Grandmasters Attack in Michigan
By Jennifer Skidmore   
November 10, 2011
GM Yury Shulman
The 2011 Michigan International Chess Festival hosted 191 players including eight grandmasters, four international masters, two FMs and one WIM from eight foreign countries and a dozen states outside of Michigan.  These esteemed participants included GMs Kaidanov, Shankland, Kudrin, and Matamoros who participated on Friday night as well as IMs Brian Hartman, Wen Liang Li, and Justin Sarkar.  FM Seth Homa and WIM Paloma Gutierrez were also Friday night participants.  GMs Shulman, Kolev, Mitkov, and Finegold joined the event on Saturday morning along with IM John Bartholomew.

Alan Kaufman, a great chess ambassador, spent many months canvassing tournaments across the country and state to woo players to Michigan. He was rewarded for his vision with a star-studded event. Chess tournaments that draw grandmasters aren't common in Michigan, but we have hosted some historic events over the years.  In 1963, before Ben Finegold was born, his father Ron Finegold lost to Bobby Fischer at the Western Open in Bay City, Michigan. 

Upon arriving to the US in 1992, Kaidanov was an immediate star on the national chess scene, winning the 1992 World open and the 1992 US Open at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, MI. Almost 20 years after emigrated to the United States, GM Kaidanov returned to Michigan for the 2011 Michigan International Chess Festival, also held at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, MI.  Other players who competed in both events included GM Sergey Kudrin, GM Ben Finegold (an IM at the time, Ben tied for second in the 1992 US Open), John Brooks, Michael R. Smith, Michael A. Smith, Vladimir Drkulec, Greg Bailey, Tom Manion, Steve Zubatch, Brian Bezrutch, Tony West, and Margaret Clark.

At one point in time, Ford River Rouge was the largest industrial plant in the world, employing 120,000 workers.  Things in Michigan are a bit different these days; jobs are harder to come by.  Slowly, things are diversifying, and at the forefront of this movement is Ford River Rouge.  In 2002, architect William McDonough completed the energy saving renovation of the roof of the 1.1 million square foot Dearborn truck assembly plant.  It was replaced by 10 acres of sedum, which cleanse rainwater and moderate the internal temperature of the building.  WIM Paloma Gutierrez is an environmental engineer in Spain who had learned of the roof innovation.  She and GM Carlos Matamoros toured River Rouge with Alan Kaufman before the tournament, giving Paloma an academic reason for her visit as well as a competitive one.

Apurva Virkud
Fighting chess was the theme for the weekend.  The open section was easily the largest group, with more participants in the 3-day schedule.  Half of the grandmasters faced strong Michigan Junior players in round 1 as Epiphany Peters, Joe Paris, Justin Chen, and Apurva Virkud were defeated by Shankland, Kolev, Mikov, and Kudrin respectively.  After the game, Sam praised Epiphany for her fighting spirit.

Epiphany Peters and GM Sam Shankland

In Round 2, Atulya Shetty look reasonably solid against Yury Shulman until the clock got the better of him and WIM Paloma Gutierrez defeated IM Wen Liang Li.  Tougher match-ups on the top boards led to draws on boards 1 and 2 between IM Justin Sarkar and GM Yury Shulman and GM Gregory Kaidanov and IM John Bartholomew.  GMs Shankland, Kolev, Mikov, Finegold and Matamoros all won to retain their perfect scores while GM Sergey Kudrin drew with Denker champion, Michael Villenchuk. 

On Sunday morning, 4 of the perfect scores faced off on the top 2 boards while Yury Shulman defeated Carlos Matamoros on board 3.  Shankland drew with Finegold while Kolev defeated Mitkov, leaving one undefeated player after 4 rounds.

Kolev won the 2011 Michigan International Chess Festival with a perfect score of 5-0. GM Sam Shankland graciously annotated his loss to Kolev:
GMs Atanas Kolev and Sam Shankland

Kolev,Atanas (2580) - Shankland,Sam (2553) [D03]
Michigan International, 30.10.2011
GM Sam Shankland
Going into this game, I knew I had a tough battle ahead. My opponent was in clear first with 4/4 and probably was only looking to make a draw, and preventing a 2600 from making a draw with white is a very difficult task that has even led to disaster for World Champions. I was very proud of the way I conducted the early-mid middlegame, outplaying my opponent with the black pieces and obtaining a serious advantage, and subsequently I only have myself to blame for failing to convert the edge into a win, and clear first place, in time pressure.


