Category: Chess Tournaments

Chess Club News Chess Tournaments Club Matches: Live
Steinitz Open Starts 10/30/2020

Our next 5 round Swiss starts this Friday. Time control for all games will be G60+10. On December 4th, the Friday after the last round we will be holding a 2h Blitz Arena on Lichess with a time control of G6+1. The final standings of the Blitz Arena will serve as tiebreakers for the main event.

The rounds start Fridays at 7.10 pm. All games will be played on Lichess and players are required to join our Lichess team. Prior to the start of the match all players must log on to lichess, visit our team site and make their presence known in the team chat.

After round 1 I will post the pairings on Tuesdays. It is strongly encouraged that all games are played at the scheduled time. For rounds 2, 3, and 4 players can arrange an alternative date and time. The games must be played before Tuesday so that there won’t be a delay in announcing the next round payments. For the last round rescheduling your game is not permitted. Half point bye requests also need to be made before Tuesday. Bye requests for the last round have to be made no later than Monday before the Round 4 game.

Missing a game without notifying your opponent and the TD in advance will result in disqualification without refund.

If you haven’t already done so, join the team here here:

The registration fee for this tournament is $20 before Wednesday and $25 from Thursday onwards. Families can contact us for a reduced entrance fee. 50% of the collected registration fees will be paid out in prize money.

The tournament will not be USCF rated. Online registration still requires an USCF Membership ID. It is ok if your membership lapsed. The main reason for registering with your USCF membership ID is for identification purposes. It also allows us to use your over the board ratings rather than online ratings for the pairings. If you have never been a member of the USCF and don’t plan to join either, please, contact us, you are still welcome to join this tournament.

To register head over to:

Contact us if you are experiencing any problems with the registration.

To start the games white players have to challenge their opponents. Lichess makes this process easy, but detailed instructions will be send out together with the pairings for round 1.

The deadline for registration is Friday, October 30th at 5 pm.

First round pairings will be announced by 6.30 pm.

Chess Club News Chess Tournaments Club Matches: Live
Lasker Open concludes with decisive battles for the prize money spots.

Round 5 featured a tough fight for the top spots. Hamlet had the chance to catch me in the final round to win the tournament but an opening surprise in game one and a relentless clock in game two thwarted his efforts.
Randy also employed an opening surprise in his match. Facing John’s Slav he played 4. Nbd2. A tricky move, if black doesn’t play energetically this knight will get access to powerful squares. John reacted well and soon his queenside pawns were storming ahead. In game two Randy was under some pressure and used a positional exchange sacrifice to stop John in his tracks. In the end John was down to 6 minutes against Randy’s 18 minutes and decided not to tempt fate and acquiesced to a draw by repetition.
Chris needed a strong showing against Arturo to secure a top-3 spot. In game 1 Chris got a fantastic position out of the opening. Arturo chose a very passive d6 in the classical Ruy Lopez that gave Chris a free hand to build up a dominant position across the board. Arturo put up a creative resistance and managed to trick Chris into repeating moves. To avoid the draw Chris’ King had to leave safety, pick up a pawn in the middle of the board and return to safety. All this with black’s potential mating combo of queen and knight in the vicinity. With a minute left this is a tough call. In game two Arturo stayed true to his opening convictions and started with 1 f4. On the one hand a narrow opening repertoire allows the opponent to prepare for the match and Chris picked the combative Fromm’s Gambit (1. … e5) to counter Arturo’s Bird opening. On the other hand people that play the same openings all the time tend to know their lines and it’s difficult to really surprise them. Arturo declined the Fromm’s Gambit with 2. e4. In the resulting King’s Gambit Chris mixed up two lines and Arturo got a King’s Gambit dream position which he easily converted to a full point. After their match Chris and Arturo were clearly not done with each other and started an epic blitz match, not a bad way to spend a Friday night.
As a result of these three matches we have clear first, second, and third places.
Congratulations and many thanks to all the players that helped to make this tournament a success.

Below you find all the games of round 5 with some comments.

On Friday the 23rd of October at 7pm we will be hosting a 2h blitz arena. The name of the tournament is Soltis Arena and the password to join is: Lasker
On the 30th of October we start our next tournament, the Steinitz Open, a 5 round Swiss tournament with a time control of G60+10. Please note, this will be a classical Swiss tournament with only 1 game per round. Also note the change of time control.

Take advantage of the early bird sign up and register here:
Let me know if you have any issues signing up.

Chess Club News Chess Tournaments Club Matches: Live
Lasker Open: The race stays tight

In round 4 we were treated to some exciting chess. On board 1 Chris had the chance to take over the lead. True to his style he went for the combative King’s Indian defence in his first game against me and faced yet another 6. h3 as we did in our last encounter. As it happens so often in the King’s Indian, white gets a fantastic position but black doesn’t seem to mind too much and just attacks. The fact that my king remained in the center added to the complications. 

