Hawaii GM Challenge (Part 2/2)

by Alejandro Ramirez
3/30/2015 – The string of activities in Hawaii left the players with almost no time to do anything. Once the GM Challenge kicked off, it was clear that Waikiki Beach would have to wait until the tournament ended. Sam Shankland went into day two with a one point lead, but he was unable to keep it until the end, and someone took his place! We also bring you reports of the International Open and blitz.

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Hawaiʻi Chess Festival

With the GM Challenge inaugurating the chess playing festivities, it was time for everyone to focus over the board. The International Open section was not weak by any means, and it had some interesting personalities. The tournament was split into the 3-day and the 4-day section, but none of the top players ventured into playing three games on Friday, two on Saturday and one on Sunday, rather opting to play 1-2-2-1 starting on Thursday.

The top seed was... Timur Gareev! He bravely decided that he would play both the International Open and the GM Challenge. A decision that proved to be somewhat too ambitious as he was forced to take a bye on the second round and he was positionally destroyed by Ahasaryan on the third round.

I personally started well, with 4.0/4 after beating Samy Shoker, but fell to the eventual winner of the tournament Hovhannes Gabuzyan. Both he and Aghasaryan traveled all the way from Armenia to participate in the event, and they are going to Moscow for the Aeroflot Open!

Final Standings

# Name/Rtng/ID Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6
1 GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan W 13 B 8 W 24 B 10 W 2 B 3
  2603 (2553) (13303732) 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 5.5
2 GM Alejandro Ramirez B 14 W 18 B 3 W 4 B 1 W 8
  2579 12688291 (2590) (6500617) 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 4.0 4.5
3 GM Samy Shoker W 17 B 6 W 2 B 5 B 12 W 1
  2535 15496384 (2466) (627143) 1.0 2.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 4.5
4 GM Robert Aghasaryan B 20 W 26 W 11 B 2 W 9 B 5
  2381 13997295 (2511) (13302841) 1.0 2.0 3.0 3.0 4.0 4.5
5 GM Niclas Huschenbeth W 25 bye B 19 W 3 B 14 W 4
  2609 14965043 (2536) (24604747) 1.0 1.5 2.5 2.5 3.5 4.0
6 IM Ryosuke Nanjo B 22 W 3 B 20 W 15 B 27 W 14
  2437 15614071 (2349) (7000634) 1.0 1.0 1.5 2.0 3.0 4.0
7 IM Shinya Kojima W 16 bye B 12 W 14 B 26 W 15
  2320 12910637 (2403) (7000812) 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.0 3.0 4.0
8 IM Nikolai Andrianov B 29 W 1 B 15 W 20 W 10 B 2
  2475 12542088 (2421) (4101642) 1.0 1.0 1.5 2.5 3.0 3.5
9 Yogesh Gautam W 30 B 24 B 26 W 19 B 4 W 18
  2266 15460336 (2180) (5009324) 1.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 3.0 3.5
10 IM Anthony F Saidy W 28 bye B 18 W 1 B 8 bye
  2263 10439949 (2330) (2000903) 1.0 1.5 2.5 2.5 3.0 3.5
11 GM Timur Gareev W 21 bye B 4 —- W 29 bye
  2604 13262157 (2668) (13262157) 1.0 1.5 1.5 U1.5 2.5 3.0
12 WIM Sabrina L Chevannes B 31 bye W 7 B 24 W 3 —-
  2239 14813470 (2172) (411280) 1.0 1.5 2.0 3.0 3.0 U3.0
13 NM Oliver Chernin B 1 W 22 B 27 W 23 B 15 W 17
  2236 10502772 (2133) (2002531) 0.0 1.0 1.5 2.5 2.5 3.0
14 Patrick N Perry W 2 B 16 W 31 B 7 W 5 B 6
  2189 11207707 (2149) 0.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 3.0 3.0
15 CM John Doknjas W 24 B 28 W 8 B 6 W 13 B 7
  2145 14702671 (2115) (2608367) 0.0 1.0 1.5 2.0 3.0 3.0
16 Joshua Doknjas B 7 W 14 B 28 B 25 W 31 W 27
  2035 14702692 (1960) (2614316) 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 2.0 3.0
17 Coel Tadas Oshiro B 3 bye W 29 bye B 22 B 13
  2029 14779576 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.5 3.0
18 FM Josip Asik - 33 B 2 W 10 W 22 B 23 B 9
  unr. 15699635 (2307) (916030) X1.0 1.0 1.0 1.5 2.5 3.0
19 NM Cornelius Rubsamen B 23 W 27 W 5 B 9 bye W 20
  2219 12625417 (2226) (2013851) 1.0 1.5 1.5 1.5 2.0 2.5
20 Paul Y Iinuma W 4 B 30 W 6 B 8 W 21 B 19
  2168 12747819 (2084) (2031809) 0.0 1.0 1.5 1.5 2.0 2.5
21 Ryu Matsuda B 11 W 29 B 23 W 30 B 20 —-
  2151 11500404 (2159) (7000502) 0.0 0.5 1.0 2.0 2.5 U2.5
22 Anthony A Blessing W 6 B 13 W 25 B 18 W 17 B 26
  2035 12910323 (1904) (2091054) 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.5 1.5 2.5
23 Evan Zheng W 19 B 25 W 21 B 13 W 18 B 30
  1703 13499821 (1653) (2097125) 0.0 1.0 1.5 1.5 1.5 2.5
24 GM Alexander Shabalov B 15 W 9 B 1 W 12 —- —-
  2593 12544264 (2544) (2008572) 1.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 U2.0 U2.0
25 Lawrence Wolfley B 5 W 23 B 22 W 16 B 30 W 31
  2142 12605341 (2092) (2024691) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 2.0
26 William Wenz bye B 4 W 9 B 31 W 7 W 22
  2000 10832756 (1950) 1.0 1.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 2.0
27 Kevin Lynn Erick bye B 19 W 13 B 29 W 6 B 16
  1913 13434233 (1863) 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.0 2.0
28 Charles M Sonido B 10 W 15 W 16 —- bye bye
  1849 12862847 (1799) (2029723) 0.0 0.0 1.0 U1.0 1.5 2.0
29 Eric Sakurai W 8 B 21 B 17 W 27 B 11 —-
  2031 12537602 (1981) 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 1.5 U1.5
30 Alden Ortolano B 9 W 20 bye B 21 W 25 W 23
  1700 14744172 (1650) 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0
31 Frank Alejandro W 12 bye B 14 W 26 B 16 B 25
  1601 10328616 (1551) 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0

