Reports from the New York Open

carol.jpg (4620 bytes)

carol.jpg (8529 bytes) National TD/International Arbiter Carol Jarecki provides round by round reports below. Feel like a part of the action by following the inside news from the New Yorker Hotel.

Thanks to Carol for her hard work and time spent of these reports!

Round 1 Round one got started about the same time the hotel jackhammers did. After they were silenced the round was relatively quiet and composed. Besides 5 drawn games there was only one upset, that of Eric Schiller over Yuri Yakovich, a 365-FIDE-rating point difference. Schiller is organizing the U.S. Open in Hawaii this summer as well as the U.S. Masters just prior to it. He doesn’t get much chance to play and put this opportunity to good use.
Round 2 The second round, beginning at 5 p.m., saw a big influx of spectators including Women’s World Champion Susan Polgar and some other local New York GMs such as Bill Lombardy who rarely plays anymore. Tension ran much higher with many scrambles at the first time control. Those resolved, the scene was quiet again until the end of the sudden death period started to close in. Maier-Pigusov and Minasian-Berkovich ended in draws only after a fireworks display of flashing hands and banging clocks. Since the two games played next to each other it was a special double treat for the dozens of onlookers. There were quite a few upsets, proving that this NY Open will be hard-fought
Round 3 Events in the Big Apple are rarely standard affairs. Around 2 o’clock this morning (Tuesday) the hotel fire alarm went off. Soon a calming voice over the PA system assured everyone listening that the "situation was being investigated" but the cause of the alarm was unknown and no evacuation was necessary yet. I was just about to leave for home anyway and as I walked out the front entrance of the Hotel New Yorker no less than five fire engines roared up closing the entire boulevard. Fully outfitted firemen jumped off with axes, ropes, oxygen tanks--the whole scene. As the police opened the fire hydrant and water gushed onto the street, I took one last look up at the hotel facade wondering if this might be the end of the tournament. As usual, however, nothing came of it, the morning dawned bright and sunny, the round began right on time and life continued as usual.

As the tournament progresses and pairings get tighter with more GMs playing each other the "1/2 - 1/2" shows up on many scoresheets. These aren’t short, easy draws though but long and hard-fought, many going well into the final time control. The top 7 games ended in 6 draws, and only Shabalov with a decisive result over D. Gurevich, Gurevich managing to blitz off 21 moves in the final minute to make time control. This produced a clean sweep of the "stage boards" and new faces at the top for round five.

Benjamin-Shaked is usually an exciting match-up because both are known for chronic time pressure problems which they handle with amazing dexterity, composure and speed. This time Shaked ended up with the point. Another nice upset was Shulman over Goldin after a time scramble in the first control and another at the SD limit with Goldin resigning with a hanging flag.

Round 4 Tuesday, the final day of the grueling schedule of two games per day. American players are accustomed to this routine but elsewhere top quality internationals have a more leisurely pace. Today, of the top dozen games only two were decisive. Interesting upsets were IM Alexander Stripunsky over GM Julio Granda-Zuniga and GM Normunds Miezis over GM Viktor Bologan. FM Fabio LaRota won his game against GM Raj Tischbierek and Rob van der Plas, Theodoros Bolis, Werner Mueller, Carmine Bevilacqua, Lueder Tidemann, Jaco Koster, Michael Mendez and Edward Belcher all beat their respective higher rated opponents.

A situation arose in another game during the final minutes of the sudden death time control--N + 4 versus B + 4 with the latter under a minute remaining. Both players had been blitzing for several minutes but, since the pawns had been active, there was no reason to count for a possible 50-move draw and neither player was keeping score. Black stopped the clocks with 50 seconds left and requested the arbiter declare the game a draw. The opponent protested. It was decided that, given the position and material, installing a digital clock with the 5-second-per-move delay (Bronstein method) was fairer than an arbiter’s adjudication. After the plan was explained to the opponent, through interpreters, and it was explained to both that the game could be won, lost or drawn as the continuation of a normal game, it was restarted. Much to the surprise of the claimant he lost on time after only a few moves. An hour later he wanted to appeal the result of the game claiming it was unfair. The appeal, obviously, was denied.

Round 5 Wednesday began looking more like the New York Open with the influx of hundreds of additional players for the class sections and many more spectators for the top International section. Fortunately the large main ballroom, with it’s 40-foot ceilings hung with crystal chandeliers, is spacious and bright enough to comfortably contain the almost 200 premier
players and as well as the appreciative spectators.

Luis Rentero, of Linares fame, arrived to play in the U2400 section. Genial Canadian GM Kevin Spraggett is playing in the US for the first time in eleven years. GM Ian Rogers came the farthest, Australia.  The Open (International) section includes groups from Switzerland, Germany,

Romania and a large number from Spain as well as individuals from over two dozen other countries. Many of these will get their first FIDE ratings here, others may be heading for norms. Spanish IM Luis Comas is certainly on track for a GM norm if he keeps up his current results.

Popular, and actually world-famous, local IM Maurice Ashley, who had gotten off to a slow start three days ago, achieved a beautiful draw against top seed GM Evgeny Bareev. Another local IM, Jay Bonin, drew GM Vladimir Epishin. Chicago IM Eugene Martinovsky beat GM Alexander Ivanov with only a minute or so left on each of their clocks. Generally it was a fairly quiet round with no arbiting problems, serious time scrambles or games lost on time. There are no longer any perfect scores at both ends of the possibilities.
Round 6 Thursday, round 6, rain and fog but mild. One of those good days to be able to sleep in and appreciate the "civilized" one-round-a-day-beginning-at-5 schedule. The International players seemed to have used the previous day to recuperate from the two double-round days and came back ready to fight.

