How I won the 2015 US Amateur West Chess Championship
Memorial Day Weekend, May 23 to 25, I traveled to Tucson, Arizona to compete in the US Amateur West chess championship. The year before, I had won the senior prize. I blundered a Rook in round 2 and couldn't recover to play the eventual winner. This time, I lost no games, winning 4 and drawing 2. Funny to be an amateur champ when I am a professional (coach not player) but my rating fell under 2200 so I'm elegible for all kinds of goodies now! I won a plaque, a clock, and a free entry to the National Open in Las Vegas next week. I'm just providing the move scores and brief comments. If you have questions, I'll answer. If I can find time, I'll make videos of each game. My students keep me extremely busy! My first 5 rounds were grueling endgame wins. In the last round, I had a lead in the event with 4.5-0.5 and was playing the defending champ. A draw would clinch first, and if he lost, he wouldn't get a thing. I started a bit of an attack. He didn't like his position and offered a draw at move 18. So I took it and went home early
I played a 15 year old boy who is probably improving quickly.White blitzed moves 9 to 12 and lost a piece for a couple pawns. I let him have another pawn and ground him down.A piece is worth more than 3 pawns if the pawns aren't advanced.
Round 2 I played a 16 year old girl who has a decent rating. She came 4th overall. I grabbed a pawn out of the opening, utilizing a pin on the a1-h8 diagonal, and later gave her both Bishops against my Knights. The Bishops look good, but the Knights coordinate to out duel them.
Round 3 I played an improving 12-13 year old. He missed 13. Nxe5. My 14th move intended 15...e4, a move I discovered before playing I couldn't. He sacs a Knight on e4. Soon I go into an ending with a good Bishop vs. a bad Knight with Rooks on board. I missed a trick where he gets my Bishop with check, perhaps I should have played 28...g6 intending ...Kg7. He thought he was winning at move 32, he missed my reply. He could have advanced his pawn up to c7, but my King blocks it, and game should be drawn eventually. He opted for a quick draw.
Round 4 had draw written all over it from the outset. Indeed, had he not gone for his own Queen in ending, and headed back to defend it would be equal. I couldn't remember the exact technique for Auerbach's Queen and Pawn endings book. I need to re-read that section with a Knight's Pawn,it may very well have been drawn.But the 6 hour game finally ended in my favor after 126 moves. I had played him last year and knew his style, it helped me some in the game. See http://www.chess.com/groups/forumview/black-to-play-and-find-a-plan
Round 5, I and the boy I drew had 3.5-0.5 There was one 4-0 and I played him. The USCF website shows he earned his NM certificate before 1991. He played a strange opening, and I stole a pawn early, figuring I could out play him. Neither of us had much going. I showed the game to IM Levon Altounian who was on site analyzing games. He had some interesting comments, but I think he over-rated Black's chances for survival in the ending. I returned the pawn to go for a good Knight vs. bad Bishop and it paid off. Note, 30. Na7 is forced else I walk into mate!
Round 6, almost over. Already noted details on this game above.
I dedicate my win to my late friend, Frank Metz, 1944-2006, and 1975 US Amateur Chess Champion. I hope you enjoyed the games and learned something as well! Thanks for your time.