Alberta Chess Association

By: Vlad Rekhson

2012 will mark the 7th edition of the Edmonton International Chess Festival.  After organizing this tournament for the past six years, I am delighted that my good friend, Micah Hughey decided to take over as the event organizer. .

The idea to hold an international norms tournament in Edmonton with GM/IM norm opportunities, was first brought up to me by GM Alexander Moiseenko during the 2005 Canadian Open.  Alexander asked me, why don't you guys hold norm tournaments in Edmonton?  Well, I answered, we really don't have anyone who would have a realistic chance to obtain a norm.  Then, after thinking about it some more, I figured, we might as well offer such a chance to entice the top players to improve and eventually obtain the required norms.  In the seven years, since the first Edmonton International, Edmonton has obtained one IM, and at least two more players with realistic chances to obtain the title in the near future.  While, it is possible that this did not have a direct relation to the Edmonton Internationals, few would argue that those events helped boost the level of chess in Edmonton and across the province.
From the onset, I decided that while Internationals might take different forms from year to year, three things should remain constant.  1) The tournament should be annual. 2) The tournament should offer norm opportunities, either both GM and IM, or just IM. 3) This must be a real tournament with a champion, rather than something artificial made up for the purpose of offering someone norms.  Additionally, every International has been accompanied by a Reserves section where anyone could play, as well as, exciting side events like lectures and simuls conducted by the top players.
With the help of the Edmonton Chess Club, the Alberta Chess Association and the Alberta chess community at large, the first International was staged in April 2006.  The first event was going to offer IM norm opportunities.  It was a 10 player Round-Robin, a format which was adopted in five out of six future Internationals.  Unlike future Internationals, no GMs were present in this event.  The winner was IM Peter Vavrak from Slovakia with a score of 7/9.  Second was shared by IM (and future GM) Jesse Kraai and FM Dmitry Zilberstein (both from the US) with 6.5/9 each.  With this performance, Dmitry was able to earn his last IM norm and obtained the title shortly after. 
The best Albertan in this event, was Rob Gardner who scored 4/9.  Rob was instrumental in deciding the tournament winner, as in the last round he scored an upset victory over IM Kraai, thus denying him the title.

Gardner,Robert (2240) - IM Kraai,Jesse (2466)
Edmonton int. Edmonton CAN (9), 17.04.2006
1.f4 b6 2.e4 Bb7 3.d3 e6 4.c4 f5 5.e5 d6 6.Nf3 dxe5 7.Nxe5 Nf6 8.Nd2 Bd6 9.Ndf3 0-0 10.Be2 c5 11.b3 Nbd7 12.Bb2 Ng4 13.Qd2 Bxe5 14.fxe5 f4 15.h3 Ne3 16.g3 Nf5 17.gxf4 Nh4 18.0-0 Qe7 19.Nxh4 Qxh4 20.Qe3 Rf7 21.Bg4 Nf8 22.Kh2 h5 23.Bf3 Bxf3 24.Rxf3 Rf5 25.Rg1 Rd8 26.d4 cxd4 27.Bxd4 Qe7 28.Bc3 Rd7 29.Rf2 Qc5 30.Qxc5 bxc5 31.Rg5 Rxg5 32.fxg5 Ng6 33.Rd2 Nxe5 34.Rxd7 Nxd7 35.Kg3 Kf7 36.Kf4 g6 37.Be5 Ke7 38.Bc7 a6 39.a3 Nf8 40.b4 cxb4 41.axb4 Kd7 42.Ba5 Kd6 43.b5 e5+ 44.Ke3 Ne6 45.bxa6 Kc6 46.h4 Nf4 47.Kf3 Nd3 48.a7 Kb7 49.Bb6 Nb2 50.c5 Nc4 51.Ke4 1-0

The second International edition took place over the Heritage long weekend in the beginning of August, 2007.  This event was quite a bit stronger then the first edition.  It consisted of GMs Melikset Khachiyan (GM Levon Aronian’s first coach) and Valeriy Aveskulov, as well as, GM elect Jesse Kraai who was waiting for the official ratification of his title and IM Axel Bachman, who already had enough GM norms and was just waiting for his rating to get over 2500 (something which he has done quite quickly after this tournament).  GM Melikset Khachiyan from the US, put together a very confident performance and won with 7.5/9.  Second went to GM Jesse Kraai (6.5/9) and third was taken by another American player-the legendary IM John Donaldson (6/9).  The best Albertans in this event were FM Greg Huber and Zhichao Li with 3.5/9 each.  FM Huber pulled off the biggest upset, as he defeated the pre-tournament favourite, GM Valeriy Aveskulov from Ukraine.

