SC Players at the Denker, National Girls Invitational, and Barber - Rounds 4, 5, and 6
Congratulations to each of the South Carolina representatives at this year's Denker, National Girls' Invitational, and Barber (crosstables linked)! They each performed admirably, and crafted many interesting, fighting games, inspiring young players in our state. Undoubtedly, our standout representative was Neha Dias, who scored 3/6 despite a relatively low seeding, and she could have scored much more! In fact, Neha (rated 1426) currently has 3 wins against 1800+ players in the US Open! It's an incredible, ongoing performance and we wish her the best!
For Ben Caiello (2/6) and Aditya Dias (1.5/6), the tournament was quite mixed. Ben played many of the top players in the tournament including the 4th and 6th place finishers, but the tournament revealed some weaknesses in opening preparation and positional evaluation that Ben may need to address. It is probably the strongest set of players Ben has ever played so there must be much to learn. Aditya is still extremely young and improving rapidly. This was a great opportunity for him to gain experience for future Barber and Denker runs; I suspect he might be back next year! Lesson number one that Aditya can learn from this year is to take better notation so as to review the games
Round 3 Denker (belated) - Panchanatham - Caiello
Panchanatham finished in 4th place in the Denker. He has a very strong rating of nearly 2400, and he demonstrated every bit of his rating in this game.
Round 4 Denker - Caiello - Fields
This game had a lot of ups and downs. The opening was an instructive demonstration of why too many pawn moves are bad. However, Ben got right back in the game, and it was only in the endgame that Ben eventually lost his way via a sacrifice of desperation.
Round 5 Denker - Lu - Caiello
In this game, Ben had a great Benko. A while back I tried a Benko Gambit thematic tournament and discovered that I don't like the Benko for either side. As White, it is no fun going about the painstaking process of consolidation with mines everywhere. As Black, it is no fun to feel the pressure of being down a pawn. Both issues are on display here as White struggles to consolidate, and Ben builds up big pressure. After Ben misses some strong continuations, White is on top and Ben feels the pressure of the pawn deficit, and he gives in to the urge to make a despairing bishop exchange.
Round 4 National Girls' Invitational - Santiago - Dias
After a questionable pawn sac from White, Neha is on the way to consolidation when a missed zwischenzung costs her an exchange. Still, later White lets her back in the game as Neha begins an attack on the king and drives it to d4! However, after a few frivolous checks from Neha, White brings the king to safety and converts.
Round 5 National Girls' Invitational - Thangaval - Dias
Despite the interesting play in the opening and middlegame, this game is all about the endgame. Both players left many, many half points on the table before wending their way to a draw. When young players ask why they should study the endgame, you might show this game.
Round 6 National Girls' Invitational - Dias - Borg
In this game, Neha shows some astounding opening prep and brings home a point after a few misses from both players in the opening.