GM Vladimir Belous Wins 29th Annual Chicago Open

The 29th Annual Chicago Open was held over Columbus Day weekend, also coinciding with National Chess Day on Oct. 10. The tournament was directed by NTD Steve Immitt and held online this year, with a G/75+10 time control. This year’s event produced more than 300 players competing for $17,000 in prizes across five sections, which is a little smaller turnout than the traditional OTB event, but still with a very strong top section featuring 14 GMs. In fact, many GMs were paired against each other throughout this seven-round event, even as early as round two, when six of the juggernauts were matched.  

All of those second-round games were won by the higher-rated GM, leaving only nine perfect scores entering round three. And by the end of that third round, only three players were left undefeated: GMs Vladimir Belous and Alexander Moskalenko, and IM Hans Neimann – who recently made his third GM norm, to make this an all-GM crowd at this point. Belous won this long game against GM Aleksej Aleksandrov to stay perfect in the third round.  

[pgn][Event "Chicago Open"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2020.10.10"] [Round "3"] [White "Belous, Vladimir"] [Black "Aleksandrov, Aleksej"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A13"] [WhiteElo "2574"] [BlackElo "2658"] [PlyCount "155"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "4500+10"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 dxc4 5. Qa4+ Nbd7 6. Qxc4 c5 7. Qb3 Rb8 8. d3 Bd6 9. a4 b6 10. Nc3 a6 11. Nd2 O-O 12. Nc4 Bc7 13. O-O Ne5 14. h3 Bb7 15. Bxb7 Rxb7 16. Nxe5 Bxe5 17. Qc4 Qb8 18. Bg5 Nd7 19. Kg2 b5 20. axb5 axb5 21. Qe4 h6 22. Be3 Nf6 23. Qf3 Rc8 24. Ra6 Ra7 25. Rxa7 Qxa7 26. Nxb5 Qa2 27. Na3 Bxb2 28. Nc4 Bd4 29. Bd2 Nd7 30. Bf4 Bf6 31. Bd6 Qb3 32. Bf4 Qa2 33. Qb7 Rd8 34. Bc7 Re8 35. Qc6 Qa8 36. Qxa8 Rxa8 37. Rb1 Be7 38. Rb7 Bf8 39. Bf4 Rd8 40. Bc7 Rc8 41. e4 Nf6 42. Kf3 Ne8 43. Bb8 Rd8 44. Ke3 Nd6 45. Bxd6 Bxd6 46. Nxd6 Rxd6 47. Rc7 g6 48. Rxc5 h5 49. h4 Ra6 50. Rc3 Kf8 51. d4 Ra5 52. Kf4 Ke7 53. f3 Kf6 54. Rc6 Kg7 55. Rc3 Kf6 56. Rd3 Ra4 57. g4 hxg4 58. fxg4 Ra1 59. g5+ Ke7 60. Ke5 Rh1 61. Ra3 Rxh4 62. d5 exd5 63. exd5 Rg4 64. Ra7+ Kf8 65. Ra8+ Ke7 66. d6+ Kd7 67. Ra7+ Ke8 68. Kd5 Rg1 69. Re7+ Kd8 70. Rxf7 Ke8 71. Rg7 Rd1+ 72. Ke6 Re1+ 73. Kf6 Rd1 74. d7+ Kd8 75. Kxg6 Rd6+ 76. Kh7 Rd5 77. Kh6 Rf5 78. g6 { Black resigns} 1-0 [/pgn]

With Niemann drawing GM Illia Nyzhnyk in round four, Belous went on to defeat Moskalenko to become the tournament’s only 4/4 player. Niemann, along with GMs Sergey Erenburg and Jakhongir Vakhidov, trailed a half-point behind in second place, and many players maintained striking distance at 3/4. One such player was GM Peter Prohaszka, who defeated GM Gil Popilski with a nice tactic.  

