FEBUARY 18 2003

After the biggest blizzard in 7 years, the thing on everybody’s mind was “Will there be a NY Masters this week??”. As I was stuck in Parsippany, New Jersey, I felt quite sure that it would be impossible to hold the tournament. I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to get home in time for the event! We decided to cancel the event and I broke the news to Roland Schmaltz and Jay Bonin. Let’s just say that this news was not greeted with enthusiasm, and I was lucky to escape both encounters with my life. After seeing how disappointed they would be without the event, I decided to uncancel the event, and see who would find a way to make it through the terrible traffic, the messed up subway system and the 20 inches of snow, to compete for fame and glory in the NY Masters.

Unfortunately the snow did have it’s effect, as only 8 players were able to make it to the club, thus breaking the record for smallest NY Masters field of all time. Despite this, the prize fund was larger than that of 8 other NY Masters events, due to our increased sponsorship! Even the qualifier was unable to make it, but due to the circumstances he will be eligible to play next week. In the end we had a very nice prize fund for an 8 player event!

Players for 44th NY Masters

GM Roland Schmaltz
IM Greg Shahade
IM Jay Bonin
NM Rafal Furdzik
FM Ilye Figler
NM Samson Benen
FM Boris Privman
Filler – Robert Hess


1st - $300
2nd - $140
U2400 - $40



1 Schmaltz – Furdzik SEE BELOW!!
2 Benen – G.Shahade 1-0
3 Bonin – Privman 1/2 - 1/2
½ pt bye – Figler

We had an upset right off the bat in this small NY Masters. I got confused in a Grunfeld and started the game with one less exchange and 20 fewer minutes than my opponent. I had some small chances for counterplay, but they all evaporated after I missed the opportunity to win a pawn. Privman drew with Bonin and thus would Schmaltz become the only favorite to win in round 1?? Let’s find out!!

(1) Schmaltz,R (2628) - Furdzik,R (2282) [B19]
44th New York Masters New York (1), 18.02.2003

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.h4 h6 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 11.Bf4 Ngf6 12.0-0-0 Be7 13.Kb1 0-0 14.c4 Qa5 15.Ne5 Rad8 16.Qe2 Nxe5 17.Bxe5 b5 18.c5 Rd5


A nice rerouting of the knight. The knight is heading to e3, where it will be much better placed and will evict the rook from the d5 square.

19...Rfd8 20.Ne3 R5d7 21.Rh3 Nd5 22.Rg3 Bf8 23.Qg4

The white pieces seem to be swarming the black king. Rafal has a nice square on d4 for his pieces, but unfortunately he can gain nothing from this outpost. Sometimes an outpost my look pretty, but in this case black has almost no counterplay.

23...Qa4 24.Nxd5 Rxd5 25.Rc1 R8d7 26.Qf4 Kh7 27.Qe4+ Kg8 28.f4 f5 29.Qe1 Bxc5?

Losing to a nice counter-tactic..

30.dxc5 Rd1


A nice, yet simple, deflection.

31...Kf8 32.Rxd7 Rxe1 33.Rxe1 Qc4 34.Red1 Qe4+ 35.Ka1

Mate is coming, thus Roland rolls on to victory




1 Benen – Schmaltz SEE BELOW!!
2 Figler – Bonin 1-0
3 Privman – G.Shahade 1/2-1/2
4 Hess – Furdzik 0-1

Figler entered the tournament in fine style, knocking off Jay Bonin. It seemed like Jay had the better chances at some point during the contest. I had rook and 2 pawns versus rook against Privman, so naturally I drew. Would Samson continue his string of upsets with a victory over NY Masters legend Roland Schmaltz??

(2) Benen,S (2273) - Schmaltz,R (2628) [E15]
44th New York Masters New York (2), 18.02.2003

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 d5 8.Bc3 0-0 9.Nbd2 Bb7 10.0-0 dxc4 11.Nxc4 Nbd7 12.Bb2 c5


It seems that Benen is content to play solidly against his Grandmaster opponent. The position is level.

