The Third Annual Michigan Chess Festival took place October 23-27 at the Adoba Hotel in Dearborn, MI. I have played in each festival, and it gets bigger and stronger every year! Here, organizer Alan Kaufman outdid himself, as 60 players and 15 (!) GMs entered the FIDE-rated norm tournament. The format was similar to last week's Spice Cup, held in Clayton, MO (suburban Saint Louis). Many of the same faces played in both events, hunting for norms, money, and glory!
I was one of the players in both tournaments and although I didn't get any money in either event, I gained FIDE and USCF rating points in both, and played and saw lots of interesting chess.
The Fall Festival also had a four section (Open, U1800, U1400, and U1000) weekend tournament, with more than 150 players. One of my students, Matt Larson, who was rated only 2100 was able to tie for first with 4.5-0.5 in the Open section! My girlfriend, Nikki Carter, was in Michigan for the first time, and scored 1.5 out of 4, paired up each game, so was quite happy with her performance. Most of the players enjoyed the event, since they were able to see many GMs and IMs play in the FIDE norm section, a rare find in Michigan chess tournaments!
I took a half-point bye in round 1, drove all night, and arrived just in time for my 11 a.m. round, Thursday, October 24. I was paired as Black against Nolan Hendrickson, whom I was also paired with in round 1 the week before! I won pretty nicely with an attack against White's king.
Next I was paired with the junior talent, Akshat Chandra. I won a nice Nimzo-Indian with some positional manuevering and, somehow, avoided blundering in time trouble.
Things were less simple next round, as I was paired against 2012 World Junior and 2013 Spice Cup Champion, Alexander Ipatov. I was worse pretty quickly with White, but defended a grim ending and drew after a five-hour struggle. Alexander was quite upset after the game, claiming that he was completely winning, but my defense was rock solid, and he simply couldn't break through. I may have been losing, but it's not clear where Black could have significantly improved his play.
I took a half-point bye after my tough game, and picked up Nikki at the airport, who showed up for the weekend Open event. I did not want to play two five-hour games in one day!
In round 6 I was Black against IM Guerra from Spain, and the pieces were quickly "vacuumed" off the board for a boring draw. My seven-move draw with GM Josh Friedel was even less eventful, but an easy Saturday did not translate to the same on the last day, as fireworks were the order of the day!
I was Black against 2012 European Champion, GM Bartlomiej Macieja, rated about 2600 FIDE, and I was able to win very suspiciously due to a terrible time trouble error.
I needed a win in the last round to tie for first, but I was Black again, this time against GM Yury Shulman. I beat Yury with Black earlier this year in the U.S. Championship, but it was not to be this time! He quashed all my attacking attempts, and with my queenside gone, there was nothing to do but resign. An excellent game from Yury.
There was a large tie for first place: GMs Ipatov, Kovalyov, Shulman, Lenderman, Perelshteyn, Matamoros, and GM-elect Molner all scored 6.5-2.5. I knew a draw with Yury meant no money for either of us, so I went for it, and although I failed miserably, I am sure Yury was happy our game was decisive!
I am not certain if any norms were made, but mention should be made of FM Seth Homa and the aformentioned FM Akshat Chandra, who both scored 5.5 and gained a lot of rating points.
Special mention to the arbiters Sisira Amarasinghe and Jeff Aldrich. I look forward to the next edition of the Michigan Chess Festival, and expect a bigger and even stronger norm tournament!