Youth Served At US Masters

Damir Studen and Daniel Gurevich, two young players from Atlanta, Georgia, USA, both scored 5.5 points out of 9 rounds at the recent US Masters in Greensboro, North Carolina. That put both of them in the fourth score group, in a tie for 12-21 out of 79 players. They were the lowest rated, by far, players in the score group. For both of these young men (Damir was born in 1989 and Daniel in 1997) this can be considered a breakout event. Damir has previously won the state championship of Georgia, while Daniel won the top section of the 2009 Super Nationals in Nashville, so both have known success. Both would agree the US Masters is on another level entirely.
Damir won 3, drew 5, and lost one. Daniel won 5, drew one, and lost 3. Damir had a performance rating of 2560, while Daniel’s PR was 2544. Damir faced four GM’s, with two wins and two draws. Daniel played five GM’s, winning two, while losing three. Damir played his usual solid, steady game and was consistent throughout the event, with draws interspersed with wins until winning back to back in rounds seven and eight. Daniel lost two of his first three, won four of the next five, with the other game being drawn. He won three in a row in rounds 6-8. Damir earned 48 rating points to move to 2384. Daniel garnered 51 rating points, with his rating increasing to 2344. The two had three common opponents. They both drew with IM John Cox of England. Damir drew with GM Alex Fishbein while Daniel won. Damir also drew with GM Georg Meier, while Daniel lost his game with Meier in the last round.
What I want to do is contrast the performance of these two young turks with that of some of the older players, the wily ol’ veterans. I have read analytical books on baseball by writers such as Bill James and his Baseball Abstracts over the last thirty plus years. The study of baseball statistics is called “sabermetrics.” One of the things I have learned is the smaller the sample size, the less trustworthy the results. With that caveat I can tell you this sample size would be considered small in any study, but it is all I have with which to work. To make it even smaller, I will throw out one of the games. I do that because organizers continue the nonsensical practice of having an odd number of rounds, which puts one half of the field at a disadvantage by having to play the Black pieces an extra time. Both Damir and Daniel each played White four times while having the Black pieces five times, which makes their individual results even more spectacular!
I wanted to know if their success can be attributed to youthful exuberance, and if so, to what extent. For this study I decided to contrast the performance rating of the first four rounds with that of the last four rounds. To do so I would have to eliminate the 5th round entirely, which would leave each player with an equal number of times playing the White and Black pieces. I also needed to use only those who played all nine games, for obvious reasons. GM Larry Kaufman had a good result considering he is older than me by a few years. It boggles my mind how he can play at such a level. But Larry did take two half-point byes, which would skew the results to a point of being meaningless.
I decided to find matching pairs, like Damir and Daniel in order to increase the sample size. The two players I found to contrast with D & D were GM Alonso Zapata, now living in Atlanta, and GM Michael Rohde, who used to visit and play when his parents lived in Atlanta. Alonso was born in 1958 and Michael 1959, making both of them eligible to play in the US Senior. Because they are several decades older I believe it makes for a fine contrast of youth versus age.
This is the PR for all nine rounds for each of them, with all numbers rounded off:
Zapata 2619
Studen 2560
Gurevich 2544
Rohde 2467
Added together and averaged we have a PR for Zapata & Rohde of 2543, and for D&D it is 2552, which is close.
Now let us look at the PR for each for only the first four rounds:
Zapata 2789
Studen 2683
Gurevich 2395
Rhode 2320
And for the last four rounds:
Gurevich 2712
Studen 2576
Rohde 2543
Zapata 2444
Combine each of the two sets and average them for the first four rounds and we get:
D & D 2539
Z & R 2555
This means they played about the same chess during the first four rounds. Now we look at the last four rounds:
D&D 2644
Z & R 2494
The two young men obviously played much stronger chess in the later stages of the long tournament.
I considered using GM John Federowicz as he was also born in 1958, like GM Zapata, but rejected him because he had taken a half point bye in the fifth round. Since he did play the first, and last, four rounds, I would like to mention his tournament. John, one of the most gracious players I have encountered through the years, won his first two games, but those were the only games he won. He drew his next two, took a half point bye, lost in round 6 to GM Meier, drew in round seven, lost again in the penultimate round, and finally drew in the last round. This adds up to an even tournament. The Fed’s PR for the tournament was 2451. For the first four rounds was 2663; for the last four, 2239. If John were combined with either Alonso or Michael it would have been an even more dramatic decline. Combined, The Fed and The Zap would have had a PR of 2726 for the first four rounds. It would have dropped precipitously to only 2342 for the last four rounds. Rohde and the Fed would be 2491 for the first four rounds, and 2391 for the last four.
I stand in awe while applauding these two young men from my home city, Damir Studen, who earned an IM norm, and Daniel Gurevich, on such an excellent tournament.

