Midwest Team Tournament

Midwest Team Tournament

NM Lord_Neezy
Oct 3, 2014, 4:08 PM |

Thunder Kings Take Second!

This year I had the pleasure of reforming the Thunder Kings chess club for the 2014 Midwest Team Tournament. The original team consisted of myself, Arshaq, Pranav and Chirag and each of these players had made a lot of improvement since 2012.


James 2012: 1860 --> 2082


Arshaq 2012: 1825 --> 2105


Pranav 2012: 1540 --> 1690


Chirag 2012: 1119 --> 1300


Unfortunately, there were conflicts with a few members of our original team so Arshaq and Chirag would not be accompanying us for the event. I was a bit concerned about our team's prospects but I was not shaken, I knew Iowa City was deep with chess talent.


Prior to this event, I attended the Iowa Open and had the pleasure of running into some old and new talent. There were 3 potential candidates for the 2 open slots on the Thunder King roster: Gokul (1883) - Jiahua (1952) - Joseph (2022). I was surprised to know that Joseph had moved back to Iowa City and was excited about the possibility of bringing a strong team to the Midwest Team Tournament. Nearing the final round of the Iowa Open Jiahua told me that he may not be able to attend the tournament so below was my predicted roster for the Midwest Team Tournament.


1st Board: James (2082)


2nd Board: Joseph (2022)


3rd Board: Gokul (1883)


4th Board: Pranav (1690)


Nearing the final 2 weeks until the event, I was confronted with an unexpected problem. Gokul would not be able to attend the event. There had been a race to replace the 3rd board and we would ideally prefer someone of similar strength. It was looking as though we would be only able find someone roughly 1500 strength to fill Gokul's shoes when, out of nowhere, an old friend Dan (1810) agreed to come along for the event.


Thunder Kings 2014 Roster 


1st Board: James (2082)


2nd Board: Joseph (2022)


3rd Board: Dan (1810)


4th Board: Pranav (1690)



Round 1: Cyclone Chess Club (2036) vs. Thunder Kings (1897)


I expected we would play this opponent since we were holding the 4th spot behind Cyclones/Cedar Rapids/Gradsky because there were 7 teams participating and the weakest would get the bye. Unfortunately, I could not find my game against Valeriy Kosokin so I cannot post the game. I predicted all my tough opponents to play the Najdorf Sicilian and Kosokin didn't disappoint. We played into my 6.h3 line and I got a pleasant position but late middle game I chose to close the position up and allowed him to equalize. It was really tense going into the time scramble but with 5 seconds left per side we agreed to a draw by repetition. While I was playing Valeriy Kosokin I had a little time to glance at Joseph's game and he had a dominant position against Robert Keating having sacrificed a queen for a Rook and two minors. I thought it would have been a clear win for him, later he told me the endgame consisted of 4 pawns and a bishop versus a Rook but he drew the game in time trouble. There was only one result in our match against the Cyclone Chess club and it was our Dan Medrano versus George Eichorn. Dan told me he offered the draw to George twice but he declined and blundered the game away.


Thunder Kings (2.5) - Cyclone Chess Club (1.5)


Round 2: Thunder Kings (1897) vs. Linscott (1744)

There were a lot of upsets leading up to round 2, we beat the Cyclone Chess Club and Cedar Rapids lost their game to the team we were about to face. I figured we would sweep the Linscott team and we just about did but I nearly lost a game to John Linscott (1868). I played John in the final round of the Iowa Open with the white pieces and beat him quickly but this time he made an improvement and achieved a playable position out of the opening. I played carelessly against him and made a position blunder where I allowed him to stick and hold a pawn on the d3 square. It was just about torture trying to hold this game together until John chose an incorrect recapture and allowed me to uncramp my position and achieve equality. The game ended in a 3-fold repetition.

Thunder Kings (3.5) - Linscott (0.5)



Round 3: Bughouse Powerhouse (1967) vs. Thunder Kings (1897)


I talked my teammates up for this match because I felt this team would be a lot tougher than last round. I was facing the leader Ben Gradsky with the black pieces. I played him two years ago where he blundered the game away in time trouble, this time I would return the favor. Late into my game against Ben Gradsky, I heard the Bughouse Powerhouse's 2nd board really flustered about his position against Joseph. I came to realize Fabrikant (2042) miscalculated a combination that left him down a minor piece. I was happy that we were in the drivers seat of this match and our victory would be dependent on me holding my position against Ben with only a draw needed to clinch the win. I am still haunted by my lack of discipline leading up to my endgame loss. I kept telling myself for 15 moves that I would need to trade off all the queenside pawns, 2 pawns each,  before I would be comfortable trading off the queens. We were in an endgame where the material imbalance was a knight versus a bishop with a lot of pawns, I had the knight. I succeeded in trading off one set of pawns but decided to trade off queens and keep the last set of queenside pawns on the board. I was quickly punished for this and lost the game.


Bughouse Powerhouse (2.0) - Thunder Kings (2.0)


Round 4: Thunder Kings (1897) vs. Cedar Rapids (1976)


I was completely drained after round 3 but was reassured with the possibility of playing Dan Brashaw with the white pieces after a good night's sleep. I communicated to my teammates that this match would decide who would be walking away with the first place. Below is my game against Dan Brashaw with brief comments.

We were able to draw the 1st and 2nd board but Dan on our 3rd board was beaten pretty quickly versus Mr. Hodina. Also, we had a pretty close game on our 4th board towards the end but he wasn’t able to keep his composure in the blitz.


Thunder Kings (1.0) – Cedar Rapids (3.0)


Round 5: Thunder Kings (1897) vs. Camelot Chess Club (1550)


We were a little disappointed following our loss to Cedar Rapids but we were busy figuring out the possible scenarios that would allow us to take the first place trophy. The tiebreaks featured in this tournament were score, game points and then head to head. If we were to win outright first we would need the Cyclone chess team to beat Cedar Rapids 2.5 – 1.5. Also, we would have to sweep the Camelot Chess club. I motivated the team by telling each member this was a MUST WIN game. The fact that Camelot hadn’t won a single game point yet may have been motivation enough.


Thunder Kings (4.0) – Camelot Chess Club (0.0)

The Cedar Rapids team convincingly beat their opponents 3 to 1 and secured themselves outright 1st place. We were happy to take home the 2nd place trophy and will be working hard for better success next year.