My Winter Recap

Looking at the snowstorm raging outside, it seems like winter is far from over. But seriously, it’s March!

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You may think that chess isn’t a seasonal sport, but in some ways it is. Essential elements for winter chess in Northeast include:

  • A snow shovel
  • A full tank of gas
  • 4-wheel drive
  • A fully charged phone
  • Snow boots
  • A snow brush
  • An ice scraper

And then you try your best to get to a tournament and sometimes even that isn’t good enough. I ended up missing one round this past Friday, though the 90 mph wind gusts, not snow, were to blame there. Spoiler: it was not the only thing I missed due to bad weather.

As for my chess… My winter went pretty reasonably, minus my epic fails at the Empire City Open and in Charlotte. I regained my rating points and am sitting around my peak rating (fine, a point or two away).

Swindling, swindling, and more swindling

I found myself in some terrible positions against significantly lower rated players but managed to win them. Here are the two main big games:

Huston, Gus (2070 USCF) – Brodsky, David (2483 USCF) Marshall FIDE Premier February 2018

Huston

White to move

Yes, I was black here. After something like 25.Rg1 Rg8 (25…Nxf4? loses to 26.Ng5+!) 26.Rab1 Rab8 27.Rb5, my position is really sad. Fortunately, that didn’t happen…

Here’s the second one:

Brodsky, David (2507 USCF) – Zhou, Liran (2219 USCF) Marshall FIDE Premier March 2018

Liran

Black to move

I was white here, and my position really sucks, though I’m not officially lost. Black’s pieces are much better placed, and it’ll take me time to unravel. Miraculously I managed to swindle my way to a better position, where I grabbed the pawn on b4, survived black’s kingside attack, and grabbed the d6-pawn while I was at it. Liran defended well until he blundered his queen.

Though I received help, I got out… My trade secret? I didn’t give my opponents easy paths to domination or not to mention victory and forced them to make decisions. If you take a look at those positions, you’ll see that my opponents had plenty of choices, none of which appeared to be clearly better than the rest. They had too many good choices. I hung on until they messed up. Though winning games like this was far from ideal, I got repaid for all my bad luck in Charlotte. Otherwise, the rest of my games against much lower rated players were fairly routine wins for me without any real misadventures.

Rough and tough endgames

More of my games than usual have been decided in the endgame. Some were exciting, while others were pretty boring. I got my fair share of wins, draws, and losses. If you want to take a look at a couple, you can skim ahead to the puzzles section. Overall, I’d say my play in that department was pretty good, though there is room for improvement.

What’s next?

Well, I hope to take the snow shovel out of the car in the near future. I may even forgo the gloves and stop checking the weather forecast for more storms. As for the rest… The norm-hunting season is heating up, and I definitely want to go for a GM Norm. Considering my current rating, getting a 2600+ FIDE performance in a 9-round tournament is a longshot, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try. My job now is to do as much prep as I can and hope for the best. At least the weather is likely to be on my side.

Puzzles

As usual, I’ll give you guys something to think about. I’ll post the solutions in the comments on Monday. Enjoy!

Puzzle 1

Erenburg

White to move

How should white maintain his pressure here?

Puzzle 2

Ostrovskiy

Black to move

What extremely strong resource does black have?

Puzzle 3

Quirke

White to move

Time for some booooooring positional chess. Just kidding, what should white play here? White has several good moves, and choose the one you think is best.

I also learned something new. Not only is it hard to play chess in winter, but it is hard to write about chess in winter. I was pretty much done with this article when we lost power, and I wasn’t able to post the article on time. Thanks snowstorm!

Until next time!

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The Candidates Tournament is Back: Sweepstakes with chess.com!

Join Chess^Summit and compete in our Candidates Sweepstakes with chess.com! [Submissions are due at 5:59 AM EST on March 10th]

Who will win this year’s Candidates Tournament and challenge Magnus Carlsen in London? This is your chance to tell us what you think and win on chess’ biggest stage!

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We’ve put together a Fantasy Challenge with chess.com for the Candidates Tournament, and you can win a chess.com Diamond Membership if you choose your players wisely. Enter Chess^Summit’s Sweepstakes now!

Need to get caught up? Here is Peter Doggers’ preview of the tournament!

Prizes:

Top 5 finishers will receive a 3 month Diamond chess.com membership!

Here are the rules to this Sweepstakes:

The Bonus Boost: Predicting the final standings just got more fun!

In this section, you’ll rank the players based on how you think they will finish in this year’s edition of the Candidates Tournament! But be careful – here’s the twist: the higher you rank a player, the more they will count towards your final score. Depending on your ranking, each player will have a different bonus boost ranging from 0 to 7, and that boost multiplied by each player’s score will be added to your point total!

For example, if we picked Kramnik to win in Berlin, his final score is multiplied by 7. So if he scores 7/14, he would score 49 points (7×7) for our submission. If we picked Grischuk to finish last, his bonus boost would be 0, meaning that if he scored 7/14, he would score 0 points (0x7). The total of all player contributions would be our score for this section!

Sergey and Fabiano topped the standings last year, can they make another push in 2018?

Freebies! In this section, we’ll give you ten tough questions. Does checkmate get delivered on the board? Who draws the most? How many times will Anish Giri tweet about the Candidates? We cover everything – answer carefully, each question is worth 5 points!

In this sweepstakes, every game matters, so make sure to watch the chess.com stream of the Candidates Tournament presented by Chessbrahs Yasser Seirawan, Robin van Kampen, Eric Hansen, and Aman Hambleton!

Enter the Candidate Sweepstakes now!

Want to know where you stand? Follow the Live Results here.

Only one submission per account, and submissions are due at 5:59 AM EST on March 10th. Good luck!

