DECEMBER 17 2002

There were a lot of newer faces among the top seeds this week. Novikov and Stripunsky are in Kansas, and they have been replaced by Benjamin and Schmaltz! Schmaltz was still waiting for his first ever loss in the NY Masters. Also GM Michael Rohde was able to find time off tonight to jump back into the action. Most importantly, Canadian National Champion, IM Pascal Charbonneau was actually present for the event but chickened out of playing! IM David Goodman showed up after the first round began so I will spare him the name-calling. Also notable was that this week, 17 of the 20 participants were FIDE titled!

Don’t forget that there is no tournament for the next two weeks. These events are off because they fall on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. Also for the next scheduled tournament (January 7th), there will be no report. I am going to the US Championships early and thus will be unable to write anything up. After this the tournament on January 14th is cancelled because of the US Championship, thus taking away a reasonable chunk of the regular players. Do not fear however, as after Jan 14th, the tournament will be running regular again until at least April 15th (The last tournament of the 3rd season). Once again , below is the schedule for the following Tuesdays

JAN 7 – THERE IS A TOURNAMENT, but there will be no email REPORT. The games will still be broadcast live on ICC
JAN 14 – NO TOURNAMENT because of US Championship
JAN 28 – TOURNAMENT etc etc, tournaments will be held for the following 10 weeks

Participant List:

1. GM Leonid Yudasin
2. GM Joel Benjamin
3. GM Roland Schmaltz
4. IM Hikaru Nakamura
5. IM Yuri Lapshun
6. IM Dmitry Schneider
7. GM Michael Rohde
8. IM Jay Bonin
9. IM Irina Krush
10. NM Lev Milman
11. WIM Jenn Shahade
12. FM Ricardo D’Arruda
13. NM Rafal Furdzik
14. FM Lewis Eisen
15. FM Daniel Shapiro
16. FM Boris Privman
17. FM Igor Schneider
18. FM Sunil Weeramantry
19. Qualifier – Jeffery Mitchell
20. Filler – FM Fabiano Caruana


1st - $400
2nd - $150
3rd - $80
U2400 - $100



1. Yudasin - Milman 1/2-1/2
2. J.Shahade - Benjamin SEE BELOW
3. Schmaltz – D’Arruda 1-0
4. Furdzik - Nakamura 0-1
5. Lapshun - Eisen 1-0
6. D.Shapiro – D.Schneider 1/2-1/2
7. Rohde - Privman 1-0
8. I.Schneider - Bonin 1/2-1/2
9. Krush - Mitchell 1-0
½ BYE for Weeramantry

We had some fantastic action in round 1 this week. In this tournament, every time the position rook and bishop versus rook has been reached, the rook and bishop have been victorious. That streak lasted until today, as Yudasin showed how strong, experienced GM’s will hold that ending with only a few seconds on the clock and a 5 second time delay. On the contrast, Milman had to be very happy to draw Yudasin with the black pieces, despite being unable to swindle Leonid in the endgame.

(1) Shahade,J (2352) - Benjamin,J (2688) [B13]
38th New York Masters New York (1), 17.12.2002

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 Be6 7.Nge2 dxc4 8.Nf4 Bg4 9.f3 Bc8 10.Bxc4 Nxd4

Benjamin accepts Jenn’s challenge, will she be able to use her attacking prowess to knock off the 3 time US Champ??


11.Nfe2! seems to be quite strong for white. It was being suggested on the internet as I was broadcasting and somehow I felt like the move was ridiculous. White has given up a pawn for an attack and you want me to move my knight backwards?? It’s quite strong because if 11. ... Ne2 12.Qd8 Kd8, white will have a very strong attack. If 11. ... Nc6 12.Qd8 Nd8 (12. ... Kd8 13.Bxf7) 13.Nb5 wins instantly. Black would most likely have played 11. ... e5, but this is a victory for white as it really loosens blacks position, and does nothing to blunt the c4 bishop’s pressure on f7.

11...Nc6 12.Rd1

At this point I really loved my sister’s position. She has every single minor piece developed, a rook on the open file and the queen bearing down on black’s position, whereas black only has his knights out, at the cost of only one pawn. Benjamin proves that this development lead is illusory to some degree, as whites pieces are not most actively placed.

12. ... Bd7 13.0-0 e6 14.Kh1 Qa5 15.Qxa5 Nxa5

Now the consensus was that Jenn had lost all compensation for the pawn, however she quickly proved everyone wrong..

