Sunday, April 06, 2008

The So-So Invitational

About one month ago, four aspiring class A players met weekly in the Boylston Chess Club for a double round robin. At stake was no prize, save rating points-- a breakout tournament by any player would move them to the next 100 point rating class. We called it the So-So Invitational, for those players who are only so-so.

The participants were: Phillip Nutzman, Dan Schmidt, Ruben Portugues, and me, Jason Rihel. Phillip and I have occasionally climbed over 2000, while Dan and Rueben are solidly over the 1800 mark. It would be a good tournament, this much was clear. (Aside: I encourage club members to hold matches or mini-tournaments using the club space. It is one of the membership perks to get your little event rated. Of course, be respectful of the regular events the club plans, and check with a club TD about your event beforehand). All of the games and results can be found at:

Phillip and I raced out to a 2-0 lead, and collided in Round 3. Although the "expected" outcome, these first rounds were gory affairs. In both my own games, I had sacked a pawn by move 12 and certainly didn't win easily. However, these bloody events failed to prepare me for the limb hacking that Phillip and I did in round 3. Right before time control, I survived a winning king assult from Phillip, and then started to assert my own advantages. Then, late in the game but with pieces crawling all over, Philip makes a heroic king walk around the board (Kb2-b3-c4-d4-e4-f5-e6-d7-c6-b6-c7-b6-b5!!) and avoids my daggers. (I miss a few wins, tis true, tis true!) Then, no surprise in such a game, a simple mate in 2 escapes both our attention for 5 or more moves, and it is only realized when I attack Phillip's knight, forcing it to make the winning blow! A terrible loss for me, but a great win for the new leader of the tournament.

This is not Phillip's only escape from the painful pinchers of defeat, however. In the next two rounds, Phillip, down an exchange and running out of play, suddenly suckers Ruben with a mate trick. Then, Phillip missteps during an attack on Dan's fortress, and Dan holds all the winning chances (up several pawns). Fritz screams out win after win, but Dan had a touch of time pressure and could only muster a draw. As I had won my two games, it added to the drama of the last round with Phillip. There would be no tie for first, and the winner would climb back over 2000.

Again, Phillip and I play a splatterfest. I hung a pawn in the middlegame, and that encouraged me to play an over-ambitious sacrifice. I win black's queen, but the price is dear: a queen and two pawns for a rook and two pieces. Trying to decide the merits of this position, I also gave up a lot of time on my clock. See for the game. In time pressure, I misplace my queen, and Phillip rocks me with some pigs on the 7th. Phillip wins the 2000 prize, and I will have to wait another day to get back to that mark. Dan and Ruben decide to make peace early, splitting their encounters with 2 draws.

The close matchups made this a very fun tournament to play in. Also, we had some flexibility in our schedule, so we could accomodate schedules. I will definately love to organize another So-So Invititional-- the high quality games with friends who would analyze afterwards made this a memorable event for me.

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