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Jean Hébert of Montréal won the championship of the French-speaking world in Vallée D'Aoste, Italy. His score of 6.5 from 9 games was equalled by Joseph Sanchez (Philippines) and Anthony Wirig (France), but Hébert won on tiebreak.

In another direction, four Canadian youngsters took part in the North American Youth Championship at Mazatlan, Mexico, and all four won medals. Virtual medals at least, as production of the real things was delayed by budget problems at the state sports ministry.

Gold medallists were Janak Awatramani in the under-10, and Jiaxin Liu in the under-8 girls. Taking silver were James Fu in the under-12, and Yuanchen Zhang in the under-8.

Here is Janak's game as Black against the runner-up, Isaac Tello:

1.d2-d4 b7-b6

This was a favourite of Vancouver player Peter Biyiasas, before he became a grandmaster. Although the formal name is "Owen's Defence", after John Owen, a 19th-century cleric, Biyiasas preferred "Halley's Comet", based on the humour that every 75 years somebody thinks this is a good move, and that even then they don't necessarily get the details right.


More testing is 2.e2-e4. By refusing to put a pawn on c4 or e4, White opts for the quiet life.

2...Bc8-b7 3.Ng1-f3 e7-e6 4.Bc1-f4

Practitioners of this opening usually prefer to put the bishop on g5, the Torre Attack, named after the greatest Mexican player, Carlos Torre (1905-1978). That would still be okay in this position, but White would have to contend with the possibility that Black would not acquiesce to normal Torre lines with Ng8-f6. The London System, with the bishop on f4, is a frequent sidelight for Torre aficionados.

4...Ng8-f6 5.e2-e3 d7-d5

Black further inhibits e3-e4. Also playable is 5...Bf8-e7 when White probably takes time to safeguard the dark square bishop from trade with h2-h3. After d7-d6 play would then have some of the characteristics of the Reti Opening, with colours reversed.

6.Nb1-d2 c7-c5

Now White passes up the chance for a surprising collision: 7.Bf4xb8 Qd8xb8 8.Bf1-b5+ Ke8-d8 9.Nf3-e5 gives White harmonious and superior development while the exposure of Black's king is not quickly remedied.

7.Bf1-d3 Bf8-d6

Trading the dark-square bishops is a standard way to play for equality when White has a pawn on d4 and Black has one on d5, despite the fact that it removes Black's "good" bishop.

8.Bf4-g3 O-O 9.O-O

A sound move, but unambitious. White could try 9.Nf3-e5, or even 9.Qd1-e2, intending to castle long.

9...Bd6xg3 10.h2xg3 Nb8-c6 11.Rf1-e1 Nc6-e7

Black improves the placement of the knight, but could have played for e6-e5 with 11...Qd8-c7 or 11...Nf6-g4, thanks to White's doubled g-pawns.

12.Ra1-c1 Ra8-c8 13.Bd3-b1 Nf6-e4?!

A standard idea, but unfortunately timed.

14.Nd2xe4 d5xe4 15.Nf3-d2?

With 15.Nf3-g5, White would win the e4-pawn. A pattern is establishing itself; White likes to manoeuvre the pieces inside the pawn structure, does not like to look outside that box. Consistency is a virtue, but can become foolish.

15...f7-f5 16.Bb1-c2 Qd8-c7 17.Bc2-b3 Bb7-d5 18.a2-a3

The computer - whose strategic insights are rare in slow positions - suggests the good move 18.Bb3-c4 to keep matters in flux. Still, Black would have a small advantage.


Although it makes the bishop "bad", this is a positive step. The bishop is well connected with its hinterland, and future developments, possibly involving pawn breaks at b4, e5, or f4, can only increase its prospects.

19.Bb3-c2 Rf8-f6

Either side might be inclined to advance a b-pawn. Black commences play in the kingside with a far-off threat of checkmate on h1.

20.Kg1-f1 Rc8-f8 21.Kf1-e2

No mate at h1, but White has overreacted. The king is in the fryer.

21...g7-g5 22.Re1-f1 e6-e5

Great thinker Aron Nimzowitsch advocated "overprotection" of the base, which in this case would be e4. That suggests Ne7-c8-d6 in readiness for a possible break by White, or for Black's own f5-f4.

23.Ke2-e1 e5xd4 24.c3xd4 Bd5-f7

An ironic drawback of ownership of a superb square such as d5 is that only one piece at a time may occupy it.

25.Bc2-b1 b6-b5 26.Bb1-a2?

Although he didn't realize it, White's moves were a perfect preparation for 26.g3-g4! which would catapult him back into contention.

26...Ne7-d5 27.Qd1-c2

Diagram: 27...Rf6-h6!

A crafty move.

28.b2-b3 c4-c3

Even better was 28...Nd5xe3! (which could also have been played on the previous move, but with less effect) 29.f2xe3?! Qc7xg3+ 30.Rf1-f2 Qg3xe3+ 31.Rf2-e2 Qe3-g3+ (with relish) 32.Re2-f2 e4-e3. A happy but often difficult choice must often be made between two apparently good continuations.

29.Nd2-b1 b5-b4!

Prevents b3-b4.

30.Qc2-e2 b4xa3

Many players would not think beyond 30...a7-a5, turning White's queenside into a tomb, but the availability of two new squares - b4 and d3 - turns Black's knight into a hobgoblin. Another way was to bring the rooks to the c-file.

31.Nb1xa3 Nd5-b4 32.Ba2-b1 c3-c2! 33.Bb1xc2 Nb4-d3+ 34.Ke1-d1 Nd3xc1 35.Kd1xc1 Bf7xb3 36.Qe2-b5 Bb3xc2 37.Na3xc2 Rh6-c6

Down the exchange and with no prospects, White respectfully resigned. After 38.Qb5-b3+ Kg8-g7 39.Rf1-d1 there is a crisp finish: Rf8-c8 40.Rd1-d2 Qc7-a5 41.Kc1-d1 Rc6-b6, winning the queen.