The 51st Liberty Bell Open was held January 18th to 21st at the Sonesta Hotel in Philadelphia. This year’s attendance was the first time in 13 years that the event did not exceed the based on and increase the prize fund. Weather on the East Coast led to numerous cancellations and there are more choices than ever for tournament players, so this year’s event was the smallest since 2002.
While the tournament wasn’t as large as in past years, it was still quite strong. There were three GMs, three IMs, one FM and eighteen masters in the 45 player Major section. After seven rounds of hard fought chess, GM Sergey Erenburg and IMs Atulya Shetty & Alexander Katz finished with undefeated scores of 5 ½ – 1 ½ to tie for first. Each won $1018.34 with Erenburg receiving an extra $80 for the best tiebreaks.
IM Alexander Katz
IM Shetty played in the four day schedule and economized his time on Saturday. He used only 38 minutes on his clock for his two games and played only 27 moves in the two games! Round three was a quick draw against GM Popilski, but in round two Shetty demonstrates what can happen when your king gets stuck in the center.
The Major section had a three day or a four day option. The two schedules merged in round three. After the merge, all three GMs had perfect scores. GMs Erenburg, Gil Popilski and Bryan Smith were joined by IM Atulya Shetty and SMs Lev Paciorkowski and Daniel Cremisi. The pairings were: Paciorkowski – Erenburg on board one, Popilski versus Shetty on board two and Smith versus Cremisi on board three. Erenburg provides comments on the critical parts of his win over Paciorkowski.
Since both boards two and three drew Erenburg emerged as the only 3-0.
Atulya Shetty on the cover of Chess Life six years ago
Round four saw the first GM vs GM pairing as Erenburg had white versus Popilski on board one. That game ended in a draw which allowed players with 2 ½ points to catch up. IM Shetty took advantage as he defeated IM Thomas Bartell to catch up with Erenburg, but IM Katz and GM Smith drew so there would be only two players in the lead: Erenburg and Shetty.
Shetty and Erenburg played a quick draw in round five to reach 4-1. Their draw allowed several players to catch up as GM Popilski defeated SM Daniel Cremisi, IM Katz defeated NM Gus Huston, and FM Gabriel Petesch defeated GM Smith. So, going into the final day five players shared the lead: GMs Erenburg & Popilski, IMs Katz & Shetty and FM Petesch.
Erenburg and Katz faced each other on board one. They played a long game, but it eventually ended in a draw. Shetty and Petesch also drew on board two. The one decisive result was not a game at all. GM Popilski got a forfeit win when IM Bartell misread the round time and failed to show up in an hour! This meant Popilski entered the last round in clear first place at 5-1.
Popilski just needed a draw for first place, but IM Katz was able to defeat Popilski and secure at least a tie for first. Meanwhile on board two, Shetty defeated Paciorkowski to claim his share of first place.
Erenburg defeated Petesch to also get to 5 ½ points with the best tiebreaks. Here Erenburg provides notes to the critical part of the game:
Alexander Katz, who goes by “CryptoChess”, tweeted about his shared victory in Philly.
Made 5.5/7 and equal first at Liberty Bell Open this weekend. Hardly the strongest field ever (only 3 GMs), but tournament wins are always good to pick up 🙂