UC Berkeley at 2017 Pan-Ams Part 1
The Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship is the premier tournament for collegiate teams to compete against each other and socialize. This year, UC Berkeley decided to enter a team with me on the first board. This is the first time that Berkeley has participated in Pan-Ams in a decade. Despite having a strong lineup (2 IMs and 2 2200-2300s), we were seeded 13th because of the strength of the field: 8 teams had a rating average of 2500 USCF+!
Going into the tournament, my teammates and I reviewed our openings, did some tactics, and played bughouse as our preparation. Our openings and tactics were potential vulnerabilities as the result of focusing on classes during the semester.
In the first round, we played against Rutgers University, an underrated team that fought valiantly on all boards. The final result of 4-0 didn't show the stiff resistance that they put up. Below is the annotations of the game against Rutger's first board.
He told me that he prepared the qc2 line against my chebanenko by looking at my games in the database before the game, always an unpleasant surprise. Afterwards, my team and I decided to chill and play bughouse in our room, and I went down to the hotel lobby to catch up with whom would be my opponent for the next round.
In round 2 we played Washington University at Saint Louis, and I would be playing Sarah Chiang with the white pieces. I had a cringeworthy game with her at the 2013 US Junior Closed where I essayed the Dutch with the black pieces in an attempt to win and got into a worse position really quickly before weaseling my way out with a draw. I knew she played the Caro and could see what I did, so I spent some time preparing a deviation.
It turned out that I surprised my opponent sooner than I thought. I thought 5.Nc5 would be the point where she was surprised, but it appeared as if she was surprised that I didn't play the two knights, even though I played the classical in the past.We won the match 3.5-0.5, because our board 4 offered a draw when his winning position somehow turned into a losing one when he offered the draw.
Now, with 2/2 Match points we knew we would be playing up, though how we would fare would soon be determined. Most of our downtime was spent socializing or playing bughouse on chess.com (mostly the latter).