[pgn][Event "Chicago Open"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2020.10.10"] [Round "4"] [White "Popilski, Gil"] [Black "Prohaszka, Peter"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B11"] [WhiteElo "2526"] [BlackElo "2642"] [PlyCount "48"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "4500+10"] 1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nxe4 6. Qxe4 Nd7 7. Bc4 Nf6 8. Ne5 e6 9. Qe2 b5 10. Bb3 Qc7 11. a4 Bd6 12. d4 O-O 13. axb5 cxb5 14. Qxb5 a5 15. Qe2 Ba6 16. Bc4 Bxe5 17. Bxa6 Bxd4 18. O-O Rxa6 19. Qxa6 Ng4 20. Rd1 Qxh2+ 21. Kf1 Qh4 22. g3 Qh1+ 23. Ke2 Qe4+ 24. Kf1 Qf3 {White resigns} 0-1 [/pgn]

In round five, Belous continued his GM winning streak by adding another over Vakhidov, which opened his lead over the rest of the field to a full point. Niemann and Erenburg lost ground after playing each other to a 50-move draw, joined at 4/5 in second place by Aleksandrov – who had his own nice tactic to finish off NM Evan Park in the fifth round. Can you find it after 24. Bf1?  

[pgn][Event "Chicago Open"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2020.10.11"] [Round "5"] [White "Park, Evan"] [Black "Aleksandrov, Aleksej"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2314"] [BlackElo "2658"] [Annotator "Hater,David"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "4500+10"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 d6 5. c3 g6 6. Nbd2 Bg7 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 Nh5 9. Nf1 Kh8 10. h3 Bd7 11. Ba4 Qe8 12. Bc2 f5 13. d4 f4 14. b3 g5 15. d5 Nd8 16. Nxg5 Qg6 17. Ne6 Nxe6 18. dxe6 Bxe6 19. Qf3 Rg8 20. Bd3 Bf6 21. Nd2 Rg7 22. Kh1 Rag8 23. Rg1 Qh6 24. Bf1 Ng3+ 25. fxg3 Rxg3 26. Qf2 Qh4 27. Qf3 Bxh3 28. gxh3 Rxg1+ 29. Kh2 R1g3 30. Qe2 Rxh3+ 31. Bxh3 Qg3+ 32. Kh1 Qg1# {White checkmated} 0-1 [/pgn]

Solution: 24. … Ng3+! 25. fxg3 (25. Kf2 Nxf1 26. Rxf1 Rxg2+) Rxg3 26. Qf2 Qh4 27. Qf3 Bxh3 28. gxh3 Rxg1+ 29. Kh2 R1g3 30. Qe2 Rxh3+ 31. Bxh3 Qg3+ 32. Kh1 Qg1#  

It was Niemann who halted Belous’ undefeated streak with a true fighting draw in round six. In the game, each player took turns offering a draw – and then declining one – before all offers were deemed unnecessary with only two lone kings left on the board. The event’s top two seeds also squared off in this round, with Alexsandrov delivering a nice tactic in this miniature over Nyzhnyk.  

[pgn][Event "Chicago Open"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2020.10.11"] [Round "6"] [White "Aleksandrov, Aleksej"] [Black "Nyzhnyk, Illia"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2658"] [BlackElo "2715"] [PlyCount "51"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "4500+10"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 Nf6 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 b6 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Bd3 O-O 9. Ne2 c5 10. O-O Ba6 11. f3 Bxd3 12. Qxd3 Nc6 13. e4 dxe4 14. fxe4 h6 15. Rf3 Nd7 16. Rg3 Qh4 17. Rh3 Qf6 18. e5 Qg6 19. Qf3 cxd4 20. cxd4 Rad8 21. Bxh6 Ndxe5 22. dxe5 Nxe5 23. Qf1 Ng4 24. Bf4 Rfe8 25. Rf3 Qc2 26. Nc3 {Black resigns} 1-0 [/pgn]

Entering the final round, Belous stood alone at 5.5/6, trailed by Aleksandrov as the only player with 5/6, and Niemann and Erenburg still within striking distance at 4.5/6. The four players were matched in the final round with both games ending in a draw, though this Belous-Erenburg game was an interesting example of dynamically equal positions, at one point with Erenburg up two pawns but Belous with full compensation.  

