To Define 'Millionaire Chess,' Consult Webster

To Define 'Millionaire Chess,' Consult Webster

| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

A group of intelligent, motivated college kids from the same campus travel to Vegas and attempt to win six figures. No, it's not the plot to "21"it's the early reality of the 2015 Millionaire Chess Open.

Last year's winner, GM Wesley So, took out his Webster University teammate (and roommate!) GM Ray Robson in the finals. After the second day this year, two of the four perfect scores are again Webster chess team members.

Webster Gorloks GM Le Quang Liem and GM Vasif Durarbayli took the team limo to Planet Hollywood and promptly rattled off four points from four games. Durarbayli's round-four win was a magnificent rook-and-pawn ending over So, spoiling the defending champion's birthday. (So left the team last year.)

GM Le Quang Liem proudly wears the team sport coat of the Gorloks, a mythical creature that combines characteristics of cheetahs, buffaloes and St. Bernards!

The others on 4-0 are GM Yu Yangyi, also a finalist last year, and new Canadian GM Evgeny Bareev, who was a world youth champion a decade before the other three were born!

GM Yu Yangyi is looking good to qualify for his second straight Millionaire Monday. (Photo: David Llada)
The Webster team arrived in style. (Left to right: Death Match Champion GM Illya Nyzhnyk, GM Vasif Durarbayli, GM Aleksandr Shimanov, GM Le Quang Liem, Coach GM Susan Polgar, GM Ray Robson, GM Denes Boros.) Photo courtesy Paul Truong's Facebook page.

Rounds three and four took place Friday, and the game receiving the most attention from the morning round lasted one move -- 1. Nf3. GM Gata Kamsky was seen running down the entrance hallway at around 11:30 a.m. local time. He passed through the security protocol and arrived at this board at 11:32 a.m., 32 minutes past the start time and two minutes past the 30-minute default window.

Arbiters convened and agreed that Kamsky forfeited his game with GM Artur Jakubiec, but would be allowed to continue the tournament.

"I saw Grandmaster Kamsky running into the room," said IA Aris Marghetis. "He did his best to make it there on time. He was quite gracious about it." IA Franc Guadalupe confirmed that the forfeit was the only decision. Rumors as to the reason for the late arrival have not been confirmed by

Kamsky recovered to win round four and sits on 3.0/4.

The unlikely seatmates in round four: both GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Gata Kamsky played from outside the velvet ropes.

To the games that actually took place, neither of the top two seeds could get past their round-three opponents. GM Hikaru Nakamura repeated moves with GM Gil Popilski while GM Fabiano Caruana suffered his second draw in a row against IM Priyadharshan Kannappan.

To the anguish of his manager IM Lawrence Trent, also a commentator at Millionaire Chess, Caruana's long endgame effort finally ran out of ideas.

IM Lawrence Trent, manager of Caruana, said he is trying to remain impartial. When asked about his client's play, he couldn't completely hide his disbelief.

"He's been struggling to get any kind of momentum, any kind of rhythm going this tournament," Trent said of his charge. As the queen-and-bishop endgame unfolded, he feared correctly that the win wasn't there: "It would be a huge blow to him not to win with the white pieces."

"Pri-Diddy," the underdog's chess-rap portmanteau, is also a product of St. Louis college chess! The Lindenwood University player told that he couldn't win with his extra piece despite Caruana's clock dwindling under one minute. Computer analysis shows that White is holding with best play anyway in the final position.

GM Evgeny Bareev, a former world top five, plays for Canada as of last month. (Photo: David Llada)

Moving on to the evening's round four, several sparkling endgame ideas highlighted the round.

So looked to be cruising; after the time control all the heavies remained but a protected passed pawn on f6 looked to tip the scales in his favor. Black answered by advancing his own passed pawn, when So missed a complicated rook invasion. 

Gorlok GM Vasif Durarbayli of Azerbaijan lost to Le Quang Liem in the World Cup last month, but the two are now teammates and performing well in Las Vegas.

Fast-forwarding to the rook endgame, Durarbayli had eviscerated the strong pawn chain and worked his way up the board. One final mistake by White allowed a study-like finish.

Games via TWIC.

An even more incredible endgame idea was used to hold the unlikely balance. IM Yang Kaiqi used some pawn tai chi to trick GM Gregory Kaidanov in a king-and-pawn ending:

GM Gregory Kaidanov has won just about every notable open event in the U.S. Although he's a full-time coach, he believes in remaining active to better relate to his students' tournament experiences.

Another late-arriving player just made the window in round four. GM Conrad Holt, who had been fined for multiple late arrivals at a previous U.S. Championship, arrived 25 minutes late. He made the cutoff by five minutes, but found himself in time pressure later as you might expect.


