Players were out for blood in the first monthly Knights Tournament of 2015, with every game featuring wild, attacking chess. Everyone, even the lower rated players, was playing to win and no one missed a chance to complicate their game and confuse their opponent.
Ben Boaz (1574) had scored a big, upset win in the third round against Knights regular Daniel Coryea (1800) to become the sole leader out of a field of 17 players. Coryea had a strong attack out of the opening, an exciting position with opposite-side castling, but Ben mustered a strong counter-attack that proved to be too much for his higher-rated opponent. Ben could have won the tournament outright with a win in round 4, but a quick draw with Bill Thompson in the last round left the door open for his competitors to catch him.
Annotations provided by Grandmaster Ben Finegold
The top-board draw brought everyone’s attention to the game between Manny Presicci (1598) and Neil Schechter (1484), the winner of which would share first place with Boaz. Fittingly, the game stayed extremely unbalanced and was never clear which player stood better.
“This was about the hairiest game I ever played,” Presicci said during the post-mortem. “I didn’t know who was winning half the time.”
It was obvious from the opening that Schechter had done his homework. Admitting that he had studied the Alapin variation of the Sicilian all morning in anticipation of his Knights game, and he came in with an improvement over his last encounter with Presicci. But despite Schechter’s opening success, it was Presicci who emerged from the labyrinthine middlegame on top, finding his way to a win and a split of the first-place prize.
Thompson (1667) won the U1700 section, responsible for each of the draws in the tournament. After winning the first round, Thompson put together a well-fought streak of three draws, including a spectacular game in round 2 against the tournament’s highest-rated player, Alex Marler (2089). Marler played the aggressive Albin Counter-Gambit and went overboard with complications in an attempt to blow Thompson out of the water. But Thompson held his own throughout the difficult position and even held very real winning chances before Marler managed to defuse the attack with perpetual check.
Heading into the final round, both contenders for the U1400 prize were players rated under 1000. August Meyer (932) finished with an even score of 2/4, though it was Daniel Bartz’ victory over Scott Anderson (1338) in the last round that won the section with a score of 2.5/4.
The next Knights Tournament begins on February 4 at 7:00 p.m. -- and there has never been a better time to join. The monthly Knights tournaments play one game every Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m., and all competitors receive free Grandmaster analysis of each of their games. Bring your competitive spirit and come join us in February for more exciting chess.