AUGUST 20 2002

The massive heat wave seemed to leave town just in time for the NY Masters and this was quite a relief. Today we had our highest ever first prize at $510 dollars, our previous high was $500. We had 2 new players this week as IM Altin Cela finally joined the fray. I believe this Albanian IM has 2 GM-norms and with a 2484 FIDE rating seems close to the GM level. Also joining the party was Elvin Wilson, another player from Philadelphia, who came up with Norman Rogers and Glen Bady. Also please forgive me for not playing recently, but entering the games online and running the event when 30 people are present is difficult to mix with playing. At some point I will come back but when I do it will be only as a player, and I will leave all organizational matters into the hands of John Fernandez and others for that particular week.

1. GM Ildar Ibragimov
2. GM Leonid Yudasin
3. GM Evgeny Najer
4. GM Alex Stripunsky
5. GM Pavel Blatny
6. IM Hikaru Nakamura
7. GM Michael Rohde
8. IM Altin Cela
9. SM Eli Vovsha
10. IM Dean Ippolito
11. FM Yuri Lapshun
12. IM Irina Krush
13. IM Justin Sarkar
14. IM Jay Bonin
15. NM Gregory Braylovsky
16. NM Evgeny Gershov (1st round bye)
17. IM Jayson Gonzales
18. FM Ricardo D’Arruda
19. NM Norman Rogers
20. NM Peter Aravena
21. FM Erez Klein
22. FM Ylon Schwartz
23. NM Rafal Furdzik
24. NM Elvin Wilson
25. FM Boris Privman
26. FM Sunil Weeramantry
27. NM Glen Bady
28. NM Oliver Chernin
29. NM Geoffrey Gelman
30. Filler – Ben Johnson
31. Qualifier – Kausan Henry
32. Angel Lopez (Ok not really but he is one of my students at PS 318 and asked me to mention his name, and also that he is rated 2875 and number 1 ranked in the USA)


1st - $510
2nd - $200
3rd - $100
U2400 - $150


Round 1 was not filled with upsets. The most notable upset occurred in the game Krush – Bady. Bady had a rough first NY Masters last week with .5/4 and surely wanted to come back with a good tournament this week. His game with Irina exploded into a MASSIVE time scramble where it seemed that Bady was in more time trouble than Irina. Bady missed mate in one on two occasions in the scramble, but his gamble paid off as his quick moves led to Irina’s flag falling, despite eventually gaining an extra queen. Aravena held Blatny to a draw, although he was not happy about it as he seemed to have a winning position and was up about 15 minutes to 1 minute on the clock. Chernin drew Sarkar very quickly as after a tame symmetrical English, Sarkar offered a draw and it was accepted. All of the other favorites won although not without adventure. Braylovsky had great chances against Ibragimov, with an extra exchange, yet things fell apart and he allowed a mating trap. Also due to a pairing mistake (We forgot to pair the qualifier after he called in his entry and he showed up late), he was given a pairing with filler Ben Johnson. Kausan got off to a 1-0 start after nicely squeezing Ben in a tough Petroff endgame. Ylon Schwartz also was said to have a winning position against Rohde, and with 5 minutes to Rohdes 1 minute on top of everything. However things went terribly awry and Rohde swindled him out of the point.


Key Pairings

1 Ibragimov - Cela
2 Vovsha - Yudasin
3 Najer - Ippolito
4 Lapshun - Stripunsky
5 Bady - Nakamura
6 Rohde – Bonin
7 Blatny - Henry

BOARD 1 Ibragimov – Cela

This was the game that was shown live this round on ICC. It was a Samiesch Kings Indian, and Cela tried to sacrafice a piece. However Ildar calmly captured the piece and Cela noticed that his intended follow up to win the piece back led to the trapping of his queen. Thus after a few moves the Albanian IM resigned.

