Chess Room Newsletter #950 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #950

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #950


January 9, 2021

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Webster University Wins 2020-2021 Pan-American Interollegiate Championship!

The Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship is college chess' premier event, bringing eligible college teams from North, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean. The event has been held since 1946, and in 2020, the University of Toronto was set to host the event, in commemoration of the 125 year anniversary of the Hart House Chess Club at the University of Toronto. When the pandemic cancelled the live event, however, the Mechanics' Institute was awarded the bid to host the 2020-2021 event online. This year's online event had a faster time control, G/25+5 and, nine rounds - certainly a gauntlet for any team looking to win. The event was stacked with powerhouse teams, including grandmasters up and down the lineup, all looking for their shot at glory, and a chance to bring a championship to their school. After a marathon tournament and nine action-packed rounds, Webster University regained the championship with a dominant 8/9 performance, a full point ahead of 2nd place finisher St. Louis University. This marks eight championships in the last nine years for Wesbter University, and the victory came 30 years to the day when Head Coach Susan Polgar became the first female ever to become a Grandmaster. Susan and Paul Truong have built a chess dynasty at Webster, dominating collegiate chess for nearly a decade. Finishing in 3rd on tiebreaks at 6.5/9 was Webster University Team B, 4th place University of Texas @ Rio Grande Valley A ,and in 5th was Texas Tech University A. Due to their top four finishes, these school will compete in the Presidents Cup, also known as the Final Four of College Chess to determine the U.S. team champion.

We would like to give a very special mention to UC Berkeley. They sent five teams to this event, and though not being a chess scholarship school, populated its teams with many of the local chess talent that have been a part of our Bay Area chess community as young children. Their A and B teams sat on the top two tables in the final round, both with a shot to place in the top four and get Cal into the final four. It was a tall order, however, as they were facing elite programs, and both teams were defeated, finishing 6/9. Their tournament performance was tough, gritty, and an absolute pleasure to follow. Also putting in a solid perfomance was Stanford University, finishing 5.5/9. 

Webster University appeared to be cruising, going 6/6 after the first two days. But a round 7 loss at the hands of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Team A opened the door for several teams, all within a half point of the leader going into round 8. But Webster finished the final two rounds strong, defeating University of Texas @ Dallas C with the help from wins from the bottom two boards, including an exciting quick win by GM Aram Hakobyan over GM Angel Arribas Lopez, as well as GM Aleksandr Lenderman over IM Cameron Wheeler. In the final round, the Cinderella matchup was made as UC Berkeley Team A defeated University of Chicago in round 8 to take on Webster Team A. However, Webster did not let up on the gas pedal, as the GM  strength on all boards was just too much, although IM Ladia Jirasek found quite a resourceful defense to hold a draw against GM Aleksandr Lenderman. 

Congratulations to Webster University, and to all the teams that participated in this year's Pan Am. We hope this event created many fond memories for all the students who participated, and we are honored that we were able to continue this event which dates back nearly 75 years. This event would not have been possible without the hard work of so many in our chess community. Special thanks to Chief Tournament Director Glenn Panner and Assistant Chief Brian Yang, who showed exceptional leadership and poise in managing a large TD staff keeping an eye on almost 500 cameras that needed monitoring and addressing the questions from captains and players. The TD staff represented some of the best in the country: Martha Underwood, David Hater, Al Losoff, Jiten Patel and many volunteers, for all of whom Mechanics' Institute is deeply grateful. Chief Organizer Judit Sztaray was sensational in her organizational skills and hours of work in making sure everything ran smoothly. Thank you also to GM Alex Onischuk and Andy Schley of the US Chess College Committee, and Carol Meyer and Mike Hoffpauir from US Chess. This event would also not have been possible without the support from our leadership at Mechanics' CEO Kimberly Scrafano and GM Patrick Wolff, MI Trustee and Chair of the Mechanics' Chess Committee. 

The Pan-Am brought schools and cultures together through chess, as we had teams from the U.S., Mexico and Canada, as well as players representing over 20 different countries. We would like to thank WIM Ivette Garcia Morales, who streamed the event in Spanish to the Latin American audience, thereby broadening our reach. We hope that by doing so, it helps provide momentum for more schools from Latin America to participate in future events. And finally, thanks to all our special guests who joined us on the broadcast in support of this event and the Mechanics' Institute, GM Sam Shankland, IM John Donaldson, WGM Carla Heredia, IM Kostya Kavutskiy, WIM Alexey Root, FM Kyron Griffith, GM Jorge Cori, and Al Lawrence, Director of the US Chess Trust. 

Here are the full results:


Full tentative results pending fair play review can also be found here:
Team Standing (below) -- Team standing with Roster --- Individual Standing in board order

