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The 38th Annual American Open, held over the Thanksgiving weekend at the LAX Radisson Hotel, attracted 282 players in seven sections. Topping the powerful 42-player Master section (five GMs and nine IMs!) were GMs Pavel Blatny of the Czech Republic and Yuri Shulman of Texas. Blatny got off to a blazing 4½-½ start, including a victory of former U.S. Champion Alex Yermolinsky, and coasted in with three draws. Shulman suffered an early upset at the hands of master Reynaldo del Pilar, but came back with a last-round victory over IM Enrico Sevillano.

A complete list of prize winners may be found on page 6. For crosstables of all sections (and much other information), see the tournament's web site at www.americanopen.org.

Jerry Hanken organized the event for the Santa Monica Bay Chess Club. Randy Hough diected, with the assistance of Elie Hsiao and Mike Nagaran.


The American Open continues to offer many extras not found at other tournaments -- lectures, videos, a strinking display by chess cartoonist Jovan Prokopljevic. Another special feature is awarding prizes for playing well as well as scoring points. The Best Game Prize went to former U.S. Champion Alex Yermolinsky, who sacrifices a piece to open the Kingside files for his rampaging Rooks.

YERMOLINSKY,A (2636) - MILICEVIC,D (2350)

American Open, Los Angeles 2002

A85 DUTCH DEFENSE, Stonewall Variation

(Notes by Los Angeles Times chess columnist Jack Peters)

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c6 4. Nc3 f5

The Stonewall, an old variation of the Dutch Defense. Black seizes control of e4, but cedes e5 to White.

5. Bf4 Nf6 6. e3 Be7 7. Bd3 0-0 8. Qc2 Ne4 9. g4!?

Much more aggressive tahn 9. 0-0. White wants to open the g-file for a direct attack.

9. ... Na6

Not 9. ... fxg4? 10. Ne5, as Black will suffer on the b1-h7 diagonal.

10. a3 Qa5?

Black misplaces the Queen to renew the threat of 11. ... Nb4. He should counter with 10. ... Nxc3 11. bxc3 dxc4 12. Bxc4 b5 13. Bb3 c5, when White's uncastled King might become a target.

11. Ke2 g5?

This begs for refutation. However, even the solid 11. ... Bd7 12. Ne5 Be8 looks awful after 13. gxf5 exf5 14. f3 Nxc3+ 15. bxc3.

12. Be5 fxg4

What else? Black's Kingside would collapse quickly after 12. ... Bd7 13. h4.

13. Bxe4 dxe4

Now 14. Nd2 favors White, but the former U.S. champion finds the most crushing method.

14. Nxg5! Bxg5 15. Nxe4 Rf5

The main line begins 15. ... Be7 16. Rag1. Black cannot run with 16. ... Rf7 17. Rxg4+ Kf8, as 18. Rhg1 Ke8 19. Rg8+ Ke7 20. R1g7 creates deadly threats. Nor can he keep files closed by 16. ... h5 17. h3 Rf7 18. hxg4 h4, as 19. g5 menaces both 20. Nf6+ and 20. Rxh4. Toughest is 16. ... Kf7, which sets the trap 17. Nd6+? Bxd6 18. Qxh7+ Ke8 19. Bxd6 Rxf2+! 20. Kxf2 Qd2+, drawing. Nevertheless, 16. ... Kf7 17. Rxg4 Ke8 18. g7 sets Black insoluble problems.

16. Rag1 Rxe5

Or 16. ... h5 h3, when both White Rooks work.

17. dxe5 Qxe5

Leading to a hopeless endgame, but 17. ... Be7 allows mate by 18. Rxg4+ Kf8 19. Nf6 Bxf6 20. Qxh7 or 18. ... Kh8 19. Nd6 Bxd6 20. Rhga Qd8 21. Rg7.

18. Rxg4 h6 19. h4 Qf5 20. f3 Nc5 21. hxg5 Nxe4 22. Qxe4 Qxe4 23. Rxe4 hxg5 24. Rd4!

Now Black's Bishop is doomed.

24. ... e5 25. Rd8+ Kg7 26. Rhh8 1-0