Black is ready to play f5. How should white continue? I decided to play Nb3 and to get ready to take everything on c5. I can’t say that I was overly confident as this leaves my dark squares pretty vulnerable. 

Luckily the queen on c5 is not only a good attacking piece but is also well positioned to take over some defensive tasks. 

In game 2 Chris surprised me with a 5. Qe2 Ruy Lopez. The opening was dominated by mutual inaccuracies and yielded a position in which Chris was a pawn up and I had some compensation. An unusual position for Chris. If you look at his past games you will see that he is the person that is a pawn down and looks for the initiative to justify his play. 

Hamlet and Arturo liked the opening of their first game so much that they went on to play it again with reversed colors. 

The center is blocked, what should black do?

Reagan and John both won their black games. In game 1 Reagan played the rare 2 Bf4 against John’s Slav. John reacted very well and soon got a dominant position. In game 2 Reagan was fighting back with a Benoni and got a Benoni-dream position after white commited a couple of inaccuracies.

Patrick gave Randy a good fight. But it’s difficult to overcome someone with Randy’s experience. 

Patrick just played 3. … Nd7. In the Slav or Semi-Slav the queen’s knight is often developed to d7. Often, but not always. In contrast to other games chess is a game where both players have access to all information. That doesn’t mean that we have to give our opponent even more information. By playing 3. … Nf6 black keeps his cards close to the chest and retains a maximum to flexibility to react to white’s plans. The text move commits the black queen’s knight too early. Randy didn’t have to be asked twice and played 4 cxd5. Now we have an exchange Slav and black wishes the knight could go to c6. 

Robbie and Russel reached the following position after a wild game.

Black just played Kc5-b6. Are white’s split pawns a match for black’s connected passers? How can white save the game? 

You can replay all games of round 4 below.

This Friday, round 5, is the last round of the Lasker Open. The prize money for the winner is $55, second place $33, and third place $22. Next week Friday we will host a 2h blitz arena on Lichess. This blitz tournament will serve as a tiebreaker for the Lasker Open. There won’t be any split prizes.

Here are the pairings for round 5:

Pairings Round 5

Chess Club News Chess Tournaments Club Matches: Live
Lasker Open Round 3: Painful oversights and lucky escapes

The third round of the Lasker Open concluded Monday night with John and me fighting our match.
The first game started with an opening blunder can you spot how John could have punished me on move 9?

The position after 9. e4??
Hamlet faced Russel in his first game here and he was lucky to escape in game 1. In the diagram position below Russel threatened mate with 38. … Rg1 and after 39. Rc2 exd5 it was Hamlet who had the mating attack. Do you see how Russel could have built a deadly mating net with his 38th move?

David and Reagan reached the following position after a tough fight:

Reagan just played Kc3xc4. Kc2 didn’t offer much hope either. How should white continue?
Friday we meet for round 4 you can find pairings and standings here.

Chess Club News Chess Tournaments
Knight moves haunt the top boards – Part I

Chris Stychinsky and John Wright faced each other in the second round. I talked about their game one encounter already. In this post we are taking a closer look at their second game.

Chris seems to have moved on from his swashbuckling opening repertoire and played the Ruy Lopez against John’s 1 … e5. I can only recommend to follow in Chris’ footsteps. Playing complex openings such as the Ruy Lopez exposes us to a variety of pawn structures and strategic ideas. In the long run this will make us better chess players.

John countered Chris’ Ruy with the Zaitsev variation—the battle ground of Karpov and Kasparov in the 80s. The positions arising from this opening are often wild, black players seek their fortune of the queenside and white players try to deliver a quick checkmate. However, before launching queenside operations black puts pressure on e4 to slow down white’s queen’s knight attempt to join kingside operation.

The knight manoeuvre I’m referring to was introduced by Steinitz and is commonly used in Ruy Lopez and Gioucco Piano positions.

The best square for the knight on b1 would be f5. It gets there via d2, f1, and g3 and there is very little black can do in this particular situation. Also note, white only advanced the d-pawn to d3 and e4 is under firm control here.

We are now ready to have a look at the game:

Now would be a good time for a black strategy reset. The accidental pawn sacrifice offered white some hope to seize the initiative. Black’s main priority should be to thwart all of white’s active attempts. White enjoys some open diagonals and lines thanks to dropping a pawn. The white bishops are in good positions and both knights are already on the kingside and ready to move to more active squares. Thanks to white’s unfortunate pawn loss black already won the battle on the queenside. There is not much left to fight for.

Stay tuned for part two of the knight move series. I will talk about my game with Randy. Here is a little preview:

Why didn’t Randy take the rook on h2?

