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Copper State Wrap Up: Gareev Wins, Yermo Annotates, Lenderman Dances! Print E-mail
By FM Daniel Rensch   
June 11, 2009
Jon Haskel and the two IMs who won GM norms: Alex Lenderman and Rogelio Barcenilla,
Photo Shauna Rensch
The 2009 Copper State International, presented by Abstrax Incorporated featured a thirty-two player field, consisting of six GMs, thirteen players rated over 2400 FIDE, and some of North America's most talented juniors. Through ten rounds of play the tournament produced some breathtaking results and two GM Norms. 

The inspiration to create an elite tournament that hopes to someday establish itself as one of the most prestigious chess events in the country, came to Steven Kamp and me, Daniel Rensch (founders of American Chess Events, LLC ACE Chess) several years ago. However, the first annual (oh yes, there will be more) Copper State International would not have been possible if there wasn't one man providing support from the beginning stages back in November of 2008. At the core of  making it a reality is John Lalonde.

Many local and national sponsors deserve considerable credit for their contributions to ACE Chess in order to make this tournament a success (a full list of which can be found at our website, but John led the way. In the name of his company, Abstrax Inc. John committed just about everything a person could in order to ensure that the tournament would go off without a hitch: From significant financial donations; to making sure the players never ran out of refreshments; to shuttling players back and forth from their games, to tennis, to the hotel, and back to the tournament hall; to lining up the chairs in a "color coordinated" manner so that our OCD chess brains wouldn't explode!  

As he would tell you, or not tell you, he didn't do it for credit. Chess is a game that unites generations, genders, cultures, and lifestyles under one common ideal: to think before we act.   John is a chess parent, and like many chess parents he has seen the effect that "the Game of Kings" has had on his children and their peers. So, when we discussed the possibility of organizing a tournament of this caliber, what it could mean for the future of chess if we did it the right way, and what it would do for the local chess community, John jumped at the opportunity and never looked back.

Danny and Shauna Rensch
So what happened when we came together and didn't look back? Well, we raised $10,000.00 without non-profit status in 6 months, hosted the strongest tournament in Arizona chess history and provided the best conditions we could, " "Hands down the best chess tournament I have ever been to," said the well traveled chess player, FM Carl Boor.

  The players began arriving as early as Wednesday night (May 27th). Your host, a.k.a. "tournament butler and answer-all-questions-even-at-midnight man" traveled back and forth from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and the hotel roughly 20 times before the first move was made on Friday morning (May 29th). As the players began their race to the finish, some seeking Norms and others seeking perfection, it was clear that this would be a hard fought tournament.

GM Timur Gareev giving a simul at the Copper State International, Photo Shauna Rensch
Leading the way from pretty much start to finish was GM Timur Gareev. He finished with an eight out of ten score, and suffered no losses. In fact, as hard as it was to award the first place winner every prize we had, in the end integrity won over, and our committee awarded GM Gareev both the Brilliancy Prize (for his round five combination against GM Giorgi Kacheishvili) and the Best Game Prize (for his rook sacrifice and brilliant technique in the final round game against Norm seeking IM Daniel Fernandez). Here they both are, with annotations by GM Alex Yermolinsky.

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c6 3.c4 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6
There is hardly a top player left who hasn't tried this line. Among the all-time champions I'll mention Kamsky and Shirov.
Closing the center is one of the more attractive options, along with 5.a4 and 5.e3.
Probably the most solid move. 5...Nbd7 6.Bf4 Nh5 is worth mentioning if only because Kasparov himself played it.; until recently Gata Kamsky's choice had always been 5...g6.
This is current fashion.The list of players who tried it includes Anand, Carlsen, Sasikiran and our own Varuzhan Akobian. 6.Bf4 Nbd7 7.e3 e6 (7...Nh5!?) 8.Nd2 Be7 9.Be2 Bg6 10.b4 was Kramnik-Topalov, Dortmund 1999 and about a thousand more games.
A very interesting concept by Timur Gareev instead of the usual 6...Bg6.
7.Bf4 Nbd7 8.h3 g6 9.e3 Bg7 10.Bd3 0-0
A profound move, perhaps too deep to be playable in a practical game. Likely Giorgi was trying to sidestep 11.0-0 Nh5 12.Bh2 f5 which is analogous to what Kamsky did in similar positions.
Black doesn't hesitate with his thematic counterplay.
In retrospect, safer was 12.cxb6 Qxb6 13.Qb3 but Black hardly has any problems after 13...Rfc8 14.Nf3 c5 as White's 11th move looks like a waste of time.
12...bxc5 13.bxc5 Ne4!
Way to open your light squared bishop, Timur!