1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5
An unambitious but extremely solid system, typical of a player looking to play it safe with White.
3...Bg7 4.Nbd2 0-0 5.c3
5.e4?! Looks natural but could lead to trouble 5...d5! 6.exd5 a) 6.Bd3 c5 7.dxc5 Nbd7; b) 6.e5? Ne4 7.Be3 (7.Nxe4? dxe4 8.Nd2 (8.Ng1 c5) 8...Qxd4) 7...c5 8.dxc5 (8.c3 Nc6 I'd prefer black) 8...Nc6; 6...Nxd5 7.c4 h6!
5...d6 is a more traditional King's Indian move, but the text is quite fine.
6.e3 Nbd7 7.Be2
7.h3 Re8 8.Bf4 This prevents e5 but it is painfully slow and I doubt White can expect any hope for an edge 8...c5 9.Be2 b6
7...Re8 8.0-0 e5 9.Rc1 e4!?

A very committal move- by releasing the tension in the center black gives white a free hand to expand on the queenside but he also gains space and forces the f3 knight into oblivion, and this would create the kind of double edged struggle I was looking for. 9...c6 Would be a less committal alternative, and is not objectively a worse move either. Black is fine.
10.Ne1 Nb6 11.b3
11.c4 is not as strong when White cannot recapture with the b-pawn 11...dxc4 12.Nxc4 c6
11...h6 12.Bh4 Bd7!

12...Be6 13.c4 c6 14.c5 Nc8 15.b4 This is the computer's suggestion and it claims Black is fine, but really he is probably strategically lost- the a4-b5 queenside expansion plan cannot be met effectively 15...Ne7 16.b5 Nf5 17.Bxf6 Qxf6 18.bxc6 bxc6 19.Qa4 Nc2-b4 is on the way, I doubt Black will hold on.
13.c4 Now Black tries to steer the game into a Gruenfeld structure 13...dxc4 14.bxc4 (14.Nxc4 Nxc4 15.bxc4 c5 16.d5 Bf8 Black has no problems) 14...c5 15.dxc5 Na4 available because of Bd7 16.Nb3 Rc8=
13...Qe7 14.Bg3
14.c4 dxc4 15.bxc4 (15.Nxc4 Nbd5 Black has his chances in a balanced position) 15...Na4! menacing Nc3 (15...c5?! 16.dxc5 Qxc5 17.Nb3 Black is under a little pressure) 16.Nb1 c5 I prefer Black.
14...Rac8 15.a4 a5 16.Ra1
Not an inspired move, I doubt making Na3-b5 possibility justifies leaving the soon to be open c-file. I might even prefer Black's position around now. 16.c4 dxc4 17.Nxc4 Nxc4 18.Bxc4 c6 was perhaps White's best option, but Black is at the very least not worse and has plenty of chances.
The game is starting to heat up.
17.dxc5 Rxc5 18.Nb1 Rec8
17...cxd4 18.cxd4 Qb4 19.Nb5 Re6!
19...Bxb5? 20.Bxb5 Now the black rook has to declare it's direction, but staying on the e-file allows white to seize the c-file with Rc1 and staying on the back rank runs into f3. 20...Red8 (20...Re6 21.Rc1 white grabs the c-file and should be better) 21.f3! Suddenly Black is not so well prepared to meet an opening of the center/kingside, and Be1 could become problematic.
20.h3 would be my choice. White needed to make a square for the g3 bishop, and he would probably not be worse 20...Bf8 (20...Bxb5 21.Bxb5 Nh5 22.Bh2) ; 20.f3? Now this move fails 20...Bxb5 21.Bxb5 exf3 22.Rxf3 Rc3 e3 becomes a point of conquest- if Black had started with Bxb5 and played Rd8 instead of Re6, then he would not have this pressure on the e-file 23.Nf1 (23.Bf2 Ng4-+) 23...Qxb3
This move secures an advantage.

