I played in the first Derby City Open in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday. I had thought the $500 first prize might attract some really strong players, but found myself as the highest rated player. Most of the top Kentucky players were absent, but the organizer indicated that they did all right and would probably hold this tournament again. In the first round I had White against Dimitry Zolotov. I had a large advantage after 33. Be3-c1 when things ended abruptly.
33...Nd6? I had expected 33...Bd6 34. Rdg1 and Black's position should soon collapse. The move played is reminiscent of the missed opportunity in the game Bereolos-Berkan 1999 Knoxville City Championship, but here it meets with a simple refutation 34. exd6 Qxe1+ 35. Rg1 After dxe7 White will not only have a material advantage, but the f5 pawn will suffer from a lack of defenders. [1:0]
In round 2, I had Black against Tom Harris. After outplaying him in an equal ending, there was a strange hallucination by both of us in the time scramble after 49. Kf3-e3
I played 49...Rb2 and after the forced sequence 50. Re1 Rc2 51. f3 uncorked 51...Re2+?? since after 52. Rxe2 dxe2 Black is threatening to queen his pawn, so White stopped that with 53. Kxe2?? but 53. fxe4+ is a simple draw after 53...Kc4 54. Kxe2 Kd4 55. Kd2 Kxe4 56.Ke2 when White has the opposition. Instead 53... exf3+ 54. Kxf3 Kd4 55. Ke2 Ke4 and Black has the opposition [0:1]
In round 3, I had White against Alex Lewis, an English player who is teaching at the University of Cincinatti. I got a big space advantage out of the opening, but played a couple of indifferent moves that allowed him to collapse my center and gain a much stronger position. Instead of trying to defend passively, I sacrificed a couple of pawns to try to give him some headaches dealing with delroy, but was still in a bunch of difficulties as the clocks started ticking down after 25...Qb2xa2
Fortunately for me he had come to the board about 20 minutes late so he was feeling the time pressure a bit more than I was. (I lay part of the blame there on the organizers. There was absolutely no time between rounds. If they do hold this tournament again, they need to consider a schedule that allows time for people to unwind, eat, etc. between rounds. It made for a very exhausting day for me since my first 3 games all went long. 26. Re7 Nd4 the immediate 26... Rxd6 is stronger. White gets his queen to a better place now. 27. Qe4 Nf5 28. Be5 Rxd6 28... Nxd6 was also possible. I thought I could start generating threats with 29. Qh4 but the computer finds the counterattack 29... Ne8 30. Qh6 Rd2 but that's a dangerous way to play with your clock ticking down, so his choice is understandable 29. Bxd6 Nxd6 30. Qe5 Nf5 30... Nc8 31. Re8 is strong for White 31. Rxf5!? gxf5 32. Qg3+ Kh8 33. Qe5+ f6 34. Qc7 Qg8 35. Qxa7 Qg6 36. Qxb6 Rg8 37. Qb7 f4 38. Rc7 Qf5 39. Qc6 f3 40. g4 Qf4 41. Kf1 Qc4+ 42. Kf2 Qe2+ 43. Kg3 Qg2+ 44. Kf4 Qh2+ 45. Ke3 Rf8? allowing White to draw immediately 46. Kxf3? 46. Qd7 would have obligated Black to take perpetual check 46... Qxh3+ 47. Kf4 Qh2+ 48. Kf3 Qh1+ 49. Kf4 Qxc6?! with only about 30 seconds left 50. Rxc6 f5? with a draw offer which I declined because his last couple of moves made it look like he might be losing his head 51. gxf5 Kg7 52. Rxc5 Ra8 53. Rc7+ Kf6 54. Rc6+ Kf7 55. Kg5 Ra1 56. Rc7+ Kf8 57. Rxh7 Ra6 58. Rb7 Rc6 [1/2-1/2]
In the final round I had Black against Dennis Gogel. We reached a theoretical position in the 4 Pawns Attack after 16.h4xg5
