Carl's Jr. g/20 Tournament on 10/16/2013


Tonight I had a strange tournament. In Round 1 I lost to a 1500, but then somehow I managed to beat a 1800, a 2050, and a 2200 in the remaining rounds to tie for 1st. My prize was $8.50 Money Mouth.  Who could have imagined this outcome immediately after Round 1? Chess is a strange game.

Round 1 was a Philidor. I had a clear advantage after 10. Nf5! His 12...b4 surprised me, but I found the best response after a few minutes of thought. If he had played 15...Qxd5, I was intending 16. Qxb4 threatening both Qxb7 and Bxh7+. I overestimated 16. dxc6? winning the exchange. 16. d6 was better. After 17...Qe6, he had enough counterplay for the exchange. 23. Rfe1 was weak, and 24. Ke2?? sealed my fate.

In Round 2, I was white against Rachael. 

The game was equal for the first 20 moves, but a funny thing happened. After two knights and two bishops got traded off the board on move 20, black's king had fewer defenders (the knight on a7 is offside) and my f-pawn had the possibility of advancing down the board.  23...f6 weakened the g6 square, so three moves later my rook settled on that square. 28. Bxh6 was a nice shot. Taking the bishop ended the game quickly.

In Round 3, I was black against Joe. I played the Chigorin Defense!

11. Ng3 lost a pawn. 13...Bg4 was a provocative move; first, it prevents Rd1, and second, after the natural 14. h3, I was able to find 14...Rxe3! with a clear advantage for black.  16. hxg4 Nxg4 would be a winning attack for black, so instead he tried 16. Rxf6. But 17. Bxh7+ was a bad move, opening the h-file. 20. g5 was a good try to confuse matters. I thought for three minutes and played 20...Qxg5 which kept things under control. 24...Rf1+ forced a rook trade and a winning endgame for black.

In Round 4, I was white against Miguel.

I played 15. Qf3 offering a pawn, but he would have to give up his dark-squared bishop, so he declined the offer.  On move 19, I decided to bury his bishop rather than opening up the f-file for my queen and rook. After 21...Bc6, he offered me a draw, but I continued playing. By move 30, he had two minutes and I had four minutes, so we were entering the time scramble phase. He bashed out 34...Ng4! but under time pressure I found 35. Qf3, thinking that if 35...Qxf3 36. gxf3 Nf2+ 37. Kg1 Nxd1 38. Bd8 wins (but it is still complicated). Instead he played 35...Nxf6, and in this super-complicated position, I spent one minute on 36. Qxe4. In extreme time pressure, I was able to find 39. Ne7+ forcing the pawn to promote. With me down to 20 seconds and Miguel having only a few seconds, he played 46...f5, not noticing that he was in check. Instead of adding two minutes to my clock for the illegal move, he decided to resign.