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.
= 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.
= 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!