I recently played in the 2012 Chicago Open… AWESOME! There were so many people that are part of the Chess.com team there… there are not many people better than Chess.com people. It was great to see a lot of my friends there!
The tournament was 9 rounds in the Open section and had GM and IM Norm possibilities. They had 19 GMs and 25 IMs in the tournament so it was a good opportunity to get a Norm.
In the tournament, I did really well and was able to clinch my second IM Norm! I was really hoping to get one here because I got my first one last year in May (Part 1, Part 2). Okay I did come really close in January , but because I did not meet the Foreign Player requirement I barely missed it. It was great to get the second one!
My overall score was 3 Wins, 4 Draws, and 2 Losses, and the average FIDE Rating of my opponents for the 9 rounds was 2410 (4 GMs, 2 IMs, 1 IM-Elect, and one FM).
My first round I was waiting in anticipation for the pairings when I went up and looked and saw that I was playing GM Michael Adams in the first round! I stepped back from the pairings and my mom asked who I was playing. With a stunned face I said “I’m on board one playing Michael Adams”. How do I possibly describe the feeling of knowing you are playing on board one against one of the strongest chess players in the world?!! Michael Adams was one of the instructors at the Metropolitan Chess Camp I attended last August and I did have the opportunity to play him in a Simul, where I drew him. But okay in a Simul where he has to focus on a lot of different games is MUCH different than when he only has you to deal with, and he is white!
He took me out of what I knew with 6.Nxe5 and we quickly got more of a positional game. We were both taking a lot of time and after 26.gxf4 our nice positional game turned into a “Death Match”. Through the complications he got the upper hand, eventually going up two extra Pawns in the endgame. It was getting tense and time was low! We were the last game so there was a decent amount of people watching. Our Chess game became the “Big Show” for the people still around (See picture above). It was intense, but because of his King weaknesses he messed up and gave me the upper hand for a little bit, but I missed the win in major time pressure (I played for 40 minutes on my increment) and he held a draw. He was winning; I was winning and then we drew… I know there were mistakes, but it still was a good game so please “Pardon Our Blunders”.
Good start to the tournament! Next game, I was playing FM Awonder Liang who is a very strong young player (he is like 9-years old). I had played him the tournament before at the Philadelphia Open, in which the opening didn’t go so well for him. I figured he would play something else this time and he did, I ended up taking a lot of time in the opening. It got very complicated when he sacrificed two Pawns. I started getting an edge and then I made a mistake with 19.Bc2? and when he found the strong 19…Bf8! I was a little concerned, here this 9-year old is pushing me on the edge of the ropes. A little bit later through some nerves and time pressure he blundered with 21…Bxg7? and it went downhill for him from then on. He played a good defense, but I was able to find some good moves to win.
Still doing well! Next I was playing IM-Elect Teddy Coleman (He has met the requirements for the IM title, he is just waiting for official processing). Teddy is a good friend of mine, but I don’t have a very good record against him. I played him at the World Open in 2010 and 2011, the first game was ok, but I lost. The second game he played well, I didn’t…you can guess the result. Since my last game I had played him didn’t go so well… at all… I actually wanted to play a good… a great… a game of the century against him this time. Out of the opening he played The London System, which I have played myself, but I haven’t played against it too many times. I had studied this before so I played pretty quickly in the opening, unfortunately he made an inaccurate move early in the game 9.c4 which forced him to find the strong move 11.Nc3 to avoid being worse. He played 11.d5 instead and I got a better position with a material imbalance. I felt I found some good moves and after I weakened his Kingside Pawns he blundered a Pawn with 19.c5? After I played 20.Qxc5 I knew I was winning, but I felt like he could still play on. He decided to resign instead so I won. Teddy and I have decided that next time we play neither one of us is going to play badly while the other one plays well and just take our game to the mountain! Game of the century!
Next game I was playing GM Alexander Shabalov. I played him in my last tournament and it was a complex game that I ended up losing. This time it was again interesting, but I made an incorrect move in the beginning. It got really crazy in the middlegame and he started a Pawn attack on my King. I stopped his attack by trading Pieces, but it left me with some weaknesses. We traded some more Pieces and the resulting endgame left me still with some weaknesses, but I had some good drawing chances. He was able to slowly move his Pieces forward and eventually my King was too weak so I resigned.
