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Five-Way Tie at the New York International Print E-mail
By Elizabeth Vicary   
June 26, 2009
IM Lev Milman earned his third GM norm at the New York International
Five players tied for first in the New York International (June 19-23, 2009) ; Lev Milman made his third and final GM norm. GM Giorgi Kacheishvili beat IM Sam Shankland as black in the last round to catch him at 6.5/9 and (partially) derail Sam’s norm hopes. The early tournament leader, Filipino IM Oliver Barbosa, won his last game against Igor Sorkin to reach the magical 6.5 score and share $10,000, but ironically, failed to make a GM norm because he had not played enough non-U.S. Players. Zybneil Hracek and Alex Stripunsky drew each other to join the leaders. IM Lev Milman made his third and final GM norm by beating Leonid Yudasin in the last round (his sixth GM of the tournament). He now needs only to get his rating from 2480 to 2500 to be awarded the title. Immediately after his game, Lev was off to the airport to begin a two week backpacking vacation across Europe.
In the last round, IM Sam Shankland needed only to draw GM Kacheishvili with white to make his first GM norm. Happy with his position out of the opening, Sam felt that Kacheishvili’s experience with isolated queen pawn structures allowed the grandmaster to gradually outplay him into an equal endgame. Sam then played a tactic that didn’t quite work and his opponent found a “beautiful, sick win.”


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.c3 cxd4 5.cxd4 d5 6.exd5 Nf6 7.Bc4 0–0 8.Nc3 Nbd7 9.0–0 Nb6 10.Bb3 Nbxd5 11.Re1 e6 12.Bg5 Nxc3 13.bxc3 h6 14.Bh4 b6 15.Qd3 Bb7 16.Rad1 Rc8 17.c4 Qd6 18.Bg3 Qb4 19.a3 Qa5 20.Bd6 Rfd8 21.Be7 Rd7 22.Bb4 Qf5 23.Qxf5 gxf5 24.Ne5 Rdd8

Position after 24...Rdd8

25.d5 exd5 26.Nxf7 Kxf7 27.Re7+ Kg6 28.Rxb7 dxc4 29.Bc2
Sam had intended to play 29. Rxd8 here (29... Rxd8 30. Bxc4 =), but realized in time that this loses to 29...cxb3 29.Rxd8? cxb3.
 29...Rxd1+ 30.Bxd1 Bf8 31.Bxf8 Rxf8 32.Rxa7 Rd8 33.Be2 b5 34.Rc7 Ra8 35.Rc5 Rxa3 36.f3 Rb3 37.Kf2 h5
Position after 37...h5

 In the position above, White played 38. Kg3 and Black replied with the natural 38...Rb2. What simple tactic did both players miss?

Show Solution

38.Kg3 Rb2 39.Bf1 h4+ 40.Kh3 Rf2 41.Bxc4 bxc4 42.Rxc4 Nh5 43.Rxh4 Kg5 44.g3 Rxf3 45.Kg2 Ra3 46.Kg1 Ra2 47.Rb4 Nf6 48.h3 Rd2 49.Rb8 Ne4 50.Rb3 Ra2 51.Rd3 Rc2 52.Ra3 Kf6 53.Ra6+ Ke5 54.Ra5+ Nc5 55.Rb5 Kd5 56.Rb4 Nd3 57.Ra4 Ke5 58.Ra5+ Ke4 59.Ra4+ Ke5 60.Kf1 Nf2 61.Ra5+ Ke4 62.Kg2 Nd1+ 63.Kh1 Ne3 64.Ra3 Kf3 65.Rb3 Re2 0–1

GM Giorgi Kacheishvili

Despite this, Sam seemed relatively optimistic Tuesday evening: “I hope I can lick my wounds from this game and come back and win in Philly.”

Compounding the frustration of losing was the knowledge of how close he had come to the norm. Sam’s opponents’ average rating was 2434.44444; had it been 2435, he would have been able to lose the game and still make the norm. If just one of Sam’s opponent’s had been one point higher rated, he would have secured the norm even losing the last game. Happily, FIDE has indicated that they will consider counting this result if Sam achieves two more unambiguous norms. 

*As a non-US player, Barbosa needed to play three rather than four foreigners, but he got none in rounds 1-6, and then a forced pairing against Shankland in round seven ended any remaining possibility. 
GM Jesse Kraai

Interview with Jesse Kraai

Elizabeth Vicary (EV): Have you played in NYC before?
Jesse Kraai (JK): A couple times as a kid. Once I played the Cadet here; another time I came for a Mednis camp. When I was here as a kid I was always fascinated with New York as a chess city. It has such a rich, Russian-Jewish tradition of chess. 

EV: What did you think of the tournament: the site, conditions, prizes, etc?
JK: The site was fantastic, but the conditions were non-existent and the prizes were poor. I got six points, a really good result, and I still didn’t get money. 

