Grandmaster Elshan Moradiabadi
of North Carolina, the man with a hat and a fixture at the Charlotte Chess Center, defeated GM Illia Nyzhnyk, playing out of Missiouri, in the last round of the 2022 US Open in a wild game with many vicissitudes (https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-open-championship-and-invitationals-2022/round-15/OlzI1ODw). Several times GM Moradiabadi obtained a winning advantage before blundering to allow his opponent back in the game, but in the end the man known for the hat put the hammer down and dispatched his opponent, the highest rated player in the field. From this perspective the player who played the best Chess deserved the tie for first place with GM Alexsey Sorokin,
who defeated IM Victor Matviishen
in the final round. There was some kind of Chess game played after the event ended and the game can be found at Lichess.com (https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-open-championship-and-invitationals-2022/playoffs/aI4E9m6V). I have no idea how much time each player had, or any other particulars concerning the ridiculous and unnecessary game. From Lichess.com it appears the game was contested with a “Time control is 100 minutes for the entire game with a 30-second increment beginning from move one.” I seriously doubt the players were forced to play another classical type game after having just played one, but who knows? That is the way it goes these daze…
It was wonderful having the last round begin much earlier that the first eight games because here on the east coast it is ten pm when the earlier rounds began, giving these old eyes about an hour to watch the openings before turning the lights out. After surfin’ the high spots the next morning with coffee I would rustle up some grub before resting my eyes and then catching up on the action. Therefore it was a treat to be able to watch the last round action in “real time.” The players from the eastern time zone are always at a disadvantage when playing on the left coast because there internal time clock is three hours ahead of the west coasters. I was riveted to the screen for many pleasurable hours while spectating. It was also amazing watching so many games actually being contested by the top players, who had earlier graced we Chess fans with a plethora of short draws. The knives came out in the last round.
One of the more interesting games was played ws the third board battle between GM Daniel A Naroditsky
and GM Joshua Sheng. Naroditsky was coming off of three short, tepid draws, which had taken him out of contention for first place. This seemed peculiar because it was written by JJ Lang at the USCF website in their excellent coverage of the event: “The situation becomes more complex when we recall that there’s more than just money at stake here; the highest-finishing U.S. flagged player also wins a seat to the U.S. Championship.” https://new.uschess.org/news/day-8-rancho-mirage-once-more-feeling() Maybe GM Narodnitsky has already qualified for the US Chess Championship and it did not matter, but still, the man “coasted” down the stretch. In the last round game Naroditsky was gifted a won game when his opponent blundered when playing a really weird looking move, 12…Bd7? The move is so bad that the score given by the Stockfish program at Lichess.com shows the game even, Steven, 0.0 in computer speak, before the more than a little questionable move. After moving his prelate one square he was down by -1.5, which happens to be the number many, if not most, commentators consider “winning.” Narodnitsky’s weak play let the winning advantage slip until after GM Sheng played 21…Ra5, when the score was again “reset” to 0.0. Then, in the following position:
GM Naroditsky played a real “howler” by violating a rule learned by every Russian school boy by moving a pawn in front of a King being attacked:
The move was so lousy I thought maybe it would be changed… The move stood, and to his credit, Daniel showed his mettle by sucking it up and making life as difficult as possible for his opponent, who was not up to the task of winning a won game. As late as move sixty one Sheng still had a huge winning advantage, but let go of the rope with one hand before dangling his way to drawing a completely won game.
GM Alexander Shabalov has always been one of my favorite players because he invariable PLAYS TO WIN! He was facing another Senior who plays to win, IM Timothy Taylor,
who played the French defense. (https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-open-championship-and-invitationals-2022/round-15/OlzI1ODw) Rather than playing the usual, and better, 5…Qb6, Tim went with the little played 5…Bd7, which is usually not a good idea against an experienced GM like Shabba. On his seventh move IM Taylor played his knight from e7 to g6. Shabba fired his rook pawn with 8 h4, asking his opponent why he moved the knight to g6 in lieu of playing the better 7…cxd4. Taylor responded with 8…cxd4 which was followed by 9…Qa5+. After moving the King to f1 with his tenth move IM Taylor let go of the rope completely with his tenth move of f6, given a ?! at Lichess, when the exclam was superfluous, as it also shows IM Taylor down -2.8. To give you an example of what could have been here is a game played in which the best move, 10…Bxa3, was played:
Unai Garbisu de Goni (2479) vs Clement Rodmacq (2041)
Event: FRA-chT2 0304a
Site: France Date: 03/14/2004
Round: 9.1 Score: 1-0
ECO: C02 French, advance, Euwe variation
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Be2 Nge7 7.Na3 Ng6 8.h4 cxd4 9.cxd4 Qa5+ 10.Kf1 Bxa3 11.bxa3 Nge7 12.Rb1 Qc7 13.h5 Rc8 14.h6 gxh6 15.Bxh6 Nf5 16.Bg5 Rg8 17.Rxh7 Ncxd4 18.Nxd4 Rxg5 19.Qd2 Rg8 20.Nxf5 exf5 21.Qxd5 Bc6 22.Bb5 Rd8 23.Bxc6+ bxc6 24.Qf3 Rg5 25.Qf4 Qe7 26.Rh8+ Kd7 27.Rb7+ 1-0
It was nice to see GM John Fedorowicz
draw his last round game with Eric Liu (https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-open-championship-and-invitationals-2022/round-15/OlzI1ODw). The Fed was very nice to me after I scored a full point against his friend FM Mark Pinto (https://en.chessbase.com/post/jon-speelman-s-agony-column-23)
at a US Open decades ago, and John has been a fixture at the Castle Chess Camp here at Emory University in Atlanta. One Chess mom called him the, “Beloved Johnny Fed.” The beloved one has become the one of, if not the favorite Chess coach at the Castle.
Then we come to man some call “Burned out Burnett.” That would be fellow Senior IM Ronald Burnett,
one of the nicest Chess players I have ever met. The following post still gets many “hits” almost a decade later and has been one of the most read posts on the Armchair Warrior blog (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/on-the-road-with-im-ron-burnett/). If writing a post about Ron’s last round game it would be entitled, “Living and dying with IM Ron Burnett.” Ron somehow snatched a draw from the jaws of victory in this game, thus once again proving the old axiom of, “The hardest game to win is a won game.” Not winning a game like this could give a player nightmares (https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-open-championship-and-invitationals-2022/round-15/OlzI1ODw). I will admit that watching the game was like watching some being tortured on the rack. After the game ended I felt like it was me who had been tortured. Oh well, at least I could go to sleep, unlike Ron, who must have tossed and turned all night after not winning that “won” game. Ronald, I feel your pain.