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Bruzón Wins Continental

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Cuba's Lazaro Bruzón won clear first in the Continental Championship. Seven players tied for second a half-point back. Gata Kamsky could have tied for first with a win in the final round with white, but he was held to a draw by 15-year-old (!) Gaston Needleman, who had the tournament of his life.

Unfortunately for Needleman, seven people tied on eight points and there was a round-robin playoff (15-minute games) for the six remaining world championship qualifying spots. He came last against the six strong GMs. (He might still get in if Kamsky qualifies by rating and they take from the zonal instead of from the rating list, but this is unlikely.) The seven qualifiers were straight from the list of top seeds. Bruzón, Kamsky, Vescovi, Milos, Onischuk, Granda, Felgaer. Elo rules if we conveniently ignore the 2240-rated Needleman, the 99th seed.


Vive Gaston !

wasnt there some ACP protest against FIDE about the method of deciding on players if spots open up later? I think the ACP was advocating filling up these spots using the qualifier tournament rather than some arbitrary rule. Whatever came of this protest? Maybe this is a cause Mig should use his good offices to give voice to...

needleman will have many more tournament of his life in a near future i guess

¡Viva Cuba!

Bruzon has had a very good year: he did better than expected at Corus, defeated Timman in the Classical part of their match, won the Cuban Championship and now the PanAm against a very strong field. Anybody can tell us anything about him? Can anybody see him developing into a super GM?
On a different subject, wouldn't it be nice if we could have a USA vs The Rest of the Continent or something like that?

Would be curios if there has ever been a more "upset-filled" performance. I'm not sure quite how to phrase it. Measuring the difference between rating and performance rating doesn't quite seem right. How about this: what is the largest value for a tournament an established player has ever scored for the following formula (rating)*(performance - rating) (still not quite right). And let's limit it to performances of at least 2600 FIDE (GM norm performance).... I wonder if this performance would be the record.

Bruzon won the 2000 Junior World Championship. Given his obvious talent and his recent successes, yes I definitely think he can break 2700.

I just read in the spanish version of chessbase that in the round-robin tiebreak tourney the GMs made a pact to agree to short draws and try to beat Needleman. It's sad to see those kinds of attitudes against a 15-year old. Even more sad for me is knowing that fellow peruvian Granda was involved in this (he had an excellent tournament otherwise).
According to chessbase, Kamsky, Vescovi and Milos even smiled when people booed them. A shame.

here is the crosstable of the tiebreak tourney :
Simon's is right all GM's except Felgaer agreed to short draws and tried to beat Needleman !
Shame on them :-(
Curacao 1962 looks like fair play compared to this....

I should add that this is very bad publicity for chess, the public booed them.
How can we expect chess to be respected if our pro players act like that ??


Do you know if Bruzon would be allowed in the US to play?

Looks like Needleman got a quick lesson about the world of grandmaster chess. I'm disappointed that Kamsky and Onishuk would take part in this scheme, but I also know that trying to make a living in chess is hard work.

Bruzon would likely be let in if he applied in advance with state support. Their athletes and entertainers come here regularly. The bigger problem is being let OUT. Cubans have a strange tendency to stick around and often aren't allowed to go to the US even when they can be tightly watched because the US has a policy of giving them asylum.

I'm posting about the tiebreaker "scandal" in a separate item in a few hours. Seems overblown to me. It was late, same day as the final round, and if Needleman lost his first game it was immediately obvious to everyone that all draws meant qualification. And note that he lost four games, no reason to expect otherwise when he's giving up 400 points in each game no matter how great a main event he had.

There is no denying this looks bad given that the public booed, and they did maybe not just for nationalist solidarity but perhaps also because they were protesting such a deliberate and pointed mistreatment of the underdog. Really sounds more like one of those initiation rituals.
Another thing, even if the draw agreement was "reasonable", where does this leave the anti-draw fervor so widely prevalent these days?


Any of you argentinian friends told you something about the tiebreak? I always consider chessbase reliable enough, but it would be interesting to learn the facts from some other sources.

I hope Needleman takes this as an incentive to get better and beat them fair and square the next time he faces those GMs. Nothing like sweet revenge OTB.

Even if this happened exactly as it looks I really think you guys are reading too much into this. I highly doubt they had a meeting the night before and conspired to do this, it was probably just obvious given their tournament situation. Fans can hardly complain about the quality of a rediculous tie-break that wasn't even assured to happen. I don't like the situation as a fan of chess and I also feel bad for Needleman, but this is a problem when tie-breaks did not make a difference in money. You can't tell players that they cannot make draw. If they arranged wins so that Needleman's points wouldn't be enough, this would be a different story.

"You can't tell players that they cannot make draw."

Sure you can. In tie-break situations there are no draws allowed; period. It sounds like a good rule to me.

ouch...this needleman story looks really disgusting :-( ....very good motivation for young aspiring players

I like what Chewy said, don't let draws count in the tiebreak. Only wins should count. Then there can be no such bad sportsmanship.


Chewy, I don't know why "no draws" sounds like a good rule to you, because it is really pretty ridiculous. A draw is a viable result in a game, and tiebreakers are about strategy, afterall. The complaints about how GMs shut out Needleman and how this will fail to motivate young players in the future are also pointless, because this was not an exhibition event -- it was a playoff to decide who would get a shot at chasing the World Championship. If I was a GM and figured out that I could assure myself of a spot just by drawing all of my games and chancing victory against Needleman, I would take those odds, too. Needleman was not exactly helpless in this situation: he could have just smoked the competition and then qualified regardless of what they did. As it was, he finished 1 point out of the last qualifying spot by scoring 1.5 points. If the argument is that one of the GMs would have therefore done worse than 1.5 points, then I don't buy it. This is what it is like in the lion's den. GMs are professional players, and they aspire to play for the title. There is no cause to try buoying the spirits of a young upstart at the cost of this dream.



Ok maliq but people in argentina report that the Gm's draw games in 3 or 5 moves ?? how ridiculous can you get ?

Hi Maliq,

my point is that when the bunch GMs play 5 move draws and try to squeeze a chosen victim, it is not a fair competition :-) indeed, it is not that far from playing a simul against this "team" (ok, a bit exaggerated).

...yes, it was allowed by the rules. And what, do we say that we want to see this kind of behaviour again? Apparently, some top chess players have no idea what sportsmanship is, so the rules need to changed somehow to prevent this in future.

I just hope that Needleman will able to get his OTB revenge sometimes.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 17, 2005 1:37 PM.

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