Berkeley Norm Hunt
December 22, 2008
Iryna Zenyuk needs .5/2 for a WGM norm, and a draw today against Kacheishvili will likely earn her an IM norm. Photo IM Irina Krush

Although GM Giorgi Kacheishivili leads the 2008 Berkeley International, WIM Iryna Zenyuk leads the norm hunt, needing just .5/2 for a WGM norm and 1/2 for an IM norm.  Watch the games live today on the Internet Chess Club, at 2 PM EST, 5 PM Local Pacific Time. (Finger EastBay08) The race for first is strange, because GM Kacheishvili has played an incredible 6 of the 7 players most closely following him, and so should theoretically have the easier pairings in the next two rounds. That being said Krush, Izoria and even Friedel have a chance to catch up. 12/23 Update: Zenyuk, Rensch and Esserman earned IM Norms+ a WGM norm for Zenyuk. Look for full story after Christmas.

Daniel Rensch has already clinched his IM Norm, based largely on his early tournament wins over Pruess and Bhat.

David Pruess called round six the round of defense prevailing, including his own game against Esserman, who needs half a point against Haessel to earn an IM norm.

In round six, Kacheishvili also scored a great win over Sharavdorj to move into sole first.

Irina Krush, currently tied for second with Izoria, needs 2/2 for a GM norm. Her 7th round win over Milman propelled her to the top of the charts:

Annotations by Pruess

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Be3 Be6 9.Nd5 Nxd5 10.exd5 Bf5 11.0–0 0–0 12.Qd2 a5 13.a4 Nd7 14.Bb5 Nc5 15.Nxc5 dxc5
Here Irina thought Black had achieved a comfortable, solid position. (equality)
16.f4 e4 17.Bc4 Bd6 18.Ra3 Qc7
Just as Irina was in danger of falling asleep, Lev came up with an incredible idea to bring life to the game
Position after 19.Kf2

Can you see his idea? I'm not sure I have this right, but I think he wants to bring his king to c1 and then play g4. Irina said she first thought this was crazy, but actually as the game progressed, found that White was doing fine.
19...Bd7 20.Ke1 f5 21.Kd1 Rfb8
Irina prepares the possibility of b5, although she could not have been looking forward to the trade of light-squared bishops
 22.Qe2 Qd8 23.b3 Qe8 24.Bd2
 it's going to take white a while to attack-- Bc3, K-c1–b2, Ra1, h3, but at this point Irina thought that White was doing ok and that in particular the bishop redeployment on c3 was very strong, so she'd rather start to open the game now than wait.
24...b5 25.axb5 Bxb5 26.Kc1
I thought I heard an alternative mentioned for White: 26.Bxb5 Rxb5 27.Qc4 immediately putting the queen on a good square, and it looks like Black is a little awkward on the queenside.
27...Rb7 28.Kc1 Qh5
This seems to transpose to the game to me. If Black played Rbb8, I thought Rb7 might be a slight improvement.
26...Bxc4 27.Qxc4 Qh5 28.h3 Qh4 and White's king is a little more exposed than Black's, and the e4 pawn is pretty strong.
The more defensive 29.Be1 was probably to be preferred.
29...Qg3 30.Qe2 Rxa5 31.Bxa5 Bxf4+
Suddenly White's king is a big issue in lines like Kd1 Ra8 and Kb1 Rxb3!
Position after 32.Bd2

Irina is confident in her ability to win these positions with the strong e4 pawn and queen. (She had the same theme against Shivaji in round 2). However, there was another possibility here, which she would have been delighted to find: 32...Qc3!! 33.Bxf4 Ra8 34.Kd1 Ra1+ 35.Bc1 e3! and White must shed a lot of material to avoid the mating threat of Rxc1.
33.Kxd2 Qe5 34.Qc4 Rd8 35.Ke2 g6 36.Qxc5?
White definitely should preserve the passed pawn and keep the d file closed with 36.Rd1
 36...Rxd5 37.Qc4 Kg7 38.b4
Next Lev would like to play Rd1, trading the rooks. Irina avoids this.
 38...Rd7 39.Rd1 Rc7 40.Qb3 Rc3 41.Qa4 f4 42.Qd7+ Kh6 43.Rd5
As Black it would be easy to get excited here and bang out a check, expecting the position to be mate. However, Irina took her time here and was very careful to find a forced win.
43...Rxc2+ 44.Kd1 Qb2 45.Rh5+ gxh5
45...Kxh5 46.Qg4+ Kh6 47.Qh4+ Kg7 48.Qe7+ is a draw by perpetual. Watch out!
 46.Qd6+ Kg5 47.Qd8+ Kg6 48.Qd6+
also after 48.Qg8+ Kf6 49.Qf8+ Ke6 50.Qe8+ Kd5 the black king will escape.
48...Qf6 49.Qxf6+ Kxf6 50.Kxc2 h4
In a position with w: kd3 b: pe3 f4, Irina is avoiding the possibility of h4 and then g3, breaking up her pawns and drawing 0–1
Final position after 50...h4