13...Rc8 14.dxc5 Nxc5 15.Qxd8 Rfxd8 16.Rfd1

Now the position is totally equal. Either side will need a blunder or to do some serious outplaying to win this one…

16...Nce4 17.Nfe5 Bc5 18.e3 Bd5 19.Nd3 Bf8 20.Nce5 h6 21.f3 Nc5 22.e4 Bb7 23.Bf1 Ne8 24.Nxc5 Bxc5+ 25.Kg2 Be3 26.Rxc8 Rxc8 27.Nc4 Bc5 28.Rd7 Bc6 29.Rd2

The much lower ranked Benen has succeeded in keeping the game balanced. I’m sure Schmaltz badly wanted to win this game, but 2001 National High School co-Champion, Samson Benen, is making it nearly impossible.

29...f6 30.Rc2 Kf8 31.a3 Bd7 32.b4 Be7 33.Bd3 Ba4 34.Rc1 Rd8 35.Rc3 Bb5 36.Kf1???

Oh Samson! Ne5 was enough to hold the balance and I think Bc2 was ok as well. Can you spot the winning blow after this blunder??


Oops! One blunder was all that separated the GM from the master in this game. Perhaps the pressure of playing Roland got to Samson. Sometimes when you play an opponent that is much higher rated than you are, you get the feeling that you are supposed to lose the game. Often this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, as you start to fear threats and variations that aren’t there.


Leaders after Round 2

2 pts – Schmaltz
1.5 pts – Figler
1 pt – Benen, Privman, Furdzik



1 Schmaltz – Figler SEE BELOW!
2 Furdzik – Benen 1/2-1/2
3 Hess – Privman 1/2-1/2
4 G.Shahade – Bonin 1-0

Furdzik and Benen drew relatively quickly, leaving them both with 1.5/3. Furdzik declined Samsons early draw offer, but when it became a bishop’s of opposite color endgame, there was no point in playing any longer. Privman was cruising to a 2-1 score, as he was up a pawn against Robert Hess, and was WAY up on time, with a lead of about 15 minutes to 9 seconds (with time delay). I went upstairs and when I came back, Robert had just 1 second left, but had neutralized into a drawn bishops of opposite color endgame! Robert held the draw, and Boris was frustrated with his 1.5/3 score.

Roland was ready to continue his domination of the NY Masters against Ilye Figler, but let’s not forget that Figler can be extremely dangerous in this competition. Everyone remembers the event in which he started with a half point bye and followed it up by defeating IM Yuri Lapshun, GM Maurice Ashley and finally GM Igor Novikov to go 3.5/4 with a performace rating of 2900!

(3) Schmaltz,R (2628) - Figler,I (2307) [B58]
44th New York Masters New York (3), 18.02.2003

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 Bd7 7.Nb3 a6 8.Be3 b5 9.a4 b4 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.exd5 Na5 12.Qd4 Nxb3 13.cxb3

Oh my God! What a terrible position Figler has out of the opening. How is he ever going to develop his pieces? One attempt goes like this… 13….e6 14.de6 fe6 15. Bh5! g6 16. Qxh8. So Ilye can’t play e6, and can’t move the g pawn. What is he going to do??

13...a5 14.0-0 f6

What a sad sad choice to have to make. There is nothing worse than playing someone as strong as Schmaltz, and having a position this terrible so quickly after the opening. Sometimes you pray that your opponent will find a tactic to finish you off quickly, otherwise there is a lot of suffering to endure. This is one thing I like about action chess, the suffering in lost positions is not nearly as painful.

15.Rac1 g6 16.Qb6

Even with the queens off, Roland’s development advantage is too much to overcome.

