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A Year In Review

[imagefield_assist|fid=8912|preset=frontpage_200x200|lightbox=true|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=200]I have worked at the CCSCSL for one full year, and what a year!

I was quite successful in the quick and blitz tournaments held at the Chess Club, winning each game throughout the year. Slow tournaments were a different story altogether.

There were three types of tournaments held at the Chess Club in 2010. The usual weekend events, the unusually strong weekend events (Saint Louis Open and Thanksgiving Open), and the U.S. Championship.

In the weekend events, I did pretty well, winning all but two games. I drew club regular Joe Garnier in an up-and-down affair in the CCSCSL Super Team Championship, held in June. Our team was comprised of me, Spencer Finegold, and Ray Kurczynski. We were able to win the event (barely), but Spencer and I both lost rating points. The other draw in 2010 was a perfunctory five-move “battle” with IM Michael Brooks in August at the Missouri State Championship.

In the two monster weekend events, I did quite badly! I lost to WIM Alisa Melekhina in the Saint Louis Open, held in April, and lost two games in the Thanksgiving Open to IM Istvan Sipos and WGM Sabina Foisor.

The U.S. Championship was one of my few bright spots in top level competition in 2010, as I managed to gain rating points, and lose only one game, to GM Alex Shabalov.

My rating took quite a dip in 2010 (Ron Luther would be proud) due to three extremely poor results. My first bad result was in the 2010 Chicago Open, held over Memorial Day Weekend. I am not sure why I played so badly, but I ended up losing 25 rating points, to dip below 2600. My next travesty was in October, when I went to the Spice Cup in Lubbock, Tex., (Many of you will remember the 2009 edition as the tournament where I secured my final GM norm). I blundered in several games, losing a total of four games, and only managing one win out of nine rounds. I lost a whopping 31 rating points (!) right after regaining my USCF 2600 rating. I compounded my rating losses by losing two games in the Thanksgiving Open, losing 16 rating points in all. Those three events made sure my rating would fall way below my “standard” 2600 rating.

Early in 2010 I decided to have as few draws as possible and play sharp, uncompromising chess. This may have backfired, rating-wise, but I have many exciting games as a consequence, and chess was fun again! I also had many nice wins in 2010. I lost more games in 2010 than any year I can remember since becoming an IM in 1990. One of the bright spots of 2010 was the excitement of playing 1.e4 many games, instead of my usual 1.d4. I won many exciting games with 1.e4 and I learned a lot of theory as well. The reason for changing my repertoire in 2010 was mainly due to Melekhina. Not because she beat me with 1.e4, but because I worked as her coach (from long distance) when she played in the World Junior for Girls U21 in Poland. Alisa always plays 1.e4 and so did many of her opponents. We looked at so many lines in different openings, that I felt confident I could also play 1.e4 successfully. 

I enjoyed my first year at the CCSCSL. I met a lot of new people, members and employees. I played a lot of chess, bullet, blitz, action, and slow. I played in a lot of strong events, in Missouri, Texas, Nevada, and Illinois. It was a year in which U.S. #1 and World top ten player Hikaru Nakamura moved to Saint Louis.

I hope 2011 is just as productive, and I look forward to sharing my adventures with my blog readers. Below are my favorite games from 2010.

- Resident