We had four GM's play in this week's NY Masters, as Maurice Ashley made a late appearance and needed a first round half point bye. In the next weeks things will be heating up, as Roland Schmaltz will be flying in from Germany to play the next two events. Also Hikaru Nakamura has expressed his intentions to get back into the fray, after being away for some weeks in a tournament in San Francisco, where he missed his 2nd GM norm by half a point. Also next week will mark my return to playing in the NY Masters. Forgive me if my reports aren’t as detailed in the future, as it’s much harder to catch the details while playing. I may have to rely on some ace reporters for some information.

Participant List:
1. GM Igor Novikov
2. GM Leonid Yudasin
3. GM Alex Stripunsky
4. GM Maurice Ashley – Round 1 Bye
5. FM Yuri Lapshun
6. FM Alan Stein
7. IM Jay Bonin
8. IM Jayson Gonzales – Round 1 Bye
9. FM Lew Eisen
10. FM Norman Rogers – Round 1 Bye
11. NM Lev Milman
12. FM Ylon Schwartz
13. NM Rafal Furdzik
14. FM Boris Privman
15. NM Doug Pader
16. Filler #1– NM Mike Klein
17. Qualifier – Alex Pelekhaty
18. Filler #2 – John Fernandez


1st - $300
2nd - $150
3rd - $70
U2400 - $80

ROUND 1 – (Milman – Novikov shown LIVE on ICC)

Milman is known for his attacking style, as he often essays the Smith Morra Gambit against the Sicilian defense. In this game he was a lot more reserved, as he played the quieter c3 Sicilian. Very quickly Milman liquidated the position and traded queens. It was obvious Lev was not playing for the win and Novikov simply couldn’t breach Milman’s solid position. As simple as the game looks, it’s never easy for a 2300 player to draw with a 2700 player, regardless of color, so Milman had to be happy with this one. Beside this game there were no other upsets in Round 1. The beginning of Round 2 would mark the entrance of GM Maurice Ashley, along with IM Jayson Gonzales and FM Norman Rogers


Key Pairings

1 Stein - Yudasin
2 Stripunsky - Bonin
3 Eisen - Lapshun

BOARD 1 Stein – Yudasin (SHOWN LIVE ON ICC)

Alan Stein has been away for about two months, as he went back to California to escape the smothering NYC summertime heat. Stein gets a chance to play some serious chance right away as Yudasin is one of the strongest players in the country. Stein played 3.g3 against Yudasins Sicilian, the same variation that Yudasin himself often uses. A complex middlegame ensued with Yudasin having his customary ten minute time advantage. Eventually Yudasin broke through and used a nice outpost on f4 for his knight and some queenside pressure to torture Stein. Stein got very low on time and on pawns and was soon forced to stop the clocks.

BOARD 2 Stripunsky – Bonin

Bonin has been playing this Trouve Gambit lately and to quite some success, as he drew Yudasin with it last week. For those who don’t know what it is, it goes 1.e4 d5 2.ed5 c6. The game was equal in material after the opening, but Stripunsky had some nice queenside pressure. This and the fact that Stripunsky is Bonin’s toughest opponent, spelled trouble for Jay. In the end Stripunsky used his advantage nicely and scored the win to move to 2-0.

BOARD 3 Eisen – Lapshun

This was quite an exciting game as both sides were attacking the other, with Lew seeming to have the better attacking chances. Lew missed the chance to play a winning rook sacrifice (although it’s hard to call it a sacrifice as if it was captured, Lew would have mate in one), and after this it was all downhill. Lapshun now had the big MO (momentum) and played a nice trick to force the win of an exchange in the endgame. This loss led to Eisen’s demise, and Lapshun now joined Stripunsky and Yudasin at 2-0.

In other action Igor Novikov displayed fine technique in defeating Jayson Gonzales. Maurice Ashley played a nice attacking game to knock off Norman Rogers. Lev Milman got swindled quite badly by Ylon Schwartz in a rook endgame. Also Furdzik was up about 4 pawns against Pader, but eventually conceded perpetual check to his opponent.

Leaders after Round 2

2 pts – Yudasin, Stripunsky, Lapshun
1.5 pts – Novikov, Ashley


Key Pairings

1 Yudasin - Stripunsky
2 Lapshun - Novikov
3 Stein - Ashley

BOARD 1 Yudasin – Stripunsky (Shown LIVE on ICC)

Stripunsky has been really hot lately, as he has won the last 2 events. He won clear first last week with 3.5/4 and tied for first two weeks ago with Yudasin. Yudasin has never lost to Stripunsky in this event and I believe has defeated him every time in which Yudasin had the white pieces. Yudasin saddled Stripunsky with an isolated pawn, and while some were expecting a display in how to play against in isolated pawn, they were instead treated to a display of piece of activity and how to use the two bishops. Stripunsky forced some kingside weaknesses and traded down into an endgame where he had an active rook and a safer king. White had some good chances to confuse the issue on move 38 with Bxd5, however it seems as if Rd5 is a reasonable response to this move. However the position would have become quite complicated. Instead Yudasin allowed Stripunsky some serious attacking chances against the white king, and Yudasin was at a loss for moves. He found one eventually, but unfortunately it allowed mate in 2 moves, and thus Stripunsky’s hot streak would continue for at least one more round.