In round eight, Iryna Zenyuk continued her surge, winning a great game (to be annotated in the final report) against FM Naroditsky:

Vinay Bhat also played a nice round 8 game:

Annotations by Pruess

1.d4 g6 2.c4?!
Vinay's only move this game, which I would have to question.
2...Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4 a6?!
This move seems to be of dubious value at this point.
5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2 Nc6 7.Be3 e5 8.d5 Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Nd4 10.Bxd4 exd4 11.Ne2 c5 12.dxc6

 I believe White is forced to enter these complications, because otherwise, Black will just have a good position, with a strong d pawn, and decent Bg7. Also White's Bf3 won't be amazing in the locked position.
12...bxc6 13.Nxd4 Qa5+
13...Qb6 is another try to get the pawn back, but again, white makes things complicated with 14.e5 and I don't have time to figure out what would happen
14.Kf1 Qc5 15.e5!
The basis of white's play: he too sacs a pawn to open his blocked bishop. The rest of the game is tactics!
15...Rc8 16.Nxc6 Rxc6 17.Bxc6+
NOT the pinning-and-winning move 17.Qa4 because of 17...Qxc4+–+

Position after 17...Qxc6

Watching the game I couldn't tell which way White would capture on d6, and both seem promising to me.
 18...Qxc4+ 19.Kg1 Bxb2
19...Nf6 is my instinct for Black, trying to castle rather than recover the pawns. however, White has the strong move 20.Rc1! And I see no way for Black to get castled successfully. 20...Qe6 (20...Qxa2 21.Qe2+ Qe6 22.Qxe6+ fxe6 23.Rc8+ Kf7 24.Rc7+ Kf8 25.d7+-) 21.Qa4+±
20.Rb1 Bd4
The bishop tries to block white's action on the d file, but tactically, Bhat manages to break down that defense.
21.Rc1 Qb4
Position after 21...Qb4

22.a3! Qb2
22...Qxd6 23.Qa4+ (not 23.Rc4 Bc5) 23...Kf8 (23...Qd7 24.Qxd7+ Kxd7 25.Rd1+-) 24.Rd1+-]
23.d7+ Kd8
 Bela sees what is in store if he takes the d-pawn, so Vinay has to apply some more coercion to convince him to take it
24.Rc8+ Kxd7 25.Rc2
25.Rc4?? is another failed pin-and-win 25...Qxf2#
25...Qa1 26.Rd2+-
White picks up the bishop and the game is over 1–0

In round 8, Kacheishvili won again, to regain the 1/2 point lead on the field:

Look for more news and analysis in the final report, including annotations of Zenyuk-Naroditsky, Bhat-Friedel and Krush-Esserman in the final report. In round nine look out for the following matches:

Zenyuk - Kacheishvili: half a point from Zenyuk might get her an IM norm!
Krush - Friedel : two top young Americans fight for first place in the tournament.
Izoria - Sharavdorj: the Georgian needs to win to maintain his chances at first place.
Esserman - Haessel: Marc needs half a point to make an IM norm.

Watch the norm hunt live on the Internet Chess Club, at 2 PM EST, 5 PM Local Pacific Time. (Finger EastBay08) Tomorrow's games begin at 1 PM EST, and will be followed by a blitz event. For more games, check out CLO's previous report, GMs and Gems in Berkeley.

East Bay Masters

Standings after round eight:

1. 6 / 8  GM Giorgi Kacheishivili

2-3.  5.5 / 8  GM Zviad Izoria, IM Irina Krush
4.  5 / 8  GM Josh Friedel
5-7. 4.5 / 8  GM Dashzegve Sharavdorj, FM Daniel Rensch, WIM Iryna Zenyuk
8-11. 4 / 8  GM Vinay Bhat, IM Lev Milman, IM Justin Sarkar, FM Marc Esserman
12-14. 3.5 / 8  GM Jesse Kraai, IM David Pruess, FM Daniel Naroditsky
15-16. 3 / 8  IM Sandor Kustar, FM Dale Haessel
17. 2.5 / 8  FM Bela Evans