Mar del Plata 2012 : A leader at last; Hungaski scores two norms

by Albert Silver
10/20/2012 – With warming weather, excellent seafood, and great wines, it is hard to only consider the tournament, no matter how important it may be in the calendar of events in the Americas. Still, one player managed to grab the podium all to himself: 23-year-old Venezuelan GM Eduardo Iturrizaga. Also, taking advantage of a last-pick chance, IM Hungaski has scored two norms. Report and GM commentary.

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7th Continental Chess Tournament / Mar del Plata 2012

Tourney type: Eleven-round swiss open
Time control: 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game and a 30 second increment as of move one.
Location: Mar del Plata, Argentina
Dates: October 12-21, 2012
Prizes: 1st - US$5000, 2nd - US$3400, 3rd - US$2400, 20 prizes in all, not including prizes per category.

Special: Event is considered a world championship qualifier thus all norms earned are worth double.

Mar del Plata 2012 : A leader at last; Hungaski scores two norms

Report and pictures by Albert Silver

Although the beaches of Mar del Plata may be on the empty side since it is not the high season, there is still a lot to be enjoyed. For one thing the gradually warming weather has made long walks on the shoreline extremely pleasant, and if you are a runner, you are served. A few things do stand out on the city and Argentina: great seafood, especially in Mar del Plata, and great wines, and all very inexpensive.


Some friends from Rio enjoying the lovely city. From left to right: Miton Okamura, yours
truly, FM Dirceu Viana, Pedro Paiva, and FM Ricardo Teixeira.

Some friends and I went to the restaurant on the pier, a promise we had made early on, and it lived up to the promise. The food was certainly on the higher end of the local price range, which only means a large paella for three came out to the equivalent of US$25-30. The same is true of the very nice wines, and a bottle of nice Argentine red will typically go for $10 in a restaurant.


The local seafood: delicious

Needless to say, despite the organizer having offered numerous complete packages, with full meals, many still enjoy select dinners out on the town.


Top seed Lazaro Bruzon is still in the leader-pack

As to the tournament, a few notable things happened in the last couple of rounds. The first was the arrival of a leader at last. Granted there are still two rounds to go, and the pack following him is significant, but Venezuelan GM Eduardo Iturrizaga is the first to clear off the podium for himself.


Rafael Leitao and Eduardo Iturrizaga fought a hard game

In a tough tournament where none have really been able to run away with it, not even top-seed Lazaro Bruzon, his powerful positional win over Brazilian GM Rafael Leitao in round nine was enough to set him apart at 7.5/9.


In spite of an attempt to casually walk up and down the aisle, Iturrizaga betrays the
tenseness of the moment by stealing a glance back at his game.

Annotated game by GM Sergio Slipak

[Event "VII Continental Americano"] [Site "Mar del Plata, ARG"] [Date "2012.10.19"] [Round "9.2"] [White "Iturrizaga, Eduardo"] [Black "Leitao, Rafael"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2639"] [BlackElo "2617"] [Annotator "Sergio Slipak"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] {A very important victory by the Venezuelan GM Eduardo Iturrizaga over Brazilian GM Rafael Leitao in the ninth round of the Continental tournament. Iturrizaga now tops the leaderboard with two rounds to go. As will be seen in the game to follow, the Venezuelan GM shows great technique, a rare quality for such a young player.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 b6 7. Bd3 dxc4 8. Bxc4 Bb7 9. O-O c5 10. dxc5 {White accepts to play a position with symmetrical pawns, in which he holds a small advantage thanks to his better piece placement.} Qxd1 11. Rfxd1 Bxc5 12. Nd4 ({Also possible was} 12. Nb5 {as played in Gelfand,B-Carlsen,M/Astana KAZ 2012. Iturrizaga decides to go after the d6 point for his knight keeping the other stallion for queenside operations.}) 12... Nc6 13. Ndb5 Ne7 $6 {With this White not only gains the bishop pair, but also creates a weak pawn on the c-file.} ({Better was} 13... Rfd8 {accepting to give up the bishop pair when the knight invades d6, yet keeping a healthy pawn structure.}) 14. Na4 $1 {Showing the point of his idea, both knights now pressure Black's position.} Ned5 15. Nxc5 bxc5 16. Be5 Rfd8 17. Bf1 {Clearing the c-file to attack the weakness.} Ne8 18. Rdc1 f6 19. Bg3 a6 20. Na3 {The knight heads to c4 from which it will target the weak points d6, b6, and a5.} Rac8 21. Nc4 Ne7 22. Nb6 Rc6 23. Na4 $1 {From here on all the pressure will center around the weak pawn.} Rdc8 24. Rc4 Nd5 25. Rac1 Nb6 $1 {Leitao defends energetically, exchanging off one of the attackers and counterattacking the b2 point.} 26. Nxb6 Rxb6 27. b3 {Exchanging the solid b-pawn for the weak c-pawn would be a very bad deal.} Rbc6 28. f3 $1 {Now the dark-squared bishop will add to the pressure.} e5 29. e4 Nd6 30. R4c2 Nb5 {In order to answer 31.Bf2 with Nd4, however now the other bishop joins the action. } 31. Bc4+ $1 Kf8 32. Bd5 R6c7 33. Bxb7 Rxb7 34. Bf2 {Preferring greater piece harmony over the immediate capture since the pawn is condemned anyhow.} Kf7 35. Rxc5 Rxc5 36. Bxc5 Rd7 37. Bb4 Nd4 38. Kf2 Ne6 39. Rc6 {Black is lost. They can only choose between passive defense with a pawn down, or active play and losing a second pawn.} Nf4 40. Ba5 Rd1 41. Rxa6 Rh1 42. Bd2 1-0