BOARD 2 Lapshun – Novikov

Lapshun played one of Julius Hodgon’s favorite lines with 1.d4 d5 2.Bg5. Novikov was not phased however, and quickly traded into a good endgame. Novikov clearly was in no danger of losing the endgame but would he be able to win? The answer was no, as Lapshun defended well and remained the favorite to win the trip to the 2003 Bermuda Open.

BOARD 3 Stein – Ashley

The game looked fairly symmetrical and drawish to me, but the next time I returned Ashley was up the exchange. Stein tried to take advantage of the weak dark squares around Maurice’s king, but it was to no avail as Maurice held on to the extra material and won the game. This victory promised him a battle with Stripunsky on board 1 for the tournament championship. However it also meant that Maurice would have to defeat Alex with the black pieces, not an easy task.

Leaders after Round 3

3 pts – Stripunsky
2.5 pts – Ashley, Lapshun
2 pts – Novikov, Yudasin, Bonin


Key Pairings

1 Stripunsky - Ashley
2 Yudasin - Lapshun

BOARD 1 Stripunsky – Ashley (LIVE ON ICC)

It was a familiar situation for Stripunsky, as last week he had to hold Yudasin with the white pieces in the last round. He achieved the draw with Leonid very easily last week, would this week be any different? Stripunsky played very solidly and Maurice got no tangible winning chances out of the opening, but knew that he had to try somehow. When Stripunsky offered Maurice a draw with a safe advantage, Maurice boldly declined and went for the gusto as is typical of his style. Maurice got a bit carried away however, and Alex formulated a nice attack which forced Maurice to give up his queen for a rook and a bishop. Alex then had the chance to take a perpetual check, which would guarantee him CLEAR first place as long as Lapshun didn’t beat Yudasin with the black pieces. However Stripunsky’s position was so easily winning that to take a draw would be absurd, and thus he did not repeat and won the game quite handily. This win made Stripunsky the 4th player ever to finish the event 4-0. Schmaltz did it once, and Yudasin and Nakamura went 4-0 in the same event! Stripunsky’s hot streak and 3 consecutive tournament victories has netted him $900 over the past 3 weeks!

BOARD 2 Yudasin – Lapshun

Now that Stripunsky had won, Lapshun had no chance to tie for first place. However a win would guarantee Yuri clear 2nd place. Yuri had never achieved 3.5/4 so this would be a very welcome win indeed. Now comes my usual disclaimer as Lapshun had the black pieces against Yudasin, and Yudasin doesn’t lose often with white (Although he did in Round 3 to Stripunsky). Yudasin won a pawn and got a good knight against Lapshuns less than good bishop. Yudasin then traded down to a queen and pawn endgame where Lapshun could just make moves, but clearly had no chance to save the game, as he was down to about 2 minutes to Yudasins 10, and had a totally lost game. Lapshun eventually resorted to the unorthodox tactic of callig his own flag and Yudasin finished with 3-1.

Novikov beat Bonin in a weird game to split 2nd-3rd place with Yudasin for $110 a piece. The battle for the U2400 was still in effect. Pader won a rook in the opening against Eisen and looked sure to get 2.5/4 and get a share of the prize as Eisen had zero real compensation for the rook. Pader claimed he thought the position would “win itself”, but he had some strange difficulties achieving it. He moved his queen from an active post to a very passive one and allowed Eisen some big attacking chances. In the end Eisen actually missed a win, and repeated the position three times giving both players 2/4 and leaving them out of the money.

Coming through with the U2400 prize for the first time was FM Boris Privman. Privman has been a regular at the NY Masters and it’s nice to see him finally win a prize, although it was at the expense of the Philadelphian player Norman Rogers. Rogers had an extra pawn in the endgame, but in these action tournaments, such advantages are not always safe and Privman won back the pawn and after some mistakes by Rogers, was able to win the game.

25th New York Masters Action USA (USA), 17 ix 2002
                                    1   2   3   4   Total
    1. Stripunsky, Alex    g  2629 +15 + 7 + 3 = 4   4.0  ($300)
    2. Novikov, Igor       g  2724 = 9 +13 = 5 + 7   3.0  ($110)
    3. Yudasin, Leonid     g  2696 +11 +12 - 1 + 5   3.0  ($110)
    4. Ashley, Maurice     g  2543 =   +14 +12 - 1   2.5
    5. Lapshun, Yury       f  2438 + 6 + 8 = 2 - 3   2.5
    6. Privman, Boris      f  2252 - 5 +17 = 8 +14   2.5  ($ 80)
    7. Bonin, Jay          m  2391 +18 - 1 +11 - 2   2.0
    8. Eisen, Lewis        f  2335 +17 - 5 = 6 =10   2.0
    9. Milman, Lev            2323 = 2 -11 +13 =     2.0
   10. Pader, Doug            2241 -14 =15 +17 = 8   2.0
   11. Schwartz, Ylon      f  2294 - 3 + 9 - 7 =13   1.5
   12. Stein, Alan         f  2408 +10 - 3 - 4 ---   1.0
   13. Gonzales, Jayson    m  2381 =   - 2 - 9 =11   1.0
   14. Rogers, Norman      f  2324 =   - 4 =15 - 6   1.0
   15. Furdzik, Rafal         2287 - 1 =10 =14 ---   1.0
   16. Fernandez, John        2113 --- --- --- =17   0.5
   17. Pelekhaty, Alex        2034 - 8 - 6 -10 =16   0.5
   18. Klein, Mike            2241 - 7 --- --- ---   0.0


1ST - $300
2ND - $150
3RD - $ 70
U2400 - $ 80