I happened to flip over to the FIDE website, and noticed that the October rating list is out. According to the website there are "new FIDE regulations" that required the list to be published two weeks before it becomes effective.
In the top 10, there was some shuffling, but the players remained the same. As has been the case for awhile, Garry Kasparov(2830) is still the top dog. The gap between The Boss and #2 Vladimir Kramnik(2777), increased after Kramnik had a subpar perfomance in Dortmund (for Kramnik that means he didn't win the tournament). Vishy Anand(2766) also disappointed in Dortmund, but remains in the third spot. However, the big loser in Dortmund was former #4 Peter Leko(2722) who dropped all the way to a 10th place tie with Judit Polgar. Evgeny Bareev(2739) won the Category 17 Enhein Masters in France to move up to the #4 spot trailed closely by Alexi Shirov(2737), Veselin Topalov(2735), and Alexander Grischuk(2732). Mikey Adams(2725) and Peter Svidler(2723) fill out the top 10.
Looking further down the list, Club 2700 now sports 17 members thanks to #16 Alexander Morozevich's phenomenal 8/10 in the Category 16 Biel event and the upset winner in Dortmund, Viktor Bolgan(2673) checks in at #26. (I noticed in the back page player profile of Bolgan in the most recent New In Chess they did not ask one of their usual questions: "What was your best result ever?)
The US maintained 4 players in the top 100, although they shuffled positions again. World #35 Alexander Onischuk(2661) is still the top US player. Alexander Goldin(2629) moved up to second on the strength of his victory in the Continental Championships of the Americas. #68 Gregory Kaidanov(2624) and #72 Yasser Seirawan(2621) are the other US players in the top 100.
My results in the Chicago Open and the World Open gained me 18 points to 2326, placing me #142 among active US players. It looks like something got messed up with the country transfer of GM Becerra. I saw that I only had 15 FIDE rated games for the period instead of the expected 16. Upon further investigation, it showed my score in the Chicago Open as 4/6 vs. FIDE rated opponents. I thought this was strange since my 3 losses were to GMs who by definition have FIDE ratings. It looks like under FIDE records, GM Julio Becerra Rivero successfully transfered countries from Cuba to USA, but for the Chicago Open (and perhaps other tournaments) his results were submitted as just Julio Becerra and the linkage was not made. From what I've observed in the past (recall Kurt Walter Stein becoming Kurt Walterstein), this will not be corrected, and the games GM Becerra played in this period will not be rated by FIDE.
In round 1, I had White against Matan Prilleltensky. I got an edge in development out of the opening bringing by final piece into play with 15. Rad1 while his queenside remained undeveloped
He tried to catch up with 15...cxd4 16. cxd4 Bd7 Taking the pawn either way leads to a clear edge for White: 16... Nxd4 17. Bc3 e5 18. Bxd4 exd4 19. Qxd4 or 16... Qxd4 17. Qxd4 Nxd4 18. Bc3 e5 19. Bxd4 exd4 20. Re7, but the text doesnít help either. 17. Bf4 e5 There wasnít much else to do to defend d6 since 17... Qe7 18. d5 is very good for White. 18. dxe5 dxe5 18... Nxe5 19. Bxe5 wins immediately 19. Qxd7 exf4 20. Qxb7 Rac8? Black can put up more resistance with 20... Ne5 but White is close to winning because of the c-pawn. 21. Re6 flashier than the equally effective 21. Bd5+ Kh8 22. Re6 [1:0]
In the second round I had White against Brad Watson. We reached a dynamically equal position after 24...Qg6. White has the two bishops, but the position is semi-blocked and Black has good outpost squares for his minor pieces at e4, d4, and c3.
Unfortunately, he spoiled this interesting position with a blunder 25. Bb2? Nd2 A case where this move wasnít even a threat on the previous move since White had d2 covered not once, but twice. Black won fairly easily after 26. Qc6 Nxf1 27. Qxc7 Bxb2 28. Rxb2 Nxh2
In the third round I played a very complicated game with one of the stateís rising junior stars, Joshua Suich. Every time Iíve played him, his rating is 200-300 points higher than the previous time! I probably had a solid plus out of the opening after 12...Qb8
I probably should have just consolidated my position with 13. Be2 or 13. a4, but wanted to blast the center open with the typical sequence 13. e5 dxe5 14. d6. However, I didnít really like the reply 13...Ba6, so I decided to provoke his knight back to f6 first, so that e5 would come with tempo. This could be accomplished with 13. Be2, but I foresaw lines where I wanted to have the move Qf3 available, so instead I played the somewhat crazy 13. g4!? Nhf6 14. e5!? I saw that this line could lead to a piece sacrifice, but it looked dangerous for Black to accept it 14...dxe5 15. d6 exd6 The big question is whether or not Black can take the piece with 15... Qxb5!? 16. dxe7 Kxe7! During the game I thought the loose nature of Blackís position (open king on e7, loose rook on a8, queen exposed to discovered attacks) gave White plenty of compensation, but it is very complicated, for example 17. Ne3 (neither 17. Bxf6+ Kxf6 18. Qf3+ Ke7 19. Nd6 Qa5 nor 17. Qd6+ Ke8 18. Bxf6 Qb7 seems to do the trick) 17... Qc6 18. Nd5+ Ke6 19. Nxf6 Nxf6 (19... Qxh1 20. Qb3+ Kd6 21. O-O-O+ Kc7 22. Bb5 Qxh2 23. Qd5 gives White a strong attack.) 20. Bc4+ Nd5 21. Qf3 Bb7 22. O-O-O (22. Qf6+!? also needs to be considered) 22... Bg7 23. Rd2!? (winning the queen with 23. Rxd5 Qxd5 24. Bxd5+ Bxd5 25. Qd1 Rxa2 doesn't look too hot for White.) intending to pile up on Nd5. Iím not sure how much he looked at these lines. While it might be possible to hold in analysis, over the board it seems pretty scary for Black. 16. Nbxd6+ Bxd6 17. Nxd6+ Kf8 17... Ke7 allows White to bring his queen powerfully into the attack with 18. Qd5 for example 18... Rf8 (18... Qxd6 19. Qxa8) 19. Ne4 Bb7 20. Bxf6+ Nxf6 21. Qxc5+ and White wins 18. Bc4 Ba6 19. Qf3?! I was happy with this move during the game, but it appears that 19. Bd5 was a stronger continuation keeping an edge to White. 19... e4? intending counterplay after 20. Nxe4 Qe5, but both 19... Kg7 and 19... Bxc4 20. Bxf6 Ra6 put the onus on White to show compensation for his pawn. 20. Qf4! now everything is back in order for White 20... Bxc4 Now 20... Kg7 is simply refuted by 21. Bh6+ Kg8 22. Bxf7#. 21. Bxf6 Nxf6 22. Qxf6 Rg8 23. Nxc4 and White converted his extra piece.
