Cashing In At Reno

GM KaydenTroff
Apr 29, 2011, 3:01 PM |

Why is it that chess tournaments and holidays go together like pencil and paper, like hot dogs and ball games, like snow and Utah???  Do chess organizers not believe in holidays???  Over Easter weekend, I played in the Reno Far West Open.  Not exactly where I would have chosen to spend Easter weekend, but this tournament is typically a strong tournament that is close to Utah.  It was a decently strong tournament this time, but didn’t have nearly as many players as it usually did because it conflicted with a tournament in Philadelphia and the US Championship.  

It has been a while since I played in a tournament like this, since my main focus has been on Norm tournaments (I guess technically it has been a while since I have been in any tournament).  The two biggest differences between this tournament and most norm tournament are:

1.       There are only 6-rounds in this tournament when Norm tournaments have 9(or more)-Rounds.

2.       The time control for the tournament was 2-hours to make 40 moves, then you get an additional 1-hour, then you have that 1-hour to make 20 more moves and then you’d get an additional 30-minutes.  And you get a 5-second delay from move 1.  In the Norm tournaments  you get 90 minutes for 40 moves then you get an additional 30-minutes, then you get a 30-second increment from move 1.

I was a little concerned about the time control before the tournament because I haven’t played that time control in a long time.  Any one that knows me though knows that I like to take time so I easily adjusted right back into the 7 hour games.  With the other time control most of the games average about 4 hours because it forces you to think more quickly.  After the tournament though, we realized that there are some definite advantages to the 90/30 time control.  Twelve and ½ hours of chess games in one day is A LOT of chess!!!

Now for the tournament recap right here on KT’s B (Kayden Troff’s Blog) :


So first round I got a lower rated player than me, Bill Heywood 2021.  I was Black and we went into a Closed Sicilian and after a while I realized that my coach GM Melik Khachiyan and I had our opponents play the same thing against us and of course we played the same thing (I mean he  is my coach after all).  My opponent and I were several moves behind and I was wondering if we were going to get the same position; of course though, my opponent deviated from their game.  I played the correct move…just a few moves late.  I made a mistake and the annoying thing was that what I thought Khachiyan and I had looked at was basically the right idea.  I just wasn’t sure so I played something else.  It wasn’t until several moves later I realized how difficult my position was and I had to get creative to get my Queen into play so I could play for a win.  So both of us started attacking, me on the Queenside trying to get my Queen into a good position and stack my Rooks at some point, and him pawn storming my Kingside.  We both pretty much got it at the same time: he broke through with his pawns and I was just finishing the stacking of my Rooks.  Now it all came down to whose plan was better!  It got a little crazy, but the reason I got a better position was because after he started to bring his Queen and Rook in and let me take one of his pawns, my King was actually surprisingly safe after just bringing my Knight back.  After that I ended up winning a piece and the game.

Second game, I got Nicholas Karas 2159, who is the California High School State Champion this year if I am not mistaken (California High School Champion vs. Utah Jr. High School Champion).  I was White this time.  We played into more of a sideline or like second mainline of the Four Pawns Attack.  I had studied the line before and so I got a pretty good position.  I got to a point where I thought he had to take my Knight with his Bishop and then I would take and just push for space and see what happens.  Now he moved his Bishop… away.  The reason I hadn’t considered this is because it looked like I was just winning a pawn.  So I was looking at the position and decided I can take the pawn and then saw that I had a backup plan that would be okay at least (always a good idea to have a backup plan).  I played the little trick and whatnot to win the pawn and then spent a lot of time at that position just figuring out my plan.  I really was annoyed actually because any line I saw I didn’t like (not that they might not have been good, but I just didn’t like them).  Until I found this move that at first I didn’t think I could play, then I realized his tactical ideas there weren’t as scary as they seemed.  I played it and we traded off a couple of pieces and then he gave me a chance to trade off Queens and I took it.  I figured I have the two Bishops and I am up a pawn, I should be winning.  But he played a move that I really hadn’t considered and I’d have to give up my pawn.  However, I still found a move that would allow me to probably win a pawn back.  I wasn’t too bad actually, and it worked except I had to find that after he takes my pawn, I threaten his pawn and he threatens my Bishop.  Instead of moving my Bishop I have to threaten his Bishop, because if I had moved my Bishop he had an annoying move that I thought just led to a draw (don’t move until you see it!).  After that Melik said I played the endgame very well, and I won.

