Zhou Wins Continental Open; Yanayt makes IM Norm

GM Jianchou Zhou won the 49th annual Continental Open (August 14-18, Sturbridge) with a score of 7-2 to take the first place prize of $6200.  Zhou faced a very strong field of six GMs, two IMs, and 1 FM, winning 6 games and drawing 2. His only loss was to GM Illia Nyzhnyk who, along with fellow second place finisher GM Victor Mikhalevski, completed the tournament without a loss. The competitive nature of the event started in round one as two GMs were upset and two more surrendered draws. The big shock of the round was FM Eugene Yanayt’s defeat of second seeded GM Sam Sevian. Sam played a very nice game and handled complications very well and had an advantage at various points. Unfortunately, a bit short of time, he missed a tactic which Yanayt capitalized on.
[pgn]

[Event "49th Continental Open"]
[Site "Sturbridge, MA"]
[Date "2019.08.15"]
[Round "1.2"]
[White "Sevian, Samuel"]
[Black "Yanayt, Eugene"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B23"]
[WhiteElo "2665"]
[BlackElo "2264"]
[Annotator "Hater,David"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "6k1/8/7n/5r2/3R1N2/1P4p1/P7/K7 w - - 0 53"]
[PlyCount "24"]
[EventDate "2019.08.??"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

{[#]} 53. Kb2 (53. Kb1 Rxf4) (53. Rd3 Rxf4 54. Rxg3+) (53. Nh3 Rh5 54. Ng1 Rh1
55. Rd1 Nf5 56. a4 Ne3 57. Rc1 Nd5) 53... Rxf4 54. Rd1 Rf2+ 55. Kc3 g2 56. Rg1
Nf7 57. b4 Ng5 58. b5 Nf3 59. Rxg2+ Rxg2 60. a4 Kf7 61. b6 Ke7 62. b7 Rg8 63.
a5 Kd7 64. a6 Kc6 0-1

[/pgn]
The position is equal due to Black’s counterplay with the advanced g-pawn. For instance: 53. Rd3 Rxf4 54. Rxg3 or 53. Nh3 Rh5 54. Ng1 Rh1 55. Rd1 Nf5 56. a4 Ne3 57. Rc1 and black still has a lot of resources. Instead, Sevian started to move his king to b2 and then realized too late after he touched his king the tactic of … Rxf4.

Round two had a very surprising result on board one. Top seeded GM Illia Nyzhnyk had White, but was not feeling particularly ambitious and offered a draw on move 11 to IM Praveen Balakrishnan. When I asked Nyzhnyk about the short draw offer with White against a lower-rated opponent, he explained that it was due to several factors: there was some fatigue from his busy tournament schedule, he felt like he had not been preparing as much as he would like, and given those two issues he did not want to risk a bad result and lose some of his recent hard earned rating gains. With Nyzhnyk’s quick draw, GM Yaroslav Zherebukh moved up to first board. That game ended in a fighting 70 move draw where Zherebukh missed a win. After 55. Ne2+, Zherebukh can win a piece, but he may have been concerned that Mikhalevski could escape into a rook and minor piece vs rook ending. Perhaps this led to selecting a different line that ultimately led to the draw.
[pgn]

[Event "49th Continental Open"]
[Site "Sturbridge, MA"]
[Date "2019.08.16"]
[Round "3.1"]
[White "Mikhalevski, Victor"]
[Black "Zherebukh, Yaroslav"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D85"]
[WhiteElo "2578"]
[BlackElo "2631"]
[Annotator "Hater,David"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/p6p/8/8/8/2kb1P2/Rn2N2P/1r1BK3 b - - 0 55"]
[PlyCount "30"]
[EventDate "2019.08.??"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

