71st NEW YORK MASTERS
SEPTEMBER 2nd, 2003
COMMENTARY BY JOHN FERNANDEZ
www.newyorkmasters.com

Another exciting week at the New York Masters! Sadly, Greg Shahade's fledgling singing career was delt a cruel blow by the harsh words of the vicious Simon. Of course, Paula loved Greg, but not enough to get him to the next round. GM Jaan Ehlvest has been hot lately, taking first place two weeks ago in Washington, D.C., and now last weekend at the New York State Championships in Kerhonkson.

Given that most of these tournaments over Labor Day weekend ended yesterday, some players couldn't make it in. Many of our players were in Buenos Aires, but Irina Krush braved the latitude change to play.

We had two new players. WGM Martica Fierro is well known in the New York chess scene. One of the top players in her country with experience on both Ecuador's Men's and Women's teams, she's a very dangerous opponent. Hopefully she'll spend a lot more time in the New York area and play in more events. Leonid Zakinov is a Russian-born master, who has spent time living all over the globe, most recently moving to New York from Australia. Despite having no official rating, his eagerness should make him a fine addition at more events. Not new but our qualifier is Alex Pelekhaty, who got into this tournament with another incredible score, beating Asa Hoffmann to score 3.5/4.

Participant List for 71st NY Masters:

1. GM Jaan Ehlvest
2. IM Greg Shahade
3. IM Irina Krush
4. IM Justin Sarkar
5. IM Jayson Gonzales
6. IM Jay Bonin
7. FM Boris Privman
8. WGM Martha Fierro
9. FM Erez Klein
10. NM Lewis Eisen
11. FM Dan Shapiro
12. NM Rafal Furdzik
13. NM Leonid Zakinov
14. WFM Laura Ross
15. Alex Pelekhaty - Qualifier
16. Jeff Mitchell - Filler
17. Ilya Logunov - Filler

PRIZES

1st - $400
2nd - $160
3rd - $ 60
U2400 - $112

ROUND 1

Pairings

1 Klein - Ehlvest 0-1
2 Shahade - Eisen 1/2-1/2
3 Shapiro - Krush 1/2-1/2
4 Sarkar - Furdzik 1-0
5 Zakinov - Gonzales 0-1
6 Bonin - Ross LIVE GAME
7 Pelekhaty - Privman 0-1
8 Fierro - Logunov 0-1

For once, the results today were very sane, with the higher rated player scoring 7 out of 8. However, there is more than meets the eye. Greg Shahade made a valiant effort to win a better knight ending against Lew Eisen, but Lew was up to the challenge and held a draw. Dan Shapiro and Irina Krush fought in a very double-edged bishops of opposite colors endgame, but eventually drew. Justin Sarkar had a knight versus rook in an endgame against Rafal Furdzik, but Raffy was a little overzealous in pressing for the win, and by the time he went to hit the brakes, it was too late.

It seems that Jay Bonin and Laura Ross play every single tournament, and even though I'm too lazy to check, it's quite possible they have. Jay is our big hero, having played in all 71 events, comprising a total of 283 games. (He got a bye once.) Laura Ross is a future star in the long line of excellent women chess players we have in this country. Now to the game...

(1) Bonin,J (2377) - Ross,L (2124) [A11]
71st New York Masters New York (1), 02.09.2003

1.g3

An odd first move by Jay, who generally sticks to more tried and true moves like 1. d4, 1. e4 or 1. Nc3. This is clearly a "cagey veteran vs. young up and comer move" to try to beat the talented youngster with experience.

1...d5 2.Bg2

Botvinnik was never a fan of this move, since it allows the move 2. ... e5, trying to grab a hold of the center. Laura's move is by no means worse, however.

2...Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Qc2 g6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.0-0 0-0 7.d3 Bg4

For those of you more concerned with the historical side of chess, Rudolf Spielmann preferred 7. ... dxc4 in his game vs. Saviely Tartakower in Berlin in 1928. Laura can be forgiven for missing out on that game.

8.Nbd2 Nbd7

Novelty. Previously, the players when faced with this position decided to play 8. ... Qc8, aiming to exchange off light squared bishops with 9. ... Bh3. For that reason, 8. h3 was sometimes played. Ah, a little chess theory warfare even in these "quiet" systems!