Chess Club News Chess Tournaments
Lasker Open: Striking Gold with Quirky Lines

Mikhael Tal quipped “You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.”

This round we saw a number of games in which white invited black into the deep dark forest by choosing a provocative opening. We were treated to the Trompowski, the Jobova and the “regular” London, as well as the Bird Opening.

David decided to go for a no-nonsense approach when confronted with the Trompowski

and went for 2. … e6 and didn’t face any problems.

Russel went for his trusted Jobava London again and was rewarded with a quick victory.

Arturo got a fantastic attacking position by starting with 1. f4. The Bird is generally considered to be somewhat dubious, Stockfish NNUE actually prefers the moves a3, a4, or h3 to 1. f4. But if things go white’s way it’s easy to see why people like this opening.

John and Chris picked established openings to fight their battles. Here is their King’s Indian/Benoni game.

Randy showed again his versatility in positions arising from 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6. This time he picked the Bogo-Indian Defense and equalized without too much trouble.

The other games played in round two can be found here.

Chess Club News Chess Tournaments
Close calls dominate the start of the Lasker Open

The first round of a Swiss tournament is always special. The upper half of the field plays the lower half and the resulting pairings can be quite lopsided. Be that as it may, the rating favorites still need to win their games. And so they did, but some of the matches could have gone easily the other way.

On board one Arturo Armagnac with the black pieces completely outplayed yours truly. Arturo punished me for mishandling his Leningrad Dutch and was rewarded with the following position:

White’s position is pretty hopeless here. After 22 … b5 white will perish. (Un-)Fortunately, Arturo took on d5 and allowed counterplay on the b1-h7 diagonal.

On board two David Faulkner put up a good fight against John Wright. A Caro Kann yielded the following situation:

The bishop on b2 looks pretty sad. David had the chance here to transfer the bishop to the g1-a7 diagonal. Once the bishop appears on e3 black needs to watch out for sacrifices on b6. 26. Bc1 would have given white the upper hand.

On board three Russel Keating faced Randy Hough. Russel stayed faithful to his Jobova London and could have wiped the black pieces off the board:

Randy just played 15. … e5 hoping for 16. dxe5 Nxe5 which would solve all of black’s problems and this is what happened in the game. Can you spot how white could have punished black for opening up the position while being far behind in development? (You find the solution at the end of the post.)

When you saw this post you might have wondered why I picked a picture of an old Latin book. This book is actually a chess book from 1500 (give or take a couple of decades) and one of the openings it discusses features in our game of the week played on board four between Chris Stychinsky and Patric van Haeren, a truly epic battle.

It’s not too late to join us for round 2 this Friday.

Solution for the Russel-Randy game:

Emanuel Lasker
Chess Tournaments
5 Round Lasker Tournament Starts Friday, September 18

Our second 5 round double Swiss starts September 18. Each Friday we will play one double round. The players face each other in a two game minimatch with a time control of G25 and a 10 second increment starting at move 1.

The rounds start Fridays at 7.10 pm. All games will be played on Lichess and players are required to join our Lichess team. Prior to the start of the match all players must log on to lichess, visit our team site and make their presence known in the team chat.

If you haven’t already done so, submit a join request here:

The registration fee for this tournament is $20. Families can contact us for a reduced entrance fee. 50% of the collected registration fees will be paid out in prize money.

To register head over to

or contact us by email and provide your name, email address, lichess username, and USCF ID (if available). Your most recent USCF rating will be used for pairing purposes only. The tournament will not be USCF rated.

Update 9/15/20: You can pay the registration fee at the link above, or via Paypal by clicking the “Buy Now” button below

or make a cheque payable to the San Gabriel Valley Chess Club and send it to our HQ at:

1010 N Chester Street, Pasadena, CA 91104

The deadline for registration is Friday, Sept. 18 at 5 pm.

First round pairings will be announced by 6.30 pm.

A Fantastic Benoni player
Chess Tournaments
Member Analysis: The Son of Sorrow

Our first online Swiss tournament produced a lot of interesting games. I went over a few games in my last post already. This post features one of the games played in the Randy-Lisa match.

Randy, the rating-favorite, started the game with 1.d4 and Lisa immediately started to fight back by choosing the King’s Indian Defense. Randy killed any hopes of a black pawn storm against the white king by picking the fianchetto system and soon afterwards the game entered Benoni territory.

The game offers a number of instructive moments. Randy was determined to show why this opening is called “Son of Sorrow”, hurled his d, e, and f pawns forward, and eventually crushed through black’s defenses. But in the process the white king got pretty exposed himself and black was not without counter chances.

Anybody who would like to learn more about counter chances in the Benoni should have a look at the games of the late Vugar Gashimov. One of the few elite players that consistently played the Benoni.

I hope you find my comments somewhat useful. If you want to see one of your games featured here, please let me know.

But now without further ado