|Juniors Storm Philadelphia International|
|By Andrea Rosen|
|June 25, 2010|
The Philadelphia International kicked off this morning in Valley Forge with a field of more than 50 players, many hoping for a chance to earn IM or GM norms. But for a few of the players, just getting to the playing site was their first challenge of the event.
A severe storm in Philadelphia on Thursday threw off travel plans for many, including IM Sam Shankland, who is trying for his third and final GM norm and came heartbreakingly close in Chicago last month. He was originally booked on a flight from San Francisco with a changeover in Las Vegas. When that flight was delayed more than three hours and it became clear he would miss his connection, he asked to go standby on a midnight flight direct to Philly. When he was told he might not get on, he discovered that putting some cash in an envelope and discretely slipping it to the ticket agent does wonders for your place on the standby list. But after flying all night, he arrived at his board only to discover that it wasn’t enough for him to be there---he needed his opponent as well. He was paired with GM Gildardo Garcia, who registered for the tournament months ago but ended up as a no-show. Luckily for his norm chances, he ended up paired with Timur Aliyev, who also arrived late as his flight from Israel was delayed.
I’m here from Chicago accompanying my son Eric Rosen and his friend Trevor Magness, and we were also delayed by storms on our flight out Wednesday night, but as they cleared we waited on the tarmac for two hours, we were treated to a rainbow and a pretty sunset, hopefully a good omen for the tournament.
Eric and Trevor, who both became national masters in the last year, are both here for the opportunity to play some strong competition. Eric will be the lowest rated player in the U.S. Junior Closed in St. Louis (July 9-19) , and felt this was a good chance to prepare. It turns out he may not have been the only one with that thought. Half the U.S. Junior Closed field is here. In addition to Shankland and Rosen, Darwin Yang, Conrad Holt and Steven Zierk are all playing. Zierk is fresh off an IM norm from a closed tournament at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. WIM Alisa Melekhina is the only player here who will be taking part in the U.S. Women’s Championship, also next month in St. Louis.
Eric is taking a pass on the World Open, feeling it’s too close on the heels of St. Louis. Trevor was happy to accompany us for the smaller tournament . “This is a great opportunity to play nine strong games, hopefully against higher rated competiton,” he said.
In addition to Shankland, Magness was the only other player in the first round to have a no-show opponent, but assistant TD Boyd Reed offered to step in as a house player in order to give him a pairing and a shot at a norm.
In order to help players secure norms, tournament organizer Bill Goichberg decided to use accelerated pairings to ensure players have strong early round opponents. He made that decision after Shankland just missed out on a GM norm at the Chicago Open because he had weaker opponents in the early rounds. Goichberg said he’s pleased with the field here, which includes six foreign GMs (it would have been seven had Garcia shown up), and seven foreign IMs. FIDE norm requirements call for at least 20 players from a foreign federation, half of them GMs or IMs so that no one is required to play a foreign player. At last year’s Philadelphia International, that requirement wasn’t met, and a player who tied for first missed out on a GM norm because of it. “The turnout is better than expected,” Goichberg said. He attributes that to some adjustments he made in the payout this year, lowering the overall prize fund from $10,000 to $7,000, but guaranteeing $600 to each foreign GM, and $300 to each foreign IM.
Find Philadelphia International standings on the World Open website and stay tuned to CLO for updates throughout the tournament and at the World Open next week. For more by Andrea Rosen, see her recent in-depth profile of Curtis Winter.