2014 Chesapeake Open

Before I begin my discussion on the Chesapeake Open it is with sadness that we note the passing of Vugar Gashimov who passed this weekend. Vugar was a very strong player who was known for his dynamic play especially in the Benoni (one of the few top players who regularly incorporated it into his repertoire). Here is a Benoni game I found of his that I particularly enjoyed:

I played in the 2014 Chesapeake Open this past weekend. Overall my play was decent but in many of my games I was absorbing too much time which led me to play far too many sub-par moves. It is  interesting that in this tournament I played more moves per game than any other tournament I’ve played totaling 283 moves for an average of ~57 moves a game. During the tournament I recommended to the TD that perhaps there should be a prize for most moves played or something along those lines. I believe TD’s would be well advised to offer such unique prizes to keep tournaments interesting.

A fairly telling example of my time trouble was the first game of the tournament, it was a game in 45 with a 30 second delay and I managed to flag; which is ridiculous to me (I firmly believe that no one should flag with a 30 second increment). So there I am playing on the increment and my opponent plays a move which gave me 3 or 4 very interesting options, all of which break the cooperation between my rook and bishop (in order to defend a pawn). I was playing on the increment for what must have been 10 moves or so defending a very difficult rook and bishop vs queen ending where I had lousy pawns and a fairly unsafe king (which as you can imagine is quite difficult). I felt I was playing quite accurately but as we approached a critical moment I sat there thinking about how I could defend my pawn (and whether or not I should). I began seeing these crazy variations where I would attack his pawn, he would grab my pawn and then the checks would begin (possibly winning one of my pieces), I began weighing my options and glanced at the clock as it turned to 2 seconds, I exclaimed “oh fuck” and smashed out my move only to see that I had in fact flagged.

The only explanation I have is that the 30 second increment is a bit deceiving, it lulls you into a false sense of security and leads you to believe you have more time than you actually do. With a delay of course there is no time to think, you need to smash out your moves almost instantaneously when you get low on time. I still prefer the increment to the delay because it is far more forgiving when you have a slightly better game and you need to demonstrate some technique to convert it.

My next game we played an opening that I played recently in the tournament in Geneseo (which in that tournament I completely butchered). My opponent played some strange moves and I managed to obtain a good game; he then blundered a pawn to me which I felt gave me a clear edge. He was able to play some interesting moves and I went in for a liquidation where I thought I would just win a piece, it turned out I wasn’t winning a piece and in fact I had allowed an opposite colored bishop ending where I was up a pawn. He offered me a draw which I declined and I puttered around for a while whereupon he offered me another draw, which was declined. I continued playing and managed to create a strange situation where I was able to trade his h-pawn for my b-pawn. This exchange gave me more winning chances and I was able to convert an almost impossible looking opposite colored bishop ending.

Feeling quite pleased with my turn-around I played an opponent who I played in the UMBC championship. I figured he might want to repeat the line that we played in that game but I was not sure if he had found the refutation or not. After our first game I had found an improvement which I believe led white to have an easier game (despite the pawn deficit). In the opening he played quite confidently which led me to believe that he had found the refutation of my line (a line that was probably refuted in the 70’s). As I sat there thinking about whether or not he found this refutation I spent WAY too much time only to play the line I had prepared in the minutes before the round. He hadn’t found the refutation and played the way he did in Baltimore which allowed me to play my improvement. Unfortunately I didn’t keep the tension properly and couldn’t remember my analysis which allowed him to equalize. I then played some very sub-par moves and to my opponents credit he found some strong ideas. Low on time I exchanged some pawns (which was horrible) and allowed him to have a dream position. He then threatened my rook and I started calculating some checkmating patterns that he might try, seeing that they didn’t work I snatched one of his meddlesome pawns whereupon I realized that he wasn’t going to mate me, he was simply going to win my rook for a pawn. I lingered on a bit but invariably he won the game (thanks to his extra rook).

The next day I played a fairly solid game in an opening I hadn’t ever played OTB. I believe my opponent played too timidly and didn’t generate enough counter play on his side of the board which allowed my pieces to run rampant on the queen side. Invariably (after some maneuvering) I won a pawn. We played on a bit and my opponent missed a tactic which allowed me to go into yet another opposite colored bishop ending but this time we had queens (which made all the difference in the world). He resigned and thankfully didn’t drag it out.

The final game I played was against an opponent I have seen around a lot but hadn’t actually gotten to play. He played fairly strangely in the opening and I believed during the game that I had an advantage. He was able to sacrifice an exchange for a pawn and the bishop pair and after some very poor moves on my part he found some really nice complications that forced me to make “only-moves”. In general I find that when I’m playing “only moves” it’s likely that I’m not going to win. Thankfully I found the “only moves” and we called it a draw when I offered believing that he had nothing better than perpetual.

I just want to be on the record as saying Mike Regan in Maryland runs some of the best tournaments  I’ve played in. There was a continental breakfast on Sunday and the tournament was very well organized. In addition to this Mike is a nice man who is able to resolve conflicts and has a good understanding of both FIDE and USCF rules.

In other news I had the chance to speak with Denis Strenzwilk about a game he played in the 70’s that I referenced in one of my previous blog posts. It turns out that his game was played after the 1972 World Championship; so b5 is Fischer’s novelty. In addition he was able to provide me with some remarks about his game which I found amazing; because he was able to recall a mistake he made in the 70’s and the correct continuation.

Finally I would like to congratulate my friend Craig for cementing his position as the best chess player in Laurel Mountain Elementary School. He has a bright future and is a rising star on the Elementary school chess circuit.