was that I was virtually card-dead (never having any really good hands to play) almost the entire tournament, making the hours spent in the poker room just a waste of time and energy while trying to do well in the chess tournament. John Burke started the tournament with a forfeit win in round 1 and a draw in round 2, but by round 4 it was full steam ahead.

[Event "13th Foxwoods Open"]
[Date "2019.04.19"]
[Round "4.4"]
[White "Burke, John M"]
[Black "Talukdar, Rohan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2550"]
[BlackElo "2407"]
[Annotator "Rohde,Michael"]
[PlyCount "95"]
[EventDate "2019.04.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nde2 h5 8. Bg5
Be6 (8... Be7 {is the move to play if Black does not want to face f2-f4, as
then there would be quick counterplay on dark squares including along the
d8-h4 and h4-e1 diagonals.}) 9. f4 (9. Bxf6 Qxf6 10. Nd5 Qd8 11. Nec3 {is one
super-solid alternative.} g6 {however, gets Black's dark-squared bishop to a
useful place.}) 9... Nbd7 10. f5 Bc4 11. Ng3 Qc7 (11... Rc8 12. Bxc4 Rxc4 13.
Qd3 Rd4 (13... Qc7 14. O-O-O Be7 15. h4 b5 16. Kb1 Nc5 17. Qf3 Na4 18. Nxa4
bxa4 19. Bxf6 Bxf6 20. Nxh5 Rxh5 21. Qxh5 Rxe4 22. Qf3 Rb4 23. c3 {is one
possibility; Black does not have enough for the Exchange here.}) 14. Qf3 Qc7 {
is an interesting line where Black is trying to at least temporarily interfere
with White's queenside castling.}) 12. Qf3 b5 13. Bxc4 Qxc4 14. Nf1 {
Effectively gaining control over d5.} Rc8 15. O-O-O (15. Ne3 {is too early
because of} Qb4 16. O-O-O Rxc3) 15... d5 (15... b4 16. Ne3 {and Black does not
achieve anything.}) 16. exd5 Qc7 (16... Ba3 17. bxa3 Qxc3 18. Qxc3 Rxc3 19. Kb2
{is a good ending for White.}) 17. Ne3 Ba3 {Finally Black gets in a hit
against the knight on c3, but now the knight just flows into the center.} 18.
Ne4 Nxe4 19. Qxe4 Bc5 20. d6 Qc6 21. Nd5 {White's queen has taken over the job
of watching c2.} Bxd6 22. f6 g6 23. Rhe1 Nc5 24. Qe3 {Again coolly combining
attack and defense. c2 will get coverage if needed.} Ne6 25. Rd2 O-O 26. g4 Nd4
27. Qe4 h4 {Trying to stave off the opening of the h-file.} 28. Ne7+ Bxe7 29.
fxe7 Rfe8 30. Bxh4 {A neatly calculated Exchange sacrifice into a winning
endgame.} Qxe4 (30... Nf3 31. Qxc6 Rxc6 32. Rd8 Rc8 33. Rxc8 Rxc8 34. Rd1 $18)
31. Rxe4 Nf3 32. Bf6 Nxd2 33. Kxd2 {The biggest threat is g4-g5 followed by
Re4-h4.} Rc4 34. Rxc4 bxc4 35. g5 a5 36. a4 Rc8 37. c3 Kh7 38. Ke3 Re8 39. Ke4
Rb8 40. Kd5 e4 41. Kxe4 Re8 42. Kd5 Rc8 43. Kd6 Ra8 44. Kc5 Rc8+ 45. Kb5 Kg8
46. Kxa5 Rb8 47. Ka6 Kh7 48. Ka7 1-0

David Brodsky’s nice round 5 win established him among the leaders.

