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Unrated Attack in September Monday Knights Tournament

Teodoro Quijada (left) won the September Knights Tournament as a brand-new player to competitive chess.

The Monday Knights tournaments are a great feature to those players who have the competitive itch -- but not enough time to commit to weekend events.

The Swiss-style monthly tournaments feature longer time controls (Games in 70 minutes, with a 5-second delay per move), with one round held every Monday night at 7:00 p.m. -- creating a four- and sometimes five-round tournament that stretches across the entire month! Players may request a half-point BYE for any Monday round they may miss, allowing for even more scheduling flexibility, and cash prizes are awarded to the top players in three different levels: Open, U2000 and U1600.

Adding even more value to the Monthly Knights experience is all participants receiving personalized Grandmaster analysis for each of their games!

If there is one lesson to take away from the September Monday Knights Tournament, it is to never underestimate your opponent -- no matter what number is beside his name. 

Unrated Teodoro “Teo” Quijada won the month-long tournament in great style, clinching first place with a draw against Manny Presicci (1550) in the final round. Teo is a Club regular, known to members as a capable class player who only recently started playing rated games. With this month’s win, he has made a wonderful start at competitive chess.

Quijada went into the fourth and final round as the only player with a perfect 3/3 score, only needing a draw to earn top honors with Presicci trailing by half a point. His Slav defense seemed to oblige, as the board quickly turned symmetrical and looked drawish from the earlygoings. Presicci briefly enjoyed the Bishop pair, but some nice maneuvering of Teo’s Knights allowed him to trade off one of the Bishops.

With the rooks about to come off the board, Manny was down to 24 minutes versus Teo’s 53. On move 21, conscious of his time troubles and the symmetry of the position, he decided to cut his losses and offer a draw. Teo accepted, not wanting to risk a tough endgame of Queen and Bishop versus Queen and Knight.

“He offered me a draw, and the position was very drawish,” explained Teo. “Why risk it? I could blunder.”

The most interesting game of the week took place on Board 2, where Grant Johnson (959) faced off with Ben Boaz (1567). Despite the difference in rating, a titanic back-and-forth struggle took place. A Scandinavian opening gave way to a tricky middle game with players castling on opposite sides. The scales began to tip when Johnson won an exchange midway through the game: Boaz prematurely snapped up a loose Bishop, only to realize the capture would ultimately trap his rook.

“I was scared for a minute,” Boaz admitted.

It came down to a fight between Johnson’s King and Rook against Boaz’ King and Knight. In a position that could have easily drawn, Boaz decided that he liked the position of his King and his pawn structure and pushed for the win.

He pressed his kingside pawn majority while Johnson’s Rook struggled to halt the march to the first rank. Johnson’s King was soon forced to give way, pushed from the path of Boaz’ pawns thanks to excellent support from the Knight and King. Fantastic technique ultimately earned Boaz a queened pawn -- and eventually the win.

The victory finished Boaz with a solid 3/4 score, good for a second-place tie with Presicci.

Analysis provided by CCSCSL Resident Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan: