Damir Studen Earns IM Norm at US Masters

GM Rauf Mamedov sat down to play GM Bartlomiej Macieja on board one in the last round of the US Masters trailing by half a point. To win the tournament Rauf would have to win the game, which is exactly what happened. Three other players had a chance to finish with seven points. GM’s Alejandro Ramirez and Yuniesky Quesada Perez drew their game, thus finishing with 6 ½, while GM Alojzije Jankovic, with a chance to finish first, took a HALF POINT BYE in the last round, the second half point bye he had taken in the tournament. Jankovic lost to Macieja in the penultimate round.
The official website tried to broadcast three games, but usually there were only two, or one, game live, because of “tech issues.” I followed the last game, which could have been drawn with better play from the loser. One game never made it to the web. The game in which I had the most interest, the board three game between GM Georg Meier and NM Daniel Gurevich, of Atlanta, was being broadcast until it, too, had “tech issues.” After losing two of his first three games, NM Gurevich won in the fourth round, followed by a draw with IM John Cox. Daniel then ripped off three wins in a row, including GM Alex Fishbein in round seven and GM Alex Shabalov in the penultimate round. Reeling with the feeling and playing Black versus GM Meier, Gurevich played like a wild man swinging wildly by pushing his g-pawn and thereby weakening his position. It was the kind of impetuous move a chess teacher would advise a student against playing. A few moves later the game disappeared and I regretted not copying the moves that had been displayed.
The big news locally is that LM Damir Studen, who literally grew up at the House of Pain, earned an IM norm with his 5 ½ points with his last round draw with the aforementioned IM John Cox. His tournament included three wins, five draws, and only one loss, that a round five loss to LSM Denys Shmelov. He drew with GM’s Alex Fishbein and Georg Meier, and defeated GM John Federowicz. Damir and Daniel finished in the fourth score group, tying for twelfth place with many others. Years ago when both of these young men were up and comers I showed there was still life left in this old dog by defeating both of them in a nightly quick-play event at the Atlanta Chess Center. I mention this because I have read many times that one should “get them on the way up,” and have always wanted to put it into print. The game with Damir was particularly exciting because I had to play many moves with only one second left on my clock. Fortunately there was a five second delay. Both would, no doubt, eat me alive now. I congratulate both of these players for their outstanding result. Damir gained 48 rating points to move close to Senior Master level at 2384. Daniel increased his rating 51 points to move to 2344.
When the tournament first began there were updates often, and the pictures were like being onsite. I have not seen many of the players, like GM Michael Rohde, in years, so the pictures on the website were nice to see. Someone was taking a picture of the results page every “15-20 minutes.” That stopped, unfortunately. Combine that with the myriad technical problems and general lack of games, and I quickly lost interest. The internet was down most of the final day and I did not seem to mind because the results were not forthcoming, often for far too long. To a chess fan the coverage showed much promise initially, but sputtered and ground to a halt. In chess terms it would be like a player winning his first round and then losing all of his next games.
Since there have been so few games from the US Masters I would like to present a game given by Olimpiu Urcan & Other Epistolarians from, Chess: A Singapore Column of September 1, 2013. (http://sgchess.net/2013/09/01/871-a-scandinavian-crash/). This one is for you, future IM Studen!
A Scandinavian Crash
Along with his brief annotations and comments, Napoleon Recososa submits the interesting game below, played in the fourth round of the Inaugural Teck Ghee CSC Community Chess Championship (August 25, 2013):
Napoleon Recososa – Kanagenthiran Premnath [B01]
Inaugural Teck Ghee CSC Community Chess, Round 4, 25 August 2013
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bc4 c6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.h3 Bh5 8.Be3 e6 9.g4 Bg6 10.Ne5 Nbd7 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Qe2 b5 13.Bd3 Qb4?! A waste of time since White, with his next move, castles queenside anyway. Perhaps 13…Be7 was better. 14.0–0–0 a5? Premature activity. He failed to consider the king’s safety. Maybe he underestimated the lurking dangers in the center as his c6 and e6-pawns controlled the d5 square and, furthermore, White’s bishop on e3 covered the e-file. 15.g5 Nh5 [see diagram] If 15…Nd5 White planned 16.Nxd5 exd5 17.Bf4+ Qe7 (17…Be7 18.c3; 17…Kd8 18.Rhe1) 18.Qf3 and now if 18…0–0–0 then 19.Bxb5! cxb5 20.Qxd5 looks strong. 16.d5! Nf4 After 16…cxd5 17.Nxd5 Qd6 (17…exd5 allows 18.Bc5+) 18.Nb6 (18.Bxb5 was interesting too but I had doubts about 18…exd5 19.Bc5+ Qe6) 18…Nf4 19.Qf3 White’s just winning. 17.Bxf4 Qxf4+ 18.Kb1 Nc5 If 18…Ne5 then White had a pleasant choice between 19.dxe6 fxe6 20.Bxg6+ or the more crude 19.dxc6 b4 20.Nb5. 19.Bxb5 Rc8 19…cxb5 loses to 20.Qxb5+ Kd8 (20…Ke7 21.d6+ Kd8 22.Qxc5) 21.dxe6+ Kc8 (21…Kc7 is met by the simple 22.Nd5+ or 22.Rd7+) 22.Qc6+. 20.Bxc6+ Rxc6 21.dxc6 Qc7 21…Qxg5 fails because of 22.c7! 22.Qg4? Better was 22.Qb5 followed by 23.Na4. I was distracted by my opponent’s time trouble. 22…Qxc6 23.f3 Be7 24.h4 a4 25.Ne4 a3 26.Nxc5 Bxc5 27.h5 Qb5 28.b3 gxh5 29.Qe4! Call it a sense of danger or pure luck but I noticed that after 29.Rxh5 Rxh5 30.Qxh5 there is the sneaky 30…Qe2! 31.Qh8+ Bf8 32.Qh1 Qe5. 29…Ke7 29…0–0 30.Rxh5 is losing too. 30.g6 f6 30…f5 leads to a forced mate after 31.Qh4+. 31.Rhe1 Qb6 3. Qd5 and with just six seconds left, my opponent resigned in this hopeless position. 1–0