Still doing well so far! My next game was against IM John Bartholomew. John is part of the Chess.com team and my friend we were hanging out after the tournament. You can see his blog on the Chicago Open . Last time I played him I lost so I was hoping to make some improvements in the opening. The opening was similar to my first game for a little bit, but I decided to vary some. It was just a very solid game all throughout. He temporarily sacrificed a Pawn which gave him the initiative when we went into the endgame. I felt it shouldn’t be too hard to hold a draw, but I needed to be careful. Then I made it a lot harder on myself with 33…d5?!, but with accurate play I was still able to hold a draw.
Five rounds down with +1 against some strong players. Next game I was playing GM Ben Finegold. Ben is a really nice guy and a great chess player. I did play him last year and he beat me, so now it was my turn rightJ. Out of the opening I had studied this before and followed my plan, but after 12.b4 b6 I wasn’t sure at all what to do. I tried to continue my attack on the Queenside, but his attack came a lot quicker. I started trying to defend, but after 20…Bxg4! my position seemed to be collapsing. I knew I was losing, but decided that I might have chances with the extra Piece. I kept defending and then he blundered with 24…Bd4? and all the sudden I was the one starting to play for a win. It was really tricky and I think with perfect play I could have won, but he played very strongly to hold the draw.
Next game I was playing IM Raja Panjwani. I played him at the Metropolitan International and the line he played I didn’t know at the time and it was roughly equal and he slowly ground me down to eventually win. This time he played a line I wasn’t as familiar with, but did know some about the line. On move 8 and 9 I needed to make sure I was playing it correctly, but after I remembered I started playing quicker. Later we got a position where I wasn’t sure what to do so I decided to improve my Pieces by stacking my Rooks 23.Rc3. Then we got into a lot of complications which actually seemed to make his King weak and I had different sacrificing ideas. My position started to look good and he got some threats on my King, but I was able to stop them and win a Piece. In the end Queens are going to get traded which will leave me with a endgame up a Piece and two Pawn, so he resigned.
4.5 out of 7, I was trying not to think about Norm chances, but I had a hard time sleeping that night. Next game I was playing GM Nikola Mitkov. This is the first game where I have not played my opponent before in another tournament or Simul. I had prepared going by a game he played earlier in the tournament against IM Daniel Ludwig. After I played 12…Nd7 he was suspicious about the fact that he had reached this position earlier and I had played pretty fast. He thought for a while and played 13.Nd1. This was a very disappointing moment since after 13.Ba2 (which he played against Daniel) I was going to improve on what Daniel did by playing 13…Qa5. I hadn’t looked at 13.Nd1 and was a little unsure about what to do. Quickly we got into a complex middlegame. We had a lot of threats going both ways, but he ended up winning a Pawn and then he trapped my Knight. I tried to give myself any possible way to give myself chances of repetition or of saving my Knight, but it allowed him to get some mating threat, which would have forced me to lose my Queen so I resigned.
Final game! With the Norm on the line, I was playing Kai Lee from Singapore. I was out of what I knew on move 8…Qf6. I felt I played well except instead of 13.Rg1 I think 13.Nxe4 Qxe4 14.Qxe4 is better since that endgame should be better for me. After move 15.f4 it seemed pretty equal, I felt I would have a little better chances if I played on, but I knew all I needed to get the Norm was a draw so I offered it and he accepted.
So it was a great tournament overall! Also there was David Petty (aka The PinkHamster) who won the U2100 section with 6.5 out of 7 taking home the $5000 for first place! Congratulations! IM Daniel Ludwig scored a GM Norm by beating GM Michael Adams, GM Yury Shulman, GM-Elect Conrad Holt, and GM Joshua Friedel (I also learned after the tournament that he is a pretty good bughouse player!) Congratulations Daniel! And Thanks to the Continental Chess Association that brings forth another strong tournament!
Good success, fun tournament, lots of friends, Great Times!
Standings can be found here.