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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 Sturbridge Wrap Up
 Nathan Smolensky
  April 2014

It Takes a Village… to host one of the most popular chess tournaments in Massachusetts. This year’s Eastern Class in Sturbridge attracted a spectacular 254 players, an increase of over 50% from 2013’s attendance of 165. Some, perhaps, were following the star of reigning U.S. Champion Gata Kamsky, who would reign supreme in this event as well, clear first in the master section with 4.5/5.

The achievement is more impressive than it may seem at first. Sole first in a five-round tournament demands impeccable consistency of results, and this event featured two other GMs with near-2700 USCF ratings, Brandeis student Sam Shankland and New York’s Aleksandr Lenderman. A clash between these two in the third round, with Shankland prevailing, would set up the key game of the tournament, a fourth round masterpiece by Kamsky featuring a remarkable bishop sacrifice on h7:


Two more GMs, Alexanders Ivanov (of Newton) and Fishbein, would be marred by early upsets, the former to NM Qibiao Wang in the first round:


GM Fishbein, meanwhile, would have his queen pickled in a third round encounter with FM Deepak Aaron:

Aaron (above, right) would end up the only player in the tournament to score against Kamsky (achieving a last-round draw) and would ultimately share 2nd – 5th place in the top section with Shankland, Lenderman, and IM Victor Shen.

Northeastern University professor Timothy Sage would share 1st – 5th in the expert section with Connecticut’s James Nitz, Maine’s Aaron Spencer, New Hampshire’s Arthur Tang, and Michael Mahoney of Medford, for a total of five co-champions representing four New England states. Mark Bourque, Joseph Bihlmeyer, and Peter Korzeb, all from Connecticut, would split top honors in the Class A section. Thomas Keegan and Adam Banakus would take sole firsts in the Class B and C sections, respectively, while Malachi Davis would sweep Class D. Camden Wagner and Michael Samuels would share tops in the Class E.

Finally, the weekend would also draw a veritable parade of the nation’s top juniors:

Michael Bodek and Arthur Shen, each over 2450 USCF, are two of the top 16-year-olds in the nation.

At only 12 years old, NM Nicholas De Checa is the reigning state champion of New York.

(Clockwise, from left): 11-year-old WFM Akshita Gorti, the stylish Carissa Yip of Chelmsford, and the top 11-year-old girl in the US, Martha Samadashvilli

All photos credit Tony Cortizas