SwissSys Standings. 2020-21 PanAm: Open 

# Name Rating Team Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Rd 8 Rd 9 Total T-US Amat.) T-Game pnts T-1-on-1 T-Buch. cut 1 T-Buch Prize
1 WEBSTER UNIVERSITY TEAM A 2708 WEBSTER_A WEBSTER W38 [4.0] W16 [4.0] W9 [3.5] W6 [2.5] W5 [2.5] W2 [2.5] L4 [1.5] W13 [2.5] W7 [3.0] 8.0 149.25 26 100 49 53 1st Place
2 SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY A 2689 SLU_A SLU W17 [4.0] W22 [4.0] W14 [3.5] D4 [2.0] W3 [3.0] L1 [1.5] W9 [2.5] D6 [2.0] W11 [3.5] 7.0 153.75 26 100 50 55 2nd Place
3 WEBSTER UNIVERSITY TEAM B 2660 WEBSTER_B WEBSTER W33 [4.0] W21 [4.0] W10 [3.0] L5 [1.0] L2 [1.0] W38 [4.0] W16 [4.0] D4 [2.0] W6 [2.5] 6.5 135.5 25.5 99 47 51 3rd Place
4 UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE V 2656 UTRGV_A UTRGV W35 [4.0] W27 [2.5] W11 [3.0] D2 [2.0] D6 [2.0] D13 [2.0] W1 [2.5] D3 [2.0] D8 [2.0] 6.5 129.25 22 100 49.5 54 4th Place
5 TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY A 2647 TTU_A TTU X--- [4.0] W19 [3.0] W12 [4.0] W3 [3.0] L1 [1.5] D8 [2.0] L13 [1.0] W22 [2.5] W15 [3.0] 6.5 117 24 100 47.5 52.5 5th Place
6 UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI A 2656 MIZZOU_A MIZZOU W31 [4.0] W23 [4.0] W7 [2.5] L1 [1.5] D4 [2.0] W18 [3.0] W8 [3.0] D2 [2.0] L3 [1.5] 6.0 134.75 23.5 100 50 54.5  
7 UC BERKELEY TEAM A 2480 CAL_A UCB W36 [4.0] W39 [4.0] L6 [1.5] W13 [3.5] L9 [1.5] W19 [4.0] W18 [2.5] W12 [2.5] L1 [1.0] 6.0 126.75 24.5 98 46 50  
8 UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS TE 2522 UTD_A UTDT L56 [1.0] W45 [3.0] W15 [3.5] W27 [3.0] W11 [4.0] D5 [2.0] L6 [1.0] W16 [4.0] D4 [2.0] 6.0 125.25 23.5 99 44.5 47  
9 UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE V 2507 UTRGV_B UTRGV W34 [4.0] W25 [4.0] L1 [0.5] W23 [4.0] W7 [2.5] W14 [2.5] L2 [1.5] L11 [1.5] W13 [2.5] 6.0 124 23 99 48 52.5  
10 PRINCETON UNIVERSITY A 2417 PRINCETON_A PRINCETON W49 [4.0] W29 [3.5] L3 [1.0] W19 [3.0] L14 [1.5] W20 [2.5] L11 [1.5] W25 [4.0] W18 [3.5] 6.0 118.5 24.5 99 42.5 46  
11 UC BERKELEY TEAM B 2366 CAL_B UCB W26 [4.0] W28 [3.0] L4 [1.0] W25 [3.0] L8 [0.0] W37 [3.0] W10 [2.5] W9 [2.5] L2 [0.5] 6.0 102 19.5 99 46 50.5  
12 UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO A 2388 UCHICAGO_A CHICAGO X--- [4.0] W37 [4.0] L5 [0.0] W32 [4.0] L13 [1.0] W25 [3.5] W14 [3.0] L7 [1.5] W19 [3.0] 6.0 99.5 24 99 43 47.5  
13 UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS TE 2534 UTD_C UTDT W30 [4.0] W20 [3.0] W18 [2.5] L7 [0.5] W12 [3.0] D4 [2.0] W5 [3.0] L1 [1.5] L9 [1.5] 5.5 120 21 100 49 53.5  
14 UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS TE 2526 UTD_B UTDT W24 [2.5] W32 [3.5] L2 [0.5] W21 [3.5] W10 [2.5] L9 [1.5] L12 [1.0] D27 [2.0] W31 [3.5] 5.5 104 20.5 100 44 48.5  
15 UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AUSTIN 2324 UTAUSTIN   W44 [4.0] W56 [4.0] L8 [0.5] D28 [2.0] L18 [1.5] W31 [3.0] W21 [3.0] W23 [3.0] L5 [1.0] 5.5 95.5 22 100 40.5 43  
16 STANFORD UNIVERSITY 2239 STANFORD   W40 [4.0] L1 [0.0] D31 [2.0] W26 [3.0] W42 [3.0] W22 [3.0] L3 [0.0] L8 [0.0] W27 [3.5] 5.5 82.75 18.5 100 43.5 47.5  
17 UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON TEAM A 1888 UW_A WASHINGTON L2 [0.0] D46 [2.0] W45 [4.0] D20 [2.0] L19 [1.5] W48 [2.5] W32 [2.5] D21 [2.0] W39 [2.5] 5.5 80.5 19 100 38 41.5 1st Place Div III
18 SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY B 2345 SLU_B SLU W42 [4.0] W41 [4.0] L13 [1.5] W37 [3.0] W15 [2.5] L6 [1.0] L7 [1.5] W24 [4.0] L10 [0.5] 5.0 105.5 22 100 42.5 46.5  
19 YALE UNIVERSITY 2199 YALE   W43 [4.0] L5 [1.0] W35 [4.0] L10 [1.0] W17 [2.5] L7 [0.0] W37 [3.0] W41 [2.5] L12 [1.0] 5.0 89.75 19 100 43 47 1st Place Div II
20 CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLO 2186 CALTECH_A CALTECH W46 [3.0] L13 [1.0] D24 [2.0] D17 [2.0] W36 [2.5] L10 [1.5] L41 [0.5] W42 [4.0] W38 [3.0] 5.0 87.25 19.5 100 38.5 42 Top Four-Year Small College
21 UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO A 2200 TORONTO_A TORONTO W53 [4.0] L3 [0.0] W30 [3.0] L14 [0.5] W41 [4.0] W40 [3.5] L15 [1.0] D17 [2.0] D22 [2.0] 5.0 84.75 20 100 40.5 43.5  1st International
22 UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI WOMEN'S T 2308 MIZZOU_WOMEN MIZZOU W47 [3.5] L2 [0.0] W33 [2.5] D38 [2.0] W28 [2.5] L16 [1.0] W30 [3.0] L5 [1.5] D21 [2.0] 5.0 81.5 18 100 41.5 45  1st Women's
23 UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS TE 2215 UTD_D UTDT W55 [3.0] L6 [0.0] W41 [4.0] L9 [0.0] W33 [3.5] D30 [2.0] W29 [3.5] L15 [1.0] D24 [2.0] 5.0 81 19 100 40 43  
24 PRINCETON UNIVERSITY B 1898 PRINCETON_B PRINCETON L14 [1.5] W53 [3.5] D20 [2.0] L29 [1.0] W49 [3.0] W28 [3.0] W38 [2.5] L18 [0.0] D23 [2.0] 5.0 77.25 18.5 99 37 40  
25 TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY B TEAM 2094 TTU_B TTU W51 [3.5] L9 [0.0] W36 [4.0] L11 [1.0] W26 [3.0] L12 [0.5] W42 [3.0] L10 [0.0] W41 [2.5] 5.0 76.25 17.5 100 41.5 45  
26 GEORGIA TECH TEAM B 1808 GATECH_B GATECH L11 [0.0] W59 [4.0] W39 [2.5] L16 [1.0] L25 [1.0] L33 [0.5] W54 [3.5] W53 [2.5] W49 [3.0] 5.0 55.25 18 99 34.5 35.5  
27 GEORGIA TECH TEAM A 2191 GATECH_A GATECH W52 [3.0] L4 [1.5] W49 [4.0] L8 [1.0] D35 [2.0] D42 [2.0] W33 [4.0] D14 [2.0] L16 [0.5] 4.5 87.5 20 100 40 43  
28 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIE 2073 UCSD   W54 [3.0] L11 [1.0] W43 [3.5] D15 [2.0] L22 [1.5] L24 [1.0] W40 [2.5] D35 [2.0] D30 [2.0] 4.5 80.5 18.5 100 38.5 41.5  
29 UC BERKELEY TEAM C 2093 CAL_C UCB W57 [4.0] L10 [0.5] D42 [2.0] W24 [3.0] L38 [1.5] W35 [3.5] L23 [0.5] D34 [2.0] D33 [2.0] 4.5 78.25 19 100 37.5 40  
30 UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO B 1924 UCHICAGO_B CHICAGO L13 [0.0] W55 [4.0] L21 [1.0] W43 [3.5] W32 [2.5] D23 [2.0] L22 [1.0] D38 [2.0] D28 [2.0] 4.5 74.25 18 100 37.5 40.5  
31 UC BERKELEY TEAM D 1983 CAL_D UCB L6 [0.0] W47 [3.0] D16 [2.0] L42 [1.5] W34 [2.5] L15 [1.0] W36 [3.0] W43 [3.0] L14 [0.5] 4.5 72.5 16.5 100 39.5 43  
32 HARVARD UNIVERSITY 2124 HARVARD   W48 [4.0] L14 [0.5] W56 [3.0] L12 [0.0] L30 [1.5] W46 [2.5] L17 [1.5] W40 [3.0] D35 [2.0] 4.5 69 18 99 37 39.5  
33 RUTGERS UNIVERSITY 1994 RUTGERS   L3 [0.0] W48 [3.0] L22 [1.5] W50 [3.0] L23 [0.5] W26 [3.5] L27 [0.0] W52 [3.5] D29 [2.0] 4.5 68 17 99 37.5 40.5  
34 UNIVERSIDAD DE CHIHUAHUA 1893 CHIHUAHUA   L9 [0.0] L43 [1.5] D46 [2.0] W58 [4.0] L31 [1.5] W55 [4.0] W56 [3.0] D29 [2.0] D37 [2.0] 4.5 63.25 20 99 32.5 34  
35 ILLINOIS TECH TEAM 1942 ILTECH   L4 [0.0] W52 [2.0] L19 [0.0] W48 [4.0] D27 [2.0] L29 [0.5] W46 [3.0] D28 [2.0] D32 [2.0] 4.5 59.75 15.5 99 36.5 39.5  
36 UNIVERSIDAD DE GUANAJUATO 1849 GUANAJUATO   L7 [0.0] W50 [2.5] L25 [0.0] W52 [3.0] L20 [1.5] D47 [2.0] L31 [1.0] W51 [3.5] W46 [3.0] 4.5 59.5 16.5 99 34.5 37.5  
37 UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE V 2076 UTRGV_WOMEN UTRGV W59 [4.0] L12 [0.0] W40 [3.0] L18 [1.0] W56 [3.0] L11 [1.0] L19 [1.0] W47 [3.0] D34 [2.0] 4.5 59 18 100 36.5 37.5  
38 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LOS ANG 2012 UCLA   L1 [0.0] W44 [3.0] W57 [4.0] D22 [2.0] W29 [2.5] L3 [0.0] L24 [1.5] D30 [2.0] L20 [1.0] 4.0 64.75 16 100 42.5 45  
39 UNIVERSITY OF IOWA TEAM A 2094 UIOWA_A IOWA W50 [4.0] L7 [0.0] L26 [1.5] W44 [2.5] L40 [1.0] D56 [2.0] D47 [2.0] W48 [2.5] L17 [1.5] 4.0 64.5 17 99 35 37.5  
40 UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA TWIN-CIT 1758 UMINN_TW   L16 [0.0] W54 [4.0] L37 [1.0] W57 [4.0] W39 [3.0] L21 [0.5] L28 [1.5] L32 [1.0] W53 [2.5] 4.0 59.75 17.5 100 34 36.5 1st Place Div IV
41 UC BERKELEY TEAM E 1978 CAL_E UCB W58 [4.0] L18 [0.0] L23 [0.0] W47 [2.5] L21 [0.0] W54 [4.0] W20 [3.5] L19 [1.5] L25 [1.5] 4.0 59.25 17 100 36.5 38  
42 WEBSTER UNIVERSITY TEAM C 1777 WEBSTER_C WEBSTER L18 [0.0] W58 [4.0] D29 [2.0] W31 [2.5] L16 [1.0] D27 [2.0] L25 [1.0] L20 [0.0] W52 [3.0] 4.0 54.75 15.5 100 37 38.5  
43 UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO B 1556 TORONTO_B TORONTO L19 [0.0] W34 [2.5] L28 [0.5] L30 [0.5] D50 [2.0] W58 [4.0] W49 [2.5] L31 [1.0] D44 [2.0] 4.0 50 15 100 34 35.5 1st Place Div V
44 UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA 1750 UVIRGINIA   L15 [0.0] L38 [1.0] W51 [3.0] L39 [1.5] L46 [0.0] D50 [2.0] B--- [4.0] W55 [3.0] D43 [2.0] 4.0 44.5 16.5 98 31.5 34.5  
45 HOWARD UNIVERSITY CHESS CLUB 825 HOWARD   B--- [4.0] L8 [1.0] L17 [0.0] L56 [0.0] L52 [1.0] W59 [3.0] L48 [0.0] W58 [3.0] W57 [3.5] 4.0 25.25 15.5 100 29.5 30.5 1st Place Div VI
Bigget Team Upset
46 UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-WHITEWA 1417 UWI_WW   L20 [1.0] D17 [2.0] D34 [2.0] D49 [2.0] W44 [4.0] L32 [1.5] L35 [1.0] B--- [4.0] L36 [1.0] 3.5 63.75 18.5 100 36.5 40  
47 UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON TEAM B 1746 UW_B WASHINGTON L22 [0.5] L31 [1.0] W53 [2.5] L41 [1.5] W51 [4.0] D36 [2.0] D39 [2.0] L37 [1.0] D50 [2.0] 3.5 63 16.5 100 33.5 36.5  
48 CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLO 1523 CALTECH_B CALTECH L32 [0.0] L33 [1.0] W59 [4.0] L35 [0.0] W57 [4.0] L17 [1.5] W45 [4.0] L39 [1.5] D51 [2.0] 3.5 55.75 18 100 33 34  
49 UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNI 1876 USC   L10 [0.0] W51 [3.0] L27 [0.0] D46 [2.0] L24 [1.0] W52 [2.5] L43 [1.5] W56 [3.0] L26 [1.0] 3.5 48.5 14 100 34.5 37  
50 SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY C 1242 SLU_C SLU L39 [0.0] L36 [1.5] B--- [4.0] L33 [1.0] D43 [2.0] D44 [2.0] L52 [1.5] W54 [2.5] D47 [2.0] 3.5 46.25 16.5 100 31.5 34.5  1st Place Mixed Doubles
51 REED COLLEGE 1370 REED   L25 [0.5] L49 [1.0] L44 [1.0] B--- [4.0] L47 [0.0] W57 [4.0] W59 [4.0] L36 [0.5] D48 [2.0] 3.5 33.25 17 98 30 31  
52 OBERLIN COLLEGE 1495 OBERLIN   L27 [1.0] L35 [1.0] W54 [4.0] L36 [1.0] W45 [3.0] L49 [1.5] W50 [2.5] L33 [0.5] L42 [1.0] 3.0 57.75 15.5 100 33 36  
53 UNIVERSITY OF UTAH 1455 UUTAH   L21 [0.0] L24 [0.5] L47 [1.5] W55 [3.0] L54 [1.0] B--- [4.0] W58 [2.5] L26 [1.5] L40 [1.5] 3.0 37 15.5 99 32 33.5  
54 CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLO unr. CALTECH_C CALTECH L28 [1.0] L40 [0.0] L52 [0.0] W59 [4.0] W53 [3.0] L41 [0.0] L26 [0.5] L50 [1.5] W58 [3.0] 3.0 29.75 13 99 28.5 29.5  
55 SACRED HEART UNIVERSITY 1581 SACREDHEART   L23 [1.0] L30 [0.0] D58 [2.0] L53 [1.0] B--- [4.0] L34 [0.0] D57 [2.0] L44 [1.0] W56 [3.0] 3.0 27.5 14 99 29.5 31  
56 TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY C TEAM 1823 TTU_C TTU W8 [3.0] L15 [0.0] L32 [1.0] W45 [4.0] L37 [1.0] D39 [2.0] L34 [1.0] L49 [1.0] L55 [1.0] 2.5 62 14 100 36.5 39.5  
57 TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY D TEAM 1208 TTU_D TTU L29 [0.0] B--- [4.0] L38 [0.0] L40 [0.0] L48 [0.0] L51 [0.0] D55 [2.0] W59 [4.0] L45 [0.5] 2.5 12 10.5 100 31 32  
58 UNIVERSITY OF IOWA TEAM B unr. UIOWA_B IOWA L41 [0.0] L42 [0.0] D55 [2.0] L34 [0.0] W59 [2.5] L43 [0.0] L53 [1.5] L45 [1.0] L54 [1.0] 1.5 20 8 100 29.5 30.5  
59 UNIVERSIDAD TECNOLOGICA DEL SURO unr. TECH_GUANAJ   L37 [0.0] L26 [0.0] L48 [0.0] L54 [0.0] L58 [1.5] L45 [1.0] L51 [0.0] L57 [0.0] B--- [4.0] 1.0 6.25 6.5 100 27.5 28.5  