9.h3 Bxf3 10.Nxf3 e5 11.Bg5 Re8 12.cxd5 cxd5 13.Rac1 Qb6 14.Nd2 h6 15.Bxf6 Nxf6 16.Qb3 Qxb3?!

16...Qd6 Was suggested by Jay after the game as an improvement on the queen trade. After trading queens, Laura has a hard time defending all her pawns.

17.Nxb3 Rac8 18.Na5

Starting to bother the queenside.

18...b6 19.Nc6

This is the problem with this position. Contrast White's Knight on c6 to its counterpart on f6. Do the same with the Bishops. You can't compare them! White's pieces are more active, and White's pawns are safer. Sure, there's only one file, but Laura is going to have to hold on for dear life to make a draw in this position with no current counterplay.

19...Rc7 20.Rc2 Kf8

Of course, one should beware of elementary tricks such as 20. ... Rfc8? 21. Ne7+.

21.Rfc1 Rec8 22.h4

A very useful move by Jay, grabbing some kingside space, and introducing ideas of Bh3 to attack the Rook on c8. This may make the Rook on c7 feel vulnerable tactically in some future variations.

22...e4 23.Bh3 Re8 24.dxe4 dxe4 25.e3 Nd5 26.b4 a6 27.a4 f5?

Oh no! Laura finally cracks under the pressure. While this move is very desirable, it fails tactically. With 27. ... h5!, Laura could likely play 28. ... f5 next move in order to seal up the kingside.

28.h5!

This is the problem. The best place to attack a pawn chain is the base, and with it, Black's kingside pawns look incredibly delicious, especially to a gourmet like Jay.

28...gxh5

28...Kf7 29.Nd8+ Rxd8 30.Rxc7+ Nxc7 31.Rxc7+ also leads to a wonderful endgame for White.

29.Bxf5 Bf6 30.Bg6 Re6 31.Bxh5 b5 32.axb5 axb5 33.Rc5 Nc3

A very clever resource by Laura, but one that fails tactically.

34.R1xc3 Bxc3 35.Nd8!!

Oops. Forks abound everywhere. This brilliant move by Jay finishes the game.

35...Re5

35...Rxc5 36.Nxe6+ Ke7 37.Nxc5 Bxb4 38.Nxe4-+
35...Ree7 36.Rxc7 Rxc7 37.Ne6+

36.Rxc7

And Laura is going to end up a piece down, so she threw in the towel.

1-0

ROUND 2

Key Pairings

1 Ehlvest - Bonin 1-0
2 Privman - Sarkar 1-0
3 Gonzales - Fierro LIVE GAME!

Another very exciting round of games. Jaan Ehlvest was just too much for Jay Bonin, and moved on to 2-0. Boris Privman did a great job against Justin Sarkar to join him with a perfect score.

Martha Fierro is an incredibly experienced player despite her young age, having played in 4 Olympiads, World Championships, Continental Championships and Zonals. However, Jayson Gonzales is no pushover either, and his fearlessness is a great asset to him in this tournament.

Who would win to join Ehlvest and Privman at 2-0? Let's see!

(2) Gonzales,J (2404) - Fierro Baquero,M (2320) [A41]
71st New York Masters New York (2), 02.09.2003

1.Nf3 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.d4 c5

An invitation to enter into a variation of the Dzindzi Indian after 5. d5 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 f5.

5.e3 cxd4 6.exd4 Nf6 7.h3 0-0 8.Be3

This move seems a bit passive, as it appears that the Bishop will have a bigger life on f4 or g5.

8...d5

A pretty well known position, which in practice has come from different openings like the Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik Attack, King's Indian Defense, and even Alekhine's Defense and Center Counter! Of course, those positions are BLACK to move. Black has lost a tempo by going d7-d6-d5, as opposed to the majority of games in which Black got d7-d5 in in one go. Can Gonzales make the extra tempo count?

9.Qb3 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Nc6 11.Ne5!

11.Ng5 e6! Gives White nothing.

11...e6 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Na4

And now Jayson's plan is clear. After putting the Knight on c5, White is going to attempt to suffocate that Bishop on c8 forever.

