I qualified for the state championship! Here are the games

Nov 8, 2008, 9:01 PM |

  Very exciting night tonight as I found out that I qualified to play in the nebraska closed state championship.  Only 6 players or so can qualify to play.  Usually some pretty strong players are there including Keaton Keirwa a young master that has been featured in chess life a few times.

  Remember how I keep talking about resilience and standing your ground until the end?  Well, in my first 2 games, I was down to under 5 seconds.  My opponents had over 8 minutes left.  There is a 5 second delay of course, but that is some intense pressure!  I had to calculate every logical response from my opponent ahead of time usually to be able to make it. 

  My first game was pretty good, I gained a superior minor piece and pawn formation.  After the game my opponent said he thought he was winning the whole game.  That's the average chess player for ya : he's always 'winning' regardless of objectivity =)

 In my second game, I again had a good position.  If you look at the game, you can see my decisive mistake was to play a5.  My goal was to win the a-pawn and perhaps the c-pawn and queen with my 2 bishops.  What really happened was after he hopped his knight out of there, it became more powerful than I ever imagined! 

  Instead, I should have kept his knight locked down on c3 and or traded for it with the correct bishop to keep same color bishops on the board, and find another plan.

  My third game was against Joe Knapp, a friend of mine that I saw a couple concerts with recently.  It was an alekhine's defense.  I'm not sure if he has studied the Alekhine's alot, but it seemed he was unprepared for the variation I played.  I learned that variation from 'winning chess openings' from yasser seirawan - A beginner's book.  Just shows you that you can learn useful stuff anywhere.

  I had a lot of queenside space, but the real breakthrough came when I pinned his knight with Bb5.  He had the choice to accept doubled pawns or lose time with his bishop.  The doubled pawns cost him the game, as it was a pretty closed position and my knights became more important. 

In my 4th game, one of the best games I've ever played, I played the Taimanov variation as me and my friend Sean glanced at in the original book written by Taimanov himself.  It seems that very few people are familiar with this.  That's usually my goal: Take the opponent out of book, get a playable, solid position in which maneuvering and strategy become more important than sharp opening theory, and try to get an imbalance and outplay my opponent with it. 

  This game is really interesting because it shows me COMPLETELY FLAUNTING CHESS PRINCIPLES!  Notice I have a backwards pawn on d7 the entire game.  In fact for a large portion of the game my bishop sat passively defending the pawn on c8.  Nevertheless, you can see that I got a huge amount of play because his doubled rooks on the d-file and his rook on the d6 hole amounted to absolutely nothing, while my rook on c5 and potential activity of my bishop were pretty dangerous.  I was preparing to open the f-file for a while, and it turned out that the g-file opened, and then both my rooks swung into the game.

  It looked like he was defending, but I tried some subtle moves to get a win.  I noticed for a long time that if I played b5, he could block with b4, and if i then played a5, he could protect with a3.  With this in mind, I got his king in the line of my bishop's diagonal, then moved my rook to attack a protected pawn (the a-pawn that needed to go to a3).  After that, he couldn't stop my queenside advance and I gained the valuable center pawn which gave me 2 connected passed pawns.

  It was still complicated, although generally speaking the bishop should win over the knight in a mutual passed pawn situation across the board.  He blundered a pawn, to my relief, and then the endgame was undefendable. 

  I thought I was just playing the last game for rating, but it turns out that by winning it I qualified for the nebraska state closed championship.  So, I could be the nebraska state champion sometime next year.  Of course I'll be shooting for it. 


  In my second game, with 2-5 seconds left, I thought I had a way to secure a draw, but tried extra hard for a win and almost lost.  I may have to reevaluate my bloodlust for wins as it almost cost me the game and the tournament.

Time management is so crucial in a rated standard game.  I wasted a lot of time, and also wasted a lot of time blowing my nose (I have a small cold today, and also only got 1 hour of sleep last night).

If I can play decent with 1 hour of sleep and sick, who knows what I can do with a full nights sleep and full health =)

For your enjoyment, here are the games (some of them went into time scramble under 5 minutes remaining therefore the moves weren't recorded).