Arizona State Championships

GM MacMolner
May 1, 2013, 9:17 AM |
As a wise man once said, "It's over!"
And by that, I mean the biggest tournament of the year for Arizona. This last weekend was the scholastic state championships and there was plenty of exciting chess to go around. The tournament took place this last weekend (the 27th and 28th) in Tucson. Here in Arizona, there are two main cities that have a strong focus on chess, Phoenix and Tucson. This year each individual state champion was from Phoenix but all team sections except one went to a Tucson school. I was very happy to see the teams from Tucson do so well, but here's to hoping next year we have a state champion from Tucson!

I thought I would share with you some of my favorite positions from the tournament. I was at the tournament helping analyze games and these were some of the most memorable situations that I saw.

This game is from the last round of the K-3 section on board 1. In this game, Black was outrated by White, but had a very promising opening. The Queens came off early but Black still held the initiative. In the position below, if Black finds the right move, he will be able to maintain strong pressure with good chances.

If Black can find the strong ...c3! he is doing very well. White's King is a sitting duck in the corner and White will most likely have to allow Black to get rid of the doubled pawn and open up the diagonal further for his dark-squared Bishop. If White captures, Black will follow with Bg7 winning an exchange due to the strong pressure.
This next game is from the K-6 section between two of the highest rated players in the section. The opening was an English Attack that went very well for White. White has the chance to knock Black out with one final precise move. Can you spot it?






The best move for White in the last position is Ne6! There are a lot of other moves that keep an advantage but this one is clearly strongest. The Knight and Rook on the 6th rank look a bit shaky but if Black responds with Ke7, White can double on the d-file and the threats will too strong for Black to handle.


The final game that I'd like to show you is a position from a Grand Prix attack that eventually fizzled out into a very comfortable position for Black. Black is winning positionally here but what is the best way to cash in on the advantage?








If you found ...Qxe1! good job! Rxf3 is a tempting looking move but after White recaptures with his rook, Black isn't winning anything.

I love interesting and tense situations like these in big scholastic events. The kids always bring a lot of excitement to the table. I hope you enjoyed these games!