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GM Bryan Smith of Pennsylvania and IM Elmir Huseynov, a four-time champion of Azerbaijan are the joint champions at the 40th Eastern Open, the traditional year-end giant Swiss event.

The event at present is organized at the DoubleTree Hotel in suburban Bethesda formerly it was organized at downtown Washington.


Georgian-born New York GM Mikheil Kekelidze finished alone in third and suffered two painful losses along with his five wins to finish at 5-2, but a half-point behind co-winners Smith and Huseynov. Smith is   a longtime competitor in local events who was successful in  securing  the grandmaster title in November by defeating both Kekelidze and Huseynov in the course of the event, including a powerful mating attack against the New Yorker’s Center Counter Defense in a crucial Round 5 encounter.


Kekelidze’s went astray against Virginia master Andrew Samuelson. His loss was traced to a White knight sacrifice on g6. Samuelson spotted his grandmaster opponent more than 200 rating points.  He  launched a speculative sacrificial attack after an indifferent defensive move by Black: 18. 0-0 Nf7?! Nh4 e5 20. Nfxg6,  hxg6 21. Bxg6 Nh8 22. Bf5, and Samuelson has two pawns for the piece and multiple targets on Black’s airy kingside.


Additionally he shored up the defense with 22…Nf7 was needed, holding White’s initiative to a minimum in lines such as 23,  Qh5 Bxf5 24. Nxf5 Qd7 25. Be3 (or 25. Qg6 Nd6 26. Nxd6 Qxd6 27. h4 Nc8 28. h5 f5 and Black.  Smith took notice of the situation and  fashions his own knight offer on g6 in win over Kekelidze three rounds later.  


Kekelidze however gets a solid position on the Black side of a Center Counter Defense, but his 9. 0-0-0 Bg7 10. Bh6 Kf Bxg7 Kxg7 12. h4 Nbd7 13. Bd3 Qc7 gives Black a very playable game.

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