In honor of IM Greg Shahade’s recent Death Match win, I have named the title of my blog after him. So first of all, congratulations to him!
But the title has less to do with his victory and more to do with Greg’s feelings about draws (here is a link to one of his articles on draws: http://main.uschess.org/content/view/11351/639/)
First off, I want to say that I totally understand Greg’s point, but when you have a tournament with 10 players who’s USCF Ratings are almost all within 100 points of each other, a lot of draws can happen. At the 16th Metropolitan Chess Fide Invitational a total of 45 games were played and the results of those 45 games had 50% (23 games) being draws.
As I said in my last blog (http://blog.chess.com/KaydenTroff/foreigners-wanted), I got a personal best rating performance, and in that instance it was my best result ever! But I guess 2012 is a year for breaking personal records for me and in this tournament I pulled off the most draws I have ever gotten before in one tournament. Not sure if that is good or bad, but my rating went up so at least that is good!
The 16th Metropolitan Chess Fide Invitational is an IM Norm tournament with 9 rounds which is also a round robin. Also since it is a Norm tournament the FIDE time-control is a must use: http://blog.chess.com/KaydenTroff/the-new-fide-time-control-better-worse-or-double-edged. The tournament ran through February 22-26. Here is the Metropolitan Chess site: http://metrochessla.com/
My goal for the tournament was to go up in rating points which required at least a 4.5 score, but getting 6.5 (which would get me an IM Norm) would also have been pleasing.
The first round I was playing Alexander King with White and unfortunately he didn’t have very many games in database, but I (along with my Coach GM Sam Shankland) got a pretty good estimation on what he was going to play and I found myself for pretty much the first time and definitely the first time in a rated game playing 1.c4. As estimated we started going into a Catalan position, but then transposed into a Tarrasch. I had prepared this, but had prepared other lines more seriously than this one. I was in prep until move eighteen and after I got out of my prep I played pretty accurately until move twenty-two where I made a move that tactically has him coming out better. We were both starting to get low on time, but he still had a better position. After a while he had a few chances to go for a win, but missed them and I equalized after a creative Knight maneuver. Then it was me pushing for a win, but I didn’t have enough advantage and he found a creative stalemate idea which was a cool way to end the game.
Not a great result, but we still have a lot of chess to play.
Next game I was playing FM Alexander Kretchetov with the Black pieces.
There were two lines I had prepared and unfortunately he went into the line I had prepared a lot less. But even with that being the case I ended up equalizing in the opening. During the game I was a little scared about the opening, but felt like I was starting to do well and had equalized and maybe started getting some initiative. My King was a little open and we were starting to get low on time, but I still liked my position. Then we got to this position and he sacrificed the exchange which was very good. He had enough compensation for the sacrifice and with us low on time I got a worse position, and then I made a move that turned out to be not so great because after he sacrificed another exchange it appeared he was just getting repetition, but after some tricks he could go into a winning endgame. I tried to get some sort of repetition or stalemate. But in the end I lost.
… Not a good start, Kretchetov was higher rated so I can’t be in mass hysteria, but I cannot be happy about my performance so far.
Next game I was White playing Giovanni Carreto. It seemed likely he would go straight into my prep, but I was just going to have to see, and he showed up late because of a round time mix up so I had to wait even longer. He did end up going into my prep with only a slight deviation. It was good until we got to a point where I spent twenty minutes only to figure out the solution to my problem is very simple, by using a tactical idea. After that I found myself doing well and then won an exchange pretty quickly. Being up an exchange was nice, and I found myself having to decide to trade Knights and then put pressure or just put pressure on him right away. I unfortunately made the incorrect position and traded Knights. He found some good moves and the Queens ended up getting traded and after a while and some time pressure the Rooks got traded. It seemed like a drawn endgame except for one point the computer found a move that would give me good winning chances, but I played something else instead and it ended up in a draw.
That game was better than the first two, but still disappointing as I would have liked to come out with a win.
Fourth Round I was Black and playing Michael Bodek. Michael Bodek is another very talented player around my age. I like Michael and it seemed like this would be an exciting game because he had been doing very well so far. He went into my prep, but like my first two games played a line I wasn’t expecting him to play as much. It quickly got very exciting and complicated and we were both taking quite a bit of time. I found some really good moves to equalize and then got the better position. I had the better position for a long time, but since he played pretty well I only had one chance to extend my advantage, but played something else and after a longtime we agreed to a draw.
I felt a lot better about this game and felt like I was starting to play better. By now I really wanted a shorter game as I was the last or second to last game each round so far with all four games going over fifty moves. So I was a little tired.
Next game I was playing FM Philip Wang as White. Philip is a very good playing and was leading the tournament at the time. In the game I quickly found myself out of preparation, but still kind of knew the line. We both played pretty good, but I had some initiative. We were both taking quite a bit of time, he took a Pawn, but I had more than enough compensation. But then we got into a position where it seemed like we would just go into an equal opposite colored bishop position and he offered me a draw. I spent ten minutes and without being able to see a clear advantage for me I agreed to the draw.
