American Open Results:
Well, as I seem to spend a good deal of time here writing about the Mechanics, I might as well congratulate IM Pruess and IM Zilberstein for their performances this weekend. I would also like to congratulate my former (due to geographical restrictions) coach GM Khachiyan on his victory and his very nice win over GM Perelshteyn (who led almost the entire way). Pruess tied for 1st place in the tournament with Khachiyan. Zilberstein took clear first U2450, I talked to both of them after their games, both seemed very unhappy that they didn't do better! Apparently BOTH were upset about not scoring more, I invite them to take out their frustration with having each of their most recent games being a draw to turning their most recent games into wins on Wednesday in the US Chess League championships against New York.
[Update: I forgot to mention when I originally wrote this that not only did Pruess and Khachiyan win the event, their victories also qualified them for the 2007 US Championship. An additional congratulations to these two for this accomplishment.]
Well, my result I can't really call "bad", but in many ways I was unhappy with my play. I'll cover round by round. The first four rounds were game in 1 hour. In round 1 I played IM Matikozyan as black. He played a bad move against the french and I opted out of the most natural (and best!) reply to play a move over which I completely overlooked his response. I could accept a very depressing position, but instead I decided to sacrifice a pawn. This actually was probably not the correct decision, but anyways, he held onto his pawn and won the game although we were both under 1 minute at the end of the game and he had to find a fairly easy breakthrough to win, but still, not a great way to lose.
In round 2 I faced my friend NM Julian Landaw as black. A little history in this pairing: we've played 4 times now, I've had black in all 3 encounters. I collapsed quickly in our first meeting, but in the 2nd one I basically refuted his opening and in the 3rd game I again refuted the same opening, but failed to convert and drew the game. After this game, he entirely changed lines against the french and this time played a King's Indian Attack against it. We got an interesting position from the opening and after a few inaccuracies on my part he had a slightly better position, but I defended well and in the time scramble even developed an initiative after finding a series of accurate moves. In fact, at one point I had FORCED MATE! but it was tricky and I missed one move in the continuation that wasn't too hard to find. I'm quite upset about this as I saw the key idea just missed the simple continuation, quite sad. Even though I only had 1:30 on my clock I still believe I should find this win, I actually offered him a draw before he blundered not wanting a game between friends to be decided by a zeitnot blunder, and I guess it wasn't unfortunately. Eventually we drew although even in the final position (although under a minute + delay) I actually was still winning. If this were an isolated incident I could live with it.
Due to the small 3-day schedule in the open section I received a full point bye in round 3. Normally I much prefer to play, but after 2 games that went the full 2 hours I hadn't had any time to eat and was starving so I got to spectate in round 3. In round 4 I played 6. f4 against the Najdorf playing NM Paul Gallegos as white when I played a series of inaccurate moves in the opening which I was relatively unfamiliar with only to get an inferior position. I fought hard to defend in the middle game and eventually he went wrong by allowing some unfavorable exchanges and already I had a better position. At some point when we were both under 5 minutes he had a chance to just remain a pawn down in a R+ minor piece ending or to sacrifice his bishop for my 2 remaining pawns and defend R+N vs R+P which would have been unpleasant. Instead he let me trade into what is probably a winning R+P ending, but with less than a minute on my clock I reached for a pawn, grabbed it and immediately realized I had given up a draw. He decided not to take it and we played a few moves in this dead drawn position, but I defended with ease and we shook hands shortly afterwards.
So I had survived day one of what some were dubbing "the dead zone" due to the tough field (in fact, IM Zilberstein played UP in round 1. In round 5 I played a master from Austrailia a good piece of preparation netted me a winning position, but I failed to play some simple moves and got myself in trouble at which point I was relieved by my opponents draw offer. I was probably not worse in the position, but I certainly wouldn't mind playing the black side.
In round 6 I played my friend NM Ilya Serpik whom I have a very good record against. On move 23 I won a pawn, but I somehow moved my queen from an absolutely beautiful square on c3 and allowed counter-play and took a draw.
In round 7 I played NM Aigner who I had played recently played. He surprised me by playing the Sveshnikov and I got a good position, but it was complicated and I got myself into time trouble and played some bad moves to throw away my advantage and give my opponent a strong attacker, a good attack. He easily wiped me away and gave me my second loss of the tournament.
I should talk about my feelings going into the last day. I had played 6 rounds (okay, only actually played 5) and still hadn't put a win on the board, I was quite upset as at this point I had 4 games where I had winning positions. So in round 8 I prepared for a Caltech grad student Cedric Pahud who is from Switzerland. I had prepared for about 30 minutes the 6. f4 line against the Najdorf that I played in round 4, but when the position arose on the board I flippantly decided that I would play Be3 instead. My opponent played a side line that isn't supposed to be good, but I played some inaccurate moves and I did not get as big of an advantage as I think I could have. Anyways, we played on and I got a strong attack eventually, but allowed the position to complicate near time control (where I got in time trouble along with my opponent trying to find the strongest continuations. Eventually i won a pawn, but the position was very wild, but I found a strong continuation but my opponent eventually buckled under the pressure and allowed me to force mate. Finally a win!
Rating change: 2110-> 2125