21.Bxb5 Nh5! White will lose his dark squared bishop and Black will be better 22.Ra2 Nxg3 23.hxg3 Re7. Black will control the c-file and White will have a lot of suffering ahead.
Easy does it, Black looks to exchange bishops and in the long run profit from his control of the c-file and better pawn structure. I could not quite make 21...a4? work 22.bxa4= (22.Ra3 Houdini) 22...Qb2 23.Nd2 (23.Ra3 Rc2 24.Re1 Bf8; 23.Na3 Rc3) 23...Rc2 24.Rb1 Qa2 25.Ra1=
22.Ra2 Bd6 23.Bh4

23.Rc2 Bxg3 24.fxg3 (24.hxg3 Ree8!) 24...Kg7!


Objectively not a bad move and I was in 'burn the bridges' mode, but it creates unnecessary risks when something much simpler was available. 23...Kg7! is a much stronger move. White does not have any obvious way to improve his position- note that after the game move he immediately stuck with h4, which is not possible here- and Black can play g5 next move if he so desires with an improved version.
If White looks for immediate activity
with 24.f3 he ends up in trouble 24...exf3 25.Rxf3 Ng4 was my plan in the game but the computer found a draw for White (25...Bb8 Houdini's first choice, and it gives black an edge, but I wasn't really considering this move 26.Nd2 (26.Be1 Qe7) 26...Nbd7 Black will quickly build pressure on the e-file) 26.Rxf7+ Kxf7 27.Bxg4 Rxe3 28.Bxc8 Nxc8 29.Qc1! (29.Qf1+ Kg8 30.Qf6 Ne7 31.Nd2! I missed this one too- clearly I wasn't calculating too well) 29...Bf4! 30.Bf2!! I missed this move (30.Qxc8 Qxd4-+ White gets mated) 30...Re4 31.Qc3 White holds on by a thread.
24.Bg3 Bxg3 25.fxg3 Kg7 26.h4
Black is still much better but White has counter chances, and with the clock ticking down things can get messy.
26...Re7 27.Bg4!
Definitely the best move. White sacrifices his entire queenside but gets some counterplay that will be very hard to deal with, and he prevents black from doubling rooks on the c-file 27.hxg5 hxg5 28.Bg4 (28.Rf5 Rec7 29.Rxg5+ Kf8-+) 28...Nxg4 29.Qxg4 f6 30.Rxf6 Qe1+ 31.Rf1 Qxe3+ 32.Raf2 This position looked unclear/scary to me, but of course the computer with nerves of steel says Black is totally winning.

27...Nxg4 28.Qxg4 Qxb3 29.Ra3 Qxb5 30.hxg5

A huge mistake in time pressure. I grossly misevaluated the resulting position; I did not see an immediate mate and I thought I should be safe enough with the king running to the queenside, especially with two of white's pieces being horribly placed and out of the game, but this was just a wrong assessment on so many levels. It was particularly painful to spoil all of the efforts I was so proud of on the preceding moves with one blunder, and I only have myself to blame for it. From here on out I believe I fully deserved to lose.
30...h5! was called for, and Black can expect to bring his advantage home. The g-pawn turns out to be an excellent shield for the black king. 31.Qh4 Is the best move, and white retains practical chances, but if black makes time control he should win.) 31.Qf4 Rc6 Black defends and wins; b) 31.Qxh5? Rh8! 32.Qd1 (32.Qg4?? Rh1+ 33.Kxh1 Qxf1+ 34.Kh2 Re8-+ Who is mating who?) 32...Nc4 33.Rb3 Qc6-+;

White has a strong initiative and a much easier position to play, which is not even objectively worse. At this point, Black is in serious practical trouble.
31...Kf8 32.Nd2 Rc6 33.Qh5 Rg6??
Sure enough, Black falters under the pressure with the clock ticking down. 33...Ke8 and the game continues with chances for both sides, computer giving  0.00/0.
34.Qxg6? Qxf1+
34...Rg8 35.Qh6+ Ke8 36.Rb3+- Qe2 37.Qxb6 Qxd2