Watch the broadcasts of all 9 rounds including the closing award ceremony on our YouTube channel here:

Here are some games from the Pan-Am, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian.

(1) James Soetedjo (jimjimmo) (1776) - IM Olga Badelka (Baronessa08) (2076) [E10]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch, 04.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 [5.e3 is a safe way to regain the pawn on c4 and avoid complications] 5...b5 6.Nxb5 Nxe4 7.Bxc4 Bb4+ 8.Bd2?! White would do better to move the king (f1 or e2}. Blocking with the bishop lets Black get the bishop pair and win the d-pawn for insufficient compensation. 8...Nxd2 9.Nxd2 c6 10.Nc3 Qxd4 11.0-0 0-0 12.Qe2 a5 [develpment with 12...Nd7 should work well] 13.Nf3 Qg4 [13...Qa7 would help to get in ...Ba6 with more control on the queenside] 14.h3 Qh5 15.Ne4 Ba6 16.a3 Be7 17.Rac1 h6 18.Rfd1 Now White has enough compensation for the pawn with the development and queenside play. 18...Bb5?! [18...Bxc4 19.Rxc4 Ra7] 19.Ng3! Bxc4 20.Rxc4 Qb5 21.Nd4?! This looks threatening but blocks the path of the rook on c4. White could get a tremendous attack with [21.a4 Qa6 22.Nh5 g6 23.Ne5! and all the white pieces are headed toward the black king] 21...Qb7 22.Nh5 g6?

[22...Kh8 23.Qg4 Rg8 holds the kingside together] 23.Nxe6! fxe6 24.Qxe6+ Kh7
25.Rg4? [White should get rid of the best defender- the rook on f8. 25.Rf4! gxh5 26.Rf7+ Rxf7 27.Qxf7+ Kh8 28.Rd8+ Bxd8 29.Qxb7 would be an easy win] 25...Bg5! now Black is surviving 26.h4 [26.Rxg5 hxg5 27.Nf6+ Rxf6 28.Qxf6 Qg7 29.Qd8 Qe5 30.Rd6 Qe1+ 31.Kh2 Qe5+ should be a draw, as 32.g3? Ra7! is very good for Black] 26...Qf7 27.Qxf7+ Rxf7 28.hxg5 gxh5 29.g6+? This natural move makes the endgame worse for White. Keeping the rooks active with [29.Rh4 Kg6 (29...hxg5 30.Rxh5+ Kg6 31.Rh8) 30.gxh6 is about even] 29...Kg7 30.Rg3?! [30.Re4!] 30...Rd7! 31.Re1 Raa7 Now the extra knight will decide the game. The white pawn on g6 may look impressive but it's going nowhere. 32.f4 Re7 33.Rf1 Nd7 34.f5 Nf6 35.Rc3 Ra6 36.Rc5 Re2 37.Rfc1 Ng4 38.g3 Rb6 39.Rxc6 Rbxb2
40.Rc7+ Kf6 41.R1c6+ Kg5 White can't defend his king. 42.g7 Rg2+ 43.Kf1 Rbf2+ 44.Ke1 Rg1# A terrific battle! 0-1

(2) WIM Ashritha Eswaran (goldenpuppy) (2270) - IM Felix Jose Ynojosa Aponte (FelixJoseYnojosa) (2441) [B32]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch, 06.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4 Be7 7.N1c3 a6 8.Na3 Nf6 9.Be2 Nd7 10.0-0 Nc5 11.Nc2 0-0 12.Be3 White has gotten an edge in this opening as the backward pawn on d6 leaves the d5 square weak, Black decides to sacrifice a pawn for activity. 12...Bg5 13.Bxg5 Qxg5 14.Qxd6 Bh3 15.Ne3 Ne6 16.Kh1!

16...Rad8? The wrong rook. Black could keep chances with [16...Rfd8 17.Qa3 b5! which tactically saves the piece. White could still keep the advantage with 18.Ncd5 Nf4 19.gxh3 Nxe2 20.Nf5] 17.Qa3 There is nowhere for the black bishop on h3 to go. 17...Bxg2+ 18.Nxg2 Ncd4 19.Rad1 f5 20.f4 exf4 21.exf5 Qxf5 22.Nd5! Kh8 23.Bf3 b5
24.Ngxf4! Nxf4 25.Rxd4 Qh3 26.Rdd1 Nh5 27.Bg2 White has successfully negotiated the complications and is a clear piece up. The rest needs no comment. 27...Qxa3 28.bxa3 bxc4 29.Rxf8+ Rxf8 30.Rc1 g6 31.Rxc4 Rb8 32.Bf3 Ng7 33.Ra4 Nf5 34.Be4 Nh4 35.Rxa6 Kg7 36.Rb6 Rc8 37.Kg1 h5 38.a4 Rc4 39.Rb4 Rc1+ 40.Kf2 Ra1 41.Rb2 Rc1 42.a5 Rc5 43.a6 Ra5 44.Rb7+ Kh6 45.a7 Rxa2+ 46.Ke3 Kg5 47.Nc7 1-0

(3) Koosha Jaferian (Mrkooshaj) (2225) - Samuel Campbell (SamCamIAm) (1435) [A06]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch, 05.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.Nf3 d5 2.b3 Bg4 3.Bb2 Nc6 4.d4 e6 5.e3 Nf6 6.Be2 Bb4+ 7.c3 Bd6 8.c4 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.h3 Bh5 11.Nc3 Mrkooshaj has an slight edge in this Larsen's Opening with all the central pawns and pieces in play. 11...Ne4 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.Nd2 Bg6 [13...Bxe2 14.Qxe2 f5 15.f3 exf3 16.Nxf3] 14.Bh5?! It would be better to aim for queenside play with 14. a3 and 15. b4 14...f5 15.Bxg6 hxg6 16.f4?! This gets into trouble [16.Qe2 e5 17.c5 Bf8 18.dxe5 Nxe5 19.Bxe5 Rxe5 20.b4 keeps even chances] 16...Nb4 [16...g5! uses the doubled pawn to leverage the pawn chain] 17.Bc3 Nd3 18.Nf3 c5 19.Ne1?

[19.g3 would defend better. Now SamCamIAm makes a clever sequence to leave the white knight on the passive e1 square.] 19...cxd4! 20.Bxd4 e5! 21.fxe5 Nxe5 22.Qe2 Qc7?! [22...Qh4 23.Qf2 Qh5 24.c5 Ng4! 25.Qe2 Bh2+ 26.Kh1 Qh4 would be a decisive attack using the kingside dark squares] 23.Rd1 Rad8 24.Qb2 Kf7?
Allowing a tactic to win a piece. [24...Nc6 is still clearly better for Black.] 25.c5! Bxc5 [25...Bf8 26.Bxe5 is the same without getting the pawns] 26.Bxe5 Bxe3+ 27.Kh1 Rxe5 28.Rxd8 Bc1 [28...Qxd8 29.Qxe5] 29.Qd4 The extra piece and attack on the black king make it easy to convert the material advantage. 29...Be3 30.Rd7+ Black resigned. White has an easily won ending after 30...Ke6 31, Rxc7 Bxd4 32. Rxg7 1-0

(4) Gaspar Garcia Morales (Kaspesky98) (2137) - NM Kireet Panuganti (kkpanu9) (2123) [E00]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch, 06.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.d4 Bb4 4.Qc2 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.Qxc3 0-0 8.e3 Qe7 9.b4 e5 10.d5 [White should consider 10.dxe5 Nxe5 11.Nxe5 dxe5 12.Bb2 which keeps the game open for the bishops] 10...Nb8 11.Bb2 c6 12.dxc6 bxc6?! The black center is somewhat soft here. Recapturing with the knight on c6 is more solid. 13.Be2 [13.c5! dxc5 14.Nxe5] 13...Ne4 14.Qb3 Nd7 15.0-0 Bb7 16.Rad1 Rad8 17.Nd2 f5?

