Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2012 arrow February arrow GM Kekelidze Dominates Marshall Invitational, Salakhutdinov Earns IM Norm
GM Kekelidze Dominates Marshall Invitational, Salakhutdinov Earns IM Norm Print E-mail
By Anatoly Ostrovskiy   
February 17, 2012
GM Mikeil Kekelidze from Georgia, reigning Marshall Chess Club Champion, scored an incredible 8 out of 9 and over 2700 FIDE Performance to win the Marshall Chess Club Invitational. Kekelidze is one the most active players on the US Chess stage. He also recently won the GM Norm Invitational Tournament in LA with an impressive 7/9 score.  


Three-time US Champion GM Nick de Firmian took clear second with 6.5 points, undefeated.


The sensation of the tournament was the third place finisher, Columbia University professor Ildar Salakhutdinov from Russia. The 49-year-old was rated second to last with a 2262 FIDE but scored 6 out of 10 on the way to his second IM norm. Ildar also crossed the 2300 FIDE Rating mark (FM Title) for the first time, being rated 2299 a couple of times before.

Here is one of Salakhutdinov's wins over 15-year-old Alex Ostrovskiy.


Matthew Herman, who drew both GMs in the tournament, was close to his final IM Norm and IM Title, but lost the last round game to Ostrovskiy.

Matt annotates a few of his key games, including a win over Leif Pressman, a draw versus Kekelidze and a loss to Ostrovskiy, which chased his IM norm chances.

Herman,Matthew J (2396) - Kekelidze,Mikheil (2458) [C41]
1st Marshall Invitational New York (1), 03.02.2012

GM Mikheil Kekelidze had a remarkable tournament, scoring 8/9, only yielding a quick draw against GM Nick DeFirmian and this exciting tilt in the opening round.
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.Re1 c6 8.a4 

A rare move/order. The usual choices are a7-a5 or b7-b6 (with idea a7-a6, Bc8-b7, b6-b5). Though I was familiar with ..h6, I spent a full 23 minutes pondering how best to meet black's setup.
Played with a concrete idea in mind. Black wishes to reorganize with Rf8-e8, Qd8-c7, Be7-f8, g7-g6, Bf8-g7, reaching his "ideal" setup. Concrete threats against h6 and d6 were necessary to stop it.
9...Re8 10.h3 Bf8 11.Ba3 Qc7 12.Qd2
With g6 impossible, black was forced to search for an alternative freeing plan, involving Nd7-b6 and an eventual d6-d5.
12...a5 13.Rad1 Nb6

A novelty and a good one. Previously Bc4-f1 was played (Bonafede-Borgo 2007), but this is too passive. I had to calculate the consequences of 14. ..ed4 15. Nd4 d5. Fortunately, I am in time with 16. Bf8 Kf8 17. ed5 Re1 18. Re1 Nbd5 19. Nd5 Nd5 20. Bc4! Nf6 22. Nf3 Bd7 23. Ne5 with pressure.
14...Be6 15.Ne2

This move was, in hindsight, tactically dubious but it is hard to suggest an alternative. White's plan was to redeploy with Ne2-g3, c2-c4, Ba3-b2 with a significant space advantage.
16.Bxf8 Kxf8
If 16. ..de4? 17. Bg7! Kg7 18. de5 ef3 19. ef6+! and wins
Also possible was 17. ed5 e4 18. de6 ef3 19. ef7 Re2! 20. Be2 fe2 21. Re2 Nbd5 with a small advantage for white.
17...Nxe4 18.Qf4

This move "felt" correct, but more materialistic was 18. Qe3!? cutting off the Ne4's retreat and probably ensuring a win of the pawn.

A sad necessity. If 18. ..Nc5 I intended Bd3-h7, keeping the king in the middle. After the game, Kekelidze also showed that he had intended 18. ..Nd7 but at the last moment saw 19. Be4 de4 20. Qe4 Bd5 21. Qh7 Bf3 and the shot 22. Nd4!! (intending Nd4-f5) wins for white. A similar idea refutes 18. . .Rad8: 19. Be4 de4 20. Qe4 Rd1 21. Rd1 Bd5 22. Qh7 Bf3 23. Nd4 Qe5 (or 23. .. Bd5 24. Qh8 Ke7 25. Qg7! with a raging attack) 24. Nf3!
19.Ned4 Nc5 20.Nh4 Nbd7 21.Re3
Proceeding full-speed ahead, but 21. Qg3!?, unpinning the e5 pawn deserved attention.
21...Nxd3 22.Rdxd3 f6

The decisive moment of the game. The most natural move is 23. Rg3, eyeing g7. I incorrectly rejected this due to 23. .. Ne5 (if 23. ..fe5 then 24. Rg7+! mates quickly) when either capture (h6 or f6) loses to Nd3. What we both missed was the very powerful 24. Rde3 when, despite black's extra pawn and seemingly re-coordinated pieces, he is unable to defend his king without significant material loss. Amazingly, black's best chance (according to the computer) is 22. ..g5!?
Played reluctantly with 2 minutes remaining.
23...Rxe6 24.Qg4 Nc5!?

