This past weekend was the 36th Marchand Open tournament. We hold the Marchand every year in Rochester, NY to honor the memory of Dr. Erich Marchand, who was a prolific author and player in his time. In my previous post I mentioned that there was a chance that GM Gata Kamsky would be playing. Gata did end up playing and put up an impressive 4.5/5 defeating GM Kekelidze and drawing with GM Lenderman to tie for first. The other player to tie for first was FM Ben Dean-Kawamura who also defeated GM Kekelidze (in the final round more about this later).
This tournament we saw five GM’s in attendance; if you read my previous post you may note that we were missing one GM. Unfortunately GM Sergey Kudrin did not show up to play. The other five Grandmasters who had committed to play did show up and played some fighting chess along the way. The first round saw a young local player Jacob Chen playing in the first round against the current US Champion GM Gata Kamsky. What impressed me most about GM Kamsky was his professionalism. That was the first thing I could think as I was watching his games. He wasn’t blitzing out the moves against the lower rated players he was sitting there, focusing, attempting to burrow into the heart of the positions. His focus is something that we should all be trying to emulate when we are playing against anyone regardless of their rating. Additionally the guy came dressed to the nines wearing a blue suit with a tie on the first day.
I’m sure many of you are wondering how I did. I finished +3-2=0 for a total of 3/5 points losing to two masters. My first round game was a bit of a breeze; my opponent played an inaccuracy in a symmetrical position and a few moves later I found a simple tactic to win a piece (via a knight fork).
The next round I was paired with my friend Matt we played an interesting game where I misplayed the opening and left my King exposed in the center (believing for some ridiculous reason that it would be safer there than on the queen-side). Matt and I were playing on board 7 which was at the end of the table so a lot of kibitzers could see our game which created an amusing situation for me after the game which I will discuss in another blog post so as not to distract from the focus of this one (believe me I’ve got a lot to say…a whole posts worth). The top boards did well except GM Ivanov who lost to a Syracuse University student.
By the time the third round comes exhaustion sets in. You can see the fatigue by observing the players and its clear many have seen enough chess for one day. The five GM’s seemed fresh and won their games leaving GM Kamsky, GM Lenderman, GM Kekelidze, GM Paragua as the only players in the tournament with a perfect score. Perhaps I’m getting old but in this round in particular I felt especially exhausted and had a bad migraine from the previous game. My play was poor and my exhaustion was obvious to anyone watching the game. My opponent played with a youthful vigor and obtained a good position out of the opening. I managed to untangle my position but I miscalculated and I sacrificed an exchange to avoid a catastrophe. This created an important psychological moment for my opponent because he was now better (+/-). I believe my opponents inability to adjust to this material difference led him to make some careless moves.
The next morning I was ready to play again having salvaged a win from the jaws of defeat. On the top two boards the GM’s finally met with GM Kamsky defeating GM Kekelidze and GM’s Paragua and Lenderman playing to a hard fought draw. I was in a fighting mood and that evening GM Lenderman had given me some advice about trusting my instincts. With this advice I went in to play an opponent from Buffalo who I had played in the NYS Championship this past year. In this game I had the opportunity to sacrifice a Knight and go on the offensive early on; it was too pretty to pass up and the board situation became unclear. Due to some inaccuracies and passive moves my attack petered out and my opponent had a piece for the 3 pawns. Unfortunately I made a careless move which allowed him to win an exchange and after a few more moves I resigned. The beginning of the game is of little interest, I misplayed the opening and got into an inferior position, let’s pick up where it get’s exciting.
In the final round the top boards GM Kamsky and GM Lenderman played to a fighting draw (note: not a “GM” draw). GM Paragua drew with FM Nikolayev, GM Ivanov defeated his opponent and FM Ben Dean-Kawamura defeated GM Kekelidze. I was again paired down and won a smooth game. In the endgame I was able to win a pawn and converted the ending without too much trouble or complications. There was a tense struggle with Dean-Kawamura playing Black in a complicated Kings Indian. Their game was the last to finish and with Kekelidze having 3/4 and Ben having 3.5/4 both players were pushing for a win. A few of us were discussing the game outside and a few strong players believed that GM Kekelidze could hold a draw (down an exchange) but that he would likely be pushing for a win. Ben had only five or six minutes on his clock to Kekelidze’s 20+ and the position was unclear.
As we discussed the game I learned a new Russian word/phrase: “Zeitnotchik”. Zeitnotchik comes from the German word “Zeitnot” which means “time trouble/pressure” by appending the Russian suffix “chik/chick” we get “Guy who gets into time trouble”. If I were to use it in a sentence I could say, “Walter Browne Zeitnotchik” which would roughly translate as, “Walter Browne is a guy who get’s into time trouble”. In some time pressure GM Kekelidze grabbed a pawn he should not have and Ben was able to win a minor piece so Kekelidze resigned. This win catapulted FM Dean-Kawamura into shared first with GM Gata Kamsky. Quite a dramatic finish, and I believe we finally solved that autograph mystery from the New York State Championship. Perhaps that women had a premonition about Ben. Here is the game with FM Ben Dean-Kawamura’s annotations:
In addition to his richly annotated game Ben added this postscript:
Obviously I was very happy with this game. It was my first win against a grandmaster and it earned me a nice finish. However, if I reflect a bit more I realize I got lucky because of the tournament situation.
The lesson I hope to take away from this game is to play based on the needs of the position, not out of the fear that my opponent will play better in a sharp position. After all, a strong opponent can outplay you in an endgame as easily as a middlegame. If someone is stronger than me, I definitely don't need to do them the favor of playing a move that I think is sub-optimal but "safe" (20... Qe3?).
I would just add that sure, Ben may have gotten "lucky" (his words) with the tournament situation but it takes a strong player to beat a strong player. There were many opportunities to go astray in this game but Ben navigated through the complications well and earned a hard-fought win in the process. Here are some games from FM Igor Nikolayev who finished tied second with 4 points:
I had a great time playing this year and it was nice to see my friends from all around New York come out to support Rochester's biggest tournament. Big thanks to all the GM's who showed up and participated. Hopefully we'll see you all of you next year at the 37th Annual Marchand Open! I'll be posting more games as they come in. Please enjoy these games from Dr. Marchand and a write up done by my opponent in the fourth round.
As is the case sometimes FM Ben Dean-Kamawura's father was also a strong player: