Tuesday, July 8

Shankinator Strikes in Philly

A week ago, I blogged about FM-elect Sam Shankland as a patient teacher who mentored some of the Bay Area's top juniors during a meeting of the San Francisco School of Chess. However, Sam is better known as a fearless tournament competitor who is capable of beating literally anyone, anytime, anyplace. He emphatically proved this point in the first round of the World Open when he scalped last year's US Champion GM Alexander Shabalov with a crushing kingside attack. What could Sam do for an encore?

The primary goal for Shanky's adventure in Philadelphia was to earn one of the three norms required for the International Master title. To score a norm, the player must perform at a level above 2450 FIDE in a 9+ round tournament against a variety of opponents from different countries, at least 3 who hold the GM/IM title. After beating GM Shabalov, Sam scored against two strong titled players from India and drew with IM Dean Ippolito. His final result in the World Open was merely 50% (4.5 out of 9), but he faced an incredibly difficult field of 4 Grandmasters, 3 IMs and a WGM! Thanks to these high rated opponents, Sam could wrap up his norm even before the final round began. Mad props to the Shankinator for his first IM norm! His next norm opportunity comes at the Mechanics' Institute invitational in August.

Several other local juniors also participated in the World Open (click for crosstables). FM Danya Naroditsky remained in contention for an IM norm through 7 rounds with several impressive draws in a row with titled players, plus a win against local IM David Pruess. Unfortunately, Danya's dream ended with a loss to a Grandmaster in round 8 and he finished at 4.5/9. Teenage expert Rohan Agarwal scored 50% in the U2400 section, defeating three opponents rated above 2270. Last but not least, CalChess Denker representative Steven Zierk won major money at the World Open for a third time in his young life by sharing 3rd place in U2200 at 7.0/9. Way to go Steven!

Click here for a great photo of Sam Shankland taken by USCF web editor Jennifer Shahade or read the entire final report about the World Open on Chess Life Online.

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