Four for the Money at Pittsburgh Open
By Boyd Reed   
March 5, 2013
146 players came to the 2013 Pittsburgh Open, held March 1-3 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree, Pennsylvania. Players went through a lot just to get to their boards: freezing temperatures, intermittent snow and snarled traffic on several highways leading to the site.

No matter how cold the weather is outside, though, the Pittsburgh Open is known for delivering its share of hot surprises in its final results.  Two years ago, NM Kevin Cao tied for first with GMs Alexander Shabalov and Alexander Ivanov.  This year, three grandmasters - hometown hero Shabalov, GM Alex Yermolinsky, and a surprise in Turkish GM Suat Atalik, in the US prior to his Russian League season - came to town intending to bag some bucks.
GMs Shabalov, Yermolinsky & Atalik

However, the grandmasters didn't exactly have it all their own way.  IM Chiel van Oosterom, a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, held GM Atalik to a draw in round 2.  This set up a third round matchup on Board 1 between Shabalov and FM Thomas Bartell.  These same players clashed in last year's Pittsburgh Open - and, like last year, Shabalov won to move to 3-0.  He was joined on 3 points by NM Kristopher Meekins of Ohio, who announced his presence by knocking out two-time US champion Yermolinsky.

Going into Sunday's fourth round, Meekins, also the 2010 National High School Champ was paired on board 1 against Shabalov. Meanwhile the first all-GM game of the tournament featured Atalik as white against Yermolinsky on board 2.  Meekins managed to draw against the four-time US champion as they both retained their lead.  Yermolinsky was in a tough spot - he had to play the Black pieces, and was a half point behind Atalik, who himself trailed the leaders by a half point.  No GM draws in this round!  Atalik beat Yermolinsky to put himself in the lead pack.

In the last round, Shabalov and Atalik drew quickly on board 1 to reach 4 points.  On board two, van Oosterom had white and 3 points against Meekins's 3.5 points.  Meekins, seeded 10th at the start of the event, held the draw against van Oosterom and punched his ticket to the winners' circle. 


This left NM Safal Bora to try and win against Cleveland veteran NM Pappu Murthy on board 3.  The last piece of the Pittsburgh Open puzzle dropped into place when Murthy resigned.

Shabalov, Meekins, Atalik and Bora tied for first overall.  They each won $664.25.  Shabalov played by far the toughest schedule (he played against all of the other 4-pointers), so he collected the $86 winner's bonus.
IM Chiel van Oosterom and former National High School champ Kristopher Meekins.

In the Under 2100 section, John Ahlborg recorded the only 5-0 score in the entire tournament.  In the Under 1800 section, Mark Milkovich swept his first four games, then shook hands quickly  in round 5 to lock up that first prize.  In the Under 1500 section, Tony Qin won his last-round game to take undivided first place.  Finally,Pradeepraj Thiyagarajan and Michael Mount used their 4.5-0.5 scores to split top prize in the Under 1200 section.

Players enjoyed the quality atmosphere of the hotel (even with its eight-figure renovation project underway - perhaps the free signature DoubleTree cookies helped!).  The tournament generally ran on time, and there were no major issues. 

The Continental Chess Association sponsored the tournament.  Andrew Rea and Boyd Reed were the tournament directors.  Lary Rust and The House of Chess provided the chess concession.  CCA looks forward to next year's Pittsburgh Open.

A complete list of prize winners is below. Also, please enjoy Atalik's win over Yermolinsky with variations by Atalik.


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 h6 7.Be3 e5 8.d5 Na6 9.Qd2 Nc5 10.f3 Nh5 11.g3
11.Bd1 f5 12.Bc2; 11.0-0-0 Kh7 12.g3
11...Kh7 12.0-0-0 a5 13.Re1
13.f4 Nf6 14.Bxc5 dxc5 15.Nf3
13...c6!N 14.Bd1!?
14.f4 Nf6 15.Bxc5 dxc5 16.Nf3 Nd7 (16...exf4 17.gxf4) 17.h4‚; 14.Rd1!? Ra6!? Yermo
14...cxd5 15.exd5 Bd7
15...b6 16.Nge2 Ba6 17.g4 Nf4 (17...Nf6 18.g5 hxg5 19.Bxg5 Bxc4 20.Bc2 b5 21.h4 b4 22.h5!!‚) 18.Nxf4 exf4 19.Bd4 Bxc4 20.Bc2 (20.Bxg7 Nd3+ 21.Kb1 Kxg7) 20...b5 21.h4 b4 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 23.Qd4+ Kg8 24.h5!!
16.Bxc5 dxc5 17.f4 exf4 18.Bxh5 gxh5 19.gxf4 (19.Qd3+?! Kh8 20.Nge2 (20.gxf4?! Qf6) ) 19...Bf5 20.Nf3
 16...a4 17.Nge2 Qa5?
17...Qb6 Yermo 18.g4 Nf4 19.Nxf4 exf4 20.Bxf4 Qb4 (20...a3 21.b3 Qb4 22.Ne4) 21.a3 Qxc4 22.Bxd6 Rfe8
18.g4 Nf4 19.Nxf4 exf4 20.Bd4! b5 21.Bxg7
21.h4 a3 (21...b4 22.h5 (22.Ne4 Nxe4 23.Rxe4 b3) 22...bxc3 23.bxc3 Nb3+ 24.axb3 axb3 25.hxg6+ Kg8 26.Bxb3 Qa3+ 27.Qb2 Rfb8 28.gxf7+ Kxf7 29.Qxa3 Rxa3 30.Bc2 Bxd4 31.cxd4 Rb4 32.Rxh6 Ba4!) ; 21.Re7 bxc4! ...22.Bxc5? Qxc5 23.Rxd7 a3-+; 21.Bxg6+ Kxg6!! (21...fxg6? 22.Re7 Rg8 23.Bxc5 dxc5 24.Rxd7±) 22.Qc2+ f5 23.gxf5+ Bxf5 24.Qg2+ Kh5 25.Qxg7 Nd3+
21...Kxg7 22.Qd4+ Kg8 23.cxb5
23.g5!? h5 24.Bxg6 a3 25.Re7 ; 23.h4 bxc4 24.h5 Qb6 25.Kb1 Rfb8 26.Nd1 Nd3
23...Bxb5 24.Re7 Rae8 25.Rhe1
25.Rxe8?! Rxe8 26.h4 Re3 27.h5 g5
25...Rxe7 26.Rxe7 Qd8 27.Re1
27.Qf6 Bd3 28.h4 Bxc2 29.Kxc2