[Event "13th Foxwoods Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.04.19"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Brodsky, David"]
[Black "Belous, Vladimir"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B82"]
[WhiteElo "2417"]
[BlackElo "2520"]
[Annotator "Rohde,Michael"]
[PlyCount "81"]
[EventDate "2019.04.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 {This move is
not forced yet, although clearly the most popular. It is good for dealing with
the dangerous Qd1-f3 line:} (6... Nf6 7. f4 (7. Qf3 {is particularly good here,
where Black is unable to comfortably get the bishop to d6.}) 7... Bb4 8. Ndb5
Qa5 9. e5 {is one of many dangerous anti-Taimanov lines.}) 7. a3 {an
interesting twist, preempting ... Bf8-b4, so that White can play f2-f4 in
peace.} (7. Qf3 Bd6 8. O-O-O Be5 {is reasonable.}) 7... Nf6 8. f4 d6 (8... Nxd4
9. Bxd4 Qxf4 {was tested later in this event, in Burke - Durarbayli from round
8.}) 9. Qf3 Bd7 10. O-O-O Rc8 11. g4 Nxd4 12. Rxd4 d5 {an ingenious sacrifice
which gives the Black knight on f6 an outlet square and also focuses all the
attention on the queenside.} (12... Bc6 13. g5 Nd7 14. Bh3 {presents Black
with a difficult defensive task.}) 13. exd5 b5 14. Bd3 (14. dxe6 Bxe6 15. f5
Bxa3 16. Bd2 Bc5 {should be good for Black.}) 14... Bxa3 15. Ne4 {having
secured c2, Brodsky dodges with the knight, looking to damage Black's kingside,
while gaining a tempo by creating a real threat to capture on a3.} Nxe4 16.
Rxe4 Qc3 17. Bd4 {Brilliantly rejecting Black's cross-pin.} Qb3 {Now the
threat is ... Rc8xc2+.} 18. Qd1 Be7 19. Kb1 Qxd5 20. Bxg7 Rg8 21. Be5 {White
emerges with a clear advantage as the Black king cannot find permanent shelter.
} Rc4 22. Bxc4 Qxe4 23. Bd3 Qd5 24. g5 {Now the simple and drastic threat to
capture on h7 forces Black into the following insufficient Exchange sacrifice.}
Rxg5 25. fxg5 Qxe5 26. h4 Bf8 27. Re1 Qg3 28. Bxh7 Qxh4 29. Bg8 Qxg5 30. Bxf7+
Ke7 31. Qd3 Qf4 32. Rd1 Bc6 33. Bxe6 Kxe6 34. Re1+ Kf7 35. Rf1 Qxf1+ 36. Qxf1+
Ke8 37. Qf6 Bb7 38. Qb6 Bc8 39. Qc7 Bd7 40. Qb7 Bc5 41. Qb8+ 1-0

One of my most interesting games was in round 6.

[Event "13th Foxwoods Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.04.20"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Paul, Justin"]
[Black "Rohde, Michael"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B47"]
[WhiteElo "2210"]
[BlackElo "2358"]
[Annotator "Rohde,Michael"]
[PlyCount "58"]
[EventDate "2019.04.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. g3 a6 7. Bg2 d6 8. O-O
Be7 9. Nxc6 (9. Re1 Rb8 {avoids the worst of White's e4-e5 ideas.} 10. a4 (10.
Nxc6 bxc6 11. e5 d5 {and Black is fine with the strong center blunting White's
fianchettoed bishop.}) 10... Nf6 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. e5 dxe5 13. Rxe5 Bd6 14. Re2
{may be a small advantage for White.}) 9... bxc6 10. Na4 (10. Qg4 e5 (10... h5
11. Qe2 h4 {is a better way for Black.}) 11. Qe2 {was tried against me once by
Azarov, who later played Nc3-a4 and c2-c4 with a good game.}) 10... Nf6 11. c4
Bb7 12. c5 {looking for strong dark squares, at the cost of presaging the
exchange of his light-squared bishop.} d5 13. Qc2 O-O 14. Re1 e5 15. f4 {
insisting on a battle over the dark squares.} Rad8 16. fxe5 Nxe4 17. Bxe4 dxe4
18. e6 Qe5 (18... Bc8 {(Fedorowicz)} 19. Bf4 Qa5 20. Bd6 Bxd6 21. exf7+ Rxf7
22. cxd6 Rxd6 23. Qxe4 Bh3 24. Rad1 Rdf6 {gives Black the better game.}) (18...
f5 19. Bf4 Qa5 20. b4 {would be good for White.}) 19. Bf4 Qd4+ 20. Kh1 (20. Be3
Qd3) (20. Kg2 {stays out of the corner, but is subject to checks along the
second rank, and therefore is not as good.}) 20... Qd3 21. exf7+ Rxf7 22. Qxd3
exd3 23. Rad1 Bc8 (23... Bf6 24. Nb6 a5 25. Nc4 {and again White is ok.}) 24.
b4 {White cannot afford this luxury.} (24. Rxe7 Rxe7 25. Bg5 Bg4 26. Bxe7 {
equalizes.}) 24... Bg4 {Now the bishops take over.} 25. Rd2 Bf3+ 26. Kg1 Bf6
27. Re6 Bd4+ 28. Be3 Bg4 29. Rxd3 Bh3 0-1