Castling Queenside

I just returned from Emory University, site of the 13th edition of the Castle Chess Grand Prix. 217 players are participating this year, the same number as last year. Since there were fewer chess campers this year that means there are more players who were not involved with the camp this year. Five of those players are Grandmasters, with an additional two International Masters. There are eight National Masters, led by Georgia’s own Damir Studen, the State Champ, along with five experts to round out the twenty player field. Form held down the line in the first round, which included games played Friday night and Saturday morning. The second round is underway as I write. The top players are already meeting in round two, as long time camper GM John Fedorowicz was paired with Varuzhan Akobian on board one. Meanwhile, the home town hope, NM Studen was playing his beloved Scandinavian, or as we called it “back in the day” the Center-Counter, versus the GM Scott Parker calls, “The most successful, by far…,” of the twelve previous Castle tournaments, Julio Becerra, on second board.
This is the first time there have been five GM’s playing in the tournament, and it could have been more. GM Jesse Kraai could not play for personal reasons. Mrs. Christianson, president of the Castle Chess Camp, informs Jesse has taken a year off from chess to write a novel based on chess and had to deal with the publication, which was delayed. He had hoped to have copies at the camp, but it was not to be. Another GM had a family emergency to attend, unfortunately. I had an opportunity to talk with Jennifer Christiansen, whom I recall from my days at the House of Pain. I mentioned how much I liked an article she penned for the Georgia Chess magazine, telling her it touched me, making me think of my mother. She wrote about how much she had learned from her sons. As far as I am concerned her short essay should win an award, hands-down! She told me it had been written upon the request of the editor, Mark Taylor, because he needed to fill space. I could relate to that because I have previously done the same thing, taking heat for the article I had thrown together from a particularly acerbic critic. During our discussion she mentioned something about “nearing the end,” and I assumed she meant that because her sons are now grown and will be going to college, and would be out of scholastic chess she would no longer be involved. Au contraire! She let me know she has told others that when her sons left for college she intended on becoming a player. She did admit to playing at home and on the internet now. She also told me a wonderful story about one time when she did try to play in a tournament at the ACC, as she called the Atlanta Chess & Game Center. “I was upstairs playing and happened to look out of the open window-it was summer and you know how hot the place could be, especially upstairs-and I saw my boys playing tag and running out into the street and I had to ask myself what I was doing up there.” The woman is a dedicated chess mom and obviously a wonderful mother. Check out the article about her son, Ryan, on page 33 of the June issue of Chess Life magazine. I must admit the picture of Ryan floored me, since it has been some years since I have seen the little fellow.
The tournament is taking place in Cox Hall, a spacious, well air-conditioned, room, with plenty of room for everyone. There are other chess moms to assist, and one can tell they are operating as a team. The tournament is being directed with military precision by the chief TD, Mr. David Hater, assisted by Jim Mundy, one of the nicest people you will ever meet in chess. It was a real treat to see, and talk, albeit briefly, with the man known as the Sheriff. Mayberry had Andy, while Atlanta had the irrepressible Mr. Scott Parker, who managed to take time away from his family obligations to visit the Castle. These people are the reason the Castle Chess Grand Prix exudes class.
The top two boards are displayed on the wall by an overhead projector, with the first board on the far left side of the room, and the second board on the other. I was not the only spectator as I talked with Jim Lawhon and Larry Bolton, who, like me, were not playing. Thank you Larry for the kind words about the blog, and I would also like to thank Gary Newsome, a visitor, who told his wife that I wrote a very popular blog read all over the world. “Everyone reads his blog,” Gary said, “I bet Anand even reads his blog!” I do not know about Anand, but I do know for a fact that several GM’s read the Armchair Warrior. I would like to thank them, and all of you in the fifty countries, and counting, that have surfed on over to read the blog.
One of the things about trying to write about a tournament is it is difficult to interview anyone while they are playing. For example, IM Irina Krush walked right by me, lost in thought. I had been watching her game with Anuprita Patil, the only other female in the top section. What are the odds of that happening? I can recall the time when it was extremely rare to see even one female in the whole tournament. I noticed several more playing on the lower boards. The times they are a-changing. I wanted to introduce myself and ask her a question or two, but I refrained because I have played in tournaments and know some consider it nothing but a distraction. I admit considering the odds Irina would smile and say, “OK,” as opposed to, “Buzz off, Buster!” Not that I have not heard the latter previously in various, non-chess situations…When one plays in a tournament there is little time for anything other than playing, or getting ready to play. When the tournament is over the players want to just get on down the road, as I know only too well. But I will be at the tournament tomorrow afternoon during the last round, trying my best to obtain a quote or two. I mentioned to Jim Mundy that I was looking forward to the last round tomorrow because it should be exciting. “I know,” he said. “It’s exciting right now!” he said with a smile, sending me off on a good note.