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BORIS GULKO won the US Championship at Salt Lake City on Thursday after just three games of the projected four-game final against Gregory Serper, winning the first two and easily drawing the third.

As I explained on Tuesday, in its new format, now in its second year, the top two from two all-play-all groups go on to semi-final and final matches. After Gulko won group A ahead of Yermolinsky and Serper in group B, ahead of a three-way tie resolved by play-offs in Seirawan's favour, the semis saw Gulko play Seirawan and Serper vs Yermolinsky.

The latter two had a relatively peaceful time, drawing all four games, but Gulko and Seirawan traded wins in the first two. Seirawan should have wrapped things up, but missed a simple win in the fourth. In the play- offs on Monday Serper won both 25-minute games but Gulko and Seirawan went down to the wire, drawing both 25-minute games and the first at 15 minutes, before Gulko won the second as Black in a tough queen and knight ending.

In a Bogo-Indian (named after the Ukrainian Efim Bogoljubow, one of the world's top players in the Twenties, and Alekhine's challenger for the world title in 1929), Gulko played the usual recipe today of 6 Nc3 which avoids 6 Bg2 Bxd2+! when if 7 Qxd2 Ne4! is very annoying while 7 Nbxd2 slightly misplaces the knight. 10 d5! is also theoretical, to prevent the centre being blocked.

13 ...Bc6 looks inaccurate to me - 13 ...Nxc3 was more logical - and after 14 Nd4 White had an edge though 14 ...Nxc3 15 Nxc6 Nxe2+! 16 Qxe2 bxc6 17 Bxc6 Rab8 wasn't too clear. 15 ...a5 also looks better to anchor the knight after 16 f3 Nc5.

If 16 ...Ng5 perhaps 17 c5 but after 16 ...Nc5 17 b4 White already had a big advantage since if 18 ...Nxd4 19 Qxd4 Be8 20 Qd5+ Bf7 21 Qxb7 simply wins an important pawn.

20 e4! opened lines. Not 24 ...Bxb5? 25 Qd5+. Gulko showed excellent technique with 30 Rc1! since 30 Rxd6 Ke7 31 Rd5 Rc8 32 a4 is less convincing. Serper's problem was that if 31 ...Re7 the pawn ending seems to be lost, eg 32 Kf3 d5 33 g4 Ke6 34 Rxe7+ Kxe7 35 Ke3 Kd7 36 f5 h6 37 h4, and Black has no time to go after the b6 pawn.

At the end, the connected passed pawns are lethal.

White: Boris Gulko

Black: Gregory Serper

Bogo-Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6

2 c4 e6

3 Nf3 Bb4+

4 Bd2 Qe7

5 g3 Nc6

6 Nc3 Bxc3

7 Bxc3 Ne4

8 Rc1 0-0

9 Bg2 d6

10 d5 Nd8

11 dxe6 Nxe6

12 0-0 Bd7

13 Re1 Bc6

14 Nd4 Nxd4

15 Bxd4 f5?!

16 f3 Nc5

17 b4! Ne6

18 b5 Bd7

19 f4 c6

20 e4! Nxd4

21 Qxd4 fxe4

22 Rxe4 Qf6

23 Rd1 cxb5

24 cxb5 a6

25 b6 Bc6

26 Qxf6 Rxf6

27 Re7 Bxg2 28 Kxg2 Rf7

29 Rxf7 Kxf7

30 Rc1! Re8

31 Rc7+ Kf6

32 Kf3 Re1

33 Rxb7 Ra1

34 Rb8 Kf7

35 Ra8 Rb1

36 Rxa6 d5

37 a4 Rb3+

38 Ke2 1-0