27...Qh4? 28.Rd1+-
28.Kb1 Rb8 29.Ne4 Nd7! (29...Nxe4? 30.Rxe4 (30.Qxb6 Nd2+!) ) ; 28.Qb4 Rb8 29.Qxb5 Qxb5 30.Nxb5 Rxb5 31.Re8+ Kg7 32.Rd8 Rb6 33.Rc8 Kf6 34.Rc6 Rb8 35.Rxd6+ Ke5
28...Rb8 29.h4??
29.Ne4 Be2 30.Nf6+ Kf8 31.Rd2 Bxf3=; 29.Qb4 Na6 30.Qd4 Nc5=
29...Bd3! 30.Rxd3 Qxb2+ 31.Kd2 Rb4 32.Qf6 Nb3+!-+; 29...Bc4!? Yermo 30.Nxa4 (30.Qxc4? Qxb2+ 31.Kd2 Rb4-+) 30...Nxa4 31.Bxa4 Qb4 32.Bc2 Be2 33.a3 Qb7
30.Ne4 Nxe4 31.Bxe4 (31.Qxb6 Rxb6 32.Bxe4 Rb4) 31...Qa6!
30...Qa5 31.h5 g5 32.Qf6 Qb4 33.a3 Qb6 

34.Nxf4! gxf4 35.g5 Qxb2+?!
35...hxg5 36.h6 Qxb2+ 37.Qxb2 Rxb2 38.Kxb2 f5 39.Rh1+-
 36.Qxb2 Rxb2 37.Kxb2 hxg5 38.Rg1!+- f6 39.h6 Bb5 40.Kc3 Kh8 41.Rb1 Nb3 42.Bxb3
42.Bf5!?; 42.Re1!?
42...axb3 43.Rxb3 Be2 44.Kd2
44...Bc4 45.Rb6 Bxd5 46.Rxd6 Bxf3 47.Rxf6


2013 Pittsburgh Open - March 1-3, 2013
Prize Winners
OPEN - 1st-3rd: GM Alexander Shabalov (1st on tiebreaks), NM Kristopher Meekins, GM Suat Atalik, NM Safal Bora, 4 (last two also 1st U2300). 4th: IM Chiel van Oosterom, 3.5.  2nd U2300: Daniel Malkiel, Edward Dean, 3.
U2100 - 1st: John Ahlborg, 5. 2nd: Charlie Leach, 4.  3rd-7th: Michael Opaska, Maggie Feng, Roman Cano, Azzama Bochenkova, Theodore Mercer, 3.5 (last five also 1st-2nd U1900).
U1800 - 1st: Mark Milkovich, 4.5.  2nd-4th: James Tyler, Larry Sosna, Jason Lee, 4.  1st-3rd U1600: Mike Holsinger, Tim Zagurskie, Monish Yeluguri, 3.
U1500 - 1st: Tony Qin, 4.5. 2nd-3rd: Paul Terwilliger, Kentaro Miura, 4. 4th-5th: Premanand Alathursrinivasan, Andrew Orr, 3.5 1st U1300: Brian Suganraj, 4. 2nd U1300: Ved Sampath, Griffin McVay, Satyanarayana Yeluguri, 2.5.
 U1200 - 1st-2nd: Michael Mount, Pradeepraj Thiyagarajan, 4.5. 3rd: Grace Mitro, 4. Top U1000: Aaron Gray, 4.  Top U800: Alexander Reed, 2.5.  Top U600: Wenjia Wang, 2.  Top Unrated:  Davis Evans, 4.

Complete tournament standings and prize amounts are at  Pictures from the event are at