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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 17, 2011

Chi wins Schenectady
Fun and games in Monte Carlo

By Peter Henner

Patrick Chi, the recently crowned New York State Junior High School Champion now ranked 14th in the country for players under 12 years old, has won the Schenectady Chess Club Championship, ahead of two-time Defending Champion Phil Sells.

Chi won the championship by defeating fellow junior-high-school player Dilip Aaron, whose string of surprising upsets against high-rated players ended with his loss to the much more experienced and higher-rated Chi. Chi scored 3-1, ahead of Sells (2-2), who lost his last-round game to Alan LeCours.

Albany Championship

Gordon Magat and Dean Howard, the winners of the two preliminary sections of the Albany Club Championship, are playing a two-game match to determine the club champion.  Although it is common for Grand Masters to prepare specific openings for known opponents, such preparation is relatively unusual among club players.

However, in the Capital District, where many chess players know each other, it is possible to predict what opening an opponent will play.

Magat was aware of Howard's well-known preference for a particular line in the Queens Gambit Declined, and prepared a specific response to this opening. His preparation paid off, to enable him to get a good position out of the opening, and eventually win the game.

Chess blogger Bill Little has a particularly good post about this game, including analysis, and a description of his conversation with the players post-game analysis (http://enyca.blogspot.com/2011/03/beginning-of-aacc-title-match.html).

The Albany Championship also features a two-game playoff to determine the winner of the “lower half” with the fourth-place competitors (essentially the players under 1800) playing a two-game match.

Glen Perry, who is rated 1775 and is commonly believed to be somewhat stronger, would have been the favorite over Art Alowitz, rated 150 points lower.  Nevertheless, Alowitz won the first game of the two-game playoff match. Although Perry obtained a significant advantage, he decided to trade two rooks for Alowitz's queen, a decision which left Perry with an inferior position, which Alowitz was able to exploit for the win. 

Finale for Melody Amber Tourney

One of the more colorful annual international chess events is the Melody Amber Tournament, which has been held in Monte Carlo, a famous resort town in the Principality of Monaco, since 1992. Joop Van Oosterom, a Dutch businessman and leading correspondence chess player, sponsors the double round-robin tournament, which he named after his daughter. The top players in the world are invited. This year’s event, the 20th, will be the last time the tournament is held.

While most international chess events are conducted at a slow time control of 40 moves in 2½ hours, the Melody Amber Tournament features rapid and blindfold chess. In one round, the players play blindfolded, looking at a blank chess board on a computer screen and making their moves on the computer, while keeping the positions of the chess pieces in their heads.

The time limit is 25 minutes for the entire game, with 20 seconds added to each player’s time for every move made. The other round is a rapid tournament, with the same 25-minute-per-game limit, but with only 10 seconds added to each player’s time for every move made.

Under these conditions, even among the world’s top players, many mistakes are made.  However, some very high-quality chess is played, as you would expect at this level of competition. Indeed, even chess players wonder why so much time is needed for serious chess when excellent chess can be played at fast time controls.

The tournament has a prize fund of €227,000, including prizes for the best game in each round, and separate prizes for the best player in both the rapid round and in the blindfold round. The tournament gives the top players in the world the opportunity to stay in a luxurious resort and compete for significant prize money, without having to risk their world rankings, since rapid and blindfold chess is not rated by Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE).

The eight highest-rated players in the world, including world champion Viswanathan Anand, former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, and the United States representative Hikaru Nakamura, fresh from his recent success in the prestigious Tata Steel tournament, are among the 12 competitors. After four rounds, the Armenian Levon Aronian and former top-rated player Magnuson Carlson are tied for the lead at 6-2, with Anand close behind at 51⁄2 -21⁄2. Nakamura is at 4-4. 

This week’s problem

The Azerbaijani Vugar Gashimov, ranked 10th in the world, won the best-game prize for round 3, with his victory in the blindfold game against the 16-year-old Dutch player Anish Giri.

The first diagram shows the position after move 29, just before Gashimov started his mating attack. See if you can see the entire combination.

The second diagram shows the position after move 33, just before Gashimov made the move that forced an immediate resignation, because of the pending mate. Even if you can’t find the entire combination, see if you can find the final move.

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