BOARD 2 Vovsha - Yudasin

The extremely fashionable 6.Be3 Najdorf was played and Yudasin responded with Novikov, Najer and Wojtkiewicz' favorite line of 6....e6. Vovsha played well however and won a pawn. He was low on time yet he managed to win 3 pawns! Eli had a completely winning position, but with only about a minute on the clock compared to Yudasins 15 minutes, Vovsha was happy to repeat the position and take a draw.

BOARD 3 Najer - Ippolito

Ippolito played his trusty Semi-Slav defense and seemed to hit Najer with a nasty trick in the middlegame. Najer responded by sacraficing his queen for a rook and a piece, yet despite his material advantage, Dean had tremendous trouble coordinating his pieces and overcoming his deficit on the clock. After Evgeny won a piece from Dean it was smooth sailing and Najer thus moved to 2-0.

BOARD 4 Lapshun - Stripunsky

Stripunsky played his favorite Kan defense, and won a pawn in a rook and knight endgame. They traded down to Stripunsky having Rook with an f+g pawn to Lapshun having a rook and an h-pawn. Lapshun tried to claim a draw as he had under a minute on the clock, but given the position his claim was denied and he eventually lost on the board.

BOARD 5 Bady - H.Nakamura

Bady was fresh off his dramatic win over Irina Krush, whereas Nakamura was fresh off his 4-0 victory from the previous Thursday. En route to this score he had wins against Stripunsky and Ibragimov. Bady would not be the one to stop him, as Nakamura got a good opening in a Sozin Najdorf and a huge time advantage, and used it well enough to secure the win and a 2-0 score.

BOARD 6 Rohde - Bonin

Things have been brighter for Jay in the NY Masters lately, as instead of being paired to Novikov in round 1, he has tended to just make the cut and get paired with a 2200 player. However Rohde beat Jay last time they met and it would be no different this time, as Michael moved to 2-0.

BOARD 7 Blatny - Henry

The qualifier Kausan Henry (2015 USCF) had to go up against Pavel Blatny's Bird-Larsen Attack 1.b3, 2.f4. Blatny got a lot of pressure out of the opening and Kausan fought hard but was unable to resist as Blatny moved up to 1.5/2 as he only drew with Aravena in round 1.

Leaders after Round 2

2 pts - Ibragimov, Najer, Stripunsky, H.Nakamura, Rohde

1.5 pts - Yudasin, Blatny, Vovsha, Aravena, Gershov


Key Pairings

1 Stripunsky - Ibragimov
2 H.Nakamura - Najer
3 Yudasin - Rohde

BOARD 1 Stripunsky - Ibragimov

Ibragimov has yet to have a big score in the NY Masters, and I'm sure the $510 prize looked good to him tonight, but first Stripunsky stood in his way. Stripunsky has not won a top prize in a while so something would have to give. It turned out to be all Stripunsky in this game as he won some pawns and got Ildar in terrible time trouble. From that point on the result was not in doubt, so Stripunsky moved to 3-0, ripe for a return to the top of the NY Masters.

BOARD 2 H.Nakamura - Najer

Nakamura has been a fiend lately, winning 2 action tournaments and the Contintenal Open in the last two weeks. This game was showed on ICC as the crowd really wanted to see the young Hikaru in action. Najer is no slouch either and plays a very enterprising style, so you knew this would be an exciting game, and these two didn't let the fans down. It was a 6.Be3 e6 Najdorf as is usual of Najer and a piece was sacraficed by Evgeny. Najer had three pawns for the material and it looked to be some kind of theory as Najer amassed a nice time advantage over Hikaru. When queens were traded the pawns became more powerful and when Hikaru sacraficed an entire rook to stop them, the result was no longer in doubt. Hikaru played on for a while but there was no hope as Najer simply had an extra rook and soon mated Nakamura.

