Monday, July 13

Sam Sevian Plays in Armenia

Sevian begins his game against Petrosyan. (Photo: Armen Sevian)

What has former Bay Area resident GM Sam Sevian been up to lately?  Readers of my blog may have noticed that he declined to participate in the US Junior Closed.  Apparently, America's youngest Grandmaster ever has bigger fish to fry these days.

Instead of Saint Louis, Sam chose to play in a category XV (average of 2618) invitational at Lake Sevan in Armenia.  The 10 players include 5 of the top 20 juniors in the world: Vladislav Artemiev (2660, RUS), Jan Krzysztof Duda (2632, POL), David Anton Guijarro (2632, ESP), Hovhannes Gabuzyan (2611, ARM) and Sam Sevian (2578, USA).  The older half of the field hopes experience will overcome youthful enthusiasm.  Incidentally, one name jumps out: Tigran Petrosyan may be strong at 2630, but he is not the 9th World Champion by the same name!

Lake Sevan International

Wednesday, July 8

Follow the US Junior Invitational

The players are ready to start! (Credit: CCSCSL)

The annual US Junior Invitational pits many of the country's top players under age 20 against each other in a 10-RR tournament.  The 2015 edition features four International Masters and four FIDE Masters.  Excluding the Junior Open qualifier, this elite field boasts an average rating of 2519 USCF!  The highest seed and clear favorite is GM-elect Jeffery Xiong, who recently earned his third and final GM norm at the Chicago Open!  Second seed IM Akshat Chandra has one GM norm to his credit.

Luke (left) battles Yian. (Credit: CCSCSL)
California chess fans can cheer for two local representatives.  Third seed IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti attends UCLA (at age 16!!) and IM Yian Liou will be a freshman at UC Berkeley next month.  Luke and Yian battled for many hours in Round 2, finally acquiescing to a draw after 120 moves.

Live coverage begins daily at 11:00am Pacific time.  Check out the running commentary by GM Ben Finegold and FM Aviv Friedman Excellent stuff!

US Junior Standings (Final)
  • 7.0 IM Akshat Chandra (2588, NJ, 15) - CHAMPION
  • 6.5 IM Jeffery Xiong (2616, TX, 14) - 2nd place
  • 6.0 FM Arthur Shen (2475, NJ, 18) - 3rd place
  • 5.0 FM Ruifeng Li (2503, TX, 14)
  • 4.5 FM Michael Bodek (2535, NY, 18)
  • 4.5 IM Yian Liou (2501, CA-N, 18)
  • 3.5 IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti (2542, ID, 16)
  • 3.5 FM Awonder Liang (2459, WI, 12))
  • 3.0 NM Mika Brattain (2452, MA, 16) 
  • 1.5 NM Curran Han (2211, TX, 17)

Once again, thanks to the world-class Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for hosting this prestigious event and guaranteeing the top-notch conditions that the talent deserves.  The prize fund alone is worth $20,000, including $6,000 for first place. 

Tuesday, July 7

Chinese Prodigy Achieves Immortality

Last week, the 16-year old superstar Wei Yi played one of the most beautiful attacking games in modern times at a tournament in Danzhou.  Facing the strong Cuban Grandmaster Lazaro Bruzon, the reigning Chinese national champion sacrificed his rook and later a bishop to snare the enemy in a mating web.  The helpless black monarch finishes its journey on h3, having been chased all the way across the board.  This brilliancy has been called the Game of the Decade by some and an Immortal Game by others.  Even ex-champion Garry Kasparov described it as "impressive."

Either watch the exciting 18 minute video by British GM Simon Williams or simply play through the moves at your own pace.

Monday, July 6

Tony Lama Turns 80!

The chess club banner flies.
Tony Lama (credit: ChessDryad)

The Mechanics' Institute wishes to congratulate longtime security guard Tony Lama on the occasion of his 80th birthday!  Anyone who attended weekend tournaments in the City was certain to meet Tony at the front entrance.  He knew the names of many regulars.  When I entered, he would kindly ask whom I was playing.  Upon departure, he inquired of my result.  Never a master himself (2088 peak rating), his love for chess remained strong over five decades.

Tony Lama 80th Birthday Blitz 
Sunday, July 12
Location: 57 Post Street, San Francisco (use Montgomery BART)
FORMAT: Six double-round Swiss (12 games total)

TIME CONTROL: G/4 + inc/2
(bring your digital clock)

ENTRY FEE: $10 (free for GM / IM / WGM / WIM)
This tournament is UNRATED. Membership in USCF is not required.

PRIZES: $650 total
1st place: $300
2nd place: $200
3rd place: $100
Top U2000: $50

Also, every player takes home a book prize!

REGISTRATION: On-site only from Noon to 12:45.  There will be no registration in advance.  The tournament will be held between 1 and 5 PM.