FM Huber,Gregory (2211) - GM Aveskulov,Valeriy (2539)
Edmonton International, 2007 Edmonton, Canada (2), 03.08.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.g3 b5 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.d3 e6 6.Nf3 d6 7.0-0 Be7 8.b3 Nf6 9.Bb2 Nbd7 10.Nd2 Qb6 11.h3 h5 12.a4 Rb8 13.axb5 axb5 14.Ne2 e5 15.c3 h4 16.d4 cxd4 17.cxd4 hxg3 18.Nxg3 g6 19.Re1 Nh5 20.Nxh5 Rxh5 21.Nf1 Bf6 22.d5 Bh4 23.Re2 f5 24.exf5 Nf6 25.Bd4 Qc7 26.f4 Kf8 27.fxe5 Nxd5 28.exd6 Qf7 29.Qd2 Bg5 30.fxg6 Qd7 31.Rf2+ Kg8 32.Qe2 Rh4 33.Qe5 Nf4 34.Rxf4 1-0

The third Edmonton International was once again held over the Heritage long weekend in August, 2008.  Overall this was the strongest Edmonton International to date, as it consisted of 5 GMs (plus one GM elect), and 3 IMs.  This was the only edition which was not held in a 10 player Round-Robin format, and was a high rated Swiss instead (2200 CFC+ players were allowed to join).  This was also the first International that offered GM as well as IM norm opportunities.
The original inspiration of the Internationals-GM Alexander Moiseenko from Ukraine played in this edition and won it with 7/9.   American GM, Alexander Shabalov finished second with 6.5/9.  Third was shared by Indian GM, Surya Ganguly and American GM Elect, Josh Friedel with 5.5/9 each.  Canadian FM (and now IM) Raja Panjwani scored 5/9 which was good enough for his second IM norm.  IM Edward Porper had just moved to Edmonton right before this event and he was the best Albertan with 5/9.  A number of other Albertans did well, as FM Dale Haessel, Jeff Reeve, Peter Steven, and another new Albertan-Vladimir Pechenkin all scored 4.5/9.

GM Shabalov,Alexander (2611) - GM Moiseenko,Alexander (2632)
3rd Edmonton International (6), 03.08.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.Bd3 Be6 12.0-0 Bxd5 13.exd5 Ne7 14.Qh5 e4 15.Be2 Bg7 16.c3 0-0 17.Nc2 f4 18.f3 f5 19.fxe4 fxe4 20.Bg4 Kh8 21.Rae1 Be5 22.Be6 e3 23.g3 Qb6 24.Kh1 fxg3 25.hxg3 e2 26.Rf3 Rxf3 27.Qxf3 Ng6 28.Ne3 Rf8 29.Nf5 b4 30.c4 Qa5 31.Qb3 Ne7 32.g4 Qd8 33.Qh3 Ng6 34.Qh6 Nf4 35.Kg1 Qf6 36.Qxf6+ Rxf6 37.Kf2 Bxb2 38.Kf3 Bc3 39.Kxf4 Bxe1 40.Kf3 Bg3 41.Kxe2 Be5 42.Kd3 a5 43.Kc2 Rg6 44.Nh4 Rh6 45.Nf3 Bf4 46.g5 Rh1 47.Kb3 Rc1 48.Ka4 Rc3 49.Nd4 Ra3+ 50.Kb5 Rxa2 51.c5 dxc5 52.Kxc5 Be3 0-1

The fourth edition of the Edmonton Internationals was the only one held in winter.  Due to the Canadian Open being staged in Edmonton in the summer of 2009, we decided to move the International to December.  This was the first time that GM norms were offered in a Round-Robin format.  GMs Josh Friedel from the US and Victor Mikhalevski from Israel shared first with 7/9, but due to a better tie-break (win head to head) GM Friedel was crowned the official champion.  Third place went to American IM, Marc Esserman, who scored 6.5/9.  Originally the required score for a GM norm was supposed to be 6.5/9; however, due to a last minute withdrawal a replacement that was high rated enough could not be found, thus a GM norm requirement was a very difficult 7/9.  Marc's performance rating was only a few points shy of the required 2600, still this was a tremendous result by him.   FM Eric Hansen was the top scoring Albertan with 4/9.

GM Friedel,Josh (2551) - GM Mikhalevski,Victor (2607)
2009 Edmonton International (4.1), 19.12.2009
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Nb8 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 15.a4 Nb6 16.b3 Bg7 17.a5 Nbd7 18.d5 Qe7 19.c4 c5 20.cxb5 axb5 21.b4 c4 22.Ne2 Qf8 23.Nc3 Ba6 24.g4 Reb8 25.Be3 Ne8 26.Qd2 Nc7 27.Kh2 Nf6 28.Rg1 Kh8 29.Nh4 Qe7 30.Bg5 Rg8 31.Rg3 Bc8 32.Rf1 Bd7 33.f4 h6 34.Rgf3 exf4 35.Bxf4 Nh7 36.Bg3 Be8 37.e5 Bxe5 38.Re1 Ng5 39.Rxe5 dxe5 40.d6 Rd8 41.Qe3 Rxd6 42.Qxe5+ Qxe5 43.Bxe5+ f6 44.Bxd6 Nxf3+ 45.Nxf3 Na6 46.Nd4 Kg7 47.Kg3 Bd7 48.Ndxb5 Re8 49.Kf2 Re6 50.Bd1 Bc6 51.Be2 Bxb5 52.Nxb5 c3 53.Bd3 g5 54.Nd4 Rxd6 55.Nf5+ Kf8 56.Nxd6 Nxb4 57.Bf5 Ke7 58.Nb5 c2 59.Bxc2 Nxc2 60.a6 1-0