It seemed like a good game, it was good for me and I got my wish of a shorter game. Having 2 out of 5 isn’t the worst, but it is clear I have to start thinking about winning a game.
Next game I was playing IM Zhanibek Amanov as White. I have played Zhanibek five times playing him with White four times, Black once and I have a plus one score against him. So this was my fifth game with White against him and every time he had played something different and this time was no exception; he played something he hadn’t played against me before. I wasn’t in prep and knew very little about the line, but still stayed about equal or better out of the opening. We got to a point where I was afraid I had made a mistake because it was locked up and it looked pretty good for him, but I found an idea and it seemed like it would be about equal. But he had two choices to either to keep it closed (which was equal) or to open it up which seemed like it could be good for him. That is what he did, but he missed a move I had that was very strong that made it so I was better almost winning. I ended up winning a Pawn, but since my Pawns were stacked it wasn’t as easy as I would have liked. We got to a point where at first I thought I could just skewer his Queen and Knight with my Rook. But realized because of the pin he could just take my Rook I take his Queen he takes my Queen, but the funny thing is even though I am down a Rook because of how passed my Pawn is I can still hold on to a draw. But since I have the advantage getting a draw was not what I was looking for, so I moved my Rook to protect my Pawn instead. We eventually got into an endgame where I was still up a Pawn, but he maybe could have drawn except for the fact my Rooks were so active which caused him to lose another Pawn. He was very low on time and we finally reached a position where he was going to lose a Rook so he resigned.
After the game we looked at a few different lines, but the biggest thing he mentioned is that the line I played was drawish… well that might be the truth, but if he wants me to play well in the opening he should go into my preparation…
Starting to do better! Back at 50% after my second round loss which is good!
Next game I was playing FM Konstantin “Kostya” Kavutskiy with Black. Out of the opening it seemed equal, and even though I tried some weird maneuvers it stayed equal for a long time and pieces started to get traded off. Kostya wanted the whole thing though, he wanted the whole point, not .5, he wanted 1, and he tried to get an attack going. At first I was a little nervous about his attack, but I started to feel like I was just fine. Then he sacrificed a piece which I felt okay about, but I was low on time so it made me feel a little nervous. By the time we hit move forty I was feeling pretty good about my position. And after he thought for a while he moved and we played the line that seemed forced and we got a very strange repetition. With the Queens still on the board the ending moves were Ne5 Ke4 Ng4 Kf5 Ne5 Ke4 and of course we drew.
3.5 out of 7 is good with two of the IMs left this would be interesting
Next game I was playing IM Andranik Matikozyan with White. We went into a kind of strange K.I.D. line, and both of us ended up taking a lot of time in the opening. In truth I wasn’t sure what the evaluation of the position was, but I felt a little encouraged since he was taking a lot of time I must be doing something right. We got into a position where it started to get a little tactical, but the tactics faded away for a little bit and the center got locked up. By now I had about ten minutes and he had thirteen minutes on move seventeen. I was thinking about what I wanted to do, I wanted to bring my Queen on this one diagonal, but was deciding if I should move it to the side or down to do so. I decided to move it to the side and realized right after I moved I was losing… in moving my Queen over that meant my Knight was now pinned and he could just take my Pawn and then bring his Bishop out, and I was pretty much losing a piece right away and eventually the game. But! Just like I missed the fact I was losing until after I had moved I think he did the same thing. Luckily for me who moved something else and I was doing fine. I got some threats and he had to move backwards and he offered me a draw. I was down to three minutes and didn’t have a clear assessment of the position so I agreed to a draw.
4 out of 8 with one round to go which means all I NEED is a draw to go up in my rating, but although that is all I need, a win would be great!
Next and final game I was playing IM Larry Remlinger as Black. We went into a Grunfeld sideline that I unfortunately hadn’t seen before. I got a slightly worse position, but it wasn’t too bad and I felt like my position was solid. He seemed to stay better for a while, but it appeared I was slowly starting to equalize. As pieces started to get traded I felt like I was starting to get an initiative, but he played well and I didn’t really get much. I had a better Pawn Structure, but Rooks got traded and at first I thought I had something, but as we played on it I didn’t see anything. I did have one idea though and instead of going for repetition I was going for this idea only to realize that my idea was not as good as I had thought, and in one of the lines I looked at my Pawn was hanging. Once I realized that and I didn’t see anything else that I could do, I offered a draw and he accepted.
4.5 Out of 9 going up in rating and games to learn from. A good tournament, not a great tournament, but good. Chess is all about learning and figuring things out. I have been really focused on strengthening my openings and I felt like I accomplished this in this tournament. The most disappointing thing was that in most/almost all of my games I had an advantage and just failed to convert. So now back to work and next tournament get the advantage and convert it!
Like I said before, congrats to Greg Shahade on his Death win last month! Greg is a good friend of mine and so I could not resist the title Thanks to the tournament directors (organizer) Ankit Gupta and (chief arbiter) Randy Hough! Congrats also to the tournament winner FM Philip Wang, who not only won the tournament, but clenched his final IM Norm with 6.5 out of 9!
Here is my win against IM Zhanibek Amanov: