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After some lean years, the Southern California Open rebounded dramatically in 2002. The turnout of 192 rivalled those of the 1980's, while the 78 in the scholastic and 16 in the Quads brought the total to a remarkable 286.

Taking first place on tiebreak in the 92-player Open section was IM Andranik Matikozyan with 5-1. Also with 5-1 were IMs Jack Peters and Jesse Kraai, young masters Pieta Garrett and Tatev Abrahamyan, and top Expert Roger Norman.

The Reserve (under 1800) Section also ended in a tie, among (take a deep breath) David Ayvazyan, Moheb Boules, Geoff Erikson, Greg Harner, Eugene Ivanov, Grigor Karaoglanyan, and Aleksandr Yelinson.

In the Scholastic, Stephen Ho scored a perfecty 5-0, followed at 4½-½ by Michael Edes, Haroutyan Gekchyan, and Alex Yee.

John Hillery directed for the SCCF, with the assistance of Elie Hsiao and Randy Hough.

Emory Tate received the Best Game prize for his win over rising star Vanessa West. Notes by Los Angeles Times chess columnist Jack Peters.

Emory Tate -  Vanessa West

Southern CalifornIa Open, Los Angeles 2002


1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. f3

This anti-Sicilian treatment avoids the Najdorf (5. Nc3 a6) and Dragon (5. Nc3 g6) variations.

5. ... Nc6

Adequate, although theory concentrates on the gambit 5. ... e5!? 6. Bb5+ Nbd7 7 Nf5 d5 8 exd5 a6.

6. c4 a6

Or 6. ... g6.

7. Nc3 e6 8. Be3 Qc7 9. Be2 Be7 10. O-O O-O 11. Rc1

White has a small advantage against Black's Hedgehog formation.

11. ... Ne5 12. Bf2

Inviting 12. .... Nxc4?? 13. Bxc4 Qxc4 14. Na4 Qxa2 (worse is 14. .... Qb4? 15. Be1) 15. b3, when Black must lose material to extricate her Queen.

13. ... b6 13. f4 Ned7 14. Bd3 Bb7 15 b4 Rfd8?

Black's position remains defensible after 15. ... Rac8, anticipating 16. Qe2 Qb8 or the counterattack 16. g4 d5! 17. cxd5 Qxf4. 16. Nd5! exd5 17. cxd5 Nc5

Probably best. After 17. ... Qb8 18. Nc6 Bxc6 19. dxc6, White recovers the piece and benefits from the opened lines.

18. Nf5 g6

Only 18. ... Ne8 resists.

Nxe7+ Qxe7 20. bxc5 bxc5 21. Bh4

Crushing. The pinned Knight is doomed.

21. ... h6 22. Qf3!

Admirable patience. White could win material at once by 22. e5?! dxe5 23. fxe5 Qxe5 24. Bxf6 Qxd5 25. Rf3 c4 26. Bxd8 Rxd8 or 25. Qc2 Qxd3 26. Bxd8 Rxd8 2.7 Qxc5, but neither position promises an easy win.

22. ... Rd7 23. Qh3 Re8?

An oversight, but Black had no defense. If 23. ... Bc8 24. e5! dxe5 25. fxe5 Rxd5, White need not fall for the swindle 26. exf6? Qe5 27. Qf3 Qd4+. Instead, he can reach a simple endgame with 26. Qf3 Bg4 27. Qxd5 Nxd5 28. Bxe7 Nxe7 29. Rxc5.

24. Bxf6 Qxf6, and Black Resigns.

More games from the tournament