Burke and Checa Make First GM Norms at Philadelphia International

Nicholas Checa
IMs John Burke and Nicolas Checa achieved GM norms at the Philadelphia International.  Both IMs are 15 years old, and both achieved their norm with a round to spare and drew their last round thus surpassing the norm requirement by half a point!  Both finished the tournament undefeated, and this is also the first GM norm for each player. Burke tied for first in the tournament with GM Andrey Stukopin each with a score of 7-2.  Burke won five games and drew four.  He played four GMs, winning one and drawing three.  His draw with Checa was the only non-GM that Burke did not beat, and he won all his games against an IM, FM, SM, and WIM.  Burke started the tournament 3-0 and was then on the top DGT boards.  He had the better tiebreaks, but there was no bonus or trophy, so he will have to be content with the better tiebreaks and $2250!  In round seven, Burke defeated IM Eylon Nakar.
[pgn][Event "Philadelphia International"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.06.28"]
[Round "7.2"]
[White "Nakar, Eylon"]
[Black "Burke, John"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C77"]
[WhiteElo "2476"]
[BlackElo "2489"]
[PlyCount "84"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. a3
O-O 9. Nc3 Be6 10. h3 Bxb3 11. cxb3 h6 12. Be3 b4 13. Nd5 bxa3 14. bxa3 Nxd5
15. exd5 Nb8 16. Qc2 Nd7 17. Rfc1 Nf6 18. Qc4 Qb8 19. Nd2 Qb7 20. Qxc7 Qxc7 21.
Rxc7 Nxd5 22. Rb7 Rfc8 23. Nc4 Kf8 24. Bd2 Rcb8 25. Rxb8+ Rxb8 26. b4 Ke8 27.
Kf1 Kd7 28. Ke2 Bg5 29. g3 Bxd2 30. Kxd2 Nc7 31. Ne3 f6 32. Nf5 Ne6 33. Rc1 g6
34. Nxh6 Nd4 35. Ke3 Rh8 36. Ng4 f5 37. Nh2 f4+ 38. gxf4 Rxh3+ 39. Ke4 Ne2 40.
Rc2 Ke6 41. Nf3 d5+ 42. Ke3 Nd4 0-1[/pgn]
Burke turned 16 on July 1st.  This GM norm should be a great early birthday present.  His last two games were then relatively quick draws as the draw in round 8 gave him the GM norm and the draw in round 9 gave him a share of first place. IM Nicolas Checa did not score as many points, but had a similar route to the GM norm.  Checa actually played a higher average rating field and didn’t need as many points to make his norm.  Checa played six GMs, beating two and drawing four.  Like Burke, Checa only had one non-GM that he did not defeat.  Checa also started strong and played all his remaining games on the top DGT boards.  In round four, Checa defeated GM Vladimir Belous.
[pgn][Event "Philadelphia International"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.06.25"]
[Round "4.4"]
[White "Belous, Vladimir"]
[Black "Checa, Nicolas"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D03"]
[WhiteElo "2567"]
[BlackElo "2415"]
[PlyCount "118"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bg5 Ne4 4. Bh4 c5 5. e3 Nc6 6. Nbd2 Bg4 7. Be2 Nxd2 8.
