GM Alex Lenderman took clear first in the 2019 Philadelphia International (Philadelphia, PA, June 27-July 1) scoring 7-2 and taking home $6100. Seeded third at the outset, Lenderman led the tournament from start to finish, and had to face virtually all the other top seeds in his path to victory.
Alex Lenderman (photo David Hater)
The Philadelphia International was a truly international event. There were 13 GMs, 19 IMs, 17 FMs, 1 WGM, and 1 WIM in the 91 player field, with 19 different FIDE federations represented.
I spoke with Lenderman after his last round game and he graciously offered comments about several of his games. Those comments are included in the below analysis. Lenderman also calculated that this event will see him rise to 2740 USCF and cross 2650 FIDE.
After defeating GM Yasser Quesada Perez in round four, Lenderman had two draws in a row against 2019 National Open Champion Illia Nyzhnyk and GM Timur Gareyev. Both went to rook and pawn endings, although Lenderman had the worse of it against Nyzhnyk and the better side of things versus Gareyev.
The round six draw against Gareyev was a very interesting game. Gareyev sacrificed a piece after 42. … Ra8. Lenderman thought it was just desperation, but there are mate threats that would allow Gareyev to get the piece back.
For instance: after 43. Rxc6 Ra3 44. Ne4 Re3, Gareyev is fine. Lenderman understandably didn’t like that line and instead played 43. Rxc6 Ra3 44. h3, giving him an edge that was not sufficient for victory. But Lenderman could have won with several ideas on the 44th move to advantageously give back the piece:
Lenderman then won in round seven against top seeded GM Lazaro Batista Bruzon. The game was a bit of a back-and-forth affair where Lenderman was worse, but then he was able to turn the tables, eventually bringing home the full point.
On the final day of the tournament, Lenderman drew in the morning with GM Zavan Andriasian and then in the last round with GM Emilio Cordova. The game against Cordova was very imbalanced. Near the end of the game, they repeated the position when Cordova was very short of time.
Lenderman (correctly) thought that Cordova could win with 27. Rd2 Nc4 28. Rf5. He also thought that he would just be lost if he gives back the knight at b2, but Fritz thinks the assessment is White is only better and not winning.
Aaron Jacobson (photo David Hater)
There were two IM norms earned in the event. FM Aaron Jacobson earned an IM norm with a round to spare. That was serendipitous as he lost to Nyzhnyk in the last round. Jacobson needed every point he could get and he was somewhat fortunate in round one when his opponent resigned a drawn position. Can you save the game for White?
Solution: 73. Bd4 a2 74. Ba1! Kxa1 75. Kc2
In round two, Jacobson won a nice round against GM Denes Boros.
Jacobson clinched his IM norm in the penultimate round with another fine win, this time over IM Thomas Bartell.
The second IM norm was earned by FM Rohan Talukdar. He only needed a draw in the last round, but he defeated GM Boros to exceed the IM norm by a half point.
There were two other players with strong norm chances, but neither could not get the required final round wins. IM Joshua Sheng could have made a GM norm with a last round win over Gareyev, but they drew, giving both a share of second place. FM Andrew Peredun also needed a win against IM Michael Mulyar to earn an IM norm, but he too could only draw.
One of the last games in the tournament to end featured a nice finish. After a long struggle where both sides had chances, Black finds a nice way to win the game. Can you find the key move?
The Philadelphia International also featured a FIDE rated expert section. It was won by Rachael Li and Winston Ni. Both players scored 7-2, but they took very different routes to the winner’s circle. Winston started 4-0, gave up a draw to Madhaven Narkeeran, beat Rachael Li and then drew in rounds 6 and 7 before taking a bye in round 9. Rachael on the other hand gave up draws in rounds 2 and 5 and lost to Ni in round 6 and then won three straight in rounds 7, 8, and 9 to share first.
Rachael Li (photo David Hater)
Here is Li’s last round win over Madhaven Narkeeran.
Here is the game between the two champions.
One of the players in the third place tie deserves some mention. Nine year old Miaoyi Lu from China scored 6 ½ – 2 ½ to tie for third and earn $1600. She probably set the record for most moves played as the average number of moves in her games is 72 and she had a 172 move draw in round 5!
Miaoyi Lu (photo David Hater)
NTD Steve Immitt directed for Continental Chess, and was assisted by David Hater, Brian Yang, and Jon Haskel.