The top two boards did finally end in draws but the next four were decisive. Ibragimov-Tiviakov, on board 4, had an extremely complicated position after almost 6 hours of play. Visually it seemed that most of the game was played in the final 3 minutes each player had left on his clock.

The adjacent game, Milov-Pigusov, on board 5, was just the opposite situation. Rook and bishop against rook with something over a minute on the clock for black and perhaps two minutes for the white R+B. Neither was keeping score and I couldn’t get through the spectators to see the scoresheet but I counted 40 moves made before Pigusov lost. It could well have been a legitimate 50-move-rule claim and, in any case, would have been a candidate for the insertion of a time-delay clock. During the 40 moves I watched there had been no progress and it was pretty clear that nothing much would happen in the next 10. Unfortunate that the claim never was made.

Round 7 Artashes Minasian, seeded 31st in the International, won four games in a row through Round 7 when he defeated Alexander Shabalov. He began with a "no show" forfeit win followed by a draw with 84th-seeded Israeli IM Mark Berkovich, then an uninterrupted string of wins put him into a three-way tie for first place with Kiril Georgiev and Vadim Milov. Comments like, "Where did he come from", "Who is this guy", were heard in the crowd at the wall charts. Quiet, unassuming and poised, Minasian has appeared at the top of wall charts before. Two years ago he won first place in Philadelphia in The World Open.

A tie for first place in the International will result in a tie-break play-off to produce a clear winner. There is an additional prize of $1000, besides splitting the very large basic prize fund amongst those tied (1st $14,000, 2nd $7,000, etc.), as well as an extraordinary porcelan chess set with a beautiful inlaid wooden board valued at $2000. Time controls for the play-off will vary depending on the number tied. A two-man tie will use G15 plus 10 seconds per move (so-called Fischer mode) with a tie broken by the old PCA method of 5 minutes to 4 minutes with draw odds and toss for color.

IM Berkovich is a story unto himself. He is playing in both the International Open (Top) section and the International Under 2400 section. The rounds where both sections coincide he takes a bye in the U2400 so he always plays two games a day, one in each. FIDE-rated only 2390 he is currently on track for a GM norm with 4 out of 7 and two games to go. He is also in line to win money in the U2400 section.

Round 8 Minasian wins again! That's five in a row and clear first place after defeating Mikhael Gurevich in a nearly 6-hour game. Vadim Milov, the other player tied for first coming into this round, drew with 2nd-seed Kiril Georgiev setting up a ninth-round pairing of Minasian with white against Georgiev--half a point behind and 105 Elo points ahead. It may be a very exciting game or a safe draw and possible play-off, in any case a tension-filled finale befitting the New York Open.

Mark Berkovich drew with GM Raj Tischbierek (GER). A win tomorrow in round 9 will give him a GM norm. He continues to hold his own in the U2400 also. IM Luis Comas (ESP) has already clinched his first GM norm by drawing GM Suat Atalik (TUR) and Karen Asrian of Armenia gets another GM norm (his fourth) with a draw over GM Onischuk (UKR).

Statistics: Total players for all sections in the tournament was 804. 146 titled players participated including 64 grandmasters, 40 international masters, 42 FIDE masters and 1 WGM. 42 Federations were represented in the International Open section alone, this certainly being a new record. A large contingent came from Spain, a group from Romania included the youngest player, 10-year-old Traian Tasu. They have been treated to some erratic New York spring weather. Yesterday was a balmy, sun-filled day fit for strolling in parks and window-shopping. Today, the first official day of Spring, is cold with a biting, bone-chilling wind. Ah well, it can only get better at this point.

Round 9 A starting time of 9 a.m. is a daunting prospect for most chess players since the majority seem to prefer being nocturnal animals. A round at 9 a.m. accompanied by a blizzard is something else again. At 6:45 in the morning there was a clap of thunder but no rain only a curtain of white. It was quite a surprise to be greeted by the first snow storm of the year especially since it didn't come until Spring. The games began in the playing hall with only about half the players present but they soon arrived in a steady trickle with finally only a couple delinquents remaining and one who was convinced the round began at 10.

And Minasian wins again!! That makes six in a row for a superb performance rating of 2837. It was, in fact, a sweep by Armenia. Smbat Lputian took clear second with 7 1/2 and Vladimir Akopian shared third with Vladimir Epishian (no, that's Epishin--don't know how he got in there) with 7 points. Artashes worked into the fifth hour to collect the full point. A very impressive result.

Unrated George Sikharulidze, of Georgia, gained an IM norm with a defeat of IM Lugo Blas. The saga of Mark Berkovich ended with a loss to GM Pavel Blatny after close to six hours which cost him his norm. IM norms in the U2400 International section were earned by Yurij Lapshun (USA), Jorge Clavijo (COL), Emory Tate (USA) and Ilye Figler (USA).

Americans didn't have a particularly good showing in the Open, Alex Shabalov and Sergey Kudrin being the only prizewinners. Of course, they have the excuse that Larry Christiansen and Nick deFirmian were busy winning the Reykjavik Open and couldn't play here. While they were in Iceland, though, Larry's wife, Natasha, was visiting NY. She and Eric Schiller celebrated their respective birthdays at a party at Joel Benjamin's place on Saturday night.

IM Mark Ginsburg played in the U2400. We don't see much of him at major tournaments anymore since he is just too busy with work, the twins and a new baby. He will be starting a new job at the University in Hong Kong beginning in August so he'll be lost to the NY scene for the next couple of years.

So the New York Open packs up for another year. Several of the GMs and other visiting players will head to Las Vegas next week for the show there, the National Open. Hopefully they won't leave their newly won money in the Nevada slot machines. It's been said, though, that the casino managers don't appreciate the chess players' business so much. During the weekend of the National the Riviera Hotel and Casino supposedly loses money at the blackjack tables.