IM Ostrovskiy Pulls Off Comeback at Liberty Bell

IMG_0858 Awonder Liang vs. Alex Ostrovskiy, Photo Neot Doron-Repa
IM Alexander Ostrovskiy pulled off the hat trick by winning (almost) everything in sight at the 48th Annual Liberty Bell Open.  He tied for first with GM Alexander Shabalov and IMs Thomas Bartell and Igor Khmelnitsky to win $1022. Finally, Alex won the bonus prize for best tiebreaks which was another $102. He also won the mixed doubles competition with Adia Onyango,  who also scored 5 1/2 points.  This was also worth $1022, but he had to share this!   $1635 is not a bad haul for the weekend!  The only thing Alex didn't win is the Blitz tournament and that may only because he didn't play.  
IMG_0857 Adia Onyango, Photo Neot Doron-Repa
In the Main event, Alex had to come from behind because he lost to co-champion Khmelnitsky in round four, but he scored 2 1/2 out of 3 in the final stretch.  Alex tied with GM Alexander Shabalov on the first tiebreak system and won in "double overtime!"  on the second tiebreak.  This year marks two years in a row that the New York State Chess Champion won the Liberty Bell Open as GM Gata Kamsky won both events last year!  Ostrovskiy was recently an honored guest at the Greater New York Scholastics representing winners from this decade.  Alex won the Greater NY Scholastic in 2014.  Alex' best game of the tournament was his win over IM Alexander Katz in round 3.
[Event "48th Liberty Bell Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.20"]
[White "Ostrovskiy, Alexander"]
[Black "Katz, Alexander"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B07"]
[WhiteElo "2488"]
[BlackElo "2461"]
[PlyCount "51"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Be3 c6 5. h3 Nbd7 6. Nf3 e5 7. a4 Qa5 8. Nd2 d5
9. dxe5 Nxe4 10. Ndxe4 dxe4 11. e6 fxe6 12. Qd4 e5 13. Qxe4 Nf6 14. Qh4 Nd5 15.
Bd2 Bb4 16. Bc4 Nxc3 17. bxc3 {I was fortunate that he missed my idea and
played 17...Bxc3 instead of 17...Be7. I thought I would have a good position
regardless, but it appears that I can't do much against the simple idea of Bf5
and 0-0-0. But he didn't retreat and instead went for the acid test. I was
surprised he only spent 1 minute on his 17th move (he did spend 7 minutes on
16...Nxc3), but I assume he couldn't see anything wrong with taking the pawn
and was focused on 18. Rd1. That is the move I was also focused on when I was
calculating prior, but the aesthetically pleasing 0-0-0 is devastating as his
king is caught in the center and he is powerless to stop Rhe1.19...Bxd2} Bxc3 (
17... Be7 18. Qh6 Bf8 {= Fritz}) 18. O-O-O Bf5 19. Rhe1 Bxd2+ 20. Rxd2 Qc3 {
good find but after the exact 21. Kd1! it was definitely over.} 21. Kd1 Rf8 22.
