Chess Galore in Philly! Part 4: A Strong Finish

Chess Galore in Philly! Part 4: A Strong Finish


This is part 4 of Chess Galore in Philly, a series where I will be covering all 18 games from two consecutive 9-round tournaments, the Philly International and the World Open.

Where we left off...

After a rollercoaster win, I ran to a nearby convenience store and treated myself to a good 'ole Pure Leaf drink. Feeling very refreshed, I returned to my apartment, immediately jumping in bed to rest for the next game. I was going to win the next game, I could feel it!

Who will I play next? Will it be another higher-rated player? Will I have to play another young superstar? You'll just have to wait and see...

June 29th, 4:00 pm

With the 8th round starting in an hour, I took a mental note of my position in the tournament. Currently, my score was 2.5/7, which was less than ideal, but if I won my next two games, then I would finish with my goal of a 50% score, which would be 4.5/9. While waiting for the pairings, I talked to myself, mentally preparing for the next game. Win, and I would truly be on a roll. Lose, and the tournament would basically be finishing on a low note. Obviously, I want to win!

20 minutes before the round, the pairings came in, revealing that I would be white against Rohan Padhye, another young, talented player.

Rohan Padhye, who is similar in age to me, won many tournaments when he was younger, such as getting 2nd place in the National K-5 Champs, as shown in this picture. He is now rated approximately 2180 USCF.

As you may know, 2200 USCF is the threshold needed to obtain the NM (National Master) title in the US, which is the title I currently hold. The next game was bound to be good, considering how close we were in strength and how eager my opponent would be to get one step closer to the title himself!

Game #8: EnergeticHay vs Rohan Padhye

This game was a crazy one, with lots of complications and complex calculations. Many of the variations did not occur in the actual game but affected how we played. 

Key Takeaways From Game #8:

1. Understanding of an opening is far more valuable than knowing countless lines of theory. However, a certain amount of theory should be known to simply get good positions in more forcing variations. 11.Bf1!? was not bad, but it wasn't what was in my prep, causing me to get a worse position a few moves afterward.

2. Two great techniques to find the best moves are comparison and elimination. On move 15, I was able to figure out that 15.Be2 was better than Nge2, and Be3. I eliminated Be3 because it seemed like I would lose by force, and I compared Nge2 to Be2. Noticing that my development would be hindered after Nge2 but not after Be2, I chose the latter as my move. Turns out, Be2 was the only move in the position. I'm still worse, but not losing!

3. Piece activity can be worth much more than material. If my opponent had played 17...c5 (or 17...Rb8 and then 18...c5), with the idea of bringing the knight into the game via c6, he would've gained a winning advantage.

4. Emotions are a big part of games. I had defended the entire game, and therefore underestimated my chances after 21.Qxd3, and played 21.Be2 instead (not a bad move either though). Similarly, my opponent overestimated his chances and played 21...Qe4? instead of acknowledging the absence of his attacking potential and trading queens. In the end, both mistakes worked out in my favor, so that's great!

5. When you have the advantage, try and make winning the game easier! I did this by trading off one pair of rooks with 29.Bh7! and 30.Rxd8, and by attempting to trade the queens off later in the game.

June 29th, 8:00 pm

Overall, I felt very satisfied with myself for winning this game. I had a very rocky start to the game and was nervous that I would suffer another defeat, but I was able to push through and outplay my opponent. At this point, I was feeling very happy and decided to watch some TV and eat some snacks (I wanted to eat junk food but my mom forced me to eat strawberries first). 

As I watched some random movie (I forgot already, I know), I thought about my tournament so far. I had lost the first 3 games to tough opponents, drawn an NM in round 4, won the next game, lost to Carissa, and now won 2 games in a row against tough 2100s. I was currently sitting on 3.5/8, and my hopes of finishing the tournament on 4.5/9 were actually possible! With that in mind, I decided to cut the movie short, and go to bed early.

June 30th, 7:30 am

I woke up energetically and ready for a fight. After a nice, hearty breakfast, I found out that the pairings had been posted early today! I was black against CM Duane Rowe, an extremely strong ~2250 rated player from Jamaica.

Duane Rowe representing Jamaica in the 2012 Gibraltar Festival in the Masters Section

I was not afraid of him though, and ready to beat him to the ground (on the chessboard, of course )! I took the extra time to thoroughly study my openings, and I found out that my opponent played the Alapin as white. This allowed me to get a firm grasp of what variations were going to appear, and to study for them! Let's take a look at the game.

Game #9: CM Duane Rowe vs EnergeticHay

Key Takeaways From Game #9:

1. Preparation helps. Memorizing lines in openings is almost never more important than one's overall understanding of the types of positions, but as you can see in the game, I was able to equalize extremely easily by prepping for my opponent.

2. Around move 15, I did not rashly push for an advantage, but rather slowly improved my position. It's always best to slightly improve your position as much as possible before you change the nature of the position.

3. My opponent played odd moves in 18.Be3!? and 19.Bxd2!? This allowed me to start pressing during the game, and the fact that the computer thinks everything is equal does not mean that one player cannot be feeling better in a position such as the one after 21...Qe4.

4. There were lots of mini-battles and small nuances that both sides were accounting for, but ultimately my opponent's biggest mistake in this extremely equal game was 28.a4, allowing 28...a5! A strong pawn break, eliminating all of white's play on the queenside.

5. I followed his mistake up with one of my own, playing 30...Kd7? which runs into some tactical problems.

6. A common theme in this game is trying to create chances out of nothing. 44...Kc5 is still drawn with best play, but that's with best play. I was able to enter a Q v Q endgame that I pushed on for some time, but ultimately I missed a nice stalemate trick (My opponent had obviously been studying up on the art of Eric Rosen's tricky stalemates) that ended the game in a draw.

June 30th, 3:00 pm

The game was over, and so was the tournament. I'm not going to lie, the game was a little disappointing, as I ended up half a point shy of my desired tournament score of 4.5/9, ending up at 4/9 instead. Overall, I still gained 4 rating points in this tournament, so it was a solid performance, after quite a rocky start. On the walk back to the apartment, I realized that perhaps hoping to beat a player 100 rating points higher than me was a bit too ambitious and that a draw was still a great result. When I got back to the apartment, I hopped onto the sofa and began enjoying my one rest day before my next tournament: The World Open.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed Part 4 of Chess Galore in Philly! Stay tuned for the next edition, which will cover the start of my next tournament, the World Open! 

Chess Galore in Philly

Series Introduction

Part 1: A Rough Start

Part 2: The Comeback Begins

Part 3: Stunned in the Opening

Part 4: A Strong Finish

Part 5: ?????

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