Another Year, Another VA States

The Virginia State Scholastic Chess Championships is starting today, and by the time you see this article, I’ll likely be playing.  In honor of the tournament, I wanted to spend this week talking about the tournament itself and looking back at perhaps one of the more memorable games I’ve played at the annual event.

The VA State Championships is a unique tournament.  It always takes place during the first weekend of March, which is a rather uneventful two-day weekend in any other aspect.  It’s a six-round tournament, but because it takes place on a two-day weekend, these rounds are fast-paced and rapid fire, one after another.  Here, there are four rounds on Saturday, starting at 9 am and continuing at 12 noon, 3 pm, and 6 pm.  The last two rounds are on Sunday at 8:30 am and 12 noon.  The first three games on Saturday are G/60 + d/5, and the last three (last round on Saturday and the two on Sunday).  If I’m being honest, this is pretty murderous schedule.  In years past, I’ve always been exhausted by the end of the day on Saturday, and sometimes even before the last round that day.  In contrast, top-level open tournaments have a schedule calling for one, at most two, game(s) a day with the entire tournament spread over multiple days to sometimes an entire week, whereas here there are as much as four games in a single day!  Another interesting point is the location – because of Virginia’s relatively weird shape, it’s difficult to find a single location to host the tournament every year.  To add to that, the majority of the players each year are from northern Virginia, but hosting the tournament in northern Virginia every year would make it a long drive for people that do live in the southern portion.  Thus, in order to make it as even as possible, the tournament is held in the Norfolk/VA beach area, northern Virginia, and the Roanoke area on a three-year cycle.  Lastly, while I don’t know too much about other state tournaments, I think it’s safe to say that the competition in both the K-12 and the K-8 sections is immensely strong year after year since all of the strongest scholastic players show up every time.  This makes every tournament exciting and every year, there is always a nail-biting finish.

Going into the last round of the 2016 VA State Championships last year, I was tied with 4.5/5 for second behind the leader, Justin Lohr, who was in clear first with 5/5.  The last round pairing pitted me against WFM Jennifer Yu, who was also at 4.5/5.  I’ve attached the game below in the game viewer.

Kobla – Yu, VA State Championships, 2016

This was probably the most interesting game I have played to date at the tournament.  I ended up placing 3rd in the tournament as Justin won his last round to sweep 6/6 and guarantee a first-place finish, and Jennifer finished ahead of me on tiebreaks.

It’ll be interesting to see how I perform in this year’s edition as I haven’t played much at all in the last six or so months due to junior year and school in general.  Perhaps, for the next article, I’ll write about this tournament.

As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!

PRO Chess League: Pittsburgh Edges out Webster, Moves to Shared First in Division

The Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers secured a spot in the playoffs in last weekend’s Super Saturday, but showed they could still play for more with a narrow 8.5-7.5 win over the Webster Windmills.

Both teams have clinched playoff spots with two matches to spare, but are still playing for preferred seeding and, for added glory points, Atlantic division winner! With last night’s big win, Pittsburgh is tied with Webster in matches and game points, and shares the division’s first place going into the last regular season match.

With a seemingly endless stream of present and future elite players to choose from, Webster has long been a thorn in everyone’s side, but especially that of Pittsburgh, who becomes the first PRO Chess League team to defeat Webster this season. Webster University teams defeated the University Pittsburgh twice and Carnegie Mellon University once at the Pan-American Collegiate. More relevantly, they demolished last year’s Pawngrabbers 11-5.

But in the PRO Chess League format and in the face of Pittsburgh’s improved roster, Webster was forced to dig deep into its up-and-coming talent, and decided on two (relatively) lower-rated players on its lower boards. Still, the Webster lineup still beat Pittsburgh’s by average rating, and Grabinsky (who played a pivotal role in the two teams’ match last year) and Colas have been top young players for quite a while.

Pittsburgh, however, managed to keep a slight edge for most of the match. Both teams were tied at the halfway point after trading close Rounds 1&2, but Pittsburgh narrowly emerged ahead after Round 3, and held Round 4 for the final 8.5-7.5 score.

Some highlights from last night’s win:


1. Wait – is that Awonder at Webster?

If you followed the discussion before and in the early parts of the match, you might have noticed none other than our own GM Awonder Liang playing in the same room as Webster’s NM Aaron Grabinsky and FM Joshua Colas for what Susan Polgar calls a “family rivalry.”

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Awonder is currently training at Webster – shoutout to them for giving Awonder their support, even though he is – at the moment – their rival. 

2. Edward Song goes 3/4.

FM Edward Song was the lowest rated on last night’s Pawngrabbers lineup, playing just his third match, but you wouldn’t know it from how he played last night. Edward outperformed everyone else on the team, in part due to some meticulous preparation. He had a much better position against none other than 2739-rated GM Le Quang Liem in his first game, but blundered at the last moment in a dead-drawn position. That didn’t stop him from winning the rest of his games, including against Webster’s #2, GM Tamas Banusz.

Banusz – Song, Round 2
3. IM Atulya Shetty’s comeback against FM Josh Colas

Following close behind was IM Atulya Shetty on Board 3, who scored 2.5/4. Atulya has consistently outperformed his position this season, making him an integral part of the team’s success this season. He seemed to be dead in the water against FM Josh Colas, facing an inevitable mate on g7, but turned the tables around with a surprising 28…Qd1+!!.

Colas – Shetty, Round 4


Next week, Pittsburgh and Webster will be playing Miami and Montreal – two tied teams facing possible relegation. While the Pawngrabbers and Windmills are clear favorites in their respective matches given their results this season, we can expect Miami and Montreal to try very hard to get as many points as possible.

Be sure to tune in next Wednesday at 5:55 pm Eastern time at https://www.twitch.tv/napoleonbonaparteiv for our match against the Miami Champions!