16...Qxb6 17.Bxb6 Bh6 18.Rc7 Rf8 19.f4 Rf7 20.g3 e5 21.fxe5 dxe5 22.Bc4 f5 23.d6

Things are looking quite perilous for Figler. White’s pieces are all very well placed, and the pawn on d6 is going to be extremely strong.

23...Rf6 24.Rd1 Rb8

A nice trap from Figler. If 25.Bxa5 Be3+ 26. Kg2 Ra8, traps the bishop, as the bishop on e3 is cutting off the retreat square of the bishop.

25.Ba7 Rd8 26.Rd5 Be6 27.Rxe5 Rxd6


Things are falling apart for Ilye. White has won a pawn and still has MUCH MUCH more active pieces.

28...Bf8 29.Re1 Rf7 30.Rxf7 Kxf7 31.Bxe6+ Rxe6 32.Rxe6 Kxe6 33.Bb6 Kd5 34.Bxa5 Kc5 35.Bd8 Bg7 36.Be7+

Curtains….the b-pawn will fall and white’s queenside pawns will roll. Roland continues to an impressive 3-0 score! What’s really funny is that NO ONE can catch him! Roland has won the tournament after 3 rounds for the first time in NY Masters history!


Leaders after Round 3

3 pts – Schmaltz
1.5 pts – G.Shahade, Furdzik, Figler, Benen, Privman



1 G.Shahade – Schmaltz SEE BELOW!!
2 Figler – Benen 1/2-1/2
3 Privman – Furdzik 1/2-1/2
4 Bonin – Hess 1-0

There was controversy in this round, as Samson Benen asked for time delay with only one second left on his clock and with a worse position. It was a drawn position, but it did require quite accurate defense. The delay clock was awarded and Benen held the draw. To avoid such difficult decisions being left up to the tournament director in the future, from here on out, any game that begins WITHOUT time delay, and also is being played with a clock that can be set for time delay, is ineligible to ask for time delay at any point during the game. So the new rule is to either start with delay or don’t ask for it from here on out.

This was the first ever NY Masters in which a player had clinched CLEAR first place before the final round! GM Roland Schmaltz was 3-0 and no one had even 2-1. Despite this, I wanted to send a message to the world in the last round, by showing everyone that Roland was not invincible! Would I be up to the task?


(4) Shahade,G (2510) - Schmaltz,R (2628) [B43]
44th New York Masters New York (4), 18.02.2003

How quickly we go from teammates to opponents. Me and Roland played in the bughouse tournament at the US Amateur Team East. Most people cried that it was unfair, as we outrated all of the other teams by hundreds of points. We showed very quickly that it wasn’t unfair by losing to two of my students, Nile Smith and Franklin Lhangeri, in round 1! Note that we outrated them both by over 1000 points, thus proving the old adage that chess skills don’t often translate into bughouse skills. We rebounded nicely by beating two ten year old children and then lost to the UTD team that ended up winning the tournament!

Before the game Roland approached me in the hallway and told me that if I gave him a draw, we could split the prize money. I tried to tell him that even if I beat him, he would still get clear first place, but he was so overcome by fear (Probably from the many blitz games that I defeated him in the previous weekend) that he obviously wasn’t hearing a word I was saying. Anyway I decided to do the moral thing and decline his scandalous offer.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 b5 6.Bd3 Qb6 7.Nb3 Qc7 8.0-0 Bb7 9.Qe2 Nf6 10.f4 b4 11.Nd1 Nc6 12.Nf2 d6 13.Be3 Be7 14.Rac1 0-0 15.c3 bxc3 16.Rxc3

Roland explained after the game that this plan for white is not best, and black will always have a very solid position with an extra central pawn.

16...Rfc8 17.Rfc1 Qd8 18.Nd4 Nxd4 19.Bxd4 Nd7 20.Ng4 h5 21.Nf2 e5 22.Rxc8 Rxc8


Probably this was a mistake. It was safer to go 23.fe5, followed up by Bc3. Somehow I was under the impression that this would “mix things up”, and I wanted to do this as much as possible. Sometimes one’s desire to go for a certain result, such as a win, can create less than optimal moves.

