Chess Heats up in Miami!
By Jennifer Shahade and Elizabeth Vicary   
July 22, 2006
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Blas Lugo attracted major sponsors to his first event. Photo JS

IM Blas Lugo organized his first major international tournament in Miami, Florida (July 7-9) and is already planning a winter editior. Dozens of Cuban-American players live in Miami, including GM Julio Becerra and the young star of the event, Bruci Lopez, who tied for first. Others traveled from all over the country to enjoy the luxurious, well-sponsored tournament. Among them were GM Alexander Shabalov and eventual winner GM Vladimir Georgiev. Clearly, chess in Miami has a very hot future.

What bodes particularly well is that Blas found many sponsors for the event, from Alain Photography to support from Burger King to a great deal on the luxury Sofitel hotel.


Visiting participants stayed and played at the Sofitel hotel. Photo Sixto Perez

147 players in 6 sections competed for a prize fund of $10,000. FM Bruci Lopez and GM Vladimir Georgiev tied for first in the Open, and Vladimir won the blitz playoff. Two other players had notable performances: WFM Yulia Cardona, a recent immigrant from Cuba, tied for 6th after finally cracking in time pressure during a tense last round endgame battle with GM Georgiev.


GM Vladimir Georgiev and tournament sponsor Elsa Echavarria Photo Sixto Perez

Standings:

1-2. GM Vladimir Georgiev and FM Bruci Lopez 4.5/5
3-5. GMs Julio Becerra, Nikola Mitkov and Alexander Shabalov
6-9- WFM Yulia Cardona, Felix Barrios, William Moreno and Eric Rodriguez

For complete standings, go to www.miamichess.com


Our new U.S. Cadet champ, 13-year-old Marc Arnold played impressively, winning three games in convincing fashion, and losing only to GMs Mitkov and Georgiev in fighting games. Here is his game with Georgiev.



Marc Arnold held his own against the strong GM in the opening and middlegame to reach a drawn endgame-The endgame was where he faltered. Even a totally drawn position requires work to earn the half point, especially against a GM with no desire to split the point. One questionable move was 26.Kh1. Mark's idea was to meet Rb8 at some point with Ra7 and then be able to meet Rb8-b2 with Rg1. The problem with this plan is that it's not easy to maintain pressure on the a-pawn.After 26...a5 27. a3 Rd8 White can't play 28.Rc5 or 28.Ra7 because of ...Ra2! Marc was forced into passive defense, and Georgiev churned out the win.

The 21-year-old FM Bruci Lopez was the surprise of the tournament. He defeated Alexander Shabalov with Black in an action-packed game. Check it out below. Look for Shabalov's in-depth annotations of this game and others from the Miami international in the October issue of Chess Life.



Photo Gallery
Photos courtesy of Sixto Perez except where mentioned


Top seed Alexander Shabalov did not win the tournament but he dominated in snorkelling. Photo E.Vicary


WFM Yulia Cardona, a recent immigrant from Cuba had a solid performance but lost to Georgiev in the final round.  


Look for WFM Elizabeth Vicary's longer tournament report in Chess Life. She writes about the most exciting games and participants, how Blas got so many sponsors and a very strange sandbagger. Photo courtesy E.Vicary


Bruci Lopez tied for first, scoring ahead of several GMs. With a FIDE rating of 2411 and play like this, Bruci should soon earn the IM title.

Blas Lugo scheduled the final round on July 9 so that players could watch the World Cup. But he didnt except double overtime! Marcel and Alex, like most players, decided to stop their clocks and watch the penalty kicks before starting. Marcel was rooting Italy and Alex for France, but Alex won the game.


I guess red really is the new black.