Ukrainian Takes Over Space Coast Open
April 26-28, 2019
By Peter Dyson, Chairman, Space Coast Open Organizing Committee
(click here to return to Table of Contents)
(click here to return to Table of Contents)
|A beautiful spring day on Cocoa Beach, Florida in front of the festival venue [Photo: Kolcz]|
Ukrainian Triumph. On the top boards it was just another weekend at the office for recent émigré GM Olexandr Bortnyk (2634) as he cruised to a first-place finish. Even a game where he looked like he might be in trouble he not only converted to a win, but also parlayed the game into a brilliancy prize with his aggressive play and impeccable technique.
|GM Bortnyk shows off his Crystal Teardrop [Photo: Haskel]|
As the top ranked player Bortnyk could be considered the pre-tournament favorite. However, with a strong field including number 2 seed GM Julio Becerra (2592) along with two IMs among a baker’s dozen of Masters, nothing can be taken for granted. After the first 3 rounds only the two GMs had a perfect 3-0 score, leading to their round 4 matchup. As Black, Bortnyk responded to Becerra’s 1.e4 with the Alekhine's Defense, with possible fireworks afoot, thanks in part to the modified Sofia rule (no draw offers permitted before move 30 insuring against a short GM draw). The battle migrated to the Queenside but remained level and by move 30 a Rook and Knight endgame was reached with no winning prospects for either player.
|The all-Grandmaster matchup in Round 4 teased at possible fireworks when GM Bortnyk (right) defended with the Alekhine's Defense in response to GM Becerra's 1.e4, but the game remained level throughout. [Photo: Koretsky]|
This draw allowed another Ohio player, Scott Ramer (2347), to catch the GMs, leaving these 3 players leading the event with 3.5 points. As Ramer’s reward, his last round pairing was as White vs. GM Becerra while Bortnyk would have White vs. FM Cesar Valido Bouza (2332). In the Ramer-Becerra game, the first new position was reached at move 27, and with a slight edge for White, peace was declared 3 moves later. This was perhaps slightly surprising since up to that point only a single pair of pawns had been traded. This left Bortnyk - Valido Bouza as the remaining big money game, with Bortnyk delivering a brilliancy-level performance to win the game and claim clear first place.
|GM Bortnyk (white pieces) faces FM Cesar Valido Bouza, winning in brilliant style to finish a half-point ahead of his closest competitors [Photo: Kolcz]|
More Master Section Mayhem. Entering the last round only two players, IM Yunier Leyva Rivera (2481) and SM John Ludwig (2450), a student at nearby Florida Tech, stood on 3 points and thus had a chance to join the leaders. They faced each other in this key matchup where only a win would take a share of the top prizes. As the game transitioned from the middlegame to endgame, Leyva Rivera won a pawn. A long Rook and Pawn endgame ensued where Ludwig’s Rook was passive and Leyva Rivera pressed home for the full point. As the dust settled this win enabled Leyva Rivera to join Becerra and Ramer in the 3-way tie for second place. Thanks to the Under 2400 prizes, Ramer was the big money winner in this group. His prize was well deserved as he drew both Becerra and Leyva Rivera. Be sure to check out the game Ramer – Leyva Rivera where Black is on course to take the full point, but a couple slips allow Ramer to sacrifice a Rook and secure a draw by perpetual check. Exciting stuff.
The 2nd Under 2400 prize was claimed by local master Nick Moore (2239). Moore had a fine result, with his only loss coming against Bortnyk. The top Under 2200 prizes were claimed by young stars Benjamin Chen (2092) and 10-year-old Bach Ngo (2088). They both won in the last round to join Moore in a 3-way tie for 5th place and were awarded the larger Under 2200 prizes.
|NM Nick Moore (left) made it to the Top Board in Round 2 where he suffered his only loss to GM Bortnyk.|
|On route to his tie for 3rd Under 2200, Jim Walker (right, and extremely focused) made it to the top boards (Board 2 in Round 3) where he was handed his only loss of the event by GM Becerra.|
There was one player in the Master section who finished out of the money on the place prizes, but still took home a $200 prize and a lot of glory by winning the first Brilliancy Prize. This achievement was accomplished by many-time Space Coast Open participant Eric Cooke (2254). Cooke had a tough start to his tournament. He was paired down against Experts in his first 3 games and had only a half a point on the cross table. But Cooke came back with a vengeance in Round 4 as he demolished Jose Hernandez’ (2169) Dragondorf with a ruthless sham sacrifice and a series of hammer blows that brought the game to a swift conclusion. In selecting this game for top brilliancy prize honors IM Maharramzade wrote, “[a] very imaginative and powerful game by Cooke. White offered a pawn sacrifice with 13.e5!, which Black wisely declined. That left behind the scenes the true beauty of White's design - 13... dxe5 14. Ne6!!. After a very strong 15.e6!, driving a nail into Black's position, it became clear that White came out of the opening with excellent attacking prospects. Then followed a small moment of hesitation 16.Kb1?! - a prophylactic move that was not really necessary, but White then picks up the pace again with 18.Qg1!, 20.Rh3!, and 21.Bxb5!".