{[#]} 55... Kc4 (55... Kb4 56. Rxa7 Rxd1+ 57. Kf2) (55... Bxe2 56. Kxe2 Rxd1
57. Ra3+ Kc2 58. Rxa7 Rd2+ 59. Ke3 Nd1+ 60. Ke4 Nc3+ 61. Ke5 Re2+ 62. Kf6 Rxh2)
56. Nc1 a5 57. Kd2 Nxd1 58. Nxd3 Nc3 59. Ne5+ Kb3 60. Rxa5 Rb2+ 61. Kd3 Rxh2
62. Rc5 Nd1 63. Rb5+ Ka4 64. Rb1 Nf2+ 65. Ke3 Nh3 66. Rb7 h5 67. Rh7 Ng5 68.
Rg7 Ne6 69. Rg6 Nc5 70. Nd3 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
Zherebukh could still win with 55. … Kb4 56. Rxa7 Rxd1+ 57. Kf2 Ke7 58. Rd2 Re7 or 55. … Bxe2+ 56. Kxe2 Rxd1 57. Ra3+ Kc2 58. Rxa7 Rd2+ 59. Ke3 Nd1+ 60. Ke4 Nc3+ 61. Ke5 Re2+ Kf6 62. Rxh2. Instead, Zherebukh tried to win with the a-pawn, but this allowed Mikhalevski to draw. With Zherebukh’s draw, GM Jianchou Zhou (the only perfect score at 3—0) advanced to board one. Zhou played safe and drew with GM Kamil Dragun in 22 moves. This draw marked the end of the perfect scores, but still allowed Zhou to remain in clear first. After four rounds, Zhou had 3.5 and he was closely followed by GMs Illia Nyzhnyk, Yaroslav Zherebukh, Kamil Dragun, Sergei Azarov, Victor Mikhalevski, Hedinn Steingrimsson, Alexander Stripunsky, Alexander Ivanov, and IM Keaton Kiewra, all at 3-1. Nyzhnyk defeated Zhou on board one to retake his seat at the top board. Nyzhnyk was playing very fast and surprisingly used almost no time while Zhou was in time pressure with a difficult position to defend.
[pgn]

[Event "49th Continental Open"]
[Site "Sturbridge, MA"]
[Date "2019.08.16"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Nyzhnyk, Illya"]
[Black "Zhou, Jianchao"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B23"]
[WhiteElo "2666"]
[BlackElo "2606"]
[PlyCount "95"]
[EventDate "2019.08.??"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nc6 5. Qe3 Nf6 6. Nf3 d5 7. exd5 Nxd5 8.
Nxd5 Qxd5 9. Qb3 Nb4 10. Qxd5 Nxd5 11. Bb5+ Bd7 12. Bxd7+ Kxd7 13. c4 Nb6 14.
b3 f6 15. Be3 e5 16. O-O-O+ Ke6 17. Rhe1 Bb4 18. Re2 Rhd8 19. Rxd8 Rxd8 20.
Nd4+ Kf7 21. Nb5 Nc8 22. Nxa7 Nxa7 23. Bxa7 h5 24. Be3 g5 25. Kb2 Ke6 26. a3
Be7 27. Rd2 Rxd2+ 28. Bxd2 e4 29. Bb4 Bd8 30. Bc5 f5 31. Bd4 Bc7 32. h3 h4 33.
Kc2 f4 34. f3 e3 35. Kd3 Be5 36. Bb6 Bb2 37. Bc5 Bf6 38. b4 Be7 39. Bb6 Kd7 40.
Bd4 Ke6 41. Bc3 Bf6 42. Be1 Bb2 43. a4 Bf6 44. b5 Kd6 45. Bb4+ Ke6 46. a5 Kd7
47. c5 Bb2 48. c6+ 1-0

[/pgn]
After round five there was a three way tie at first between Nyzhnyk, Zherebukh, and Mikhalevski, all with 4-1. Just half a point back were GMs Sevian, Zhou, Dragun, Azarov, Stripunsky, Ivanov, IMs Joshua Sheng, Michael Mulyar, FM Eugene Yanayt, and SM Lev Paciorkowski.
Eugene Yanayt (photo Tim Hanks)
Yanayt was having a great tournament. After defeating Sevian in round one, he drew with GM Emilio Cordova and beat IM Brian Escalante. Yanayt was still competitive for a GM norm and looked like he would easily make an IM norm. In round six, Nyzhnyk and Zherebukh played a quick draw on board one. Sevian pressed Mikhalevski on board two but eventually drew. Draws between the leaders opened the door for others to catch up. Zhou took advantage of the opportunity by defeating Ivanov.  Sheng defeated Azarov, and Paciorkowski defeated Stripunsky.
[pgn]

