Sunday, September 10, 2006

FM Steve Stoyko at the NJ Open


Black to play and win after 22.Nc5+?

This past Thursday at the Kenilworth Chess Club, FM Steve Stoyko showed us two of his better games from the recent New Jersey Open Championship (see crosstable here), which I have annotated at our website, based on Steve's own comments. The diagram above comes from his fourth round game with David Grasso.

Though a number of things change from year to year at the annual New Jersey Open Chess Championship (including the location, round times, and attendance), there is one thing you can count on: Steve Stoyko will not only play but he will compete closely for the top prize. Steve has been playing in the tournament since the late 1960s and has won the event twice, in 1973 and 1983. He has had the same score as the champion on at least five other occasions, losing his share of the title on tie-breaks. Having been the beneficiary of other tie-break situations, Steve is not bitter. But he remains unhappy about the 1988 championship, where he took clear second to IM Leonid Bass (who, as far as anyone knows, has never had a residence or driving license in New Jersey). Bass claimed to have recently moved to the state and was therefore given the title of New Jersey Champion. Apparently, he moved out of the state shortly thereafter, perhaps fearing Stoyko's wrath...

This year, Steve had another chance to tie for first, if he had only managed to win his last round game against defending champion Tom Bartell. Despite emerging from the opening with the slightly better chances, however, Steve could make no progress against Tom's careful play and agreed to split the point.

In a typical NJ Open irony for Steve, he shared the second-highest score with IM Dean Ippolito (at 4.5 each) but was given third place on tie-breaks. Such minor misfortunes only spur Steve on, however, and it's certain he will play again next year.

I will be posting the games from champion Evan D. Ju early this coming week, as soon as I finish annotating them.

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