When he learned of his selection for first Brilliancy Prize, Cooke wrote, “I am glad that I won the brilliant prize!! … I played [at the] Space Coast many times and enjoyed playing there .... I am glad that I played well at the end of the tournament!! [It was a] great comeback; it helps my confidence that even [if] I don't play well in a game I could play well in my other games!!” Well said, Eric. Words for any chess player to live by.
Class Sections. The Class A section Luis Ares (1947) achieved the only perfect 5-0 score of the tournament which earned him one of the biggest prize checks of the weekend. This section was unique in another way, as there were no ties for the next two places either. Phillip Durand (1945) was nicked for a single draw on his way to 4.5 points and clear second place. The draw was versus 3rd place finisher, Alan Wang (1900) who was the only player on 4 points. That left a 4-way tie for the 4th place money with 3.5 points among local youth talent Vincent Stone III (1964), Samarth Bellayaru (1911), Jerry Yao (1841), and Michael Guan (1810). Another notable result, while out of the money, was achieved by Matthew Kolcz (1625), who managed an even score while playing up a section, and also taking a number of the photographs included in this article.
|Luis Ares delivered the only perfect 5-0 score of the weekend to convincingly claim top honors and the coveted Crystal Teardrop in Class A [Photo: Haskel]|
Leggett took another honor in addition to his first place finish by winning the Third Brilliancy Prize. That game was played in Round 1, where his opponent neglected development and omitted castling until it was too late. Leggett capitalized in exciting fashion, offering a pawn to pry open lines for his Rook, Bishop, and Queen. Black spurned the pawn but four moves later, immediately after he managed to castle, Black was facing unstoppable mate in one. In selecting this game for a brilliancy prize IM Maharramzade commented, “This is to pay tribute to the fighters of the lower sections. A very nice tactical finish by the winner of Class B tournament - 19.d6!, 20.Rxe5!, 22.Qf6!"
This game also proves that sometimes it is a good strategy to reenter after a bad start. Leggett’s victim in this game was none other than his co-winner, Gromnicki! After his round 1 setback Gromnicki reentered and stormed to a 4-0 score, entering the last round tied with the only other player on 4-0, Paul Leggett! Since they had already played, they were both paired down to their nearest rivals who were players with 3 points. These players happened to be the very determined Weisberger and Ziegler, both winning against the leaders to play catch up! An exciting last round indeed.
Thanks to the Top Senior prize being claimed by Gromnicki, the players tied for 5th place also collected some winnings. And since one of these players tied for the Second Place Senior Prize, that prize was pulled in as well and collected by Bill Langford (1644). Tying with Bill and sharing the 4th place money were two players who were playing up a section: Ethan Tal (1553) and Sritej Sattaru (1534).
In Class C, Matthew Elliot (1514) entered the last round with 3.5 points, a half point clear of three players on 3 points. This section saw a big shuffle at the top as all three of the chasing pack won and Elliot lost to Joseph Disken (1587). Thus Natahja Graddy (1470), winner on tie-breaks, and Maxwell Yang (1264), who was playing up a section and lost only to Graddy, tied with Diskin for first place with 4 points. It should be mentioned that Disken also tied for Top Senior but was awarded the larger place money. Meanwhile two players with 2.5 points won their games to leapfrog over the players with 3 points. These two, Greg Engl (1464) and Tim Bowler (1402), thereby tied with Elloit for 4th place. Since Engl also tied for Second Senior he was awarded that prize and the other two split the 4th place money.
Class D was another section where leading going into the last round was not a good predictor of the final standings. Eric Dirga (1012) was playing up a section got a one-point bye in Round 1. He then won his next three games to stand alone at the top of the standings with 4 points entering Round 5. He faced Advait Nair (1362), the only player on 3.5. In this game the rating edge translated to the game result as Nair won to take clear first place with 4.5 points. This pushed Dirga into second where he tied with Anders Bylund (842), another player who was playing up and who had won his last round game to catch Dirga. Perhaps this was poetic justice as Bylund’s only loss was to Dirga. Trailing these players by a half point and tying for 4th place were Miguel Arbesu (1323), Bradley Juopperi (1288) and Srijan Ganta (1147).
