While I was away I managed to find time to play in the U.S. Amateur East chess tournament. You can find the full details here. I managed 4 points out of 6, which was good enough to pick up some rating points but not good enough to win any money.
I did, however, manage to wrap up the tournament with a pretty move:
Timothy Hall (2048) – J.R. (1924)
Position After 22. Rh3-c3
Black to Play and Win
This occurred in the sixth and final round, and emerged from my favorite Scandinavian Defense. My opponent had gotten carried away early on and launched an ill-advised pawn-storm on the king-side. He’s a pawn down, but black’s isolated d-pawn and the chance of moving his bishop to d6 gives white reason to continue. But his last move allows a trick:
I played 22. … Qxb4! which looks like a blunder after 23. Rxc8+ Rxc8 24. Qxb4. But black’s rook on c8 and bishop on g6 cooperate well together, allowing 24. … Rxc2+ 25. Kb1 Rc4+ 26. Ka1 Rxb4 which leaves black with an enormous material advantage. White resigned.
My round five game was another Scandinavian. The amusing position below occurred after thirty-six moves:
Akhil Matthew (1743) – J.R.
Position After 37. Qg2-e2
Black to Play and Win
The king-sde has been cleared of pawns, but black’s pieces have managed to find more active squares than their white counterparts. Black can win a piece now with 37. … Qxe2+ 38. Kxe2 Nxc2, but after something like 39. Bd2! black finds his knight trapped. There is also the interesting 37. … Nxc2, with the idea that 38. Qxg4 runs into 38. … Nxe3+ followed by 39. … Nxg4. But 38. Qxc2 puts paid to that idea.
But black does have a clear win from this position: 37. … Qh3+ 38. Kg1 Bh2+ 39. Kf2 (of course, 39. Qxh2 Nf3+! is hardly an improvement) 39. … Qg3+ 40. Kf1 Nxc2 41. Qxc2 Qxe3 42. Qxh2 Qb1+ 43. Kg2 Qxb2+, and after the forced queen trade, black easily wins the pawn endgame.
Alas, it wasn’t all good news:
J.R. – Harry Cohen (2044)
Position after 17. Rd1-d2
Black to play and win
From round three this time. This came out of an Accelerated Dragon, which for some reason I have always found a difficult opening to play against. I managed to blunder away a pawn earlier in the game, but things were about to get much worse.
From the diagram, my opponent found a nice tactical shot to win the game: 17. … Bxe3+ 18. Qxe3 Rxd3!! and white is helpless. White’s queen is pinned, and after 19. Rxd3 Qxb2+! black gets his rook back. Ugh! Guess I better hit the opening books.
All in all, I had a great time. It was nice to see my old chess friends Doug and Brian. And a hearty thanks to the tournament staff for putting on such a good show.