Saturday was probably the craziest chess day I have ever experienced. I played a total of 14 chess games, two of them Classical Time control (in the afternoon) preceded by a marathon 12-round blitz tournament.

The blitz tournament was a 5+0' double round Swiss (meaning that every round the players would face their opponent twice, once with black and once with white).

The pairings were done with the somewhat unreliable USCF Blitz rating, which created some weird pairings. For example, I was the top seed at 2822, which is not exactly my strength by any means, while Shankland was paired using a bizarre 2400 some rating. He beat me 0-5-1.5 in the third round in what is probably going to be the last upset he pulls off that is almost a 400 rating point difference.

Sam continued with good pace, eventually reaching 10.5/12. I was somewhat lucky to steamroll through my opponents, including Gabuzyan and Huschenbeth, and finished also with 10.5/12. We tied for first and claimed the small prize.

GM Challenge - Day Two

The main event was also the conclusion of the event. The four players sat down for their last six games late Sunday evening.

Round Seven

To recap, these were the standings before the start of day two:

Shankland came in with a one point lead over Hou Yifan and Gareev, but that dissipated quickly.

Kojima fell to Hou Yifan. The Japanese player was a little to eager to sacrifice a pawn for positional compensation, but he never seemed to have enough.

Meanwhile Shankland's knight saw itself in trouble:

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Gareev, Timur"] [Black "Shankland, Samuel L"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B10"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4r1k1/1p1r3p/p2b1ppP/N2p4/3P4/P2nB1P1/1P3PK1/R1R5 w - - 0 28"] [PlyCount "23"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 28. Rc2 Rc7 $2 (28... f5 $1 {with the threat of f4, and it is not easy to take advantage of the knight on d3.} 29. Rd1 Rc7 $1 {With equality.} (29... f4 30. Rxd3 fxe3 31. Rxe3 Rxe3 32. fxe3 Kf7) 30. Rcd2 f4 {is no longer a possibility.} 31. Rxd3 fxe3 32. Rxe3 Rxe3 33. fxe3 Rc2+ $1 $17) 29. Rd2 Nc1 {Black's knight isn't feeling happy, but White has to act quickly as Shankland is threatning b6.} 30. Nxb7 $5 Nb3 31. Nxd6 Re6 (31... Rxe3 32. fxe3 Nxd2 33. b4 {is an endgame that Black can hope to hold thanks to his activity.}) 32. Re1 $1 {A beautiful and quiet move. All of White's pieces were hanging, but now they are all defended!} Rxd6 (32... Nxd2 33. Bxd2 Rxd6 34. Bf4 Rdd7 35. Bxc7 Rxc7 36. Re6 {is a completely hopeless endgame.}) 33. Rd3 (33. Bf4 Nxd2 34. Bxd6 Rb7 { is not as strong.}) 33... Rb6 34. Bf4 Rf7 35. Rc3 {Black's king is too weak, and he is down material. The rest is easy.} Rfb7 36. Bc7 Rb5 37. Re7 Nxd4 38. Rg7+ Kh8 39. Be5 1-0

