Liem and Stukopin Win Bay Area International; Yoo Becomes America’s Youngest IM

2019 kicked off with one of the strongest open tournaments taking place on U.S. soil in 2019: the Bay Area International, a nine round super-swiss which featured over 20 grandmasters, dozens of titled players, and plenty of notoriously underrated Bay Area juniors! Top seed GM Le Quang Liem, won the tournament thanks to a resilient comeback, sharing first place with GM Andrey Stukopin, who also scored 7/9. NM Arun Sharma and Dr. Judit Sztaray organized the event from January 1-7 in the Hyatt Regency hotel outside of San Francisco, California. While the tournament was designed to attract high ranking players, the field was especially strong thanks to the recently concluded Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championships, where many of the top players also participated, held in the same Hyatt at the tail end of 2018. Tied for 3rd place with a final score of 6.5/9 were GMs Lazaro Bruzon, Dariusz Swiercz, Emilio Cordova, Alejandro Ramirez, Karthik Venkataraman, Bartlomiej Macieja and IM Felix Ynojosa, who earned a GM norm for his efforts. Felix also took down the U2450 prize, while NM Alex Costello secured Top U2250 with 5.0/9.
IM Felix Ynojosa
Two Bay Area locals, FM Christopher Yoo and NM Siddharth Banik, earned IM norms. It was Christopher's final IM norm, and he already crossed the 2400 rating barrier, so he will soon become America’s youngest ever International Master. The first sensation of the tournament occurred in Round 3, when now IM-elect Christopher Yoo took down the top seed, GM Le Quang Liem himself!

[Event "Bay Area International"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.01.03"]
[White "Yoo, Christopher"]
[Black "Liem, Le Quang"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B13"]
[WhiteElo "2388"]
[BlackElo "2714"]
[Annotator "Kostya"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "4r1k1/pb1q1pp1/1pnb3p/3B4/7B/P4N2/1P3PPP/R2Q3K b - - 0 19"]
[PlyCount "58"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

19... g5 $1 {Objectively this is the best move and promises Black an
advantage, though it does come with some risk that Liem was willing to take.}
20. Bxg5 $5 {Picking up the gauntlet. White sacrifices a piece for two pawns
and some attacking chances against Black's newly exposed king.} ({After} 20.
Bg3 Bxg3 21. hxg3 Rd8 22. Bb3 Qf5 $15 {White is clearly worse and would only
be playing for a draw.}) 20... hxg5 21. Nxg5 Nd8 $1 {The best defense.} 22.
Bxb7 Nxb7 23. Qd3 Kf8 ({Apparently} 23... f5 $1 {was the way to go, where
White probably wouldn't get enough play for the piece, though the game remains
sharp.}) 24. Qd4 $1 {Threatening Nh7+ Ke7 Qf6# or Kg8 Nf6+} Re5 $2 {An
unpunished error, as Christopher misses a decisive continuation for White.} ({
Black needed to run with} 24... Ke7 $1 25. Nh7 Qf5 $1 {but} 26. Qh4+ Ke6 27.
Re1+ Kd5 28. Rc1 $1 {looks very scary for Black, who would need to continue
finding 'only moves' to survive.} Rc8 29. Nf6+ Qxf6 30. Qh5+ Be5 31. Rxc8 Qxf2
$15) 25. f4 (25. Nh7+ $1 {was actually winning at once, though the lines were
quite hard to find:} Kg7 (25... Ke7 26. Qh4+ Ke6 27. f4 Rf5 28. Re1+ Kd5 29.
Nf6+ Rxf6 30. Qxf6 $18) 26. f4 Qg4 27. Nf6 $1 {What a move!} Qh4 (27... Kxf6
28. fxe5+ Kg5 29. Qxg4+ Kxg4 30. exd6 $18) 28. Nd7 $18 {and White is winning a
decisive amount of material.}) 25... Qg4 $1 {Active defense.} 26. Rd1 Re2 $2 {
Running into another tactic, this one well-spotted by Christopher.} (26... Rf5
{was needed, after which White can still pose problems with} 27. Qh8+ Ke7 28.
Re1+ Kd7 29. Qe8+ Kc7 30. g3 $1 {and again, Black needs to play like a
computer to survive.}) 27. Nh7+ Ke7 28. Qf6+ Kd7 29. Qxd6+ $1 {Looks like all
that puzzle rush has really paid off!} Nxd6 30. Nf6+ Ke6 31. Nxg4 Rxb2 32. Ne3
{White is left with an extra pawn but Black's pieces are quite active.
Objectively the endgame should be drawn, but Liem eventually slips again
towards the time control.} Re2 33. Nd5 Nc4 34. h4 Kf5 35. h5 Re6 (35... Ne3 36.
Nxe3+ Rxe3 $11 {would secure a draw, but I have a feeling Liem still wanted to
keep some winning chances alive.}) 36. Rc1 Nd6 37. Kg1 Kg4 38. Rc7 a5 (38...
Kxh5 39. Rxa7 b5 $11 {would get Black closer to a draw, but is far less
ambitious.}) 39. Rc6 b5 $2 {A final mistake, this one leading to a lost
endgame.} (39... Kxh5 40. f5 Rh6 41. f6 $1 $14 {and things are not easy at all
for Black.}) ({but} 39... Kg3 $1 {would have kept the balance:} 40. Kf1 b5 41.
Nc7 Rf6 $1 {and Nxb5 doesn't work due to Rxf4+.}) 40. Nc7 $1 Re7 (40... Rf6 41.
Nxb5 $18 {and}) (40... Rh6 41. Nxb5 Nf5 42. Rxh6 Nxh6 43. Kf2 $18 {are both
lost for Black.}) 41. h6 $1 {The only way.} Nf5 42. h7 Re1+ 43. Kf2 Rh1 44. Nd5
$1 {Defending the pawn indirectly, next is Rc8 and promotion.} Ng3 (44... Rxh7
45. Nf6+ {picks up the rook.}) 45. Rc8 Ne4+ 46. Ke3 Rxh7 47. Kxe4 Rh6 48. Ne3+
In Round 4 Christopher then defeated another GM, this time Peter Prohaszka of Hungary:

