Four Days Until Tulsa

by admin on March 24, 2008

Four more days until the first-ever U.S. Championship Qualifier!

This morning I checked out the advance entries (as of last Wednesday). There are 87 people on the list, plus two possibles. Surprisingly, there are only 7 grandmasters entered, and 12 international masters. With 7 slots available for the U.S. championship, I would say this creates a pretty good opportunity for an IM or another dark horse to qualify.

I’m number 59 on the list, and it looks as if I will be paired against someone rated in the 2425-2450 range in the first round. Of course the pairings could change because of late entries, but if it were just based on the advance entries list, I would be paired against IM Michael Brooks (2435) of Missouri. Just below him is FM Ray Robson (2427), who is one of the super youngsters in U.S. chess. I would love to add him to the list of prodigies I have faced (and sometimes beaten).

Random facts:

ChessLecture fans can root for Eugene Perelshteyn (the top seed!), Jesse Kraai (#7 seed), and former ChessLecturer Josh Friedel (#9 seed), in addition to yours truly.

Fans of this blog should also root for Andres Hortillosa, who is the #77 seed. I’m looking forward to meeting one of my blog readers for the first time! Interestingly, based on the advance entries Andres would be paired against Michael Aigner, a well-known chess trainer here in Northern California who has also visited this blog at least once. Michael has a huge positive score against me, so Andres, you’d better be careful.

California has the second-most entries of any state, with 12. Texas has the most, with 17. But in terms of quality, California leads the pack with 8 players over 2200 to Texas’s 5. By comparison, New York has only 5 players total, with 4 over 2200.

I haven’t done anything too special to prepare for the tournament. I did meet with a master friend of mine last night, and we went over a line that I’m thinking about playing as Black against 1. d4. (I won’t say anything more because I don’t want to give my opponents any hints.) But in general, I think that preparing a bunch of openings at the last minute is a terrible idea. The games will almost surely be decided in the later stages.

My main preparation, in fact, was buying a new chess clock! My old Saitek clock does not have a setting for the FIDE-style time control at this event, which allows you to accumulate time (30 seconds per move). So I shopped online and decided to buy a new Excalibur Game Timer 2. The consensus on the Internet seems to be that they are flimsier than the main alternative, the Chronos, but I’m not planning to subject it to a lot of wear and tear.

One of my chief concerns is that I will be playing with a 30-second time delay for the first time ever. It poses real questions of strategy. Some players in the U.S. Chess League are used to “living off the time delay” — that is, running their clocks down until they have less than a minute left, and then playing the rest of the game at a move-every-30-seconds tempo. I’m hoping to avoid that kind of time pressure. If I have to play blitz chess with these guys, at least while the position is still complicated, they’ll eat my lunch.

Dana’s Fearless Predictions: The winning score will be 5.5 out of 7, because anybody who goes into the last round at 5/6 will take a quick draw in order to clinch a qualifying spot. The seven qualifiers will include four grandmasters, two international masters, and one FIDE master or untitled player; two ChessLecturers; and two California players.

I definitely plan to update this blog from Tulsa every day, so keep posted, beginning on Friday! As far as I can tell, live coverage of this event will not be available at So this blog may be the first place to look for news!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Aigner March 24, 2008 at 10:58 pm

I will be blogging daily from Tulsa as well. Danya, see you on Thursday or Friday and best of luck!


Michael Aigner March 24, 2008 at 10:59 pm

Oh dear, what a freudian slip! I just confused Dana with Danya, the one and only Daniel Naroditsky. If this is an omen, it must be a good one.


Rob March 25, 2008 at 6:03 am

Good luck to you Dana from France…


admin March 25, 2008 at 8:38 am


Good luck to you, too! It will be fun to play a tournament in this brave new world, where half the action occurs in the tournament hall and half occurs in the blogosphere.

Maybe I should change my name to Danya! It might intimidate some of my opponents…


admin March 25, 2008 at 8:53 am

By the way, I hope that everyone will check out Michael’s blog at I haven’t put up a link to it yet on my main page, but I will. You can read right now about the incredible results of the young Bay Area stars, Danya Naroditsky and Steven Zierk, at the Far West Open in Reno last weekend.

By the way, I’ve played Steven one time, and I lost in even more embarrassing fashion than I did against Nicholas Nip. I have recovered from my embarrassment against Nip sufficiently that I discussed that game on this blog. However, the game with Zierk was so embarrassing that it will *never*, *never* see the light of day. It will burn in the deepest, darkest recesses of my memory forevermore. Basically, Steven lost a piece for zero compensation, and then I gave him a little, then I gave him a lot, then we got to a drawn endgame which I was too proud to admit was drawn, and then I lost on time.

Anyway, I’m glad to see that Steven is doing so well, and clearly his play in the second part of our game is more indicative of his talent than his play in the first part, when he blundered the piece.


Jhonny Rabbit March 28, 2008 at 2:16 pm

I thought you were going to blog, we don’t evn have pairings


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