Smirin continues  U.S. Rampage… wins Foxwoods Open

The Foxwoods Open has become a premier tournament on the U.S. circuit and this year's tourney surpassed last year's showing with one notable exception… GM Maurice Ashley was missing. The Brooklyn-based GM had other obligations and was not able to deviate from his schedule. His absence was significant due to his past success including two 1st place finishes (2000 & 2001) and a 2nd place finish (2002).

This year the big guns would assemble at the world's largest casino to partake in the tournament… there were more than 500 entrants in a total of  eight sections. The tournament drew the usual strong contingent of Grandmasters, but one caught the eye of many:
WGM Alexandra Kosteniuk (pictured below).


Foxwoods Resort and Casino sitting in the middle of rural forestry.

A World Championship Finalist, she celebrates her 19th birthday on 23rd April. The Russian media darling scored 4½-2½ in her debut at a U.S. major.  In her 4th round encounter, she flexed her chess muscles in the position on the left with a scintillating queen sacrifice.

However, the winner would be
GM Ilya Smirin of Israel who has pretty much owned every U.S. tournament he's played in. The top seed at 2802 (USCF), he topped the field with 6-1 which included a key win over GM Jaan Ehlvest of Estonia. 

WGM Alexandra Kosteniuk

Nakamura Qualifies!

Unlike last year, there would be no tie for first, but 2nd place finished in a seven-way tie with 5½ points. In this pack was newly-minted
GM Hikaru Nakamura who won a qualifying berth in the 2004 U.S. Championship (GM Sergey Kudrin won the other). He continues his impressive run and despite losing to Smirin, he displayed a powerful style which was accented by his impressive squeeze of IM Boris Kreiman.

FM Sunil Weeramantry, Nakarmura's father, told The Chess Drum that his son has "mellowed" in the past year. Perhaps this has resulted in the increased confidence and an ever-increasing FIDE rating which is approaching 2560. It must be a difficult adjustment for someone who's name (as of late) has been mentioned in the same breath as American great, GM Bobby Fischer.

WGM Alexandra Kosteniuk
Kosteniuk-Bick, after 33... g6.

In Kosteniuk-Bick, the Russian star sacked her queen with 34.Qxf7!! beginning a mate in seven problem!

No Jackpot for Drum Majors at Foxwoods

Besides GM Ashley's glaring absence was that of
FM Emory Tate's. However, IM Amon Simutowe scored a respectable 4½-2½ points including a nice win over GM Alexander Fishbein and a near-win over GM Joel Benjamin. IM-elect Stephen Muhammad was even at 3½-3½ but will have a chance to score at the Generation Invitational Tourney in New York. NM Norman "Pete" Rogers had a tough outing and is attempting to break out of a slump… he finished with 2½-3½. NM Ernest "Steve" Colding finished 3-4 and had a heart-breaking lost to Fishbein.

In sectional play,
Ervin Matthew/Maliq Soter continues to improve as he tied for joint 2nd in the Under-2200 section with 5½ points. Sylvester Smarty finished even at 3½-3½ and The Chess Drum's Daaim Shabazz finished with 3-4. In the Under-2000 section, Marlon Munian won the section with 6½-½; Kent Williams and Roderick Scarlett both tied for joint 3rd with 5½-2½. Peter Moss had 4½-2½.

Foxwoods Website (Continental Chess Association)

Games from Open Section (PGN format)

Photo Gallery

Posted by The Chess Drum: 23 April  2003