I recently competed in the 60th Maryland Open in Rockville, MD. As usual the tournament was well run and the playing conditions were wonderful. The nice thing that keeps me coming back to Maryland to play is the way they run the tournaments. The time controls make sense, they provide boards and clocks and they even provide a continental breakfast. The turnout in the “Champions” section was impressive. There were many players that included people that I had not seen before (as well as some familiar faces). The “Champions” section included a clause that I appreciated: to play in the “Champions” section you needed to have your rating be >2000. The tournament saw a 3-way tie for first place with GM’s Lenderman, Moradiabadi and Paragua with 4/5. GM Lenderman was kind enough to annotate his second round win over a
local Cleveland area player in an interesting ending:
I finished +2=1-1 despite my atrocious play. In three games I was either worse or much worse. After the debacle that was my fourth round I decided to call it quits and head back to Rochester before doing any more damage to my self-esteem.
In the first round my opponent played a strange opening that he has been championing for some time. After the game he told me that he had been playing this opening for a while and that the only games in the database are his… I thought he was kidding until I did some research for this article. He has played this to a draw against GM Pascal Charbonneau in 2003:
I was unable to prove anything in the opening and I soon found myself in a slightly worse position. It’s impressive that after playing [what I believed were] some suspect moves in the opening he was able to get a position that was completely playable and even slightly better! I managed to find some good moves that forced an opposite colored bishop ending where I was up a pawn. I won in pretty good style and my opponent resigned without forcing me to display my technique too much.
The second round I once again found myself in an unpleasant position but I managed to liquidate we agreed to a draw.
In the third game it was my turn to play strangely. After my opponent played some peculiar moves in the opening I was looking to punish him but played too optimistically and got a cramped position. With the aim of relieving some pressure I went in for a series of exchanges and didn’t look deep enough into the position. I missed a knight fork at the end of a series of exchanges which forced me to sacrifice an exchange. Down an exchange my opponent played [what I believed were] some sub-optimal moves which forced me to play on in a position I would have much preferred to resign in. He won which left me equal on the day.
The fourth round was an interesting round for me because I learned a new USCF rule. If you and your opponent both show up late to the game the TD splits the time between you and your opponent. So I showed up 14 minutes late to find that my opponent had not arrived yet and playing black I started his clock. The TD approached me and told me of this rule so that instead of my opponent losing 14 minutes we both lost 7. I wasn’t aware of this rule difference between the FIDE rules but everyone should take note so that you are all informed of the rules. Here are some photos from the tournament:
In the fourth round my opponent played a theoretical line that I have seen a few times before OTB. The jury is still out on the evaluation of the position, but I believe with accurate play black should be a little bit better (although it is scary for a while). I thought my opponent played the moves out of order which put me in a bit of a predicament. I couldn’t recall the “correct” move order and so when my opponent played a new move I figured I should just liquidate to an endgame. Things were not so simple and I overlooked something and ended up dropping one of my bishops (not part of the plan).
It is important to mention that while speaking with GM Lenderman he talks a lot about maintaining what he calls “inner peace”. In general I tend to be an emotional player. I’m working on remaining calm and playing what I think are the best moves regardless of what happens on the board. During the game I was able to maintain my cool. That paid off because the next move my opponent allowed me to regain my piece (for two pawns). Later I found a nice idea that forced the rooks off and we entered a King pawn ending (which should be a draw). Around this point my opponent offered me a draw but feeling obstinate I played on and after another four moves he made a terrible blunder and resigned. I was going to post this game but halfway through my annotations I realized it’s far too embarrassing. It brought me such shame that I gave serious consideration to committing Seppuku as a way of saving face.
Unwilling to test fate I withdrew from the tournament scoring 2.5/4 which is not a bad result for me. Thanks once again to the organizers, I’m looking forward to seeing y’all next year at the 61st Maryland Open! As usual comments are welcome and encouraged.