18.f3? [18.Nxe4 fxe4 19.Rxd6! Qxd6? 20.c5+] 18...Nxd2 19.Rxd2 Nf6 20.Rfd1 White still has an excellent setup. 20...Rd7 21.c5+ this looks a little rushed. Now the black d-pawn is stronger. 21...d5 22.Qc3 Re8 23.Bf1 Kh8 24.Qc2 Qe6 25.a4 a6 26.b5 axb5 27.axb5 cxb5 28.Bxb5 Bc6 29.Bf1 Rb7 Black is ok now even though white's dark-squared bishop pressures the long diagonal. 30.Kh1 Reb8 31.Ba1 h6 32.Qc3 Nd7 [32...d4! 33.exd4 Nd5 34.Qc1 e4 would leave Black terrific compensation for the pawn. All the black pieces would be extremely active and the white bishop on a1 is blocked from participating on the kingside.] 33.f4 Rb3 34.Qc1 Qe7 35.Rc2?! Ra8?! [35...Rb1! 36.Qxb1 Rxb1 37.Rxb1 d4! leaves Black with great activity] 36.fxe5 Nxe5 37.Bd4 Ng4 38.Bd3 Qh4 39.g3 Qg5 40.Re2 Re8 [40...Raa3 is active. Black goes on the defensive the next moves and allows White to slowly take over with the powerful bishops] 41.Kg1 Rb7 42.Rf1 Rf7 43.Qd2 h5 44.Rf4 Bd7 45.Qc1 Bc6 46.Qf1 Nh6 47.Qf3 Kh7 48.h3 g6 49.Kh2 Ng8?
Black was under some pressure but this last move allows White the decisive break to unleashed the power of his bishop pair. 50.g4! hxg4 51.Rxg4! Qe7 52.Rf4 Nf6 53.Rh4+ Kg8 54.Rg2 Rg7 55.Rh6 Qf7 56.h4 [56.Bxf5!] 56...Kf8 57.Rh8+ Ke7 58.Rxe8+ Kxe8 59.Qf4 Kf8 60.Rb2 Kg8 61.Qg5 Nh7 White is winning in any case. If [61...Ng4+ 62.Kg3] 62.Rb8+ Be8 63.Qd8 That's it. White wins a piece. 63...Qc7+ 64.Qxc7 Rxc7 65.Rxe8+ Kf7 66.Ra8 Nf6 67.Kg3 Ke6 68.Ra6+ Ke7 69.Rxf6 Rc8 70.Rxg6 Rf8 71.h5 Kd7 72.h6 Ra8 73.h7 1-0

(5) GM Evgeny Shtembuliak (Shtembuliak) (1819) - GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista (GMLazaroBruzon) (2627) [A22]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch, 05.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 Bb4 5.Qc2 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Shtembuliak takes doubled pawns to discourage Black's 6...e4. 6...d6 7.d3 0-0 8.Be2 h6 9.0-0 Ne7!? 10.e4 Ng6 Black is fully equal, having proceeded with a very logical plan of development with knights on the kingside and the c-pawn now ready to join the battle for central squares. 11.Ne1 c6 12.f4?! This allows Black to trade away the one plus White has in the position - the bishop pair. 12...exf4 13.Bxf4 Nxf4 14.Rxf4 Re8 15.Qd2 d5! opening the game right away keeps White a little off-balance. 16.exd5 cxd5 17.Nc2 dxc4 18.Rxc4

18...Ne4 19.Qe1 Qb6+ 20.Nd4 Nd6 21.Rb4 Qc5 22.Kh1 Bd7 23.Qd2 Rac8 24.Rc1 b6 Black has more solid and compact pawn structure. He has only a slight edge, but that's enough for White to suffer against such a strong grandmaster as Bruzon Batista. 25.Bf3 Qg5 26.Qxg5 hxg5 In the endgame the black kingside pawns are mobile and will restrict the white pieces. 27.c4 g4 28.Bd5 g6 29.Kg1 Kg7 30.Kf2 f5 31.a4 Re5 32.Ra1 f4 33.a5 b5 34.a6 Rce8 35.Rb2 bxc4 36.dxc4 Re3 37.c5 [37.Rb7 White could try the exchange sacrifice - 37...Nxb7 38.axb7 g3+ 39.hxg3 fxg3+ 40.Kf1 a5 this is sharp though Black is still better] 37...Ne4+?! [37...Nf5 or; 37...g3+ 38.hxg3 fxg3+ 39.Kf1 R3e5 40.Bf3 Nc4 would keep a clear advantage for Black] 38.Bxe4 R8xe4 39.Rd1? [White needed to try the tactical 39.Rb7! g3+ 40.hxg3 fxg3+ 41.Kf1 Rxd4 42.c6 which should hold the draw with best play] 39...g3+ 40.hxg3 fxg3+ 41.Kf1 Rh4 now the black pieces and the pawn on g3 create mating threats and White cannot defend 42.Nf3 Rh1+ 43.Ng1 Be6 44.Rc1
44...Bc4+! 45.Rxc4 Rxg1+ 46.Kxg1 Re1# 0-1

(6) GM Aram Hakobyan (Njal28) (2496) - GM Benjamin Bok (GMBenjaminBok) (2532) [A07]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch, 05.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.0-0 e5 5.d3 Nc6 6.e4 dxe4 7.dxe4 Qxd1 8.Rxd1 Bg4 9.c3

White's play looks unabmbitious, allowing the queen trade into an even endging. It was around here that Benjamin Bok offered a draw, but Hakobyan refused as he likes to play the structure White has. 9...Nf6 10.Re1 0-0 11.Na3 h6 12.Nc4 Rfe8 13.a4 a6?! [13...a5!] 14.Nfd2 Be6 15.b4 Red8 16.Bf1 b5? This is a bad mistake, just losing a pawn. It's a little hard to figure out what Bok was thinking. 17.axb5 axb5 18.Rxa8 Rxa8 19.Na3 Na7 20.Nf3 c6?! [20...Ne8 21.Nxb5 Nxb5 22.Bxb5 Nd6 23.Bd3 Ra2 would be some compensation for the pawn.] 21.Nxe5 Nd7 22.Nxd7 Bxd7 [22...Bxc3? 23.Re3] 23.e5 Re8 24.f4 Now White's extra pawn is strong, controlling important squares. Black needs to try a breakout though that isn't too great either. 24...f6 25.Rd1 Bf5?! [25...Bg4 26.Rd6 fxe5 27.Be3! Nc8 28.Rxg6 Bf3 29.Bc5 keeps a clear edge for White but at least it's somewhat messy] 26.Be3 fxe5 [26...Nc8 27.Bc5 fxe5 28.Nxb5! cxb5 29.Bxb5 wins material back with an easy conversion] 27.Bxa7 Ra8 28.Nxb5 cxb5 29.Bc5 exf4 30.gxf4 Bxc3 31.Bxb5 Rb8 32.Bc4+ Kh7
33.b5! This pawn runs down the board now. There is no good way to stop it. 33...Rc8 34.b6! Rxc5 35.b7 Rc8 [35...Rxc4 36.b8Q is a diffferent losing endging] 36.bxc8Q Bxc8 37.Rd6 Bf5 38.Bd3 The exchange ahead is a technical win. 38...Bb4 39.Rd5 Bxd3 40.Rxd3 Kg7 41.Kg2 Kf6 42.Kf3 Be7 43.Ke4 Ke6 44.Rg3 Kf7 45.Rb3 Bf6 46.Rb6 Ba1 47.h3 h5 48.Ra6 Bc3 49.Rc6 Bb2 50.f5! Simplifying more, but to a clear win. 50...gxf5+ 51.Kxf5 h4 52.Rc7+ Kf8 53.Rh7 Bc1 54.Kg6 Kg8 55.Rxh4 1-0

(7) Dexter Webster (chessweb101) (1805) - IM Josiah Stearman (josiwales) (2650) [C65]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch (6), 05.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 Josiah, a prominent product of the Bay Area, seems to have hung up the Sicilian for a more stable opening? No, not at all... 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 d6 The Steinitz makes more sense if White isn't playing d2-d4. [4...Bc5 is almost twice as common, but scores about the same. 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.Nbd2 is emerging as the most common] 5.c3 g6 6.Nbd2 Bg7 7.Nf1 The standard "coming around" maneuver in so many lines of the Ruy. 7...0-0 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4

9...g5!?N Quite a cavalier approach here! White hasn't castled, yet Black throws his pawns forward. Stockfish 12 can't decide between this, [9...Ne7 some advantage (not much),; and 9...d5!? which could be objectively best.] 10.Bg3 Be6 [10...Ne7! makes at least as much sense now, as g6 beckons, and White's Spanish bishop is left searching for the New World.] 11.Ne3 Ne7 Better late than never.
12.h4? This just doesn't work. 12...g4 13.Nd2 c6! 14.Bc4?! d5 15.Bb3 Ng6
16.d4? [Paradoxically 16.0-0 , thinking about a good moment for f2-f3 or f2-f4, still puts up the good fight.] 16...Nh5 [Even better is first 16...exd4! 17.cxd4 Nh5] 17.Bxe5 Bxe5! 18.dxe5 Nxe5 The knight has more to do (d3!). 19.Bc2 Qf6 [19...Nf4!] 20.g3? Rad8 [20...dxe4!] 21.exd5?! Bxd5-+ 22.Nxd5 [22.Nxg4 Qg7! (22...Qe6 23.Ne3 Bf3) ] 22...Rxd5
Standard King in the Center 23.Qc1 [23.0-0? Rxd2 24.Qxd2 Nf3+] 23...Rxd2! 24.Kxd2 Qxf2+ Mate with ...Rd8+. josiwales won on time (and had 23:33 on his clock; 5-second increment but still...) 0-1

