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NCO, Continental Class, SPICE Cup

Fins0905
Oct 22, 2011, 4:12 PM 6

North Carolina Open - Sep. 3-5

Originally I had no intentions to play this tournament - it wasn't even on my radar.  Many state championships are held over Labor Day weekend, and the New York Championship in Albany seemed like a very logical choice.  However, shortly after the Manhattan Open I began to hear rumblings that the NC Chess Association wanted the NCO to be a REALLY strong event and had already secured the participation of several GMs/IMs.  The lead organizer,Walter High, found me on Facebook and asked me to play.  Scratch that, he INSISTED that I play!  IMs don't command nearly as much respect as GMs, so it was pretty neat when Walter and the NCCA offered me some good conditions to seal the deal.

The event turned out to be absolutely top-notch.  Five GMs and six IMs took part, along with a slew of other masters.  The organizers really thought of everything - right down to the limos(!) that shuttled players to/from the airport (thanks to Gary Newsom for that!).

I ended up scoring 3.5/5, just missing a massive seven-way tie for first.  I lost a sloppy game to GM Ftacnik in round 3 and couldn't overcome IM Perdomo's Queen's Gambit Declined in the final round.  A couple pics from the event:

  Walter, Gary, and the NCCA have big plans for future NCOs - I'm definitely going to return.

Continental Class - Oct. 6-10

October has been a busy month for me.  I've just completed back-to-back 9-rounders, beginning with the Continental Class Championship in Arlington, VA.

This was a Goichberg tournament that had a disappointing turnout.  Apparently some additional foreign titled players were expected, but didn't show - thus, it was nearly impossible to score IM/GM norms (typically you need titled opponents from three different federations).

I scored 6/9 (+3, =6) and tied for second.  I gave up several draws to lower-rated players and couldn't quite get the momentum going to fight for first.  I  did score a nice win against former World Senior Champion GM Larry Kaufman in the final round, and also beat the dangerous FM Kazim Gulamali in a wild round six encounter.

One memorable incident I had en route to this event: I should have completely missed my flight!  I snagged some really good tickets (~$100 roundtrip) a couple weeks before the tournament and had prematurely congratulated myself on avoiding a NYC-DC bus trip.  In Seinfeld-esque fashion, I went to LaGuardia airport when my flight was actually out of JFK!  There was no time to cab it over to the other airport, so I was going to just scrap the trip (I was going to miss round one for sure).  Fortunately, luck was on my side and the flight was delayed two hours!  I cruised over to JFK and checked in with plenty of time to spare.

SPICE Cup - Oct. 15-19

The SPICE tournaments are organized by Susan Polgar at Texas Tech (in Lubbock, TX).  One of the main goals is to give US players the opportunity to participate in high-quality round-robins to score IM/GM norms.  There is also an "A" group that has boasted some big names...this year it included GMs Le Quang Liem, Leinier Dominguez, Sebastian Feller, Georg Meier, Yuri Shulman, and Ray Robson!  Susan was gracious enough to offer me a place in the "C" group (average rating ~2440 FIDE).  

To be honest, my preparation wasn't great for this tournament.  I got very busy in the weeks leading up to the Continental Class and had only a couple days when I got back from DC.  It's extremely difficult to play against well-prepared, strong opponents in a round-robin format, and I found myself in time-trouble in almost every game.  I have only myself to blame for this, and in the future I'm going to be careful about scheduling longer tournaments in succession.

I scored 4.5/9 (+2, -2, =5) and broke about even rating-wise (GM norm was 6 points).  I was on minus-one after the first four rounds (playing with Black against three GMs in these games) and had virtually no further chance to norm.  Hey, nobody said this GM title stuff was going to be easy!

GROUP C

Rank Name Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score Place
1 GM Eugene Perelshteyn 2534
1/2
1/2
 1/2  1/2  1/2 1/2
1/2
0
 1/2 4
8
2 GM Josh Friedel 2518    1/2  

 1/2 1
 1/2 1/2
1/2
 1 1
1/2
6
2-3
3 GM Andre Diamant 2505 1/2
 1/2
 1/2 1/2
1/2
 1 1/2
 0 1/2
4.5
4-7
4 GM Ben Finegold 2489  1/2 0
 1/2
 1 1/2
1
1
 1  1 6.5
1
5 IM John Bartholomew 2440  1/2  1/2 1/2
0
 1/2 1
1/2
0
1
4.5
4-7
6 IM Levon Altounian 2429  1/2 1/2
1/2
1/2
 1/2
1
1/2
1
 1 6
2-3
7 SM Matthew Herman 2414 1/2
1/2
 0 0
0
0

 1/2  1/2  1/2 2.5
9
8 IM Vitaly Neimer 2373 1/2
 0 1/2
0
1/2
1/2
 1/2
 1 1
4.5
4-7
9 SM Faik Aleskerov 2316 1
0
 1 0 1
0
 1/2  0
1
4.5
4-7
10 FM Kayden Troff 2306  1/2  1/2 1/2
0
0
 0  1/2 0
0

2
10 

 

Here's my last-round win and (for balance!) an ugly loss I had to GM Ben Finegold:

 

 

My flight back to NYC (via a connection in Memphis) had GM Perelshteyn, GM Amanov, and IM Lev Milman aboard.  We ended up getting delayed for a couple hours, so naturally we played blitz at the Lubbock airport Starbucks!  Well, we played tandem blitz: Amanov and Milman vs. Perelshteyn and myself, with the civilized time control of 3+2 (also the FIDE World Blitz time control).  Moves were alternated.  Very interesting stuff!  On paper Eugene and I are not stronger than Lev and Mesgen, but we beat them handily (something like 7 to 3).  Eugene later commented that him and I have more similar styles than Lev and Mesgen, and he thought it was easier to anticipate what I was planning (and vice versa).  I talked a lot of chess with these guys (Lev was my roommate at this tourney) and they are all really cool (check out Eugene's videos on chess.com if you haven't).
Oh, I forgot - there was also a blitz tournament after the closing ceremony of the B/C groups in which the A group also participated (the regular "A" tourney is longer, with only one round per day).  It was a fun atmosphere and was won by GM Meier in a close playoff against GM Le.  I beat GMs Boros, Diamant, and Perelshteyn along with IM Sevillano, but lost to GMs Robson and Bykhovsky, plus IM Arnold.  I want to give a shout-out to 13 year-old FM Kayden Troff who had a MONSTER blitz tournament, beating guys like GM Robson and GM Feller and tying for second!
Next weekend I'm playing the Michigan Chess Festival in Dearborn, MI.  I've also got some cool chess projects coming up that I'll talk about in a future post.  Good chess to everyone in the remainder of October!

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