Smirin wins Clark Street Capital Grandmaster Invitational

Grandmaster Ilya Smirin of Israel ran away with the first Clark Street Capital Grandmaster Invitational, held April 12-16 in downtown Chicago, scoring an undefeated 7½-1½. Smirin took home the $3,000 first prize.

GM Ilya Smirin was the runaway winner ( photo: Keith Ammann )

GM Ilya Smirin was the runaway winner (photo: Keith Ammann)

Three players tied for second in this bloodthirsty event. GM Nikola Mitkov (representing the FYR of Macedonia and Mt. Prospect) GM Akshat Chandra of St. Louis, and Robert Perez of Chicago. Mitkov and Chandra each won five games and lost two, while Robert Perez had six wins, three losses, and zero draws!

Robert Perez ( photo: Keith Ammann )

Robert Perez (photo: Keith Ammann)

By tying for second, Robert earned his first International Master norm (as TD Daniel Parmet pointed out, Perez had actually clinched his norm in round 7), and was in contention for a Grandmaster norm until losing to Smirin in Round 8. The three players split $3,500.

FM Joshua Colas from White Plains, NY, a member of the Webster University chess team, also won an IM norm by tying for fifth place with 5-4. Colas finished in style by GM Vladimir Georgiev (FYR of Macedonia & Naperville) in the final round.

FM Joshua Colas earned an IM norm ( photo: Keith Ammann )

FM Joshua Colas earned an IM norm (photo: Keith Ammann)

Colas was joined in the +1 pileup by GM Priyadharshan Kannappan (India), IM Pavlo Vorontsov (Ukraine), GM Alexander Fishbein (New Jersey), and FM Zhaozhi Li (Glenview).

The masters who finished out of the money were also exceptionally strong: FM Aaron Grabinsky (Oregon), reigning Illinois co-champion Georgiev, many times Illinois champions IM Angelo Young and FM Albert Chow, and six talented young local players: FM David Peng, Chicago blitz co-champion Gopal Menon, Matthew Stevens, Jacob Furfine, Aakaash Meduri, and Rachel Ulrich. (OK, Rachel is from Appleton, Wisconsin, but we consider her an honorary Chicagoan.) Thanks to all these veterans and young stars for participating in our inaugural FIDE event!

( courtesy Daniel Parmet )

(courtesy Daniel Parmet)

There simply would have been no event without the generous sponsorship, vision, and drive of Jon Winick of Clark Street Capital Management.

Jon Winick welcomes the players at the opening ceremonies ( photo: Keith Ammann )

Jon Winick welcomes the players at the opening ceremonies (photo: Keith Ammann)

Grandmaster Dmitry Gurevich (the other reigning Illinois co-champion!) was a prime mover in the planning of this event and recruiting players; Grandmasters Mesgen Amanov, Boris Avrukh, and Alex Onischuk provided invaluable advice and critical support. Glenn Panner and Daniel Parmet went far beyond the traditional thankless duties of arbiters, as they were also involved in planning the event, recruiting players, and publicity.

Our hosts at the two beautiful playing sites also deserve special thanks. Avant provided a spectacular site at 222 N. LaSalle for the first three days: the players played in eight glass-walled conference rooms. The gracious Carolyn Blackman Gasbarra went out of her way to make us feel welcome.

On Saturday, the tournament moved from the Loop to a different kind of spectacular on the New East Side. Jai Bhansali and family donated the 400 E. Randolph playing site, and the building staff responded promptly when the tournament room became too warm during Saturday afternoon's heat wave.

Until the S-curve was straightened a couple decades ago, 400 E. Randolph was EAST of Lake Shore Drive ( Credit: 400 E. Randolph )

Until the S-curve was straightened a couple decades ago, 400 E. Randolph was EAST of Lake Shore Drive (Credit: 400 E. Randolph)

For the Chicago Chess Center, getting Jon Winick on Channel 2 to talk up the event. Keith Ammann took marvelous photos (more to follow), and Bill Brock was chief organizer.

The Chicago Chess Center is here to serve all Chicagoans who want to play chess, from absolute beginner to grandmaster. We would like to do many more events like these at all levels!

P.S. Games from rounds 7-9 will follow in the next day or so.