Here, I played a move that is frowned on by theory, but is perhaps not as bad as its reputation 16...f6 Either 16...c4 or 16...a6 is thought to give Black equality, and indeed, there is not really a pressing need to play on the kingside. 17. Bg4 17. gxf6 has also been played successfully here 17... fxg5 18. Be6+ Kh8 19. fxg5 19. f5 occurred in a game between two French players, Patrice and Xavier, in 1998 19... Ne5?! not 19... Nxg5 20. Bxd7; but I don't know why I didn't play a move I had been looking at 19... Ndf8! which covers g6 and h7 and puts the question to Be6 while the other knight prepares to capture g5. I think Black would have the edge then. After the text the Black pieces are sort of stepping on each other. 20. Kg2 Rxe6? A total panic reaction. Even worse was 20... Nxg5?? 21. Rh1+ Nh7 22. Rxh7+ Kxh7 23. Qh1+ Bh6 24. Qxh6#, but with 20...Qe7 Black would prepare ...Rf8 and can meet 21. Rh1 with 21...Nf7 giving g8 back to the king, revitalizing Bg7 and once again preparing to capture g5. 21. dxe6 Nxg5 22. Rh1+ Kg8 23. Qb3 Qe7 23...Qf6 24.Nd5 covers f3 and 23... c4 24. Qxb7 Nxe6(now 24...Qf6 drops the a8-rook) 25. Qd5 looked pretty miserable. I took one final shot at complications that just didn't work. 24. Nd5 Qxe6 25. Nc7! The simplest although [25. Bxg5 Qg4+ 26. Kf2 c4 (26... Nd3+ 27. Qxd3 Rf8+ 28. Nf6+); or 25. Ne7+ Kf8 26. Bxg5 Qg4+ 27. Qg3 Qxe4+ 28. Kh3 should both be fine for White] 25... Qxb3 26. axb3 Rc8 27. Nd5 [1:0]
The new FIDE rating list is out. First the bad news. Neither the Chicago Open nor the World Open was rated for this list, so my rating remained unchanged. I hope this isn't another case of tournaments slipping through the cracks. I sent an email to the Continental Chess Association to see if they could shed any light on the matter. I would be a terrible shame if the World Open didn't get rated since several players made IM norms there.
There was a lot of shakeup at the top after the Dortmund tournament. Garry Kasparov, who didn't play in Dortmund (apparently he has many issues with the organizers) is still on top at 2838, but World Champion Vladimir Kramnik is slowly but surely reeling him in, now only 29 points back at 2809. There's now a large gap to FIDE champ #3 Vishy Anand(2770), who is now closer to #4 Alexander Morozevich(2742) than he is to Club 2800. Besides Anand, Michael Adams also had a disaster in Dortmund to drop from 4th to 7th at 2731 behind #5 Peter Leko(2739), and the co-winner with Kramnik in Dortmund, #6 Veselin Topalov(2733). Club 2700 is now up to 14 members with #10 Loek van Wely (2714), #12 Alexei Shirov(2706), and #13 Alexander Khalifman (2702) all crossing the barrier while #14 Ilia Smirin (2698) dropped out. Actually, Shirov may not have left on the last list after all. I think somewhere in the numerous updates he picked up some points since his rating this time is based on 0 games.
The number of Alexes in the top 100 dropped by one as Crisan and Chernin dropped out and #69 Goldin(2612) entered. It looked like FIDE had settled the case of Alexandru Crisan as it had been reported that he had been stripped of his rating and his GM title for faking results. However, I still find him in the list as a GM rated 2588, so things may still need further resolution. The latest issue of New In Chess reported the Mr. Crisan may still be up to his old tricks.
The US now has 4 players in the top 100, tied with many countries for 4th behind Russia(26), Germany(7) and France(5). World #42 Yasser Seirawan (2644) continues to be the top US player, but fast closing the gap is #69 Alexander Goldin (2613). #77 Boris Gulko (2608) and #85 Gregory Kaidanov (2605) round out the US presence in the top 100. US #5 Joel Benjamin (2587) is the highest native-born US player. My unchanged rating of 2313 managed to move me up a bit to #147 among active US players.
I've added position #203b to the BCE section. This is an example that is very useful in practice showing how one can draw with opposite colored bishops despite being down 2 connected passed pawns.
The inhuman attacks of September 11 have made chess seem rather trivial. Still, I think we need to heed our leaders call to continue living our normal lives. To that end I'm going to try and be particularly active on this site in October.
Today, I'd like to direct your attention to a problem solving contest being sponsored by IM Conrad Goodman. This is a set of 50 problems featuring a mixture of find the mate and endgame studies. Take your crack at it and try to win some chess stamps.