Uh-oh. Another forfeit on the top boards? Ten minutes after the photo was taken, Holt arrived.

Le Quang Liem calmly waited for Holt's arrival, then played the role of judge and jailer against Holt's queen. First he "judged" Qh7+ wasn't overly dangerous, then he put her in jail with an exchange sacrifice. She never got parole as Black sentenced her to life in prison.

Yu Yangyi had little trouble handling GM Isan Reynoldo Ortiz Suarez while Bareev slowly took all of past Title Tuesday Champion IM Kacper Drozdowski's pawns. Popilski almost had his second big game in a row, but he spoiled a better position with successive inaccuracies against GM Luke McShane, who remained only a half-point off the pace (3.5/4).

Jakubiec held his own against Robson; their draw also put them both in the second score group. Nakamura also lurks at 3.5/4 as he recovered by putting the world's youngest GM in an awful bind.

It's hard to say which Black piece is more helpless in the final position. Even Nakamura's stepfather, FM Sunil Weeremantry, smiled as he watched the monitors at the game's climax:

"It feels weird," Nakamura told about playing another large American open event, which was an every-weekend occurrence in his rise to the world's elite. "I'm so used to playing so many closed tournaments with a lot of the same people...It's nostalgic to play people I played in the 2000s."

He said it's hard not to lose rating points (his and Caruana's draws cost four points a pop). "We're playing a lot of openings we wouldn't normally play."

Did Phil Laak ditch the sunglasses? No, that's Jeremy Keller playing on the top board in the under-2200 section. Too bad, the "Unapawner" nickname seemed ripe for the occasion.
The real Phil Laak with his trademark hoodie. Photo: Wikipedia.

Las Vegas is a city built on unexpected fortune and luck, and that's just what happened in the game between GM Alejandro Ramirez and IM Maximilian Meinhardt. The roulette ball was just about to land on white, and at the last minute it bounced into black.

Let's not forget that at the end of tournament one player will get a one-in-64 chance to win a full million dollars. Meinhardt's given name even ends "milian" -- perhaps a homophonic reference to his destiny?

There's still three more games until the four qualifiers for Millionaire Monday are selected. Nakamura thinks 6.0/7 will surely get in, while 5.5/7 will require tiebreaks to qualify. The inaugural event showed those exact numbers.

Tournament co-host Amy Lee didn't know kings can be captured in blitz. She tried to wrestle it back from "The Chess Drum" editor and Millionaire player Dr. Daaim Shabazz.

In round five, Bareev takes White against Yu Yangyi while Le Quang Liem gets white against Durarbayli.


2015 Millionaire Chess Open| Standings After Round Four (Top 20)

Rk. SNo   Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 6 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2697 4,0 9,0 5,0 9,00
2 4 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2721 4,0 8,5 4,5 10,50
3 10 GM Bareev Evgeny CAN 2669 4,0 8,5 4,0 8,50
4 16 GM Durarbayli Vasif AZE 2618 4,0 6,5 2,5 6,50
5 37 GM Jakubiec Artur POL 2523 3,5 10,0 4,5 8,75
6 8 GM Robson Ray USA 2680 3,5 9,5 4,5 8,00
7 9 GM Mcshane Luke J ENG 2674 3,5 9,0 5,0 7,75
8 72 IM Meinhardt Maximilian GER 2381 3,5 9,0 4,5 9,00
9 1 GM Nakamura Hikaru USA 2814 3,5 8,5 4,5 7,25
10 19 GM Shimanov Aleksandr RUS 2593 3,5 8,5 4,0 8,50
11 17 GM Lenderman Aleksandr USA 2615 3,5 8,0 4,5 6,50
12 20 GM Azarov Sergei BLR 2591 3,5 8,0 4,0 6,75
13 21 GM Stukopin Andrey RUS 2587 3,5 7,5 4,0 6,75
14 3 GM So Wesley USA 2773 3,0 10,5 5,5 6,50
15 23 GM Ortiz Suarez Isan Reynaldo CUB 2577 3,0 9,5 4,5 6,00
16 87 IM Mandizha Farai ZIM 2342 3,0 9,5 4,5 5,50
17 51 IM Kjartansson Gudmundur ISL 2474 3,0 9,0 4,0 6,50
18 36 GM Troff Kayden W USA 2528 3,0 9,0 4,0 6,00
19 49 IM Drozdowski Kacper POL 2476 3,0 9,0 3,5 5,50
20 15 GM Nyzhnyk Illya UKR 2628 3,0 8,5 4,0 7,00
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