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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Washington International

      The nine-round open Washington International event was  sponsored by the Maryland Chess Federation was played from July 28 – August 1 and was won by former U.S. champion Gata Kamsky who triumphed over a strong field. Kamsky was undefeated at 7-2 and won $5,000.
      The purpose of the tournament was to provide an opportunity for players to earn GM and IM norms. A minimum FIDE rating of 2100 was required to play. One nice touch was that breakfast was provided for the players each morning.
      Despite his top-seeded ranking, Kamsky entered the final round in a three-way tie with GMs Alex Onischuk and Timur Gareev but Onischuk and Gareev were only able to draw their games while Kamsky ground down GM Joel Benjamin in a complex 86-move minor-piece ending.   GM Alex Shabalov, whose hopes were hurt by a Round 6 loss to Gareev, defeated GM Mikheil Kekelidze of Georgia in the final round to grab a share of second at 6.5-2.5 along with Onischuk and Gareev.  Kamsky demonstrated a typical professional approach by drawing with some of his chief rivals while grinding out wins against lesser players using his experience and technique.
     I often enjoy playing over games where the heavyweights pummel the lesser lights.  While we all appreciate the achievement of those who reach 2200, when you compare their skill to guys like Kamsky…well, there is no comparison and it can be instructive to watch the technique GMs use to defeat an ordinary master. These games usually do not make it into print because the quality of play on the part of the loser is too low, but that is often what makes them instructive.
      In the following game from the first round Black chooses a lesser known side variation in the Winawer and from all appearances just handed Kamsky the game.

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