After 6 rounds, 5 players were tied with 5/6: John Burke, Alexander Shimanov, Kamil Dragun, Hovhannes Gabuzyan, and Vasif Durarbayli, while 4 players had 4.5: Hans Niemann, me, Dean Ippolito and Yannick Kambrath. Ippolito, Kambrath and myself were eligible also for the 2 prizes for FIDE 2250-2399, adding to the suspense. Meanwhile, given that Burke was the lowest-rated player with 5 and Niemann was the highest-rated player with 4.5, two of America’s top teenagers were destined to tangle in round 7.

[Event "13th Foxwoods Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.04.20"]
[Round "7.3"]
[White "Niemann, Hans"]
[Black "Burke, John M"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D44"]
[WhiteElo "2477"]
[BlackElo "2550"]
[Annotator "Rohde,Michael"]
[PlyCount "68"]
[EventDate "2019.04.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bg5 dxc4 6. e4 b5 7. e5 h6 8. Bh4 g5
9. Nxg5 hxg5 10. Bxg5 Be7 (10... Nbd7 11. g3 Bb7 12. Bg2 {is the most popular
variation.}) 11. exf6 Bxf6 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. g3 Na6 14. Ne4 (14. Bg2 Bb7 (14...
Nb4 15. O-O {is pleasant for White with the knight getting to c5.}) 15. Nxb5 {
is one interesting possibility, and then} O-O-O 16. Qa4 cxb5 17. Bxb7+ Kxb7 18.
Qxb5+ Ka8 19. Qc6+ Kb8 {and White must take the perpetual as capturing on a6
fails to ... Qf6-f3.}) 14... Qe7 15. Bg2 Bb7 16. O-O O-O-O 17. a4 f5 18. axb5 {
Opting for a very forcing line, but the resulting endgame is not good.} (18.
Nc3 b4 19. Ne2 e5 (19... c5 20. Qc2 Bxg2 21. Kxg2 Qb7+ 22. f3 Qd5 23. Rad1 b3
24. Qc3 {is better for White.}) 20. Qc2 exd4 21. Qxc4 c5 22. Bxb7+ Qxb7) 18...
cxb5 19. Rxa6 (19. Nc3 Bxg2 20. Kxg2 Qb7+ 21. f3 Nb4 {is strong for Black.})
19... Bxa6 20. Nc5 Qxc5 21. dxc5 Rxd1 22. Rxd1 b4 {Black is generating a
queenside passed pawn that is out of range of White's g2 bishop.} 23. Ra1 Bb5
24. Rxa7 Rd8 25. Ra8+ Kd7 26. Ra1 Rc8 27. Rc1 Rxc5 28. Bf1 Ke7 29. h4 Kf6 30.
Kg2 Bc6+ 31. f3 c3 32. Rb1 c2 33. Rc1 Ba4 34. Kf2 Rd5 0-1

An interesting fighting game between two UTRGV players took place in round 7.