(8) GM Mateusz Bartel (Matibar) (2630) - GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista (GMLazaroBruzon) (2589) [C42]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch (7), 06.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 In the past Bruzon only played the Petroff for quick draws; if he hoped for a peaceful early game he will be disappointed. 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 For many decades what you played to avoid Theory and imbalance the game, until the 1990s and hundreds of games when it became New Theory. 5...Nf6 A Bruzon specialty; not as principled as the more common move (giving White doubled pawns and saving time), but still solid. [5...Nxc3 6.dxc3 First seen in Showalter,J-Halprin,A Vienna 1898 (1-0, 40)] 6.d4 Be7 7.h3 [7.Bd3 0-0 8.h3 Nbd7 9.0-0 Re8 10.Bg5 1/2-1/2 (10) Quesada Perez,Y (2541)-Bruzon Batista,L (2620) Havana 2007(10.Re1 a6 11.a4 b6 12.Bf4 Bb7 13.d5 Bf8 (13...g6 14.Bc4 Bf8 15.Qd2 Rxe1+ 16.Rxe1 Bg7 17.Nd4 Kh8 18.Bh6 Qf8 19.Bxg7+ Kxg7 1/2-1/2 (70) Supi,L (2572)-Bruzon Batista,L (2644) INT 2020) 14.Rxe8 Qxe8 15.Qd2 Nc5 16.Re1 Qd7 17.Bg5 Nxd5 18.Nxd5 Bxd5 19.Bxh7+ Kxh7 20.Qxd5 Re8 21.Rxe8 Qxe8 and Black even went on to win: 0-1 (51) Supi,L (2572)-Bruzon Batista,L (2644) INT 2020) ; 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bf4 a6 9.Qd2 Bf5 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 11.Bd3 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Nb6 13.d5 Qd7 14.b3 0-0-0 1/2-1/2 (101) Sethuraman,S (2673)-Bruzon Batista,L (2653) Saint Louis 2018] 7...0-0 8.Be3 a6N

And it's a new position. 9.g4! Now it's definitely a new position! White commits his pawn but not much else. 9...d5 10.Qd3!? Still nothing is for certain, except that White is in full aggression mode. But these moves cost White a lot on the clock. 10...Nc6 [Stockfish 12 prefers 10...c6 intending ...Nbd7, ...Re8, .. .Nf8, regrouping a la the Queen's Gambit.] 11.a3 Re8 12.Ne5
White: 13:11 Black: 16:48 12...Bd6 Bruzon took a huge chunk of his time on this move! It could well have been some external factor like a loss of connection. In any case, now he's got the clock to worry about as well. 13.f4
Is it clear yet what White is up to? In the style of Botvinnik and later Korchnoi, he is pushing forward more for space than an actual attack. 13...Ne7 14.Bg2 And this cost White some significant time. [14.Be2; 14.Qd2!? for a "normal" development Bd3] 14...c6 15.0-0 White: 8:50 Black: 2:59. 15...Nd7?! [Enough already. Black could make it a fight: 15...h5!? but 16.Bf3! (16.g5 Nh7 17.f5 Bxe5 18.dxe5 d4!) 16...hxg4 17.hxg4 Ng6!? (17...Bxe5 18.fxe5 Nxg4 19.Bg5+/= is still turning out uncomfortably.) 18.g5 Bxe5 19.fxe5 Ng4 20.Bd2 c5! saves the knight by taking out e5.] 16.Ne2 White brings around reinforcements (and frees the c-pawn to participate) . But two minutes! 16...Qc7?! [16...a5 thinks about ...b6 and . ..Ba6 17.c4!?] 17.Rae1 Sometimes one gets caught up in the Grand Plan and forgets other possibilities. [Both 17.c4!?; and 17.Nxd7!? Bxd7 18.f5 could well be stronger.] 17...f6
18.c4!? Ultimately a pawn sacrifice for just sufficient compensation as Black is still undeveloped. [But 18.Nxd7 Bxd7 19.f5 is again a simple advantage.] 18...fxe5 The calculations are costing Black a lot of time -- he's down under 40 seconds now. 19.fxe5 Nxe5 20.dxe5 Bxe5 21.Nf4
21...d4?! Impatient, but Black is still under pressure even after White wins the pawn back. [21...Bd7 22.cxd5 Kh8 (22...cxd5 23.Nxd5 Nxd5 24.Qxd5+ Be6 25.Qxb7 Qxb7 26.Bxb7 Rab8 27.Bc6 Rec8 28.Bc5!?+/=) ; 21...Kh8] 22.Bd2 Bd7 Finally! [22...c5? 23.Qe2 is horrible.] 23.c5 [23.Be4!] 23...Kh8
24.Ba5!? Tossing some confusion Black's way in his time trouble. [24.Nh5?! Ng6! sees Black getting organized, when White's porous kingside starts to matter.] 24...Qxa5?
[24...Qb8! was cool, "undeveloping" for a change but keeping the balance.] 25.Rxe5 Suddenly and finally, White's preponderance of forces on the kingside appear to matter. 25...Ng8?! [25...Nd5!? 26.Rh5 Nf6 27.b4 Qb5 28.Qxd4 seems to win as well, but with more complication. 28...Be6 29.Nxe6 Nxh5 30.Nc7 Ng3 31.Qd6 catches Black out.] 26.Qxd4? Over a minute to lose his way somewhat. [26.Rg5! (actually threatening 27.Rxg7!) 26...Re7 27.Rh5! Nh6 (27...Nf6? 28.Ng6+ Kg8 29.Nxe7+) 28.Qxd4 is mundane destruction.; 26.Rh5 Nf6 27.b4 is still good, too but not as.] 26...Rxe5 27.Qxe5 Re8 Black completes development! White has a solid advantage still, in space and the still slightly awkward minor pieces. 28.Qd4 Qc7 [28...Qd8 29.b4 Qe7] 29.Nh5 Bc8 [29...Re7? 30.Nxg7 Qe5 31.Qxe5 Rxe5 32.Rf7 Re7 33.Rxe7 Nxe7 34.Nh5 is a happy ending for White.] 30.b4 37 seconds vs. 37 seconds. May the faster bullet win. 30...Qe7 31.Rf2 [31.Ng3!?] 31...Rf8 32.Rxf8 Qxf8 33.Qe5 with a domination that's hard to shake. 33...Nf6?! 34.Nxf6 gxf6 35.Qc7 14 seconds to 36. .. 35...Qe8 36.Kf2 Qd7?! This turns out to be a lost bishop ending into a lost pawn ending. 37.Qxd7 Bxd7 38.Ke3 Kg7 39.Kf4 h6 40.Be4 Kf7 41.Bd3 Be6 42.Bf5 Ke7 43.Bxe6 Kxe6 44.Ke4 Ke7 45.Kf5 Kf7 46.a4 Kg7 47.Ke6 [47.h4 is good, too.] 47...Kg6 48.Kd7 h5 49.Kc7 hxg4 50.hxg4 Kg5 51.Kxb7 Kxg4 52.b5 Bartel maintained remarkable control and sustain to take a point from Bruzon and the eventual winners, Webster A. [Perhaps he didn't notice that after 52.Kxc6 he queens with check -- but as played it's won as well.] 1-0

(9) GM Angel Arribas Lopez (FatUpss) (2306) - GM Aram Hakobyan (Njal28) (2489) [B23]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch (6), 05.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Tiviakov's line, creating some unusual balance problems for both sides. Unlike the Rossolimo Variation, White has the option to play f2-f4 before developing the king knight still. [3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bb5 Nd4 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.Ne2 a6 8.Bd3 d5 1-0 (38) McDonald,N (2395)-Gavriel,T (2190) London 1993] 3...Nd4! The only serious challenge. 4.Nf3 a6 [4...Nxb5?! 5.Nxb5 leaves White with a development advantage.] 5.Bd3 A strange looking but popular retreat. It avoids losing time and keeps e2 open for a knight. [5.Bc4 b5 6.Bd5 Rb8 7.Nxd4 cxd4 8.Ne2 Nf6! is fine.] 5...g6 6.Nxd4 [6.Rb1!? was a confounding move in Firouzja-Cornette (draw) and then two Safarli games (1½-½) in 2019.] 6...cxd4 7.Ne2 d5!? 8.e5 Bg7 [8...f6!? 9.exf6?! (9.f4 fxe5 10.fxe5 Bg7 11.Nxd4 Bxe5 is our game) 9...e5! is quite a nasty business.] 9.f4 f6 10.Nxd4?! [10.exf6 is a better version (and the only move played so far), when White has done pretty well, admittedly in lesser games. 10...Bxf6 saving the knight for a better square 11.c3 was the game between the strongest players: 11...Bf5 12.Bxf5 gxf5 13.Nxd4 Qd7 14.Qh5+ Kd8 15.Nxf5 1-0 (38) McDonald,N (2395)-Gavriel,T (2190) London 1993] 10...fxe5 11.fxe5 Bxe5 12.Nf3 Bg4!?

[Kotronias in his Anti-Sicilian book gives 12...Bg7 ; Hakobyan's move give White a chance to make an innocent mistake.] 13.0-0? This really is the wrong step that eventually tumbles. [13.Be2 Qc7 14.Nxe5 Qxe5 15.d4 Qe4 16.Rf1! Nf6 17.Rf4 Qe6!=/+ (17...Qxe2+ 18.Qxe2 Bxe2 19.Kxe2 b5 20.c3 Black can grind, but should try to take advantage of White's king.) ] 13...Qc7 [13...Qd6] 14.h3?! Another natural move that just gets worse. [14.Qe1; 14.Be2] 14...Bxf3 15.Qxf3?! It just gets progressively worse and worse. [15.Rxf3 Nf6 16.Be2 Bd4+ 17.Kh1 Ne4 18.c3 (18.Qe1 Rf8) 18...Nf2+] 15...Nf6
White's inability to develop normally (that bishop on d3!) so frustrates White that he finally leaps off the cliff. 16.g4?! That can't be right! [16.Qe3] 16...0-0 What did Black do that worked out so well!? White is quite busted. 17.Qe2
17...Ne4! 18.Bxe4 dxe4 19.c3
19...Bd4+ Black wins with a flourish, but in fact just [19...Qc5+ or; 19...Qb6+ 20.Qe3 Rxf1+ 21.Kxf1 Rf8+ 22.Ke2 (22.Kg2 Qf6) 22...Qb5+] 20.Kg2 [20.cxd4 Qg3+ 21.Qg2 Rxf1+ 22.Kxf1 Rf8+ 23.Kg1 Qe1+ 24.Kh2 Rf2] 20...Rxf1 21.Kxf1 Rf8+ 22.Ke1 Qg3+ 23.Kd1
23...Qd3!! Without this White could struggle on. But with it, it's over. 24.Ke1 [The same is 24.Qxd3 exd3 25.Ke1 Be5] 24...Be5 A magical game. Black's dynamic play trumped any details like weak pawns. 0-1

