Charmed (Far West Open Results, 2014)

by admin on April 21, 2014

Did you ever have a charmed day? A day when everything works out right? Well, that was Easter Sunday for me.

First, when Kay and I went out for lunch, I ordered a slice of carrot cake and got two! Well, one and a half. The woman behind the counter cut off a piece that she felt was too small, so she cut another one and then gave me both of them! “Nobody here is going to eat it, anyway,” she said. So I had my cake and ate it, too.

Next, I finally hit a lucky slot machine for the first time all weekend. Kay and I went the casino and I intended to gamble at most $2, because I was almost out of money. Imagine my amazement when on the first spin of the wheels, I won $44 on a 40-cent bet!

Finally, I won both of my chess games, both of them remarkably quickly. I won the morning game in 24 moves and the afternoon game in 26 moves. The second was against Michael Langer, a FIDE Master, and I had Black in a Two Knights Defense. For the first time ever, I played the main line (5. … Na5) instead of the Fritz (5. … Nd4). I’ve always been a fan of the Fritz, and even recorded an obsolete ChessLecture about it. However, in recent years I’ve had to admit that it has just been busted by computer analysis. My opponents may not know the analysis, but I can’t go on playing a variation that is busted.

Guess what? The main line is better than the Fritz! I discovered what the rest of the world knew all along. Here is a textbook case of a Two Knights gone wrong for White:

Position after 18. ... f4. White to move. Position after 18. … f4. White to move.

FEN: 2bq1rk1/p5p1/2pb3p/n6B/3Ppp1r/1P5P/P1P1QPP1/RNB2RK1 w – – 0 19

Here I’ve just played 18. … f4, threatening to advance to f3 and cut off the defense of White’s bishop on h5. Of course, if White takes on e4 he loses the bishop. And if he plays 19. Bg6 then 19. … f3 looks very unpleasant. So he played the natural-looking 19. Bg4, which seems to save the bishop. But it doesn’t! Do you see why not?

The answer is 19. … Bxg4 — an obvious move, but what’s not so obvious is that White can’t take back! If he plays 20. hg I can sacrifice my rook for mate with 20. … Rh1+!! 21. Kxh1 Qh5+ 22. Kg1 f3 23. g3 Qh3.

He labored on with 20. Qxe4 but my bishop continued its sacrificial rampage with 20. … Bxh3! This time he accepted, with 21. gh, and I forced checkmate with 21. … Qg5+ 22. Qg2 Qxg2+ 23. Kxg2 f3+ (Back into the dungeon you go!) 24. Kg1 Rf6 25. Rd1 Rxh3 and it’s mate in two. I think the final position is a testament to  everything that is wrong for White in the Two Knights Defense.

Final position. Final position.

FEN: 6k1/p5p1/2pb1r1p/n7/3P4/1P3p1r/P1P2P2/RNBR2K1 w – – 0 26

Black has made about twelve visible moves and White has made only four (castles, rook to d1, and two pawn pushes). So that means I’m eight tempi ahead. White’s poor queenside pieces are all sitting on the bench begging, “Coach! Put me in the game!”

My lucky Sunday ended with tying for second in the expert category, and a prize which, though modest, was more than four times what I won on the slot machine. As it should be!

Now, to recap the top prizes: Timur Gareev had an outstanding tournament, going 5½-½ to take clear first, no playoff required. Jesse Kraai and Melikset Khachiyan tied for second at 5-1. Jesse said it was the first time he had ever scored 5 points at a Reno tournament. Last fall he scored 4½ and tied for first, so it was a little bit odd that he scored better this time and yet had a lower finish. He beat Sergey Kudrin in the last round in what looked like a very nice game.

I should also mention that the winner of the Class A section, Amir Alazawi, scored a perfect 6-0. That’s a pretty rare feat in any section, so congratulations to him. I’m pretty sure that this will graduate him from Class A to Expert. First place in Class B was Sridhar Seshadri at 5½-½, and I didn’t check the lower sections.

As I mentioned in my first Reno post, organizer Jerry Weikel was pleased with the attendance. We had 196 players, which was a 17 percent increase over last year. The Open section, which was for both masters and experts, had 72 players. That was the most massive I’ve ever seen it. Next year it may be divided into separate master and expert sections. Weikel polled the experts to see what they thought. I don’t really care; usually I play in the Open section even if there is an Expert section available. To me, the challenge of playing the masters is worth it, even if it means I lose more games.

And now it’s time to go back home, with a heavier wallet and a lighter heart!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

SRIDHAR April 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Thanks Jesse to mention my name in your article, my daughter started reading your book Lisa and I am also enjoying with her. Thanks for the lovely book written by you. It was my first win with 5.5 points in any US tournament and as a unseasoned player for me this is a rare feat. But sure will need your advise we can come on to Skype etc. so that I can take your advise for my June 12th Open National in Las Vegas where I am playing 1800-2000 section as my points would have crossed 1800 at Reno with the class B clear win as the sole leader with no one having equal points with me. That was a good clear win. Thanks again , I really enjoy whenever talking to you. See you in Vegas if you are heading there in June. Cheers Sridhar SESHADRI CLASS B winner at Reno, Nevada.


admin April 22, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Good to hear from you, Sridhar! Just one correction … I’m not Jesse, I’m Dana, the writer of this blog. But I will pass along your message to Jesse.


sridhar April 23, 2014 at 11:29 am

Nice to know you Dana, can I send my 4th game position and send article to you , will you publish that as this game was a repeat of fisher where white sacrifice the queen to win and fisher was with great patience with black and won the game. I had to repeat those moves in my game to win just like fisher. Good I went with preparation of fisher moves.

I will send the article if you want to publish.



google October 2, 2014 at 8:27 pm

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