2013 Larry Evans Memorial Wrapup

by admin on March 31, 2013

That “other” tournament that isn’t taking place in London, the 2013 Larry Evans Memorial in Reno,  ended in a four-way tie for first between GMs Sergei Kudrin, Alexander Ivanov, Walter Browne, and IM Ray Kaufman at 5-1. It’s worth noting that Browne went 4-0 in games that he actually played. He took byes in rounds 4 and 5, maybe to sell his book or maybe just because he’s getting old and needed to save his energy.

The last game to finish among the leaders was Browne’s game against Gandbold Ondondoo. In the position below, he is an exchange up endgame and is probably winning. I was expecting the game to go on for quite a while longer, but Odondoo allows Browne to win in style.

Position after 1. d6. Black to move.

FEN: 8/1R4p1/3P1bk1/8/7p/3K1R1P/r7/8 b – – 0 1

Odondoo played 1. … Ra3+ 2. Ke4 Rxf3(?) 3. Kxf3 Kf5. Now do you see White’s winning move?

The answer is 4. Re7!, which cuts off Black’s king. From the way Odondoo reacted I think he may have actually overlooked this move.  If White had allowed 4. … Ke6 to happen, then Black would still have had chances for a draw. But after 4. Re7!, it’s all over. Of course 4. … Bxe7 loses to 5. de and the pawn queens. On anything else, White will play 5. Re8, 6. d7, and 7. d8Q. So Odondoo resigned.

As for me, I ended up 3-3. I won my morning game, a nice King’s Gambit Declined against Francisco Anchondo, who told me afterwards that he had never lost a KGD as Black before. The King’s Gambit gave me both of my wins in this tournament. I wish I could play it all the time!

In the evening round, I finally got my wish for a game against a master (see my earlier post). I was paired against International Master Vladimir Mezentsev. I’ve played him three times before and even won one of them (he is one of only four IM’s I’ve ever beaten), but today it was not happening. He knew the opening better than I did and I just got crushed like a bug.

I played 1. d4 instead of 1. e4 because I thought I should play more solidly against an IM. But then I went into a line that is not solid at all, 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. e4?! This is supposed to be playable for White, but you have to know what you are doing. I didn’t. I learned a good lesson: Against 2400-level players, you should enter sharp variations only if you absolutely know what you are doing. Otherwise, play solidly and let them be the one to take a risk.

The way I felt after the game was kind of strange. Usually I’m upset or disappointed after a loss, but this time I was just drained. I was actually glad it was over. I was so tired, and had a headache for the last half of the game. I’m not making excuses. I was just mentally and physically not ready to compete against an IM.

I want to congratulate Mezentsev, though, for playing like a professional should. He had just lost an excruciating marathon game against Robert Akopian, a queen-and-pawn endgame where both sides were down to less than 3 minutes on their clocks when it was over. He could have been discouraged and fatigued, but no, he went out and played a great game against me.

I also want to congratulate two young players who had excellent tournaments, tying for fifth: Cameron Wheeler and Siddharth Banik. They got their 4½ – 1½ scores in diametrically opposite ways. Cameron was among the leaders all the way, losing only to GM Kudrin, I believe, and drawing in the last round against GM Khachiyan. Banik, on the other hand, said before the last round that he “hadn’t beaten anybody.” He meant that he hadn’t beaten anyone good. Through the luck of the pairings and the Swiss system format, he only had to play one master. He started out slowly, at 1½-1½, and then had a dream finish, winning his last three in a row.


I’d like to end this post with something that has no relation to chess, and which nobody cares about but me. Every year, when the NCAA basketball tournament comes around, I enter as many of the free online pools as I can. In these pools you try to predict the results of all the games in the tournament. Last week I entered a “Second Chance Pool” at Yahoo!, for predicting just the last 15 games of the tournament, which has a $5000 first prize.

Shockingly, 11 of the first 12 games went as I predicted, and so my entry is now in the top 50 (actually, tied for 18th) out of about 200,000 entries! I wish I could tell you the secret to my clairvoyance. All I did was think for each game, “If my life depended on it, which team would I pick?” I even called my entry, “If Your Life Depended On It.” Well, that’s a pretty scary thought, to have your life depend on something as chancy as a college basketball game… but at least this one time, it worked pretty well.

Alas, I have no chance to win the $5000 prize. Six of the 17 people ahead of me have the same picks for the Final Four and the championship game as I do. Somehow it seems a little unfair that I could finish tied for 7th out of 200,000 people and not have any prize to show for it. But you know what would be worse? Finishing tied for first and losing on the tiebreaks.

It’s best not to take these things too seriously.


P.S. There was a blitz playoff between Kudrin, Browne, Ivanov and Kaufman to determine the winner of the tournament, but I didn’t stick around to watch it. Blitz playoffs are another thing I don’t take too seriously (unless they happen in world championship matches or candidates’ tournament, in which case I think they are a disgrace to chess).

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Francisco Anchondo June 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Dana your a class act! Thank you for the KGD chess lesson / thrashing. It takes an exceptional chess player as your self to spot a well hidden nasty trap l had set for you. My comgratulations on your well thought out move after …..Ng4?An hours thought on your ! move.It was my only real try, of course your keen sense was able to spot my trickeryWe are having a chess camp starting 24 June at the Mission San Jose Elementary School Gym from 9am-3pm. Its in Fremont California. Could you please post it on your blog? Much appreciated if you could. Could you also show our individual game in the KGD ? V/R Francisco


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