(10) IM Ladia Jirasek (lrjchess) (2487) - GM Aleksandr Lederman (AlexanderL) (2740) [B13]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch (9), 06.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c6 [Note this surprising transposition: 1...c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.c3 Bg7 5.cxd4 d5 6.exd5 Nf6 7.Nc3 Nxd5 8.Qb3 Nb6 9.Bb5+ 0-1 (36) Lenart,E (2170)-Feher,G (2427) Harkany 2002] 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 A sharp line against the Panov-Botvinnik Attack, but still considered slightly dodgy. [5...e6 is often a transposition into a Queen Pawn structure, even directly into the Nimzoindian, but there are wrinkles where White tries to get c4-c5 in.; 5...Nc6 is the "theoretical" line, with an ending after 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qb3 Bxf3 9.gxf3 e6 10.Qxb7 Nxd4 11.Bb5+ Nxb5 12.Qc6+! Ke7 13.Qxb5 Qd7! 14.Nxd5+ Qxd5 15.Qxd5 exd5 that has pretty much been put to rest as a winning try for White.] 6.cxd5 [6.Qb3 was the old main line.] 6...Nxd5 7.Qb3 Nb6 8.Bb5+ Bd7 It is looking like a Rubinstein's line against the Tarrasch Queen's Gambit but reversed. The extra tempo has White fine, but with no initiative. 9.Nf3 Bg7 10.Ne5 Postny gave this in notes to his own game as at least getting the two bishops, but not really an advantage. [10.0-0 0-0 11.Re1 Bxb5 12.Nxb5 Nc6 13.Bg5 h6 14.Bh4 g5 15.Bg3 Qd5 0-1 (36) Pruijssers,R (2543)-Postny,E (2581) Groningen 2017 CBM 182 [Postny,E]] 10...0-0 11.Nxd7 N8xd7 12.Be3 Nf6 13.0-0 [13.Rd1 (with that 1...c5 move order) 13...Nbd5 (13...Nfd5 14.Bg5 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Qd5 16.Qxd5 Nxd5 was fine for Black until he blundered a piece: 1-0 (26) Shirazi,K (2326)-Boitel,L (2046) Sautron 2016.) 14.0-0 Rc8 15.Be2 Qd7 16.Bg5 Nxc3 17.bxc3 Ne4 18.Bd2 Qc7 19.Bf3 Nxc3 20.Bxc3 Qxc3 21.Qxb7 Rc7 0-1 (36) Lenart,E (2170)-Feher,G (2427) Harkany 2002] 13...Rc8 14.Rac1 Nfd5 15.Nxd5 Qxd5 16.Qxd5 Nxd5

It so happens this is quite even, two bishop vs. an isolated pawn in a queenless position. 17.Bc4 e6 18.Rfd1 Rcd8! 19.Be2 Rd7 20.g3 Rfd8 Grandmaster grinds down IM. 21.Bf3 h6 22.b3 a6 23.Rc5 Ne7 24.Rdc1?! Nf5 Wait, what? Now White just loses a pawn. 25.Rc8 Bxd4 26.Bxd4 Nxd4 27.Kg2 Rxc8 28.Rxc8+ Kg7 No BOC here. 29.Rb8 Nxf3 30.Kxf3
And no minor pieces at all, just a "simple" pawn up rook ending. In a thankless situation, with less time on the clock as well (9 minutes to 13), Bay Area regular Jirasek hangs on. 30...Rd2?! Black doesn't have to hurry to trade pawns. 31.Rxb7 Rxa2 32.Ra7 [32.b4!?] 32...g5 33.b4 Ra4 34.Ke3 Kg6 35.Kf3 h5 36.h3 f6 37.Ra8 Kf5 Black can have 4 vs. 3 any time he wants, when it might be winning, it might be not. 38.g4+ hxg4+ 39.hxg4+ Ke5 40.Kg3 Kd6 41.f3 Kc7 42.Ra7+ Kc6 43.Ra8 Kb7? The plan to create a passed a-pawn was faulty; White can draw now. 44.Rf8 Rxb4 45.Rxf6 a5 46.Rxe6 a4 47.Re5 Ka6 48.Rxg5 a3 49.Rg8 Ka7 50.Rg7+ Rb7 51.Rg5 Ka6 52.Rg6+ Rb6 53.Rg8 Ka7 54.Rg7+ The harrassment continues. 54...Rb7 55.Rg5 Ka6 56.Rg6+ Ka5 57.Rg8 Kb6 Here Lenderman used two of his last three minutes without finding a win (it's not there). 58.Ra8 Ra7 59.Rb8+ White finds a lot of only moves with two minutes left. 59...Kc7 60.Rb1 a2 61.Ra1 Finally he's been forced into this, but Black's king has a long way to go to b2. 61...Kd6 62.f4 No longer an only move, everything draws. 62...Ke6 [62...Ra3+ 63.Kf2 Kd5 64.g5 and the pawns keep Black's king busy, when White's king can run over and deal with the a-pawn.] 63.Kf3 Kf6 64.Ke4 Ra4+ 65.Ke3 Ra3+ 66.Ke4 Ra4+ 67.Ke3 Ra3+ With the 5-second incrment Black managed to bank up to 1:38 from 1:10 after that long think, but the position is a draw. A solid display of sober defense by Ladia! 1/2-1/2

(11) GM Alexander Ipatov (TheGadfly1897) (2561) - FM Teemu Virtanen (nurmiTV) (2276) [E12]
2021 Pan Am Intercollegiate ch (9), 06.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 No Nimzo! 3...b6 No Bogo! 4.a3 The Petrosian System, a lot sharper than it might look at first glance. 4...Bb7 5.Nc3 d5 The classic approach. 6.Bg5 Not so analyzed. [6.cxd5 Nxd5 has been worked into the ground already. (and 6...exd5) ; 6.Qa4+!? right away as well] 6...Be7 7.Qa4+!? A disruptive check before Black can castle. 7...c6 The point is [on 7...Bc6 to just retreat, when the bishop will have to lose a move going back where it was.; Similar is 7...Qd7 although White could just trade, 8.Qxd7+] 8.Bxf6!? Similar to the Bondarevsky Queen's Gambit, we're swimming in Karpov's home waters. 8...Bxf6 9.cxd5 exd5 10.g3 The move of the best. White hopes to restrain Black's c-pawn via the pressure on d5. [10.e3 hasn't been as popular, but at lower levels it scores better; White secures the e-pawn right away (and keeps an eye on a6).] 10...0-0 11.Bg2

11...Na6 Black's tried almost everything here. [Ipatov has experience with this line: 11...Re8 12.0-0 Na6 13.Rad1 g6 14.Rfe1 Bg7 15.e4 dxe4 16.Nxe4 Qc7 was interesting in that the c7 square was available (but where does the knight go?) 17.d5! b5 18.d6! with a clear advantage, but it slipped away: 1/2-1/2 (43) Ipatov,A (2592)-Khismatullin,D (2653) Jerusalem 2015] 12.0-0 Nc7 [12...c5!? 13.Rad1 cxd4 14.Nxd4 Nc5 is a classic strategy, played in a throwback edition of the "Friends & Opponents" matches between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union in the 50s and 60s: 15.Qc2 Rc8 16.Nf5 (16.Ndb5!? a6 17.Bxd5!) 16...Ne6 17.Qd2 Bxc3 18.bxc3 Rc5 19.Ne3 Ra5 (19...Qc8!) 20.Nxd5 (20.c4!) 20...Bxd5 21.Bxd5 Qe7 22.Bxe6?! Qxe6 ½-½ (32) Korchnoi,V (2611)-Gligoric,S (2447) 'USSR' vs. 'Yugoslavia' match, Moscow 2007] 13.Rad1 Re8 14.Rfe1 g6
15.e4!? dxe4 16.Nxe4 [16.Ne5!?] 16...Bg7 17.Ne5 Ne6 [17...Nd5 certainly seems safer.] 18.Nxc6?! [18.Bh3!?] 18...Bxc6 19.Qxc6 Rc8 20.Qa4
20...Bxd4? This should lose, but not the way it goes! [20...Nxd4! 21.Qxa7 Re7 22.Qa6 (22.Qa4 b5 23.Qa6 (23.Qb4?! Rd7=/+) 23...Re6 24.Qa7 Re7) 22...Rc2 23.b4 h6= (23...b5?? 24.Qxb5) ] 21.Qxa7?!
White grabs the pawn but lives to be glad about it. [21.Bh3! b5 (21...f5 22.Nc3!) 22.Qb4! a5 23.Qxb5 is a much better pawn win. Black is close to lost.] 21...Rc2?? overlooking something!

[21...Nc5! 22.Nxc5 Rxe1+ 23.Rxe1 Rxc5= gets into a BOC (Bishops of Opposite Color) situation where neither player can make much of it, the extra pawn notwithstanding.] 22.Qa4! Rxb2 [22...Rc8 would at least continue, suffering a pawn down with tactical problems looming. But after the text they don't loom, they crash through.] 23.Rxd4! Nxd4 24.Qxe8+! White wins a piece. 1-0

Organizer/TD Corner
The Pan-Am TD Staff and all other the fun stuff!

Organizing an online event is, in some ways, very similar to organizing a live event, yet in many ways it's completely different. Organizers need to keep several points in mind when selecting their staff, as well as plan for multiple scenarios and variables. This little write-up gives you an insight into what went into our process when planning the event, and hopefully it gives you the confidence and eagerness to try this format out yourself in the 2021 US Amateur Team West National Championship at the end of this month!

Staffing of the event

First things first, even before bidding for the event, organizers need to decide who will be their core staff. National tournaments must have a National TD as its Chief Tournament Director, also they must be selected carefully, especially for the Pan Am, for which having an understanding of the event is paramount. Chief TD Glenn Panner was our obvious choice for this year's Pan Am since he is not only an NTD, but has worked on many Pan Am tournaments previously and has direct relationships with many of the players and coaches in the college chess community. He also has been integral part of several main online events, such as the USCF Scholastic Online even in August and the USCF Online Championship organized by SLCC. Glenn is not only knowlegable, he is calm and not afraid of a friendly confrontation with players/coaches when needed and has experience in both the OTB and Online events. Glenn played a crucial role in drafting and reviewing the new appendix for the Online Championship, and was always available pre-event to weight in and make decisions leading up to the event. The event benefitted Glenn's experience in so many ways and times one would never imagine. One of the times for example was at Round 5 pairings review session: Glenn always reviewed the tentative pairings prior to publishing, but Round 6 pairing review was a great learning experience for me to see how a professional does things. Glenn not only reviewed the pairings, but predicted possible scenarios and problems two rounds ahead, and decided accordingly, and at times actively informing the College Chess Committee about the possibilities.

