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Paul Mechem Does it Again: Winning Knights for a Second Straight Month

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Despite April featuring five Wednesdays -- and a bonus round of chess -- the monthly Knights Tournament featured a familiar winner. Paul Mechem (2000) put together back-to-back Knights Tournament victories, first taking March and now winning April with a score of 4.5/5. Over the past two months, Mechem has stacked up an impressive 8.5/9 points with performance rating of 2226. April was also a good month for Jason Clark (1839) and Kyle Neese (1305), who shared second place with 3.5/5 points.

One of Mechem’s most-exciting games during week 4 of the 5-round tournament, matched up against the last Knights winner -- February’s Daniel Coryea (1834). The two played a game in March that featured an uncharacteristic piece drop by Coryea, though April’s rematch proved to be quite different. Coryea came ready for battle and delivered an exciting game, where both players missed a few tactical chances that could have swung the balance toward a different outcome.

Paul Mechem v. Daniel Coryea // Annotation by GM Alejandro Ramirez


Mechem also played a great second-round game as the White side of a Grunfeld with 5. Bf4 against Neil Schechter (1419) -- who had a nice performance of his own in April, scoring 3/5 and winning the U1700 prize.  Mechem got his favorite kind of position out of the opening -- a slight edge with minimal risk -- while Schechter had a bad light-squared bishop. Schechter played well until move 15, when he missed an important intermezzo and lost a crucial center pawn for nothing. His position quickly disintegrated and Mechem showed good technique on his way to victory.

Paul Mechem v. Neil Schechter // Annotation by GM Alejandro Ramirez


Mechem’s only draw of the tournament -- and the last two months -- came in round 3 against Jason Clark.  Clark’s aggressive style could have spelled an combative battle in the middle of the tournament, but he declined Mechem’s invitation to an open Sicilian for a non-theoretical line that stayed balanced throughout the game. At one point Mechem offered an exchanged sacrifice that would have given both sides a chance to play for a win, but Clark spurned the offer and the game ended without fireworks.

Jason Clark v. Paul Mechem // Annotation by GM Alejandro Ramirez


In round 1, Mechem played the Black side of a comfortable Old Indian Defense against Neese in which queens were exchanged early and Black lost the right to castle. Mechem’s king was very safe in the middle of the board, and he outplayed his opponent in a slow positional game. Neese’s position gradually collapsed, and he soon found himself down an exchange. Mechem sealed the deal with an outside passer.  

Kyle Neese v. Paul Mechem // Annotation by GM Alejandro Ramirez


Despite the loss, Neese went on to score 3.5/5 in April and shared second place, despite entering in the bottom half of Knights contenders by rating.

“It’s payoff for the hard work I’m putting in,” Neese said. “It was definitely one of my better tournaments.”  

Neese played the shortest game in Knight’s history in round 4 against Benjamin Shoykhet (1143). The game ended with checkmate in 9 moves as seen below:

Kyle Neese v. Benjamin Shoykhet // Annotation by GM Alejandro Ramirez


The monthly Knights tournaments are month-long Swiss events where participants play one game every Wednesday night. A half-point bye may be requested for any round. The next Knights tournament will begin this Wednesday, May 6 at 7:00 p.m. All participants receive free grandmaster analysis of all Knights games; May Knights annotations will be provided by GM Alejandro Ramirez and GM Ben Finegold.