GM Sergey Erenburg and GM Alexander Shabalov shared first place at the recent Liberty Bell Open each scoring 5 ½ – 1 ½. Erenburg took the more traditional GM route as he got off to a 4-0 start and then drew his final three rounds. Shabalov lost to NM Erick Garcia in round two and had to catch up.
The tournament had 348 players in six sections and had a based on prize fund of $20,000. The $20,000 prize fund was increased as this tournament again drew more than the based on. This is the 12th consecutive year that the prizes have been increased above the announced total as this tournament has a history of drawing quite well!
Erenburg started as the third seed but worked his way to board one by round three as top seeded Shabalov lost in round two and second seeded GM elect Ruifeng Li drew in round one. Once at board 1, Erenburg did not relinquish it. After two “routine” wins in the first two rounds Erenburg defeated GM Bryan Smith in round three and IM Atulya Shetty in round 4 to emerge as the only perfect score. Erenburg then faced GM Aleksandr Lendrman, IM John Burke, and GM elect Ruifeng Li and drew those games. None of the three games were quick draws. In round six against Burke, Erenburg sacrificed a pawn as black in a position with opposite side castling, but the players eventually repeated the position. In the last round Erenburg and Li played a very balanced position for 53 moves before agreeing to the draw.
Here is Erenburg’s last round game against Li.
Shabalov at the 2016 Chicago Open. Photo: Betsy Dynako Zacate
Shabalov had to play catch up. After the second round upset, he was paired down for two rounds before facing the titled players in the last three rounds. Here is Shabalov’s second round game.
Shabalov beat GM Smith in round 5, drew GM elect Li in round 6 and defeated IM Burke in the last round which enabled him to catch Erenburg. Here is Shabalov’s last round win:
There was an eight way tie for third place at 5-2. GM Lenderman, GM elect Li, IMs Shetty, Ostrovskiy, Burke, and Alexander Katz, FM David Brodsky and NM Daniel Vasserman. Each shared part of third, but Vasserman won the clear first Under 2300 prize. At 2263, Vasserman was seeded 23rd in the 57 player open section. He played four of the top players in the tournament scoring 2-2 (+1, -1. =2) against GM Smith, IM Ostrovskiy, IM Burke and NM Brandon Jacobsen. His sixth round victory over Brandon Jacobsen was a double edged highly instructive affair.
In the Under 2100 section, there was a nice tactic played by Dilshod Madolimov. Can you spot the winning move in the following position?
All of the under sections were won with a of 6-1 score except for the Under 1900 section which took 6 ½. There were no perfect scores in any section this year. In some sections, 6-1, was enough for clear first and in some sections there were ties. However, one of the section winners deserving special mention is Robert Cheng. He won the Under 1500 section of the Empire City Open with 5 ½ – 1 ½ and scored 6-1 at Liberty Bell Open winning $823. He gained 300 rating points and won’t be playing in Under 1500 sections anymore! Here are the section winners:
David Zhurbinsky, 6-1, $1235
Sanel Torres, 6 ½ – 1/2, $1235
Zhouhai Liu & Noah Thomforde-Toates, 6-1. $823
Swagnik Roychoudhury & Robert Cheng, 6-1, $823
Howard Serota, Robert Fetell, & Ty’Jon Conway, 6-1, $823
Ella Papanek & Kenneth Fernandez, 10 ½ – 3 ½, $514.50 each
Erick Garcia, 7 – 1 $185
NTD Steve Immitt directed for CCA assisted by Harold Stenzel, Jabari McGreen, Andy Rea, and Danny Rohde.