Anyone for 14.Bxe4 dxe4 15.Nxe4 Bd5 16.Nc3 Qa5 17.Qd2 Nxc5 18.0-0 ? I don't think so. Possibly White can survive this, but it's surely no fun to play.
14...dxe4 15.Bxe4
Here comes another sleeping giant, the bishop on g7!
Giorgi goes down swinging. Better was 16.Bc2 Bd5 17.0-0 (17.dxc5 Bc4!) 17...Ne4 18.Nf3 c5 and while Black has a typical Gruenfeld initiative, White isn't dead yet.
 16...Qa5+ 17.Ke2 Rad8 18.Qc2
In case of 18.Bd3 the simple reply 18...Qb4 creates a double threat of Qb2+ and Qxh4.
 18...Qb5+ 19.Kf3
Of course, 19.Bd3 Rxd3 20.Rab1 Rc3+ is hopeless.
The white bishop is trapped and the game is over.
If only the king and the bishop could trade places...
20...fxe4 21.Qxe4 Bd5 22.Qc2 Qb4 23.f4 g5 0-1

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.e4 d6 6.Bb5+ Nfd7
More usual is 6...Bd7 to play ..Bg4 later on.
7.a4 Na6 8.0-0 Nc7 9.Be2
A cautious retreat. After the regular 9.Re1 Black is unlikely to take on b5, so the bishop could later retreat to f1 in one move.
 9...0-0 10.Re1 Rb8 11.Bf4 a6 12.Bf1 b5 13.axb5 axb5 14.Qd2 Nb6?!
Despite his gains on the queenside Black is advised to keep another defender near his king, especially since his Bg7 is about to be traded. I'd prefer 14...b4 15.Nd1 Nf6 16.h3 Bb7 and if 17.Bh6 then strike in the center with 17...e6!
Timur Gareev refused to get distracted by the hanging pawn on b5.
 15...b4 16.Nd1 Bg4 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Qf4 Bxf3 19.Qxf3 Qd7?!
Now it was really the time to play 19...e6 20.dxe6 (20.Ne3 exd5 21.exd5 Qg5 is good for Black because of the weakness of the d5-pawn.) 20...Nxe6 21.Ne3 Qg5 22.Ra6 Rfd8 and Black is only slightly worse.
20.Ne3 Ra8 21.h4 h5 22.Qg3 Kh7 23.Qg5 e6 24.Rad1 e5
Daniel must have thought he had finally stabilized his position, but then came a bolt from the blue.
It would be easy to play this move if White only wanted a draw.
We'll leave superhuman moves such as 25...Kg8!? to Gata Kamsky to play in his games. Besides, in this particular situation it's hard to find a good answer to 26.Be2.
26.Qxh5+ Kg7 27.Qg5+ Kh7 28.Qh5+ Kg7 29.exf5
Wow. Timur says no draw today.
I'm left in the dark about what Timur planned in reply to the natural 29...f6 Possibly, simply 30.Re3 Rf7 31.c4 playing on the strength of his h-pawn while the black knights are restricted. Amazingly brave concept.
Once again, Gareev spurns a draw which could be achieved by 30.f4 exf4 31.Qg5+.
Daniel mistakenly thought he had the game given to him. [30...Kh7 might at the end have forced Timur to take a draw.
 31.Qh6+ Ke8
How about that?
32...Kd8 33.Qf6+ Kc8 34.Re7 Nbxd5 35.Rxd7 Nxf6 36.Rxf7 Nce8 has to be better for White.
 33.Qxb6 Rg4
Extra rook and all that, but Black is actually in trouble. No relief was provided by 33...Rc8 34.Qxc5 and Black is pratically forced into a bad ending after 34...Nxd5 35.Qxd5 Qxd5 36.Rxd5 Rxc2 37.f6.
34.d6 Rc8 35.Qxc5 f6 36.Be2

