Saturday, July 12, 2008

NJ Futurity II - Erenburg Repeats!

UPDATE! Games are available at NJoyChess.

Sergey Erenburg repeats as champion of the New Jersey International Futurity. In a remarkable performance, Erenburg drew all his games with his fellow GMs, and won all his games against the IMs and untitled players. The tournament was sponsored by the New Jersey State Chess Federation and Michael Khodarkovsky's International Chess School (ICS).

Yesterday, Friday July 11, were the final two rounds.

Round 8

= Ehlvest - Erenburg =
1 Yudasin - Scekic 0
0 Zlotnikov - Ju 1
= Ippolito - Palatnik =
1 Saenz - Molner 0

GM Ehlvest had a chance to catch GM Erenburg this round, but Erenburg played a Petroff, and the game was drawn in 38 moves. The final position was nothing remarkable - Ehlvest's bishop and Erenburg's knight, with three pawns each. Probably a smart decision by Erenburg, trying to close down any potential chances that Ehlvest wanted.

Yudasin outplayed Scekic in a 32 move Caro-Kann. See the diagram below for Scekic's crucial mistake, which Yudasin pounced on, and brought to a decisive conclusion.

In a battle of Knockouts, Evan Ju as Black, defeated IM Zlotnikov in a 30 move English. Ju penetrated his Queen into Zlotnikov's queenside, snapped off a couple of pawns, and ended with a slightly unusual ending, where each side had all four minor pieces, but the big wood was gone from both sides. The key, though, was that Ju had two connected passers on the queenside, and Zlotnikov was down those two pawns.

The soporific sounds of a Dutch Defense, led IM Ippolito (White) and GM Palatnik to call it quits after only eight moves.

In the game with the most norm implications, Mackensie Molner (Black) lost his chance for an IM norm, as he was defeated in a rare Benoni Counter Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 b5) by IM Saenz as White. 3...b5 was a move favored by Keres in the 1950s. In fact, Molner played the same variation in the last week of the United States Chess League's regular season, against IM Jay Bonin (but lost that game too). Bonin had played 4.Ng5, but in thous tournament, Saenz countered with 4.a4, a comparatively rare variation that is played only about 10% of the time. In the Polish/Orangutang Opening (1.b4), 1...a5 is a good reply, and this variation reminds me of that. In any case, Molner went into the ending a pawn up, but Saenz's advanced, passed c-pawn was his compensation. Saenz's king came in to help out, and after a few inaccuracies right at the end, Molner finally had to give up big material, or Saenz would queen his pawn.

Round 9

= Palatnik - Saenz =
= Ippolito - Yudasin =
= Molner - Ehlvest =
1 Erenburg = Zlotnikov 0
0 Ju - Scekic 1

Ippolito - Yudasin, 11 moves. Palatnik - Saenz, 6 moves. Getting to go home after a long tournament, priceless.

Molner (White), now without the chance for an IM norm, still managed to give Ehlvest a run for his money. A 49 move Hedgehog-Pirc-Modern something-or-other, saw Molner with a nicely advanced e-pawn in Ehlvest's positions. After the GM swept it away, Molner's king was chased around the board by Ehlvest's queen, and the game was drawn.

Erenburg (White) completed his remarkable sweep of the non-GMs, by finishing off IM Zlotnikov in a 33 move Modern, with some nasty queenside penetration and a mating attack. Zlotnikov clearly had an off-tournament, and we're sure he'll be back in form soon.

In the final game, IM Scekic finished off Evan Ju, with a cute bishop sacrifice. See the diagram below.

It was most excellent to see another round robin come to New Jersey, and we look forward to next year's event. Congratulations to GM Sergey Erenburg of Israel on repeating as champion!

Games are available at NJoyChess.

The Knockouts' second season begins the last week of August. Watch this blog for continuing coverage of their likely championship winning season!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NJ Futurity II Round 7

Just got results in my mailbox. Try the NJSCF site for the relay tomorrow (Friday) for the final round. The relay today was problematic, unfortunately, but it was due to a physical connection being disconnected, accidentally, as opposed to hosting issues, as before.

