|Arnold & Yang Earn GM Norms in Saint Louis|
|By Mike Wilmering|
|April 16, 2012|
SAINT LOUIS, April 16, 2012 -- IMs Marc Arnold and Darwin Yang each secured a GM norm at the Saint Louis Invitational, which was held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis April 9 through April 13.
Heading into the final round, IMs Mac Molner, Enrico Sevillano, Yang and Arnold all had an opportunity to earn a GM norm.
In a must-win situation, Yang defeated IM Michael Brooks in the final round with black to secure the norm with a final score of 6/9. Yang got off to a great start, beating the highest-rated player in the field, GM Giorgi Margvelashvili, in round one.
Despite the strong start, Yang said his round-five loss to Angelo Young almost dashed his norm hopes.
"I had almost given up on the norm chance, especially because I was having exceptional difficulties winning with black," Yang said. "However, this gave me a much needed wake-up call: playing it safe wasn't going to cut it anymore. I proceeded to play more aggressively, making sacrifices and taking risks I wouldn't have taken before. This new manner of play, I think, unnerved my opponents and generated opportunities for me to take advantage."
Yang said his round-seven victory over GM Ben Finegold with black gave him the confidence heading into the final round against Brooks.
"[Finegold] employed prep against my Botvinnik, and I was in unfamiliar territory," Yang said. "I had to play the only good move, a complicated knight sacrifice ...Nxf6 that led to an unclear position with two pawns for the exchange. Amazingly, the computer agrees with a large majority of both sides' moves. Ben finally blundered with Qe5, giving me my first high-level win with black in a very long time."
Yang said the loss to Young may have given him the fuel he needed to step up his play.
"While my only loss of the tournament definitely complicated my norm situation, without it, I don't think I would had the mindset change that made my final spurt possible," he said.
After drawing Yang in round eight, Arnold needed only ½ point to secure his GM norm, but his opponent, IM Mac Molner, kept his norm chances alive with a badly needed victory over Finegold in round eight. Molner needed the full point in the final round to get a norm of his own.
"I wanted him to overpress so I'd have an easy game," Arnold said. "But he has a really good record against me. It wasn't my favorite last-round pairing."
Arnold's games included the following victory over GM Ben Finegold. Finegold resigned in the final position because 34.Kc4 fails to 34...Bf1+, followed by ...Rxd4 while 34. Kc3 loses to ...Rxd4 and 34.Ke3 to ....Rxd4 and ...Re8+
The draw gave Arnold a final score of 6/9, which was good for a GM norm and a three-way tie atop the leaderboard with Yang and GM Elshan Moradiabadi. The three players split first-, second- and third-place prizes, and each took home $750.
Sevillano's round-eight victory over IM Leonid Gerzhoy kept his norm chances alive heading into the final round as well. He had the daunting task of winning with black in the final round against Finegold, who was having a bad tournament but is still a formidable opponent, especially when his opponent is in a must-win situation.
Finegold dashed Sevillano's norm chances, ultimately ending the game with 59.Ng4+ winning the rook on f2, which also guarded the queening square of Sevillano's passed h-pawn.
According to Finegold, the game was lost a few moves prior with 48...Bh3.
"Rxd5 draws and Bh3 loses," Finegold said.
The win was a nice ending to a rough tournament for Finegold, who finished with a score of 3.5/9.
"I wanted to have all decisive games, and I played a bit too enterprisingly," Finegold said.
See full details on the tournament on the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis website. The US Chess Championships will be held next month at the CCSCSL, enter your fantasy team at uschesschamps.com to join in the fun and win great prizes.