[Event "13th Foxwoods Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.04.20"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Vazquez, Guillermo"]
[Black "Kambrath, Yannick"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C64"]
[WhiteElo "2489"]
[BlackElo "2335"]
[Annotator "Rohde,Michael"]
[PlyCount "47"]
[EventDate "2019.04.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Bc5 4. c3 {The sharpest reply to the Classical
Defense to the Ruy Lopez.} f5 5. O-O {5. d4 and 5. Bxc6 are the most popular
here.} fxe4 6. Nxe5 Nxe5 (6... Nf6 7. d4 exd3 8. Nxd3 Be7 9. Nd2 {is a quiet
but reasonable line for White.}) 7. Qh5+ Ng6 (7... Nf7 8. Qxc5 c6 9. Ba4 d5 10.
d3 Nf6 11. Nd2 Qd6 {is a solid alternative, approaching equality.}) 8. Qxc5 Nf6
(8... c6 9. Be2 Qe7 10. Qxe7+ N8xe7 11. d3 {and here the two bishops confer a
slight advantage.}) 9. d3 ({Or} 9. Re1 c6 10. Be2 d6 11. Qg5 O-O 12. d4 Qe8 13.
Na3 {and with good dark square play, White still has small edge.}) 9... c6 10.
Ba4 exd3 (10... d5 11. Re1 Kf7 {was both more enterprising and safer.}) 11.
Re1+ Kf7 12. Qd6 {Now real trouble is brewing.} Re8 13. Bb3+ Nd5 14. Bxd5+ cxd5
15. Qxd5+ Kf8 16. Re3 Qf6 17. Na3 Re5 18. Qxd3 d5 19. Rxe5 Qxe5 20. Be3 {
Consolidating into a winning position.} Bf5 21. Qd2 a6 22. Bc5+ Kg8 23. Re1 Qf6
24. Qxd5+ 1-0

Burke’s round 7 victory propelled him into sole possession of first place, and in round 8 he went for the clincher.

[Event "13th Foxwoods Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.04.21"]
[Round "8.1"]
[White "Burke, John M"]
[Black "Durarbayli, Vasif"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B48"]
[WhiteElo "2550"]
[BlackElo "2628"]
[Annotator "Rohde,Michael"]
[PlyCount "81"]
[EventDate "2019.04.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 7. a3 Nf6 8. f4
Nxd4 (8... d6 9. Qf3 Bd7 {was tried in Brodsky - Belous from round 5 of this
event.}) 9. Bxd4 Qxf4 10. g3 Qc7 11. e5 {For the sacrificed pawn, White gets
this wedge. The e5 pawn, supported by the potential monster bishop on d4,
restricts Black's entire center triad on d7, e6 and f7.} Nd5 12. Ne4 ({Not} 12.
Nxd5 exd5 13. Bg2 d6 {with Black getting the bishop to e6.}) 12... b5 (12... d6
13. exd6 Bxd6 14. Bxg7 Rg8 15. Nxd6+ Qxd6 16. Bd4 Bd7 {is chaotic enough to
not be out of the question.}) 13. Bg2 Bb7 14. O-O Be7 15. Qg4 O-O 16. Rf2 Qd8 (
16... Kh8 17. Raf1 f5 18. exf6 Nxf6 19. Nxf6 Bxf6 20. Rxf6 gxf6 21. Bxb7 Qxb7
22. Rxf6 {would win for White.}) 17. Raf1 {always on time to stop ... f7-f5.}
Kh8 18. h4 Bc6 19. h5 h6 (19... f5 20. exf6 Nxf6 21. Nxf6 Bxf6 22. Rxf6 gxf6
23. Rxf6 Rxf6 24. Qg5) 20. Rxf7 Rxf7 21. Rxf7 Qg8 {Getting the other rook to
f8 has been Black's idea all along, but Burke is ready with a small
combination which nets a pawn!} 22. Qg6 Rf8 23. Nf6 Nxf6 24. exf6 Rxf7 25.
fxg7+ Rxg7 26. Qxh6+ Qh7 27. Bxg7+ Kg8 28. Qxh7+ Kxh7 29. Bd4 {The extra pawn
yields a winning endgame.} d5 30. g4 Bg5 31. Kf2 Bc1 32. Be5 Kh6 33. Kg3 Kg5
34. Bf3 a5 35. Be2 Be3 36. c3 a4 37. Bd3 Be8 38. Bd6 Bc1 39. Be7+ Kh6 40. Kh4
Bxb2 41. Bf8# 1-0

With Burke setting a blistering pace, it became clear that it would take a last round victory for anyone aspiring to tie for second place.

