Back in the tournament

by admin on March 29, 2008

A quick update between rounds… I won in both round three and round four, so I now have a score of 2-2 and feel as if I’m back in the tournament. When I told my wife last night about my nervousness with this funny time control, she said, “Why? It should be the perfect thing for you!” That’s because you can never get into the sort of soul-sucking, six-moves-in-one-minute frenzy that you can in a regular time control. At breakfast this morning, Josh Friedel said the same thing. “I don’t like this time control,” he said, “because it helps people who don’t manage their time well. I do manage my time well, I’m usually ahead of my opponents on time, so I don’t like it.” Of course, I’m exactly the opposite. I don’t manage my time well, so this time control should help me.

So I approached my games today in a much more positive state of mind.

It didn’t hurt that I was paired against lower-rated players in both rounds. This is called the “Swiss Gambit.” Lose your early games so that you’ll have easier opposition, and then mow them down. Of course, I would never do that intentionally, but it seems to be working pretty well, as I played an 1800 player and then a 1500 player (!), one of the lowest-rated people in the tournament.

Round three was, no question about it, a breakthrough game for me. My opponent, Jacob Berger, is one of the best junior players in Oklahoma, and obviously more dangerous than his rating implied. I played one of my “unusual” (i.e., dubious) opening variations, and he found a knight sacrifice that won four pawns. Four pawns for a piece! For the longest time I was just barely hanging on. Both sides had active pieces, and both kings were somewhat exposed, so it was not clear that I was losing, but I had to play extremely creative chess to survive. Maybe I’ll show a couple of key positions from the game after I’ve had a chance to go over it.

Anyway, I finally managed to get him to make a move that immobilized his pawns, and then suddenly the game completely changed. His pawns fell one after another, until finally we got to an endgame where I was a piece up, for no pawns!

But it wasn’t over yet. He was able to sac his remaining bishop for my last remaining pawn, and so we got to the dreaded K+B+N versus K endgame. You can study this endgame all you want, but you never know until it really happens whether you can win it (especially playing a move every 30 seconds). This was the first time I’ve ever had it in a tournament game. I’m glad so say that I handled it correctly, and he resigned on move 104 (which was move 30 of the 50-move countdown).

Besides being my first ever K+B+N endgame, it was also the first 100-move game I’ve ever won. I’ve played 100-move games before, but they were all draws or losses.

After that ordeal, round four was much easier. I played a mainstream opening for a change, the Hubner Variation of the Nimzo-Indian. My opponent, Jeremy Good, didn’t really seem to understand it very well. Eventually I won a pawn, and from then on his body language just completely spelled “I’m losing.” He actually had some chances to create counterplay, if he hadn’t gotten so discouraged. Instead, his position just steadily went downhill, and he resigned on move 32.

But enough about me! Most of you probably want to know how Andy is doing, or who is winning the tournament. Andy and I played at adjacent boards in round three, and he won much more easily than I did. He lost in round four, in tragic fashion. He was a piece up and had three minutes left on his clock, but then he started thinking about the position and forgot the clock. Next thing he knew, his light was blinking and he had lost on time! Ouch. So he is 1-3 now.

The only people with 3-0 scores after three rounds were Alex Yermolinsky and Alexander Ivanov. No surprise, they played to a quick draw in round four. There was a monster tie of 19 people with 2.5-0.5, so there will be a lot of 3.5’s after this round.

As for ChessLecturers, Eugene Perelshteyn and Jesse Kraai both were in the 19-way tie at 2.5. Eugene seemed to have a crushing attack against Vinay Bhat early in the game, but Bhat is a tough defender, and last time I saw the position it looked as if he was holding his own. If he can survive the middle game, Bhat will be a pawn up. Jesse also sacrificed a pawn at some point, but he’s gotten his pawn back and reached a double-rook endgame where his opponent (Blas Lugo) has a weak isolated pawn. This is just the sort of position that Jesse “massages” so well, so I would expect him to prevail eventually.

Update: Jesse did indeed massage his way to a win. Eugene won back his pawn against Bhat, and it’s now a two bishops versus two knights ending, where he has an outside passed pawn. Time is very low on both sides, three minutes for Eugene and one minute for Vinay, so I won’t hazard a guess as to what will happen.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that Michael Aigner is blogging at this tournament. So is Alexey Root. I couldn’t find her main blog in a quick Google search, but here is her blog, where you can also check out her book on chess, math, and education. This looks very interesting to me — maybe I’ll order it!

Last update: Perelshteyn and Bhat agreed to a draw.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chess gEEk March 29, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Could you pleas post pairings and results.


Steve in TN March 30, 2008 at 12:15 am

Dr. Root is blogging on the USCF website. Her second entry is at:


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