Bay Area International Makes Chess History
The 2019 Bay Area International featured 24 GMs but it was a newly-minted IM that stole much of the show. Photo: Alexey Schekin.

Bay Area International Makes Chess History

| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

How can losers be winners? The 2019 Bay Area International in Burlingame, California made several fortunes foggy, but at the end of the nine rounds, the field clarified and several players had reasons to celebrate.

First there was GM Le Quang Liem, who looked to be the goat of the event with a round three loss to a 12-year-old. Le was the only 2700 of the event and necessarily its top seed. But then he showed resiliency by closing with an astounding 5.5/6 to tie for first with 7.0/9.

Le Quang LiemGM Le Quang Liem of Vietnam was part of both big stories from the event. | Photo: David Llada.

His co-champion, who also won $4,000, was GM Andrey Stukopin. The two share more in common that just the same size of paycheck—they both have President's Cup titles on their resumes (their two college squads also met in 2017, Le's final year of college). Le went to Webster and Stukopin still attends University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley.

Andrew StukopinUnlike Le, GM Andrey Stukopin went undefeated to get to 7.0/9. | Photo: David Llada.

It's not often that the winners get overshadowed, but that may just be what happened in Northern California this week. Long before the excitement of the final round, there was that loss by the eventual winner to the pre-teen FM Christopher Yoo in round three. This appears to make Yoo the youngest player ever to defeat a 2700 in a classical game (even younger than now-GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa was in beating GM David Howell in 2017).

Yoo, playing in his home state, has taken advantage of the friendly confines of California. His second IM norm came just last year in Berkeley, also in the Bay Area. He earned his first in the 2017 North American Youth Championship, so that's the needed trio.

Christopher YooChristoper Yoo is also one of the few people who have crested 50 in Puzzle Rush! | Photo: David Llada.

As far as crossing 2400, Yoo did that late in 2018 on several FIDE rating lists, so that appears to make him the youngest IM in American history. With a birthday of December 19, 2006, he's only barely 12 years old, whereas IM Arthur Guo was a few weeks older during the automatic conference of his title at the 2018 Pan-Am Youth Tournament in Ecuador. Now-GM Awonder Liang was a little more than halfway to this 13th birthday when he got his third IM norm. Yoo may have eclipsed Praggnanandhaa's record for youngest to beat a 2700, but the Indian prodigy still has the all-time mark for youngest IM in history at 10 years old.

In case you're wondering, Yoo now has about 21 months before coming up against GM Sam Sevian's record for youngest American GM in history (13 years, 10 months, 27 days). Or, if he's feeling especially frisky, about half a year for true immortality if he could somehow manage to break Sergey Karjakin's mark for youngest GM ever.

Le got back on track and put himself in a position to win going into the last round. Even though he was Black against a 2600-rated grandmaster, he must have felt relieved that his opponent went for complications right from the outset. GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan of Armenia was technically doing OK but with his king in the line of fire, he went for too much by trying to open things up:

Stukopin also had to win his last round game to keep up with the leader. He had White but resorted to a long-term queen-for-two-rooks trade to get the job done and become a co-champion himself.

The Bay Area International was resurrected this year after not occurring since 2014. Since the 2018 Pan-Am Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship preceded it, that meant a lot of GMs were in town anyway (there's a similar plan for the 2019 Pan-Am event, which will have a strong norm-bearing tournament attached to it). And if that wasn't enough chess for a two-week span, today on the two area PRO Chess League teams (San Jose Hackers and San Francisco Mechanics) are actually facing each other!

The event is no stranger to spring-boarding young players to success. In the last edition five years ago, among those tied for first were GMs Sam Shankland and Wei Yi.

Also playing this year was the youngest child to make master in US Chess ratings. NM Abhimanyu Mishra, who set the record last year at a little over nine years old, began the event with a win over a GM in round one (former Olympiad gold medalist and Kramnik-scalper James Tarjan) before fading a bit and finishing with 3.5/9.

Abhimanyu MishraNM Abhimanyu Mishra. What will the ferocity look like when all of his adult teeth come in?! | Photo: David Llada.

2019 Bay Area International | Final Standings (Top 20)

Place Name Rtng Tot
1 GM Le Quang Liem 2714 7
1 GM Andrey Stukopin 2565 7
3 GM Lazaro Bruzon 2664 6.5
3 GM Dariusz Swiercz 2649 6.5
3 GM Emilio Cordova 2597 6.5
3 GM Alejandro Ramirez 2567 6.5
3 GM Karthik Venkataraman 2515 6.5
3 GM Bartlomiej Macieja 2509 6.5
3 IM Felix Ynojosa 2368 6.5
10 GM Jeffery Xiong 2672 6
10 GM Parimarjan Negi 2656 6
10 GM Samuel Sevian 2647 6
10 GM Yuniesky Quesada 2642 6
10 GM Peter Prohaszka 2613 6
10 GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan 2605 6
10 GM Jinshi Bai 2572 6
10 IM Brian Escalante Ramirez 2446 6
18 GM Daniel Naroditsky 2616 5.5
18 GM Kamil Dragun 2578 5.5
18 IM Michael Brown 2524 5.5

FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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