Am. Continental Rd7: American Dream

by Albert Silver
5/22/2015 – In spite of fielding only six players in all, of which four are grandmasters, the US delegation had every reason to be preening after round seven. On the very top boards, Aleksander Lenderman and Alexander Shabalov both won their respective games, taking over a shared piece of the top spot. Alexander Yermolinsky also scored a strong win over Granda Zuñiga. Illustrated report with analysis.

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The tournament

The tournament is an eleven-round competition played at 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game and a 30-second increment as of move one. The first round is on May 15 with rounds every day until round eleven on May 24, including a double-round on May 17. Play typically starts at 5PM.

Although there are tiebreak scoring systems in place, starting with direct encounter, Buchholz, and more, in the event of a draw at the top, the top four qualifiers will be decided by a rapid tiebreak match or tournament, depending on the number, starting at 15 minutes plus a ten-second increment.

The prizes are US$5000 for first, $3400 for second, $2400 for third with prizes all the way to 20th place. Note that as FIDE events of this caliber, all norms scored count double, thus a player who scores a norm at the end of the competition will be considered to have earned two norms, not one.

Artigas Mausoleum

No matter where you go in Montevideo, José Artigas is watching you. You will find him on banknotes, streets, and oh so many monuments.

The most impressive and imposing is the one in the Plaza Independencia,
which occupies a central position. (Click image for high-res version)

José Gervasio Artigas Arnal (June 19, 1764 – September 23, 1850) is a national hero of Uruguay, sometimes called "the father of Uruguayan nationhood". In his lifetime he fought for Montevideo seeking its freedom from the colonial interests of Spain, England and even Brazil. Artigas was a staunch democrat and federalist, opposed to monarchism. His history is long and chaotic, much like the times he lived in, and is a worthy read in Wikipedia for a start.

Beneath the statue is the Artigas Mausoleum. It was built in the 1930s
and Artigas's remains are kept in a container not a little reminiscent of
the opening scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The container with his remains

An educated and eloquent man, Artigas authored many famous passages, some of which
are reproduced above his remains.

The passages above state:

"The question is only between freedom and despotism"

"My authority emanates from you and it ceases before your sovereign presence. You are in the full enjoyment of your rights: behold there the fruit of my desire and efforts and behold also its full reward."

The quotes come from a famous speech he made on April 5th, 1813

The monument is guarded by a traditional guard called "Blandegues de Artigas"

On the walls are highlighted moments from his career in relief (Click image for high-res version)

A look at the mausoleum and its prominent contents

Round seven

IM Rodi reports, "Round seven was a spectacular day for the American delegation. The victories by Aleksander Lenderman and Alexander Shabalov allowed them to take over the lead, while Alexander Yermolinsky (a lot of Alexanders...) over the top-seed Julio Granda Zuñiga secured him a share of the stage."

Lenderman showed great technique as he converted a complicated endgame with rook and minor piece

GM Aleksander Lenderman - GM Jorge Cori (annotated by IM Luis Rodi)