[Event "Continental Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.08.17"]
[Round "6.7"]
[White "Paciorkowski, Lev"]
[Black "Stripunsky, Alexander"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D10"]
[WhiteElo "2200"]
[BlackElo "2520"]
[PlyCount "95"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 Nf6 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8.
e3 e6 9. Bd3 f5 10. Nge2 Bd7 11. O-O Bd6 12. Rc1 Rg8 13. f4 Na5 14. Nb5 Bb8 15.
b4 Nc4 16. Bxc4 dxc4 17. Nbc3 b5 18. d5 e5 19. e4 a5 20. a4 axb4 21. Nxb5 Qb6+
22. Kh1 c3 23. fxe5 Bxe5 24. d6 Bxb5 25. Qd5 O-O-O 26. axb5 Qxd6 27. Qc4+ Kb7
28. Ra1 Ra8 29. Ra6 Rgc8 30. Rc6 Rxc6 31. bxc6+ Kc7 32. Qxf7+ Kxc6 33. Qc4+ Kb6
34. Rb1 Ra4 35. exf5 Qc5 36. Qe6+ Ka5 37. Nc1 Kb5 38. Qe8+ Qc6 39. Qxe5+ Ka6
40. Nb3 Ra2 41. Qe6 Qxe6 42. fxe6 Re2 43. Kg1 Kb6 44. Nd4 Re4 45. Rxb4+ Kc5 46.
Rb8 Kc4 47. Kf2 Kd3 48. Rd8 1-0

[/pgn]
GMs Nyzhnyk, Zherebukh, Zhou, Mikhalevski, IM Sheng, and Paciorkowski topped a crowded leader board going into round seven, with each player at 4.5–1.5. Nyzhnyk defeated Paciorkowski and Sheng defeated Zherebukh, but Zhou and Mikhalevski drew. This narrowed the leaders to two: GM Nyzhnyk and IM Sheng both had 5.5 points.
[pgn]

[Event "49th Continental Open"]
[Site "Sturbridge, MA"]
[Date "2019.08.17"]
[Round "7.2"]
[White "Sheng, Joshua"]
[Black "Zherebukh, Yaroslav"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B12"]
[WhiteElo "2483"]
[BlackElo "2631"]
[PlyCount "80"]
[EventDate "2019.08.??"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. h4 a6 5. c4 e6 6. Nc3 h5 7. c5 Nd7 8. Bg5 f6 9.
exf6 gxf6 10. Be3 Qc7 11. Nge2 Ne7 12. Nf4 e5 13. Nxh5 O-O-O 14. Ng3 Bh7 15.
Na4 f5 16. dxe5 Nxe5 17. Nb6+ Kb8 18. Qa4 f4 19. Bxf4 N7g6 20. Be3 d4 21. Bxd4
Nf4 22. Bxa6 bxa6 23. O-O Ka7 24. Rac1 Nfd3 25. Rc3 Rg8 26. Rd1 Nxb2 27. Qa5
Nxd1 28. Bxe5 Qxe5 29. Ra3 Bd3 30. Nc8+ Kb7 31. Qxd8 Bb5 32. Nd6+ Bxd6 33. Qxg8
Bxc5 34. Rf3 Qe1+ 35. Kh2 Bxf2 36. Rf7+ Kb6 37. Qd8+ Kc5 38. Qf8+ Kc4 39. Rf4+
Kd5 40. Qf5+ Kd6 1-0

[/pgn]
Because Nyzhnyk had already defeated Sheng in round four, both leaders were paired down to the 5 point scoregroup. Nyzhnyk, having already defeated Sheng in round four, took a quick draw with Black versus Steingrimsson, while Sheng lost to GM Mikhalevski. Zhou defeated Kiewra to join Nyzhnyk and Mikhalevski at 6–1.
[pgn]

[Event "49th Continental Open"]
[Site "Sturbridge, MA"]
[Date "2019.08.18"]
[Round "8.2"]
[White "Mikhalevski, Victor"]
[Black "Sheng, Joshua"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A06"]
[WhiteElo "2578"]
[BlackElo "2483"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2019.08.??"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O c5 5. d4 cxd4 6. b3 Bd6 7. Nxd4 O-O 8. Bb2
a6 9. c4 dxc4 10. bxc4 Qe7 11. Nd2 Nbd7 12. N2b3 Rb8 13. Qd2 Nc5 14. Rfd1 Nfe4
15. Qc2 f5 16. Nxc5 Nxc5 17. Nb3 Na4 18. c5 Bc7 19. Ba3 Be5 20. Rac1 b5 21. Na5
Bd7 22. c6 Qxa3 23. cxd7 Nc3 24. Nc6 Nxd1 25. Rxd1 Bf6 26. Nxb8 Rxb8 27. Qc8+
Qf8 28. Rc1 Kf7 29. Rc7 Kg6 30. Qxa6 Rd8 31. Qxe6 Qe7 32. Qxe7 Bxe7 33. Bc6 b4
34. Rc8 Kf6 35. Kf1 Ke5 36. e3 1-0

