Archive for September, 2011

Of Course My Horse

Metro Chess TrophyToo soon after the conclusion of the British, Tara and I jumped on a plane to LA. Ankit Gupta, the organiser, had persuaded me, rather against my better judgement to act as instructor at a 4-day Chess camp. As I had never done anything remotely similar before, this was to say the least somewhat a daunting prospect not aided by a severe lack of preparation time. It was an interesting and highly educational experience (at least for me – not sure about the students) but in general didn’t go too badly apart from a sticky period towards the end of day 3 when I was running a bit low on material.
After a tough simul the following day and some whirlwind sightseeing it was time for the tournament with the common US timetable of 9 games in 5 days. I wasn’t too optimistic about surviving the demanding schedule as I was still having problems with jet lag and was a little fatigued.
A couple of lucky breaks early on changed the dynamic of the event. My first game began (I was Black) 1.d2-d4 Ng8-f6 2.c2-c4 e7-e6 3.g2-g3 d7-d5 4.Ng1-f3 d5xc4 5.Bf1-g2 a7-a6 6.0-0 Nb8-c6 7.Nb1-c3 Bf8-e7 (7..Ra8-b8 is the main theoretical move). Now 8.Qd1-a4 would have been errr.. a bit awkward but my adversary was hypnotized by my incompetence and passed up the opportunity. I wasn’t even aware of what had happened until someone mentioned it to me the following day.

I also had a bit of luck in the 3rd round. I actually got a good opening in this game but after slowly but surely dissipating my advantage I got away with a bad oversight around the time control:

After this things continued to go my way and I finished with a hefty 7.5/9 and took home a dazzling trophy.

Many thanks to Ankit for all his efforts in putting together this excellent event and I wish him the best of luck with his plans for the future.
Photo Credits:

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1st Metropolitan International: Conclusion

England’s GM Michael Adams won the 1st Metropolitan International chess tournament on Sunday in Los Angeles, finishing clear first a full point ahead of the field. This video recap features interviews with GM Adams, GM Mesgen Amanov, GM Loek van Wely, GM Varuzhan Akobian, IM Jack Peters, and IM Andranik Matikozyan.
The tournament was organized by NM Ankit Gupta for Metropolitan Chess.

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Midway: 1st Metropolitan International

The Grandmasters clashed in Rounds 5-7 of the 1st Metropolitan International chess tournament in downtown Los Angeles. This video update features interviews with International Grandmaster Timur Gareev and International Master Danny Rensch.

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1st Metropolitan International Tournament: Day 1

On August 17th, coincidentally former World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik’s 100th birthday, 84 players began play in the strongest chess tournament in Southern California in over 2 decades.
Seattle Master Joshua Sinanan talks about his experience playing against GM Michael Adams.

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1st Metropolitan International Chess Tournament Preview

Metropolitan Chess held the 1st Metropolitan International Chess Tournament in Los Angeles, August 17-21. 10 Grandmasters and over 50 titled players comprise the field, making it the strongest tournament in Southern California in over two decades.
This video contains interviews with Organizer Ankit Gupta, GM Michael Adams, GM Loek van Wely and GM Melikset Khachiyan.

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Fear & Loathing in Sheffield

By now all of British chess is pretty much up to date with T-shirt-gate or Stonewallgate depending on your preferance, so I will try not to belabour the point. Chaos reigned supreme at the time as so often but it does seem quite extraordinary that we still appear to be stalled in an era where dress code or the lack thereof could cause so much consternation. It has been written elsewhere that CJ deMooi’s T-Shirt was ‘overtly political’ and also that it promotes a particular lifestye. It is not and it does not. It is a nationally known slogan that is the focus of a campain by a registered charity to bring attention to prejudice. I also saw it written that spectators had been disturbed by this message. Perhaps they should have read it more carefully. And followed its advice.

Gawain Jones sums this up very well on his website.

