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More March Action

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Two strong closed events just finished, one very tight and the other a one-man show. The Magistral Ruy Lopez in Extremadura was dominated by Armenia's Gabriel Sargissian. He won the category 15 event with a 6.5/7 score two and a half points of ahead of Granda and Ponomariov. Hou Yifan beat Candelario in the last round, netting her first win and, I believe, preventing the Spaniard from getting a GM norm. Sargissian's monster performance rating is good for chatter about records, but it's more Morozevich than Kasparov or Fischer. Massive scores in events without any top-ten players aren't all that rare, at least when Moro is around. It's more impressive for being a breakout by the 24-year-old Sargissian, who is ranked just 48th in the world. He's been doing occasional seconding work with his friend Levon Aronian and now he's showing top-ten potential himself. Recently he scored +7 for the gold medal Armenian Olympiad team (10/13, with a win over Morozevich) and shared second at the Corus B.

A open Ruy Lopez thematic rapid tournament followed and is underway. The players from the Magistral are there along with many other GMs. Sargissian and Sokolov are leading with 6/7 with two more rounds to play.

Dmitri Jakovenko, who tied for first in the Russian championship but lost the title to Alekseev in a tiebreak, was the clear winner of the Karpov Poikovsky tournament. (He was also one of the players who tied with Sargissian for shared second at the Corus B.) His smooth +3 left him a clear point ahead of Onischuk, Alekseev, and Bologan. The category 17 was a rather peaceable affair with plenty of short draws -- with the stark exception, as ever, of Moldovan wild man Bologan. Of the 15 decisive games, seven were his, six of them played at a run to start the event. US champion Onischuk was solid as usual, winning one and drawing the other eight. Only two and a half points separated first from last.


Doesn't FIDE require that a tournament consist of at least 9 rounds, in order for players to be eligible to earn Title norms? If so, even if Candalaria had achieved a Tournament Performance Rating (TPR) of 2600, he still would not have earned a GM title norm. That may eaxplain why he played for the win as Black, as he would have garnered a share of 2nd Place by defeating Hou.

Topalov started out with something like 6.5/7 in the first leg at San Luis. That was obviously a more impressive feat, although he did cool off in the 2nd half of the event.

I still consider Karpov's 11/13 (+9 =4) at Linares to be the TPR record. In my book, in order to surpass Karpov, a player ought achieve a higher TPR, and do so in an event consisting in at least 10 rounds. And yeah, there ought to be some Top 10 players competing in it. It's difficult to keep the intensity and focus together over the course of a 10+ round event. In the end, one usually coasts to Clear first with some easy draws, or lose a game (as Kasparov did to I. Sokolov at WaZ), in trying to hard to run the board.

Sargissian probably achieved the result of his lifetime in Extremadura. At age 24, he is probably a bit old to claw his way into the Top 10, and even less likely to be an impact player.

Just one remark about Poikovsky. Contrary to the typical cliché of Karpov as a mean character who holds grudges, it was nice of him to invite Zhang Pengxiang to the event: after all, it was Zhang who eliminated him in the 1st round of the 2001 FIDE KO.

On the subject of near-records in Spanish-run events, I see from TWIC that Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (fka Jorge Zamoura) has won the Dos Hermanas Internet tournament after a 227 move draw against Tigran L. Petrosian in the last round.


Perhaps a future member of the list of strong US grandmasters born outside the USA?

The odds are against Sammour-Hasbun becoming a Grandmaster at this juncture. He might earn the title if he committed to Titke norm events, but he is a true blitz specialist. If he does earn the GM title, he'll have eked into it, and is unlikely to develop into a "Strong Grandmaster".
Given that he currently represents the Palestine Chess Federation, and that he still has family ties to Honduras (and, most probably, with the tiny Central American country of Belize--the former "British Honduras"-- which is ruled by an entrenched elite of those of Palestinian Arab extraction), it would be a stretch to consider him to be a US GM (or IM)

"Perhaps a future member of the list of strong US grandmasters born outside the USA?"

My apologies for not checking - I assumed that an untitled player with a result like this would be a young prodigy, but in fact he's in his late twenties with an IM-strength rating (though obviously capable of playing at a higher level, especially in blitz).

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 25, 2007 4:55 AM.

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