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Shankland Leads Northern California International Print E-mail
By Kostya Kavutskiy   
January 7, 2012
Hall400.jpgThe 2012 Northern California International is turning out to be one of the most prestigious and well organized tournaments in the United States, mainly due to the strong effort put in by the organizers to meet all of the players' needs. The event was planned and is being run by Arun Sharma and Ted Castro, at the Nor Cal House of Chess (located in Northwestern Polytechnic University), which is also run by Castro. The NCI also feels every bit like a top-level international tournament which is quite rare to find in the United States. Every round the players are provided with boards, pieces, clocks, scoresheets, pens, water, and even food! The spectators are allowed to roam freely and even have a skittles room (where more sets are provided) for casual play.

The opening ceremony of the tournament was pleasant, and had several special guest speakers, including USCF President Dr. Ruth Haring, CalChess President Tom Langland, Northwestern Polytechnic University President Dr. George Hsieh, and the Mayor Jose Esteves of Milipitas. Also featured in the opening ceremony were two young students of the Nor Cal House of Chess who performed with their instrument of choice—Jade Zhang on violin and Solomon Ge on piano.

The last but definitely not the least of the reasons that this tournament should be regarded to as elite is the extremely strong field participating, which includes seven Grandmasters and sixteen international masters. Furthermore, entry was limited to players with a FIDE rating of above 2000, and the number of players let in under 2200 FIDE was also limited, to keep the average rating of the tournament high, thus increasing norm chances.

After seven rounds GM Sam Shankland is leading the event with 6/7 points. In round seven he quickly defeated the pre-tournament favorite GM Georg Meier of Germany, who outrated him by over 100 points. Here is Sam's win over IM Shahade:



 In second place is IM Marc Arnold with 5.5/7, thanks to a win over GM Axel Bachmann at the same time. Following them is GM Yury Shulman, GM Giorgi Margvelashvili, GM Josh Fridel, IM Enrico Sevillano, SM Faik Aleskerov, and FM Kayden Troff, each with 5/7.

So far there have been many upsets, as Shankland and Shulman are the only grandmasters to remain undefeated. IM Greg Shahade, who earlier led the event with 4/4, took out GM Alejandro Ramirez and GM Axel Bachmann in rounds three and four.



FM Farai Mandhiza contributed to the action by upsetting GM Bartlomiej Macieja and GM Josh Friedel in rounds two and three.


 

Along with them IM Marc Arnold, IM Enrico Sevillano, SM Faik Aleskerov, and FM Kayden Troff have decent chances to make a GM-norm. Also worth mentioning is NM Adarsh Jayakumar, who recently achieved his first IM-norm at the 27th North American Masters, as having good chances of earning his second IM-norm. Organizer Arun Sharma sums up the norm chances: 

FM Kayden Troff is having an amazing tournament with a performance above 2550 and would have already clinched at least an IM norm, but he is unfortunately unable to get a norm as he cannot reach the four foreigners needed in this nine round event.

IM Marc Arnold:  Must play a foreigner in Round 9.   Will score second GM norm with 1.0/2 if Round 9 opponent is rated at least 2556 - otherwise needs 1.5/2

IM Enrico Sevillano:  Will score final GM norm with 1.5/2 if last round opponent is rated at least 2518 - otherwise needs 2.0/2

SM Faik Aleskerov:  Must play a foreigner in Round 9 and score 1.5/2 for first GM norm.

IM Greg Shahade:  Will score second GM norm with 1.5/2 if Round 9 opponent is rated at least 2325 - otherwise needs 2.0/2

IM Sam Collins:  Must play a foreigner in Round 9. Will score final GM norm with 1.5/2 if Round 9 opponent is rated at least 2463 - otherwise needs 2.0/2

NM Adarsh Jayakumar:  Will score second IM norm with 1.0/2 if Round 9 opponent is rated at least 2449 - otherwise needs 1.5/2

WGM Tatev Abrahamyan:  Must play a foreigner in Round 9.  Will score second IM norm with 0.5/2 if Round 9 opponent is rated at least 2517 - otherwise needs 1.0/2

FM Erik Santarius:  Must play a foreigner in Round 9. Will score final IM norm with 1.5/2 if Round 9 opponent is rated at least 2361 - otherwise needs 2.0/2

NM Samuel Sevian:  Must play a foreigner in Round 9. Will score first IM norm with 1.5/2 if Round 9 opponent is rated at least 2299 - otherwise needs 2.0/2


IM Marc Arnold and GM Sam Shankland face off in round eight in a battle for first place. It will be interesting to see how things play out as several players still have a chance to earn norms and fight for the top places.

Please visit www.dotq.org/chess for full standings, pairings, games, and photos from the event.

 
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