2012 Chicago Open

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Greetings all! This is IM Darwin Yang reporting on the 2012 Chicago Open, where I met up with several other Chess.com ambassadors including David and Danny. I hope this comes to you in good condition, and that you all have been having a good summer so far.

This year's Chicago Open at the end of May was filled with the many ups and downs that characterize such major open tournaments. My first game was against FM Jeffrey Xiong, who's USCF is ~2350, but whose FIDE is high 2100. Unfortunately for me, FIDE rating was used as the determinant in this tournament and I was paired against Jeffrey with Black. We drew without much incident, and that dropped me down in the brackets and consequently my rating average.

The critical turning point was my game 4 against GM Giorgi Kacheishvili with White. Both of us were at 2.5/3 at this point, and if I could win then I would set myself up for a strong tournament.

Because of my fear for my b2-pawn, I was unable to convert my great earlier efforts into a win. After this failure to capitalise on my advantage, I was able to beat lower rated players and hold my own against the GMs. I'd like to draw your attention to an instructive opposite-colored bishop against GM Yury Shulman in round 7. Again, I was on White. He is a pawn up and his main plan is advancing the c and d-pawns. My only chance is exploiting the possible weakness of his kingside pawns.

This game shows that when trying to convert your position into a win, try to never allow your opponent any counter chances. In the above game, Shulman's ...Rd3 allowed my rook to actively attack the Black pawns from the e-file, and he had to struggle (and failed) to keep the position alive. The opposite is true for the defending sides, always look to see when you can complicate your opponent's task.
I finished the tournament with 6/9, a respectable performance. It was a very instructive experience overall, something that will help me prepare for my future tournaments this summer. Lastly, I'd like to congratulate the tournament winner, GM Gabriel Sargissian, who finished with 7/9 and pocketed the prize for clear first. Applause is also due to IM Daniel Ludwig, who, with the extraordinary result of 6.5/9 including a win over top seed GM Michael Adams, earned a GM norm, and to Kayden Troff, who earned an IM norm.
I hope you all have a great summer and enjoyed reading my blog. As they say, HAGS! (Have a great summer)

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