13...Nd5 14.Bxd5 cxd5 15.0-0

At the time this move looked like a mistake, as it appears to give Black the much needed activity from his Bc8, but in hindsight this move is just fine. Others would go 15. Nc5 in a heartbeat, but perhaps this move is better.

15...Ba6 16.Rfc1 Rb8 17.Qd1 Qa5 18.b3

And now what? The Ba6 appears to be on a great diagonal, but it's going absolutely nowhere. Black can very quickly drift into a lost position if she isn't careful.

18...Rfc8 19.Nc5 Bb5 20.Rc2 Qb6

The tempting move might be 20...Rb6, attempting to go Rbc6, but this move gets nailed by 21.Nb7!, winning everything.

21.Rac1 h5

Perhaps this wasn't the best move, as it weakens the g6 square, and gives White another way to attack Black's kingside.

22.Qd2 a5 23.Bh6 Bh8 24.Qe3 Ra8 25.Bf4!

It seems like Jayson didn't notice that the rook is no longer on b8! Alas, this move is excellent anyway, as White is going to force the trade of dark squared bishops, after which Black's king will be left without any current defenders. A great point made by IM Bill Paschall on Chess.FM was that all 5 of White's pieces can operate on dark squares, while only 4 of Black's can. This makes an attack on the dark squares even more desirable.

25...Qa7 26.Be5 Bxe5 27.Qxe5 Rc6

Oh yeah, the vicious threat was Nxe6!

28.g4 hxg4 29.hxg4 Qc7 30.Qg5 Qd8 31.Qf4 Qd6 32.Qh6 Qf8 33.Qxf8+ Rxf8

White now has the dream endgame of wonderful Knight on c5 versus bad Bishop on b5.

34.a4 Ba6 35.Nd7 Rxc2 36.Rxc2 Rd8 37.Rc7 Bd3 38.g5 Bf5 39.f3 Kg7 40.Kf2 Bc2

Martha has to do something desperately to survive this endgame, and her experience tells her that just sitting and waiting for Jayson to execute her isn't the best course of action.

41.Ne5 Bxb3 42.Rxf7+ Kg8 43.Ra7 Bxa4 44.Rxa5 Bc2

Now Martha's defensive goals are clear- stop the White pieces from infiltrating! However, despite the reduced material, this Knight is incredibly strong, and the seventh rank is incredibly weak.

45.Ra7 Rb8 46.Ng4 Rb3 47.Rc7 Bd1 48.Ne3 Rb2+ 49.Kg3 Be2

Why not 49...Rd2? Seems to be the right way to go about things. Of course, in time pressure, it's nearly impossible to defend such positions perfectly.

50.Kf4 Rb3 51.Re7 Rd3 52.Rxe6 Rxd4+ 53.Kg3?!

53.Ke5 is too obvious a good move to award an exclam to.

53...Rd3 54.Rxg6+ Kf7 55.Rf6+ Kg8 56.Ng4 Ra3 57.Nh6+ Kg7 58.Nf5+ Kg8 59.Ne7+ Kg7 60.Nf5+ Kg8 61.Nd4 Bd3 62.Kf4 Ra6

The rook trade makes things easier, but it was probably impossible to stop the infiltration of the king and the connected passed pawns.

63.Rxa6 Bxa6 64.Ke5 Kg7 65.f4 Kg6 66.Ne6 Bb7 67.f5+ Kh7 68.g6+ Kg8 69.f6

1-0

Leaders after Round 2

2 pts Ehlvest, Privman, Gonzales
1.5 pts Shahade, Shapiro

ROUND 3

Key Pairings

1 Gonzales - Ehlvest LIVE GAME
2 Shahade - Privman 1-0
3 Shapiro - Sarkar 0-1

Greg Shahade overcame the first round draw to improve to 2.5/3 by beating Boris Privman. Dan Shapiro's chances of getting to 2.5/3 were stopped by the ever dangerous Justin Sarkar. In other games, Alex Pelekhaty, fresh off a win in round 2, stepped up to beat Irina Krush! Irina was clearly exhausted from her performance in the Continental Championship in Buenos Aires, having flown into New York City the day before! However, full marks to Pelekhaty for coming home with the win, as even a sleeping, dead-tired Irina Krush is a very dangerous person to face.

