Nigeria's Adu on the U.S. Tournament Trail

IM Oladapo Adu has made a presence on the U.S. tournament circuit as he strives to play himself back into form. After a poor showing in the Richard Aronov Invitational, the Nigerian national entered the Continental Open in early August and scored a respectable 3-2 which was good enough for a share of U2400 prize.

In the second round, Adu faced Russia's
GM Evgeny Najer, who just a week earlier had placed joint 1st at the U.S. Open. In this battle, Adu uncorked a speculative piece sacrifice  for an attack , but was unable to break through and the game was drawn. Ironically, Adu would play his best game of the tournament in a loss to GM Babacouly Annakov of Turkmenistan.

IM Oladapo Adu. Copyright  2002, Jerry Bibuld.

IM Oladapo Adu
(Photo taken by Jerry Bibuld)

Adu reflects,  " this would have been my best game of the event. After coming out of the opening with an inferior position, I went ahead to seize the initiative with very strong play. I had to give up an exchange at one point to save a pawn. Even with the loss in the game, I am happy with my play."

In the 4th round, Adu would face his third straight GM in Canada's Alexander LeSiege. Employing the Rossolimo variation against the Sicilian, the game picked up momentum in the middlegame and at a critical point, Adu played  18.Ng4!? apparently giving him the edge. The game made a transition to an interesting middlegame, but it appears that Adu should play 32.Kxe2! (see diagram) instead of 31.Rf1 which was met with 31.Qxf1+! 32.Kxf1 Rxe4! In the final position Adu had a Queen + King + five pawns against LeSiege's Rook + Knight + six pawns. They agreed to a draw in an unclear position. In the post-mortem analysis, Adu suggested that 27.h4 would have caused black serious difficulties.

Adu-LeSiege (after 31... Qg1+)

(after 31Qg1+)

In the 5th round, Adu dispatched of young expert Melvin Zhang setting up a showdown with FM Bryan Smith. The winner would take the U2400 prize. Adu gave his French Defense a rest and got a decent position out of the Pirc. However, the Nigerian Master had an 8-hour drive back to Maryland and he had to report to work in the morning! So in a slightly favorable position (certainly not worse), he played what he calls a "Fola Akintola tactic" and offered a draw. After 30 minutes of thought, Smith accepted. Both took a share of the U2400 prize.

Adu-Najer, -.
Adu-LeSiege, -.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 1 September 2002