BOARD 3 Yudasin - Rohde

Rohde had to win this game to join Najer and Stripunsky at 3-0, however it's ALWAYS hard to beat Yudasin. Having the black pieces doesn't help matters either. Also not helping would be having 2 minutes left in the middlegame which is what happened to Rohde in a Kings Indian Attack French Defense. It was amazing to me, as it seemed like a completely normal early middlegame, yet Yudasin had about 5 minutes to Rohde's 2 minutes. Rohde couldn't take that kind of pressure and his position was not so easy either, and eventually flagged. Somehow Yudasin made 20 moves before checkmating him with 2 extra queens, never once noticing that Rohde's flag had fallen. This was quite risky as Leonid did not have much time to spare at the end. Either way this win jumped Yudasin up to 2.5/3 and gave him an outside shot at first place.

In other action between the 1.5's, Blatny got the white pieces again against Gershov and used his Bird Larsen attack to success once again to join Yudasin at 2.5/3. Vovsha was outblitzed by Aravena and was way down on time in an endgame with knight and 5 pawns versus rook and 3 pawns. I didn't see what transpired but Vovsha eventually won the game, and thus also moved to 2.5/3.

Leaders after Round 3

3 pts - Najer, Stripunsky

2.5 pts - Yudasin, Blatny, Vovsha


Key Pairings

1 Najer - Stripunsky
2 Yudasin - Blatny
3 Vovsha - Ibragimov

BOARD 1 Najer - Stripunsky (BROADCAST LIVE ON ICC)

Najer was in a familiar position this week. Last week he had 3-0 and was facing Blatny with the white pieces. Blatny offered peace early in the game but being the fighter that he is, Najer declined. In the end Blatny outplayed Najer and went 4-0 to take first place. Would Najer become haunted by the ghosts of last week and take a quick draw, or would he fight it out and try to beat Stripunsky for the second week in a row. Najer chose the former and played his favorite variation of the Closed Sicilian involving 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5. Najer won a pawn and looked to be on the road to a 4-0 score and a nice $510 payday. However his extra pawn was doubled and Stripunsky was not in the mood to start 3-0 and then go down in flames in the last round as he did in the Thursday Night Action against Nakamura. Stripunsky dug deep down and made Najers task as difficult as possible. Najer tried to trade queens, and Stripunsky calmly moved his queen away. In the end Stripunsky forced Najers king in the middle of the board in a queen and bishop endgame, and proved that Najer could not possibly escape the checks of the black queen, thus with each player having only about 2 minutes remaining, the game was agreed drawn.

BOARD 2 Yudasin - Blatny

The result of the game on board 1 must have been music to the ears of Yudasin and Blatny, although I doubt that they were aware at the time. This meant that if either of the two won, they would join Najer and Stripunsky in first place. Yudasin was still stinging from his painful loss with white to Blatny the week before, would he be able to purge the demons this week? Yudasin tried to answer that very early in this game, as in a Gurgenidze variation white amassed a powerful stranglehold on the black king. Blacks king was stuck on f8 and white had knights on g5 and d6, the d6 knight supporting by a pawn on e5. Try as he might, Blatny was unable to stop the relentless attack of Yudasin and after white played Qf3 pinning the knight on c6 to the rook on a8, black could fight no longer and soon had to congratulate Leonid for his victory.

BOARD 3 Vovsha - Ibragimov

Ibragimov was at 2/3 so he was out of the money, however Vovsha was sitting at 2.5/3 and still could tie for first with a win in this game. Ibragimov used his trusty Closed Ruy Lopez Defense, which he had used to defeat Vovsha in their last encounter. The game eventually fizzled to a rook endgame which seemed to be completely equal. However the old adage of taking young players into the endgame came into effect tonight, as Eli made several big mistakes and traded his passed pawn for a random h pawn of Ibragimovs. He then lost a pawn and got very low on time. All of this combined turned into a loss for Vovsha, and Ibragimov became the spoiler although it seemed as though Eli had no serious chance to WIN the game, only to draw.