[/pgn]
In the last round, Nyzhnyk drew with Mikhalevski on board one, but Zhou defeated Zherebukh, finishing at 7-2 in clear first place and winning $6200. IM Sheng won his last round against Steingrimsson to tie for second with. Nyzhnyk and Mikhalevlski. Each won $3000.
[pgn]

[Event "49th Continental Open"]
[Site "Sturbridge, MA"]
[Date "2019.08.18"]
[Round "9.2"]
[White "Zherebukh, Yaroslav"]
[Black "Zhou, Jianchao"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A04"]
[WhiteElo "2631"]
[BlackElo "2606"]
[PlyCount "80"]
[EventDate "2019.08.??"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

1. Nf3 c5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O Nc6 5. c3 Nf6 6. d4 cxd4 7. cxd4 d5 8. Nc3
Ne4 9. Qb3 O-O 10. Rd1 Nxc3 11. bxc3 e6 12. Bg5 Qc7 13. Bf4 Qd8 14. h4 b6 15.
e4 dxe4 16. Ng5 Na5 17. Qc2 f5 18. f3 h6 19. fxe4 hxg5 20. Bxg5 Qe8 21. exf5
Bb7 22. fxg6 Bxg2 23. Kxg2 Qc6+ 24. Kh3 e5 25. d5 Qd7+ 26. Kh2 Rf5 27. Qe2 Raf8
28. Rf1 Qxd5 29. Rxf5 Rxf5 30. Rd1 Qc4 31. Qh5 Nc6 32. Qh7+ Kf8 33. Bh6 Qe2+
34. Kh3 Qxd1 35. Qxg7+ Ke8 36. Qc7 Qd7 37. g7 Qxc7 38. g8=Q+ Kd7 39. Qg4 Ne7
40. Bg5 Qc6 0-1

[/pgn]
Balakrishnan was paired down by score to GM Cordova and drew to finish at 6-3 to win clear 5th and $1500. IM Kiewra won his last round against Paciorkowski to also reach 6-3, but since he was Under 2400 FIDE, he won clear first U2400 and took home $2000. Yanayt lost in rounds six and seven to GMs Azarov and Ivanov, ending any chance at a GM norm. His final round win did give him an IM norm.
[pgn]

[Event "49th Continental Open"]
[Site "Sturbridge, MA"]
[Date "2019.08.18"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Jack Cheng"]
[Black "Yanayt, Eugene"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B77"]
[BlackElo "2264"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "2019.08.??"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2
O-O 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. h4 Qa5 11. O-O-O Rfc8 12. Bb3 Ne5 13. g4 b5 14. h5 Nc4 15.
Bxc4 bxc4 16. Bh6 Bh8 17. Nf5 Re8 18. hxg6 fxg6 19. Qh2 Rab8 20. Bg5 Bxf5 21.
gxf5 Rxb2 22. Nd5 Reb8 23. Nxf6+ Bxf6 24. Qxh7+ Kf8 25. Bh6+ Ke8 26. Qg8+ Kd7
27. Qe6+ Kc6 28. Qxc4+ Qc5 29. Qxc5+ dxc5 30. Bf4 Bc3 0-1

[/pgn]
The section winners were: U2100 Matthew Meredith & William Schreefer, 5.5-1.5, $1500 U1900 Stephanie Ballom, 6.5-0.5, $2000 U1700 Aaron Li & Brian Santiago, 6-1, $1500 U1500 Kurt Amber, Shouri Mosaliganti, & Ian Hulle, 5.5-1.5, $933.34 U1250 Robert Campbell, 6.5-0.5, $900 Mixed Doubles Stephanie Ballom & Shriniket Sivakumar and Suhavi Tiruveedhula & Kurt Amber, 10 points, $750 each team Blitz Ruizhong Wang 7-1, $140 NTD Bill Goichberg directed for Continental Chess assisted by David Hater, Bob Messenger, and Harold Stenzel. Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at http://www.chesstour.com/cross.html.

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