[Event "Continental"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.05.20"] [Round "7"] [White "Lenderman, Aleksandr"] [Black "Cori, Jorge"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D15"] [WhiteElo "2636"] [BlackElo "2609"] [Annotator "Rodi,Luis"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2015.05.21"] [EventCountry "URU"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 a6 {The Chebanenko variation is one of the most recent theoretical discoveries in the Slav. Systems with c5 are currently in fashion, but the game's continuation was considered by Bologan in his book on this line, and one he thought was one of the most logical and dangerous alternatives.} 5. a4 g6 6. Bf4 Bg7 7. e3 O-O 8. h3 {A thematic idea to defend the dark-squared bishop from possible exchanges.} c5 $5 {A sharp attempt to free his position that the computer agrees with. The position does not have many predecessors, and more usual has been 8...Qa5 and 8...a5} 9. dxc5 Ne4 ( 9... Qa5 $5 {is another possibility.}) 10. Rc1 Nxc3 11. bxc3 dxc4 ({Once more} 11... Qa5 {deserved attention} 12. cxd5 Nd7 $44) 12. Qxd8 Rxd8 13. Bxc4 Nd7 { After this move, White gains the initiative.} ({Perhaps} 13... Bd7 14. Rd1 Rc8 $44) 14. Ng5 $1 Rf8 15. Ne4 Ne5 16. Bxe5 Bxe5 17. f4 Bg7 18. Kf2 {White's position is based not so much on the extra pawn, since it is on a badly weakened queenside, but on the greater piece activity, which weighs heavily.} Bf5 19. Bd5 Rfd8 20. Bxb7 Ra7 21. g4 Rxb7 22. gxf5 gxf5 23. Ng3 e6 {After a forced sequence, this difficult endgame has been reached. It appears somewhat better for White, but Black is not without defensive resources considering his qualitatively superior bishop over the knight and the weak white pawns. To win positions with a material advantage in spite of structural weaknesses, absolute technique is needed, and Lenderman shows he has it!} 24. Rhd1 Rc8 ( 24... Rxd1 25. Rxd1 Bxc3 {was the alternative, recovering the material. It might have given the best practical chances though White could still fight for the initiative since with the c3 pawn gone, it is now easier to hold the c5 pawn.} 26. Rc1 (26. Ne2 Bf6 27. Nd4 Rb8 $11) (26. Rd6 $5) 26... Bf6 27. c6 Rc7 28. e4 fxe4 29. Nxe4 Be7 30. Ke3 {And White has a certain edge, though Black can still defend.}) 25. e4 $1 Kf8 (25... fxe4 26. Nxe4 $14) 26. exf5 Rxc5 27. fxe6 fxe6 28. Ne4 Rc4 29. Kf3 $16 {The king is also a protagonist. In this position, Black's problems are siilar to those he had out of the opening: White's pieces are alwas more active, even if Black has improved.} Rbc7 30. Rd6 Ke7 31. Rxa6 Bxc3 32. a5 h6 33. Rg1 Rc8 (33... Rd7 34. Rg6 Rd3+ 35. Ke2 Rxh3 36. Ra7+ $1 (36. Raxe6+ $16) 36... Kf8 37. Nf6 Bxf6 38. Rxf6+ Kg8 39. Rxe6 Rxf4 40. a6 {with excellent chances for the first player.}) 34. Rg6 R4c6 35. Rxc6 Rxc6 36. f5 $18 {The decisive shot. The pawn will quickly fulfill its mission.} Bxa5 37. Rxh6 Bc3 38. f6+ Kf8 39. Ng5 Kg8 40. Rg6+ Kf8 41. Nh7+ {There is no holding the f-pawn back.} 1-0

It was a great day for US chess as Alexander Shabalov also joined Lenderman in the lead

GM Carlos Hevia Alejano - GM Alexander Shabalov (annotated by IM Luis Rodi)