Qxd2 cxd4 9. exd4 Qd7 10. O-O e6 11. Rfe1 Be7 12. Bxe7 Qxe7 13. c4 Rd8 14. cxd5
Rxd5 15. Qf4 h5 16. h3 Bxf3 17. Bxf3 Qd6 18. Qe3 Rxd4 19. Qg5 O-O 20. Qxh5 Qf4
21. Rad1 Rfd8 22. Rxd4 Nxd4 23. Bxb7 Qd2 24. Rf1 Qxb2 25. Qa5 Qb6 26. Qxb6 axb6
27. Rb1 Ne2+ 28. Kh2 Nc3 29. Rb2 Na4 30. Rb4 Nc5 31. Bc6 Rd2 32. a4 Rxf2 33.
Rxb6 Ra2 34. Rb8+ Kh7 35. Rb4 g6 36. Be8 f5 37. Rd4 Kg7 38. Rc4 Nd3 39. Rc3 Nf4
40. Rc7+ Kf6 41. Bc6 Rc2 42. a5 Nd5 43. Rc8 Ne7 44. Rf8+ Kg7 45. Ba4 Ra2 46.
Bb3 Rxa5 47. Rb8 Ra6 48. Rb7 Kf6 49. g4 Nc6 50. g5+ Kxg5 51. Bxe6 Ne5 52. Bd5
Ra5 53. Bb3 Ra1 54. Kg3 Rg1+ 55. Kf2 Rh1 56. Kg3 Rg1+ 57. Kf2 Rb1 58. Rb5 Rb2+
59. Ke3 Rh2 0-1[/pgn]
Checa’s 6 ½ points left him in a tie for 3rd through 8th place.  As mentioned, Checa achieved his GM norm with a quick draw in round 8.  In the last round, Checa drew, but he had to work for that result as he was worse the entire game against GM Jianchou Zhou.  Checa fought hard and eventually achieved a draw when he was a pawn down but in a clearly drawn bishops of opposite color ending. The other player in the tie for first was GM Andrey Stukopin. Stukopin had to win the last round on board one against the tournament’s top seed: GM Yuneisky Quesada Perez.  Stukopin also showed a lot of fighting spirit.  Stukopin played his worst game of the tournament in round six against IM Eylon Nakar.  Stukopin thought he was lost by move 10.  Fritz doesn’t agree, but by move 26, Stukopin had to resign.
[pgn][Event "Philadelphia International"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.06.27"]
[Round "6.3"]
[White "Stukopin, Andrey"]
[Black "Nakar, Eylon"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C11"]
[WhiteElo "2577"]
[BlackElo "2476"]
[PlyCount "52"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2
b6 9. h4 Nc6 10. Bb5 Ndb8 11. O-O-O c4 12. Ne2 a6 13. Bxc6 Nxc6 14. g4 b5 15.
Ng3 b4 16. Kb1 Qa5 17. b3 Na7 18. a4 Nb5 19. Qg2 Bd7 20. Kb2 Rfc8 21. f5 Na3
22. f6 cxb3 23. cxb3 Rc3 24. fxe7 Nc4+ 25. bxc4 Qxa4 26. Kb1 Rb3+ 0-1[/pgn]
After what could best be considered a bad day at the office, Stukopin won three in a row against GMs to join the tie for first. Immediately after playing a bad game, Stukopin turns in a fine result against GM Mark Paragua.
[pgn][Event "11th Philadelphia International"]
[Site "Philadelphia, PA"]
[Date "2017.06.28"]
[Round "7.5"]
[White "Paragua, Mark"]
[Black "Stukopin, Andrey"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D25"]
[WhiteElo "2520"]
[BlackElo "2577"]
[PlyCount "48"]
[EventDate "2017.06.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4 5. Bxc4 e6 6. h3 Bh5 7. Qb3 Bxf3 8.
gxf3 Nbd7 9. Qxb7 c5 10. dxc5 Bxc5 11. Nc3 Rb8 12. Qa6 O-O 13. Bb3 Ne5 14. Qe2
Rb4 15. Rg1 Rh4 16. f4 Nd3+ 17. Kf1 e5 18. f5 e4 19. Bc2 Ne5 20. b3 Qc8 21. Rg3
Qxf5 22. f4 Nh5 23. Rg2 Qxh3 24. Nxe4 Rxf4+ 0-1[/pgn]
Another player who needs to be mentioned is FM Craig Hilby.  Hilby already has his three IM norms and just needed to achieve the 2400 rating.  Preliminary indications are that Hilby achieved the rating after round 7.  Assuming this is confirmed by FIDE, Hilby’s IM title will be official. Nearly all the games for the Philadelphia International as well as complete tournament results are posted online at www.internationalchess.net. International Arbiter Steve Immitt directed the event assisted by FIDE Arbiter David Hater. Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at  http://www.chesstour.com/cross.html.