[Event "Bay Area International"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.01.03"]
[White "Prohaszka, Peter"]
[Black "Yoo, Christopher"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A05"]
[WhiteElo "2613"]
[BlackElo "2388"]
[PlyCount "100"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. b3 Bg7 4. Bb2 O-O 5. Bg2 d5 6. c4 Nc6 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8.
Bxg7 Kxg7 9. O-O e5 10. d4 exd4 11. Nxd4 Qf6 12. Nxc6 Qxa1 13. Qxd5 bxc6 14.
Qxc6 Bf5 15. Nc3 Qb2 16. h3 h5 17. Nd5 Rae8 18. Nf4 Qe5 19. Rc1 Re7 20. e3 Rd8
21. Rc5 Qb2 22. Kh2 Rd6 23. Qa8 Qxf2 24. Rxf5 gxf5 25. Nxh5+ Kg6 26. Qh8 f6 27.
Nf4+ Kf7 28. Qh5+ Kg8 29. Qg6+ Kf8 30. Qxf5 Ke8 31. Qg6+ Kd8 32. e4 c6 33. h4
Qxa2 34. Qg8+ Kc7 35. Qc4 Kd8 36. Qb4 Kc7 37. Qc4 Kc8 38. Qb4 Qd2 39. Qc5 Qd4
40. Qf5+ Kb7 41. Ng6 Rg7 42. h5 Qe3 43. b4 Qg5 44. Qh3 Rh7 45. Nf4 Rd1 46. Bf3
Rd2+ 47. Bg2 Rb2 48. Kg1 Rxb4 49. Bf3 Rb2 50. Kh1 Qc5 0-1[/pgn]
Christopher’s run continued with a draw against GM Alejandro Ramirez, but was then stopped short with two straight losses. In round 8, Christopher drew with IM Craig Hilby to clinch his final IM norm, along with the title.
IM-elect Christopher Yoo, Photo David Llada
For Liem, having drawn in Round 2 and upset in Round 3, it seemed like his tournament was going quite poorly, but he managed to recover like a true professional, scoring 5.5/6 to eventually share first place. His final round game against GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan seemed quite tense, as he showed a lot of restraint in a chaotic middlegame but eventually brought it home:

