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Gareyev Hot in Chicago; Holt Earns GM Norm Print E-mail
By Jamaal Abdul-Alim   
May 31, 2011
Timur Gareyev in Chicago, Photo Betsy Dynako
Chicago -- GM Timur Gareyev says when he decided to enter the Chicago Open earlier this year, he viewed the tournament as a “warm up.”

“I felt like, ‘OK, you know, I haven’t been playing in a while. Let me warm up in Chicago. Maybe I’ll do decent,” Gareyev said.

But the “warm-up” exercise soon turned into a blazing fire as Gareyev dispatched seven of his esteemed opponents and drew against another in the nine-round Swiss tournament.

“In the end it turned out that I gained the momentum and started winning one game after another."

“It’s a good start,” Gareyev, a native of Uzbekistan, said after he defeated Tamaz Gelashvili, of Georgia, in the ninth and final round. “It’s more than I expected for participating.”

He would have had to split the prize with Alejandro Ramirez or Pendyala Harikrishna, but they drew their last round in a opposite-colored bishops endgame where, according to Harikrishna, neither could improve.


As the sole victor in the Chicago Open, Gareyev, 23, a graduating marketing major at the University of Texas at Brownsville, pockets a $10,200 prize.

He attributed to his series of wins to studying with UTB chess coach GM Ronen Har-Zvi. As for the decisive game against Gelashvili, Gareyev attributed the win to a “little edge” that he got from the opening, with better pawn structure and initiative.

In the end, he said, Gelashvili exposed his king to a potential attack.

“He saw that he wasn’t in good shape, so he went for extreme measures, and unfortunately for him it cost him material which was too much at the end,” Gareyev said.


Gareyev said his most difficult game was against GM Dmitry Gurevich


As for the one game he lost against Kida Sundararajan, Gareyev said, “I think he played the game perfect. That was the only problem.”


Asked what he planned to do with his prize money, Gareyev said he was strongly leaning toward using it to fulfill a couple of dreams.

“I have a lot of beautiful ideas to fulfill,” Gareyev said. “I want to get a skydiving license and a motorcycle.

“I want to travel to the Caribbean.”
He also joked that he was thinking about getting a “dancer's license,” too, but that he’d probably have to get cosmetic surgery first.

Through Gareyev pocketed the most in the Chicago Open, with $100,000 in prize mone at stake, the tournament, which drew 647 players, proved quite lucrative for a handful of amateur players as well.

Among them was 17-year-old Paul Gill, of Baltimore County, Maryland, who defeated Qingde Shi, 41, a computer programmer from Madison, Wis., in the 7th and final round of the U1200 section, frustrating Shi from getting what would have otherwise been a perfect score and forcing him to split the prize money along with others who scored six points.

If anyone doubts the benefits of having a coach or the power of knowledge of openings, consider the fact that Gill spent considerable time under the tutelage of Troy Roberts and considerable time studying openings, while Shi says he didn’t know any openings.

“I have no opening knowledge at all,” Shi said. “Only e4, e5 opening.”    

Shi said the main book he studied was Reassess Your Chess by Jeremey Silman.

Gill, on the other hand, said said he easily won back the $500 or $1,000 he spent on chess lessons with Roberts. As for openings, he said the Scotch gambit usually serves him well.

“I personally think the opening is the most important part of the game,” Gill said. “If you can’t get a good opening then you won’t have a good position to have a good end game.”    

Then again, maybe not. Gareyev, the tournament champion, said openings weren’t exactly the strongest part of his game.

This year’s turnout was substantially less than last year’s turnout of more than 700.

Bill Goichberg, chief director of the tournament and president of the Continental Chess Association , said he suspected two factors drove down attendance.

First, he said, the association eliminated the U1000 section with lower fees.

"We lost a substantial number of those players because they didn’t want to pay the higher fees or play against stronger players,” Goichberg said, adding that the association will reconsider adding the U1000 back next year.

He also said he suspected the price of gas may have kept some players away.

Nevertheless, it was easy to find players who were quite pleased with the tournament and all that it had to offer.

Kevin Banas, 24, of St. Louis, Mo., another first-place winner in the U1200 section, used his winnings to purchase a copy of “Bobby Fischer, My 60 Memorable Games.”

After winning, Banas sat in the back of the ballroom where the tournament took place and watched the six games of the 12 top GMs’ games simultaneously on a widescreen projector hooked up to a laptop that showed the games being broadcast live on the web.

 “I had the pleasure in Saint Louis Louis of watching Nakamura and Ponomarlov and Robson and Finegold on the screen,” Banas said. “It’s neat to be able to witness such great intellect manifest itself on the chessboard.

“You can’t see the position from afar,” Banas said of the barrier that prevents spectators from getting too close to GM games. “But you definitely can see the game very clearly here. You can see all six games at once.

“This Chicago Open has been a great experience,” Banas said. “I’m really glad I came. I met a lot of great people and played some exciting games.”

Conrad Holt, Photo CCSCSL 2010
Another happy Chicago customer is 17-year-old Conrad Holt. Conrad earned a GM norm, defeating GM Josh Friedel and IM Daniel  Naroditsky along the way. Here is his penultimate win over IM Salvijus Bercys.

See full standings in all six sections and download a pgn file on the official website,  http://chicagoopen.net/. Also see yesterday's CLO Chicago Open photo gallery by Betsy Dynako.


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