Gareev has ice in his veins.
36...Rxh4 37.g3 Rh7 38.dxc7 Qxc7 39.Bb5+ Kf7 40.Qxb4 Kg8 41.Qe4 Rb8 42.Bc4+ Kh8
With three pawns for the exchange White is surely winning, but on his next move Timur blundered a pawn.
43.Qg4? Qb7

Attacks the mate on h1 and the b2 pawn.
 44.Bd5 Qxb2 45.Bb3
45.Qg6 e4 46.Bxe4? Rg8 traps the white queen.
 45...Qc3 46.Qe4
White is still somewhat better, and in the course on the next ten moves, which might have been played on the 30-second increment alone, he manages to win the game all over again.
46...Rc8 47.Kg2 Qc5 48.Be6 Rb8 49.c4 Qc7 50.Ra1 Rd8 51.Ra8 Rh5 52.Qf3 Rg5 53.Ra1 Rd4 54.Bd5 e4 55.Bxe4
55.Qc3 Qc5 56.Qb2 was more convincing.
 55...Qxc4 56.Ra8+ Kh7 57.Ra7+ Kh6?
The final mistake. 57...Kg8 58.Bc2 Kh8 and Black is still in the game.
 58.g4 Rd3 59.Qxd3 Rxg4+ 60.Kf3 Qg8 61.Qe3+ Kh5 62.Ra1 Rf4+ 63.Ke2 Qc4+ 64.Bd3
One has to admire Gareev's will to win. 1-0

Timur did trail for short period to start the event though, and among the leaders through the front five rounds were IM Alex Lenderman and IM and now GM-elect Rogelio Barcenilla. Both players started fast and furious, and with a little luck along the way (remember the time control next time, Zviad!), they both earned GM Norms. For young Lenderman, it was his first, and for Arizona native Barcenilla, it was his last! 

Alex called the following game, against his fellow GM-norm earner, the most exciting of his victories:

Alex was so excited about his great start  (5.5/6!) that he made the bold promise to perform his legendary "Lenderman Boogie" if he did indeed earn his Norm. Well earn his Norm he did, and after the closing ceremony speech of thanks from yours truly, and a message about integrity "and holding true to your word" from John Lalonde, Alex made good on his promise. No more words are needed for what happened next, just watch the video...

Here is Barcenilla's win over Altounian, annotated by Yermolinsky.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5
This old line, known as the Fried Liver Attack, is making an unexpected comeback these days. I faced it against David Pruess in 2007, and there was a recent Nakamura-Friedel U.S. Championship game. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, modern computer analysis can re-evaluate some positions from the defensive point of view. On the other hand, it's hard to believe that generations of chess players were wrong in their assessment of resulting positions as good for Black
 4...d5 5.exd5 Nd4
5...Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 and the old move 8.Be2 is being superseded by(8.Qf3 Pruess; or 8.Bd3 Nakamura.)
6.c3 b5 7.Bd3!?
Shadows of Hikaru... 7.Bf1 Nxd5 transposes to well-known theoretical lines, such as 8.Ne4 Ne6 9.Bxb5+ Bd7 10.Bxd7+ Qxd7; Another chapter is 7.cxd4 bxc4 and now either 8.Qa4+ (or 8.dxe5 Qxd5 9.exf6 Qxg5 10.Qf3 Rb8) 8...Qd7 9.Qxc4 Qxd5 In both cases, the computer gives White a big plus for whatever that's worth.
The alternative 7...Bf5 was seen in Morozevich-Timman, 1996 where after 8.Bxf5 Nxf5 9.Qf3 Nh4 (9...g6!?) 10.Qh3 Ng6? the young Alexander missed the crushing shot (better was 10...Nxd5 11.Qxh4 Be7 12.d4 Nf4 13.Bxf4 exf4 with some play for a pawn; but not 10...Qxd5 11.Qxh4 Qxg2 12.Rf1 h6 13.d3 and White keeps the extra piece.) 11.Nxf7 and instead went on to lose the game.
8.cxd4 Qxg5 9.Bxb5+ Kd8 10.Qf3 is another transposition to the 7.Bf1 theoretical line.
8...Kxf7 9.cxd4 Nf4
Should further analysis prove White's advantage in the way the game went, it might be worth looking at the crazy line 9...Nf6 10.Bxb5 exd4!? (I don't think Black has anything going after 10...Qxd4 11.Nc3 Bc5 12.Qe2 Be6 13.d3) 11.Bc4+ Kg6 12.0-0 Bd6 13.Qc2+ Bf5 14.Bd3 Qd7 and the
hyperactive black king may turn out to be a real asset in the endgame.

