A Tough Tournament, And A Curious Case Of Underpromotion

Apr 19, 2014, 9:45 AM |
Last week's Montana Open was a bloodbath. My opponents were playing well while I was playing poorly, searching for juicy squares and sweet combinations but finding only arid desert. In the first round alone, I and three other top seeds lost in upsets. My buddy Jim Skovron (state champion) and I emerged with a measly 2.5 points.
But some good comes from all this. For one thing, my other buddies Will Davis and Jacob Copley did very well and should emerge with excellent ratings. And my game from Round 1, while dismal in most respects, produced an extremely rare situation in which underpromotion played a key role -- if my opponent were to promote his pawn to a queen, he would lose, but if he were to promote to a knight, he would win. This gave me a perfect lesson for the chess class I teach, and where I recently had told the students that underpromotion is so rare that they shouldn't really worry about it. But here is a real-life situation where underpromotion proved vital, so I shared it with them and got a kick out of their reaction to the whole situation ("that looks real bad!"). Indeed, it does.
No need to post my other games from the Open; the wins, losses, and draw are all so uninspiring that it's best to forget them.