One of my first tournaments on American soil was the Jimmy Quon Memorial in Los Angeles. It was back then in January when Ankit Gupta invited me for the first Metropolitan International in August. Ankit is a decent chess player, a national master who sometimes takes part in his own events. Invitations for tournaments with conditions are very rare in USA and a friend of mine advised me to always accept such offers. Moreover, Ankit had great plans, and I already knew that he keeps his promises. Back in January it was already known that the top-seeded will be Michael Adams and Loek van Wely.
The Metropolitan Inernational (17-21 August) was predecessed by a chess camp. The organizer Ankit Gupta seized the opportunity to use both Michael Adams and Loek van Wely as lecturers in a five-day-event, which was attended by 34 children, some of the most talanted in the area. On the first day of the tournament when seeing Adams I asked him how did the camp go. „Oh, it was tough, really tough, I feel so exhausted now.“ Indeed, the intensitivity of the learning process was great, and the young chessplayers had approximately eight hours tutoring each day. Some of them felt already quite comfortable with their knowledge and did not pay much respect to their famous teachers. One of the days saw two young gentlemen analizing their game without paying attention to Adams‘ tries to suggest a move. „This is correct, that is the theory“, was their reply, and they proceeded the analyse without bothering to have a look at Grandmaster‘s suggestions...Still, The English GM was luckier than his Netherland‘s collegue-who was demanded by one of his students to show his GM certificate...
After such a good school it is no wonder that Adams appeared fully armed, and quite eager at the start of the event. The speed with which he passed the first six round was also too fast for the others- 5.5/6 (draw against Van Wely only). His closest pursuer was the Uzbec GM Gareev, who had a strong tournament by defeating in the process both Akobian and Van Wely (the latter, in a minuature). After drawing each other in round seven, a very curious situation arose in the next round, when Adams had already played with all his five nearest rivals. I had the luck to repeat Black and face the Super GM. Such opportunities in life are very rare, and I am really grateful whenever I can face an opposition of that calibre. Moreover, the outcome was not as bad as expected :)
Going into the last round Adams kept a half-point lead. After a couple of hours of play the games of his pursuers on boards two and three ended peacefully, and now he only needed a draw (with the black pieces) to secure the first price, and the beautiful Svarowsky trophee. On the other hand his rival, IM Hungasky desperately needed a win to fulfil a GM norm. The Englishman proved better and won with a neat rook sacrifice to finish the event a full point ahead of the field 7.5/9.
Second place was shared between six players- GMs L. van Wely, M.Amanov, R.Ruck, T.Gareev, D.Bojkov and the young and perspective American IM Conrad Holt. The latter was very close to a GM norm, but failed short of avarage rating. Thus, the only player a norm was Michael Lee from Washington- he made an IM norm after scoring 5.5/9, and by keeping his concentration throughout the whole event thanks to his headphones.
It was a tough, but sweet week for Adams, and it will get even worse as the World Cup starts in some days. It was not supposed to happen like that, but as FIDE changed the dates of the Cup once that the Super-GM already agreed to play in L.A. he had no choice. A curious fact is that Adams will play in round one against M. Paragua, a player who was also in the list of the Metropolitan International, but who decided to rest before the more important event.
The change of dates affected one of Gupta‘s ideas. Throughout the event there was a special contest for best game of the day. Draws did not count in the contest as the daily prices were various apple products (iPads, Shuffles, and Nano's). Those prices had to be judjed by two famous young GMs- Anish Giri and Fabiano Caruana, but they also had to withdraw at the very last moment for the sake of the World Cup. IM David Pruess did the judjement instead together with the tournament organizer.
Despite the difficulties, the tournament was billed the strongest in Los Angeles since 1988 (as one of the participants IM Jack Peters stated) and successfully crowned Gupta‘s attempts to revive the chess life in the megapolis. For his intense work he received the price- Organizer of the Year by USCF.
The tournament was professionally covered by Christine Hartman and Christian Glawe of IceHat Creative (videos) and Betsy Dynako (photographer). You can enjoy her great pictures: