Getz and Kekelidze Claim Top Honors in Maryland Open
By Jamaal Abdul-Alim   
May 2, 2011
Kek2.jpgRockville, Md. -- When GM Mikheil Kekelidze decided to accept a draw on his fifth and final game at the 51st Maryland Open over the weekend, it wasn’t because he was banking on a loss or draw by FM Shelby Getz, the only other competitor who could have possibly scored 4.5 points along with Kekelidze and thereby force him to split the top prize.

Rather, Kekelidze had a practical reason for not continuing his match against GM Sam Palatnik: Fatigue.

 “I was very tired,” Kekelidze told Chess Life Online after he drew his last game by agreement on the 12th move, lamenting that the 4.5-hour bus ride he had taken from New York to compete in the tournament had taken a toll on him.

 “I was playing against a grandmaster,” Kekelidze explained. “He was a half point down. I didn’t want to take the risk.

 “Usually, I don’t like to make short draws, but the ride was very hard. And two games every day, it was much.”
Getzlead.jpgThat decision enabled FM Getz to tie Kekelidze for first place after IM Oladapo Adu resigned to Getz upon realizing that he could not stop Getz from promoting a pawn in an end game preceded by some menacing threats that Adu made against Getz’s king on the back rank.

As a result, Kekelidze and Getz both split the $1,200 first place prize and the $600 second place prize, each taking home $900.

Although both players scored 4.5 points, only Getz gets the title of Maryland state champion because of a residency rule, a tournament official said.

The Maryland Open drew 187 competitors, smashing what organizers said was its previous attendance record of 172 last year.

The players came from several states, mostly Maryland and Virginia but some from as far away as Texas and Kentucky. The event fielded three GMs, three IMs, and one FM.

One of the biggest upsets came when Ian Schoch (2229) defeated GM Lawrence Kaufman, who attributed the loss to a “bluff” Schoch made when he offered a pawn that Kaufman says he should have taken but did not because it looked to risky.

The weekend event featured a total of $6,500 in prize money, a Sunday brunch, and  boards and pieces for all players, plus clocks for those competing in the open.

Most competitors remarked that the tournament was well-organized, although a few squabbles broke out, keeping the TDs busy during different spells. And one young player raised eyebrows by starting two games with three rooks, including one instance that was witnessed firsthand by Chess Life Online.

The young player remarked that her third rook was merely substituting as a pawn because she could only find 7 pawns, despite the abundance of boards and sets about the place. Conveniently, she had placed the rook on h7 at the start.

“Just when you thought you’ve seen everything,” one player who almost fell victim to the three-rook player’s scheme said.

On a more positive note, the tournament winners both say they enjoy teaching.

Kekelidze, a native of the country of Georgia, is currently residing in Brooklyn. When he’s not playing chess at the historic Marshall Chess Club in New York, he teaches chess at an after-school program in Manhattan.

 “I try to give my best for children,” Kekelidze said. “I know it’s very important to give some good, ah, what do you call it? Tips.”

His advice to his students?

 “If you want to make progress, you have to work every day.”

Getz said he was recently tapped by officials at Johns Hopkins University to start a chess program there for talented kids.

 “I said I’d be very interested in doing that,” Getz said, a mathematics instructor.

Getz said he uses computers to study “theoretical novelties” in chess. Asked to describe a theoretical novelty, Getz said they are “things that haven’t been seen before.”

Asked if any theoretical novelties occurred in his matches at the Maryland Open, Getz said there were several and offered this example:

1. Nf3 Nc6 2. d4 d5 3. g3 Bg4 4. Bg2 Qd7 5. h3 Bf5 6. c3 f6 7. g4 Bg6 8. Bf4 e6 9. Nbd2 Bd6 10. Bxd6 Qxd6

This has never been played before to my knowledge. Previously  seen was 10...cxd6 Obukhov,A.2436-Zemerov,V.2316  1-0 2001 Omsk, RUS.
11. Nh4 Bf7 12. e4 Nge7 13. Qe2 O-O-O 14. O-O-O Rhe8 15. Qe3 e5 16. Nhf3 Kb8

16. ... exd4 was possible with the idea after 17. Nxd4 Nxd4 18. Qxd4 Qa6 19. a3 dxe4 20. Qc5 b6 21. Qe3 Nd5 with a winning position.
17. Nb3 exd4 18. Nfxd4 Nxd4 19. Rxd4 Qa6 20. Nc5 Qc6 21. Rb4 b6 22. Na6+ Kb7 23.
Bf1 Qd6 24. Ra4 dxe4 25. Bg2 Bg6

25. ... Nd5 is strong as after 26. Bxe4 Bg6 27. Qf3 Bxe4 28. Rxe4 Rxe4 29. Qxe4 Kxa6 30. Rd1 Qc5 31. c4 Nc3 and wins
26. Nb4 Nc6 27. Nxc6 Qxc6 28. b3 Kb8 29. Re1 Rd3 30. Qxd3 exd3 31. Bxc6 Rxe1+ 32. Kd2 Re2+ 33. Kd1 Rxf2 34. Rd4 Kc8 35. h4 h5 36. b4 hxg4 37. Bd7+ Kb7 38. b5 g3 39. Bc6+ Kc8 40. Bd7+ Kd8 41. Bf5+ Ke7 42. Bxg6 g2 43. Re4+ Kd6 44. Re1 Rf1 0-1

Kekelidze recounted this game he planed against Alex Barnett entirely from memory, which he insists is not a big deal among GMs:

The event was organized by the Maryland Chess Association. Michael Regan, treasurer for the MCA and the TD of the event, said that one feature people really like about the Maryland Open is the texting of pairings---this enables players to bypass crowding around a sheet of paper posted on a bulletin board like in most tournaments.
Find the Maryland Open MSA here.