2013 Michigan Fall Chess Festival

  • GM gmfinegold
  • | Oct 29, 2013

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!


  • 3 years ago


    Thanks for posting GM Finegold. Always a pleasure to read your stuff. I've really been enjoying the lectures of yours St. Louis Chess Club has been posting on you-tube as well.

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks for sharing your experience

  • 3 years ago


    Ben always stuck me as a fine human being. I very nice person.

  • 3 years ago

    FM MichiganEagle

    Thanks for the honorable mention! Hope to see you in St Louis!

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks for the analysis of your games and tidbits about the tournament.

  • 3 years ago


    doduobird123: Terrible!

  • 3 years ago

    GM BFinegold-STL

    Yes, perhaps Nd7 is better... I think both moves are played a lot, and black often plays Nf6, and it looks similar.  I have only had the position 3-4 times in the last 25 years, so, do not know everything about it... I just knew I needed to win to win some $$... but no Slav!  :)

  • 3 years ago


    @Doduobird: No offense, but if you look like the dog in your avatar picture, you might want to consider that you have the manners thereof.

    Saying "no offense" and then saying something rude is the same thing as being rude.

  • 3 years ago


    Great article!

    Hoping they post the results for the rest of the tournament soon. Only the 9-round Open is posted.

  • 3 years ago


    GM Finegold, thanks for the nice article. Now I know a little more about high-fly tourneys in the States :)

    I have a question, though: in the very last game, why did you choose 9. ... Ne8 instead of typical 9. ... Nd7? Of course, I am no good adviser, being but a "bubbling-under-CM"-player; however, theory is pretty consistent on this point, if I remember ECO E99 correctly. Having played a bit of such positions both as Black and White, I am now close to considering Ne8 an inaccuracy. The c7 square will fall anyway, even with Ne8 & Rf7 protection, while on d7 the knight would hamper White's pawn storm.

    Thanks again!

  • 3 years ago

    FM H__B

    Nice work, tx.

    One question to all of you, is it really true, that the entry fee was about $200? If so, incredibly high, in Europe noone would ever join such a tourney.

  • 3 years ago

    GM gmfinegold

    Congrats to Bryan Smith getting his last GM norm if true!!  I knew Bryan was having a good event, but was not sure if anyone got a norm. Bryan has been GM strength for years.

  • 3 years ago


    GM Finegold, nice article.  Always something to learn from your lectures, articles and videos.  BTW, anyone who insults a GM at chess.com who devotes his time and energy for our betterment should be banned on the spot, period.  Best Regards, EddieB   P.S. and yes Ben is nothing but a class act.

  • 3 years ago


    Ben is class, indeed.  Good show, good article as always!

  • 3 years ago


    IM Bryan Smith made his third and final GM norm at this tournament.

  • 3 years ago


    Good article Ben, it sounds like Michigan was good times.

  • 3 years ago


    doduobird123 sez "But no offense, if the guy in the picture is you, ummm you might wanna go on a diet "

    A rude, tacky, and tasteless comment. If you have nothing of intelligence to add, add nothing at all.

  • 3 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    sounds fun.  but so far... and there are masters there, wow.

    in the game versus Nolan (i don't like 13.a3 btw) i find it funny that Houdini suggests 19...Qa1 with a draw, but Ben is a good player and won the game instead.

    full games are cooler than game segments, but nice post!

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