Silicon Valley Challenge

by admin on August 2, 2009

Yesterday I played in the Silicon Valley Challenge #7, a four-round, game/60 tournament organized by Charles Sun, a strong junior player who also happens to be interested in directing tournaments. It’s a rare thing for juniors to be interested in directing, and I hope that he continues to do it. We need people like that for chess to thrive.

I’d also like to thank Charles for offering free entry to National Masters! This is the first tournament I’ve ever played in that had such a policy.

As in many Silicon Valley tournaments, the tournament consisted of two very distinct groups of players: the “young kids” (under 20 years old, mostly rated under 2000) and the “old farts” (over 30 years old, mostly rated over 2000). It was reminiscent of some plump, tasty humans thrown into a pool of sharks. But who was the bait, and who were the sharks?

The answer became clear in the final round, when all four top boards had a young kid vs. old fart pairing, and the kids took 3 out of 4. Steven Zierk (young kid) beat Michael Aigner, Samuel Sevian (really young kid) defeated Emanuel Perez, and Kyle Shin (young kid) befuddled Svoboda. The only exception was Richard Koepcke (old fart), who took apart Rohan Agarwal’s Albin Counter Gambit. Thus Zierk, Sevian, Shin, and Koepcke tied for first with 3.5 out of 4, and took home $40 apiece.

It was a strange tournament for me, where my result was poor but my play was not too bad. I finished with 2.5 points out of 4, with the draw and the loss both coming in very complex endgames. In both cases the clock was a major factor. Neel Apte and I both had about 2 minutes left when we drew by repetition in a rook-and-pawn ending. I have a feeling that I missed a win somewhere, but with so little time on the clock it is very difficult to find subtle nuances. When I analyzed the game with Koepcke later I was unable to demonstrate a clear win. So I don’t feel bad about drawing (at least until the computer shows me what an idiot I was).

My loss came against Kyle Shin, one of the tournament’s co-winners. As you’ll see in my next post, I outplayed him for 40 moves, and then on move 41 I played an absolutely absurd move that left a pawn en prise. The key thing to realize is that I had 2 minutes left, while he had at least 25. The game left me with very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’m really proud of the way I played for 40 moves. On the other hand, it was INEXCUSABLE for me to get into that kind of time deficit.

By the way, I hope that nothing I’ve said will detract from Shin’s accomplishment. I think he played much better than his 1900 rating, and he deserves to be congratulated. It’s not his fault that I blundered a pawn! After I dropped the pawn it was by no means an automatic win for him, so the fact that he converted it into a full point shows his talent. In my next post I’ll show you how I “coulda woulda shoulda” (but didn’t) beat the co-champ.

By the way, thanks to my fellow blogger Michael Aigner for telling me (via his blog) about this tournament. If it hadn’t been for his blog I probably would not have known about it! I’m sure that his blog will have a report on the tournament soon, too.

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Michael Aigner August 4, 2009 at 10:30 pm

The two tournament report are up now, one by Charles and an analysis by me. It was definitely a scary sight to see these young kids demolish even talented teens.

Dana, you’re certainly not the only one with a case of blunderitis in time pressure. Koepcke should have lost in round 1, Sevian was down a piece in round 2 and Kyle’s last round opponent missed a mate in 3 starting with Qxf7+.

Michael Aigner
Old Fart


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