Round 7 Results
= Palatnik - Yudasin =
0 Molner - Ippolito 1
1 Erenburg - Saenz 0
= Ju - Ehlvest =
1 Scekic - Zlotnikov 0

Standings after Round 7
6.0 Erenburg
5.0 Ehlvest, Yudasin
3.5 Molner, Palatnik
3.0 Scekic
2.5 Ippolito, Ju, Saenz
1.0 Zlotnikov

The big game of the final day is Round 8's clash between Ehlvest (White) and Erenburg (Black). Molner needs 1.5/2.0 on the last day to gain an IM norm. In Round 8, Mac has Black against Saenz, and in the final round, he has White against Ehlvest -- a tall order, but we hope that he can play a typical Big Mac Attack (like in many US Chess League games), and gain his norm.

Also, there's an article and some nice photos on the USCF site, here.

NJ Futurity Round 6

The kinks finally seemed to be worked out with the relay, and you can watch round 6 here.

Let's root for the Knockouts to have a great round!

UPDATE: Erenburg sacked a bishop in his game against Ippolito. Here's a diagram...

Round 6 Results:

1 Yudasin - Zlotnikov 0
= Ehlvest - Scekic =
0 Saenz - Ju 1
0 Ippolito - Erenburg 1
= Palatnik - Molner =

Standings after Round 6
5.0 Erenburg
4.5 Ehlvest, Yudasin
3.5 Molner
3.0 Palatnik
2.5 Saenz
2.0 Ju, Scekic
1.5 Ippolito
1.0 Zlotnikov

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

NJ Futurity Rounds 4 and 5

Raw results of Round 4. Unfortunately, I have no details.

= Yudasin - Ehlvest =
1 Saenz - Zlotnikov 0
0 Ippolito - Scekis 1
= Palatnik - Ju =
0 Molner - Erenburg 1

Standings after Round 4
3.5 Erenburg
3.0 Yudasin, Ehlvest
2.5 Molner, Palatnik
1.5 Saenz, Scekic
1.0 Ippolito, Zlotnikov
0.5 Ju

It just hasn't been the Knockouts' tournament. Molner has performed well, but Ju, Zlotnikov, and Ippolito have 1 win, 3 draws, and 8 losses after four rounds. Combined, the Knockouts are 5.0/16.0.

Partial results of Round 5

= Erenburg - Palatnik =

A quick 10 mover Exchange Ruy that ended with a forced perpetual -- I found 88 other games just like it in my database. These guys called it a day pretty early!

= Molner - Yudasin =

A 17 move French Defense lead to an equal position, but still with a lot of life left in it. Nevertheless, in the second round of the day, it seemed like a good time for them to call it off, I guess.

= Ju - Ippolito =

A 14 move Petroff leading to dead equality. Neither of these guys are having a good tournament, so they made peace.

0 Saenz - Scekic 1

A 50 move Slav transformed early into a rook and dark-squared bishop ending. Scekic made some nice maneuvers, exchanged some pawns and eventually the bishops and ended in an rook and pawn endgame, with Scekic about to queen his e-pawn. Saenz, presumably, threw in the towel.

0 Zlotnikov - Ehlvest 1

A 43 move Pirc, transformed into a rook and knight endgame, with Ehlvest pushing his d-pawn to its ultimate destiny. It was inevitable at the end, and Zlotnikov gave up.

Standings after Round 5
4.0 Erenburg, Ehlvest
3.5 Yudasin
3.0 Palatnik, Molner
2.5 Scekic
1.5 Ippolito, Saenz
1.0 Ju, Zlotnikov

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

NJ Futurity Rounds 2 and 3

Round 2

While in Round 1, there were three Black wins (and one White win), Round 2 saw three decisive games, all won by White.

GM Yudasin (White) beat IM Saenz in a 40 move Two Knights Defense. At the end, Yudasin had an extra bishop and his c-pawn was passed and on the sixth rank. Saenz had hoped for a perpatual a few moves earlier, but when Yudasin wriggled his way out of it, there was no hope.

