Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter #49

"For however magnificent his best games, however impressive his match victories, Spassky is destined to be remembered primarily one thing: He was the man who lost to Bobby Fischer."

   William Hartston

1) US Open 
2) American Intercontinental Championship 
3) August First Saturday 
4) Odds and Ends 
5) Upcoming Tournaments 

1) US Open

The 102nd US Open, held August 4th-12th in Framingham, Massachusetts, ended in a four way tie for first at 7.5-1.5 between GMs Joel Benjamin, Alex Wojtkiewicz, Alex Stripunsky and GM-elect Fabian Doettling, each receiving $2225. Wojtkiewicz, who won a key game with Black against GM Gennady Sagalchik in the last round, won the event on tiebreak

This year's Open will be remembered as the beginning of a great experiment. For the first time in over 50 years, many of the spots in the United States Championship are to be decided in qualifying events, and the US Open was the first qualifier. At stake were 10 open qualifying positions, with two more to the top finishing women. The status of the US Open as a qualifier led to the event being much stronger than the 2000 Open in St. Paul. Probably only the 1999 US Open in Reno, held at the same time as the FIDE World Championship Knockout in Las Vegas, compares with Opens held in the last decade.

Among the 487 participants were 17 GMs and 9 IMs, which is pretty amazing considering that the $40,000 guaranteed prize fund offered only $10,400 in place prizes (usually prize money is allocated 50 percent to place prizes and 50 percent to class prizes) . Normally the US Open is essentially an amateur event, but this year a chance to play in the US Championship (January 4-12, 2002 in Seattle with $200,000 in prizes) changed the routine.

The race for the qualifying spots ended dramatically. The four players who tied for first had either qualified previously by winning the 2000 Championship (Benjamin), qualified by rating (Stripunsky), or were ineligible as foreign players (Doettling and Stripunsky). This meant that the 10 open spots went to players on 7 points. Going into the event the thought was that 7 points would easily qualify and that maybe one or two spots would go to players on 6 1/2 with good tiebreaks. It didn't turn out that way! No less than 23 players tied for fifth!!

In tiebreak order:

5. IM Michael Mulyar 2476 48.5 
6.GM Alex Fishbein  2578 48 
7. GM Leonid Yudasin  2673 47 
8. GM Sergey Kudrin  2627 46 
9. GM Alexander Kalinin  2612 46 
10.GM John Fedorowicz  2607 44.5 
11.Yury Lapshun  2516 44.5 
12.IM John Donaldson  2525 44.5 
13.Alex Kalikshteyn  2366 44 
14.Josef Friedman  2200 44 
15.GM Suat Atalik  2654 43.5 
16.Igor Schneider  2119 43.5 
17.Alexander Danilovic  2499 43.5 
18.Igor Foygel  2552 43 
19.IM Larry Kaufman  2441 43 
20.GM Roland Schmaltz  2549 43 
21.GM Maurice Ashley  2580 42.5 
22.GM Sam Palatnik  2573 42.5 
23.IM Greg Shahade  2501 42.5 
24.Mikhail Perelshteyn  2482 42.5 
25.IM William Paschall  2506 41.5 
26.Stanislav Ritvin  2310 41.5 
27.William Kelleher  2417 40 
The ten qualifiers are Mulyar, Fishbein, Kudrin, Fedorowicz, Lapshun, Donaldson, Kalikshteyn, Friedman, Foygel and Kaufman. A word on the tiebreak. The system used was Modified Median, which means that for events of less than nine rounds the low score is dropped. What wasn't clear to many participants was that in an event from 9 to 11 rounds, the two lowest scores are dropped. The tiebreak was so close for the last two spots that if you only dropped one score, instead of two, GMs Ashley and Palatnik were in and Friedman and Kaufman were out. Friedman, on his floor at 2200, had the event of his life defeating IMs Paschall and Ippolito as well as WIM Jennifer Shahade in the last round.

One last thing. Finishing in the group at 7 was 12-year-old Igor Schneider, younger brother of IM Dmitry Schneider. The vagaries of the tiebreak in a tournament this size show as Igor, although having an outstanding result, played only one player over 2335 (Mulyar who he lost to). One of the conditions of being eligible for the US Championship was paying a special $50 fee before the start of the event to declare your intentions. Approximately 35 players did, but Igor was not among them so he didn't qualify! Had he paid, IM Kaufman was out. Igor did have the consolation that he won $2000 as the top finishing Expert. Friedman and Kaliksteyn were the real financial winners of the 2001 US Open as they not only qualified for the US Championship (where last place is close to $2000) but also received $1466 each by tying for first Under 2400 with Stanislav Ritvin (another 7 pointer, but with bad tiebreaks). Fate was brutally cruel to GMs Ashley and Palatnik who just missed qualifying for the Championship. What did they win for tying for fifth? The grand sum of $31.57!