The Chief TD always needs a strong and reliable Assistant Chief TD, and selecting one needs consideration regarding the event itself. The Pan Am championship is a special complicated one because it not only has to apply the standard set of US Chess rules, but also it has its own set of rules. National TD Brian Yang is an expert in chess rules, and has extensive experience applying them into TD decisions. Since he lives in the Midwest, it's not often we can have him "over" at the West Coast, so having him on staff on this online championship was the perfect opportunity to work with him.

Computer Chief TD spot went to our long time mentor, and chess software expertise National TD John McCumiskey. It has always been a pleasure working with him, and we also worked together at the 2020 US Junior Cadet Online championship, giving him valuable experience in the online tournament platform. Team events need a special set of skills, specially knowing that your software has many bugs when it comes to team settings, and John's fast and on the spot skills helped "save" the event from inaccuracies that woud have lead to disasters. Such a thing happened on more than one occasion, but the most visible one was at the start of the tournament, when pairings showed an inaccurate average rating of the teams. Thankfully, it was not the case, pairings stood, and the tournament software was forced to update the average rating to the correct one.

Zoom TD is a new phrase that is becoming the new trend in the online tournament world. These TDs are not only experienced TDs with years of OTB tournaments, but also developped a skillset of directing and monitoring players online through Zoom meeting. Mechanics' had some of the best TDs across the country who often had hundreds of hours of online TD experience: NTD David Hater, NTD Alan Losoff, NTD Martha Underwood, FA Hugo Arroyo, and SrTD Reka Sztaray were among the experienced tournament directors who directed many online tournaments before. They were helped by a set of amazing TD's and volunteers: Jiten Patel, Mike Walder, Elliott Winslow, Aaron Thompson, and Jerniel Diaz to help make sure that our Zoom TD's had backup and second set of eyes on the players. All the TD's were doing an important and amazing job directing the players setting up the correct webcamera angles, as well as monitor and take notes on the attendance, settings and addhearance to rules, and occasionally the trangseggions. They were in close communication with each other through a secure and private channel that included Chief TD Glenn, who made the final decisions on possible and applicable penalties. One of the instances was a cell phone violation: one of the player's cellphone rang and according to the rules, this has a standard penalty of 10 minutes or half the time. Zoom TDs communicated this to Chief TD, who made the ruling that the penalty should be applied, and the backroom TD applied it with a special command on the chesscom platform. This was a prime example of the smooth team work that was the norm throughout the whole event.

With more than half of the staff being an NTD, we always knew we are in good hands, but this event showed how professionals and how a perfect team works together.
If you want to be a part of this team, and would like to volunteer at our upcoming event, please email us to [email protected]

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week, where we explain the webcamera settings, and Zoom TD training and get a peak into the Zoom TD life.

 Tuesday Night Marathon/Thursady Night Marathons Begin Next Week!

Tuesday Night Marathon

The Mechanics' Institute's flagship chess event, the Tuesday Night Marathon, resumes on Tuesday January 12, with a 2-section 6-round event. Time control is G/35+2, is USCF rated, and games are manually paired on Chesscom. We have 2 games per evening, with round times at 6:30pm Pacific time and 8:00pm. Prize pool is $1000 b/50. For all the details, visit the event page here:

Register now by following this link:

We will broadcast all the action of the TNM on our Twitch stream, follow us here:

Thursday Night Marathon

We also now offer players our Thursday Night Marathon, which is one game per evening with a time control of G/60+5, 5-rounds, USCF rated in one open section with the round starting at 6:30pm Pacific. For more information, visit our event pager here:

Register now here:

We look forward to seeing everyone to kick off 2021 at the Mechanics' Institute!

Take on the Mechanics' Chess Staff Live on Twitch!

The chess room staff at the Mechanics' Institute are taking on all comers now weekly, as each of us will live stream an arena tournament where we will commentate our own games! You might be playing 3-time US Champion GM Nick de Firmian, or perhaps our commentator and instructor extraoridinaire FM Paul Whitehead. 

Arenas are an hour long, and the chess staff will be paired against the first available player to play at the conclusion of their games. All other players will be paired with the next available opponent. This will continue for the whole hour. While there is no guarantee you will be paired against a chess staff member, you will have a very good chance at it, depending on the number of players playing. All games will be streamed live on our Twitch channel:

Check out the times here:

FM Paul Whitehead Arena: Tuesdays 5pm-6pm, 1/12:

GM Nick de Firmian Arena Thursdays 5pm-6pm, 1/14:

See you in the arena!

Historical Note from IM John Donaldson

The great Hungarian player Geza Maroczy was supposed to visit the MI in 1906 but the earthquake forced him to cancel his plans. He did make the trip 19 years later and visited from April 11-13, giving a lecture and played a few games against players at the club one day and the following day giving a 40-board simul.

Mechanics' Institute Regular Online Classes

Monday's 4:00-5:30PM - Mechanics' Chess Cafe - Ongoing

Casual meeting to talk about chess, life and everything. Join 3-time US Champion GM Nick de Firmian and FM Paul Whitehead as they give a lecture and class in a fun casual atmosphere where you can discuss games, learn strategy, discuss chess current events and interact in a fun casual atmosphere. Enter our Monday chess café for the pure love of the game. Class suitable for ALL level of players and FREE for MI members.

FREE for Mechanics' members. $5 for non-members.

More information:


Monday's 6:30-8:00PM - Game Review Class with FM Paul Whitehead

Course Dates: Ongoing

Registration Fee: $20/class for Mechanics' member, $25/class for non-member

Wednesday's 5:00-6:30PM - Free Adult Beginner Class for Mechanics' Members

New session starts on January 27, 2021!

Are you an adult who wants to put learning chess on top of your New Year's resolution! Get a head start with us at the Mechanics' Institute! This virtual class is open to any MI member who has no knowledge of the game or who knows the very basics and wants to improve. Taught by MI Chess Director Abel Talamantez along with other MI staff, we will patiently walk through all the basics at a pace suitable for our class. Our goal is to teach piece movement basics, checkmate patterns, importance of development, and general strategy. We will also show students how to play online so they may practice. The goal of the class is to open a new world of fun and joy through the magic and beauty of chess, from one of the oldest and proudest chess clubs in the world. 

Registration: Free for MI members. Members will have to register online to secure their spot and to receive an email confirming the Zoom link.

More information:

Mechanics' Institute Regular Online Events Schedule

The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club will continue to hold regular online events in various forms. Here is the upcoming schedule for players:

1/12 Tuesday - January 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon
Format: 6SS G/35+2

1/14 Thursday - January/February 2021 Thursday Night Marathon
Format: 5SS G/60+5

Past Club Tournament results are here:
Before playing in our online tournaments, be sure to do the following:
1. Sign up and log in to
2. Sign up to be a member of Mechanics' Institute Chess Club at You need to become a member before you can play.
3. Please fill out the Google Form, so we know who you are, and can inform you about changes, and ad hoc events:

Any questions? [email protected]


Scholastic Corner

By Judit Sztaray


Upcoming Classes

2021 Winter sessions start the second week of January, and goes for 10 weeks total. More information and links to register for the following classes:

  • All Girls Class with Coach Colin - Mondays 4-5PM
  • Beginner / Intermediate Level with Coach Andy - Tuesdays 3-4PM
  • Absolute Beginners with Coach Colin - Tuesday 4-5PM
  • Intermediate with Coach Andy - Thursdays 4-5PM
  • Intermediate/Advance with Coach Andy - Thursdays 5-6PM


Upcoming Tournaments

Players have to be part of Mechanics' Group on ChessKid. Need help how to join? Watch the tutorial here:

1) Free daily non-rated tournaments on
Tournaments start at 4PM and players can join the tournaments 30 minutes before the tournament.

2) USCF Online Rated Tournaments - Registration needed via the links below, and players must have current US Chess membership.
Games will affect US Chess online ratings (not over-the-board!).
Trophies or Medals for Top Finishers - Curbside pickup is available per arrangement.

If you have any problems connecting with us on, please send us an email and we'll send you step-by-step instructions with pictures. 

Holiday Camps 

We have offered two virtual winter camps over the holidays, coaches by Coach Andrew, Coach Colin, and International Master Coach Elliott Winslow.
Both weeks were filled with intersting lectures, problems and fun tournaments. It was great to see both returning players and new students trying out our offerings and having fun and learning from our amazing coaches. Many thanks for all the parents for their support.

2021 Spring camp schedule has been posted:

  • Jan 18, Monday - Martin Luther King Jr. Day Camp - Register:
  • Feb 15, Monday - Presidents Day Camp - Register:
  • Mar 29 - Apr 2 - Spring Break Camp - Register:


Scholastic Game of the Week, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian


FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]

Watching the U.S. Junior Championship, San Francisco 1973

Being a newly-minted member of the Mechanics’ Institute, plus living in the San Francisco Bay Area as the Fischer-Boom was in full steam, was an amazing experience for me.  My brother Jay and I were chess-crazy and ambitious, and when the U.S. Junior Championship came to San Francisco, it was as though all my dreams and hopes were narrowed to a fine point: this was the tournament I wanted to play in someday.

With stars in our eyes, we went with our friend Joe Tracy across Market Street to the Sheraton Hotel, where the players were to be found deep in thought on a roped-off stage in a quiet room.  Their names were printed out on cards, there were demonstration boards and spectators.

The TD was Alan Benson.  He, and some of these players - Christiansen, Barnes and Frankle - had become - or were becoming –  part of my loosely-knit chess community here in the Bay Area.  I would meet them in battle very soon, suffering defeat at times, and tasting victory also.

I was lucky to play in this tournament twice: in Denver 1977 (won by John Fedorowicz and Ken Regan) and in Memphis 1978, where I tied with Fedorowicz and Yasser Seirawan for 1st.  My brother played 3 times: with me in Denver and Memphis, and then winning it outright in Tempe, 1979.