Knockout and tournament host IM Dean Ippolito (White) opened with his usual 1. d4, and GM Ehlvest responded with the King's Indian. Ippolito fianchettoed his king's bishop, and the game ended peacefully after 21 moves. (Don't believe Ehlvest's final move in the game file at the NJSCF site. It drops a queen!)

GM Erenburg (White) put away Knockout Evan Ju in an French Defense, Tarrasch variation. After 54 bruising moves, Erenburg was poised to queen one of his two remaining pawns supported by his rook, while Ju had only one pawn and a rook. A fairly even game for most of the first two-thirds, Erenburg neutralized Ju's isolani, split and weakened Ju's queenside pawns, and expertly finished the contest.

Knockout Mac Molner (White) and IM Scekic played a Lowenthal Sicilian that lasted over 50 moves (the game file at the NJSCF site has some strange moves at the end) and ended in a drawn in an unbalanced position; Molner had two rooks and a pawn, and Scekic had a rook, bishop, and two pawns, and they called it a day.

In a 70 move Pirc marathon, GM Palatnik (White) took down Knockout IM Zlotnikov. Palatnik sacked the exchange for a serious kingside attack. Zlotnikov weathered the storm, but Palatnik ended with three monstrous kingside pawns. Zlotnikov gave back the exchange, but Palatnik's pawns were too powerful.

Games are available at the NJSCF site.

Standings after Round 2
2.0 Erenburg, Yudasin
1.5 Ehlvest, Molner
1.0 Ippolito, Palatnik
0.5 Saenz, Scekic
0.0 Ju, Zlotnikov

Round 3

In the only completed game, and a GM-GM clash, GM Erenburg (White) and GM Yudasin (Black) drew in 26 moves in a Sicilian.

Results - I have no details!

= Erenburg - Yudasin =
0 Ju - Molner 1
0 Scekis - Palatnik 1
1 Zlotnikov - Ippolito 0
1 Ehlvest - Saenz 0

Standings after Round 3
2.5 Erenburg, Yudasin, Ehlvest, Molner
2.0 Palatnik
1.0 Ippolito, Zlotnikov
0.5 Saenz, Scekic
0.0 Ju

Monday, July 7, 2008

NJ Futurity: Round 1 Results

The first round of the Second New Jersey International Futurity has concluded!

GM Yudasin (Black) beat NJ Knockout Evan Ju (White), in a 42 move Najdorf. It seemed like Ju had chances up until at least move 35 in a Rook and six Pawn versus Rook and six pawn endgame, but it ended rather quickly. I don't pretend to tell you where exactly it went wrong for Ju, but seven moves later, Yudasin had two connected passed pawns on his fifth rank.

IM Saenz (White) and NJ Knockout Dean Ippolito (Black) drew in a 34 move Slav. The relay site gives 35 moves, but the last moves are outright blunders, so I suspect it they are relay errors.

IM Scekic (White) lost to last year's winner GM Sergey Erenburg, in an exciting 46 move Slav, where both sides had furious attacks at the end, but Erenburg's was more powerful. Again, the last move or two are unclear, likely because of the relay.

The first GM clash, between Ehlvest (White) and Palatnik (Black) ending with a win for Ehlvest in the midst of a King and Pawn endgame. The game started as a Queen's Gambit Declined Tarrasch.

The game between the two NJ Knockouts, IM Zlotnikov (White) and Mackensie Molner (Black), ended with Molner a few moves from mating Zlotnikov, in that rarest of endings, Knight and Bishop against Zlotnikov's lone king. Zlotnikov played for a while and clearly wanted Molner to prove that he could execute the W-maneuver and mate him. When Molner proved that he had actually studied his endgame technique, Zlotnikov resigned.

Standings after round 1:
1.0 Ehlvest, Erenburg, Molner, Yudasin
0.5 Ippolito, Saenz
0.0 Ju, Palatnik, Scekic, Zlotnikov

Combined, the NJ Knockouts are 1.5 / 4.0.

The second round begins tomorrow at 10am at the Dean of Chess Academy in Branchburg, NJ.

