The 1st Annual Washington International was held July 28 - Aug 1 just outside of Washington, DC. The strong field was led by Gata Kamsky, Alexander Onischuk, and Timur Gareev. A total of 55 players participated in the nine-round tournament. It was a nine-round tournament with a time control of 40/90, SD/30 with a 30" increment. The first two rounds had a large number of upsets. The highest rated to lose was GM Sergi Azarov from Belarus. He lost to local untitled player Jared Defibaugh.


Another upset was the defeat of GM Kidambi Sundararajan (IND) by WIM Mihaela Foisor (ROU) in Round 1. In addition to Mihaela, three other members of the Foisor family played in the tournament, IMs Ovidu-Doru and Cristina-Adela and WGM Sabina. After two rounds, the Foisor clan was at plus six having won six out of eight games with only two draws!In Round 2, FM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (2351) was able to draw GM Gata Kamsky (2744). Alex was under time pressure from move 30 with around one minute on his clock until they reached the time control. He was able to trade into an even endgame and then sack his knight for the second to last pawn, leaving Kamsky with a rook pawn and the wrong bishop.

In Round 3, most of the GMs won except for the big upset when World U-8 Champion Awonder Liang defeated local GM Larry Kaufman. The clock was a big factor at the end of this game.

Entering Round 4, only two players had perfect scores: GM Timus Gareev (UZB now USA) and IM Justin Sarkar(USA). They played an 88-move game that Justin was able to draw after he recreated a position that had also occurred on moves 82 and 86. In the final position, Timur had a queen, bishop, and three pawns against a queen and four pawns.

In Round 5, Gata Kamsky defeated Timur Gareev in a queen and pawn endgame. Gata was only up a pawn but was able to turn it into a win.

In the other top game of Round 5, Alex Onishuck won a very nice game against Justin Sarkar.

At the end of Round 5, two players were tied for 1st at 4.5 - Kamsky and Onischuk. Alex Shabalov was alone at 4.0.At just past the half way point, several players were having outstanding tournaments and were within reach of IM norms. Two players had met their non-US player requirement and were at 3-2: FM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (2351) had a 2510 performance and Francsico Guadalupe II (2214) had a 2460 performance. Three players needed to play one more non-US player and were playing quite well. Four players were at 3-2: Christopher Gu (2225) with a 2585 performance, Jared Defibaugh (2263) with a 2480 performace, Mihaela Foisor (ROU) with a 2459 performace and FM Michael Bodek (2324) with a 2394 performace.

Nine-year old Awonder Liang (1922) was even at 2.5 and had a 2272 performace with a win and a draw against GMs. His FIDE rating is clearly far from his current playing strength.

On the top boards, Kamsky and Onischuk drew in Round 6 while Gareev defeated Shabalov, leading to a tightening of the race with GMs Azarov, Gareev, and Gelashvili only a half a point behind the leaders. Of the six players on pace for norms, five lost with the only win coming when Ostrovskiy defeated Mihaela Foisor.

In Round 7, Kamsky drew with Azarov, and Onischuk drew with Gelashvili. With Gareev defeating FM Thomas Bartell and GM Shabalov defeating Ostrovskiy, there were now three players at 5.5 (Kamsky, Onischuk, and Gareev) and three at 5.0 (Azarov, Gelashvili, and Shabalov).

In Round 8, the top three boards were all draws (Gareev-Onischuk, Shabalov-Kamsky, and Azarov-Shabalov). But wins by GMs Joel Benjamin, Josh Friedel, Mikheil Kekelidze, and IM Adam Hunt led to seven players being 1/2 point behind the leaders. So going into the last round, 10 players were in position to at least tie for first.

Given that the top three players had already played each other, they were paired with players in the 5.5 score group. While Onischuk drew Azarov and Gareev drew Gelashvili, Kamsky was able to defeat Benjamin in a wild game to finish first at 7-2 and collect the first prize of $5000. Tied at Second - Fourth were Shabalov, Gareev, and Onischuk, and each took home $2000.

In the end, two players, Aleksandr Ostrovskiy and Kevin Wang, missed earning IM norms by only a few performance rating points as the GMs and IMs were able to come back in the second half of the tournament. Of the top 18 finishing players, there were only two FMs and one non-titled player (Wang). All the others were GMs or IMs.

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