March 23rd Rapid G/20 Final Results and Highlights

Results are in for the latest rated tournament at Piermont Chess! Thanks to everyone who participated.

Prize Winners:

First place: Artem Aleksenko

Best U1000: Damian Bias and Billy Zifchak

Final Standings

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Select Games from the Tournament

1. Peter Graham vs. Joseph Burns

This was a very competitive game. Both players had a performance rating of 1250. It started with 1. b4 the Polish opening. Black was dominant in the opening, but White increased accuracy through to the end outplaying Black the majority of the time. The critical moment (as seen by the peak on the graph) was a blunder by Black that went unnoticed by White: 23…Nxe4?? Black played this presuming that the knight was protected by the rook on e8, however, sparing the knight was a miss for White: If 24. Rxe3 Rxe4?? then there’s M2 with a back rank disaster [25. Rd8+! Re8 26. Rxe8#]. Presumably, Black would not have allowed this and simply given up the knight. However this was missed and Black diffused the situation taking a brief lead. They entered a R+N endgame, maneuvered the knights to find a position, but no progress was to be made. The game was ultimately a draw.

2. Ronald Holland vs. Billy Zifchak

A surprising computer analysis for this first round game showing high level play by both players despite the massive blunder that cost Black the game. White and Black played a very strong Giuoco Piano opening but White took a slight advantage. Black regained momentum in the middlegame and held an even line until a really unfortunate blunder on move 24. White opened lines and had a strong center that seemed dangerous, and Black hyper-focused on a threat of check by the queen on h5 (oblivious to the fact that the bishop was hanging). A simple 24…Be4 would have easily closed the center with a tempo on the queen. Black’s pieces were all well defended and any checks wouldn’t have really lead anywhere. The analysis results were very exciting for considering the mismatched player ratings. Had the mistake not been made the game might have been a real show.

3. Joseph Burns vs. Ronald Holland

An interesting opening, a Franco-Sicilian with 1… e6 and 2…c5. This transposed into the Alapin Variation on move 5. White played solid and took a steadily increasing lead until around move 28 when after a series of mistakes Black cracked open the defenses. Move 10. Bxc6+! helped assuage an aggressive 8…Qa5 with an even trade and a better position. Both seemed to struggle to find optimal positions in the middle game but Black wasn’t giving up. White was unable to press the advantages they had all while allowing the f pawn to infiltrate the king side which was ultimately disastrous.

4. Billy Zifchak vs. Kareem Khan

This was a nail biter. Both played a clean opening with Black going for a Modern exchange variation of the Slav defense. With no dubious moves from either side until move 14, things were off to good start. Black was beginning to tighten the screws. White neglected to castle on move 18 which was a dangerous oversight allowing 20…Qc6. And still White didn’t castle, instead playing 21. Rg1? But Black gave things away with 21…Ra5? attempting to win a knight, and that rook was quickly snatched by the d2 Bishop. Black held on hard and maintained a strong defense. A seemingly chaotic game in the moment that was really well played by both according to analysis. Strong defense by Black playing well above rating level. Notation ends on move 38. but white was able to go into a Q vs Q+R endgame. Near the end Black noticed the time and smartly traded queens to make checkmate more difficult in this sudden death time format. White almost lost on time because of this but began to target the remaining pawns, abandoning the attempt to checkmate just in time. They ultimately reached a position where Black believed there was a stalemate and offered his hand to end the game. But White thought Black was resigning! This prompted a review and White was declared the winner. Further post mortems of the game confirm that Black did in fact have at least one pawn move and so the result was correct.

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