Re3 Qa5 23. Qd4 Bxc2+ 24. Kxc2 Rf5 25. Qd7+ Kf8 26. Qxh7 1-0[/pgn]
2016-01-18-020-Khmelnitsky-Shabalov-draw-b IM Igor Khmelnitsky vs. GM Alexander Shabalov, Photo Eduardo Bauza
Honorable mention for the hat trick goes to IM Igor Khmelnitsky.  He was also in the tie for first taking $1022.  He and his daughter took 2nd mixed doubles prize winning $613 for the team.  Finally, his daughter tied for 5th in the Under 1250 section winning $17.  The Khmelnitsky family outpaced Ostrovskiy, but it took them two players to do it!  Igor may not be familiar to most readers because his day job as an actuary for Aetna gets in the way of his chess playing. He only recently returned to top level competitive chess playing after taking a decade off from top level tournaments.  However he has played in three past US Championships (95, 96, 02), and in my humble opinion he would be a GM were it not for his day job.    I first met Igor in 2005 when he generously donated his award winning book "Chess Exam" to deployed service members in Iraq.  I am a huge fan of his work and I am now taking lessons from him.  If he can teach me, he can teach anybody!  Khmelnitsky finished undefeated.  He took two half point byes and finished 4 1/2 out of 5 in played games drawing Shabalov and defeating Ostrovskiy and IM Jay Bonin.  Here he shares his thoughts about the tournament and one of his significant games:  

[Event "LBO"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.17"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Khmelnitsky, Igor"]
[Black "Ostrovsky, Aleksandr"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B18"]
[Annotator "Khmelnitsky,Igor"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/2nk2p1/2pb1p2/1p5P/p3B3/P1P1BKP1/1P3P2/8 b - - 0 40"]
[PlyCount "32"]
[EventDate "2016.01.13"]
[SourceDate "2015.05.30"]

{I have been enjoying my retirement from active chess competition. While I
played a handful of smaller tournaments over the years, my last major event
was the US Open in 2002. My last CCA event was the National Congress in 2001. I do
enjoy visiting the events, chatting with friends and current and former
students. Also, answering questions and signing copies of my best-sellers on
self-assessment and chess training from the Chess Exam and Training Guide
series. I wasn't going to enter this event either, if not for my daughter
Nikki needing a partner for CCAs Mixed double prize. As a side note, I think
this is a fantastic idea. It is real pleasure to see so many ladies of all
ages participating regularly in major chess events. I would think that having
a mixed doubles prize played some role in this great development. So, first I
warned Nikki that I am not likely to score many points and will be relying on
her to carry our team. Tough thing to swallow for an 11-year-old 1100 rated
player competing against many adults and experienced kids in the U1250 section.
But Nikki did deliver, winning both of her final day games, and ended up with
a strong 5 out of 7. And what about me, I got lucky a few times and also
played well at times, scoring 5.5/7 and tying for 1st place. Here is an
interesting fragment from my game against Alex Ostrovsky the future champion
thanks to a better tiebreaks.} 40... Nd5 { My opponent just made the
time control with less than a minute to spare. I have a healthy pawn and a
Bishop pair. Still I had to make a decision - do I trade the B for the N or
not. I decided to trade to eliminate any possibility to be in the opposite
color B endgame.} 41. Bxd5 cxd5 42. g4 Ke6 {Another decision - what is the
next step?} 43. g5 {This aggressive move puts my opponent to the test right
away. Capturing the pawn opens the path for my king - see the line. Aleksandr
played 43...Kf5, which looks hopeful, but is not.} Kf5 (43... fxg5 44. Kg4 Be7
45. Bd4 Kf7 (45... Bf6 46. Bxf6 Kxf6 47. f3 {Zugzwang}) 46. Kf5) 44. g6 {This
move practically paralyzes Black pieces due to threats of Bh6 as well as Ph6,
depending on where the Black K and B are. With pawn g7 being one weakness and
the Pd5 the other, Black will not be able to defend both.} Bf8 45. Kg3 (45. Ke2
{Initially I planned to make this move, not worrying about 45...Kg4 due to 46.
Bc5, but then I saw 45...d4! with chances to complicate} d4 (45... Kg4 46. Bc5
Bxc5 47. h6 gxh6 (47... Bf8 48. h7) 48. g7) 46. Bxd4 Kg5 47. Kd3 Kxh5 {White
is probably still winning after Ke4-Kd5-Kc6, but not as easy as after I setup
the P on f3 and freeze the K}) 45... Bd6+ (45... Ke4 46. Bc5 (46. Kg4 $2 f5+
47. Kg5 $4 {Diagram # Overactive K syndrome!} Be7#) 46... Bxc5 47. h6 $18) 46.
Kh3 {keeping K away from g4} Be7 47. f3 {Now the White K can head back to d4}
Bf8 48. Kg2 Ke6 49. Kf1 Kf5 50. Ke2 Bd6 51. Kd3 {Kd4 can't be prevented} Bf8 (
51... Be5 {Diagram #} 52. Bh6 $18) (51... Ke5 {Diagram #} 52. h6 $18) 52. Kd4
Ke6 53. Bd2 Be7 54. h6 gxh6 55. g7 Kf7 56. Bxh6 {Black resigned.} 1-0[/pgn]
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA GM Alexander Shabalov, Photo Eduardo Bauza
The tournament's number one seed also tied for first.  GM Alexander Shabalov gave up a first round draw to Runya Xu.  This caused him to get non-master opponents in rounds 2 and 3 hurting his tiebreaks.  However, he defeated IMs Katz and Bartell and drew IMs Khmelnitsky and Liang to join the winner's circle.  Shabalov has been on a tear lately.  The previous weekend he won the Boston Chess Congress and he recently took clear second in the Eastern Open.  More significantly, as many readers know, he qualified for the US Championship by winning the US Open. Here is his round 6 win over IM Alexander Katz.  In typical, Shabalov fashon there are fireworks right out of the opening!

