"One of the main aims has been to highlight the differences in
approach between a Grandmaster and a weaker player, and to try and
narrow the gap. To some extent this comes down to technical matters -
more accurate analysis, superior opening knowledge, better endgame
technique and so forth; but in other respects the difference goes
deeper and many readers will find that they need to rethink much of
their basic attitude to the game. One example of this would be the
tremendous emphasis which is placed on the dynamic use of the pieces,
if necessary at the expense of the pawn structure, or even of material.
This is no mere question of style; it is a characteristic of the games of
all the great players."
1) Shabalov and Hahn win US Championships 2) Four way tie for first in Winter TNM 3) Kurt Bendit 4) Here and There 5) Upcoming events
1) Shabalov and Hahn win US Championships
GM Alex Shabalov and WIM Anna Hahn took home the titles of US Champion and US Womens Champion at the 2003 US Championships held January 9-18 in Seattle. Organized in exemplary fashion by America's Foundation for Chess, the event featured a record prize fund of $253, 600.
1 Shabalov 6½
Players in red and marked * were contenders for the Womens title.
The 35-year-old Shabalov, who lives in Pittsburgh, was a deserving winner. The leader for much of the event, he lost to Joel Benjamin in the penultimate round, but came right back to win against IM Varuzhan Akobian while his rivals were all drawing. Shabalov received $25,000 for his victory and shared a $10,000 "combativeness" prize with Akobian. Among those on 6 special mention should be made of GM Gregory Kaidanov. Despite being half a point behind "Shaba," Gregory almost the same performance rating (2678 to 2668) due to his playing a higher-rated field - a result of being the top seed. It was good to see the name of John Fedorowicz among the leaders. John was one of the top players in the US in the 1980s and early 1990s and even won the NY Open outright. Plagued by a bad cold he started slowly in Seattle but caught fire in the second half. Hopefully this result will be a catalyst for further excellent performances.
GM Shabalov in his well-spoken closing speech did a good job of pointing out some of the heroes of the Championship. He mentioned Akobian (who missed the GM norm by half a point) and Hikaru Nakamura as two of the brightest US juniors to appear in a long time and to FM Stephen Muhammad as the revelation of the tournament. According to chief Tournament Director Carol Jarecki the 41-year-old Atlanta-based Muhammad faced the highest rated opposition of any player in the Championship being paired up nine times in route to a 5-4 score for a performance rating of 2576. He easily fulfilled the requirements for his third and final IM norm. Another player who Shabalov did not mention, who also did well, was IM Justin Sarkar of New York who would have made his first GM norm if he defeated Alex Yermolinsky in the last round (they drew).
The title of US Womens Champion was decided in a three-way playoff between Jennifer Shahade, Irina Krush and Anna Hahn after they all finished at 50 percent. The vagaries of the Swiss System showed as Shahade (who made her second IM and WGM norms) played by far the strongest field of the three (2466) compared to Krush (2391) and Hahn (2279), but committed the cardinal sin of losing in round nine, while Krush was drawing and Hahn was winning. In the 15 minute game playoffs Anna defeated both her rivals to take the $12, 500 top women prize.
Five MI members played in the US Championship this year. Former Champion Alex Yermolinsky nearly took the title last year, but this time around he was handicapped by a serious cold that plagued him for much of the event. He still managed to make it to 5 1/2 and was pushing to get to 6 which would have given him a share of second. Six-time US Champion Walter Browne of Berkeley was one of the oldest players in the competition at 54 but held his own against several of the top seeds (Christiansen, Kaidanov, Gulko, deFirmian) before running out of gas at the end to finish at 50 percent. I managed to make a norm a round before the end, but alas it was of the IM rather than GM variety. A slow start and last round loss were counterbalanced by a good run in the middle which also put me on 50 percent. David Pruess made a respectable score in his Championship debut but I know that both he and Camilla will improve on their 3 1/2 scores next year. It was good to see IM John Watson, formerly of Fairfax, but now living in San Diego, participate. This was only John's second event in the last four years after suffering a life-threatening stroke but he played well in scoring four points.
There were no GM norms made this year. FM Stephen Muhammad scored his third and final IM norm. FM Igor Foygel scored his third and final IM norm. WIM Jennifer Shahade scored both her second IM and second WGM norm. Joel Benjamin won the top Paul Albert Jr. Brilliancy Prize ($1000) for his eight round win over Shabalov. I took the second prize for my round seven win over GM Sergey Kudrin and Yasser Seirawan (over Lapshun) and Gregory Serper (over Ippolito) shared the third prize.