Trailing him are no fewer than six players, Cuban GM Ortiz, Bruzon, the unlikely hero Krikor Mekhitarian, Argentine GM Flores, and the two American GMs Kaidanov and Shabalov. All are clear contenders for one of the four spots into the world championship cycle, but so are those in the group with 6.5/9. Still the American story belongs to neither Kaidanov nor Shablov, but the third, nearly accidental inclusion into the tournament: IM Robert Hungaski.


Brazilian GM Krikor Makhitarian has been the dark horse so far, beating the odds


IM Roberto Molina


FM Luiz Guilherme Abdalla in knots

The US Federation had three spots to offer for the Continental, but the players weren’t exactly lining up for the honor. The reason is that they had to foot the travel expenses, which to distant Argentina meant a certain considerable investment on top of the time for an eleven-round event. Eventually the names were ticked off, and Hungaski’s name came up. It was an easy choice for someone already in Argentina, and he jumped at the chance. He could hardly have hoped for a better outcome since after nine rounds, he scored not one GM norm, but two. Why two? Because as a stage in the world championship cycle, all norms scored are counted as two. As a result, he only needs to fulfill the rating requirements to get the title.


WGM Deysi Cori from Peru

It would be remiss to overlook 17-year-old Martin Martinez from Colombia (2368) who also scored a double IM norm.

Standings after nine rounds

Rk
Tit
Name
Fed
Rtg
Pts
 TB 
1
GM
Iturrizaga Eduardo
VEN
2639
7.5
50.5
2
GM
Ortiz Suarez Isan Reynaldo
CUB
2579
7.0
50.5
3
GM
Bruzon Batista Lazaro
CUB
2717
7.0
50.0
4
GM
Mekhitarian Krikor Sevag
BRA
2503
7.0
48.0
5
GM
Flores Diego
ARG
2598
7.0
47.0
6
GM
Shabalov Alexander
USA
2570
7.0
46.0
7
GM
Kaidanov Gregory S
USA
2587
7.0
44.0
8
GM
Leitao Rafael
BRA
2617
6.5
51.5
9
GM
Granda Zuniga Julio E
PER
2647
6.5
49.5
10
GM
Bacallao Alonso Yusnel
CUB
2580
6.5
49.0
11
IM
Hungaski Robert Andrew
USA
2451
6.5
48.5
12
GM
Mareco Sandro
ARG
2581
6.5
47.5
13
GM
Felgaer Ruben
ARG
2579
6.5
47.0
14
IM
Hansen Eric
CAN
2527
6.5
45.5
15
IM
Tristan Leonardo
ARG
2442
6.5
45.5
16
GM
Cori Jorge
PER
2522
6.5
45.0
17
IM
Roselli Mailhe Bernardo
URU
2430
6.5
44.5
18
FM
Martinez Romero Martin
COL
2368
6.5
43.5
19
IM
Toth Christian Endre
BRA
2357
6.5
41.0
20
FM
Leiva Giuseppe
PER
2321
6.5
39.0
21
GM
Valerga Diego
ARG
2485
6.0
48.5
22
GM
Hernandez Guerrero Gilberto
MEX
2531
6.0
47.0
23
GM
Slipak Sergio
ARG
2447
6.0
45.5
24
IM
Soppe Guillermo
ARG
2417
6.0
45.5
25
IM
Krysa Leandro
ARG
2381
6.0
44.0
26
IM
Molina Roberto Junio Brito
BRA
2400
6.0
44.0
27
Toniutti Ezio
ARG
2162
6.0
43.5
28
WGM
Cori T. Deysi
PER
2411
6.0
42.5

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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