A good day for players named Larry

by admin on September 7, 2009

On the final day of the U.S. Senior Open I completed my Summer of Disaster in appropriate style. In round 5 I played one of my favorite opening lines against Tim Rogalski: the Fritz Variation of the Two Knights Defense. As it turns out, Tim is an aficionado of the Two Knights who loves playing it from both sides. We went into a variation I discussed on ChessLecture, where I sacrifice a knight for lots of threats.

But Tim defended well, and at move 18 I faced a critical decision. I could have traded into a seldom-seen endgame of queen versus three minor pieces (where I would have the queen), but I did not think it offered me any winning chances. So I elected to keep attacking. Unfortunately, I took 15 of my remaining 30 minutes to reach this decision, leaving me only 15 minutes for the rest of the game. Although I was not “officially” in time trouble yet, I hung a piece five moves later and lost. This wrecked all my hopes for the tournament.

In the last round I was paired down, against a local 1600 player named Richard Ravits. My main goal for this game was to see if I could actually get through a game without getting into real or imagined time pressure. For once, I succeeded. Oh yeah, and I won the game, too.

As for the overall results, you can already read them online at the USCF web page. However, I will make it easy for you. Larry Christiansen beat Gregory Markzon in the final round to finish clear first at 5.5 out of 6. Larry Kaufman had to settle for a draw with Walter Shipman, and he finished clear second at 5 out of 6. The organizers, Jim and Frank Berry, were delighted because they avoided any playoff scenarios. Christiansen earned the automatic spot in the U.S. Championship, and Kaufman (as the top player over 60) earned the automatic berth in the World Senior Championship.

In the other tournaments, Nath Saheli (or is it Saheli Nath??) won the U.S. Women’s Open with 5 out of 6, and Iryna Zenyuk finished second at 4.5 out of 6. In the Masters Invitational, it looked as if Conrad Holt was going to win his game against Darwin Yang. If he does, he will finish first with 5 out of 7. If the game is a draw, then Holt will tie for first with Bryan Smith.

All in all, I think that the tournament was clearly a success for the Berrys and for senior chess. Jim Berry said that the senior committee at the USCF told him that senior players would never come to a tournament with a schedule of more than one game a day. They predicted only 15 people would come to the tournament. But some of us seniors have spent our whole lives playing tournaments with 2 games a day, or more! So why should this be an obstacle now, just because we have turned 50? Fifty-two people agreed with me, and with Jim. Maybe there will be even more next year!

P.S. Positions, analysis and photos next time.

P.P.S. One reader sent in a comment to one of my earlier posts that, after a certain amount of debate, I deleted because it did not quite pass my test of talking about all other players with respect.

In Durham, North Carolina, where I used to live, there was a man named Chuck Davis who led a dance group called the African American Dance Ensemble. They ended every concert, and probably still do, with Davis leading the audience in a chant: “Peace, love, and respect for everybody. I will not look down on someone except to help them back up.” If your comment is written in that spirit, then it will be welcomed here.

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Ashish September 20, 2009 at 5:12 am

It is “Saheli Nath.” “Saheli” means friend (in Hindi).

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