To my opponent's credit he found the only winning moves on moves 38 and 39.
38...f6 39.Qxf6!
Black is unable to stop Rxb7 39.Rxf6?? Qe1+ 40.Rf1 (40.Kh2 Rh7+ 41.Rh6 Rxh6+ 42.Qxh6 Qxg3+) 40...Qxg3 41.Qxg3 Rxg3 Black is much better!; 39.Rxb7 Qxe3+ 40.Rf2 (40.Kh1 Rh8#) 40...Rxb7 41.Qe6+ Kd8 42.Qxg8+ Kc7=
39...a4 40.Qf5
40.Rxb7 was quite sufficient as well 40...Rxb7 (40...Qxe3+ 41.Kh1 Rxb7 42.Qe6+ Kd8 43.Qxg8+ Kc7 44.Rf7+ Kb6 45.Qd8+ Ka6 46.Qa8+) 41.Qe6+ Kd8 (41...Re7 42.Qc8#) 42.Qxg8+ Kc7 43.Qf7+ Kb8 44.Qe8+ Ka7 45.Qxa4+
40...Qa5 41.Rb5

Having finally reached time control, I decided to torture myself looking at this position for five minutes or so before extending my hand. This was one of the more painful defeats/spoiled efforts I've experienced, but also a good lesson that I hope I can benefit from in the future. 1-0

The victory above gave Kolev the stunning 5/5 clear victory while A logjam of players finished with 4-1. Finegold drew with Shulman on board 2 while Kaidanov, Mitkov, Matamoros, Hartman, and Bartholomew all scored final round victories.  IM Hartman annotates his own draw against Kaidanov.

Hartman, Brian - Kaidanov,Gregory [B43]
IM Brian Hartman

After more than 20 years of little activity, I have recently made some, mostly indifferent, attempts at playing competitively again. This past weekend I played in the Michigan FIDE International Open. GM Kolev won clear first with an amazing 5/5 result. I was lucky enough to tie for 2nd with 4/5 with 6 others (GM Finegold, GM Shulman, GM Kaidanov, GM Kudrin, etc.). My most intense game was the following 4th round draw against GM Kaidanov. I knew Kaidanov as simply a far superior opponent in all aspects of play, thus I decided to attempt steering the game into a lesser known opening scheme, then attempting to keep tactical pressure. It worked to some degree...however, in the time pressure blitz (we were using an analog clock, my flag fell on move 41, and Kaidanov had less than 1 minute remaining) Kaidanov outplayed me and came out a pawn ahead...luckily I was able to transpose to a drawn knight ending...No doubt "Fritz" would disapprove throughout...


1.e4 c5
Obviously Kaidanov wishes to beat me.
2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3 Bb4 7.Nde2 Nf6 8.Bg2 Be7 9.0-0 0-0 10.h3 Nc6 11.a3

I was taking lots of time in the opening attempting to find a particular move order in advance of the planned kingside expansion. If 11...b5 then possible is 12. Nd5 exd5 13. exd5 Bb7  14.Bf4 Qb6 15. dxc6 dxc6 16. c4
11...d6 12.g4 Nd7
White of course wants to complete the development of his pieces, but where does the Bc1 belong? If Be3 then Black can harass it with a timely ...Na5-c4
13.f4 b5 14.g5 b4 15.axb4 Nxb4 16.Nd4 Re8 17.f5 Bf8 18.h4
Although I examined alternatives, including unsound sacrifices such as 18. Nxe6?, I decided upon this - part of the concept is on ...g6/h5 to take hg, hg, and f6 then with mate potential down the h-file, using Ra3, etc. Of course Black is gaining e5 and the e-file but White is committed to prying open the position in the hope that his pieces can gain access to the centre/Black's King. Also h4, opens Bh3, etc, however, White's king is exposed, thus once things open up, it will be equally dangerous for him.
18...g6 19.h5
While on one hand I didn't want to allow Black to open the e-file, if I take first 19.fxe6 then h5 Black gains too much activity with ...Bg7 and the e5 outpost.
19...exf5 20.hxg6 hxg6 21.Ra4
Right or wrong, this was my concept, to sacrifice the exchange to break into d5 and hopefully to the Black king.
21...a5 22.exf5
I spent some time considering 22. Ncb5 with the idea of 22...Qb8 23. c3 Na6 24. exf5 Bb7 25. fxg6 hxg6 26. Qb3+ and White is happy. However, instead 22...Qb6 23. c3 Ba6 seems to cross White's plan
22...Bb7 23.fxg6 fxg6 24.Rxb4 axb4 25.Nd5 Qc5 26.Nf6+ Nxf6 27.Bxb7
If 27. gxf6 Bd5 is the key move.
27...Re4 28.Bxe4 
Of course I desperately wanted to find something else...and considered several strange alternatives, however, Black is also threatening Rg4+ with an attack in some lines
28...Nxe4 29.Be3 Qd5 30.Nf3
I realized I had to attempt leveling the game now.
30...Qe6 31.Nd4 Qd5
If 31...Qh3 32. Qf3 Qxf3 33. Rxf3 Ra2 34. Ne6 provides sufficient counterplay.
32.Nf3 Qxd1 33.Rxd1 Ra5
I completely missed Black's idea here...
34.Rd4 d5 35.Rd1 Bc5 36.Bxc5 Rxc5 37.Nd4
I didn't like passively defending with say 37. Rc1.
37...Nxg5 38.Kf2 Kf7 39.Ra1
I hit on the best defense with my flag about to drop - get the rooks off and have a superior king/knight to increase the draw chance.
39...Ne6 40.Ra7+ Rc7 41.Rxc7+ Nxc7 42.Ke3 Kf6 43.Nc6 Na6 44.Kd4 Ke6
Taking the up the d-pawn to run the g-pawn is risky.
45.Nd8+ Ke7 46.Nc6+
If 46...Kd6 then Ne5 draws straight away
46...Ke6 47.Nd8+

