Sunday, March 27, 2016

3 Earn Norms; 1 Title Earned at Charlotte Chess Center GM/IM Norm Invitational

By GM Ben Finegold

The tournament ended with a bang, as three players earned norms!

In the GM group, IM Safal Bora had 3.5 out of 6, and needed to win his last three to secure a GM norm, and that’s just what he did!  Safal entered the day with 4.5 points and proceeded to play a fantastic technical game against IM Dean Ippolito.

In the final round, Safal beat IM Kassa Korley when Kassa blundered with f3??  White lost a pawn, and with it, the game.  Safal scored 6.5 points to earn his first GM norm.

Winning a very long last round struggle, GM Niclas Huschenbeth won the GM group by grinding down FM Michael Brown, as Niclas won the tournament with an undefeated 7-2 score!

Brown was able to secure his 2nd IM norm in round 8 when he drew IM Kassa Korley in a game that went all the way until there was no mating material!

Winning 5 out of 6 between rounds 3-8, Matthew Larson earned the FM title, and is now over 2300 FIDE and 2380 USCF!  Here is one of his cleaner victories, as he won against IM Angelo Young.  

Young Hans Niemann had a real up and down event with lots of decisive games.  In the same boat with Gauri Shankar, who started with 3.5 out of 4, but then finished badly.  Here is a tough loss he had in round 8 against young Niemann.

Seth Homa was winning quickly against IM Del Campo in round 8 when a Queen wandered a bit too far away, and was soon trapped!.

Alexander Velikanov secured his norm with a round to spare, beating James Canty.  Had Velikanov won his last round against Del Campo, he would have broke 2400 FIDE, and had everything he needed for the title, since this was his third and final norm.  It was not to be, and, instead he tied for first with his opponent!

There are so many people to thank to have such a nice event where an amazing three norms were scored and one player broke 2300 to earn his FM title!  Congrats again to Velikanov and Brown for securing their IM norms with a round to spare, and to IM Bora for winning his last three and earning his first GM norm!  Thanks to Karen Boyd for her support, driving the players back and forth from the tournament and hotel, and for getting me Starbucks at a moment’s notice! Thanks to Peter Giannatos for organizing and sponsoring the event at his Chess Center.  And thanks go to many more who helped and made this the best event ever in Charlotte, NC!

Note From Organizer and CCCSA Director and Owner Peter Giannatos:
"I am very excited and happy to have completed this very successful event. 3 Norms were earned as well as 1 FIDE title. I could not have asked for a more action packed tournament.

I would like to thank the players for being extremely sportsmanlike and honorable.

A huge thanks goes to my right hand men GM Ben Finegold and NM Dominique Myers who helped me in every way, making this event possible.

Our FIDE Arbiters: Korey Kormick and Rudy Abate did a fantastic job of starting all rounds on time, clarifying rules, and of course submitting norm forms!!

Last but not least I would like to thank Chacha Nugroho of who has provided a great interface for viewing games, pairings and standings."

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3 Keep Norm Chances Alive After Day 4 of CCCSA Norm Invitational

Day 4 -
By GM Ben Finegold

Day 4 saw a few people win their way to norm chances, while others gave up the ghost.  Let’s have a look and see who is in contention after round 7.

First I’d like to mention an email I got from my brother Mark, 2200+ who thinks FM Michael Brown should have won the R and P ending against GM Ashwin Jayaram in round 4. After looking at his analysis, I agree!

There was an interesting winning opportunity late in the game that Brown didn't notice.  After 55. Rg1? (55. Rh7=) 55...Re3 56. Rg4 Kf6 57. Kd5, Black has 57...Rc3! placing White in a losing zugzwang.  If White's rook leaves the fourth rank, ...Rd3+ is much stronger because Kc4 isn't possible.  With the White king on c5, say, Black can set up a position where eventually ...f5! exploits the pin along the fourth rank and leads to a winning RP v R.  I think White will be forced to move his king away from c5 because Rg4-h4-g4 etc. is no good as Black's king advances.  But once White plays Kc6 or whatever, ...f5 is going to work.  Or if White tries to defend with Re1-e2-e1 etc., eventually Black's king comes down to take the e-pawn and again it's a winning RP v R. “

In the GM section, the undefeated FM Michael Brown has 4.5 points, and needs a draw for an IM norm (his second) and 2-0 for a GM norm! Brown is white against IM Korley in round 8 and black against GM Niclas Huschenbeth in round 9. Huschenbeth is undefeated and in clear first with 5.5-1.5. Things are never easy!

IM Safal Bora also has 4.5 points and needs to win his last two games against IM Dean Ippolito and IM Korley to get his first GM norm.

In the IM group, Alexander Velikanov has 5.5 points and needs 1 out of 2 to get an IM norm.  He is currently tied for first with IM Martin del Campo.

A shout out to my student Matt Larson, who has 4-3, with seven decisive games!  As he told me last night, he was losing in 6 of the 7 contests!  I tell my students not to offer or accept draws, and he is one of my few students who listens!

In round 6 IM Zierk won a drawn ending against IM Korley

IM Ippolito played a nice game in a Benoni exchange sacrifice line to beat GM Jayaram.

GM Ringoir has 6 draws in 7 games!  Here he misses a chance against IM Checa and has to bail out to a drawn middlegame by sacrificing his queen.

