The title of this post is not a misprint. It is my great honor to introduce the readers to America's newest International Master: Sam Shankland! Simply said, Sam fulfilled the unthinkable last night in Vietnam by defeating a strong young Grandmaster from the host country, Quang Liem Le (2583). Sam tied for 1st place in the World Youth U18, earning the BRONZE MEDAL on tiebreaks. Incredibly, there's more! According to FIDE regulations (see 1.21), up to three players tied for 1st shall earn the automatic IM title! (I reported incorrectly yesterday that the prize was a GM norm.) Gooooo Shankypanky!!!
Update midday Thursday: Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Director IM John Donaldson has confirmed Sam's automatic IM title through his connections within FIDE!
How did Sam do it? He faced two of the four players who tied with him, scoring 0.5/2. He played against two Grandmasters (1.5/2), two International Masters (1.0/2) and a total of seven opponents rated above 2300 FIDE (4.0/7). With a final score of 8.0/11 (+7 =2 -2), Sam's performance rating was 2552, incredibly a full 100 points above the IM norm threshold! His post tournament FIDE rating will be above 2450.
The final game was far from perfect. (Last round photos above from the official website show Sam in the black shirt.) It began as a Dragon Sicilian, but the queen trade on move 17 produced an even endgame. The draw would have no doubt been acceptable to Sam at that point, but probably not to his higher rated opponent. From then on, Sam got slowly outplayed and he was losing after 38... Nxh3 and 39... Kg5. His opponent missed the decisive blow and allowed Sam to generate tricky counterplay with 45.c5! and 46.d6! By move 53, Sam is miraculously winning despite being down a pawn! The game could have ended 53... Ke6 54.Kc4 e4 (if Rxd7 then b8Q wins) 55.Kxc5 Rh8 56.Kc6 Rd8 57.Rh1 and Black can neither capture d7 nor defend h2. Instead, Black tried the desperado 53... Rxd7 and resigned after Sam found the refutation 54.Rf1+ (to be followed by b8Q).
IM Shankland, Sam (2436) vs GM Quang Liem Le (2583)
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Kb1 Qc7 12. h4 Rfc8 13. h5 Qa5 14. hxg6 fxg6 15. a3 Rab8 16. Bd3 Bf7 17. Ne2 Qxd2 18. Rxd2 a6 19. Re1 Nd7 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Nc3 b5 22. Bf1 Rc5 23. Rd4 Ne5 24. Nd5 Bxd5 25. exd5 g5 26. Re3 h5 27. g3 Rf8 28. Be2 Rf5 29. b4 Rc8 30. a4 Rh8 31. axb5 axb5 32. f4 gxf4 33. Rxf4 Rxf4 34. gxf4 Ng6 35. Bxb5 Nxf4 36. c4 h4 37. Bd7 Kf6 38. Bh3 Rg8 39. Bd7 Rh8 40. Bh3 Rb8 41. b5 Nxh3 42. Rxh3 Kg5 43. Kc2 Kg4 44. Re3 Re8 45. c5 dxc5 46. d6 e5 47. b6 h3 48. d7 Rd8 49. b7 h2 50. Re1 Kf5 51. Rb1 Rb8 52. Rd1 Rd8 53. Kc3 Rxd7 54. Rf1+ 1-0
After two weeks in Vietnam, the American delegation returns home on Halloween. That's not as scary as it sounds! Local star FM Danya Naroditsky had a disappointing result by his lofty standards, yet somehow he still finished in the top 10 (tied for 6th place). I am sure we can expect more next year when Danya returns for a second attempt to win U14. Fremont's little chess queen, Alisha Chawla, was no doubt outclassed but held her head high with 4.0/11. She finished with 50% in rounds 4-11 after losing her first three games on the international scene. Keep your head high!
- Sam beat IM P. Kartikeyan (2426) of India
- Danya drew with 2260 from Singapore
- Alisha beat UNR from Canada
- Sam beat GM Quang Liem Le (2583) of Vietnam
- Danya beat 2265 from Netherlands
- Alisha lost to UNR from New Zealand
- IM Sam Shankland has 8.0, BRONZE MEDAL and tied for 1st, 2552 performance
- FM Danya Naroditsky has 7.5, tied for 6th place
- Alisha Chawla has 4.0