In other action , Jay Bonin made a sensation with a nice win over Hikaru Nakamura. Sometimes Jay can get you in one of his openings and there is simply nothing you can do, and this was one of those games as he had a very strong position quite early against Nakamura and never let go to move to 3/4. After Braylovsky could only draw Rohde to go to 2.5/4, Bonin was guaranteed clear first U2400 and picked up a cool $150 for his efforts. It looks like we will lose 2 U2400 players come the October supplement, as Jayson Gonzales' recent weekly update is up to 2470, and Jay has brought his rating up to 2430. However this will make it a lot more competitive among the other U2400 players. Let's also give mention to Rafal Furdzik who showed a nice performance, beating Krush (2415) and Gershov (2388) along with an easy draw against Ippolito (2460).

In the end Najer, Stripunsky and Yudasin received $270 a piece. What was really special about this event however, was that Leonid Yudasin has overtaken Igor Novikov, who is said to be in the Ukraine, as the leading money winner at the NY Masters. Yudasin has picked up a total of $2,405 whereas Novikov is at $2,335. Thanks for the exciting games everyone, there have been almost no quick draws in the past month or two, and everyone has appriciated it a lot!

21st New York Masters Action USA (USA), 20 viii 2002
                                    1   2   3   4   Total
    1. Yudasin, Leonid     g  2696 +17 = 8 + 7 + 6   3.5  ($270)
    2. Najer, Evgeny       g  2635 +18 + 9 +14 = 3   3.5  ($270)
    3. Stripunsky, Alex    g  2629 +21 +10 + 4 = 2   3.5  ($270)
    4. Ibragimov, Ildar    g  2707 +12 +15 - 3 + 8   3.0
    5. Bonin, Jay          m  2391 +30 - 7 +26 +14   3.0  ($150)
    6. Blatny, Pavel       g  2564 =22 +28 +20 - 1   2.5
    7. Rohde, Michael      g  2518 +23 + 5 - 1 =12   2.5 
    8. Vovsha, Eli            2484 +24 = 1 +22 - 4   2.5
    9. Ippolito, Dean      m  2460 +19 - 2 =13 +18   2.5
   10. Lapshun, Yury       f  2438 +26 - 3 =23 +22   2.5
   11. Sarkar, Justin      m  2414 =25 -22 +28 +23   2.5
   12. Braylovsky, Greg       2388 - 4 +19 +27 = 7   2.5
   13. Furdzik, Rafal         2287 -15 +16 = 9 +20   2.5
   14. Namakura, Hikaru    m  2536 +29 +27 - 2 - 5   2.0
   15. Cela, Altin         m  2516 +13 - 4 -18 +26   2.0
   16. Krush, Irina        m  2415 -27 -13 +24 +25   2.0
   17. Gonzales, Jayson    m  2381 - 1 -23 +30 +27   2.0
   18. D'Arruda, Ricardo   f  2350 - 2 +30 +15 - 9   2.0
   19. Privman, Boris      f  2252 - 9 -12 +31 +28   2.0
   20. Gershov, Yevgeny       2387 =   +25 - 6 -13   1.5
   21. Rogers, Norman         2324 - 3 =24 -25 +30   1.5
   22. Aravena, Peter         2313 = 6 +11 - 8 -10   1.5
   23. Schwartz, Ylon      f  2294 - 7 +17 =10 -11   1.5
   24. Wilson, Elvin          2271 - 8 =21 -16 +31   1.5
   25. Chernin, Oliver        2201 =11 -20 +21 -16   1.5
   26. Weeramantry, Sunil  f  2216 -10 +29 - 5 -15   1.0
   27. Bady, Glenn            2210 +16 -14 -12 -17   1.0
   28. Henry, Kasaun          2015 +31 - 6 -11 -19   1.0
   29. Klein, Erez         f  2297 -14 -26 --- ---   0.0
   30. Gelman, Geoffrey       2200 - 5 -18 -17 -21   0.0
   31. Johnson, Ben           2181 -28 --- -19 -24   0.0


1ST - $510
2ND - $200
3RD - $100
U2400 - $150