Philadelphia — Two IMs joined a GM in a three-way tie for first place in the National Chess Congress over the Thanksgiving weekend — a noteworthy feat given the fact that the two IMs edged four other GMs out of the top place in the winner’s circle.
“I would say it’s very rare only because you had some (very strong) GMs,” said assistant tournament director David Hater, referring to five-time US Chess Champion GM Gata Kamsky (2775) and Sergey Erenburg (2660), who both were held to 4.5 points — half a point shy of the 5 out of 6 points scored by the winners.
IM Kaiqi Yang, of Ontario, won a first place $100 bonus on tiebreaks to collect a total prize of $1866.67. IM Andrey Gorovets, of Texas, whose 2625 rating suggests GM strength, and GM Magesh Panchanathan, of New Jersey, also tied for first and each collected $1766.67.
This year’s National Chess Congress drew about 620 players, most of whom played in Millennium Hall at Loews Philadelphia Hotel — a historic building with a decor reminiscent of the bank it used to be.
IM Yang dominated the tournament the whole time and was the only player who entered Round 5 4-0. Yang threatened to win clear first place as he was the sole player to enter the final round with 4.5 points, but GM Vladislav Kovalev, of New Jersey, held Yang to a draw.
Interestingly, 12-year-old Carissa Yip, who this year became the youngest female in US Chess history to earn the title of master, had scored an upset against Kovalev earlier in the tournament.
Gorovets didn’t make too much of his first-place victory, saying he played “badly” throughout the tournament. He said the best “move” he made actually wasn’t a move at all.
“In my game against (Erick) Garcia, I think I made my best move in the tournament: I offered a draw in a position that I didn’t like, and he took it,” Gorovets explained.
Gorovets also counted his Round 5 game as a lucky break.
“Round Five was really a drawish position for me but I managed to trick my opponent,” Gorovets said, referring to Rico Salimbagat. “He miscalculated a pawn end game. I had some interesting ideas so he didn’t see that.”
Gorovets, a graduate student who is studying geoscience at Texas Tech University, where he is a member of the powerhouse chess team, said the trip to Philadelphia was worthwhile for more reasons than just chess.
“I wanted to visit Philly because I’m a big ‘Rocky’ fan,” he said of the iconic boxing movie figure played by Sylvester Stallone, whose famous run up the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the movie has led the steps to become known as the “Rocky Steps.”
Gorovets conceded he only went to look at Rocky Steps but didn’t actually run them.
“Maybe I will,” he told US Chess.
See final standings and more information at http://chessevents.com/nationalchesscongress/