The fifth edition was returned to August in 2010.  3 GMs participated in this event, which due to a relatively low average rating was only offering IM norm opportunities.  Indian GM, Magesh Panchanathan scored the highest ever result of 8.5/9!  He had an amazing start of 7/7 and was only stopped by IM Edward Porper after a back and forth game.  Second place went to GM Jesse Kraai from the US with 6.5/9.  Third place went to Edmontonian IM, Edward Porper with 6.5/9.
This was the first International participation of the 11 year old Edmontonian Richard Wang.  Richard proved that his place in this event was secure for years to come as he scored an impressive 4.5/9 against an average opposition of 2345.  Going into round 8, Richard actually kept us on our toes as he had IM norm chances, but he needed to win his last two games.  This task proved to be a little more than Richard could handle at this time since his opponents were GM Jesse Kraai and IM Edward Porper. 

Wang,Richard (2190) - GM Kekelidze,Mikheil (2487)
2010 Edmonton International Edmonton Alberta (4), 30.07.2010
1.d4 g6 2.Nf3 Bg7 3.c3 Nf6 4.Bg5 0-0 5.Nbd2 d6 6.e4 Nc6 7.Bc4 Qe8 8.0-0 e5 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.b4 b6 11.Qe2 a5 12.a3 Nd8 13.bxa5 Rxa5 14.Nb3 Ra7 15.a4 Nb7 16.Bb5 Qe6 17.Bc4 Qe8 18.Bb5 c6 19.Bc4 Nd6 20.Nfd2 Nxc4 21.Nxc4 Ba6 22.a5 Qe6 23.Nbd2 bxa5 24.Rxa5 Bxc4 25.Nxc4 Rxa5 26.Nxa5 Ra8 27.Nc4 Ra4 28.Nd2 h5 29.f3 Bf8 30.Rb1 Nd7 31.Be3 Bc5 32.h3 Qd6 33.Kh2 Ra2 34.Bxc5 Nxc5 35.Nc4 Rxe2 36.Nxd6 Ne6 37.Rb8+ Kg7 38.Rb7 Nf4 39.Nxf7 Nxg2 40.Nxe5+ Kf6 41.Nxc6 Nh4+ 42.Kg3 g5 43.e5+ Kg6 44.Ne7+ Kh6 45.Ng8+ Kg6 46.Ne7+ ˝-˝

Last year’s edition once again was held in August.  The tournament had 2 GMs thus GM norms were not possible, but this time it included two top American female players among the participants.  American GM, Joel Benjamin was first with 7/9.  Another US representative, GM Alexander Shabalov finished second with 6.5/9.  Third was taken by Edmonton IM, Edward Porper with 5.5/9.  Another Edmontonian, FM Vladimir Pechenkin, had quite a remarkable event.  He scored a very impressive 5/9, but it was even more impressive how he has done that.  Vlad finished the tournament with a super solid 8 draws and one victory!

Gardner,Robert (2188) - FM Melekhina,Alisa (2263)
6th Edmonton International Festival Edmonton - Canada (3), 28.07.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3 e5 7.d5 Na6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Be3 Nc5 10.Nd2 a5 11.g4 c6 12.Qf3 Bd7 13.Be2 a4 14.g5 Nh7 15.gxh6 Bf6 16.0-0-0 Qa5 17.Ndb1 Be7 18.h4 Rac8 19.Rdg1 b5 20.Bxc5 b4 21.Bxb4 Qxb4 22.a3 Qa5 23.dxc6 Bxc6 24.Nd5 Bxd5 25.exd5 Rb8 26.Bd3 Qb6 27.Qf5 Qxb2+ 28.Kd1 Ng5 29.Rxg5 Bxg5 30.Qxg5 Qb3+ 31.Ke2 e4 32.Bxe4 Qxc4+ 33.Ke3 Rb3+ 34.Kf4 Qd4 35.f3 Qe3+ 36.Kg3 Qxe4 37.Nd2 f6 38.Nxe4 fxg5 39.Nxg5 Rxa3 40.Re1 Rd3 41.Re7 Rxd5 42.Rg7+ Kh8 43.Rh7+ Kg8 44.Rg7+ Kh8 ˝-˝

Looking into the future, the 7th International edition looks very exciting.  GM Nigel Short will be the highest ever participant of the Edmonton Internationals, but he can expect some tough resistance from the other GMs, as well as some local players.


Alberta Chess Association

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