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Kritz Wins New England Masters Print E-mail
By Betsy Dynako and Jennifer Shahade   
August 20, 2007
Tournament organizer Chris Bird hands over GM Leonid Kritz's first place dough. Photo Betsy Dynako
23-year-old GM Leonid Kritz of Germany won the New England Masters (August 13-17) with 7/9. Kritz was born in Moscow, but has lived in Germany for the last eleven years. He is currently studying Mathematics in university, and came to the New England Masters not only to play chess but to hang out with old friends and to practice his English: "Eugene Perelshteyn is a good friend of mine, and I also knew Chris Bird because I played in his tournament in Las Vegas last year and enjoyed it very much."

Kritz's win against David Pruess was the crucial one:

David should have tried to get f6 in...move 29 is his last chance. After 29...Nf6? 30.Nxf6 Qxf6 31.fg6 Qg6 32.Be4!, there is no reasonable way for Black to defend his position to Kritz's devastating g5-Rf6-Rh6 idea.

Leonid nearly fell to Dean Ippolito.

In the final position, Ippolito made a mistake to take a draw by perpetual with 33.Qf5. He is dominating after 33.Rd6. Black has no defense against the trio of threats: Bg6+ mating, Qf5 followed by Rd7 and Bb3.

Dean Ippolito battles Alexander Shabalov. Photo Betsy Dynako

Dean avenged this error two rounds later, with a win in a position he'd been trying to defend for many moves against Alexander Shabalov:

Position after 62.Rf3

Dean just played 62.Rf3!, leaving Shabalov with a difficult defensive task. The natural Kh4 loses to the spectacular 63. Rh3! Kxh3 64.Rg3+ Kh4 65.Nf3+. Unfortuntaely for Alex, his 62...g5 ended in the same way after 63.Rxg5 Kh4 (Kh6 Rh3#) 64.Rh3! Kxh3 65.Rg3+ Kf4 66.Nf3.

Position after 64.Rh3!

Black's best choice was to avoid the h3 check and save the queen with 62...Qd7 after which 63.f5 can now be safely met by Kh4. Looks like White should force a draw there with 64.Rf4+ Kh5 65.Rf3 etc. Instead of Rf4, White could consider 65.Nf3, threatening Rh4# but this will also probably lead to a draw.

Here is the full game:

Dean had a 2600+ result and would have made a norm if he had played more foreign players, but he was still thrilled with his result: "This is by far the best performance I've had in a nine round tournament." Five years ago, Dean founded his own chess teaching company. For the first two years, he put in 70 to 100 hour work weeks. Go to to find out more about it. Recently the company has begun to hire more teachers and Dean has managed to find more time for chess. Before the New England Masters, he studied with friends John Bick and Dave Vigorito. Other secrets to his success may be his favorite drink, Red Bull and his favorite pump-up before a game song, "When You Were Young", by the rock band The Killers. He also bench presses 300 pounds.

16-year-old James Critelli also would have made an IM norm if there were more foreigners in the event. James' mother taught him to play chess when he was five. Now he works with Ibragimov and aims to earn the GM title. Here is his quick win over Nigel Davies. This was the second GM James defeated (The first was Magesh Panchanathan, at the 2006 World Open.)

Nigel Davies (left) and James Critelli. Photos Betsy Dynako.

In the previous CLO article about the masters , there are many comments from readers about what a shame it was that despite excellent performances and organization by Chris Bird, the last minute cancellation of many foreign players destroyed chances of norms. Jason Rihel put it strongly:

I think the USCF needs to protest to FIDE about the draconian rules govenering the number of foreign players that one must play to obtain an IM or GM norm. There were a couple of IM and GM norm performances (Dean Ippolito-GM and James Critelli-IM) at the New England Masters, but they did not play enough foreign players (something like 40% is required?!)...

Clearly the rule regarding foreign players is a major reason there are so few IM and GM norm possibilities in the US.-- I would even call it geographic discrimination. Even events like the New England Masters, which are designed with norm events in mind, fall short to this over-wrought anti-colluding rule. If FIDE were to look at the specifics of the Masters, they would see there was no cheating, that honest efforts were made to obtain the foreign requirement, and that several IM and GM performances were obtained.

Local IM David Vigorito praised Chris Bird's efforts in organizing the New England Masters: "His (Chris's) intentions were to take any profits and pour them back into the event by bringing in more GM's to increase norm chances for the players. that's just the kind of guy he is. It's unfortunate that there were last-minute withdrawals, but it happens."

Here is a nice combination from the last round by IM David Vigorito. He is playing White against the young Samuel Shankland.

White to Move

Show Solution

Photo Gallery by Betsy Dynako

The event was held just 15 minutes outside of Salem, Massachussetts, famous for the 1692 Salem Witch Trials.

Dean Ippolito at the World Open, with his signature Red Bull. Photo Jennifer Shahade

David Vigorito and Elizabeth Vicary analyze at the New England Masters.

Samford fellows and friends: IMs Josh Friedel and David Pruess.

GM Nigel Davies in Salem.

Chris Bird computes the final results. Leonid Kritz, Eugene Perelshteyn and Justin Sarkar look on.

IM Justin Sarkar with photographer Betsy Dynako.

New England Masters (August 13-17)
Final Standings

1. GM Leonid Kritz- 7/9
2-3- Alexander Shabalov and Dean Ippolito- 6.5/9
4- IM Robert Hess- 6/9
5-7- IM Lev Milman, IM Joshua Friedel and FM Ray Robson- 5.5/9
8-13- GM Eugene Perelshteyn, IM Justin Sarkar, IM David Vigorito,IM Ronald Burnett, FM James Critelli and Max Enkin- 5/9
Click here for complete standings