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HB Global Challenge

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The richest, and most expensive, open in history starts today in, of all places, Minneapolis, Minnesota. I'm sure it's lovely, but as many of the visiting GMs found out, it's not trivial to get there! The list of invitees is impressive, although it falls short of the strength of recent events like the Aeroflot Open. Gata Kamsky is back in action and is the top seed. Other favorites include Beliavsky, van Wely, and US champ Hikaru Nakamura.

The open section employs a "no early draw rule" similar to that used in the NY Generation Chess event, also organized by GM Maurice Ashley. There are no draws before move 30 without special permission. (Tournament policy here.) It seems almost tame now that the Mtel Masters has taken it a step further by banning draw offers entirely. But it's a little different if you're paying your own way at an Open. There are other interesting rules, such as giving GMs free registration in exchange for simuls and interviews.

First prize is a massive $50,000, out of a $500,000 guaranteed prize fund. The entry fee was $345-400, depending on how early you signed up. If you're there, send in some tidbits. I'm sure Hikaru will annotate a game for Black Belt when it's over.


Here is what me and a million other American patzers -- many of us who considered making the trip out to play -- REALLY want to know. How many people in the sub-expert sections are sandbaggers? How low will you have to go to find a section winner who isn't really a master? And how are they getting away with it?

There is a poll at the Ninja's message board. I have voted for Onischuk.



It is my understanding that there are also specific rules at the HB Global Chess Challenge to prevent "sandbagging"...I believe that they are using the most recent USCF rating supplement to reflect the player placement...the most recent supplement was supposed to be out in late April, but given USCF's rating processing woes, they may have been even later...and that plays into the tournament organizers' hands perfectly.



Actually Bill, the USCF has so dramatically improved their rating system that ratings looked up online are almost up to the minute! I have submitted the results for a tournament (I'm a USCF TD) online and had it rated literally a couple of hours later.

Quoting from the HB web site:

"To prevent sandbagging, the tournament will use each players' highest published rating between October 1, 2004 and April 2005."

The October rating list was released just after the tournament was announced.


I skipped this tournament mainly because the prizes for my level (weak ass IM) are not deep enough. I would mainly be competing for 3 (albeit large) prizes playing players up to 400 points higher than myself, compared to class players that play for 50! prizes, facing no one more than 199 points higher than themselves. If you are a mster around 2250, it is even worse, as you'd be competing for 3 prizes with really no chance at the top 50 prizes. Monokroussos commented on this as well at his site http://chessmind.powerblogs.com

There are some interesting differences between the "no draw" rules here, and in Sofia. According to the rules in Minneapolis:

"The TD can deem that players are not making a serious effort to play a real game. For example, some unacceptable situations would be:
" a. If two players on the top boards make a quick draw using some well known theoretical opening that forces a three-fold repetition.
" b. If the two players play an intentionally lifeless opening with the object of steering the game towards a dead draw as soon as possible. For example, playing the exchange French defense and immediately trading off all the pieces is not acceptable
" c. Continuous repetitions in order to get to the time control will be considered an infraction of the rules."

I think that there have been some games in Sofia that would have run afoul of rules (a) and (b) above.

Pictures! Anybody find any pictures online?


I always like to see success stories of young chess players-their progression from D player to A champion, so I looked up the USCF rating history of Victor Ochoa the winner of the U2000 section at the HB Global Challenge

He comes out of nowhere and plays in his first USCF tournament just over a year ago...he gets a 5 game provisional of 2017, draws with a master, beats some 2000s or so...

Then someone must have wisened him up as he loses to a bunch of 1000 and unders in scholastic tourneys..
Then he plays in the World Open last year, maybe as a test, but bails out.
Then he plays at year end in the North American Open and wins his section.
Then he doesn't play until now. Ok, suspicious

But a google (Victor Ochoa chess) indicates a Karl
Victor Ochoa as a world class youngster from the
Phillipines ! He was also was their U12 champ. Clearly not a U2000 Player. It is quite possible this is the same kid, as it indicated he was now in the US.

He doesn't appear to have a FIDE rating, but I wonder if there are Phillipine ratings.

Either way, very suspicious.

Marc's post scared me. This US obsession with avoiding draws at all cost is frightening.

"The TD can deem that players are not making a serious effort to play a real game. For example, some unacceptable situations would be:
" a. If two players on the top boards make a quick draw using some well known theoretical opening that forces a three-fold repetition.

Some of these 3 fold repetitions are played because the best moves have been played by both sides. I am not going to stop playing my favourite opening for black because white can force a draw in one sideline.

" b. If the two players play an intentionally lifeless opening with the object of steering the game towards a dead draw as soon as possible. For example, playing the exchange French defense and immediately trading off all the pieces is not acceptable

I play the French Exchange because I like to reach endings and then play for a win with reasonable success. I'm stronger there than in deeply theoretical openings/stodgy middlegames with loads of pieces on the board and have a good record against players of a similar rating (~FIDE 2000-2100). Is this tactic to be outlawed?

" c. Continuous repetitions in order to get to the time control will be considered an infraction of the rules."

Part of the skill of a game is the psychological part. Repeating a position to gain time on the clock and also to lull your opponent into a false sense of security is a major part of games from the past- e.g. the late great Tony Miles was an expert on this.