Barcenilla must get credit for energetic play. Weaker was 10...Rb8 11.dxe5 Nd3+ 12.Kf1 and Black cannot maintain the knight on d3 because of the exposed position of his own king (checks from b3, f3 or h5 are coming).
White was not advised to take the gift, 11.Bxa8? Nd3+ 12.Ke2 Bg4+ 13.Bf3 (13.f3 Nf4+ 14.Ke1 Nxg2+ 15.Ke2 Nf4+ 16.Ke1 Be7 bringing more pieces into the fray.) 13...Nf4+ 14.Kf1 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 Qc4+ 16.Ke1 Qxc1+ 17.Qd1 Nxg2+ 18.Ke2 Nf4+ 19.Ke1 Nd3+ 20.Ke2 Qc4 and Black's attack just doesn't seem to let up.; A more reasonable possibility, along with the text move, was 11.Nc3 Nd3+ 12.Bxd3 Qxd3 13.Qb3+ Be6 14.Qxb5 although the black bishop pair would provide ample compensation even after the queens are swapped.
 11...Bb4+ 12.Nc3 Bxc3+ 13.bxc3 Qxc3+ 14.Bd2 Nxd3+ 15.Kf1
15.Ke2 Nf4+ 16.Bxf4 exf4 17.Bxa8 Be6 clearly favors Black.
 15...Qc4 16.Qe2?
A serious mistake. White had to play 16.Qb3 to get the queens off. There are various ways for Black to proceed, but I can't see a fully satisfactory continuation.
Absolutely brilliant!
17.Bxa8 Bf5 18.Bb7
18.Bf3 e4 19.Bg4 Bxg4 20.Qxg4 Ne5+ 21.Qe2 Rxd2 wins for Black.
 18...Qd4 19.Rd1 Nb2!?
19...Nf4 20.Qe3 Qc4+ 21.Kg1 Ne2+ 22.Kf1 Nf4+ was enough for a draw, but Rogelio was after the jackpot.
 20.Qh5+ Ke6 21.Ke1??
Levon could keep on fighting after 21.Rc1 Qxd2 22.Rc6+ Rd6 23.h3
21...Nd3+ White gets mated on the next move. 0-1

The final standings saw GM Timur Gareev in first, GM Kacheishvili and IM Lenderman tie for second and third with seven and a half points each, IM-Elect Marc Esserman take first place U2500 FIDE with six points. IM Mark Ginsburg, IM Daniel Fernandez, and somehow, your intrepid reporter tied for first place U2400 FIDE with five and half points each. The young Arizona star David Adelberg took clear first U2300 FIDE with five and a half points.

Our guest annotator GM Yermolinsky ended with 7/10, including the following win over Daniel Fernandez:


