Big weekend for Santa Cruz chess!

by admin on September 1, 2008

I’m back home from the CalChess Labor Day Classic, and pleased to report that just about everyone from Santa Cruz had a good weekend. I finished the tournament with four consecutive wins. That gave me a 5-1 score, and a tie for first place in the Expert section. (The other player with a 5-1 score won the trophy on tiebreak, but we split the prize money, $290 apiece.)

Here’s a roundup of the other players from the Santa Cruz chess club. In the B section, Thadeus Frei finished clear second. That is very impressive, because his current rating is 1400-something, so he was playing way up. He was very excited about his win over a player rated around 1790. In the C section, Jim Parker tied for first. And finally, in the D section, Cailen somebody Melville (updated 9/2/2008) finished second after a 5-0 start. Fantastic! Congratulations to all!

Of course I’m very pleased with my result, most of all because I stuck with my “game plan.” (See either of my last two entries for a description thereof.) It especially helped me get over the psychological hurdle of my loss in round two. I didn’t get upset because I thought I had played pretty well. The game plan gave me something else to focus on besides wins and losses.

It especially paid off in my last-round game against Igor Margulis, where I got a very shaky position but just kept on pushing for active piece play, offering pawn sacs several times along the way. I’m sure that Margulis made some mistakes, but eventually we got to a very interesting double-rook endgame where he was lost in spite of being two pawns up. I had a passed pawn that was much closer to promotion than his three (!) passed pawns, and amazingly his rooks were unable to get back and stop my pawn. It was similar to some queen-and-pawn endgames where a single more advanced passed pawn triumphs over a raft of less advanced pawns.

I felt that the game against Margulis made up in “karma points” for my loss against Sandberg. In that game I felt my position was better, but I missed a tactic or two and then my opponent played an impressive endgame. In the last round, it was just the opposite: my position was definitely worse, but Margulis missed a tactic or two and then I outplayed him in the endgame.

As for the Master section, that was won by Sam Shankland with a 5-1 score. He has been playing incredibly well lately. Last spring, of course, he was the lowest-rated qualifier for the U.S. Championship. Since then he has just kept on winning, and his rating has skyrocketed from under 2300 to over 2450 in less than a year. I didn’t see enough of his games to say how he did it, but I did notice that he beat IM Florean in the fifth round when Florean played the Birmingham Defense (1. e4 a6?!) That’s a pretty surprising opening to see on board one!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Andres D. Hortillosa September 2, 2008 at 8:27 am

Congratulations to both of you.


Chessperado September 2, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Congratulations Dana. Glad you are back. Fatherhood is keeping me away from playing chess (for now), but still reading your blog.
About that kid, Shamkland, I don’t know if you remember that queen sac against me in the chess league, I didn’t feel bad then and much less now by the way he is playing.
That’s talent!


admin September 2, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Hi Juande!

Yes, I remember that very well. For our other readers, this was in the short-lived Bay Area Chess League, which lasted for two seasons, 2005 and 2006. Our Santa Cruz team participated in 2006 and won first place. Maybe that’s why the league disbanded — those Berkeley and San Francisco players couldn’t stand being beaten by a bunch of surfer dudes from Santa Cruz! 😎

Anyway, Juande was our first board and played a very memorable game against Sam Shankland. It looked as if Juande was completely winning, but then Sam came up with a queen sacrifice that (a) made Juande’s attack vanish in a puff of smoke, and (b) set up a ferocious windmill-style discovered check combination that won back all the sacrificed material. I have seldom seen such a dramatic turnaround.

Juande, do you still have the score of that game? Maybe I could put the critical position up on my blog so that other people could see it.


Sam Shankland September 23, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Hi all,


Sam Shankland September 23, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Hi all,
I finally read this blog when my friend asked me about this queen sac game, unfortunately I don’t have it, but i would really like it as well if Juande still has the scoresheet, that would be great.
thanks a lot,
Sam Shankland


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