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Labor Day Recap Print E-mail
By Steve Immitt, Alexey Root, Macauley Peterson and Jennifer Shahade   
September 6, 2007
Nadya Ortiz, co-winner of the NAO, with young supporters Becky Huang and Sarah Chiang. Photo Alexey Root
Many states have their championships over the labor day weekend. CLO has compiled thoughts from organizers and players at events across the country starting with Steve Immitt, who reports from the most top-heavy of Labor Day events, the New York State Championship.

New York State Championship
by Steve Immitt

GM Hikaru Nakamura recaptured the title of New York State Champion, which he originally won clear in 2004, this time edging out GMs Leonid Yudasin, Joel Benjamin, Sergey Kudrin, IM Jay Bonin and Ben Dean-Kawamura on tiebreaks, although Kudrin and Benjamin, who were out-of-state players, were not eligible for the NY title. All six players scored 4 1/2 of 6, winning $140, except for Ben, who won the $700 Under 2300 prize. GMs Alexander Ivanov and Ildar Ibragimov each scored a half-point more, 5 out of 6, to tie for First Place, winning $1,100 each, but they, too, were not NY State residents, so they were also ineligible to capture the New York State Championship title.

Hikaru showed without question why he is one of the most enterprising players around. Leading the field by a half-point, and instead of being satisfied with merely coasting into no worse than a tie for first with a "firendly" last-round game, he went all out for the win against GM Ildar Ibragimov, playing the Danish Gambit! It is not too often that chess fans are treated to a real slugfest in the last round from the tournament leader, sacrificing a piece to ruffle the opposing King, particularly in an opening which has not been trotted out too often in a "money" game-- at least in the last century or two!

Hikaru overreached in a risky attempt to win, and ultimately lost to Ibragimov, who tied for first place with Ivanov as a result.

The following victory by Nakamura with Black against GM Joel Benjamin in Round 5 gave Hikaru the lead going into the last round.

Michael Thaler scored 4-2 to win the $600 Under 2200 prize, while 5 players, Nick Panico, David Harris, Peter Michelman, Ashok Aaron, and 11-year-old Aleksandr Ostrovskiy divided up the $500 Under 2100 prize.

Ronald Loharman, proprietor of the Rochester Chess Center, who also moonlighted as the tournament bookseller, proved that he probably reads his own books, too! He and Jack Hutton tied for 1st in the Under 2000 Section, each winning $900 with 5 points. Steve Romero, Robert Campbell and Robert Rotter scored 4 1/2 points and each won $167. David Kolb, Bob Shao, Harold Stenger and Kapil Chandran shared the $1,000 Under 1800 prizes with 3 1/2 points.

Lawrence K Thomas was the tournament's other big prize winner, taking home the $1,000 first prize for scoring 5 1/2 points in the Under 1600 Section. Arthur Alowitz and Jeremy Ascherman finished with 5 points and each won $400. Phil Thomas, Ethan Segall and James P Williams finished with 4 1/2 points and $67. Joseph Kruppenbacher, Walter Snyder, and 7-year-old William Graif shared the $750 in Under 1400 prizes with 3 1/2-2 1/2.

Jeffrey Zhou took clear first and $600 in the Under 1200 Section, while Charles Eson, Richard Shu and Nathan Xu all tied for 2nd with 4 1/2, each winning $217.

This year's 129th edition of the New York State Championship, the longest-running chess tournament in the country, was also one of the strongest ever. Over 185 players, including seven Grandmasters, participated in the 60 Grand Prix Point tournament, which offered a $12,000 guaranteed prize fund,

The final post-tournament ratings are posted at the 2007 NY State Champs page on MSA.

Oklahoma Chess Federation North American FIDE Open
by Alexey Root

"Linares, Wijk aan Zee, Stillwater" proclaimed the tournament T-shirt. From August 31st-September 3rd the 2007 USCF Chess City of the Year (Stillwater, OK) attracted 94 players from all over the U.S for the OCF North American FIDE Open. Betaneli,Vaja, Alex Chua and Nadya Ortiz each won $550 in a four-way tie for first place.

The tournament attracted players from far flung states. Michigan resident Steve Dumas preferred the NAO's 10-round format over his home state's seven-round Labor Day event. In fact, it was his eighth straight NAO. Dumas won clear first in class D, worth $300.