23...exf4 24.Qxh5 Ne5 25.Rd1 g6 26.Qh3 Qb6 27.Bb1 Rc7 28.Bd4 Qb5 29.Qh6


Ooh! A fine shot by Schmaltz, which I completely overlooked.


I don’t think he was impressed with my Qh3-h6-h3 maneuver…

30...Qe2 31.Bd3!

Now I became very excited, as it was obvious Roland overlooked this move. I saw that his only move was 31….Qh5 and then I would seemingly have a totally playable endgame. The problem for me was my time, as I was down to only 3 minutes on the clock.


A shocking blow!! Whether it is good remains to be seen, but with my time trouble, it was surely the best choice. Black’s pieces become VERY active, and he will win another piece by force. The entire crowd on the internet was stunned by this move, expecting the mundane 31…Qh5.

32.Nxd1 Bc8 33.g4 Bxg4 34.Qf1 Nf3+ 35.Kg2 Nxd4 36.Nc3 Bf3+ 37.Kg1 Bh5 38.h4??

This is a terrible blunder which makes things very easy for black. I had about 2 minutes left at this point. It’s clear from my time trouble-induced blunders, that I need to move a lot faster in future events.

38...Nf3+ 39.Kh1 Nxh4 40.Be2 f3 41.Bxa6 d5 42.exd5 Nf5 43.Qf2 Bh4 44.Qb6 Re7!

Winning, there is no reasonable way to stop 45…Re1+ 46.Kh2 Bg3+ 47.Kh3 Rh1 mate.

45.Qb8+ Kh7 46.Kh2 f2 47.Qf4 Bg3+ 48.Qxg3 Nxg3 49.Kxg3


Another fine blow by Schmaltz! This interference tactic either will either win material or force the pawn home. Now the game is completely lost.

50.Bxe2 Rxe2 51.Kg2 Rxb2 52.d6 Rd2 53.Ne4 Rd4 54.d7 Kg7 55.Nc5 Kf8 56.a4 Ke7 57.a5 Rd5 58.Nb7 Kxd7 59.a6 Kc7 0-1

Congratulations to Schmaltz for an impressive 4-0 score!! This was probably the first and last NY Masters in which a player wins the event by 2 whole points! That’s right, Roland was the only player in the field to acheive a plus score! Also funny about this event was that only 2 players lost money playing. Those two unfortunate players were Jay Bonin and I, the 2nd and 3rd seeded players! Furdzik, Benen, Figler and Privman all received $45, and Hess did not pay an entry as he was the filler.

Thanks to everyone who played and who watched at the Marshall and online. The dedication of Boris Privman and Rafal Furdzik is very impressive. Most impressive of all is Jay Bonin, who has played in all 44 NY Master events! How long will this streak last? What will be needed to stop him, not even a blizzard could do the trick!

44th New York Masters Action USA (USA), 18 ii 2003
                                     1   2   3   4   Total
    1. Schmaltz, Roland     g  2628 + 3 + 4 + 2 + 6   4.0  ($300)
    2. Figler, Ilye         f  2307 =   + 7 - 1 = 4   2.0  ($ 45)
    3. Furdzik, Rafal          2282 - 1 + 8 = 4 = 5   2.0  ($ 45)
    4. Benen, Samson           2273 + 6 - 1 = 3 = 2   2.0  ($ 45)
    5. Privman, Boris       f  2241 = 7 = 6 = 8 = 3   2.0  ($ 45)
    6. Shahade, Greg        m  2510 - 4 = 5 + 7 - 1   1.5
    7. Bonin, Jay           m  2415 = 5 - 2 - 6 + 8   1.5
    8. Hess, Robert            2104 --- - 3 = 5 - 7   0.5

PRIZES 1ST - $300 2ND - $140 U2400 - $ 40