Results are in!

by admin on March 30, 2008

Okay, here’s what everyone wants to know: Who qualified for the U.S. Championship? The results became official about one minute ago.

The top eleven people, who all qualify for the U.S. Championship, are (in order of tiebreaks):

  1. Kraai (5.5)
  2. Becerra (5.5) — already in by rating
  3. Yermolinsky (5.5)
  4. Ippolito (5.5)
  5. Fedorowicz (5.5)
  6. Ivanov (5) — already in by rating
  7. Kudrin (5) — already in by rating
  8. Ludwig (5)
  9. Perelshteyn (5) — already in by rating
  10. Shankland (5)
  11. Pruess (5)

Three other people also scored 5 points, but missed out on tiebreaks. They were Bradford, Brooks, and Andrews. Tough luck!

The lowest-rated player to qualify was Sam Shankland (2279). His rating will be over 2300 after this tournament. He had a great tournament, obviously, losing only to Jesse Kraai and running the gauntlet of two grandmasters today (Kudrin and Ivanov). He drew both of them. The game against Ivanov went all the way down to K+R versus K+B, which of course is a draw, but I would consider it a moral victory of sorts for Sam. (He had the rook.)

Sam being Sam, he was whooping and hollering after he found out he had qualified for the U.S. Championship!

It was a great tournament overall, but especially great for Bay Area players (Shankland and Pruess) and ChessLecturers (Kraai and Perelshteyn). As for me, well, it was not so great. I lost both games today, one which I should have won, the other which I completely deserved to lose. Oh, well. The first one will definitely be interesting to study. Although my final result was pretty dismal, 2.5-4.5, I feel as if there are promising signs. In my four games against masters, I had better positions — and I mean close to winning – in three of them. I won’t blame the time control. As I wrote in my last entry, I think the clock actually helped me a little bit, once I got used to it.

Jesse offered to go over my games after I have analyzed them, and maybe even do a lecture on one of them. That’s awfully nice of him — it’s kind of like what I do once a month for the other ChessLecture subscribers.

This time control (G/90 + 30 seconds per move) is absolutely great for spectators. Most of the games come to a critical position at about the same time, and you don’t have any endgames that drag on and on. Everything ends at a reasonable time, and you can go out and get something to eat or get ready for the next round or whatever. Also, you don’t have to wait forever to find out who won the prizes.

Of course, the time control is tougher for the players. I think that a lot more games are decided by mistakes, but so what? Those are the breaks. This is a competition, not a museum exhibition of perfect chess games.

Here’s an example, from Jesse Kraai’s game yesterday against Blas Lugo:

Lugo has just played 1. Rf1-b1, the most natural move. (Either 1. Re1 or 1. Rc1 would also have held the draw.) Jesse says “He didn’t sense the danger in the position, but then again, I didn’t sense it either.” But then Jesse spotted an ingenious winning line: 1. … f3 2. gf gf 3. b5? Again the most natural move, but this was absolutely the last chance for Lugo to “sense the danger” and play 3. Re1! This still draws, because White’s king will be able to get to the e-file in time to stop the pawn. But who would have thought of this? White basically undoes his previous move, which proves he should have played Re1 to start with. If he didn’t sense the danger before, he wasn’t going to sense it now.

After 3. b5? Jesse won by force: 3. … Kg4 4. b6 f2! 5. b7 Re8! Surprise, surprise! White has no way to stop the pawn from queening. The rook on e8 does double duty, both cutting off White’s king and stopping White’s b-pawn. The game ended 6. b8 Rxb8 7. Rxb8 f1Q and White resigned.

How do you annotate this game? Technically, 3. b5 was the losing mistake. But morally, the losing move was 1. Rb1, because that was the move that committed White to the losing plan. Another way in which computer chess is different from human chess.

Jesse won another game like this in the last round, against Kleiman. He was just a little bit better, and kept on putting on the pressure, and eventually (whether because of the clock or just human fallibility) Kleiman couldn’t find the right defense. Jesse wins a lot of games like this. I sure wish I could learn the trick!

Okay, time to put this online. Thanks to all of you who tuned in this weekend!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

elizabeth vicary March 30, 2008 at 4:17 pm

Which woman qualified?


elizabeth vicary March 30, 2008 at 4:17 pm

Thanks for posting this!


Robert Pearson April 1, 2008 at 12:19 pm

My personal opinion is that this is a great time control; enough time for a pretty good quality game, and especially no sudden death (which I despise) but as you say, still enough time to get something to eat.


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