1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.0-0 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.Rd1 Nbd7
The Double Fianchetto is a reliable defense against the English Opening. I have mostly faced it with White against very good players: Lev Psakhis, Jaan Ehlvest and even Garry Kasparov (Wijk aan Zee Blitz). Usually White proceeds with 10.Be3, followed by the useful moves Rac1 and b3. When Black finally castles, then comes Qh4 to prepare Bh6.
Played a bit too soon, as Black has a sharp counter.
I was suprised to learn that the famous opening expert Boris Gelfand didn't play this move against GM Pantsulaia in World Cup 2005. After 10...Rc8 11.Bh6 0-0 12.b3 a6 13.Rac1 Rc5 14.Nd5!? Bxh6 15.Qxh6 Bxd5 16.cxd5 Rxd5 17.Rxd5 Nxd5 18.Ng5 N5f6 19.Rc4 White developed a strong attack and went to win the game.
 11.Be3 Rc8 12.Nd2
A new move, but after the exchange of the light squared bishops Black can consider his opening problems solved. [After the normal 12.Rac1 Black can play 12...g5 (Also interesting is the eccentric 12...Kf8!? ) 13.Qd4 0-0 14.Qd2 (14.Qd3 Bxf3 15.exf3 Ne5 wins the c-pawn anyway.) 14...Rxc4 although he will have to weather the storm after 15.h4!
 12...Bxg2 13.Kxg2 Ne5 14.Rac1 Qd7 15.Nd5?!
This attempt to take advantage of Black's uncastled king turns out tactically flawed. [White should have been content with 15.b3 Neg4 16.Nf1 0-0 although his queen remains out of play.
15...Qb7 16.f3 is what Daniel Fernandez had in mind.
 16.Nf1 Nxd5 17.cxd5
This was a surprise for my opponent, who, I believe, only counted on 17...Bxb2 18.Rxc8+ Qxc8 19.h3 Nxe3+ 20.Nxe3 Qd7 21.Qb4 Bg7 22.Rc1 0-0 23.Rc6 with definite compensation.
Possibly, an endgame down a pawn that appears after 18.Rxc1 Bf6 19.Qh3 Bxb2 20.Rc4 Nxe3+ 21.Nxe3 Qxh3+ 22.Kxh3 Kd7 was the lesser evil, as White would retain some chances after 23.Ra4.
It was easy to miss this move. The black queen takes advantage of the virtual absence of her white adversary to wreck havoc on the board.
The ugly move 19.Rd2 protecting the e2-pawn, was more resilient, although Black's initiative would contninue to develop after 19...h5 20.b3 Qb4 21.f3 Bf6 22.Qh3 Qc5! 23.fxg4 Qxc1 etc.
 19...Qe4+ 20.Rf3 Bf6 21.Qh3 h5
White's position is painful to look at. Big material losses are inevitable.
22.Ne3 0-0 23.Kg1 Qb1 24.Qf1 Rc8 25.Bd2 Qxb2 26.Nxg4 hxg4 27.Rd3 Qxa2 28.h3 Rc2 29.Qd1 Qc4 30.hxg4 Ra2 31.Kg2 Ra1 32.Qb3 Qe4+ 33.Rf3 Qxe2 0-1

GM Alexander Yermolinsky, Photo 2006
Half the players made their way to the airport and onto Vegas, but for your host, the night had only just begun. To protect the innocent for now (although who am I kidding, the chess world is small and you could probably find out if you wanted to) I will not use names. Let me "Tarantino" this for you and put it this way: Before going to bed at 1am that night, I would spend two hours scrubbing puke with my bare hands off of my bathroom walls and floor. I spent the hour previous in the backseat of my car with my helper scrubbing up the "incident". I must say though, GM Yermolinsky (don't try and solve the mystery, he wasn't the culprit, he was my helper) was as smooth as the other side of the pillow. He calmly said (literally straight from the mouth of Harvey Keitel's "Cleaner" character in Pulp Fiction) "we need some sort of cleaning supplies, towels, gloves, fresh air spray, and everyone needs to remain calm."

In his deep Russian voice, Yermo imparts words of wisdom based on this past experiences, "Remember Danny, the final round may have been played, but the "tournament" is not over until the last of us gets on the plane, and gets the heck out of here"...Although I never thought I would be scrubbing up an "incident" in the back seat of my Honda Civic with a world class Grand Master, the tournament was finally over, and it had certainly been a success. Hopefully, all those who experienced the event left Phoenix feeling a little bit better about our future as chess Pros, Bros, and average Joes..  

The 2010 Copper State International will be held from June 4th-10th in Mesa, Arizona. For more information, feel free to contact ACE Chess President, Daniel Rensch at