Third game even though GM Sergey Kudrin 2613 drew against Sam Sevian (which was an exciting game), I got paired with him.  I was Black which was funny, because it meant the highest rated player was getting the same color twice and, yes it might seem wrong but it was correct that he should get it twice in a row because I had more points and points trump.  Unfortunately, we did not realize this until we saw the pairings so I had prepared as white….oops!

So Melik and I quickly came up with a plan for the game and I was ready.  We were expecting him to go into the main line of the Accelerated Dragon, but as luck would have it he didn’t Frown.  He went into the Maroczy which was still okay, because I had looked at it before.  He played something I didn’t know exactly, so I played some slight inaccurate moves, but I was ok.  We went into an endgame I completely underestimated, and I played it ok for a while, but then I sacrificed a pawn and he brought his King into the center which was surprisingly strong.  I got into a position after some trades that I was just completely locked up, I finally decided once we got into one position, that my best chances were to sacrifice another pawn trade off Rooks and maybe hold that endgame.  Well it seemed to work, but it was still VERY complicated.  After some tries by him and some defending by me, I finally got the draw, but not until we had gone 7-hours though!!!  Seven hours with a GM……not too shabby!!!

Next game I got Sam Sevian 2253 who was the other kid (he is 10-year old) who drew GM Kudrin. He is a very strong player who made master when he was 9 years old (almost 10).  Before the game, they announced to everybody that board 3 had a combined age for the two players of 22!  After a 7-hour game Melik and I talked about the game plan and he said that if I felt tired I could just go for a draw and get some rest.  I thought hmmm… maybe, but I am White so maybe not...we’ll see! 

Of course he didn’t follow the game plan (they so rarely do), but still I had looked at what he played recently with my coach GM-Elect Sam Shankland.  By the way, I need to pause for a minute and congratulate Sam on a VERY nice performance at the US Championships!  Way to go Sam!!  Anyway, I got a good position out of the opening and just tried to slowly improve on that.  We got into a position where I figured psychologically it would be good to trade Queens.  Just because I’m tired and it will be a lot easier for me to simplify it down a little bit.  We didn’t trade Queens right away (kept the tension a little bit), but eventually we did.  A few moves after we traded off Queens he pushed this pawn that, hmm… maybe he should have thought about a bit more.  I had a little trick to not take it right away, but pin it, and I won the pawn.  We traded a little bit and then a little bit later traded down to a tricky endgame with opposite-colored Bishops and I still had my extra pawn.  I think he might have been able to hold on to a draw, but he made a mistake and I was able to slowly but surely win.

Now I had played about 12 hours and 30 minutes since that was about a 5 and a half hour long game… so much for resting…

The next game doesn’t have  too big of a recap; I looked up what he played and Melik and I looked over it and I thought I would have good drawing chances with Black.

I was playing IM Vladimir Mezentsev 2419, he played kind of into what we had prepared, but he played this weird move.  After that, I just made a mistake, it wasn’t huge, but it let him stop me from castling.  It got kind of exciting, he played it well though and after that first mistake Melik said I was just lost.  I tried some tricks, but they didn’t work.  I never got to castle and it was annoying because I never could connect my Rooks and ugh… he just got the advantage and held it against me.

Last game was interesting, because pairings were delayed a lot because of a late withdrawal. Luckily for me I think it was Melik who figured out who I would be playing before the pairings actually came up, giving me more time to prepare. 

 I was excited going into it as it looked like we were going into a Grunfeld and I would be White.  I was playing Steven Greanias 2200.  He played a sideline, but I actually had seen a game in the line and I played into some craziness.  I got a really good position and after this line I should have stuck to my original thoughts of the position in the line.  Which was push a pawn and win his Knight.  I thought he had this tactic to save it which I had some simple move to save it, I don’t know what it was… mind blank… fatigue… I don’t know.  I played something else which still gave me a good position… but wasn’t winning a piece.  After a while I still had a winning move, but it was less obvious than my previous mistake.  After that he got some attack going, but in the end we agreed to a draw because it looked like it was just going to be repetition. 

It still was a good tournament though, I walked away with $510 and it looks like I will go up in both Fide and USCF.

Congratulation to IM Steven Zierk who got 5.5/6 doing very amazing in the tournament!  And as I said already, congratulation to GM Sam Shankland who did great in the US Championship!  Thanks to GM Melik Khachiyan for his help in the tournament!  Also Congrats to Daniel Naroditsky who had the amazing opportunity to play in the US Championships!

Thanks to the TDs who did a great job with the tournament!

This is Kayden Troff signing off KT’sBSmile

Here is my game with Sam Sevian:


 My Coach GM Melik Khachiyan will be doing a video on my game against Kudrin on