Larry Evans Memorial 2015 — No Cinderellas

by admin on April 6, 2015

I just got home from the Larry Evans Memorial in Reno, and there’s lots of news to pass along. First, the winner of the tournament was … drum roll … Alexander Ivanov. As you might recall, he was leading after day two with a 4-0 score, and he coasted into the finish line with two draws to finish at 5-1. No one came out of the pack to catch him, and instead there was a nine-way tie (!) for second place at 4½-1½. With that many people I’m not going to list them all, but what’s interesting was that the top ten prizes were won by the ten highest-rated players. There wasn’t a single Cinderella in this tournament. (In the open section, anyway.)

As for me, I made a prophet out of Brian Doyle. As a few of you might recall, after my last tournament back in January, I ended with a rating of 2199, which was a bitter disappointment to me. But Bryon, one of my Facebook friends, told me that it is the perfect rating, because I can still win under-2200 prizes. “Enjoy it and USE it!” he wrote. Well, I don’t know about the enjoying part, but I definitely used it to my advantage. I scored 3½-2½ to tie for second place in the expert section. Usually 3½ points wins a really paltry amount of money, but this time the stars aligned — the people whom I needed to draw drew, and the ones whom I needed to lose lost — and so it actually worked out to a decent prize (more than the entry fee).

And in one more irony, I think I lost a couple of rating points. My best estimate of my post-tournament rating is somewhere around 2197. So this was a true sandbagger’s special — winning prize money while still staying south of the 2200 line. I didn’t do it on purpose, I swear.

The top expert, by the way, was Philip Seitzer of Oregon, with 4-2. Congratulations to him on upsetting Andrew Zhang Hong, the nation’s top ten-year-old, in the last round. There’s something a little bit odd when a grown man beats a ten-year-old and it has to be considered an upset, but that is the topsy-turvy world of Bay Area chess, where so many of our best players are teens and pre-teens.

Also I should mention Gabe Bick, who at age fifteen is almost ancient by the standards of California chess. He led the expert section with 3½ points going into the final round, but his reward was facing grandmaster Walter Browne in the final round. It was a thoroughly entertaining game, with Browne’s queen and rook hunting Bick’s king up, down and sideways on an open board and finally checkmating him. Bick certainly deserved better than second place in the expert section, but that’s the Swiss System for you — if you do too well, you get punished.

One of the great things about this tournament was seeing so many Facebook friends. I’ll put them in red type. Michael Aigner‘s tournament highlight was playing on board one in round three against the eventual tournament winner, Ivanov. Uyanga Byambaa won a sensational game against WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia in round two, which I’ll probably lecture on for ChessLecture. She tied with me for second in the expert section. She looks like an unstoppable force of nature in the games that she wins, but she seems to have a habit of messing up won positions. Bryon Doyle was at the tournament with Uyanga but finished out of the money in the expert section.

Mike Zaloznyy beat me in round five, which may be the first time I have ever played a Facebook friend in a tournament game. He was confused because I didn’t play 1. e4 (“I was expecting King’s Gambit!” he told me), but I explained that I am trying to make my opening repertoire a little bit sounder. I played my second Catalan of the tournament, and second of my life, and got what looked to both of us like a significant advantage. But somehow I didn’t find quite the best moves, got in time trouble, and — well, you know the rest. I will study it carefully because it was not exactly clear (even when we analyzed it afterwards) when my advantage became equality and when the equality became losing.

Mike was not completely happy that he won our game, because he knew it meant he would have to play a grandmaster in round six. Sure enough, he was paired against Melikset Khachiyan (another Facebook friend of mine!) and lost. That put Melik into the nine-way tie for second.

Okay, that’s a wrap for today! My next post will have positions, analysis, and maybe even some photos.

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