Matt Larson and IM David Vigorito played a wild game which could have gone either way, but Larson was fortunate and his King march eventually paid dividends when his Monarch turned out to be a bit safer than Black’s.

In round 7 Huschenbeth and Zierk had a very interesting struggle, but Zierk’s King was eventually exposed and he went down to a scintillating attack.  

Korley and Jayaram got to a drawn Bishop versus Knight ending, but one false move by Jayaram and Korley’s d pawn proved too strong.  Korley easily won the ending with his extra bishop.

IM Safal Bora was getting crushed by FM Nicholas Checa, but one bad move ruined a won game.

FM Hans Niemann and Matt Larson had an absolutely crazy game where both players prepared past move 20.  After some error, Hans was winning and then after further errors the position was equal.  Unfortunately, he fell into a mating trick and lost the game due to one bad move. Chess is unforgiving!

The last two rounds take place today, Sunday, at 10AM and 4PM Eastern.  Let’s wish our norm hunters good luck!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Norm Opportunities Still Alive After Day 3

Day 3 - Norm Chances for Some
By GM Ben Finegold

Okay, this is a norm event, so, let’s have a look and see who has chances after round 5:

  1. Michael Brown has 3.5 points.  He needs 1.5 out of 4 for an IM norm and 3 out of 4 for a GM norm.
  2. Safal Bora has 3 out of 5.  He needs 3.5 out of 4 for a GM norm.
  3. Steven Zierk and Kassa Korley have 2.5 out of 5.  If either can run the table, and win his last 4 games, he will get a GM norm.
  4. Alexander Velikanov has 4 out of 5. He needs 2.5 out of 4 for an IM norm.
  5. Gauri Shankar has 3.5 out of 5.  He needs 3 out of 4 for his 5th (!!) IM norm.
  6. James Canty and Hans Niemann both have 3 out of 5 and need 3.5 out of 4 to earn an IM norm.

So there are chances in both groups. There are a lot of exciting games every round, and not only are there an endless display of decisive results, but some of the draws are exciting as well!

Let’s have a look at Day 3!

In round 4, Michael Brown obtained a winning position against Ashwin Jayaram, but stubborn defense earned White a draw after 100 moves!.

In the battle of the Nicolas, uh Niclas, uh.. Nevermind…. The game was balanced until one hasty move by White backfired and Niclas eventually had too many pawns to handle.

The game between my student, Matt Larson, and my former student, Seth Homa, ended well for the former (not the former student,  But I am still proud of both, since after 3 days of play, neither player has drawn any games!.

Mala has not had a great event so far, and Gauri added to his troubles by sacrificing his queen, so he could get another one! .

Martin Del Campo was mowing down the field until round 4.  In this game, Canty was money, and two extra rooks did not dissuade him from sacrificing a Queen, then a rook!.

In round 5, in a game that looked like a boring draw, Dean Ippolito missed his chance to snatch a pawn.

Kassa Korley missed an excellent chance to gain a HUUUUUGE (thanks Bernie) edge against Justin Sarkar.  One chance missed, and Justin didn’t give him another as Black drew with excellent defense.
Matt Larson had an interesting Sicilian against Del Campo, but was unable to figure out which sacrifice to make, and why.  After missing some chances to prolong the game, Del Campo crashed through and won convincingly.

Mala’s troubles continued as his Knight got trapped on e1, and even an extra pawn couldn’t save him against front-runner Alexander Velikanov.

Day 4 is critical for the norm seekers.  Games will be shown live Saturday, rounds 6 and 7 at Noon and 6PM Eastern.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Heroes and Zeros After Day Two of CCCSA GM/IM Invitational

By GM Ben Finegold

Day 2, also known as rounds 2 and 3, was just as bloody as day 1.

Highlights thus far:

  1. Michael Brown went 2-0 on day 2, and has good chances for an IM or GM norm!
  2. The highest rated player in the IM section, IM Vigorito, has 0 points!
  3. Three foreign players are tied for first in the IM section with 2.5-0.5
  4. Six players in the IM section have all decisive results

In round 2, Sarkar-Brown was a wild affair, with both sides having winning chances! Finally Brown was able to win a long tough game.
Korley missed several chances to win against 14 year old Checa and the game ended peacefully.
Gauri played one of his best games against Matt Larson and finished the game with a scintillating piece sacrifice.
Mala, the lowest rated player in the event fell for a trap in the early middlegame against “Cash” Canty, and Canty was money.
The Belgian GM Ringoir was ruthless in his execution of the winning attack against Bora.
Round 3 was just as bloody, with most games ending with a decisive result.  Checa lost quickly to GM Jayaram after a nasty pin spelled disaster.
Bora had so many extra pawns in the rook endgame, he decided to jettison his rook once he saw his “a” pawn was unstoppable.  
Korley was close to drawing against the highest rated player in the event, GM Huschenbeth, but ended losing a long, tough endgame.
Gauri Shankar continued his good form, and quest for his fifth (!) IM norm by beating fellow FM Velikanov.
Canty was not money this round, as he rejected a queen trade and soon found his King indefensible.

Rounds 4 and 5 will take place Friday, at Noon and 6PM Eastern time.  Watch online or come to the Charlotte Chess Center and watch in person!

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