[Event "13th Foxwoods Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.04.21"]
[Round "9.2"]
[White "Shimanov, Aleksandr"]
[Black "Brodsky, David"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A29"]
[WhiteElo "2610"]
[BlackElo "2417"]
[Annotator "Rohde,Michael"]
[PlyCount "111"]
[EventDate "2019.04.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]

1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Nc3 Nb6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. a3 Be7 8. b4
Be6 9. Rb1 f6 10. O-O O-O 11. b5 (11. d3 Nd4 12. Nd2 c6 13. Nde4 Rf7 {is one
possibility, with Black's last preparing for the defense of b7 in case of
Ne4-c5 being met by Be7xc5.}) 11... Nd4 12. e3 Nxf3+ 13. Bxf3 (13. Qxf3 {
runs into} Rb8 14. d4 Qd7 {with a very effective threat of ... Be6-g4.}) 13...
Rb8 14. d4 exd4 (14... Kh8 {is a good choice if Black wants to put up an
enterprising defense. Instead, Brodsky opts to play solidly but passively.})
15. exd4 Bf7 16. a4 Nd5 17. Nxd5 Bxd5 18. Bf4 {This pressure on c7 enables
Shimanov to keep the initiative.} Bxf3 19. Qxf3 Bd6 20. Qd5+ Rf7 21. Bxd6 Qxd6
22. Qxd6 cxd6 23. Rfe1 Rd7 (23... Rc8 {is a bid for activity}) 24. a5 Kf7 25.
Rbc1 d5 26. Kg2 Re8 27. Rxe8 Kxe8 28. Kf3 Rd6 29. Rc8+ Rd8 30. Rc7 Rd7 31. Rc5
Rd6 32. Kf4 Kd7 33. f3 g6 34. h4 b6 35. axb6 axb6 36. Rc3 Ke7 37. g4 Rd7 38. g5
{making inroads with newfound access to e5 after this break.} fxg5+ 39. hxg5
Kd8 40. Rc6 Rf7+ 41. Kg4 Rb7 42. Rf6 Ke7 43. Kf4 {Decisively threatening to
invade via d5.} Ra7 44. Rxb6 Ra3 45. Rf6 Rb3 46. b6 h6 47. Rxg6 hxg5+ 48. Ke5
Kf7 49. Rxg5 Rxb6 50. f4 Rb5 51. Rg1 Ra5 52. Rc1 Ra2 53. Rc7+ Kg6 54. f5+ Kg5
55. Rg7+ Kh6 56. Rg1 1-0


