Durarbayli Wins Big in Chicago

The 28th Annual Chicago Open (May 23-27, 2019) was the third largest in the series history, drawing nearly 900 players. The Open section was extremely strong, with 71 players over 2200 FIDE and 120 in all. Such was the strength of the Open that IMs were being paired up in round one! The top board bloodletting began immediately in round one. Nearly half of the GMs did not win! Three GMs were upset – GM Boris Avrukh lost to Zachary Dukic, Logan Wu defeated GM Vladimir Georgiev and Ashton Jin defeated GM Dmitry Gurevich – while another seven GMs were held to draws. When GMs rated over 2600 FIDE are surrendering draws in round one, you know it is a impressive event. With all the draws and upsets, there were only 17 perfect scores after two rounds, meaning that the first GM versus GM matchups would take place in round three. Only three players came through round three unscathed: top seeded GM Jeffrey Xiong, GM Yasser Quesada and GM Cemil Can Ali Maradi. Xiong drew with Ali Maradi in round four, and Quesada drew with second seeded GM Dariusz Swiercz, who started the round a half-point off the lead. There were eight players tied for first place with 3.5/4: GMs Jeffery Xiong, Vasif Durarbayli, Yuniesky Quesada, Alex Shimanov, Yasser Quesada, Pavlo Vorontsov, Cemil Can Ali Marandi, and Carlos Antonio Hevia Alejano. Xiong defeated Vorontsov and Durarbayli defeated Marandi in round five, while the next two boards drew. The Quesada brothers (Yasser and Yuniesky) calmly split their point, as did Shimanov and Hevia. This left two leaders, Xiong and Durarbayli, at the end of Saturday’s play, with eight players a half-point behind them.

[Event "Chicago Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.05.25"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Durarbayli, Vasif"]
[Black "Ali Marandi, Cemil"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C70"]
[WhiteElo "2623"]
[BlackElo "2531"]
[PlyCount "157"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 g6 5. d4 exd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8.
Nc3 Ne7 9. Bg5 h6 10. Be3 Rb8 11. Qd2 d6 12. O-O-O Be6 13. f4 Rb4 14. Bb3 Qb8
15. e5 Nf5 16. exd6 cxd6 17. g4 Nxe3 18. Qxe3 O-O 19. f5 Bxb3 20. axb3 d5 21.
Qc5 d4 22. Na2 Rb5 23. Qc4 Ra5 24. Kb1 Qb5 25. Rhf1 Qxc4 26. bxc4 gxf5 27. gxf5
Bf6 28. Nc1 Rc5 29. Rd3 Rxc4 30. Ra3 Re8 31. Rxa6 Bg5 32. Rg1 Kf8 33. Nd3 Re2
34. f6 Bxf6 35. Ra8+ Re8 36. Ra7 Bg5 37. Rg2 Re7 38. Ra8+ Re8 39. Ra7 Re7 40.
Ra8+ Re8 41. Ra5 c5 42. Ka2 Re3 43. Ra7 f6 44. Kb1 Re7 45. Ra6 h5 46. h4 Bxh4
47. Rh2 Bg5 48. Rxh5 Kg7 49. Rh2 Kg6 50. Rf2 Re3 51. Ra8 Rg3 52. Ka2 Kh5 53.
Ra5 Kg4 54. Nxc5 Be3 55. Rxf6 Rxc2 56. Nd3 Rd2 57. Ra3 Bg5 58. Ne5+ Kh5 59. Rf5
Rxa3+ 60. Kxa3 Rd1 61. Kb3 d3 62. Nf7 Kg6 63. Rxg5+ Kxf7 64. Re5 Rc1 65. Rd5
Ke6 66. Rxd3 Rc8 67. Rd2 Rb8+ 68. Kc4 Rc8+ 69. Kb5 Rb8+ 70. Kc6 Rc8+ 71. Kb6
Rb8+ 72. Kc7 Rb4 73. Kc6 Rc4+ 74. Kb5 Rc8 75. b4 Rb8+ 76. Kc4 Rc8+ 77. Kb3 Rb8
78. Rd1 Rb7 79. Kc4 1-0

Durarbayli moved to board one Sunday morning for round six, defeating Xiong to take the lead 5.5/6. He would remain there for the remainder of the tournament, despite drawing the rest of his games!
Vasif Durarbayli (photo Polgar / Webster)
Durarbayli maintained his place as sole leader with his seventh round draw against Nyzhnyk, while the pack chasing him grew. Going into Monday's final rounds, Durarbayli led at 6/7 followed by GMs Jeffery Xiong, Illia Nyzhnyk, Yuniesky Quesada and Hovhannes Gabuzyan all with 5.5/7. In round eight, Quesada pressed Durarbayli on board one, but the game was eventually drawn in 55 moves. Xiong and Nyzhnyk was also drawn in 43 moves. There was a decisive result on board three, where GM Swiercz played a nice attacking game versus GM Gabuzyan.