Round Eight

Kojima and Gareev played a solid draw where neither side had real chances. Meanwhile Hou Yifan and Shankland went all out:

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Hou, Yifan"] [Black "Shankland, Samuel L"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B19"] [PlyCount "116"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bd2 Ngf6 12. O-O-O Be7 13. Kb1 Rc8 14. Ne4 c5 15. g4 c4 16. Qe2 Nxe4 17. Qxe4 Qb6 18. c3 Nf6 19. Qe2 Nd5 20. Ka1 Qa5 21. Ne5 {A battle position: Black will try to break through on the queenside, but if he doesn't his position will simply collapse. He cannot escape to the kingside as he will get mated, and he doesn't feel safe in the center with Nxf7 threats looming.} b5 22. Rh3 $1 {I like this move - securing the third rank stalls Black's attack.} f6 $5 (22... b4 23. cxb4 Bxb4 24. Ra3 $1 Qb5 25. Bxb4 Qxb4 26. Ng6 $1 {With a strong initiative.}) 23. Ng6 Rc6 {The rook on h8 is taboo. This move threatens Ra6 and defends e6.} 24. Qe4 $1 {A beautiful resource. This move stuffs the queen on b1, passively, but it stops Black's attack.} (24. Nxh8 Ra6 25. a3 Bxa3 {and White will not survive.}) (24. Bc1 Ra6 25. a3 {was another way of playing.}) 24... Ra6 25. Qb1 Rg8 26. f4 Bd6 27. f5 exf5 28. gxf5 Kd7 29. b4 $2 {Too hasty. The idea is sound but it doesn't work in this position.} Qa3 (29... cxb3 $1 30. Qxb3 Qa4 $17) 30. Bc1 Qb3 (30... Qxc3+ $5 31. Rxc3 Nxc3 32. Qb2 Rxa2+ 33. Qxa2 Nxa2 34. Kxa2 Bxb4 {would have been a crazy endgame.}) 31. Qxb3 cxb3 32. a3 Re8 {With Black controlling the e-file it seems that he should have enough for his sacrificed pawn (the one he will lose on b3). However after much maneuvering Black ended up losing the thread of the game.} 33. Kb2 Nb6 $2 {The knight was simply stronger on d5 than it ever will be on c4.} 34. Kxb3 Nc4 35. Rhh1 Bg3 36. Rhf1 Kc6 37. Rf3 Bd6 38. d5+ Kd7 39. Rf2 Re4 40. Ra2 Nb6 41. Rg2 Nc4 42. Nh8 $5 Bf8 43. Rf1 Nb6 44. Ng6 Bd6 45. Nf4 Re7 46. Ne6 {Now it is clear that Black is lost.} Nxd5 47. Rd1 Rxe6 (47... Nc7 48. Nc5+) 48. fxe6+ Kxe6 49. Rxg7 Rc6 50. Rd3 Be5 51. Bd2 a6 52. Rg6 Rc4 53. Rxh6 Rh4 54. Rh8 Nb6 55. h6 Nc4 56. Ra8 Kf5 57. Rd7 Rh2 58. h7 Ke4 1-0

Round Nine

The last rapid game of the festival saw the black players convincingly outplay their opponents. Hou Yifan played a nice positional game, won a pawn and converted it in the endgame against Gareev. Meanwhile Kojima played a very clean Slav to beat Sam Shankland - the American's third loss in a row!

Round Ten

Shankland blundered a pawn in the opening against Gareev, but that was ok because it is blitz after all. He recovered, tricked his opponent, and won his first game of the day.