[Event "13th Foxwoods Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.04.21"]
[Round "9.3"]
[White "Hevia Alejano, Carlos Antonio"]
[Black "Dragun, Kamil"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E69"]
[WhiteElo "2470"]
[BlackElo "2585"]
[Annotator "Rohde,Michael"]
[PlyCount "111"]
[EventDate "2019.04.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O e5 (6... c5 7. d4
cxd4 (7... Nc6 8. d5 Na5 {is a sharp variation which is somewhat positionally
risky.}) 8. Nxd4 {is not an easy variation for Black as it is difficult to
develop the queenside, although Black can resort to the dubious sacrifice 8 ...
Nc6 here. When I am on the Black side of the symmetrical English, I like to
have ... Nb8-c6 and ... Bc8-d7 in early to stabilize the queenside.}) 7. d4
Nbd7 {Now we are in a standard fianchetto against the King's Indian.} 8. e4 c6
9. h3 exd4 {Some of the interesting alternatives to this move are 9 ... Qb6, 9
... a5, and 9 ... Re8.} 10. Nxd4 Re8 11. Qc2 (11. Re1 Nc5 12. b3 a5 13. Rb1 {
is another approach, leaving the queen in charge of supporting d4.}) 11... Nc5
12. Rd1 (12. Be3 a5 {and then White rooks to the center is more popular. One
feature of this variation is that Black may get aggressive on the kingside.
For that reason, many players of the White pieces are leary of using the
king's rook for a queenside function.}) 12... Qe7 13. Re1 {Somewhat forced,
and in any event insisting on a rook v. queen opposition on the e-file, but I
don't see how that helps very much generally in this sequence in which Black
essentially got in the move ... Qd8-e7 as an extra tempo.} Ng4 14. hxg4 (14.
Rd1 {is incredibly the main move here, but Hevia Alejano was not interested in
repeating the position.}) 14... Bxd4 15. g5 Ne6 16. Qd2 {Black has clearly
obtained a good opening, but what to do now with the position?} a6 17. Rb1 Qd8
18. Ne2 Bg7 19. Rd1 Nc5 20. f3 {White has been unable to shake Black's
initiative and therefore makes this concession. Black becomes emboldened on
the queenside, as the long diagonal has been shut off for now.} Be6 21. Qc2 b5
22. Be3 Qc7 23. b3 bxc4 24. bxc4 Rab8 25. Kh2 a5 26. Nf4 Rb4 {gaining the
initiative.} 27. Nxe6 (27. Bf1 {trying to keep the tension, is met strongly by}
Reb8) 27... Nxe6 28. a3 Rxb1 29. Rxb1 Bd4 {Establishing a good knight v. bad
bishop scenario.} 30. Bxd4 Nxd4 31. Qb2 Qa7 32. Qb6 Qxb6 33. Rxb6 Re5 34. f4
Rc5 35. Rb8+ Kg7 36. Rd8 Rxc4 37. Rxd6 Nb5 {Winning a pawn for now, although
White is drumming up kingside counterplay.} 38. Rd7 Nxa3 39. e5 Kf8 40. Ra7 a4
41. Ra8+ Kg7 42. Ra6 Nc2 {Artful play with the knight, as the bishop has
trouble getting a beat on the a-pawn.} 43. Bf1 Rb4 44. Rxc6 Ne3 45. Bd3 a3 46.
Ra6 Rb2+ 47. Kh3 a2 48. Be4 h5 49. gxh6+ Kxh6 50. g4 Rd2 51. g5+ Kg7 52. Kg3
Nd1 53. Ra7 Nc3 54. Bf3 Rd7 55. Ra8 Rd4 56. Bc6 0-1

John Burke won the event convincingly with 7.5/9. Alex Shimanov and Kamil Dragun tied for second with 7. Gabuzyan, Durarbayli, Vazquez, and Ruiz tied for fourth with 6.5. And many players (including myself) ended up with 5.5 to share in the class prizes within the Open. The “under sections” were 7-rounders, played as a 4-day or 3-day schedule. So the tournament did not seem to reach critical mass until Friday, April 19, when those sections filled up. In the U2200 section, 12-year-old Peter Boris won clear first with 6 points out of 7. In the U2000 section, 15-year-old Daniel Zhou and 12-year-old Nura Baalla tied for first with 6/7. In the U1800 section, 12-year-old Tianna Wang and 14-year-old Saniya Sandeep Savla tied for first with 6/7. In the U1600 section, Mohammad Khan won with a perfect 7-0. In the U1400 section, 8-year-old Bobby Qian won with 6/7. Teenager Wyn Veiga won the U1100 with 6.5/7. Bill Goichberg served as chief TD for this CCA event, assisted by David Hater, Brian Yang, Al Losoff, Robert Messenger, Andrew Rea and Harold Stenzel. Full details on the event, including an extensive pgn file of games played at the Open at Foxwoods, can be found at:

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