3rd Place in the State Championships

3rd Place in the State Championships

Aug 22, 2016, 8:20 PM |

"Fortune," if we are to believe the Latin proverb, "favors those who are brave enough not to resign, for they shall find a cheapo." And this pretty much sums up my recent games against higher-rated players.

In the Green Bay Open in July, I found myself in a dead lost position against an expert. In what must surely count as one of the worst Blackmar-Diemer games ever played, I drop (the word "sac" would be a misnomer of malapropian proportions) the exchange and a pawn, but manage to pull off a win.

I am going to start with this game to set the tone for the state championship, which took place last week.

Thanks to sheer luck, I finished the Green Bay tournament with a plus score (3.5/5) and a couple of rating points. Fast forward a month and the Marshall Rohland Memorial, the de facto state championship named in honor of the 1957 champion.

My first-round game was against Brian Luo -- a former wunderkind, who held the record as the youngest US player ever to attain an expert rating (at 8 or 9). He more or less retired from chess after that feat, but still commands a respectable 2100 rating.

In the second round I decided to switch gears, and aim for a solid positional game against Robin Groschowski -- a very tough Class B player. I play a Colle/Trompowsky setup as white, but he gets a pawn break and I find myself with a structurally worse position. Cue: sacrifice a pawn and hope for the best! I did not get the compensation I had hoped for, and had to exchange to an P+N vs. P+N endgame with a pawn down, that I -- wing-and-prayer style -- managed to hold.

In the third round I was paired against a talented Class A junior, who apparently plays the Budapest himself as black. He explained that that's why he chose to decline my gambit. Unfortunately for him, he soon afterwards blunders a pawn, followed by a full piece.

In round four, I faced Kelly Borman -- a solid expert, with a penchant for the English. I hate the English (not the people, mind you. I'm an anglophile with plenty of tweed cred) as it is so difficult to reach dynamic/crazy positions. Heck, I sometimes paraphrase Yeats when asked to describe my playing style:

"Pawns fall apart / The center cannot hold / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the board."

In the English, the pawns tend to stay firmly in place. Ugh. But lately I have been experimenting with b6, with fairly good results.

Round five found me facing James Coons, a tenacious and resourceful Class A player, whom I'd never managed to beat before (two draws).

All in all, a decent performance (I gained 41 rating points and managed to break USCF 1900). I can't say I played well, though, but I am happy that I managed to outplay some younger -- not to mention stronger -- players in tactical melees.