[Event "Chicago Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.05.27"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Black "Gabuzyan, Hovhannes"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2667"]
[BlackElo "2613"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bd3 g6 7. f3 Nc6 8. Be3
Qb6 9. a3 e5 10. Nf5 Qd8 11. Ng3 Be6 12. Qd2 h5 13. O-O-O Rc8 14. Kb1 Bg7 15.
Bf1 Qa5 16. Qxd6 Bf8 17. Qd2 Bxa3 18. Nd5 Bb4 19. c3 Be7 20. Bc4 Bxd5 21. exd5
Nb8 22. d6 Rd8 23. Qc2 Rxd6 24. Qb3 Nbd7 25. Bxf7+ Kd8 26. Qxb7 Rf8 27. Bxg6
Nd5 28. Ne4 1-0

Heading into the final round, Durarbayli was still in sole possession of first place at 6.5/8. Five other GMs – Jeffery Xiong, Dariusz Swiercz, Illia Nyzhnyk, Alex Shimanov, and Alex Shabalov – were all hot on his heels with 6/8. Swiercz took Black against Durarbayli in round nine. After Swiercz declined a draw offer, the position repeated right after the first time control, and the game was drawn, guaranteeing Durarbayli at least a share of first place. With draws on boards two and three, Shabalov was left as the only player who could catch Durarbayli with a win. But GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista defeated Shabalov, leaving Durabayli in clear first with a score of 7/9 and earning him a cool $10,300 for his efforts. Nine players finished at 6.5/9 to each win $1388.89: GMs Jeffery Xiong, Dariuscz Swiercz, Illia Nyzhnyk, Alex Shimanov, Lazaro Bruzon Batista, Yunieskiy Quesada, Hovhannes Gabuzyan, Pavlo Vorontsov, and Evgeny Shtembuliak. There were two IM norms earned. FM Aleksey Sorokin is rated 2531 FIDE and already has close to 30 IM norms. (Note: that’s not a typo.) He clearly has the rating requirement for not only IM, but also GM.  So why isn’t Sorokin an IM? Answer: he plays under the flag of the Russian Federation, and the Russians do not pay the application fee for title applicants. Because Sorkin already has two GM norms, he appears to prefer to save his money for his eventual GM paperwork. Sorokin could have made his final GM norm in Chicago with a last round win over Gabuzyan, but he lost, with another IM norm as a consolation prize. FM Seth Homa earned the other IM norm. This is his third IM norm and as soon as his FIDE rating crosses 2400, he can be awarded the title. In round 8, Homa had a key win against FM Ben Li on the way to earning his norm.

[Event "Chicago Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.05.27"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Li, Ben"]
[Black "Homa, Seth"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D46"]
[WhiteElo "2377"]
[BlackElo "2245"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "5r2/1Q6/6k1/2q2pp1/3R4/1K2P3/PP6/8 w - - 0 43"]
[PlyCount "38"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

43. Qb4 $2 (43. a4 $11) 43... Qxb4+ 44. Kxb4 Re8 $2 (44... g4 $1 45. a4
g3 46. Rd1 Re8 47. Rg1 Rxe3 $19) 45. a4 $2 (45. Rd6+ Kh5 46. Rf6 Rxe3 (46... f4
47. exf4 Re4+ 48. Ka5 Rxf4 $11) 47. Rxf5 $11) 45... g4 $1 46. a5 Rxe3 47. a6
Re8 48. Rd1 g3 49. Rg1 f4 50. Kc5 Kf5 51. b4 Kg4 52. b5 f3 53. a7 f2 54. Rd1 g2
55. Rd4+ Kf5 56. Rd5+ Kf4 57. Rd4+ Ke3 58. Rd6 g1=Q 59. Re6+ Rxe6 60. a8=Q f1=Q
61. Qa3+ Kd2+ 0-1

There were seven “Under” sections in Chicago, and and the winners of those were: Under 2300 Nicholas Matta, 7-0, $5000 Under 2100 Dan Rade, Dane Zagar, Vladyslav Shevkunov, & Ciprian Comsa 6-1, $2666.67. (Zagar prize limited to $1500) Under 1900 Ethan Pau, 6.5/7, $5000 Under 1700 Donald Uzoma, 6.5/7, prize limited to $2000. Grey Sosa 6/7, $5000 Under 1500 George Gonzalez-Napoles & Timothy Speight, 6/7, $3000 Under 1300 David Schmitz, 6.5/7, $4000 Under 1000 Liam Massee, 6.5/7, $1000 Mixed Doubles Susanna Ulrich and Alex Zhang, Amelie Pankov and Leonid Bonder, & Shanthini Saravanan and Pragyan Mishra, 10-4, $1167 each team Blitz Tournament Alikhan Irgaliyev, 8.5/10, $400 NTD Bill Goichberg directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by Boyd Reed, David Hater, Brian Yang, Grant Oen, Tracey Vibbert, Harold Stenzel, Jeff Wiewel, Jeff Smith, Adam Rubinberg, Hiro Higuchi, Chris Baumgartner, and Steve Plotnick. Full tournament details, including many games can be found at www.chicagoopen.net. Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at http://www.chesstour.com/cross.html.