Egypt’s Shoker shocks for GM norm!

Egypt Egypt Egypt

Going into the 2011 World Team Championship, Egypt may have had modest goals against a strong field. What ensued appeared to be disastrous, but the tournament had a high point for Egypt.

  • First, each player on the Egyptian team would face Grandmasters (GMs) every single round. It is rare that players from Africa have an opportunity to face such strong players in each round. This would be good practical experience and a test for GMs Ahmed Adly (2631) and Bassem Amin (2609).
  • Secondly, Samy Shoker (2475) and Mohammed Ezat (2430) were the only International Masters (IMs) in the tournament so being able to vie for a GM norm without having to win several games is also a unique opportunity.
  • Thirdly, being in such an environment can certainly be a motivating factor for young players if they have aspirations for becoming grandmasters. There is a lot to learn from observing players and being involved in the preparations of high level play.

IM Samy Shoker certainly shocked
GM Alexander Areshchenko in round one.

Apparently, Shoker benefited greatly from the experience and was able to prepare to display his unique style. In round one Shoker sent a buzz throughout the tournament hall by beating Ukraine’s Alexander Areshchenko with his unassuming Pirc Defense. Granted, the Ukrainian had a chance to win the game outright with 23.Qg7! but dawdled and the Egyptian crashed through with a mating attack.

As the tournament, it was becoming apparent that Shoker’s performance was not a fluke. After six rounds of play he had a 50% score against the Grandmaster field. In fact, he had chances against Robert Hess but succumbed to a rash of blunders. He also threatened Gabriel Sargissian and Li Chao in interesting games. Against Evgeny Postny, he missed 50…Ra3+! winning.

Egypt’s IM Samy Shoker beating Mamedyarov in round nine. Photos by Wang Liang, https://sports.sina.com.cn/chess/.

The only game that Shoker had a poor showing was his disaster against Judit Polgar. His 16. Rh4 maneuver was destined to fail and Polgar crashed through quickly. So it appeared that Shoker was brought back down to his level after two losses and would face the top 10 player Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan. In this game, the erratic Azeri player was simply outplayed in a masterpiece by Shoker. The bishop ending was instructive and Shoker’s confidence showed by playing for a win when others lower-rated players may have agreed to a draw.

In Mamedyarov-Shoker, Shoker had a better bishop and exploited white’s weaknesses in rather technical fashion. After 36…f6! (diagram #1), Shoker had to figure out how to make use of his space advantage. After 48…Bh7, we see that black has made progress. White is in zugzwang and cannot guard both sides of the board any longer. White resigned after 49.Kd3 Kf4… Shoker shocks Shakh!

Lastly, Shoker appears more comfortable with the black pieces as seven of his games were with black and he had a plus-score against GM-level competition. While his teammates struggled in this tournament, they can gain a bit of solace knowing that they provide moral support to Shoker, one of the brightest stars of the tournament. Certainly 4/9 is not a plus-score, but when you look at the competition he faced and his performance, many 2600-level GMs would not be upset with a -1 score against this field.

Congratulations Samy Shoker!
Games (Java, PGN)

2011 World Team Championship
IM Samy Shoker (Egypt, 2475)

Egypt Egypt Egypt
Title Player
Nation
Flag
ELO Result
GM Alexander Areshchenko
Ukraine
Ukraine
2682
1
GM Evgeny Postny
Israel
Israel
2618
½
GM Robert Hess
USA
USA
2609
0
GM Gabriel Sargissian
Armenia
Armenia
2663
½
GM Peter Svidler
Russia
Russia
2739
½
GM Li Chao
China
China
2669
½
GM Surya Ganguly
India
India
2627
0
GM Judit Polgar
Hungary
Hungary
2699
0
GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
2765
1
Score: 4-5 (GM norm, 2675 opposition, 2632 TPR)

7 Comments

  1. Hi Daaim
    I like this article very much as it first of all speaks of the undeniable fact of Chess progression; to be a Grandmaster, one must play like a Grandmaster against Grandmasters! Egypt as a Chess country, has created a conduit that will funnel glory to their players by ranking tops in Africa.
    Samy is a born Shocker! (excuse the punt!) I have followed this young man’s chess grow from strength to strength. He truly plays an unbelievable style that causes GM to just blunder or miss wins against him. He is fearless and that’s exactly how become a GM.

  2. …..Not forgetting the entire team, we talking of +2600 Grandmasters on the African continent (Can you believe it!). Plus not to mention GM. Bassem draw against the Hungarian +2700 Peter Leko!!! CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL my BROTHERS, you made AFRICA proud!

  3. Congrats to Shoker and his federation.

    Daaim,
    I’ve made a few comments and asked a few questions on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever officially thanked you for the work you’re doing. This blog is like an oasis in the middle of a dune sea of “nega-news” in which we are told “good news doesn’t sell newspapers”. I’ve told many about this blog.

    …shade and icewater much appreciated! 🙂

    1. Thanks! It’s hard work, but it is a necessary work.

      The idea is to show the universality of chess and to give attention to those players who would not normally receive attention for their chess accomplishments. One popular site mentioned that Shoker scored a “very creditable” 4/9 without mentioning the norm. Perhaps they didn’t realize his feat, but it is a noteworthy accomplishment.

      I want to get past the professional tournaments and same 15-20 players highlighted. We need to know how chess has touched the lives of those around the world as an example of its appeal.

  4. I had the pleasure to meet Samy Shoker for a week last year during the 12th International Reunion Chess Open (Oct 2010) and i can say that he is a really nice guy,humble and helpful to lower-rated chess players by assisting in post-mortem analysis.
    He won the tournament by playing some original brand of chess and i am really happy to see him score a deserved GM norm at the highest level.

    IM Samy Shoker and Reunion Open.

    IM Samy Shoker vs. Patrick Li Ying

    IM Samy Shoker and Reunion Open.

    Shoker collecting his 1st Place winnings.

  5. Not sure how I missed Shoker’s performance in Barbados in April. I received no reports on the Heroes Day Cup. He won with a blistering 7/8 with two points ahead of GM Alonso Zapata.

    https://ratings.fide.com/tournament_report.phtml?event16=56328

    It appears he only recently started representing Egypt after playing under the French flag since he was a junior. That’s great. Africa loses Hamdouchi to France, but gain a rising talent Samy Shoker! 🙂

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