The thought police are getting out of control here. It is all very noble trying to avoid situations like the last round of the 2003 or was it 2004 US championship, but these rules are like using a nuclear bomb to destroy a tent.

BTW I am not a drawish player- in my last 20 OTB games- I have only 2 draws- both real scraps of 50 moves plus.

Great tournament!

Apart from the marriage proposal during the opening ceremony, Hikaru Nakamura and Pentala Harikrishna played a 7-minute blitz match in which Hikaru won with 2.Qh5. Harikrishna won the 2nd game to tie the match.

There were also many different activities including live commentary and prizes. Of course, with 50 GMs the competition was fierce and GM Zviad Izoria of Georgia took home the $50,000 dollar prize and $7,000 diamond watch.

It's strange that there is not much discussion on the tournament here. I did several interviews and will post a photo essay in the coming days. It was a momentous event!

I had a great time in Minneapolis! I started off terribly (comletely bombed in rds 2 and 3) then played some of the strongest chess of my short chess life (rds 5, 6, 8 especially) and finished in the money with a 6/9 score.

Unfortunetly, I only got to see about 30 minutes of all the side events they were doing (like the van wely-sadvakasov opening speed match and the last half of the Naka speed match). Simply no time to do any of this if your games regularly last more than 3.5 hours.

The organization was outstanding. The only two blips I can think of are 1.) I couldn't hear the head TD from way back in the hall, which was her fault because she was talking into a microphone with speakers, and 2.) the prize ceremony started 2.5-3 hours late. Everything else was smooth. All the TDs I saw were helpful. The playing hall was HUGE. Maurice Ashley's a great guy. You could tell he wasn't getting much sleep during the tournament what with making sure everything was in tip-top shape but he was still taking time for autographs and pictures. Chess needs more people like him.

Having previously had a lot of trouble getting into Chicago by road, Minneapolis was surprisingly easy. And what a city Minneapolis is! I was in awe! It was a big city with a small town feel. The people on the street were very kind and helpful.

I'll never stay again in a Millennium hotel again, however. Front desk managed to get wrong rooms for my family even though we registered 5 months ago. They repaired their error as best they could. Lounge staff was very good, though.

The best part was seeing world-famous GMs on stage, in person! Van Wely, Sadvakasov, Kamsky, Jussupow, Epishin, Nakamura, Glek, Beliavsky, Smirin and more! Most have dueled swords with The Greats like Kasparov, Karpov, Spassky! Incredible! When was the last time such a gathering like this was ever held in America? And I was there....

Memories, memories, memories. I'm a part of history! I played in the world's richest tournament! To all of those who weren't there, all I can say is you really missed out on something special.

Hoping we can do this thing again next year,
Seth Homa

Both GMs Wojtkiewicz and Motyleev agreed to a draw in 19 moves. Does anyone know if they were really penalized for this?

Hikaru brought this out when I interviewed him. I'll asked Maurice about that. I'm not sure he is aware.

Good to hear you had a great time Seth. I played decent chess, but was on -1 for the tourney with three byes (U2200). I just doesn't pay to try and take pics, conduct interviews and do other business while playing. The blitz battles in the skittles rooms were great and I'll have some pics up soon.

The Hyatt was nice and the Minneapolis tunnel system was convenient. They had free DSL connections too, but the of course the food was expensive. How about $4.00 for a 20 oz bottle of water (in the rooms). Nice restaurants on "eat street."

My main complaint in the Millennium Convention Center was that the press room was waaaay too small and there were not enough network connections for a tournament of that size.

It was a momentous tournament and to think there were naysayers even to the point where one chess player went on an online crusade to discourage people from playing in it. America's poor state of chess has caused people to become so paranoid as to post half-truths and misleading information. What a crying shame!


Let's celebrate chess once again!

sad, but inevitable. Reminds me of when my team lost the U-16 state soccer semifinals to another team whose star player, a Latin American kid, dominated the field. We later found out he was 21. With that much money at stake, people will cheat and they will find a way to get through.

I think you are referring to the apparent sandbagging I mentioned above; sad, yes, inevitable, no. I found it with virtually no effort. With all the TDs standing around doing little in the first hours of every round, this could have been checked easily for the contenders. The problem is what do you do about. Anybody that played against him has a potential complaint the organizers.

The sad thing is no one other than you, shams, has responded to the posting.

I didn't know about it until this post, but it does happen in large tournaments... almost without exception. However, I'm not so sure what winning the under-12 Filipino championship means. What is his FIDE rating? A quick look at his games could end the debate.

Karl Victor Ochoa's catastrophic tank occured in April 2004 before this tournament was even announced. Anyway if one wants to sandbag it is not neccessary to tank 400 points and then proceed to gain 200 of them back! Kids his age are very streaky but they are very rarely sandbaggers. This champ is deserved winner of alot of cool cash(provided one believes that amateurs should be allowed to win that much cash even though they are not very good) and I hope he continues to improve. In any case, this is one of the least suspicious cases out there. Still it is my believe that the so-called sandbaggers are rarely the big winners anymore. If anyone can prove me wrong,go ahead.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 18, 2005 10:47 PM.

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