16.Bb5 Nc6 17.Bxf6 gxf6 18.Ne4

This was the point! Black has an extra pawn, but it is impossible to keep. If 18. ... Be7 19.Nh5 regains the pawn. 18. ... f5?? loses a piece to 19.Nf6+

18. ... 0-0-0

As Pascal Charbonneau would say “Black jettisons the extra pawn”. Now the position looks roughly equal…

19.Nxf6 Bh6 20.Nd3 Bg7 21.Nxd7 Rxd7 22.Nc5 Rc7 23.Ne4 Nd4

Somehow black has gained the better side of equality, as white now must play accurately to keep the balance. The best move here was 24.Nd6, as it effectively stops the rook from coming to d8. For instance if 24.Nd6 Kb8 25.Ba4 Rd8 walks into a self pin with 26.Nb5. At this point both players were under 2 minutes, with only the time delay to help them.

24.Bd3 Rd8

Now black has a pull….

25.h4? h6 26.b3 Nf5!

Proving the folly of h4.

27.Bc4 Ne3 28.Rxd8+ Kxd8 29.Rb1 Ke7 30.Bd3 Rd7 31.Nc5 Rd5 32.b4 b6 33.Be4 Rd2 34.Nb3 Rxa2 35.Rc1 Kd7 36.Bc6+ Kd6 37.Be4 f5 38.Bd3 Nxg2 39.Nd4 Bxd4 0-1


Key Pairings

1 Benjamin – Lapshun 1-0
2 Rohde – Schmaltz 0-1
3 Nakamura – Krush SEE BELOW

There were a lot of exciting matchups in round 2. It was very difficult to choose which game to put online, but eventually we decided on the future of American chess in Nakamura and Krush. Lapshun has won the event 2 consecutive weeks, but Benjamin stopped him dead in his tracks. Schmaltz was just seconds away from his first ever NY Masters defeat. Rohde’s flag fell when he was two moves from mate. I think it’s clear that Rohde’s results would improve a great deal if he brought a time delay clock to the tournament when he participates.

(2) Nakamura,H (2614) - Krush,I (2400) [D58]
38th New York Masters New York (2), 17.12.2002

1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 Be7 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 b6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 Be6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.0-0 c5 12.dxc5 bxc5 13.Rc1 Nd7


A technique aimed at breaking up the hanging pawns and playing against the c pawn. Black manages to get more than ample counterplay however.

14. ... dxe4 15.Bxe4 Rb8 16.b3 Qa5 17.Bd5 Bxd5 18.Qxd5 Nb6 19.Qd3 Rfd8 20.Qc2 Bxc3 21.Qxc3 Qxa2 22.Ra1 Qe2 23.Qxc5 Rdc8 24.Qd6 Rd8 25.Qc7 Nd5 26.Qxa7 Nf4 27.Rae1 Qb5 28.Qe3 Nd5 29.Qe5 Qxb3 30.Nd4

Irina was down to 2 minutes at this point, and thus Nakamura’s decision was very practically strong. Despite the mirror-like quality of the position, black must be very careful to avoid a quick defeat. 30. ... Qb6 31.Nf5 Qb2 should save the day. 30. ... Qb2 is weak after 31.Nc6, as is 30. ... Qc4 after 31.Rc1.

30. ... Qc3 31.Rc1 Qb2 32.Rc2 Qb3?? (Not waiting for Nxb3) 1-0

Leaders after Round 2

2 pts – Benjamin, Schmaltz, Nakamura
1.5 pts - Yudasin


Key Pairings

1 Schmaltz – Benjamin SEE BELOW
2 Yudasin – Nakamura 1/2 -1/2

The Yudasin vs. Nakamura game was brimming with action. My sources say that Yudasin was down a clear pawn, but managed to find some counterplay. In the end, Nakamura was threatening mate in one and had an extra piece, but Yudasin was able to create perpetual check.

On top board we had an extremely hyped battle. Schmaltz has never lost in the NY Masters, but has lost in the USA before. He lost to Joel Benjamin quite quickly in the 2001 US Open, with the white pieces to boot. Now would be a chance to get back at Joel in the fast time control that he excels at.

(3) Schmaltz,R (2628) - Benjamin,J (2688) [C47]
38th New York Masters New York (3), 17.12.2002

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Bg2 d6 6.d3 Nd4 7.h3 Be6 8.0-0 Nxf3+ 9.Qxf3 Qd7 10.g4 Bxc3 11.bxc3 h6 12.c4 c5 13.Qe2 g5 14.Rb1 0-0-0 15.c3 Kb8 16.f4

This move is like a slap in the face to your opponent. The f4 square is covered by 2 pawns at once, and he simply ignores it! The idea is shown very shortly.

