IX American Continental in Pipa Beach

11/11/2014 – The IX American Continental took place in Brazil from October 18-26 in the Pipa Atlântico Hotel in the beautiful resort of Pipa Beach, about 80km from the city of Natal. 198 players from eleven countries came to compete for one of the four qualifying spots to the next World Cup. Those fortunate enough to make it through can then dream of paving a path to glory for the world title.

By Ricardo Teixeira

The paradisiacal resort of Pipa Beach

Long walks and seaside activities were enjoyed by all

At night the resort area lit up and there was no shortage of bars and restaurants

This unique event also has a number of other standout characteristics, such as the large number of titled players which included no fewer than 19 GMs, thirteen IMs, one WGM, 25 FIDE masters and many more. In events of this kind, the Argentine contingent is usually singularly large, when not the largest, but this time, their field of seventeen players were outnumbered by the Chileans who were twenty strong.

The Peruvians brought a strong youthful team, including WGM Deysi Cori who scored an IM title

Another standout characteristic was the sheer number of young players on the top tables fighting for each square on the board against renowned grandmasters. This was further felt in the final rounds of the event when  many began to show the wear and tear of all the drawn out battles they had been in.

The growing truism that these days there no longer are any "easy points", even in a tournament with so many players, and from the very first rounds, the grandmasters and masters found themselves bleeding out draws and losses against opponents rated 200 or even 300 Elo points less. I myself, rated under 2300, found myself in a position to create an upset against the top-seed Lazaro Bruzón from Cuba, and well advanced in an equal endgame failed to hold and missed my train to glory.

In spite of failing to hold the endgame, it is always a great experience to play a player as
strong as Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzón (2679)

That said, his next round opponent, the Peruvian IM José Eduardo Martinez managed to hold him to a draw in spite of the 239 Elo gap separating the two.

The competition was well organized in a first-class hotel offering all the amenities the players could hope for, including a competent technical team led by the president of the Brazilian Chess Federation (CBX), GM Darcy Lima.

Darcy Lima, president of the Brazilian Chess Federation, and Chief Arbiter Elcio Mourão

The playing hall in full swing

The trophies awaiting the winners

After eight rounds of fierce competition, the surprise leader was Alexander Shabalov who had arrived ranked only 17th in the starting list with 2499 Elo, but had been untouchable and had 7.0/8 and a 2800+ performance. By the tenth and penultimate round, he found himself sharing the top spot with Peruvian GM Julio Granda Zuniga, a legend in South American chess, top Brazilian player Rafael Leitao, and American GM Sam Shankland, who had been the star of the US team at the Tromso Olympiad. They all stood at 8.0/10, with seven more at 7.5/10.

The last round saw a number of surprises as six players ended tied with 8.5/11, with the four qualifying spots to be decided by a rapid tiebreak tournament, reminiscent of the end at Mar del Plata in 2012. After the dust had settled, the four qualifiers for the next World Cup were, in order of tiebreak, Julio Grand Zuniga, Rafael Leitão, Sam Shankland, and Reynaldo Ortiz.

GM Samuel Shankland qualified for the World Cup and has had a fantastic year so far

Cuban GM Reynaldo Ortiz was a last-minute qualifier, beating GM Delgado (2607) in the
last round to make it into the tiebreaker

Two of the big surprises of the tournament who failed to make the cut, though they were surprises for different reasons. The first was no doubt Alexander Shabalov who had led to the very end, only finding himself caught up at the finish line, and squeezed out in the tiebreaker. The second surprise astonished for different reasons: the new World under-16 champion, Alan Pichot from Argentina, who had gone through a very uneven tournament, including two straight losses, only to finish with five consecutive win, including an eleventh hour (round) win over the top seed Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzón.

Alexander Shabalov (right), playing Ortiz in the tiebreaker, will be disappointed after having
led from end to end

Newly crowned World under-16 champion, Alan Pichot, made it to the tiebreaker after winning
five straight games at the end, including against the top seed Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzón!

Special note should also be made of the tranquility and class of the Peruvian Granda Zuniga who finished first, also a repeat of Mar del Plata 2012, and Brazilian GM Rafael Leitão, who overcame some difficulties during the event, kept his cool during the tiebreak, where in spite of an opening loss finished in second place.

GM Granda Zuniga was a class act from beginning to end

Top Brazilian GM Rafael Leitão came in second in the tiebreaks

As to myself, my goal had been to regain some rating and self-confidence in a tough as nails field, which I managed to do finishing on 7.5/11 and a performance 150 Elo over my present rating.

The author, FM Ricardo Teixeira

Final standings

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts  TB  rtg+/-
1 2 GM Granda Zuniga Julio E PER 2674 8.5 82.5 4.5
2 5 GM Shankland Samuel L USA 2633 8.5 80.0 4.1
3 17 GM Shabalov Alexander USA 2499 8.5 80.0 30.4
4 4 GM Leitao Rafael BRA 2636 8.5 79.5 -0.1
5 7 GM Ortiz Suarez Isan Reynaldo CUB 2611 8.5 78.5 8.4
6 21 IM Pichot Alan ARG 2473 8.5 71.0 11.9
7 16 GM Alonso Salvador ARG 2505 8.0 78.5 11.4
8 11 GM Mekhitarian Krikor Sevag BRA 2558 8.0 77.5 6.6
9 18 GM Matsuura Everaldo BRA 2486 8.0 77.0 9.6
10 14 GM Hernandez Guerrero Gilberto MEX 2531 8.0 73.5 8.6
11 15 GM El Debs Felipe De Cresce BRA 2514 8.0 73.0 -2.3
12 1 GM Bruzon Batista Lazaro CUB 2679 7.5 81.5 -11.0
13 8 GM Delgado Ramirez Neuris PAR 2607 7.5 81.0 -2.9
14 9 GM Felgaer Ruben ARG 2577 7.5 78.0 0.5
15 32 IM Santiago Yago De Moura BRA 2397 7.5 78.0 18.2
16 12 GM Cruz Cristhian PER 2557 7.5 77.0 -8.5
17 13 GM Perez Ponsa Federico ARG 2536 7.5 75.5 2.2
18 19 IM Gonzalez Acosta Bernal CRC 2478 7.5 75.0 1.1
19 25 IM Krysa Leandro ARG 2446 7.5 74.0 5.2
20 23 FM Terry Renato PER 2454 7.5 73.5 10.2
21 29 WGM Cori T. Deysi PER 2411 7.5 73.0 13.7
22 22 IM Henriquez Villagra Cristobal CHI 2470 7.5 73.0 0.5
23 41 FM Perez Gormaz Matias CHI 2327 7.5 72.5 31.2
24 50 WIM Feliciano Ebert Vanessa BRA 2252 7.5 70.0 37.8
25 52 FM Teixeira Ricardo Da Silva BRA 2220 7.5 67.5 19.6
26 10 GM Kaidanov Gregory S USA 2569 7.0 76.0 -7.9

Click for complete standings


Links

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