Youth Triumphs at Chicago Class

Chicago Class co-Champion Aaron Grabinsky analyzing games for the Webster booth at the 2016 National Grade Championships
The Chicago Class was held July 14-16 at the Westin North Shore, and, in what is becoming a trend, the tournament broke attendance records and the younger, non-GMs won the tournament.  This year’s event was won by FM Sam Schmakel and Aaron Grabinsky.  Each won $1500 with Schmakel winning an extra $100 for superior tiebreaks. Each of these players recently achieved their first IM norm at the Chicago Open in May.  While both players are rapidly improving, they were seeded 7th and 9th respectively, and, with the top 5 seeds beings GMs, you might have expected one of them to possibly tie for first, but initially I would not have expected that none of the top 5 seeded GMs would win the tournament. Both players took similar paths to first place.  Each was paired down to a lower rated master in the first three rounds and started 3-0.  The players were the only perfect scores on Sunday morning, and the two played a fighting draw in round four.  They were still leading the tournament going into the last round with 3 ½ points, and each player got paired “down” to a GM with three points and each won his game in a long ending. Schmakel had the white pieces against second seeded GM Ashwin Jayaraman.  The game stated as a French defense, and, while both sides had chances, Schmakel eventually triumphed in a double rook ending.
[pgn][Event "Chicago Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.07.16"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Schmakel, Sam"]
[Black "Jayaraman, Ashwin"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C18"]
[WhiteElo "2471"]
[BlackElo "2598"]
[PlyCount "112"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Ba5 6. b4 cxd4 7. Qg4 Kf8 8. Nb5
Bb6 9. Nf3 Ne7 10. Bd3 Nbc6 11. Bb2 Ng6 12. Qg3 f6 13. Bxg6 hxg6 14. Nbxd4 Nxe5
15. Nxe5 fxe5 16. Qxe5 Rh5 17. Nxe6+ Bxe6 18. Qxe6 Qe8 19. Qe2 Rc8 20. Qxe8+
Rxe8+ 21. Kf1 Rf5 22. f3 Rc8 23. Re1 Rxc2 24. Re2 Rc4 25. Ke1 a5 26. Kd2 axb4
27. axb4 Bd4 28. Kd3 Bf6 29. Rhe1 Bxb2 30. Rxb2 Rff4 31. b5 Rfd4+ 32. Ke3 Ke7
33. Kf2+ Kd6 34. Rbe2 Kc5 35. Re7 Rd2+ 36. Kg3 Rcc2 37. Rg1 b6 38. Rxg7 d4 39.
Rxg6 d3 40. h4 Kxb5 41. h5 Rc5 42. Rh1 Rcc2 43. Kf4 Rxg2 44. Rxg2 Rxg2 45. h6
d2 46. h7 d1=Q 47. Rxd1 Rh2 48. Rd7 Kc6 49. Ra7 Kd6 50. Kf5 b5 51. Kf6 Rh3 52.
f4 b4 53. Kg7 Rg3+ 54. Kf7 Rh3 55. Kg8 Rg3+ 56. Rg7 Rxg7+ 1-0[/pgn]
Grabinsky faced third seeded GM Vladimir Georgiev.  Again, the game went to an ending where both sides had chances, and Grabinsky eventually won on move 73.
[pgn][Event "Chicago Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.07.16"]
[Round "5.2"]
[White "Georgiev, Vladimir"]
[Black "Grabinsky, Aaron"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D13"]
[WhiteElo "2591"]
[BlackElo "2434"]
[PlyCount "145"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4 b6 4. e3 Bb7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 cxd4 7. cxd4 Be7 8. h3
O-O 9. Nc3 d5 10. O-O Nc6 11. Rc1 Rc8 12. a3 Bd6 13. Bg5 Ne7 14. Bxf6 gxf6 15.
Qe2 Ng6 16. Nh2 Kh8 17. g4 Rg8 18. Kh1 e5 19. Bf5 Rc7 20. f4 exd4 21. exd4 Re7
22. Qd2 Rge8 23. Bxg6 hxg6 24. Rf3 Ba6 25. Nf1 Kg7 26. Ng3 Bc4 27. Rg1 Rh8 28.
Qg2 Ree8 29. f5 Bxg3 30. Qxg3 g5 31. Qf2 Qe7 32. Rgg3 Qe1+ 33. Qxe1 Rxe1+ 34.
Rg1 Rhe8 35. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 36. Kg2 Rc1 37. Rf2 b5 38. Rd2 a5 39. Nd1 Rb1 40. Nf2
b4 41. axb4 axb4 42. Nh1 Re1 43. Ng3 Kf8 44. Nh1 Ke7 45. Nf2 Kd6 46. Kf3 Rb1
47. Nd1 Bb3 48. Ne3 Kc6 49. Ng2 Rf1+ 50. Kg3 Kd6 51. h4 gxh4+ 52. Kxh4 Rf3 53.
