U.S. Open results

by admin on August 9, 2009

I wasn’t there, but I can still report on it!

The U.S. Open ended today with a six-way tie between Alex Lenderman, Sergei Kudrin, Alex Yermolinsky, Jacek Stopa, Jesse Kraai, and Dmitry Gurevich. Lenderman and Kudrin drew in the last round — I’ll bet that game didn’t go over 20 moves — while the other four all won to catch up with them at 7.5/9.

Using Michael Aigner’s list of Northern California players, here is how our local talents did:

  • Jesse Kraai — 7.5 and a tie for first
  • Emory Tate — 6.5 and a tie for 3rd/4th master
  • Paul Gallegos — 6.5 and a tie for 3rd/4th master
  • Evan Sandberg — 5.5
  • Kyle Shin — 5.5
  • Ruth Haring — 5.0

And I’ll stop there because I don’t know any of the others. Getting into the prize money looks as if it was really tough. I would have thought that a class A player who scored 5.5 points (i.e., Kyle Shin) would be a shoo-in for a prize, but believe it or not, four class A players scored above him.

There’s no article yet on the tournament at the U.S. Chess website, so I am reduced to studying the crosstable for interesting factoids. It’s kind of like looking at a baseball box score. Here are some things I noticed:

Lenderman played an amazing “Swiss Gambit.” That’s when you lose in an early round and then win a bunch of games in a row to catch up. Lenderman was upset by Texas expert Matthew Michaelides in round two, then won six games in a row before agreeing to a draw against Kudrin in the last round. Meanwhile, Michaelides started 3-0 and then got hammered, ending with only 4.5 out of 9. Sic transit gloria.

Who is the odd man out? That’s the one key question the crosstable doesn’t answer. There were 5 spots in the U.S. Championship available. But 6 people tied for first place. Who gets left out, and why?

Two other good Swiss Gambits. Out of 456 players in the tournament, there were two (2) who managed to win their last three games in a row. One of them was David Friedman of Ohio, who turned a 3-3 start into a 6-3 tournament and was one of the four prizewinners in class A. The other was Jose Gatica of Kansas, who turned a 2-4 start into a 5-4 final, which earned him nothing except perhaps the satisfaction of having an okay tournament instead of a disastrous one.

What happened to this guy? Another good mystery is what became of Dereque Kelley of Washington, an expert who started 5/6 (!) and then withdrew (!!). Wow. If I started 5/6 at the U.S. Open, there would have to be a heck of a good reason to make me leave. Your mother/father/pet hamster died? Puh-LEEZE. Tell them to schedule the funeral some other time.

Another MIA in the last three rounds was grandmaster and women’s world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk. However, at least she knew before the tournament that she couldn’t play, so she took half-point byes for all three rounds. Thus, after a 5.5/6 start she ended with 7/9 and finished in an 11-way tie for seventh place. For this (lack of) work she took home $110.

Caution pays. In general, the way to win at the U.S. Open is not to lose. Of the top six players, Lenderman was the only one to lose a game.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

fan August 10, 2009 at 7:01 am

Stopa is from Poland, so I assume he will not get a U.S. Championship spot.


Macauley Peterson August 11, 2009 at 1:32 pm

You would lose the bet on Kudrin – Lenderman — it went over 40 moves.

There is now an article on USchess.org (full disclosure: I wrote it):

Both that and the more promptly posted brief news item (http://main.uschess.org/content/view/9619/544/) explained that Stopa’s national affiliation prevents him from qualifying for the US Champs.

I don’t know what the story of Dereque Kelley was, but Kosteniuk stayed for the blitz tournament on Saturday (which she won), and didn’t take 3 byes because “she couldn’t play,” but simply because she didn’t care for playing the final 3 games under standard time controls (she had entered the 4-day schedule).

I read your blog regularly, but terms like “reporting” do have generally accepted meanings involving fact gathering, verification, avoidance of assumptions, etc., whether or not you’re physically present. 😉



admin August 11, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Thanks for the info, Macauley! I’m flattered that you read my blog.

Of course, this is one reason that reporters hate bloggers! In my regular job I do real reporting. In this case I was just blogging. Or blabbering, if you prefer. 😎

I’m definitely surprised that Kudrin-Lenderman turned into a real game. But your article makes it very clear why, and that was good reporting.

Amazing that Kosteniuk didn’t want to play the last three rounds because she doesn’t like *regular* time controls! Sports Illustrated has (or used to have) a little feature called “This Week’s Sign of the Apocalypse.” To me, the idea of a GM not wanting to play slow chess is definitely a sign that the apocalypse is near.


Michael Aigner August 13, 2009 at 2:34 pm

1. I doubt that Lenderman lost on purpose to a 2100. Simply he struck the 5% out of a theoretically 95-5 pairing. $%@& happens.

2. Kosteniuk apparently wanted to protect her FIDE rating. She played only rapid games in Indianapolis, which of course are not FIDE rated. She wouldn’t be the first top player to protect her rating. When’s the last time you saw Kramnik play someone under 2600, or even 2650? At least Anand faced some lower opponents a few years ago, and promptly lost to then-IM Charbonneau of Canada.

3. Dereque Kelley is a fairly well known player on the west coast, living in Seattle but playing frequently in the Open sections in Las Vegas and Reno. His performance in Indianapolis was nothing earth shaking… he beat a few A players until he beat a high 2200 in round 6, just before withdrawing. I would assume that real life intervened to cause him to leave the tournament.

4. The US Open can be a weird animal. I have been tied for 2nd place twice after 9 rounds, both times among a field of a dozen or more GMs. Unfortunately, the first time was in 2003 in LA, when it was a 12 round tournament (I lost the last three). The second time was in 2006 in Chicago, when I qualified for the US Championship on the strength of my tiebreaks.


Michael Aigner August 13, 2009 at 2:41 pm

5. As Kosteniuk reported on her own blog, Kyle Shin was up a pawn and could have forced a vastly superior endgame if only he had played the correct capture. Instead, he missed a zwischenzug and lost the pawn and the game. The headlines would have shouted “11 year old beats GM!” but frankly, Kyle has beaten enough masters recently that it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise.

Yes, Open tournaments are tough before everyone is gunning for the top dog. Lenderman found that out. Kosteniuk survived her upset. And I see the same phenomenon every time I play in the Bay Area. Too bad!


admin August 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm

I hope that no one thinks I was implying that Lenderman lost his 2nd round game on purpose. (See Michael’s comment #1.) There are way too many variables in chess for anyone to do that. When I talk about someone “playing a Swiss gambit,” it’s always with tongue in cheek. It’s what I tell myself I’m doing after I lose in an early round (which often happens).


arrowexcited July 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Can you add a Blackberry template? This page is difficult to read otherwise for those of us browsing with cell phones. Otherwise, if you can put a RSS link up, that would be great also.


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