Elliott Winslow was Jay’s 2nd that year.  I talked to Elliott about Jay earlier today.  This chess-world spins on and on, and on and on.

Jay and I were spectators in 1973, but our destinies were calling.  I could feel the pull.


The legendary Larry Christiansen won in 1973, and I still remember his chess: he moved quickly, and played with verve and confidence.  I remember particularly his game against Barnes, included below, along with another of his fine wins from the event. 


Robert Burger (1931-2019), longtime MI trustee, reported on the 1973 U.S. Junior Championship for the California Chess Reporter in the May-June issue of that year.  I’m attaching a screenshot of his article, which includes the cross-table.  Courtesy of


(1) Larry Mark Christiansen - Craig Norman Barnes [B27]
USA-ch jr USA-ch jr, 1973

White's confident play and brisk technique stand out in this encounter. 1.Nf3 g6 2.e4 c5 3.d4 Bg7 4.c4 d6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.d5 Nd4 7.h3 e5 8.dxe6 fxe6 9.Nxd4 cxd4 10.Nb5

10...Qb6 11.Qa4 Bd7 12.Bd2 a6 13.Qa3 Bxb5 14.cxb5 Nf6 15.Bd3 0-0 16.bxa6 bxa6 17.0-0 Nd7?! Black has no time for this. [17...d5= is more straight-forward.] 18.Ba5 Qb8 19.Rac1 Ra7 20.Bb4
White has the 2 bishops and considerable pressure. 20...Be5 21.Rc6 Rb7 22.Bxd6 Bxd6 23.Rxd6 Ne5 24.Rxe6 Rbf7 25.Rxe5 Qxe5 26.Bc4 Qxe4 27.Qxa6 Kg7 28.Bxf7 Rxf7 29.Qc4 Rd7 With the d-pawn neutralized white will win by setting the queenside pawns in motion. 30.Rd1
30...Qe5 31.Qd3 Qa5 32.a3 Qa4 33.b4 Rd5 34.Re1 Qd7 35.Re4 Qd6 36.g3 Qc6? 37.Rxd4

(2) David A Berry - Larry Mark Christiansen [E62]
USA-ch jr USA-ch jr, 1973

White plays carelessly and is swiftly punished. 1.Nf3 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 0-0 5.g3 d6 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.0-0 Bg4 8.d5 Na5 9.Qd3

9...c5 Helping the knight out there on a5. 10.Nd2 e5 11.dxe6 Bxe6 12.e4 Nc6 13.Nf3 Ng4 14.Nd5 Nge5 15.Nxe5 dxe5 16.Be3 Nd4
As IM Elliott Winslow pointed out: the position is symmetrical, save the queen at d3. White also has the move. And the position is equal. 17.f4 exf4 18.Bxf4 Qd7 19.Bg5 f5 20.Ne7+ Kh8 21.Rae1 Rae8 22.exf5 Bxf5 23.Be4 Bh3 24.Rxf8+ Rxf8 25.Qd2? [25.Nd5 and black is only a bit better.] 25...Qg4!

Boom. White loses in every continuation, as the reader can work out for themselves. 0-1

GM Nick de Firmian

Armenia vs Azerbaijan

Most people who read the title will think of the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh, which had the recent battles in the two decades long land feud between these two countries of the former Soviet Union. Yet chess players are peaceful people and battle only on the chess board. The battle referred to here is finals of the Champions Chess Tour last week between Armenia’s #1 player Levon Aronian and Azerbaijan’s #1 player Teimour Radjabov. They finished ahead of the other 14 elite grandmasters (including Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura) to reach the finals in this second leg of the grand tour.

This reminds me of the dinner I had in Brussels in 1994 during the Bosnia war when the former Yugoslavia was breaking up. My dinner companions were Lubomir Ljubojevic, Branco Damianovic, Kruno Hulak and a few other chess players who came from the Balkan countries of Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatian and Slovenia. One might thing that the terrible war would have the players upset with one another, but it was the opposite. The old colleagues/friends commiserated and were very glad to see each other. The only dispute was at the end when Ljubojevic wanted to pick up the tab for everyone, but we didn’t let him do that with the difficult times in Serbia. I’ll always remember that dinner when I think how chess makes friendships.

So Aronian and Radjabov battled on the chess board, but only the chess board. They are long time colleagues and would not let politics get between them. Aronian has been in great form recently, but was edged out in this match. That is a sweet victory for Radjabov as he had declined participating in the Candidates Tournament due to the coronavirus, and surely he enjoyed taking first ahead of all the other top players in the world.

(1) Radjabov,Teimour - Aronian,Levon [D80]
Champions Chess Tour Airthings, 04.01.2021

This was the final, decisive game of the match. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Radjabov chooses one of the safest lines against the Grunfeld, He likes control rather than wild positions. 4...Ne4 5.Bf4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 c5 7.e3 Nc6 8.cxd5 Qxd5 9.Qf3 Looking for an endgame edge after the trade of queens. Aronian decides to stay in the middle game for now, but soon has to trade anyway. 9...Qd7 10.Bb5 a6 11.Bxc6 Qxc6 12.Qxc6+ bxc6 Black has at least got the bishop pair to compensate for his slightly inferior pawn structure. He has doubled pawns for now but can trade the c5 pawn if he wishes. 13.Nf3 Bg7 14.Ne5 Bf5 15.f3 [15.Nxc6 Be4 16.Ne5 Bxg2] 15...Bxe5 Aronian heads for a bishops of opposite color ending. This is alright though White is a bit more comfortable due to the pawn structure. 16.Bxe5 f6 17.Bg3 Bd3 18.Rd1 c4

We have an interesting ending where the bishops make it difficult for the rooks to occupy the b-file ( the only open file). 19.Rd2 Kf7 20.Rb2 Rhd8 21.e4 c5? This leads to trouble. Black could have maintined near equality by [21...Rd7 22.Kf2 Raa7! and a rook comes to b7 next move to contest the b-file] 22.dxc5 Rac8 23.Bf2 f5 24.exf5 gxf5 25.Be3 Now White maintains the extra pawn. 25...f4 26.Bxf4 Rxc5 27.Kf2 Rb5 28.Rxb5 axb5 29.a3! Ra8 30.Ra1 White has good winning chances despite the bishops of opposite color. 30...Ra6 31.g4 Ke6 32.h4 Kd5 33.h5 e5 34.Be3 Ra8 35.Bg5 Ke6 36.Bh4 Kd5 37.Ke3 Ke6 38.Ra2 Kd5 39.Be7 Ke6 40.Bb4 h6?! the pawn can be a target here 41.Rb2! ready for action on the b-file at the proper time 41...Bh7 42.Kf2 Bd3 43.Bc5 Kd5 44.Be3! Kc6 [44...Rxa3 45.Rxb5+ Ke6 46.Bxh6 Rxc3 47.Rxe5+!] 45.Ra2 e4 [45...Rh8 46.a4 bxa4 47.Rxa4 is an easily winning ending] 46.Bxh6 exf3 47.Kxf3 b4 This is the best chance. Against the passed g and h pawns Black must try to get counterplay. 48.cxb4 c3 49.Ke3 Bb1 50.Ra1 c2 51.Kf3 Kb5 52.a4+ Kxb4 53.a5 Ra6 [53...Rxa5 54.Bd2+] 54.Bc1 Rf6+ 55.Kg2 Rd6 56.a6 Rd1 57.Be3 Rd3 58.Bc1 Rd1 59.Bh6 Rd6
60.a7! Rxh6 61.a8Q c1Q 62.Rxb1+ Aronian resigned the game and match. 62...Qxb1 63 Qb8+. 1-0

(2) Aronian,Levon - Radjabov,Teimour [C54]
Champions Chess Tour Airthings, 03.01.2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 0-0 6.0-0 d6 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Bg3 a5 10.Re1 Re8 11.Nbd2 Ba7 12.Nf1 Be6 13.Bb5 Bd7 14.Ne3

The players have followed principled play in the Guico Pianissimo. The complex position is roughly equal though Black needs to be careful with his weakened kingside pawn structure. 14...Ne7 15.a4 c6 16.Bc4 Ng6 17.Qc2 Nf4 18.Rad1 Qe7 19.d4!? exd4 20.Bxf4?! gxf4 21.e5?!
Aronian has charged ahead with an incredibly aggressive advance. This plan started two moves ago has one flaw. 21...dxe3? Which Radjabov couldn't find. Black needs to get rid of his f4 pawn as we will see later in the variation. With [21...d3! 22.Qxd3 fxe3 23.Qg6+ Kh8 24.Qxh6+ Nh7 25.Bd3 exf2+ 26.Kf1 fxe1Q+ 27.Rxe1 f5 28.exf6 Qf7 Black would be winning since 29. Ng5? Qxf6 would now be with check due to the removal of the black f4 pawn.] 22.Qg6+ Kh8 23.Qxh6+ Nh7 24.Bd3! exf2+ 25.Kf1 fxe1Q+ 26.Rxe1
White has sacrifice a rook but is now winning 26...Bf5 [26...f5 27.exf6 Qf7 28.Rxe8+ Rxe8 29.Ng5!] 27.Bxf5 f6 28.exf6 Qf7 29.Re6? [29.Rxe8+ Rxe8 30.b3! to stop the check on c4 30...Rg8 31.h4 Be3 32.h5

and White is winning with the plan of Nh4-g6+. Black can't get out of the bind of having to guard the mate on h7] 29...Rxe6 30.Ng5 Rxf6 31.Nxf7+ Rxf7 32.Bxh7 Rxh7 Now Black has all the winning chances 33.Qf6+ Kg8 34.Qg6+ Rg7 35.Qe6+ Rf7 36.Qg6+ Kf8 37.Qxd6+ Kg7 38.Qe5+ Kg6 39.Qe6+ Kg7 40.Qe5+ Kg6 41.Qe6+ Kg7?! [Black should be objectively be winning if he runs with the king 41...Rf6! 42.Qg4+ Kh6 43.Qh4+ Kg7 44.Qg5+ Kf7 however Radjabov decides to play it safe after this tremendous battle] 42.Qe5+ 1/2-1/2


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