The board one game was a rematch of two weeks ago. Gonzales had White then against Ehlvest, and couldn't do anything against Ehlvest's King's Indian. What did Gonzales have as an improvement this time?

(3) Gonzales,J (2404) - Ehlvest,J (2662) [E91]
71st New York Masters New York (3), 02.09.2003

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 0-0 5.d4 d6 6.Be2 Na6 7.0-0 e5 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bg5 Qe8 10.dxe5

A deviation from their game two weeks ago on stage, where Gonzales went in for 10. h3 f6 11. Bc1 Nh6 12. dxe5 fxe5 13. Be3 Nf7... Ehlvest eventually went on to win.

10...dxe5 11.h3 f6 12.Bd2 Nh6 13.Be3 Nf7

So this is the same position as two weeks ago, except that the d6 pawn has moved to f6! What's the difference?

14.c5!+/=

The exclam and +/= symbol are courtesy Israeli IM Ilya Tsesarsky, annotating the game Gershon - Piket, Ohrid 2001. I find it difficult to argue with him.

14...c6 15.Bxa6

15. Qa4!? is reputed to be a good move in this position.

15...bxa6 16.Nd2

Of course, 16. Qa4!? also has been suggested.

16...Rb8 17.Rb1

Novelty. 17. b3 was preferred by the Dutch IM Ruud Janssen in his game versus another Dutch player, Vedder, in the 2002 Amsterdam Lost Boys open.

17...f5 18.f3 f4 19.Bf2 g5 20.Nc4 Qe6 21.Qe2 h5 22.Rbd1 g4 23.hxg4?

It is hard to believe this is good. Gonzales, after the game, suggested 23. Bh4 and 24. Nd6, with complicated play.

23...hxg4 24.fxg4 Qg6

Aiiiiiiii. White is likely to get splattered here. g4's falling, and mate threats on g2 (what to do about Bh3?) are going to be very difficult to defend against.

25.g5 Qxg5 26.Nd2?

26. Rd3 seemed like the only way to hold on.

26...Rxb2!

Thud. The rest is just a matter of technique for a player of Ehlvest's caliber.

27.Nf3 Rxe2 28.Nxg5 Rc2

28. ... Rxf2!? may be even better.

29.Nxf7 Kxf7 30.Rc1 Rxc1 31.Rxc1 Bf6 32.Rb1 Ke7 33.Rb8 Kd7 34.Rb2 Kc7 35.Rd2 Be7

I know, it doesn't seem like much here, given that Black's extra pawn is that doubled isolated a-pawn, but watch how efficiently Ehlvest gets into this position.

36.Kf1 a5 37.a4 Ba6+ 38.Ke1 Rg8 39.Bg1 Rg3

That's all, folks.

40.Rc2 Bd3 41.Rb2 Bc4 42.Nd1 Ra3 43.Kd2 Rxa4 44.Bf2 Ra1 45.g3 a4 46.Rb4 Ra2+ 47.Kc3 Be2

Gonzales' flag fell, but it was more merciful than anything else.

0-1

Leaders after Round 3

3 pts Ehlvest
2.5 pts Shahade
2 pts - Privman, Fierro, Pelekhaty, Sarkar, Gonzales, Bonin

Round 4

Key Pairings

1 Ehlvest - Shahade LIVE GAME!

With Ehlvest the only 3-0 and Shahade the only 2.5-0.5, Ehlvest was very happy to make a draw with the White pieces, take his $400 and go home. Greg Shahade doesn't like calling it an early day, whether he's in the recording studio or at the chessboard. But how to play for a win with Black against a player who is going to be back in the top 100 in all likelihood in October? Let's see...

(4) Ehlvest,J (2514) - Shahade,G (2662) [B52]
71st New York Masters New York (4), 02.09.2003

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+

Ah, the 3. Bb5+ Sicilian. Ehlvest needs only a draw to be the sole champion of this edition of the New York Masters, so he has no problem steering the game towards a draw.

3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 e5 6.Nc3 g6 7.0-0 Bg7 8.Ne1

Didn't Ehlvest ever learn the lesson about not moving a piece twice in the opening?

