FM Steve Stoyko at the 2006 NJ Open

Though a number of things change from year to year at the annual New Jersey Open Chess Championship (including the location, round times, and attendance), there is one thing you can count on: FM Steve Stoyko will not only play but he will compete closely for the top prize. Steve has been playing in the tournament since the late 1960s and has won the event twice, in 1973 and 1983. But he has actually had the same score as the champion on at least five other occasions, losing his share of the title on tie-breaks. Having been the beneficiary of other tie-break situations, Steve is not bitter. But he remains unhappy about the 1988 championship, where he took clear second to IM Leonid Bass (who, as far as anyone knows, has never had a residence or driving license in New Jersey). Bass claimed to have recently moved to the state and was therefore given the title of New Jersey Champion. Apparently, he moved out of the state shortly thereafter, perhaps fearing Stoyko's wrath...

This year, Steve had another chance to tie for first, if he had only managed to win his last round game against defending champion Tom Bartell. Despite emerging from the opening with the slightly better chances, however, Steve could make no progress against Tom's careful play and agreed to split the point.

In a typical NJ Open irony for Steve, he shared the second-highest score with IM Dean Ippolito (at 4.5 each) but was given third place on tie-breaks. Such petty injustices only spur Steve on, however, and it's certain he will play again next year.

At the Kenilworth Chess Club the other night, Steve showed us two of his better games, which I have annotated below (based, in part, on Steve's own comments).

David Grasso - Steve Stoyko [C02]

60th Annual New Jersey Open/Somerset, NJ USA (4) 2006

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Qb6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. a3 cxd4

Psakhis's recommend ation, considered safe but relatively drawish, is intended to avoid the complications that follow

6... Bb5 7. c4!


7. cxd4 Bb5 8. Bxb5+ Qxb5 9. Nc3 Qa6 10. Bg5!?

10. Ne2 Ne7 11. O-O Nd7 12. Ng3 Nc6 13. Be3 Be7= Steffen Pedersen.


10... Nc6 11. Qa4

White's king remains uncomfortably in the center without an eventual exchange of Queens.


11... Qxa4 12. Nxa4 h6 13. Be3 b5 14. Nc3

14. Nc5 Bxc5 15. dxc5 Nge7=


14... a6 15. b4

15. a4 b4 16. Ne2 Nge7=


15... Nge7 16. Rc1 Kd7 17. Nd2?!

This plan of transferring the Knight to c5 is too slow. White should connect his Rooks.


17... Nf5 18. Nb3



18... a5!

The best way to exploit Black's lead in development.


19. Nxb5 axb4 20. axb4 Bxb4+ 21. Ke2

21. Bd2 Rhb8 22. Bxb4 Rxb5 23. Nc5+ Ke8 24. Bd2 Nfxd4


21... Rhb8 22. Nc5+?

Better 22. Nc3 Ba3 though Black is still winning. Now White loses a piece to a simple fork.


22... Bxc5 23. Rxc5 Rxb5!

and White resigned, since he will be down a piece after 24. Rxb5 Nfxd4+ 25.Bxd4 Nxd4+ followed by 26...Nxb5 .



[Michael Goeller]

Steve Stoyko - Anatoly Volovich [E91]

60th Annual New Jersey Open/Somerset, NJ USA (5) 2006

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 Bg4

Nunn and Burgess call this "the most respectable of Black's alternatives to 6...e5." The idea is to fight for the dark squares (often by Nfd7, c5, and Nc6), "but the drawback is that the light-squared Bishop, one of Black's most important pieces, is subject to exchange."


7. Be3 Nbd7

Nunn and Burgess call this move "rather idealess," but the idea may be to transpose back into the main line.

The best idea is probably 7... Nfd7 8. Rc1 c5 (8... a6!?) (8... e5 9. d5 f5!?) 9. d5 Na6 10. O-O Nc7 with breaks at e6, b5, or f5 with which to generate counterplay.


8. O-O Ne8

As Stoyko points out, this move could amount to the same things as 7..Nfd7 if Black follows up with ...c5 and ...Nec7.


9. h3!

Trying to vary from 9. Rc1 c5 10. d5 Nc7 , which may be ok for Black. But gaining the two Bishops makes a lot of sense here.


9... Bxf3 10. Bxf3 c5 11. d5 Nc7

White usually plays 9.Rc1 to avoid structural trouble following 11... Bxc3!? 12. bxc3 Qa5 but Stoyko thought this looked ok for White due to the two Bishops. Besides, he knew his opponent would not surrender his fianchettoed Bishop so easily.


12. Be2 Rb8 13. Qd2 b6?! 14. a4 Na6 15. Rfe1 Nb4 16. Na2 a5

16... Nxa2 17. Rxa2 a6 18. f4


17. Nc3!

White wins the dance of the Knights! Suddenly, Black's Nb4 is shut out of play and the queenside is locked to any breaks.


17... Nf6 18. Rad1 Ne8 19. f4 Nc7 20. Bf3 Qd7 21. Bf2

White's pieces find their ideal squares in preparation for a breakthrough.


21... Rbd8 22. e5! Qf5 23. Re4!

Stoyko thought that Black would gain too much counterplay on the dark squares following 23. Bg4 Qc2 24. Qxc2 Nxc2 25. Re2 Nd4!? 26. Bxd4 cxd4 27. Rxd4 Na6 though White's extra pawn looks pretty nice to me.


23... Qc8 24. Bh4 f6 25. e6!

Cutting Black's forces in two and leaving White in control of the kingside where he will initiate an attack.


25... f5

Forced eventually to prevent White from breaking with f5.


26. Re2 Bf6 27. Bf2 Ne8 28. Kh1 Ng7 29. Rg1 Ne8 30. g4 Bd4!?


31. g5!

White continue s his by-pass theme, eschewing the gxf5 break in favor of the even stronger idea of h3-h4-h5xg6.

a) 31. Bxd4?! cxd4 32. Qxd4 Qc5 33. Qxc5 bxc5

b) 31. gxf5!? Rxf5 32. Be4 Rh5 33. f5!


31... Bxf2 32. Rxf2 Kg7 33. Ne2 Rg8 34. h4 Kf8

Black wisely begins vacating his King to the queenside for safety.


35. h5! Nc7 36. hxg6 hxg6 37. Rh2 Qb7 38. Rg3

White's threat is simply Rgh3, Qc3, Rh8, Rxg8+ and Qh8# and Black has no good ways to stop it.


38... b5!?

Desperation, but one wonders why he doesn't simply resign if he thinks he must surrender a piece just to survive. The rest needs little commentary.


39. axb5 Nxb5 40. cxb5 Qxb5 41. Bg2 Rb8 42. Rh7 Ke8 43. Rgh3 Kd8 44. Rf7?! Qc4 45. Rc3 Qb5 46. Nc1 Rb7 47. Rh7 Kc8 48. Kg1 Kb8 49. Bf1 Qe8 50. Ra3 a4 51. Qd1 Ra7 52. Rah3 Kc7 53. Bc4 Kb6 54. Nd3 Nxd3 55. Qxd3 Rb7 56. Qc3 Ra7 57. Qa3 Rb7 58. b3 Ra7



59. b4! Rc7 60. Qb2

60. Rb3!


60... Ka7 61. Ra3 Kb8 62. b5!? Ra7 63. Qa1 Qd8 64. Rxa4


[Michael Goeller]

Games in PGN