[Event "48th Liberty Bell Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.18"]
[White "Katz, Alexander"]
[Black "Shabalov, Alexander"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B22"]
[WhiteElo "2461"]
[BlackElo "2622"]
[PlyCount "74"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 d5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. d4 Bf5 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Nbd2 cxd4 8.
Bc4 dxe3 9. Bxd5 exd2+ 10. Qxd2 O-O-O 11. Bxc6 Rxd2 12. Bxb7+ Kxb7 13. Nxd2 e6
14. Nc4 Nd5 15. Rd1 Bc5 16. O-O Rc8 17. Rd2 Rc7 18. Na5+ Ka6 19. Nb3 Bb6 20.
Nd4 Bg6 21. Re1 Nf4 22. Nf3 Nd3 23. Red1 Nc5 24. Ne5 Bf5 25. Re2 f6 26. Nf3 e5
27. h3 Bg6 28. Ne1 Kb7 29. Nc2 Nd3 30. Ne3 Bh5 31. Ng4 Nxf2 32. Rxf2 f5 33. Kf1
Bxf2 34. Nxf2 Bxd1 35. Nxd1 Kc6 36. Ke2 Kd5 37. Kf3 g5 0-1[/pgn]
The final co-champion is IM Thomas Bartell.  Bartell started the slowest of the four champions, but finished the last rounds 3-0 including a last round win over IM Alexander Katz.  Bartell's only loss was to Shabalov. This year's Liberty Bell drew 340 players (plus 11 re-entries). The prize fund was increased for the 11th year in a row!  Some trivia regarding tournament history, this is the 48th Liberty Bell Open, but the first few were not organized by CCA, but by Jim Politowski.  More factoids are that the Empire City Open and Manhattan Open are older than 48, but skipped several years.  And the last trivial pursuit question is that the oldest continually running CCA event is the National Chess Congress which turns 47 this year. One contrast this occurs frequently is that the top section is won by a lower score than the under sections and there are often more clear winners in under sections.  That occurred this year. All under section had clear winners at 6 or 6 1/2 points.
IMG_0859 Alex Ostrovskiy and Adia Onyango, Photo Neot Doron-Repa
The under 2100 section was won by William Del Castillo with a score of 6-1 for clear first worth $1226.  All his games were decisive and he wound up playing 3 of the top 10 players (by score) in his section. The Under 1900 section was won by frequent competitor Augusto Guiteerrez with a score of 6-1 earning $1226.   He started with a half point bye, won 5 straight and drew his last round game for first place. Augusto has been rapidly improving and racking up CCA wins in his last few tournaments.  He has picked up over 100 points recently and has cashed in the Boston Chess Congress, the Empire City Open, and the Eastern Chess Congress. The under 1700 section was also won with a 6-0 score as Vivek Srinivas drew the first and last rounds and won the rest to win $1226 .   Elliott Wu won the Under 1500 section with a score of 6 1/2 to win $1022.   Five of his 7 games were played against top ten finishing players.  The Under 1250 section was won by Jonathan Xu with 6 1/2 points.  He won $715  .   The blitz finished in a 6 way tie for first!  IM Alexander Katz, Mikhail Sher, Andrew Ardito, Gennadiy Geyler, Jack Hutton, and Mauricio Camejo all scored 6 1/2.  Camejo won the $114 Under 2100 prize while the others split 1st and 2nd and won $57.  The blitz prizes were nearly doubled as 38 players played! Steve Immitt directed for Continental Chess assisted by Harold Stenzel, Jabari McGreen, Brian Yang and Andy Rea. Full details of the tournament can be found at  Archives of previous CCA events are at