Damir Studen Earns IM Norm at US Masters

GM Rauf Mamedov sat down to play GM Bartlomiej Macieja on board one in the last round of the US Masters trailing by half a point. To win the tournament Rauf would have to win the game, which is exactly what happened. Three other players had a chance to finish with seven points. GM’s Alejandro Ramirez and Yuniesky Quesada Perez drew their game, thus finishing with 6 ½, while GM Alojzije Jankovic, with a chance to finish first, took a HALF POINT BYE in the last round, the second half point bye he had taken in the tournament. Jankovic lost to Macieja in the penultimate round.
The official website tried to broadcast three games, but usually there were only two, or one, game live, because of “tech issues.” I followed the last game, which could have been drawn with better play from the loser. One game never made it to the web. The game in which I had the most interest, the board three game between GM Georg Meier and NM Daniel Gurevich, of Atlanta, was being broadcast until it, too, had “tech issues.” After losing two of his first three games, NM Gurevich won in the fourth round, followed by a draw with IM John Cox. Daniel then ripped off three wins in a row, including GM Alex Fishbein in round seven and GM Alex Shabalov in the penultimate round. Reeling with the feeling and playing Black versus GM Meier, Gurevich played like a wild man swinging wildly by pushing his g-pawn and thereby weakening his position. It was the kind of impetuous move a chess teacher would advise a student against playing. A few moves later the game disappeared and I regretted not copying the moves that had been displayed.
The big news locally is that LM Damir Studen, who literally grew up at the House of Pain, earned an IM norm with his 5 ½ points with his last round draw with the aforementioned IM John Cox. His tournament included three wins, five draws, and only one loss, that a round five loss to LSM Denys Shmelov. He drew with GM’s Alex Fishbein and Georg Meier, and defeated GM John Federowicz. Damir and Daniel finished in the fourth score group, tying for twelfth place with many others. Years ago when both of these young men were up and comers I showed there was still life left in this old dog by defeating both of them in a nightly quick-play event at the Atlanta Chess Center. I mention this because I have read many times that one should “get them on the way up,” and have always wanted to put it into print. The game with Damir was particularly exciting because I had to play many moves with only one second left on my clock. Fortunately there was a five second delay. Both would, no doubt, eat me alive now. I congratulate both of these players for their outstanding result. Damir gained 48 rating points to move close to Senior Master level at 2384. Daniel increased his rating 51 points to move to 2344.
When the tournament first began there were updates often, and the pictures were like being onsite. I have not seen many of the players, like GM Michael Rohde, in years, so the pictures on the website were nice to see. Someone was taking a picture of the results page every “15-20 minutes.” That stopped, unfortunately. Combine that with the myriad technical problems and general lack of games, and I quickly lost interest. The internet was down most of the final day and I did not seem to mind because the results were not forthcoming, often for far too long. To a chess fan the coverage showed much promise initially, but sputtered and ground to a halt. In chess terms it would be like a player winning his first round and then losing all of his next games.
Since there have been so few games from the US Masters I would like to present a game given by Olimpiu Urcan & Other Epistolarians from, Chess: A Singapore Column of September 1, 2013. ( This one is for you, future IM Studen!
A Scandinavian Crash
Along with his brief annotations and comments, Napoleon Recososa submits the interesting game below, played in the fourth round of the Inaugural Teck Ghee CSC Community Chess Championship (August 25, 2013):
Napoleon Recososa – Kanagenthiran Premnath [B01]
Inaugural Teck Ghee CSC Community Chess, Round 4, 25 August 2013
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bc4 c6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.h3 Bh5 8.Be3 e6 9.g4 Bg6 10.Ne5 Nbd7 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Qe2 b5 13.Bd3 Qb4?! A waste of time since White, with his next move, castles queenside anyway. Perhaps 13…Be7 was better. 14.0–0–0 a5? Premature activity. He failed to consider the king’s safety. Maybe he underestimated the lurking dangers in the center as his c6 and e6-pawns controlled the d5 square and, furthermore, White’s bishop on e3 covered the e-file. 15.g5 Nh5 [see diagram] If 15…Nd5 White planned 16.Nxd5 exd5 17.Bf4+ Qe7 (17…Be7 18.c3; 17…Kd8 18.Rhe1) 18.Qf3 and now if 18…0–0–0 then 19.Bxb5! cxb5 20.Qxd5 looks strong. 16.d5! Nf4 After 16…cxd5 17.Nxd5 Qd6 (17…exd5 allows 18.Bc5+) 18.Nb6 (18.Bxb5 was interesting too but I had doubts about 18…exd5 19.Bc5+ Qe6) 18…Nf4 19.Qf3 White’s just winning. 17.Bxf4 Qxf4+ 18.Kb1 Nc5 If 18…Ne5 then White had a pleasant choice between 19.dxe6 fxe6 20.Bxg6+ or the more crude 19.dxc6 b4 20.Nb5. 19.Bxb5 Rc8 19…cxb5 loses to 20.Qxb5+ Kd8 (20…Ke7 21.d6+ Kd8 22.Qxc5) 21.dxe6+ Kc8 (21…Kc7 is met by the simple 22.Nd5+ or 22.Rd7+) 22.Qc6+. 20.Bxc6+ Rxc6 21.dxc6 Qc7 21…Qxg5 fails because of 22.c7! 22.Qg4? Better was 22.Qb5 followed by 23.Na4. I was distracted by my opponent’s time trouble. 22…Qxc6 23.f3 Be7 24.h4 a4 25.Ne4 a3 26.Nxc5 Bxc5 27.h5 Qb5 28.b3 gxh5 29.Qe4! Call it a sense of danger or pure luck but I noticed that after 29.Rxh5 Rxh5 30.Qxh5 there is the sneaky 30…Qe2! 31.Qh8+ Bf8 32.Qh1 Qe5. 29…Ke7 29…0–0 30.Rxh5 is losing too. 30.g6 f6 30…f5 leads to a forced mate after 31.Qh4+. 31.Rhe1 Qb6 3. Qd5 and with just six seconds left, my opponent resigned in this hopeless position. 1–0