Of course, it was a great experience for me to play, and observe some truly great players. This event was highly entertaining as some of America's top GMs, and some strong foreign GMs took time out of their schedules to take on the vagaries of the weekend Swiss with those gunning to achieve an upset. ½-½

U2300 prize winners were Michael Villenchuk and Shitianyu Pan, both with 3.5 points.  Jalen Wang won the U2100 prize, also with 3.5 points. 

One of the goals of the chess festival was to promote the teaching of chess.  Special guest FM Graham Burgess of Gambit publishing was on hand for analysis as well as promoting his new puzzle book.

We also had many pairs of students and teachers participating including Atulya Shetty and Gregory Kaidanov; Wen Liang Li and Justin and Joy Chen; Edward Song and Leonid Strugach; Manmohan and Ayush Das.  Michael A. Smith played in the Open section while his student Zach Smith won one of the class prizes in the U1400 section.  Brian Wilson Sr played as well as his students, Brian Jr and Marcus Badgett, one of the top finishers in the U1400 section.  Frank Lee and Vladimir Drkulec brought a plethora of young players from the Windsor Friday Knights club; I had 6 current students in the U1000 section and 5 former students, including Mandy Lu, winner of the U1800 section with a perfect score. 

Alan Kaufman brought two of his own students, Sophie Fetter and Nolan Donovan to the tournament for their first tournament experience.  Other instructors who came to support their students at the tournament included Washington Parks Academy coach, Kevin Fite who watched his 20+ players achieve strong finishes in the U1000 and U1400 sections.  In addition to all of the instructional opportunities, there were many students who learned through their experiences as well.  In a few short weeks, the world youth tournament will take place in Brazil and Emily Tallo, Apurva Virkud, Maggie Feng, Kesav Viswanadha, Michael Villenchuk, Awonder Liang, and Rachel Tao of Canada will be able to take their experiences at Michigan Chess Festival with them. 

Young Michigan players, Edward Song and Epiphany Peters were able to achieve draws with IMs Brian Hartman and Wen Liang Li, respectively. 

Margaret Clark
At the age of 50, Margaret Clark learned to play chess.  She has traveled to a great many US Opens, highlighted by a simul game against Boris Spassky.  Now 90, she entered her first tournament in 15 years.  Margaret scored 2 wins and gained a substantial number of rating points!

In the U1000 section, Zachary Flowerday, Vijay Sriram, and Robert Lewis had a 3-way tie for first overall, each with a perfect score of 4 points.  Special guests Paloma Gutierrez, Carlos Matamoros, Sam Shankland, and Graham Burgess were of special help handing out the trophies.  Robby Riles, Ellen Tao, and Terrance Gilley won the U800, U600, and Unrated class prizes, respectively.

Thank you to all of the participants and spectators - enjoy some more games below and when you come next year, bring a friend.





See full results and crosstables on MSA
and see further photos on facebook.