Joel Benjamin wins U.S. Senior Championship

by ChessBase
10/20/2020 – GM Joel Benjamin made history today after winning the 2020 U.S. Senior Championship, becoming the first trifecta (U.S. Junior, U.S. Championship, and U.S. Senior) champion in US Chess history. The win came after scoring a solid 2/3 during the final day of action, finishing with 6½/9, a clear 1½ points ahead of the rest of the field. Benjamin’s main contender, GM Igor Novikov ended up tied for second place with GM Gregory Kaidanov and GM Dmitry Gurevich, all with 5/9.

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A historic victory

Press release by the Saint Louis Chess Club
By IM Kostya Kavutskiy

GM Joel Benjamin made history today after winning the 2020 U.S. Senior Championship, becoming the first trifecta (U.S. Junior, U.S. Championship, and U.S. Senior) champion in US Chess history. The win came after scoring a solid 2/3 during the final day of action, finishing with 6½/9, a clear 1½ points ahead of the rest of the field. Benjamin’s main contender, GM Igor Novikov ended up tied for second place with GM Gregory Kaidanov and GM Dmitry Gurevich, all with 5/9.

Benjamin played quite well throughout the event, though did admit to catching some breaks in a few games. Grateful for the opportunity to compete for a national title, the three-time U.S. champion said “I’ve felt for a long time that we have an incredible bunch of strong, serious players, and that we should have this opportunity...it really makes a huge difference in our lives.”

US Senior Chess Championship 2020

Round 7

The first round of the final day was crucial for the standings, as GM Igor Novikov had White against the tournament leader, GM Joel Benjamin. Despite needing a win to catch up, Novikov stayed true to his technical style but ultimately wasn’t able to pose enough problems and ended up needing to hold a difficult rook endgame. This draw meant that Benjamin would keep his half-point lead going into the final two rounds.

 

GM Novikov had a decent game but needed to pose more problems against the tournament leader.

The rest of the games were drawn with the exception of Shabalov v Goldin, where ‘Shabba’ found a nice tactical shot to refute his opponent’s discovered attack

 

GM Goldin’s last move 21...Nb4 was met with the powerful counter 22.h4!, which wins material for White in all lines

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Round 8

The penultimate round nearly decided the event as Novikov ended up losing to GM Alex Yermolinsky, who displayed nice technique to convert his small advantage of playing against the isolated queen pawn:

 

GM Alex Yermolinsky played spoiler today, effectively ending Novikov’s chances for the title.

Meanwhile Benjamin made a solid draw against GM Larry Christiansen, giving Benjamin a full point lead going into the final round.

 

Round 9

Needing a draw in the last round to clinch the title, Benjamin faced 10th seed FM Shelby Getz, who despite being the underdog had already impressed in the event with his gutsy play. Facing Getz’s usual 1.a3, Benjamin built up a good position and was looking quite comfortable with Black. After getting his (charitable) draw offer declined, Benjamin went on to win in style, sacrificing his bishop to open up White’s king and launch a decisive attack:

 

The crowning shot 27...Bxc3!, winning after 28.bxc3 Qe3+ 29.Kb1 Rb6+ 30.Ka1 Qxc3+ and mate next move.

This win allowed Benjamin to finish with 6½/9, 1½ points ahead of his nearest rivals and 1st place prize of $12,000.

 

Up next is the 2020 U.S. Women’s Championship, which begins October 21, with live coverage from WGM Jennifer Shahade, GM Yasser Seirawan, and GM Maurice Ashley starting at 12:50 PM CDT on USChessChamps.com, YouTube, and Twitch.

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EatMyShorts EatMyShorts 10/21/2020 09:21
Too bad Max Dlugy and Dave Griego weren't there for a mini revival of the drama that took place in the 1983 US Junior...
jenyes jenyes 10/20/2020 01:26
Congrats to a player who, in his prime, was ahead of his time with opening selections and an anti-engine style. Well deserved.

Hopefully we'll see Yasser in the next event.
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