Thursday, January 27, 2011

January--the busiest chess month!

Lots of activity over the last few weeks. I have played 4 games in the GCC Swiss, 4 games (and a bye) in the Austin Chess Club Championship (Jan 7-9), 3 games at the Austin Kids tourney (Jan 15), and 3 games at the Temple Open (Jan 22). End result was a rating swing of a whopping 8 points starting the month at 1741 and ending at 1749.

I finished the December issue of Chess Life back in December and starting Jacob Aagaard's "Excelling at Chess" the 2002 book of the year. I had recently covered John Watson's Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy and loved the interplay involving GM Aagaard taking issue with some of the premises of Mr. Watson. I also enjoyed the general writing style, and while there were a lot of games to go through, there was also plenty of text to read through. I believe the reviews at Amazon cover it well but I would add that for strong club players between 1600-1900 this is an outstanding book.

Since the Temple Open was the newest tourney venue I've played at I thought I would cover it in some detail. A short 45 minute drive from Georgetown straight north on I35 made the travel easy and the venue easy to find. The Holiday Inn looked relatively new and the facilities were excellent. The tournament was held the same weekend as the Texas Team event up in Dallas but they still had a good turnout of 27 players. I hope they continue as planned with quarterly events as I plan to be a regular participant.

I caught the difficult end of the "Swiss" break getting paired up the first round against Matthew Liu who was rated 2055. I took a real hammering as black in a Caro Kann advance being dead lost after about 12 moves before going on a king walk and resigning on move 24 (9 of black's last 12 moves were with the king). Using very little of the Game\90 time control left me with about 2 1/2 hours till the next round. Matthew was kind enough to go over the game with me in the lobby. I feel I learned at least three good lessons from this debacle.

Matthew playing black in round two

The next round saw me paired down against John De Vries rated 1411 who perplexed me with the seldom seen (for me) Albin counter gambit. Even though I played right into the Albin player's dream trap with the move 4. e3 I was able to pull out win down the road. John and I were able to review this game and consider other options in the post mortem analysis.

Jonathan v. Khoa

The event certainly drew a lot of familiar players from the GCC with the Nguyen family there in force along with the Manions, Vincent, Jonathan, Nate, and myself all having played at the GCC in the past. Twelve of the 27 players had attended a GCC event in the past.

Vince playing white

Steve (upper right) and Dang (lower left)

Nam had a nice tournament picking up 76 rating points in the process.

Jonathan v. Nam

The last round ended with a draw between myself and Chris Chen rated 1690. Chris played 4. Qc2 in the Slav and I was quickly out of book and on my own. However after several exchanges the position was quiet and at the end of a long day we split the point.

Duy v Chris (foregound) Emily v. Nate (background)

Let me express my thanks to the sponsors Forrest Marler and Wayne Sampson for hosting such a wonderful event. I would love to see more players take advantage of playing in a Grand Prix event at such a nice site.