NM Ashish Vaja and Class "D" winner Steve Dumas

Driving 14 hours to participate were Wisconsin residents NM Alex Betaneli, NM Ashish Vaja, and Joel Kenny. Betaneli said, "This isn't the strongest Labor Day tournament, but it's certainly the longest." Betaneli defeated Robert Plunkett in the tenth round to join the winner's circle.

Vaja teaches chess at the University School of Milwaukee and at Brookfield Academy, and he plays frequently. Vaja annotates his best game, a win in round six against Michael Langer:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Be3 Qf6 6.Nb5
I have seen a few games of Langer's where his unprepared opponents were crushed out of the opening after this move, but I am not so sure it is sound. 6.c3 Nge7
6...Bxe3 7.fxe3 Qh4+
It is important that black throw this check in before moving the queen back to d8.
8.g3 Qd8 9.Qg4 g5
Black must be precise or White will gain a dangerous initiative. This move takes away f4 from the queen and defends the g-pawn. For example: 9...g6 10.Qf4 With the threat Nxc7+ 10...d6 11.Bc4
This is where White needs to search for a new move, h4 transposes to the game Langer-Onischuk. I do not think Black got an advantage in that game(of course I am no Onischuk either).
10...Ne5 11.Qh5 Nf6N
Unconvinced by the Onischuk game I looked for other moves, Nf6 seems natural and I thought black would get a small edge. Once I put the position on the computer it agreed, but thinks that black is clearly better and winning in some lines. 11...d6 12.Be2 Langer- Onischuck
12.Qd1 was the main variation in my preparation. 12...a6 (12...Nxe4??) 13.N5c3 gxh4 14.Rxh4 Rg8 15.Nd2 d6 16.Qe2 Be6 17.Qf2 Nfg4 18.Qe2 Qg5 12...Rg8 13.Nxc7+ 13...Qxc7 14.Qxf6 Ng4 15.Qf3 Qxc2 16.Qxg4 Qxb2 17.Bd3
17...Qxa1 18.0-0 Qxa2?!
White gets some play now. 18...d6 was much better.
19.Nc3 Qe6 20.Rf5 h5 21.Qe2?
21.Qxh5 Qg6 22.Qxg6 Rxg6
21...gxh4 22.Bc4 Rxg3+ 23.Kf2 Qh6
Black covers the f8 square with the queen in case of the rook invading, threatens Qg7 with a double attack, and if white is not careful this also threatens to win the queen. All of this with only one move!
d5 25.Re5+
25.Rxd5 Qf6+ 26.Ke1 Rg1+ 27.Kd2 Rg2 28.Nc7+ (28.Qxg2 Qb2+ 29.Kd3 Qxg2 30.Nc7+ Ke7 31.Nxa8 h3+) 28...Kf8 29.Nxa8 Rxe2+ 30.Kxe2 Bg4+ 31.Kd2 h3+; 25.Bxd5 Bxf5 26.Nc7+ Ke7 27.Nxa8 Bh3+; 25.exd5 Bxf5+; 25.Nc7+ Kf8 26.Nxa8 (26.Rxd5 Qf6+ 27.Rf5 (27.Ke1 Rg1+ 28.Kd2 Rg2+) 27...Bxf5+) 26...Bxf5 27.Bxd5 Bh3+; 25.Nd6+ Qxd6 It is funny in the game I analyzed all the other moves and then this came and I missed the simple Qxd6 for a few minutes, and it was a breath of fresh air when I noticed the simple reply.
25...Be6 26.Nc7+ Kf8 27.Nxd5 Rg2+ 28.Kxg2 Qg7+ 29.Kf1 Qxe5 30.Qe1 Bh3+ 31.Ke2 Qb2+ 32.Kd3 b5 33.Ba2 Rc8 34.Qh1
34.Qxh4?? Bf1#
34...Rc1 35.Qf3 Bf1+ Resigns 0-1

Vaja said, "The Berry brothers are my favorite organizers; the North American Open has a beautiful atmosphere. I also appreciate their attracting women players to chess competition."

Organizers/TDs IA Frank Berry and USCF VP Jim Berry offered free entries and free hotel rooms to FIDE-titled women. Twelve female players, including two FIDE-titled women, competed.