|Chief Tournament Director and co-Organizer Jon Haskel congratulates Class D Champion Advait Nair who is all smiles after winning clear 1st Place and claiming his Crystal Teardrop. [Photo: Haskel]|
|It's a nice payday for 13-year old Arthur Hernandez-Visbal, a very happy co-winner of the Under 1200 section. He almost needs another hand to hold his prize check as well has his K-8 Queen's crown and First Place Crystal Teardrop [Photo: Haskel]|
Let’s Not Get Upset! Upset prizes are awarded for the first 4 rounds and usually these prizes are claimed in either the Master section or the Under 1200 section, as those sections typically have the largest ratings spread and hence more opportunities for upsets. Sure enough, in Round 1 an Under 1200 player, Arham Shah (497), claimed the upset prize defeating a player rated 424 points higher. But with many competitors “playing up” in other sections, it was the Class D section that claimed the remaining 3 upset prizes. These went to Anders Bylund (842) winning in Round 2 with a 461 point rating difference, Srijan Ganta (1147) in Round 3 with a 238 point difference, and Jack Judy (1084) in Round 4 with a 301 point difference. Bylund proved his upset was no fluke as in addition to tying for second place he also had the biggest upset in the third round (301 point difference) but since he already won an upset prize it went to the next-in-line player for Round 3.
Late Night Blitz. The Space Coast Open Blitz was held on Saturday night. Blitz players with a long game in Round 3 of the main event sometimes are late for the start of Blitz and end up taking a Bye in the first round. Since the event is 4-Rounds with two games against each opponent, this means those players start in Round 2 of the Blitz with 1 point out of a possible 2. This is the fate that befell both IMs who entered the Blitz, Yunier Leyva Rivera and Justin Sarkar. Last year Leyva Rivera was knocked out of contention with a double loss in the last round to Blitz specialist FM Corey Acor. But with Acor absent this year Leyva Rivera proved untouchable, winning all his remaining games to finish with 7 out of a possible 8 points. Sarkar meanwhile had a drawn game with Pedro Hernandez Perez (2261) and a loss in one of his games with Anthony Norris (1906), finishing in a tie for 4th place with Michael Thomas (1903). Two of the players that Leyva Rivera defeated won all their remaining matches 2-0 to finish tied for 2nd place with 6 points: James Walker (2023) and former FCA President William Bowman (1934). The Top Under 1900 prize was claimed by Jared Groder (1819).
|William Bowman (white pieces) faces off in Round 1 vs. Jonathan Hunter Cirillo in route to Bowman's second place tie. One board over Top Under 1900 winner Jared Groder (white pieces) battles with Ohio's Braeden Hart [Photo: Dyson]|
|SM John Ludwig has been playing in the Space Coast Open since he was a Class B player. Here he kicks off the lecture series on Saturday morning [Photo: Koretsky]|
|In the second Saturday morning lecture,White's situation looks hopeless but NM Nick Moore shows that White can draw if he keeps a cool head and combines attack and defense [Photo: Koretsky]|
The Spirit of Wojo - Brilliancy Prizes. GM Alex Wojtkiewicz (affectionately called “Wojo”) played many times in the SCO and was usually part of our lecture series. After his untimely passing, we named our brilliancy prizes in his memory. This year we offered three cash prizes totaling $350. IM Javad Maharramzade served as the Brilliancy Prize judge, his 14th consecutive year in this role. While some games are submitted in PGN or harvested from our broadcast, each year I give Javad a thick stack of scoresheets. He very diligently reviews all available scoresheets, whether marked for brilliancy consideration or not, just so as not to miss a hidden gem. This year his son Amir also pitched in to help manually enter the games, and these further expanded the tournament games collection. As noted above, this year two of the Brilliancy Prizes went to games in the Master section and the other to a co-winner in Class B. See Games of the 26th Space Coast Open earlier in this article for information on where you can find all the games.
Closing Remarks and Appreciation. Special thanks to the team that brings you the Space Coast Open. Jon Haskel served both as co-Organizer and Chief TD. The day before the event got underway we learned Jon’s usual Chief Assistant TD was laid up with a fever. We were very fortunate that Steven Abrahams was willing and able to step into the breach on short notice and traveled up from South Florida to help, covering floor TD duties and serving as Chief TD for the Blitz. Orlando Chess & Games, run by Alex Zelner, returned as our book and equipment vendor.
The President of the Space Coast Chess Foundation (SCCF) is Dr. Peter Koretsky. He serves as co-Organizer and the head of sponsor relations, coordinating the fund-raising efforts that support our favorable entry-fee-to-prize ratio, the many side events, and our local scholastics activities. Much appreciated behind-the-scenes assistance was also provided by SCCF board member Scott Langford and by Brenna Koretsky and Linda Wicker. The husband-and-wife team of Langford and Wicker previously ran our local scholastics series for many years and this year they were responsible for securing the beautiful Crystal Teardrop trophies awarded to the section winners. Lastly, Matthew Kolcz was kind enough to donate a number of his photographs. Thank you to all.
Click here to return to Tournament Report Table of Contents
Click here to return to Tournament Report Table of Contents