Here was the deciding game of the Championship.
A Shabalov - V Akobian
The official site for the Championship can be found at http://www.af4c.org. Besides offering all the games in PGN and Java format there is lots of other information including a daily heavily annotated game (http://www.af4c.org/uschamps_daygame08.asp) by chief commentator Jeremy Silman, who was taking a rare break from his website duties at www.jeremysilman.com.
Those looking for even more information can find it at The Week in Chess (http://www.chesscenter.com/twic/twic428.html) where Mark Crowther has a cross table complete with performance ratings which often gives a truer idea of how players have done in a Swiss. For example on 4 1/2 points the huge swing ranged from 71-year-old veteran Anatoly Lein (defeated only by Yermo) who faced 2510 opposition to IM Larry Kaufman (2353) and Anna Hahn (2279) who essentially played in different tournaments.
On a final note the Seattle Chamber of Commerce should start donating to America's Foundation for Chess. I saw at least a dozen Bay Area players stopping by to take in the Championship including MI Trustees Mark Pinto and Vince McCambridge, former Chess Room Director Jim Eade, Dennis Waterman, Gilbert Chambers and Lloyd Stephenson.
2) Four way tie for first in Winter TNM
IM Walter Shipman, FM Frank Thornally, NM Russell Wong and Expert Alex Setzepfandt are tied for first with perfect scores after three rounds of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon.
3) Kurt Bendit
IM William Addison recently visited the Chess Room to let people know that former Chess Room Director Kurt Bendit has moved to SF Community Convalescent Hospital (Bush at Divisadero) and would appreciate visitors.
4) Here and There
X3D Technologies Corp. and from New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg offices announcing the First F.I.D.E. Official World Chess Championship, "Man Vs. Machine" to take place January 26th through February 7th 2003 in 6 matches. The matches will be broadcast on in Extreme 3D by X3D Technologies, live on the Internet at http://www.x3dworld.com/.
It is not patterned after any other chess magazine that we know of, featuring 64 magazine sized pages and writers from the amateur level through Grandmaster.
Rather than publish Internet chess news, politics, and meaningless games, SQUARES will be headed up by an international cast of players and writers, featuring the following articles in the first issue:
1. Louis Paulsen-Early Father of Hypermodern Chess, by Imre Konig.
Also, I find most chess players like chess advertising and we will have that too. All of this for only $25.00 if you act FAST. If we get your check, money order, or credit card amount for $25 (or multiples of that for your friends!), your first issue will be to you in early March, only a few weeks away if you think about it. After that, subscription rate goes to $30 per four issue. The single copy price is $9.50.
You have several ways of contacting us.
Dear Chess Friend, At the moment Chess Today newspaper has extensive coverage of the Corus tournaments in Wijk aan Zee IM Yochanan Afek send his daily reports written especially for Chess Today. I will send you the latest Chess Today issue No. 805. Please feel free to forward it to your chess friends. The paper helps to stay in touch with the latest chess news around the world and also to improve your chess. The annual subscription is only 44 euro/$ - for 365 issues! For more information about the paper please refer to http://www.chesstoday.net/ With best regards,
5) Upcoming events
Note: The MI will be starting monthly scholastic quads on Saturdays starting in January. See below.
Upcoming Tournaments at the MI
Henry Gross Memorial: February 1, 2003
Scholastic Quads: January 18 and February 22.
The 1st Pan American Amateur Championship will be held at the elegant Fairmont Southampton from 27th January to 5th February 2003. It will be nine rounds plus a rest day and will be held alongside two GM Invitational Tournaments (Cat XV and X). The rate of play will be 150 plus 30 seconds per move. It is open to players under 2000 FIDE or no FIDE rating at all. Each Federation in the Americas is allowed to nominate two players who do not have to pay an entry fee, otherwise entry fee is $150 per player. It will be followed by the 20th Bermuda Open from 6th to 9th February.
Rooms are $125 per night plus taxes etc. for one or two people, a third person in a room would be an extra $30 plus taxes. etc To book rooms contact the Fairmont Southampton on 1-800-441-1414 or 1-441-238-8000, mentioning "PanAmerican Amateur Chess."
Details/Info: www.Bermuda.bm/chess or Nigel Freeman 441-234-2322, email@example.com or Carol Jarecki 917-690-8566, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Return to Article Index