Also tying for first was USCF Life Master Alex Chua, who defeated top-ranked woman WIM Nadya Ortiz in round nine. Here Alex provides light notes to his victory:

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4 Grand Prix attack. 3...a6 Flexible. 4.Nf3 d5 5.d3 g6 6.exd5 exd5 7.Qe2+ White is annoying Black with this move. 7...Ne7 8.Qe5 Rg8 9.Bd2 Nbc6 10.Qe2 Bg4 11.0-0-0 White is strategically lost. 11...Nd4 12.Qf2 Bxf3 Doubling the pawns. 13.gxf3 Qd7 Stops White's Na4. 14.b3 To get to play Na4, but this move weakens the dark squares around her king. 14...Qc7 15.Be3 Bg7 16.Na4 b5 17.Nb2 0-0-0 18.c3 Ne6 19.Bd2 f5 With a bind that hurts more than taking her pawn. 20.Kb1 Nc6 21.Re1 Rge8 22.h4 Her only try for counterplay. 22...d4 23.c4 Bh6 24.h5 White is low on time. 24...Bxf4 25.Bxf4 Nxf4 26.hxg6 Rxe1+ 27.Qxe1 hxg6 28.Qg3 Re8 29.Rh4 Qa5 30.Qxf4 Re1+ 31.Kc2 Rxf1 32.Rh8+ Nd8 If now 33. Rxd8 then ...Qxd8 and there is no perpetual check for White. 0-1

Ortiz tied for first by bouncing back from her loss to Chua with a win over FM Tom Brownscombe in round 10. Nadya had a cheering squad that included other female competitors, Becky Huang, in ponytails, and 10-year-old Sarah Chiang.

Games were entered into ChessBase by participant Jake Ferguson.

Stripunsky Closes Out New Jersey Open
by Macauley Peterson

GM Alexander Stripunsky cruised to clear first place in the NJ Open scoring 5 out of 6 over Labor Day weekend. As the sole grandmaster in the event, he was the clear favorite, but still had to get by IM Dean Ippolito with black in the last round to stay ahead of the pack.

Dean Ippolito plays GM Stripunsky at the New Jersey Open

Stripunsky had not played since tying for first in the World Open two months ago, but Ippolito was fresh off a scorching performance two weeks ago in the New England Masters, during which he snagged his first GM norm.

Going for the win, Stripunsky tried a Chigorin defense, and Ippolito opted for a risky variation figuring that a draw might allow either Anatoly Volovich or Thomas Bartell on board 1 to win the tournament should their game be decisive.

Dean tells CLO he regrets his choice, 10.Nb5 rather than the safer alternatives 10. Qb3 or 10.Nxc6. [Stripunsky] knew it very well and it was a bad decision to test such a strong GM in such a risky line without doing much preparation. Dean pointed out 11. h4 as "another risky move." After 17. Kf1, Dean said, "I had seen this position after 14. Qxb7 but concentrated mainly on 17...Ne4. Stripunsky's 17...Qf4 is to the point and winning.

It was Dean's first loss in twenty six tournament games and his first loss with the white pieces in thirty-five games.

Several players finished a half point behind on 4.5 including Volovich and Bartell who drew there final round game on board 1.

In the Under 1900 section, Nikita Panesenko and Steve Ferrero tied for first, with Panesenko winning on tiebreaks. Ferrero edits Atlantic Chess News, the NJ State Chess Federation magazine, which will have detailed coverage in an upcoming issue.

Macauley Peterson will be in Mexico City for the World Chess Championship reporting for CLO and ICC Chess.FM.

Florida and More
by Jennifer Shahade

The Florida State Championship was also notable. GM Julio Becerra won clear first and the title with 5/6. Daren Dillinger, Vice President of the Chess Journalists of America, informed me of the front page article about the state championship in the Dayton Beach News Journal.


Here is Julio's victory against young expert Brian Goldstein.

There were two major Labor Day events in California. Josh Friedel won the CalChess Championships in the Bay Area. He will mention this victory in an upcoming Adventures of a Samford Winner . Meanwhile, there was a three-way tie for first in the Southern Californian Open between IMs Timothy Taylor and Enrico Sevillano and John Daniel Bryant.

Feel free to include your labor day stories in the comments section below.