Four-way tie in strong 2005 Chicago Open!

Photos by Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

The Chicago Open (held in Oakbrook) certainly gained some of the residual effect from the HB Global boasting 25 Grandmasters (including HB Global champion Zviad Izoria). While the prize fund was not nearly as lucrative and attendance was down overall (726 in 2004; 628 in 2005), the fighting spirit remained. By round three, Grandmasters were facing each other and no top player could mount any winning streaks. There were a substantial amount of draws, but they were hard fought. The other masters in the open section appeared inspired by the tough field and this resulted in a few "upsets."

GM  Artur Jussupow (Yusupov) was nicked for draws by IM David Howell and FM Daniel Fernandez. GM Alexander Motylev was held by NM Bill Calton while FM Emory Tate, Jr. held both GM Valerij Filippov and GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz. It appeared as if  Mehmed Pasalic was going to beat GM Vladimir Epishin in an exciting sacrificial attack in the final round. He had four connected passed pawns (exchange down), but the Russian Grandmaster held on. Apart from these upsets, the Grandmasters literally beat up on each other setting up an exciting finish.

The exciting finish would feature
GM Igor Novikov-GM Vadim Milov on board #1; GM Jaan Ehlvest-GM Dmitry Gurevich on board #2; IM Benjamin Finegold-GM Evgeny Najer on board #3; GM Petr Kiriakov vs. GM Daniel Fridman on board #4; GM Alexander Shabalov vs.  GM Zviad Izoria on board #5.

GM Jaan Ehlvest on the move against Gurevich's hedgehog… 5th rank vacant.

Top players grapple for a share of the $100,000 prize fund in the last round.

And the winner is…

Novikov-Milov ended in a draw with Milov trying unsuccessfully to usher home a pawn advantage. Ehlvest-Gurevich was yet another interesting debate between the Maroczy Bind and the hedgehog. Ehlvest's pieces crashed through on the queenside and he collected the point.  Fishbein-Najer ended peacefully; Kiriakov dispatched of Fridman in Q+N vs. Q+N ending after winning a couple of pawns; Shabalov held Izoria from a pawn deficit. Thus the top score would be 5½-1½ shared by Milov, Novikov, Ehlvest and Kiriavkov.

Novikov defeated Milov in a blitz tiebreaker to determine the champion. In addition, he qualified for the 2006 U.S. Championship as did Gurevich, Shabalov and Finegold. This may be vindication for the Ukrainian's performance last year. After suffering two early losses in the 2004 Chicago Open (one of which was against Daniel Fernandez) he exited the tournament early. The Chicago Open has a certain charm for Armenian-born
Chouchanik Airapetian as she qualified for the U.S. Championship for the 2nd year in a row at this tournament.

In the Expert section, a very interesting story unfolded throughout the tournament.  Jon Breider overslept in the first round and forfeited. Starting the tournament at -1, he decided to re-enter immediately and summarily whitewashed the field 7-0 playing four games at game/45.  The re-entry option is yet a controversial one, but it appears to work for many players. It appeared that Breider would have a challenge from the "Matrix Man" Bernard Parham I.

Parham is known for his 2.Qh5 system which has attracted a healthy debate since
GM Hikaru Nakamura has been employing it. Parham started 4-0, but faced the "Breider buzzsaw" and suffered his first loss. He then had to take two half-point byes due to work commitments, but collected a share of 3rd place with a 5-2 score. Breider's accomplishment was interesting not only because he won 7-0 and $6000.00, but because his fate could have been totally different had he made his first round on time.  Such is life!

Standings (all sections)

Fridman's beautiful chess set could not help him against Kiriakov.

Jon Breider  (lower right) blitzing the field 7-0. Dr. Okechukwu Iwu could not dull the Breider buzzsaw.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 31 May 2005