Sadorra on Taking Down Continental Class

The 5th Continental Class Championship returned to Virginia after a two-year absence. Buoyed by a $20,000 prize fund, the tournament attracted three GMs and two IMs among the 231 players.  When the dust settled, two GMs and two IMs shared first place with scores of 4-1.

GM Julio Sadorra had the best tiebreaks of the four and won an extra $100 bonus.  He unintentionally played the swiss gambit by drawing NM Peter Giannatos in round 1.  However, he played IM Irine Sukandar and GM Sergey Erenburg on the final day to earn his way into the winner’s circle.  Here GM Sadorra examines critical junctures from two of his critical wins.

Round 2: GM Julio Sadorra vs. FM Akshita Gorti

Critical Moment #1

Coming off with a draw from a tough 1st round game, it was really necessary for me to create chances in the next round to keep chances of fighting for the top spot. On the 2nd round, I played one of America’s strong and serious young players so I came to the board prepared and well-rested. We join the 2nd game at a critical moment. White has to find the best way to increase pressure, otherwise Black improves his position by completing development or creating counterplay on White’s q-side pawns.

White to move.

Critical Moment #2

White to move.

Critical Moment #3

White to move and win.

Round 4: GM Julio Sadorra vs. IM Irine Sukandar

Critical Moment #4

In the 4th round, I faced the sole leader of the event, and I once again felt compelled to win. We join the game after a successful Catalan opening where I played a typical c4-c5 and even managed to get a N on d6, giving me a better version of the game Alekhine-Asztalos, 1927 (gotta know your Classics because they really help!) Black just played Re8-f8.

White to move.

Critical Moment #5

White to move.

Critical Moment #6

White to move.

Critical Moment #7

When I first calculated this position, I thought that at least Black is holding, if not better, say after 11. Rd8 Ne7 12 b5 Nc8… But after another check, I felt like looking for a study-like idea (hint, hint, solving studies help too!). After 10 minutes of checking (of course, before playing 5. dxc7), I found something.

White to move and win.

GM Sergey Erenburg is no stranger to the DC Metro area chess scene and started this tournament as the highest rated player and certainly one of the favorites to win the tournament.  He gave up a draw to FM Balakrishnan in round two.  It was a fighting draw though going 50 moves in a dynamically equal position with Erenburg having a rook and a pawn for two minor pieces with neither side being able to force a win.  His other draw was a quick last round draw with Sadorra to clinch the first place tie.  Erenburg defeated masters Christopher Yazng, Lokesh Palani and WFM Jennifer Yu.

Jennifer Yu started out on fire.  She defeated IM Kannappan in round two and drew GM Alexander Shabalov in round 3.  She tied for 2nd place Under 2400.  Can you spot the tactic that she used to defeat Kannappan?


Even though IM Priyadharshan Kannappan lost to Yu in round two, he still scored 4-1 to tie for first.  He had to do it the hard way though.  He beat Shabalov with black in the last round.

The final winner was IM Irine Sukandar.  She started 3-0 and entered the last day as the only perfect score.  She lost to Sadorra in round 4, but bounced back by defeating Andrew Samuelson in the last round.  She had a bit of luck in round two when she was losing to Andrew Zheng in a complicated game but came back to win.

Find all prize winners here Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at

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