Chess in Black and White Issue 17: Revival Edition

Chess in Black and White Issue 17: Revival Edition

Dec 16, 2014, 5:19 PM |

Now that I have finished student teaching I will restart my blogs. I realize this is a long post, but it was been a while. Today I will summarize my chess since my last blog. We left off in the spring when I was in the upper 1600’s. I had spent most of the spring semester in the 1500’s and towards the end had been making good progress going from 1563 to 1683 in about two months.


The Pittsburgh Open 5/4/14

This was my second large weekend 5 round tournament of the spring, and I felt good going into it. I decided on the three day schedule and played my first game Friday night. I played in the U1800 section.


Round 1: I faced a 1200 as white, he played c5 but mixed up his lines and I won fairly easily after trapping is queen.  I knew I would feel well rested going into the rest of the weekend now.


Round 2: In round two I faced Pittsburgh player who was in the high 1700’s. I was black and we fought on the queenside pushing pawns all over the board in a sharp game. In the end I won after getting my rooks stacked and pieces coordinated. It always feels good to play a good game against one of the higher rated players in the section.


Round 3: In round three I faced a strong player around 1600. I played the French, but it was out of book quickly and white was very aggressive. I did not castle early enough and got into trouble. The position quickly became resignable, but since I still had a queen and a couple pieces I played on hoping for something lucky. And lucky me he dropped a mate in one and I squeaked by 3/3.


Round 4: In round 4 I faced another college student who was around 1700, who ended up winning the section. This time I was white, and faced the French. It was even for a while but then I made a passive queen move and his knight got into the center with activity and he never gave the intiative back, handing me my only loss of the weekend.


Round 5: I faced a girl rated about 1700, and I was black and once again got to play the French. This made it three French games in a row haha. I expanded on the queenside and then sacked a piece for three pawns just out of the opening. Ultimately it reduced down to an endgame where I had more pawns but she had a knight, and neither of us quite understood how to proceed so we agreed to a draw. In the end this result was very nice for me as I not only won prize money for 3rd split with my last round opponent, but I also broke 1700 for the first time going up to 1704.




Coming out of the Pittsburgh open I felt strong, but the summer was very busy and I played almost no chess online, much less in person until August.


Cleveland Open

Even without much prep I felt sharp going into the Cleveland open, which is another 5 round weekend tournament. This one was larger than the Pittsburgh Open. I once again played in the U1800 section.


Round 1: In round 1 I faced an older gentleman in the mid 1500’s and it was a challenge. As became a theme for the tournament I needed more endgame knowledge than my opponents in order to win. And while this was a weakness for me in the past, this tournament showed me that my endgame knowledge was developing nicely. I ended up winning in 94 moves! As can be seen here….



Round 2: In round 2 I faced a very young boy in the lower 1500’s but he was much stronger than that. I was white and played the scotch. He played extremely accurately and I quickly aimed for an endgame where often younger chess players struggle.  And sure enough after a few king and bishop moves my pieces were on better squares than his, as the tactics had largely disappeared from the board and I was able to win a pawn and use it to win the game. I was a bit worried though as both my games were very challenging and were not against the top people in the section.


Round 3: In round 3 I faced an Indian boy who was in the 1600s and he played queens pawn. We both played well and agreed to a draw before many pieces came off the board. I was happy with the draw because I felt under pressure throughout, and needed to find the right moves to survive. Once again a lot of effort was expended.


Round 4: I faced a man in 1700s. He played the French and we both played aggressively. Eventually we got down to a rook pawn endgame. I had an outside passed pawn and we both had a couple kingside pawns. We were on board 2 and on board one the two players were also in a rook pawn endgame. I watched them agree to a draw after one side missed a clear win. Since I saw this I figured I must still be thinking clearly and turned down several draw offers by my own opponent. I very slowly got my king active, and then sacrificed a pawn to get the position I wanted. While the position was technically drawn the whole time, the continued pressure he was under was enough for me to keep playing. And eventually he made a mistake and realized my king/pawn/rook were all on the right squares to queen without being stopped and he resigned. I may post this whole tournament later this semester because I felt the games were very instructive.


Round 5: I was now 3.5/4 and tied for first, and playing on first board. Both my opponent and I seemed quite tired, and the game not impressive at all. He played c5 but didn’t seem to play very well as I had almost a winning advantage and then dropped my queen to a simple tactic just a few moves later. Even after this I was happy with how I played, and I even gained some rating points. At this point I decided that the U1800 section was no longer for me.


Fall Semester

I was student teaching this fall so I had very little time for chess study, but I made an effort to play when I could get down to Pittsburgh. Here is a quick summary of my fall chess.


I played in the PA G/60 championship in the open section. This was the start of me playing in open sections and playing lots of opponents far above my rating. In the first round I faced a 2100 and I had an advantage on the black side of the French winawer. While I ultimately lost the game in the endgame, this game showed me that I could hold my own. The game exhausted me though and the rest of the day went poorly.


I had a very similar experience in a Saturday tournament in Erie, after losing to a 2100  when I choose to play on instead of draw, I was too distracted to play well the rest of the day and did poorly. Fortunately These two days were really my only poor performances.


I played in the PA G/45 championship in the open section again. This was a good day as I beat my first NM from the white side of the Petroff.


I played in couple other small Saturday tournament, losing to people over 1900, and while I was not making rating progress I felt good about my games.

I also played in the Pittsburgh Chess League for Grove City College and we played in Division 1. This meant that on second board I would mostly be playing masters

Round 1: My first draw against a master/2100. as can be seen here… 

Round 2: Loss to the English against a NM/CM 2100. Went to the endgame, but his knight was much better than mine.


Round 3: Lost to a 2150 CM in an exchange French from the white side. I never stood a chance in this game.

Before this semester I had never even played a rated game against a master. During this semester I played 10 games against NM/CMs. I won 1, drew 1, turned down perpetual checks in two of them, and so overall I felt like this was a very successful year of chess. I hit a high of 1782 for my rating, and will be aiming for 1800 by the end of the spring. Thank you for reading, and good luck in all your games.

Upcoming will be my future plans for chess, study tips, and some lessons, particularly on what I have learned thus far on endgames aimed at those obviously rated below me. Until next time...


-Michael Porcelli