[pgn][Event "ICC tourney 2050 (75 10)"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2020.10.11"] [Round "7"] [White "Belous, Vladimir"] [Black "Erenburg, Sergey"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E04"] [WhiteElo "2574"] [BlackElo "2624"] [Annotator "Hater,David"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "4500+10"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 dxc4 5. Bg2 c6 6. O-O b5 7. a4 Bb7 8. Ne5 a6 9. Nc3 Qc8 10. e4 Be7 11. d5 cxd5 12. axb5 dxe4 13. bxa6 Rxa6 14. Rxa6 Nxa6 15. Qa4+ Nd7 16. Be3 Nab8 17. Rd1 Bc6 18. Nxc6 Qxc6 19. Qxc6 Nxc6 20. Bxe4 Ndb8 21. Nb5 O-O 22. Rc1 Na5 23. Bb6 Nb3 24. Rxc4 Nd2 25. Rd4 Nxe4 26. Rxe4 Nd7 27. Ba7 Rc8 28. Re2 Nf6 29. Nc3 Bb4 30. Bd4 Bxc3 31. Bxc3 Nd5 32. h4 h5 33. Kg2 Rc4 34. Re5 Nxc3 35. bxc3 Rxc3 36. Rxh5 f5 37. g4 fxg4 38. Rg5 Rc4 39. Kg3 Kf7 40. Rxg4 Rc3+ 41. f3 {Game drawn by mutual agreement} 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

With the peaceful seventh round, Belous secured clear first and won $2000. Aleksandrov took clear second and won $1200. There was a five-way tie for third between Prohaszka, Erenburg, Moskalenko, NIemann and Enamul Hossain. Each won $300.   

Section winners were:  

U2200: Nakul Ramaswamy, 6/7  

U1900: Nikhil Thota, Alexander Feghhi, 6/7  

U1600: Ethan Pu, 6/7  

U1300: Zahin Bashar, 6.5/7  

Normally the blitz tournament would only get a line or two in a tournament report. However, in the case of the 2020 Chicago Open Blitz tournament, this event was held the day after the main tournament – leading to a much stronger blitz event.   

There were two sections run as an 11-round Swiss, with G/3+2.  The 37-player Open section had 13 GMs, which essentially meant GMs were playing other GMs in almost every round. GM Gadir Guseinov won the even with a score 9-2 and won $500. He played 9 GMs in 11 rounds, including this win over GM Andrew Tang in the final round.  

[pgn][Event "Chicago Open Blitz"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2020.10.12"] [Round "11"] [White "Tang , Andrew"] [Black "Guseinov, Gadir"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E83"] [WhiteElo "2715"] [BlackElo "2616"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "180+2"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nc3 O-O 6. Nge2 Nc6 7. Be3 a6 8. Rb1 e5 9. d5 Ne7 10. g4 c6 11. Ng3 cxd5 12. cxd5 b5 13. Qd2 Nd7 14. h4 f5 15. gxf5 gxf5 16. Nh5 f4 17. Nxg7 Kxg7 18. Bf2 Nf6 19. Rc1 Kf7 20. a4 b4 21. Nd1 a5 22. b3 Rg8 23. Nb2 Nh5 24. Bb5 Ng3 25. Rh2 Ng6 26. h5 Nh4 27. Qd3 Kg7 28. Rc6 Qg5 29. Nc4 Qxh5 30. Rc7+ Kg6 31. Nxd6 Nxf3+ 32. Qxf3 Qxf3 33. Rc6 Bd7 {White forfeits on time} 0-1 [/pgn]

The U2000 section was won by Arnav Gupta with a score of 9/11, earning $270.  

 Crosstables and all games in the events are at  Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at    

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