Naroditsky Leads in Concord
By Michael Aigner   
March 8, 2009
Daniel Naroditsky and Sam Shankland faced off in round three. Photo Michael Aigner
There are few big money, major Grand Prix chess tournaments that come to the San Francisco Bay Area, so this weekend's Western Chess Congress was a welcome change.  With a guaranteed prize fund of $20,000, the Western Chess Congress attracted a healthy turnout of about 200 players, headlined by eight International Masters in the Premier division.  Unfortunately, the attendance was dominated by local players because only a few came to Concord from Los Angeles, Nevada or other western states, perhaps a consequence of the economic crisis.

Update: Naroditsky wins Concord, while Esserman and Sadvakasov take Eastern Class. Full stories coming soon.

The action in the top section has been full of upsets, primarily by elite juniors against International Masters.  It has been a bad weekend to be named Vladimir!  Here's just a sample from the first three rounds: 15-year-old NM Rohan Agarwal beat second seed FM Vladimir Strugatsky and 12-year-old expert David Adelberg took down IM Vladimir Mezentsev.

The big game in round 3 on Saturday night saw two World Youth champions renew their friendly rivalry.  FM Daniel Naroditsky (2007 World U12 champion) blew away the tournament's top seed IM Sam Shankland (2008 World U18 co-champion) on the white side of the Scheveningen Sicilian.  The now 13-year-old Naroditsky is the sole leader of the Premier section heading into Sunday's final two rounds.

Standings after round 3

3.0 Naroditsky
2.5 Ginsburg, Zilberstein, DeGuzman and Adelberg
2.0 Tate, Zierk, Agarwal and others

Watch for a full report on the Battle of Concord by midweek, including a selection of the more exciting games.  For now, check out my photo album on Flickr.