(…) that implies that the slogan is a debatable one. Actually I thought that these days such a statement was self-evident but (…) this evidently isn’t the case and therefore more reason for CJ to wear it.

Quite possibly the situation could have been handled more sensitively on both sides, but I was standing with CJ during most of the playoffs and there is no question that he was personally upset, as anyone would be, I don’t doubt that this was NOT the intention of the official who raised the issue but it was the inevitable outcome.

In the aftermath of this, as the situation burst out of control, this website recieved a vitriolic email (also sent to many others involved in English chess) riddled with biased and nasty inflamatory language regarding CJ personally, thus proving that if nothing else the ‘offending’ item of clothing IS capable of smoking out prejudice from the crevices in which it hides. One of chess’s greatest boasts is that it brings people together over the board where the only difference that matters is relative playing strength! It is supposed to promote tolerance and inclusiveness and I believe CJ was trying to do the same. It would have been a triumph for both if this T-Shirt had been worn causing no more than minor passing comment in the same way that one with a charity message raising awareness for cancer would have.

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Winning Ugly

In contrast with the British Championships last year, this time I found the chess hard work. My first game was a gruelling 94 move struggle and I didn’t have many smooth wins. I was also certainly in bad shape at various stages of my games against the other three highest rated players and 2 points was a very flattering return from these encounters.

Some of the problems I mentioned last year persisted; it still seems odd to me that all participants in the British do not have to be members of a qualifying Federation, particularly as membership fees remain such a bone of contention in the ECF.

I can’t compete with the fulsome denigration that Nigel dished out to the accelerated pairing system in the commentary room after round three, however it seemed to me that with a small field and 11 rounds it proved particularly pointless this time, the mini-matches between the 4 highest rated players had been completed by round 8 leaving the tournament to conclude in a flurry of downfloats.

I think one detail of the rules for the playoff could well be in improved for the future. Starting with two games of 20 minutes + 10 seconds seems reasonable, but if this is tied going directly to an armageddon game is ridiculous. In general these contrived affairs which create more than their fair share of disputes are resorted to far too often. There are occasions where a genuine shortage of time makes it necessary, such as at the World Open where the tiebreak game began after 11 pm, but at the British there seems to be no reason not to play normal blitz games. If time is considered so short, at least sudden death blitz has the advantage that a draw would not decide the Championship. If the playoff is considered a serious affair this would be a better option; as well as being fairer to the players, the spectators (many stayed to watch after the prize-giving) rarely complain if there are more games in this kind of situation.

I have never been too interested in trophies, but it seemed odd that there was nothing presented for the British Championship. I was told the British trophy was in for repairs last year, and I guess these were not an unqualified success as apparently it is now too fragile to be moved. In addition, for reasons that I’m sure make perfect sense but to me seem a little obscure, the playoff does not also decide the English Championship.

I was a bit distracted by the playoff to witness all the drama associated with stonewallgate (see Tara’s comments below) but it was a great shame that given the huge efforts CJ de Mooi had made with the event that he ended up not distributing the prizes.

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Armageddon Cheesesteak

The World Open was the start of a busy chess period for me. It had been nice to get a break in our condo in Key Largo but with kitchen renovations, sunsets and cocktails, Chessbase didn’t get much of a look in!

Despite this, I managed quite well in the World Open winning a few decent games. However, Gata Kamsky convincingly beat me in our armageddon game to take the title. The game was 5 vs 3 minutes but with an additional 3 seconds delay, which was omitted in some reports. I think my colour choice of Black was okay but sadly if you play badly it doesn’t make much difference.

I hope they might use this same hotel again for the tournament, with good opportunities to sightsee at the Liberty Bell or the “Rocky” steps depending on your taste, and a great view of the 4th July celebrations. I can also recommend Pat’s King of Steaks for their Philly cheesesteak which sustained me through my very lengthy game with Vitali Golod in the seventh round.

For some reason my bank failed to credit my check to my account properly, thanks to Bill Goichberg for being very helpful reuniting me with my winnings.

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