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.05.20"] [Round "7"] [White "Hevia Alejano, Carlos"] [Black "Shabalov, Alexander"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2535"] [BlackElo "2523"] [Annotator "Rodi,Luis"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Ne7 6. O-O Nd7 7. Nh4 Be4 8. Nd2 c5 9. Nxe4 dxe4 10. c3 Nc6 11. g3 Qb6 ({Another possibility in this popular position of the Caro-Kann Advanced is} 11... Be7 {(Smirin - Anand, Villarobledo (rapid 1998) and subsequent games)}) 12. Be3 Rd8 13. Qa4 Qxb2 ({ In practice} 13... Be7 {is also often used. An example is} 14. Rab1 Bxh4 15. gxh4 cxd4 16. cxd4 Qb4 17. Bb5 Qxa4 18. Bxa4 Nb6 19. Bc2 Nxd4 20. Bxe4 Nc4 { with chances for both sides, (Karjakin - Motylev, Wijk aan Zee 2007)}) 14. Bb5 Qxc3 15. Bxc6 (15. Rfc1 Qb4 16. Bxc6 bxc6 17. Qxc6 {transposes. This was the move-order used in Bachmann - Nisipeanu, Bucarest 2008.}) 15... bxc6 16. Rfc1 Qb4 17. Qxc6 Be7 $146 ({In the aforementioned game, play continued} 17... cxd4 18. Rab1 Qa3 19. Bxd4 Be7 20. Rb7 {and White had the initiative.} Bxh4 21. gxh4 Qf3 22. Rxd7 Rxd7 23. Rb1 Qg4+ 24. Kf1 Qh3+ 25. Ke1 O-O 26. Qxd7 Qxh2 27. Rc1 h5 28. Rc8 Rxc8 29. Qxc8+ Kh7 30. Qb7 Qh1+ 31. Ke2 {1/2-1/2 (31) Bachmann,A (2511)-Nisipeanu,L (2692) Bucharest 2008}) 18. Rab1 Qa3 19. dxc5 O-O 20. Rb7 $2 {Just as in the previous commentaries, but here the move doesn't work.} ({On the other hand,} 20. Qc7 $1 {with the threats Rd1 or c6 would have been inconvenient for Black.}) 20... Nxe5 21. Qxe4 Nd3 $17 {Suddenly, Black's pieces wake up.} 22. Rb3 Qa6 23. Rcc3 $2 (23. Ra1 Rd5 $17) 23... Nxc5 $1 { Never forget what a great tactician Shabalov is!} 24. Bxc5 Rd1+ 25. Kg2 Qf1+ 26. Kf3 Qh1+ 27. Ng2 Bxc5 28. Rxc5 Rg1 {After recovering the piece, Black's material advantage won't be large, but White's exposed king is hopeless.} 0-1

GM Carlos Hevia Alejano from Cuba (Click image for high-res version)

The friendly GM Alexander Yermolinsky defeated top-seed Julio Granda
Zuñiga in an efficient game

Fellow Carioca (Rio de Janeiro resident) Diego Di Berardino (right) has been having an excellent
tournament and is chasing down the GM norm missing for the title

The stage where the top action takes place

Standings after seven rounds

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts  TB rtg+/-
1 21 GM Shabalov Alexander USA 2523 6.0 32.5 22.0
2 4 GM Lenderman Aleksandr USA 2636 6.0 32.0 8.7
3 8 GM Cori Jorge PER 2609 5.5 35.0 9.0
4 11 GM Hansen Eric CAN 2580 5.5 31.0 3.5
5 22 IM Pichot Alan ARG 2504 5.5 30.5 18.4
6 19 GM El Debs Felipe De Cresce BRA 2527 5.5 29.5 8.6
7 23 IM Di Berardino Diego Rafael BRA 2489 5.5 29.0 10.7
8 18 GM Yermolinsky Alex USA 2531 5.5 28.0 2.5
9 13 GM Flores Diego ARG 2567 5.5 28.0 2.1
10 3 GM Bachmann Axel PAR 2636 5.0 34.0 -1.2
11 6 GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo VEN 2613 5.0 32.0 -1.6
12 17 GM Perez Ponsa Federico ARG 2533 5.0 31.0 4.8
13 10 GM Mareco Sandro ARG 2581 5.0 30.5 -0.5
14 12 GM Mekhitarian Krikor Sevag BRA 2572 5.0 30.5 -4.2
15 2 GM Quesada Perez Yuniesky CUB 2645 5.0 30.0 -7.6
16 16 GM Hevia Alejano Carlos Antonio CUB 2535 5.0 30.0 0.2
17 20 GM Matamoros Franco Carlos S. ECU 2525 5.0 28.5 2.6
18 29 IM Molina Roberto Junio Brito BRA 2455 5.0 28.5 3.0
19 14 GM Kaidanov Gregory S USA 2566 5.0 27.5 -6.2
20 15 GM Gonzalez Vidal Yuri CUB 2550 5.0 27.5 -5.5

Click for complete standings

The top eight boards of the event can be followed live at both the official site and on Playchess.

All photos by Albert Silver


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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