16. ... gxf4 17.Bxf4

The point. If 17. ... exf4 18.e5 attacks the knight on f6, and uncovers on b7. However this is not checkers, and thus Joel is not forced to capture. Instead he focuses on the white kingside...

17. ... Rdg8 18.Be3

18. ... Nxg4!

White’s kingside gets pried open now. Joel is really going for the kill, and you could sense that this might finally be the first game that Schmaltz loses.

19.hxg4 Bxg4 20.Rf3 Rg6 21.Kh2 Rhg8 22.Qf2 Bxf3 23.Bxf3 h5 24.Qh4 Qa4 25.Rb2 Qa3 26.Rc2 Qa4

Things are really turning around now. Benjamin seemed to have a great position but now is seemingly prepared to perpetually attack white’s rook. Also Joel was down to about 30 seconds left with the 5 second time delay, whereas Roland had about 13 minutes still.


Of course, Roland isn’t going to take a draw when Joel has such serious time troubles. Also white’s position seems to have improved a tremendous deal.

27. ... a6 28.Qe7 Ka8

The fans were waiting for 29.Qxb7 here, but this is not so clear after 29. ... Kxb7 30. Rb2 Kc7 31. Ba4 Rg3!. After this move whites, pieces are really tied down.


Sticking with the theory to keep pieces on the board in your opponents time trouble. Things were looking very rosy for Schmaltz here, as Benjamin was down to 12 seconds now.

29. ... Qc6 30.Qxf7 R6g7 31.Qf3 h4 32.Bf2 Qe8 33.Qf6 Rg2+ 34.Kh1 Qd7!

Wait a second, Joel is not down yet! Joel still had 12 seconds left, thanks to the time delay, and the queen is coming to h3!!!

35.Qf5 Qg7!

What a turnaround!! Now black is completely winning, as 36…Rg1 37.Kh2 Qg2 is the deadly threat! Also if white tries to defend g2 with 37.Qf3 black plays 37. ... Rg1 38.Kh2 Rxd1 39.Qxd1 Qg2 mate.


Hoping that Joel couldn’t find the knockout in 12 seconds…

36. ... Rxf2!

Hopes unrealized, as Joel becomes the first ever player to defeat blitz champion Roland Schmaltz.


Leaders after Round 3

3 pts – Benjamin
2.5 pts – Nakamura
2 pts – Yudasin, Schmaltz, D.Schneider, Bonin, Krush, J.Shahade


Key Pairings

1 Benjamin (3) – Nakamura (2.5) SEE BELOW
2 Bonin (2) - Yudasin (2) 1-0
3 Krush (2) – Schmaltz (2) 1/2 - 1/2
4 D.Schneider (2) – J.Shahade (2) 1-0

Joel Benjamin went into this round as the only undefeated and could only by stopped by Hikaru Nakamura. Hikaru Nakamura has just received his 2nd GM norm and will obviously get the last norm and the title very shortly. Joel would only need to draw with the white pieces to take the prize, however Nakamura is extremely tricky and good at this time control. It was sure to be another game for the crowd.

Bonin must have been delighted to knock off GM Yudasin in the final round. Bonin has shown steady improvement since the first season of this tournament. At that point he was around 2380 USCF, but now has creeped back into the 2450 range. He has beaten GMs 2 weeks in a row and is sure to get some points for these efforts. The real question is why is it that he can beat Yudasin and Benjamin, but simply loses every time to Stripunsky?

Schmaltz had his lowest ever NY Masters score after being held to a draw by Irina Krush. This should really bite into his lifetime winning percentage of 88% in the Masters. Jenn Shahade, fresh off a win over IM Yuri Lapshun, had the wind taken out of her sails by IM Dmitry Schneider in the final round. Jenn won a pawn very early in the game, but Dima effectively mixed things up and confused her in an endgame.

Now on to the feature presentation...

(4) Benjamin,J (2688) - Nakamura,H (2614) [B52]
38th New York Masters New York (4), 17.12.2002

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Nxd7 5.0-0 Ngf6 6.d3 g6 7.Re1 Bg7 8.c3 0-0 9.d4 e6 10.h3 Qb6 11.Nbd2 Rac8 12.Qa4

So far Joel has to be happy with his solid position, as he doesn’t seem in any imminent danger of losing, and probably has the better chances. However there is still a LOT of chess to be played here, as Hikaru is going to do whatever he can to confuse the issue.