[Event "Bay Area International"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.01.07"]
[White "Gabuzyan, Hovhannes"]
[Black "Liem, Le Quang"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A04"]
[WhiteElo "2605"]
[BlackElo "2714"]
[PlyCount "94"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. Nf3 c5 2. b3 d6 3. c4 e5 4. Nc3 g6 5. e3 Bg7 6. h4 Nc6 7. Bb2 f5 8. Be2 h6
9. Nd5 Nf6 10. Nxf6+ Qxf6 11. d3 Be6 12. a3 O-O 13. Nd2 d5 14. cxd5 Bxd5 15.
Qc2 Bxg2 16. Rg1 Bd5 17. Qxc5 Bf7 18. Nc4 Rac8 19. Qb5 Qe7 20. Bf3 Rfd8 21. Rd1
Be8 22. Bxc6 Rxc6 23. Qb4 Qxh4 24. Qxb7 Re6 25. Qxa7 Qh2 26. Rf1 g5 27. Qc7 Rd7
28. Qc8 Qg2 29. d4 exd4 30. Bxd4 Ree7 31. Kd2 Bxd4 32. exd4 Rxd4+ 33. Kc3 Rxd1
34. Rxd1 Qxf2 35. a4 g4 36. Qd8 Re6 37. Rd6 Qe1+ 38. Kb2 g3 39. Rd1 Qe4 40. Ka3
f4 41. Nd6 Qc6 42. Nxe8 Qxe8 43. Qd5 Qe7+ 44. b4 Qf7 45. Qa8+ Kh7 46. Rd3 Re2
47. b5 g2 0-1[/pgn]
On the top board, Stukopin tried to achieve a small advantage in the Rossolimo Sicilian against Cordova, who was the leader after eight rounds with 6.5 points. Cordova then sacrificed a pawn to gain some activity but Black’s initiative was stopped short when Stukopin gave up his queen for two rooks, achieving a technically won position which he smoothly converted:

[Event "Bay Area International"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.01.07"]
[White "Stukopin, Andrey"]
[Black "Cordova, Emilio"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B31"]
[WhiteElo "2565"]
[BlackElo "2597"]
[Annotator "Kostya"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "qr4k1/4ppb1/4b2p/pQ2P1p1/P2N4/3P2BP/1Pr2PP1/R3R1K1 w - - 0 24"]
[PlyCount "29"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

{(After 23...Rb8)} 24. Nxc2 $1 Rxb5 25. axb5 Qd8 26. Ra3 a4 27. Rxa4 Bb3
28. Rb4 Qxd3 29. b6 Bd5 30. Ne3 Bb7 31. Rd1 Qe2 32. Kh2 h5 33. h4 gxh4 34. Rxh4
Bh6 35. Rd8+ Kh7 36. Nd5 Bxd5 37. Rxd5 Qxb2 38. e6 1-0[/pgn]
Compared to Liem, Stukopin’s tournament was much more stable, winning five games and drawing four to reach 7.0/9. IM Felix Ynojosa, who plays for UT Rio Grande Valley had a rockier event, losing in rounds two and six, but managed to finish strong, defeating GMs Akshat Chandra and Daniel Naroditsky in the final two rounds. His last round game against Naroditsky was a nice Sicilian win as Black:

[Event "Bay Area International"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.01.07"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Naroditsky, Daniel"]
[Black "Ynojosa, Felix"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B30"]
[WhiteElo "2616"]
[BlackElo "2368"]
[Annotator "Kostya"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r4rk1/pbqpbppp/4p1n1/2p5/2P1PP2/2N1B3/PP2B1PP/R2Q1RK1 b - - 0 14"]
[PlyCount "35"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

