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New York International: Ehlvest and Harikrishna Tie Print E-mail
By Matan Prilleltensky   
June 23, 2010
When we left off, GM Nick DeFirmian was leading a strong field at the New York International (June 18-22, Marshall Chess Club). With his round 5 bye, GMs Ehlvest and Harikrishna had the opportunity to grab a share of the day 3 lead. Neither required a second invitation, winning strongly over lower rated opposition.



This stylish victory was one of the Estonian GMs favorite games from the event. He has written a book about this opening for the black side, although anyone seeing this performance might prefer White!
Victories for the favorites on top boards gave some semblance of order to this wild event.

Nevertheless, the underdogs had their say. Strong FM Jake Kleiman beat his highly rated opponent in a complex French.


Gregory Markzon also joined the upstart list, winning quickly against IM Battaglini’s Benoni. Spare a thought for black’s light squared bishop in this game!


The next round saw Ehlvest’s charge continue, as he grabbed clear first for the first time with a big win over Kekelidze. In the meantime, Marshall stalwart FM Ilye Figler gave his norm hopes a shot in the arm with an impressive performance.


Figler built on this success to capture his 3rd International Master norm. Since he has been over 2400 in the past, the professional coach is our newest IM! A tenacious defender, Ilye ascribed his success at this tournament to playing more slowly than usual. He was modest about his achievement, speaking more freely about the successes of his students at Pan-Ams and Parsipanny. Congratulations to player-coach IM-elect Figler!
Round seven saw an unchanged leader board, with Ehlvest maintaining his half point lead. This set the scene for a nail-biting finish. Would anyone from the chasing pack emerge to catch the four-time Marshall Champion? Pentala Harikrishna stood up to be counted in round eight, winning a wild tactical melee against GM Mikhail Kekelidze.


Whoever said g3 systems were quiet? It’s impressive that strong grandmasters can handle such a wide variety of positions with acuity.

Heading into the last round, Ehlvest and Harikrishna shared the lead with 6.5/8. Five players remained in norm contention: Mandizha (IM clinched, needed win for GM norm), Kleiman (win for IM norm, though he technically already has three), Rosenberg (IM norm clinched), Figler (draw for IM norm), and Korley (win for IM norm). 

Pentala Harikrishna faced his fellow Indian Grandmaster, Chanda Sandipan on board 1. Grandmaster draw, right? Not so much! Harikrishna withstood 40 moves of sustained pressure as black to earn the handshake. A couple people commented on the fighting spirit shown in this game.


Ehlvest also split the point with GM Nick DeFirmian, leaving himself and Harikrishna a nose ahead when the dust settled. The two grandmasters waded through shark-infested waters, justifying their billing among the tournament’s top seeds. For their efforts, each pocketed over 3,000 dollars. Well done!
The norm situation was resolved the usual way: Some joy, some disappointment, and considerable resolve for next time. Evan Rosenberg and Mandizha had both locked up their IM norms before the round started. Mandizha could have made a GM norm, but was stopped by GM Hess. Figler won his title the hard way: Holding a grueling draw with GM Falko Bindrich. 

Evan Rosenberg earned his first IM norm at the New York International, Photo Ron Anderson

The prized norm eluded Kassa Korley and Jake Kleiman, finishing .5 and 1 points short respectively. Kassa was philosophical about his result, observing that the norm would have been “extra” after his wonderful tournament. He felt that faculty with long-term planning led to his result, while the rd 1 win over Ganguly did wonders for his confidence.      

After the tournament I had the chance to speak with GM Falko Bindrich and IM Tobias Hirneise, German players visiting the US for the first time. They both thought American players tended to be weaker than Europeans, with Bindrich in particular asserting a lack of chess culture among our players. “There isn’t the same understanding of chess here...You can really feel the difference between players who have Russian training and players (here) who are sometimes just moving pieces.” Readers, agree/disagree? The pair said playing twice a day was exhausting, observing that even Grandmasters blunder after ten straight hours of chess!

With a tremendous event coming to a close, a rundown by the numbers:

Players: 76
Grandmasters: 13
International Masters: 15
Norms: 3
Oldest player: IM Renato Naranja (70)
Youngest player: James Black (11)
Disputes: 0

Congratulations to the winners, norm-getters, and organizers for a fantastic week of chess. Steve Immitt, incomparably cool and composed, deserves special mention for running things smoothly. From the New York International, I hope to see you next year!

Look for more news on CLO on the Philadelphia International, which begins on Friday in Valley Forge prior to the World Open.

June - Chess Life Online 2010

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