Hou Yifan meanwhile tricked Kojima:

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Hou, Yifan"] [Black "Kojima, Shinya"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B10"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. e4 c6 2. c4 d5 3. exd5 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Nf3 Nxc3 7. bxc3 g6 8. d4 Bg7 9. Bd3 O-O 10. O-O Nc6 11. Re1 Qc7 12. a4 b6 13. Ba3 Re8 14. d5 Ne5 15. Bb5 Rd8 16. Qe2 Nxf3+ $2 {Not good.} (16... Bg4 $1 {Would have put a serious question on White's plans. Black is now ready to take with the bishop on f3, shattering the pawn structure and retaining his defense in the center.}) 17. Qxf3 Qxc3 18. Bxe7 $1 {Well calculated. Black has threats, but White is faster.} Qxf3 19. gxf3 Bxa1 20. Bxd8 {Material is even but the passed d-pawn is a real problem.} Bd7 $1 {A nice resource to keep afloat, this prevents Re8+. } 21. Be7 Bc3 $2 {The losing move.} (21... Bxb5 22. axb5 Bg7 $1 23. d6 Bf8 $1 { Was the only way to continue. Here Black is under some pressure still but he should have enough resources to draw.}) 22. Rc1 Bxb5 23. axb5 Be5 24. d6 {The pawn will simply queen on d8 now.} 1-0

Round Eleven

Shankland was unable to keep his recovery and fell to Hou Yifan

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Shankland, Samuel L"] [Black "Hou, Yifan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B90"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 b4 13. gxf6 bxc3 14. Qxc3 Nxf6 15. Na5 Qd7 16. Qc6 Rfc8 17. Qxd7 Nxd7 18. b3 f5 19. Bc4 Bxc4 20. Nxc4 Rc6 21. exf5 Rf8 22. f4 Rxf5 23. fxe5 Nxe5 24. Nxe5 Rxe5 25. Rhe1 Bh4 26. Re2 d5 27. Kd2 Rce6 28. Kd3 $2 {White had to be very careful of the pins... and skeweres!} (28. c3 Rxe3 29. Rxe3 Bg5 30. Rde1 Rh6 31. R1e2 Rh3 $1 {and Black wins a pawn, but the endgame is far from clear.}) 28... d4 29. Bf2 (29. Kxd4 Rxe3 30. Rxe3 Rd6+ $1 {must be the trick that Shankland missed. The skewer wins a piece.} ( 30... Bf2 {leads to nothing for Black, as White defends with the beautiful} 31. Rde1 {and Black is lost.})) 29... Rxe2 30. Bxh4 Rxh2 31. Be1 Rh3+ 32. Kd2 h5 { The material difference is too big.} 33. Bf2 Rh2 34. Rf1 Rf6 35. Ke2 g5 0-1

Meanwhile Gareev essayed 1.g4?! against Kojima and... won in 25 moves! Blitz is blitz, after all.

Round Twelve

The final round had a couple of interesting games. Shankland outplayed Kojima, reached a technically winning endgame and... lost. Just sealing a horrible day for the American player.

Meanwhile Hou Yifan and Gareev played a strange game. A perpetual when Hou Yifan was up a pawn finished the tournament.

Final Standings

An amazing performance by the Women's World Champion in the last day, scoring a brilliant 5.5/6. Kojima also had a good day, with 2.5/6, much better than Shankland's 1.0/6. Gareev just had to score 50% to secure his second place prize of $2500 (Hou Yifan received $5000, Shankland $1500 and Kojima $1000).

Closing Ceremony

Shinya Kojima traveled with his girlfriend, Natsumi Fukuya, probably the most formal person I have ever met - true to her Japanese culture. She played in the open reserve section.

Mrs. Mueller handed out the prizes, and we all know she made the tournament happen

Niclas Huschenbeth and Sabrina Chevannes were doing the commentary.
They had the chance to interview the winner.

Shankland was, for some reason, feeling a little down

Timur Gareev receiving his lei

and showing it off

Hou Yifan's first place trophy was made from a local mango tree

The photo speaks for itself, mostly

A proud mother always has her iPhone ready

Beau Mueller hosted a fantastic event, and I am already booking my tickets to go back to Hawaii... The beauty of the place, and even more than that, the kindness and attentiveness of the people that we met, is incomparable. Mahalo, Beau, and Mahalo to all the people in Hawaii that made this happen.

Finally a VIP dinner to close the event. Here with Niclas Huschenbeth,
David Pruess who was casually visiting his Hawaiian in-laws, and Sam Shankland.

Finally a picture with the winner!

The organizers have promised a second edition of the festival coming to Honolulu next year. Keep your eyes peeled for the opportunity to witness, play and participate in a fantastic chess festival, that just happens to be in the most paradisiac place you can imagine.

Day Two Games - GM Challenge

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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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ff2017 ff2017 3/31/2015 08:43
re: Shankland's Streak: Not really, these weren't classical games and they weren't rated.

Nice writeup.
Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 3/31/2015 11:00
Shankland's streak is over :(
ChessTalk ChessTalk 3/31/2015 04:49
I remember him when he was just a little peasant.
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