New England Masters Preview
By Chris Bird   
August 8, 2008
GM Leonid Kritz, Photo Betsy Dynako
The New England Masters will be held from August 11-15 at the Blackstone Chess Academy (To Kalon Club), 26 Main Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  It will form part of the Blackstone Chess Festival along with a weekend tournament, the Blackstone Chess Festival Open, which will take place from August 16-17. 

44 players from 10 different nations, including 4 GMs, 9 IMs, 11 FMs and 1 WFM, will battle it out over 9 rounds for a chance to win some of the $3,300 prize fund as well as, probably more importantly to most of them, getting a shot at scoring a GM or IM norm. 

The top seed in the tournament is GM Leonid Kritz from Germany, rated FIDE 2610, who was the winner of the Las Vegas Masters in 2006 along with last year's New England Masters.  Other top players include GM Sergey Erenburg, GM Timur Gareev, GM Keith Arkell and GM-Elect Josh Friedel. 

The US Chess League is well represented with Boston Blitz All-Stars Jorge Sammour-Hasbun and Denys Shmelov providing the home crowd someone to cheer for along with IM Eli Vovsha and Parker Zhao from Queens, IM Jacek Stopa from Dallas, IM Dean Ippolito from New Jersey, IM Justin Sarkar and Evan Rosenberg from New York and the previously mentioned GM Sergey Erenburg from Baltimore and GM-Elect Josh Friedel from San Francisco. 

There is also a small grouping of New England State Champions with Denys Shmelov, Massachusetts State Champion, being joined by FM Braden Bournival, New Hampshire State Champion, and Miro Reverby, Rhode Island State Champion. 

This year's event also sees the arrival of various younger competitors with the youngest being Luke Harmon from Idaho, the top rated 9 year old in the country.  He will be joined by various talented teenagers from across the country along with a strong contingent of rapidly improving Canadian youngsters. 

The opening ceremony will take place at 4:00 pm on Monday, August 11, with round 1 beginning at 6:00 pm.  On site there will be live play by play coverage on the first floor of the club with Master commentary provided for spectators.  There will also be a live coverage of most of the games on the internet at

On the weekend following the New England Masters there will be a weekend tournament, the Blackstone Chess Festival Open, a 4 round Swiss which will be held from August 16-17. 

This event will be in two sections, an Open that will be FIDE rated and offers 50 Grand Prix points (limited to players rated over 1600) and an Under 1900 section.  Class prizes and youth prizes are offered in each section and the tournament has a projected prize fund of $4,000. 

The Blackstone Chess Festival Open will be held at the Comfort Inn, 2 George Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  More details on the tournament can be found at

For more information regarding the New England Masters please check out the website at