EV: Any impressions of the other players, did anyone surprise or impress you?
JK: No one specifically. I think what you saw in this tournament is a general changing of the guard.  You have your older players who are gradually fading. Like Jaan (Ehlvest) used to beat me down all the time, badly, but maybe he’s getting a little older… possibly I’ve improved too. 

: Which was your best game?
JK: Against Sarkar. I came up with a plan that put all my coconuts en prise.  It was a strategic plan, not a tactical one, but it set some concrete problems that Sarkar was unable to solve.
It was the kind of plan you have to be insane to come up with. I’m not going to put it into the computer because I don’t want to know if it’s objectively right. I don’t usually put my games into the computer; it makes me lazy.  It was a good move in a human game, and chess is always a human game. 
EV: You and your housemates, Vinay Bhat and Josh Freidel, recently had a training session with Lev Psakhis. How did that go, what did it consist of, and can you feel any effects?
JK: We went over a bunch of positions that Psakhis had already studied deeply, positions from a variety of sources: his games, Fischer games, etc. and we were asked to address specific questions in different positions.
The thing I really took away from it was that I was trying to calculate too much, at least in certain kinds of positions. Not only did I learn that it wasn’t possible to calculate certain positions, but that it was eminently unhelpful to even try. 

EV: What do you do instead, then?
JK: You have to have confidence in your own judgment. 

Elizabeth Vicary, Irina Krush and Jesse Kraai at a restaraunt after the tournament.
EV: How’s it going in general at the “GM house”?
JK: Before, we were studying 3-6 hours a day, 5 days a week, but recently the house personnel has been fluctuating so much because people have been traveling. When we all get back from the World Open, we will have to reevaluate how to approach studying. The lease is up in November, so we will have to consider things then as well, but in general I think it’s going well and will continue. 

EV: What about you personally? What’s your five year plan?
JK: I would like to lead an intellectual life: studying chess, reading, writing. 

EV: What kinds of things would you write? Fiction?
JK: A chess book, I’m thinking a collection of essays, something similar to the lectures I do for chesslecture.com, but in written form. I have some ideas… an essay about calculation, about Kasparov’s theorem (chess is the balance of time, material, and quality of position). I’m also interested in various segments of chess culture around the world. For example, in China last year we played the Iranian team, and there was one guy I talked to a bit. I just sent him a message on Facebook!


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0–0 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 b6 7.Bg5 Bb7 8.e3 d6 9.f3 Nbd7 10.Bd3 h6 11.Bh4 e5 12.dxe5!? Nxe5 13.0–0–0 Re8 14.e4

Position after 14.e4

 Sarkar neglects the participation of Ne2 in order to pursue his central ambitions, primarily because it is unclear how black will improve his position. 14...c5! Intending Bc6 which has two ideas: to threaten Ne4 (because Bc6 would be protected) and to open the white K with b5. The move is very unnatural because it looks like d6 will now be significantly weakened.
15.Bc2 Bc6 16.f4
White must now try to complicate the position because Ne2 is met by Ne4. Sometimes, when you don't bring one of your players off the bench it becomes increasingly more difficult to do so. [16.Ne2 Nxe4 17.Bxe4 Qxh4 18.Bxc6 Nxc6]
16...Ng6 17.Bxf6
17.e5 Nxh4 18.Rxd6 Qxd6 19.exd6 Bxg2–+
17...Qxf6 18.Qxf6 gxf6 19.f5 Nf4 20.g3 Ng2! 21.Rxd6 Bxe4 22.Nh3 Bxc2 23.Kxc2 Re2+ 24.Kb3 Rae8 25.Rhd1 Ne3 26.R1d2 Nxf5 27.Rxe2 Rxe2 28.Rd8+ Kg7 29.Nf4 Rxh2 30.g4

Realizing that Nd4 is a big problem, Sarkar tries to initiate some play against my K.
30...Nd4+ 31.Ka2 Ne6! 32.Nxe6+ fxe6
Position after 32..fxe6

I evaluated this position as won for Black.
 33.Rd7+ Kg6 34.Rxa7 Rg2 35.Rb7 Rxg4 36.Rxb6 e5 37.Kb3 h5 38.Rb8 h4 39.Rg8+ Kf5 40.Rh8 e4 41.Kc3 Rg3+ 42.Kc2 Rg2+ 43.Kc3 Rg3+ 44.Kc2
Vinay Bhat taught me always to repeat!
44...Kg4 45.a4 f5 46.a5 Kf3 47.a6 Rg7 48.Rxh4 e3 49.Rh3+ Kf2 50.Rh2+ Kg3 51.Rh1 Rd7 52.a7 Rxa7 53.Kd3 f4 54.Ke2 f3+! 55.Kxe3 Re7+ 56.Kd2 f2 57.Rc1 Kg2 58.Kc3 
Position after 58.Kc3

58...Kf3! 59.Kd2 Re2+
And as Black will get the queen at no expense Sarkar resigned.

Read Elizabeth Vicary's first report from the New York International here , see the MSA rating report here , and watch a video recap here by CLO editor Jennifer Shahade.


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