This left me in clear first. On Sunday morning, I had Black against Neal Harris. He offered me a draw early on, but I declined and then played some substandard moves to land in an uncomfortable position. I offered the draw back after 14...Nxb3
and he accepted. After 15. axb3 I intended 15... f5. (Neal said he thought 15... Kg7 intending Ö Bc5 was OK for Black, but 16. Nd4 looks like a good reply) 16. exf6 Bxf6 17. Nxf6+ Qxf6. White has to still be better here, but Black at least has some hopes of completing his development with ...d6.
In the final round, I had White against Brian Smith. I wasnít surprised to be meeting him in the final round. He played well in Murfreesboro ( I think he tied for first with Melvin and me) and had defeated me in our last game, in last yearís NCC Invitational. This last fact gave me extra incentive. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6!? As in my game with Andrews in last year's Tennessee Open, the first interesting moment comes on move 2. My previous games against Brian had all been Modern Benoni's starting with 2...c5. I suspected he would still play ...c5 on the next move and was just trying to avoid the pawn storm systems. 3. Nc3 3. Nf3 c5 4. Nc3 would steer towards a different type of game, where Black's second move has prevented him from playing the sharp system 2...c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e5!? but I didn't have any reason not to enter the Benoni. 3... c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. e4 g6 7. f4 Bg7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. Be2 Qe7!? a rarely played system, but no less interesting the more usual moves. 10. Nd2 10. e5 has to be a critical move here. That is the way I played against Neal Harris in the 2001 Land of the Sky tournament leading to a very unclear game. This time I decided to try a more solid looking move. 10... Ne8 11. O-O Bd4+!? with a draw offer. Although my tiebreaks were superior at this point, I wanted to make sure of things by playing for a decisive result. Also, I didnít feel I stood worse, so I declined. 12. Kh1 f5 Brian said an article he had seen had concluded here with the assessment of "unclear". 13. exf5 Bxf5 14. Nf3 Bg7
This is an interesting position. Black "lost" two tempos with Bg7-d4-g7, but so did White with Nf3-d2-f3. The f5 break by Black weakened White's defense of d5, so Black will try to bring his knights to c7 and f6 to attack it. The f4 pawn is fairly immobile at this point limiting the scope of White's dark squared bishop. Finally, Black has a weak point at e6 which White will try to exploit. Overall, I would judge the position as dynamically equal and the battle now is to see which player can better exploit the opponent's weaknesses. 15. Bd3 15. Re1 is probably more flexible since Be2 might help enforce g4 in lines where Black plays Qd7. 15... Nc7 16. Re1 Qd8 I think it is better to play 16... Qd7 keeping an eye on e6 and b5 although it does take away the natural developing square of Nb8. 17. Ng5 Re8 18. Bxf5 gxf5 18... Rxe1+ 19. Qxe1 gxf5 20. Ne6 is also very good for White although Black would be a little less cramped than in the game 19. Ne6 Nxe6 20. dxe6 Bxc3 I felt very good after this move since I had foreseen that his follow-up was unplayable. I had been focusing on the variation 20... Nc6 21. Nd5 Nd4 22. e7 which I thought was quite a bit better for me, but might offer him some chances to resist. After the text, Black still has his weaknesses on f5, d5 and d6, but no longer has d4 as an outpost square. Giving up the dark squared bishop also weakens the king's defenses. 21. bxc3 d5? consistent with his last move, but there is a big problem. Better is 21... Nc6 although White still stands much better after 22. Qd5 22. Qh5 there is no good way to defend f5. 22... Nc6 23. Qxf5 Rf8 24. Qh5 I thought the f-pawn might be a little sensitive after 24. Qg4+ Kh8 25. f5 Qf6 so I decided to keep an eye on d5 24... Qd6 25. f5 now that Qf6 isn't an option, this move decides things quickly. 25... Ne7 26. Qg4+ Kh8 27. Bf4 [1:0]
I successfully defended the title of Tennessee State Champion last weekend at the Tennessee Open in Crossville. On the surface, it may have looked like this year's event was a bit weaker than in past years (Neal Harris was the only other master who competed), but there was a large contingent of rising junior players in the open section that caused a lot of problems for the higher rated players. I was the only player rated over 2000 who managed to not get nicked for a half or full point in the first two rounds by one of these youngsters.
I ended up with 4.5/5 only giving up a draw to Harris in round 4. I should have some analysis up in a day or two. I'm going to annotate the decisive final round game against Brian Smith in full and give some fragments from other games.