Seemingly dubious as white has Rd3-c3, but it is not so clear with white's weak back rank. Accurate play leads to a slightly better endgame, but no more. After the game, we looked at 24. ..Rae8 25. ef6 Nf6 (25. ..Ne5!?) 26. Qe6 (or 26. Re6 Ng4 27. Re8 Kf7 28. Re1 Qh2 29. Kf1 Nf6 30. Nf3!) Re6 27. Re7 Qf4 28. g3 Qc1 29. Kg2 Qc2 30. Rf3! with a great position for white. Poor is 24. ..Nf8 25. ef6 Rf6 26. Nf5 with a strong initiative.
25.exf6?! Rxf6 26.Nf5 Rxf5 27.Qxf5 Rf8 28.Qg6 Nxd3 29.Rxd3?!

As Kekelidze said after the game, "Qd3 was an immediate draw". Now I have to play some accurate moves on increment.
29...Qf4 30.Qe6+ Kh7 31.Qe2 Rf7 32.g3 Qf5 33.Kg2 Qf6 34.Re3!

No risk remains for white with control of the e-file.
34...Qd4 35.Rd3 Qc5 36.Re3 Qd4 37.Rd3 Qf6 38.Re3 Qg6 39.Re6 Rf6 40.Re7

No draw, but black now risked losing!
41.h4! Rf5

Accompanied with a draw offer, which I accepted after a prolonged think. White is clearly better after 42. Re6! Rf6 43. h5!, but the long battle and playing the prior 18 moves on increment led me to split the point. ½-½

Herman,Matthew J (2396) - Pressman,Leif (2280) [B04]
1st Marshall Invitational New York (8), 12.02.2012
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 Bg7 7.Ng5 e6 8.Qf3 Qe7?!
Normal is 8. ..0-0.
9.Ne4 h6 10.exd6 cxd6 11.Bf4 e5
Torre-Xu Hong Shun went 11. ..d5 and white won quickly.
12.dxe5 dxe5 13.Be3!

Messy is 13. Bf7 Kf8!

In for a penny...

In for a pound!

14...fxe4 15.Qxg6+ Kd8 16.Nc3 N8d7  17.a4!
Precise! Black's pieces are given no respite.
17...Nf6 18.0-0-0+ Bd7 19.a5 Nc8
Black's position is under so much pressure that the computer suggests 19. ..Kc7/Kc8!
20.Ba4 Nd6 21.Bxd7 Qf7 22.Qxf7 Nxf7 23.Bf5+ Kc7 24.Nxe4 Nxe4 25.Rd7+

Black is lost anyway, but he probably missed 25. ..Kc6 26. Rf7 Nd6 27. Bd7! retaining the extra piece. 1-0

Ostrovskiy,Aleksandr A (2310) - Herman,Matthew J (2396) [B20]

1st Marshall Invitational New York (9), 12.02.2012

A very interesting game. Full credit must be given to FM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy for a flawless effort with the white pieces. Needing a win with the black pieces for the IM title, I came up short.
1.e4 c5 2.Ne2!?

A specialty of Paul Keres.
2...d6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.0-0 g6 6.c3 Bg7 7.d4 Qb6

7. ..cd4 8. cd4 led to a dry position with a slight advantage for white - not acceptable for a must-win game.
8.d5! Nb8 9.f4 Nbd7 10.Nd2 Qc7 11.h3 0-0 12.a4 b6 13.c4 a6 14.Nc3 Rb8 15.Re1 Nh5 16.Nf1 Bb7 17.Be3 e6 18.g4 exd5 19.cxd5 Nhf6 20.Nd2 Ba8 21.Qe2 Bb7 22.Bf2 Rfe8 23.Qd3 Nf8 24.Nc4 N6d7 25.Bg3 Bd4+ 26.Kh2 Ba8 27.Nd2 Bb7 28.Re2 
Black's first and last chance to breathe was with 28. ..g5!, sacrificing a pawn to fight back on the dark squares.
29.bxc3 b5 30.c4 bxa4 31.Nf3 Bc8 32.Rxa4 Rb4 33.Ra3 Nb6 34.Rc2 Qe7 35.e5 Nfd7

Ostrovskiy continues to find the best moves, re-routing his worst placed piece to e1.
36...Qf8 37.Re1 a5 38.e6 fxe6 39.dxe6 Nf6 40.f5 d5 41.cxd5 Nfxd5 42.fxg6 Nf4 43.gxh7+ Kg7 44.Qc3+ Kxh7 45.Ng5+ Kg6 46.Be4+ Rxe4 47.Nxe4 Nbd5 48.Qe5 Rxe6 49.Qg5+ Kh7 50.Rf2 Rg6 51.Rxf4 Nxf4 52.Qxf4 Qg7 53.Qc7 Bd7 54.Qxc5 Bxg4 55.hxg4 Rh6+ 56.Kg2 Qxg4 57.Ng5+ 1-0



Find more details on the Marshall Chess Club and the final Invitational crosstable on the official website.

See a US Chess Scoop video on the Marshall Chess Club Championship, held in October 2011.
For more on Matthew Herman, see an interview with him from last year, which earned #4 in Best of CLO honors.