12. ... cxd4 13.cxd4 Qc7 14.b3 a6 15.Ba3 Rfd8


US Champion Larry Christiansen, watching live on ICC, much preferred the following line for Joel.
16.Rac1 Qb8 17.Rxc8 Rxc8 18.e5 dxe5 19.dxe5 Nb6 20.Qh4 “With a kingside attack”

16. ... Nb8 17.Qa3 Nc6 18.Rac1 a5 19.Bc3 b5

Now Nakamura is getting the activity he craved. Although it’s probably not enough for any real advantage, at least it’s something.

20.Ba1 Qb6 21.Qb2 Nb4 22.Qb1 Nd7 23.a3 Nc6 24.Qd3 e5 25.d5 Ne7 26.a4 Nc5 27.Qxb5 Qxb5 28.axb5 Rb8

Once again things are swinging in black’s direction, as black has the threat of …Nd3, a very awkward threat to stop. Instead white should search for the best way to get compensation after black wins the exchange.

After the game, Joel and Hikaru seemed to agree that the exchange sacrifice 29. Rxc5 dc5 30. Bxe5 would give white chances.

29.Bc3 Nd3

and Hikaru wins the exchange! Regardless of whether or not white has enough compensation for it (Whit he might if he plays VERY accurately), black has to be happy with the chaos that has been created, and the fact that Joel has only a few minutes remaining on the clock.

30.Bxa5 Nxe1 31.Nxe1 Rdc8 32.Rc7 Rxb5 33.Rxe7 Rxa5 34.Nc4 Ra1 35.Kf1 Bf8 36.Rb7 Rb1 37.Rb5 Ra8

Things are slowly falling apart for Joel... and he was visibly unhappy by the turn of events.

38.Na5 Bh6!

The bishop’s entrance into the game spells big trouble for Joel, the end comes swiftly

39.Ke2 Rb2+ 40.Kf3 f5 41.Nd3 Rd2 42.Nb4 fxe4+ 0-1

In the end Hikaru Nakamura gets the $400 first prize and makes more than most 14 year old’s can expect in one evening playing games. Tied for 2nd place and $80 were GM Benjamin, IM Bonin and IM D.Schneider. 2/4 was good enough to split the U2400 prize as each of WIM Jenn Shahade, FM Dan Shapiro, FM Boris Privman and FM Igor Schneider, received $25.

Also my sincere apologizes to Roland Schmaltz, whom I promised not to mention in this week’s report.

38th New York Masters Action USA (USA), 17 xii 2002
                                    1   2   3   4   Total
    1. Nakamura, Hikaru    m  2614 +14 + 6 = 7 + 2   3.5  ($400)
    2. Benjamin, Joel      g  2688 + 9 + 8 + 5 - 1   3.0  ($ 80)
    3. Schneider, Dmitry   m  2513 =10 =13 +17 + 9   3.0  ($ 80)
    4. Bonin, Jay          m  2445 =12 =10 +13 + 7   3.0  ($ 80)
    5. Schmaltz, Roland    g  2628 +17 +16 - 2 = 6   2.5
    6. Krush, Irina        m  2400 +15 - 1 +10 = 5   2.5
    7. Yudasin, Leonid     g  2721 =13 +19 = 1 - 4   2.0
    8. Lapshun, Yury       m  2572 +18 - 2 - 9 +14   2.0
    9. Shahade, Jennifer   m  2352 - 2 +12 + 8 - 3   2.0  ($ 25)
   10. Shapiro, Dan        f  2275 = 3 = 4 - 6 +17   2.0  ($ 25)
   11. Privman, Boris      f  2227 -16 -17 +15 +18   2.0  ($ 25)
   12. Schneider, Igor     f  2202 = 4 - 9 =18 +19   2.0  ($ 25)
   13. Milman, Lev            2370 = 7 = 3 - 4 =     1.5
   14. Furdzik, Rafal         2319 - 1 =15 +19 - 8   1.5
   15. Mitchell, Jeff         2084 - 6 =14 -11 +20   1.5
   16. Rohde, Michael      g  2497 +11 - 5 --- ---   1.0
   17. D'Arruda, Ricardo   f  2347 - 5 +11 - 3 -10   1.0
   18. Eisen, Lew          f  2314 - 8 =20 =12 -11   1.0
   19. Weeramantry, Sunil  f  2200 =   - 7 -14 -12   0.5
   20. Caruana, Fabiano    f  2125 --- =18 --- -15   0.5

PRIZES 1ST - $400 2ND - $160 3RD - $ 80 U2400 - $100