The scene was set for the 5th New York International (6/20-6/24) at St. John's Manhattan Campus in NYC. Strong players had gathered from all across the US for both norms and prizes. As seems to have become a tradition, I traveled to my 4th consecutive NY International, organized by Marcus Fenner and the storied Marshall Chess Club.
This year, while lacking the strong international players like GM Pentala Harikrishna who played last year, still had a strong showing. Leading the pack were GMs Ivanisevic, Gelashvili, and Kacheishvili (of which I would eventually play 2). I myself was seeded 10th, and after a terrible start and final result in the previous year I wasn't expecting too much out of my play this year.
I started the tournament with three wins over Benjamin Krause, Adarsh Jayakumar (who wound up with an IM norm), and Eric Rosen (who missed out on an IM norm by half a point). The strong start ensured that I would face high quality opposition in the coming rounds. If I could keep up with the leading group, I would put myself in contention for a GM norm.
My next two rounds saw me draw against GM Tamaz Gelashvili with Black and IM Marc Arnold with White. I entered Round 6 with 4/5 and faced GM Ivan Ivanisevic, the top seed, with the White pieces. What followed was a very instructive and close game, which due to its complexity I will not analyse too deeply. I would like, however, to draw your attention to his active play that allowed him to gain compensation for my extra pawn, and then the ideas in the R+B+Ps ending.
In the next round I managed to equalize and draw rather easily with my perennial opponent GM-elect Conrad Holt. That set me up going into the final day with a performance rating of around 2615 (2600 being the required performance) and a score of 5/7 with 4 consecutive draws.
My next game, Black against GM Mikheil Kekelidze, gave me a great scare. I almost managed to lose, but I was able to swindle a draw and keep the norm hopes alive going into the final round. I was paired against GM Vladimir Romanenko with White and needed a win for the GM norm. What followed was an epic clash from an unauspicious beginning, which I eventually won after a long fight. I'd like to highlight the critical position:
This tournament has really reaffirmed one of my core chess principles: the value of hard work and determination. Of course it's the eternal cliche, the consummate hard worker who overcomes adversity. But it feels a lot more real when you are the one experiencing it for yourself. The final day was incredibly draining for me on multiple levels. I had previously played 4 very strong opponents in a row, for example expending immense amounts of energy against Ivanisevic in a 5~6 hour marathon. The final day was even worse, both games lasted over 5 hours. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open, to be honest! But it only serves to show that if you stick to it and focus on your goal, anything can happen. I drew a lost game and achieved a clutch win. (On another note, this also serves to go with the Miami Heat, who won the NBA Finals against OKC concurrently with the tournament). The power of determination is real and tangible. Never surrender, even when the going gets tough.
By winning my crucial final round game, I finished with the score of 6.5/9, my second GM norm, and a tie for second at the New York International! Congratulations to Victor Shen (great tournament Victor!), who earned his final IM norm and a GM norm, and Thomas Bartell and Adarsh Jayakumar who earned IM norms. Also congrats to GMs Gelashvili and Kacheishvili, who finished with 7/9 and tied for first at this strong tournament.
I had a great time in New York, and I hope all of you had a great time reading this blog :)
Darwin Yang, signing out. Have a great summer guys.\o/