Ne1 Rf4 54. Kg3 Re4 55. Ng2 Bc4 56. Kf3 Re8 57. Ne3 Rh8 58. Rc2 Rh3+ 59. Kf4
Bd3 60. Rd2 Be4 61. Rf2 Kd7 62. Nf1 Rd3 63. g5 fxg5+ 64. Kxg5 Ke7 65. Kf4 f6
66. Nd2 Rxd4 67. Nb3 Rd3 68. Nc5 Rh3 69. Kg4 Re3 70. Kf4 Re1 71. Na6 Bb1 72.
Kf3 Re4 73. Re2 0-1[/pgn]
This year’s Chicago Class drew 409 players, which is a significant increase from last year’s 339.  Continuing the theme of youth, there were 102 players in the class E section, many of them scholastic players.  Too many entries is a good problem to have, but can present problems for an organizer or TD.  My spacious setup floor plan was 316 players, which accounting for different schedules, byes, no shows etc is probably enough even for a tournament of 350. As the tournament approached, I quickly realized I would need to fit more tables and chairs.  First, the GMs did not get their own table, then I added tables, and, finally, in the scholastic section, I put 5 boards per two tables instead of 4.  Even with all this, I could only get room for 388 and had to use the skittles room for one round before the withdraws and no-shows stabilized the attendance.  If this trend continues, I may have to have to add more boards and have players share h-files next year! I did notice many reversed Swiss Gambits in this tournament.  In the top three sections, one of the tournament leaders had requested an irrevocable half point bye before the tournament started.  Last round byes are not at all unusual as players often need to depart early for transportation or other commitment issues, but in this case, players in Master, Expert, and Class A who were leading the tournament had previously opted for a last round bye. Each had an excellent chance to tie for first, but decisive results on board one in each section meant they had to tie for second.  GM Nikola Mitkov had 3 ½ going into the last round, but since both Scmakel and Grabisnsky won, he had to settle for being in the second place tie.  In the expert section, Sam Messick could not play at all on Sunday.  He started 3-0 and took half point byes on Sunday to finish at 4.  He could have tied for first had his preferred result occurred on board one.  Finally, in Class A, Jonathan Zhou started 4-0 and finished with 4 ½ with his bye but was denied first place by the 5-0 score of James Wei. There was also a somewhat unusual occurrence in the mixed double competition.  Normally, one of the section winners carries a team to victory.  In this tournament, none of the section winners won a mixed double prize.  The mixed doubles prizes were all won by teams with two good scores as opposed to one great score and a lesser score.  The first place mixed doubles team was won by the brother/sister team of Anumpama Rajendra & Avinash Rajendra.  Brother/sister teams are becoming more common, but these two were in the same section!  Counting mixed doubles and the blitz, there were a total of 74 separate prize winners in this year’s event which had a prize fund of $20,000. The section winners were:

Yuri Ashuev, 4 ½ - ½, $1400

Class A

James, Wei, 5-0, $1400

Class B

Nathan Yamaguchi & Arjun Puri, 4 ½ - ½. $1050

Class C

Rishav Bhattacharyya, 4 ½ - ½, $1200

Class D

Tony Gentry, Brooklyn Li, & Nishant Bhamidipati, 4 ½ - ½, $600 each

Class E

Christopher Parra & Ryan Wandke, 5-0, $375

Mixed Doubles

Anumpama Rajendra & Avinash Rajendra, 7 ½ - 2 ½, $400 each

Blitz Tournament

Joshua Posthuma, 8-0, $225

            NTD David Hater directed for CCA assisted by Jeff Wiewel, Bill Buklis, and Steve Plotnick. For more information, visit: