U.S. Tops Cuba, Brazil to Kick Off Pan-Am Continental
The U.S. team scored a big victory in round 1 of the Pan-American Team Championship by defeating Cuba, the No. 1 seed in the event. GM Sam Shankland scored the lone victory for the Americans.
|2.1||GM||Dominguez Perez, Leinier||2723||-||GM||Onischuk, Alexander||2660||½ - ½|
|2.2||GM||Bruzon Batista, Lazaro||2701||-||GM||Akobian, Varuzhan||2615||½ - ½|
|2.3||GM||Quesada Perez, Yuniesky||2595||-||GM||Robson, Ray||2615||½ - ½|
|2.4||GM||Ortiz Suarez, Isan Reynaldo||2595||-||GM||Shankland, Samuel L||2595||0 - 1|
"This was probably our hardest match," Shankland said. "But this was just the first round."
GMs Alex Onischuk and Varuzhan Akobian managed to draw Cuba's 2700-rated GMs on boards 1 and 2, and another solid draw by GM Ray Robson helped clinch the match.
"At some point, Alex's position was shaky, but he found b5 and Ba6," Akobian said. "After that it was still shaky, but it isn't easy to break through."
U.S. Coach GM Yury Shulman said he was worried in the early going.
"Alex was worse, Sam had an edge and Var and Ray were both equal," Shulman said. "When Sam won and Alex played Rb6, it was clear we'd win. In fact, towards the end Alex could have even played on if it was a must-win, but a draw secured the match."
In round 2, a victory by GM Alex Lenderman and another win by Shankland helped the U.S. move to 2-0.
|Rtg||1 : 3|
|1.1||GM||Mecking, Henrique||2604||-||GM||Onischuk, Alexander||2660||½ - ½|
|1.2||GM||Milos, Gilberto||2580||-||GM||Akobian, Varuzhan||2615||½ - ½|
|1.3||GM||El Debs, Felipe De Cresce||2525||-||GM||Lenderman, Aleksandr||2619||0 - 1|
|1.4||IM||Di Berardino, Diego Rafael||2495||-||GM||Shankland, Samuel L||2595||0 - 1|
The Continental dates back to 1970, yet this year is the first in which the United States has sent a team. Team Captain IM John Donaldson commented that, "It is only fitting that the United States, which has traditionally done well in team competitions, should finally be entered. American players have rarely participated in official FIDE events in the Americas."
Not to be confused with the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship, The Pan American Continental is an official FIDE team tournament which qualifies one team from North and South America to the World Team Championship. This is perhaps the most important factor for the American team as they fight to qualify for the World Team, but competitive goals are not the only reason the United States is participating. Over recent years, the U.S. Chess Federation has worked hard to develop stronger relationships with other countries and FIDE, and the American presence at this event represents renewed commitment toward that end.