AUGUST 17th, 2003

New Season of the Generation Chess New York Masters starts out with a Bang!

As the new season of the New York Masters begins, a lot of exciting new changes await us. The sponsorship of Generation Chess and their fighting chess policies promise to bring a lot of excitement to this event for the next 20 weeks. With $400 in guaranteed sponsorship every week, and 7 bonus prize weeks, it’s going to be awesome chess!

For the next 20 weeks, there will be no draws allowed before move 40 if you have a +2 score. This means that in the final round, if two players are 3/3, they will now have to play it out! This week we saw a star-studded field and fantastic fighting chess all the way through.

We had 3 US Champions playing this week, as current US Champion GM Alex Shabalov was joined by past champions GM Gata Kamsky and GM Joel Benjamin. We also had a future US Champion in GM Hikaru Nakamura, a former World Championship Candidate in GM Leonid Yudasin and a young Polish star, GM Kamil Miton.

Let’s not forget that we also had 5 IM’s in the field! Of course IM Jay Bonin was in attendance, as he has played all 113 New York Masters events thus far. Joining Jay were IM Eli Vovsha, IM Leonid Sokolin, IM Yuri Lapshun and IM Justin Sarkar.

We also have a new bonus system in which there are going to be 7 bonus weeks throughout the season. These weeks will be randomly selected before the tournament with the drawing of a card. Today a bonus card was drawn, and it stated that $200 would be added to the prize fund, and that it would all go to first place! (Note that some weeks the bonuses will favor the class players, and in our most anticipated week, we will have $600 added on top of our regular $400 sponsorship, thus we will have $1000 in sponsorship that week!)

After two rounds we had just 5 undefeated players. They were…
1 – GM Hikaru Nakamura
2 – GM Joel Benjamin
3 – GM Kamil Miton
4 – IM Leonid Sokolin
5 – IM Jay Bonin

Jay was the low man, and thus got paired to the highest 1.5/2, who happened to be Leonid Yudasin. Jay defeated Yudasin in the last New York Masters, but Yudasin got his revenge tonight and took Jay out of contention for first place.

Hikaru Nakamura defeated IM Leonid Sokolin in round 3. Hikaru is fresh off his final 16 finish in the FIDE World Championship, and is probably the most exciting chessplayer in the USA today. GM Joel Benjamin and GM Kamil Miton faced off to see who would have the fight to face Nakamura in the final round.

The Benjamin – Miton game was one of the most exciting NY Masters games in recent history. Miton was coming off a victory over Super GM Gata Kamsky in round 3, and thus had to be very confident.

Benjamin had a powerful opening, but botched it up a bit and gave Miton some serious counterplay. Eventually they both got into serious time trouble, as both sides had less than 10 seconds for about 20 moves (This game was played with 5 second increment). Joel was even down to 1 second on at least 2 occasions. Despite his serious time troubles, Joel prevailed after winning a few key pawns, and dissolving Mitons initiative.

The crowd looked forward to the exciting finale between Nakamura and Benjamin. In the past onlookers would often expect two players with a 3/3 score to take a quick draw in the final round and thus split the championship. However with the new Generation Chess policy, this is no longer possible, as the players must play 40 moves or forfeit their right to any prize money!

The last time Benjamin played Nakamura in the NY Masters it ended in heartbreak. Joel was white in the final round with 3/3 and Nakamura had 2.5/3. Joel needed only a draw AND had a winning position, yet was swindled by and thus the title went to Nakamura. Tonight Hikaru had the white pieces, and you knew Hikaru would be going for blood. Hikaru gained an early advantage and won a pawn in the endgame. On top of this extra pawn, Hikaru also had a 15 minute time advantage. In Joel’s favor, he had a very solid position with great squares for his pieces and opposite colored bishops, and Hikaru would have to play extremely well to have any chance for victory.

Hikaru was not able to break down Joel’s fortress, and actually blundered and allowed Joel to win two pawns! The fans on the internet were going wild, as this sudden reversal of fortune took place. Joel now had great winning chances, but also had only 30 seconds on the clock, and thus was unable to proceed accurately. When the smoke cleared Hikaru had found a way into a dead drawn position of Bishop +2 pawns versus a bishop of the opposite color. Thus GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Joel Benjamin tied for first place, picking up $400 a piece, in the first week of the new season, sponsored by Generation Chess.

....But wait....its not over yet! The fans on the internet clamored for a tiebreak game, and although it’s not something we have done before, we wanted to give the fans what they wanted! $50 was ADDED on top of the prize fund, for Benjamin and Nakamura to face off in an Armageddon game, to determine the sole champion of this week’s New York Masters. The format would be as follows…

White gets 6 minutes and a 5 second increment, Black gets 4 minutes and a 5 second increment, and black receives draw odds.

The colors were chosen and Benjamin received the white pieces. Hikaru is an outstanding blitz player, and it was clear Benjamin would have a very hard time beating Hikaru in his own element. However after an early opening blunder in the Rossolimo, Hikaru was already in serious trouble. After a few accurate moves by Benjamin, Nakamura found himself down 3 pawns, and with an unstoppable attack against his king. Hikaru toppled his king and congratulated Joel Benjamin on his victory!

Congratulations to this week’s Champion GM Joel Benjamin! This was one of the most exciting New York Masters events in recent history, and I expect to see similar action in the weeks ahead!

113th New York Masters Action USA (USA), 17 viii 2004
                                    1   2   3   4   Total
  1. Nakamura, Hikaru      g  2672 +20 +10 + 6 = 2   3.5  ($400)
  2. Benjamin, Joel        g  2632 + 9 +15 + 5 = 1   3.5  ($450)
  3. Shabalov, Alex        g  2697 +12 - 6 +16 +10   3.0  ($ 20)
  4. Yudasin, Leonid       g  2687 +16 = 8 +11 = 7   3.0  ($ 20)
  5. Miton, Kamil          g  2615 +13 + 7 - 2 +11   3.0  ($ 20)
  6. Sokolin, Leonid       m  2567 +14 + 3 - 1 +13   3.0  ($ 20)
  7. Kamsky, Gata          g  2784 +18 - 5 + 8 = 4   2.5
  8. Lapshun, Yury         m  2498 +19 = 4 - 7 +18   2.5
  9. Furdzik, Rafal           2203 - 2 +21 +20 =     2.5  ($150)
 10. Vovsha, Eli           m  2448 +17 - 1 +12 - 3   2.0
 11. Bonin, Jay            m  2356 +22 +18 - 4 - 5   2.0
 12. Sarkar, Justin        m  2317 - 3 +14 -10 +19   2.0
 13. Grasso, David            2149 - 5 +22 +15 - 6   2.0
 14. Lowinger, Daniel         2093 - 6 -12 +21 +20   2.0
 15. Hoffmann, Asa         f  2360 +21 - 2 -13 =16   1.5
 16. Privman, Boris        f  2315 - 4 +19 - 3 =15   1.5
 17. Thaler, Michael          2036 -10 =20 -18 +22   1.5
 18. Figler, Ilye          f  2337 - 7 -11 +17 - 8   1.0
 19. Zhao, Parker             2063 - 8 -16 +22 -12   1.0
 20. Greenberg, Roy           2206 - 1 =17 - 9 -14   1.0
 21. Vicary, Elizabeth        2004 -15 - 9 -14 ---   0.0
 22. Thomas, Demarcus         1800 -11 -13 -19 -17   0.0

PRIZES 1ST - $ 600 2ND - $ 200 3RD - $ 80 U2400 - $ 150 *$50 to Benjamin for winning Armageddon game