8...Ne7 9.Nc2

Three times?

9...0-0 10.Ne3

Four times?

10...Nbc6 11.d3 f5 12.Ned5

Five times!! Ehlvest feels he can afford to spend all this time maneuvering his Knight to d5.

12...Nxd5 13.Nxd5 Ne7

This is the new move. The Greek player Stalkopoulos played 13. ... f4 against Jan Pedersen in Ikaros 1999.

14.Nc3 f4 15.f3 g5 16.Rb1 h5 17.h3

Uh, didn't we see this last round? And didn't Ehlvest use this structure to wipe Jayson Gonzales off the board? What's the difference?

17...Bf6 18.b4 b6 19.bxc5 dxc5 20.Nd5 Nxd5 21.exd5 Kf7

A cool move, getting his king off of the eighth rank in order to swing the rooks over. Without any active counterplay, Ehlvest is a sitting duck.

22.Bb2 Rg8 23.Re1 Rae8 24.Re4 g4 25.hxg4 hxg4 26.Qe2 Qf5

Greg's advantage is enormous.

27.fxg4 Rxg4 28.Rf1 Rh8

Brutal. The king is just going to get chopped off.

29.Bxe5

29.Rxe5 Bxe5 30.Bxe5 Rxg2+! finishes matters effectively.

29...Bxe5 30.Rxe5

With a draw offer by Jaan. Greg, ever so polite, was nice enough to say "No, thank you" before making his next move.

30...Rxg2+!

Splat. White can't defend everything.

31.Qxg2 Qxe5

and Rg8 is impossible to stop.

32.Qe4 Qg5+ 33.Kf2

33.Qg2 Qh4! is the point.

33...Qg3+ 34.Ke2 Re8

Winning the queen, the game, the tournament, and $400.

0-1

So Greg Shahade wins the New York Masters clear for the first time ever! Ehlvest, despite the loss, gets a tie for second place and $83. Joining him were Boris Privman, Martha Fierro and Alex Pelekhaty! Pelekhaty has really come into good form lately, and this performance shows us how very strong he is. To defeat Jay Bonin in the final round of any tournament when money is on the line is an incredibly impressive feat. There's no doubt he will be 2200 soon, and maybe allow some other people to qualify for once!

-------------------------------------------------------------
71st New York Masters Action USA (USA), 2 ix 2003
-------------------------------------------------------------
                                  1   2   3   4   Total
-------------------------------------------------------------
  1. Shahade, Greg      m  2514 =10 +15 + 3 + 2   3.5  ($400)
  2. Ehlvest, Jaan      g  2662 +13 + 9 + 8 - 1   3.0  ($ 83)
  3. Privman, Boris     f  2331 + 5 + 7 - 1 + 8   3.0  ($ 83)
  4. Fierro, Martha    wg  2320 +17 - 8 +11 + 7   3.0  ($ 83)
  5. Pelekhaty, Alex       2046 - 3 +14 +15 + 9   3.0  ($ 83)
  6. Shapiro, Dan       f  2277 =15 +10 - 7 +14   2.5
  7. Sarkar, Justin     m  2429 +14 - 3 + 6 - 4   2.0
  8. Gonzales, Jayson   m  2404 +11 + 4 - 2 - 3   2.0
  9. Bonin, Jay         m  2377 +12 - 2 +13 - 5   2.0
 10. Eisen, Lewis          2291 = 1 - 6 -14 +16   1.5
 11. Zakinov, Leonid       2200 - 8 +16 - 4 =12   1.5
 12. Ross, Laura        f  2124 - 9 -13 +16 =11   1.5
 13. Klein, Erez        f  2298 - 2 +12 - 9 ---   1.0
 14. Furdzik, Rafal        2265 - 7 - 5 +10 - 6   1.0
 15. Krush, Irina       m  2449 = 6 - 1 - 5 ---   0.5
 16. Mitchell, Jeff        2094 --- -11 -12 -10   0.0
 17. Logunov, Ilya         2026 - 4 --- --- ---   0.0

PRIZES 1ST - $400 2ND - $160 3RD - $ 60 U2400 - $112