The two women's qualifying spots were won by teenagers. Cindy Tsai of Florida, rated close to 2200, was no surprise, but the performance of 12-year-old Hana Itkis, rated only 1827, who beat Experts in the last two rounds to make it to Seattle, was. Itkis, who turns 13 in October, will become the youngest player ever to play in a US Championship breaking Bobby Fischer's record set in the 1950s.

The Mechanics' had a large contingent at the Open. Besides Chess Director Donaldson, eight other members made the trip east. IM Guillermo Rey was undefeated with 6.5 points and MI Trustee Mark Pinto finished with 5.5, while also working during the event. Monty Peckham and Matthew Ho had the highest scores of the several juniors who participated with 5.5 points. Other results: Michael Goodall and Drake Wang 5, Ricky Yu and Paul Vayssie 4.

2) American Intercontinental Championship

American GMs are dominating the American Continental Championships being held in Cali, Colombia. Alex Goldin of Chicago is leading with 5 from 5 followed by Alex Shabalov, MI GM-in-Residence Alex Yermolinsky and Dimitry Gurevich on 4.5. Among those on 4 points are some of South America's best (GMs Campora, Leitao, Zapata, Zarnicki , etc.). The fifth American participating in the 11 round qualification event for the World Championship is Boris Gulko, who has 3.5 points.

3) August First Saturday

MI member Vinay Bhat has battled back from a slow start to join the leaders in the August First Saturday Tournament being held in Budapest. IM Bhat started with 2.5/6, but then won three games in a row. He is now tied for second with 6.5/11 in the 14 player robin , Category 7 (2413) event with two games left. The GM norm is 10 and the IM norm is 7.5.

4) Odds and Ends

UC Berkeley graduate Nick deFirmian tied for first in the recent Politiken Cup held in Copenhagen with fellow GMs Mikhail Gurevich, Alex Rustemov, Peter-Hiene Nielsen and Lev Psakhis.

A few Newsletters back it was reported that Stanford student Philip Wang finished with a score of 3-6 in the US Junior Closed in Tulsa. That information, which was taken off the USCF website, was inaccurate. Philip actually scored 4-5, and had a 50 percent result for the asking. He lost in the last round to tournament winner Hikaru Nakamura after declining a draw while trying to help his friend David Pruess tie for first.

The Sacramento Chess Club is doing very well and has an excellent website that can be reached at . On July 7-8 the club hosted a strong weekend event that was won by Filipino IM Ricardo de Guzman with a score of 4 1/2 from 5. de Guzman, who is currently living in the Bay Area, beat NMs Michael Aigner and Adrian Keatinge-Clay before drawing in the last round with Sacramento's top player, SM Andrey Chumachenko. Chumanchenko tied for second at 4 points with IM Walter Shipman, Giedrius Suskis and Emmanuel Perez.

Last Newsletter we reported the election of Steve Schutt, Frank Camaratta, John McCrary and Frank Brady to the USCF Policy Board. Monday the four joined with the three holdovers from the last PB, Helen Warren, Doris Barry and Bob Smith in electing officers for the Board. They are:

John McCrary President
Steve Shutt Vice-President
Frank Camaratta Vice-President for Finance
Bob Smith Secretary

Frank Brady, Helen Warren and Doris Barry, Executive Board members at large.

5) Upcoming Events

August 18
Vladimir Pafnutieff Memorial (5 rounds G/45 at 1/2 K) THIS WEEKEND - STARTS AT 10 AM

August 28
Fall Tuesday Night Marathon (Round One, 8 rounds, 30/90 followed by G/30)

September 22
Howard Donnelly Memorial (5 rounds G/45 at 1/2 K)

September 28-30 and October 5-7. Bay Area Masters (6 rounds, open to all over 2200, USCF + FIDE rated, $1000-$500-$200 based on 22 paid entries). For more information contact IM Guillermo Rey (650) 355-0305 or Full details at

October 20
J.J. Dolan Memorial (5 rounds G/45 at 1/2 K)

November 9-11
Carroll Capps Memorial (5 rounds)

December 1
Pierre Saint-Amant Memorial (5 rounds G/45 at 1/2 k)

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