By GM Ben Finegold
I have been the Rotating Resident GM for 2 weeks, and boy am I dizzy (rotating for 2 weeks is tough!).
I want to talk a bit about the chess world and then get on to the CCSCSL world!
First, The Saint Louis Arch Bishops are the U.S. Chess League Champs! We were able to tie Dallas 2-2 and win the blitz playoff. Kudos to my teammates, who played well under pressure, especially Wesley So, the League MVP, and Var Akobian, who was perfect for the season! Everyone played a part in the victory, and this was a real team victory. I guess the main reason we won was due to the ingenious lineup changes from manager Alex Marler. Things looked dicey after week five, then Marler moved people around, and we started winning matches 3-1 like it was easy. Congrats to Alex for keeping his job!
Second, Yu "The Man" Yangyi was able to beat Vladimir Kramnik in the last round of the super-duper Super Swiss in Qatar. Although Anish Giri and Kramnik both won six games in-a-row at different times, it was not enough! Giri won his first six games, then lost two back-to-back before winning his last round, to finish 7-2. Kramnik drew his first two games (!!) and then won six straight. Yu was able to get six wins and three draws to earn clear first with 7.5-1.5 and $25,000 first place alone!
After Qatar, I started watching the London Chess Classic. This event has blitz, rapid and slow chess! The event is finishing up, and as I write this column there is one round to go! Hikaru Nakamura beat Michael Adams earlier today, and there are many decisive results with the following top players participating: Adams, Nakamura, Kramnik, Giri, Fabiano Caruana -- and Vishy Anand has four draws in four games, but still, if he wins the last round, he could tie for first!
Now, the most important news, obviously, is that I won the 12-13-14 Open with a score of 4-0. Never-mind that I was completely lost in round one to a 1500! I then settled down and beat three Class A players to earn first alone. There were 31 players overall, and, in an amazing feat, all four rounds started on time! Bob Holliman made a smart move, taking a half-point bye in the last round, but in round two he had a dead-drawn position and somehow pulled out a win (even better than my round-one game!). Bob easily won his third-round game, and I was expecting to play him (we have not played in 25 years -- drawn!).
The main thing I learned in the 12-13-14 is that MANY players need a chess etiquette class! People were talking during their game, banging the pieces, banging the clock, not keeping score (they were not low on time, just didn't want to keep score!), cell phones went off -- and these were some of the top players!
Here is a synopsis of my games:
Round One: I should not have played the crazy sacrifice Rxg6? After that I am worse/lost, and I was very lucky more than once. Eventually I equalized, then was lost again, then winning, then better, then winning. It was a very difficult game, due to the material imbalance, fast time limit -- and his king was running around.
Round Two: I played well, but with black, it was tough to win. Steve drew me last year, and he was close to drawing me again. White played too timid in the late opening / early middlegame, I seized the initiative and I was better throughout. I had less than 5 minutes for the last 15 moves, but my technique was okay.
Round Three: Matt blundered early with Bf8?? Also, Na6 just before made little sense (Na6 is misplaced). After move 13, I am already winning (Ng5!) and things went downhill fast for Hosler. I think I played pretty well this game.
Round Four: Mr. French traded a lot of pieces in the opening and middlegame but was always a bit worse, since I had two bishops. Eventually, I broke through on the king-side, and a nice exchange sac (unlike round one!!) gave me some passed pawns and great bishops. The last 20 moves were a bit unnecessary. ;)
Anyways, enjoy the games, and I will write something cool next week!