NJ Futurity II starts today

At 3:15pm Eastern today, the New Jersey Futurity II starts. According to one of the sponsors, the New Jersey State Chess Federation, there will be a live game broadcast, which you can reach by clicking here. The other sponsor of the tournament is the International Chess School (ICS).

Good luck again to Ippolito, Zlotnikov, Molner, and Ju, the New Jersey Knockouts' representatives in the tournament!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New Jersey Futurity II

Welcome back to the New Jersey Knockouts blog! Where have you been? More importantly, where have I been? The US Chess League starts up again in under two months, and you can tune in right here to find all the action.

Until then, there's other New Jersey chess action to keep us occupied. The New Jersey State Chess Federation and the International Chess School (ICS) are sponsoring another Futurity tournament starting on Monday, July 7, 2008, the day after the conclusion of the World Open. The ten-player single round robin will take place at the Dean of Chess Academy in Branchburg, NJ. It concludes on July 11, 2008.

I got a scoop on the pairings, and an updated list of the participants, so without further ado...


GM Jaan Ehlvest (2603 - USA)
GM Sergey Erenburg (2563 - ISR)
GM Leonid Yudasin (2550 - ISR)
GM Sam Palatnik (2472 - USA)
IM Dean Ippolito (2445 - USA)
IM A. Almeida Saenz (2419 - MEX)
IM Milos Scekic (2371 - SRB)
IM Mikhail Zlotnikov (2345 - USA)
Mackensie Molner (2337 - USA)
Evan Ju (2286 - USA)

Average Rating = 2439 (Category 8)

Erenburg is returning to defend his title from last year's tournament. Many of the participants are the same as last year; new players this year are Ehlvest, Palatnik, Saenz, and Scekic. Ehlvest, formerly in the world's top five, and Palatnik, with his team and individual medals at the Student Team Championships in 1974 and 1976, are impressive additions to this powerful tournament.

Most importantly (in the context of this blog), is the fact that Ippolito, Zlotnikov, Molner, and Ju were all members of the Knockouts last year! Just a couple of weeks ago, Molner picked up an IM norm at the Marshall Chess Club. Ippolito may have a homefield advantage, playing at his own school. Let's cheer them all on to floor the rest of the competition.

Schedule (White listed first)

Round 1 (July 7, 2008: 3:15pm)
Ju - Yudasin
Scekic - Erenburg
Zlotnikov - Molner
Ehlvest - Palatnik
Saenz - Ippolito

Round 2 (July 8, 2008: 10:00am)
Yudasin - Saenz
Ippolito - Ehlvest
Palatnik - Zlotnikov
Molner - Scekic
Erenburg - Ju

Round 3 (July 8, 2008: 4:00pm)
Erenburg - Yudasin
Ju - Molner
Scekic - Palatnik
Zlotnikov - Ippolito
Ehlvest - Saenz

Round 4 (July 9, 2008: 10:00am)
Yudasin - Ehlvest
Saenz - Zlotnikov
Ippolito - Scekic
Palatnik - Ju
Molner - Erenburg

Round 5 (July 9, 2008, 4:00pm)
Molner - Yudasin
Erenburg - Palatnik
Ju - Ippolito
Scekic - Saenz
Zlotnikov - Ehlvest

Round 6 (July 10, 2008: 10:00am)
Yudasin - Zlotnikov
Ehlvest - Scekic
Saenz - Ju
Ippolito - Erenburg
Palatnik - Molner

Round 7 (July 10, 2008: 4:00pm)
Palatnik - Yudasin
Molner - Ippolito
Erenburg - Saenz
Ju - Ehlvest
Scekic - Zlotnikov

Round 8 (July 11, 2008 10:00am)
Yudasin - Scekic
Zlotnikov - Ju
Ehlvest - Erenburg
Saenz - Molner
Ippolito - Palatnik

Round 9 (July 11, 2008, 4:00 pm)
Ippolito - Yudasin
Palatnik - Saenz
Molner - Ehlvest
Erenburg - Zlotnikov
Ju - Scekic