GM Aleksandr Lenderman
To rave reviews, the Manhattan Open, held August 3-5, moved this year to the luxurious Crowne Plaza on Broadway. The Crowne Plaza offers several floors worth of welcoming shops and restaurants, and with its conference rooms on the 4th floor named Act I, Act II, et seq., or otherwise named after the avenues of Manhattan, it was a fittingly glamorous scene. But any upstart with a dream of glory quickly had their hopes dashed as Aleksandr Lenderman crushed the Open section with a 5-0 score. Settling for a 7-way tie for 2nd at 4-1 were some of the usual suspects - Djurabek Khamrakulov, Gil Popilski, David Brodsky, and myself; and 3 teenagers who each scored a nice upset on the last day - Justin Chen, Akira Nakada, and Aravind Kumar.
In Round 2, Lenderman faced the peripatetic IM Jay Bonin in a dramatic game.
IM Jay Bonin
Figuring out how close it really was is an exercise in subjectivity as Jay felt that he put together a pretty good attack - and he complimented Alex on a brilliant defense - whereas Alex seems to think that he had it under control the whole way. (notes by Lenderman).
The tournament offered two different schedules. As usual, those who try to economize by playing in the faster schedule (in this case, the 2-day rather than the 3-day) are faced with a smaller group with higher average ratings. After winning in round 1 of the 2-day, I did not want to get paired up under the faster time control, so I employed the rare (and somewhat cynical) move of taking a round 2 bye. But then in round 3, I could not convert to a win against the young Texan Bovey Liu, so I was 2-1 after 3 rounds. This meant that I would definitely have to win in rounds 4 and 5 when I returned the next day.
Bovey Liu (17)
After 3 rounds, four players had a perfect score, leading to the round 4 pairings Alexsandr Lenderman - Hans Niemann, and Gil Popilski - Justin Paul. Both GMs, Lenderman and Popilski, won, which led to their round 5 matchup. In very significant other round 4 action, Justin Chen upset Irina Krush, and Akira Nakada took down Brandon Jacobson. Meanwhile, I defeated the popular chess teacher Juan Sena to stay in contention.
During round 5 there was a buzz in the playing hall. World Champion Anatoly Karpov was visiting, and taking intent interest in some of the games in progress! Karpov was in town as during the following week he would be the featured instructor in Max Dlugy's chess camp. While visiting the Manhattan Open, Karpov was generous with his time and ended up in many selfies as parents and kids captured their moments with a chess legend.
In round 5, Lenderman put the squeeze on Popilski and eventually emerged a pawn up in a knight ending which Lenderman was able to convert, although it was close. To get into the tie for second, I was able to defeat Justin Paul, while Aravind Kumar upset Niemann, Nakada stunned with another upset, this time against Josh Colas, and Brodsky defeated Wesley Wang. Khamrakulov's draw against Justin Chen landed them both in the 7-way tie for second. And the tragic hero of this story was Jay Bonin, who was winning against Robert Perez, but Perez was able to reduce it finally to K+N+N v. K, and Bonin was not able to score the full point necessary to get to the promised land.
GM Michael Rohde