14... f5 $1 {An excellent move, creating huge counterplay for Black.} 15.
exf5 $2 {Accepting the challenge but ultimately White's king becomes too
exposed.} (15. e5 {was the way to go for White, though it looks extremely
risky after} Nh4 16. g3 Qc6 {Now Stockfish finds the insane} 17. Kf2 $1 {
with idea Rg1 and somehow Black is not in time to create any real threats.} (
17. Nd5 {was the 'safe' choice, forcing an equal endgame after} exd5 18. cxd5
Qxd5 19. Qxd5+ Bxd5 20. gxh4 $11) 17... Qg2+ 18. Ke1 Ng6 19. Rf2 Qc6 20. Bf3
Qc8 21. Bxb7 Qxb7 22. Qf3 $1 $16 {and White is better after neutralizing the
attack.}) (15. Bd3 fxe4 16. Bxe4 Bxe4 17. Nxe4 Rab8 $15 {and Black's position
looks much more comfortable.}) 15... Nh4 $1 16. fxe6 Nxg2 17. Nb5 Qb6 18. Bc1
dxe6 19. Bf3 Rad8 20. Qe2 Bxf3 21. Rxf3 Nh4 22. Rh3 e5 $1 {A nice breakthrough,
opening up the queen to slide to g6.} 23. Nc3 (23. fxe5 Qg6+ 24. Rg3 Qe4 $1 25.
Qxe4 Rd1+ 26. Qe1 Rxe1#) 23... exf4 24. Nd5 Rxd5 $1 25. cxd5 Qg6+ 26. Kf1 Bf6
27. Bxf4 Bd4 28. Qe6+ Qxe6 29. dxe6 Rxf4+ 30. Ke2 Rf2+ 31. Kd3 Ng6 $19 {
Black has achieved a winning endgame which he eventually converted.} 0-1[/pgn]
In round seven, NM Siddharth Banik swindled a win against GM Denes Boros, finding some creative tactics against Black’s weakened back rank.
NM Siddharth Banik
This game eventually helped Banik secure his own IM norm:

[Event "Bay Area International"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.01.05"]
[White "Banik, Siddharth"]
[Black "Boros, Denes"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B66"]
[WhiteElo "2276"]
[BlackElo "2442"]
[Annotator "Kostya"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "2b2r1k/3r2p1/p5Qp/3Bqp2/8/2p5/P1P2KPP/3R3R w - - 0 33"]
[PlyCount "17"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

{Although White has been lost for some time and is currently down a pawn,
there are always chances to be found, especially in time-trouble.} 33. Rhe1 $1
{Giving up another pawn in order to seize the initiative.} Qxh2 34. Rd4 $1 {
Taking away both Qf4+ and Qh4+ from Black's queen. Now the threat is 35.Re8
Rd8 36.Re7!} ({The immediate} 34. Re8 Rd8 35. Re7 {would lose to} Qh4+) 34...
Qd6 ({The only way Black could keep an advantage was through} 34... Rd6 $1 35.
Re8 Rdf6 $1 (35... Rxg6 36. Rxf8+ Kh7 37. Bg8+ Kh8 38. Bd5+ $11 {is a draw by
perpetual.}) 36. Rxf8+ Rxf8 $17 {and White wouldn't have enough.}) 35. Re8 $1
Qc5 {The only defense, keeping the rook on f8 protected and counterattacking
White's rook.} (35... Qxg6 {would lose after} 36. Rxf8+ Kh7 37. Bg8+ Kh8 38.
Bf7+ Kh7 39. Bxg6+ Kxg6 40. Rxd7 Bxd7 41. Ra8 $18) (35... Rd8 {also fails due
to} 36. Qxd6 Rxd6 37. Rxf8+) 36. Kg3 $1 {Stepping out of check. It's now hard
to find a move for Black!} Bb7 ({Apparently Black's best was} 36... Rxd5 37.
Rxd5 Qc7+ 38. Kf3 Rxe8 39. Qxe8+ Kh7 40. Qe5 $16) 37. Rc4 $1 Qa3 38. Bxb7 Rxb7
39. Rcc8 Rbf7 40. Qxf7 Qd6+ 41. Kh3 1-0[/pgn]
With over 100 players participating, and most of them over 2200, the tournament proved to be quite successful. Chief Arbiter Tom Langland and John McCumiskey ensured that everything ran quite smoothly. Full standings, games, and photos from the event can be found here. Follow Bay Area Chess for future announcements of upcoming tournaments. IM Kostya Kavutskiy is a professional chess player, coach, and writer, and can be found active on Twitter. Also make sure to check out his Patreon page for instructive chess analysis and advice for improvement.


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It was exciting to have such an amazingly strong event on the West Coast. Well-covered Kostya! Christopher Yoo's endgame intuition seems to be right on par with his tactics/attacking proficiency. Impressive. Congrats to all the players (good to see some white hair among the participants), and to the organizers. Another great event by Bay Area Chess.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks Kostya for the nice article! It was so much fun having all of you there!!!

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