There won’t be any tournaments on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 but I’m happy to arrange something if there is demand.
On 01/08/2021 we will have the second edition of our Sierra Madre Open. Which will also mark the first anniversary of the San Gabriel Valley Chess Club. The tournament will be a 5 round Swiss held on Lichess with G60+10 games. As with our previous tournaments ties will be broken in a 2h G6+1 blitz arena which will take place on 02/120/2021.
The Steinitz Open concluded with a dramatic finish that saw Larry Stevens, Gerald Ruiz, and Kyan Hsu tying for first. A 2h blitz arena was needed to break the ties.
Kyan took an early lead with three early wins while Gerald and Larry each started their tournament with a loss. Kyan took full advantage of the Lichess regulations by collecting bonus points with his winning streaks as well as going into Berserk mode. Kyan also managed to play 15 games in the allotted time while Gerald and Larry only completed ten and nine games respectively. Kyan’s aggressive play and tactical acumen were also essential ingredients for his win. Congratulations! Gerald finished 4th with a respectable 24 points and secured his second place overall. After playing a fantastic tournament in the open Larry was not able to adjust to his first Arena tiebreaker. But I’m sure he learned a valuable lesson and is a contender for first in our next tournament.
Thanks to Kyan winning the tournament a prize in the under 1800 category became available. Arturo Armagnac, thanks to his performance in the Open, took first and Lisa Willis, thanks to her blitz skills came in second.
You can find the results of the Steinitz Arena Tiebreakers here:
Throughout the tournament the big question was: Who can stop Larry Stevens? Round 5 gave us the answer.
Larry had a great tournament and he made things look quite easy. After round 4 he was in the sole lead, one point ahead of Gerald Luiz and Kyan Hsu. Larry had the white pieces against Gerald in the last round and a draw would have been sufficient to win the tournament. A great spot to be in, but how should you play in a situation like this? Gerald’s task was more difficult but also less complicated. All he needed to do was to win with the black pieces. Answering Larry’s e4 with the Philidor Defense let to a complex position with a lot of pieces on the board. Black eventually equalized and had the easier game. Larry, however, skillfully neutralized black’s pressure and stirred the game into a very very equal rook ending. It was here where things went wrong. Instead of stopping black’s attempts to rock the boat Larry engaged in a race and found himself in a lost queen ending. Gerald had been playing on his increment for quite a while by this time and missed a tactic that would have let to an instant draw, but it seemed that Larry had already come to terms with his loss and missed this chance.
Kyan was the only other person to be able to catch up with Larry. He went all in with the Schliemann Defense versus Lisa Willis’ Ruy Lopez. Shortly after the queens came off Kyan won a pawn and the extra material combined with the bishop pair guaranteed a smooth conversion.
Arturo Armagnac and David Faulkner reached this position after Arturo’s 54. f3-f4. David’s position had been pretty hopeless for a while and it seemed he was just going through the motions here and missed a golden opportunity here. What should he have played?
You can play through all the games here:
As usual, you can find the results and standings here:
On Friday, 12/04/2020 at 7pm we will have a 2h arena blitz tournament. Everybody is welcome to join. The games will be G6+1 and the final standings will be used to break any ties. So Larry, Kyan, and Gerald only have to worry about their relative standings, whoever does best wins the tournament. The same applies to all the other ties. If Kyan finishes in the top two he will get this prize and not the prize for the under 1800 category. So, if you are rated under 1800 you know who to root for.
With his forth win Larry Stevens secured his first place. He defeated Hamlet Tovmasyan from the black side of a Queen’s Gambit accepted. Hamlet went for an unconventional treatment of the IQP position that arose out of the opening and his aggressive play on the kingside backfired. Larry extinguished white’s initiative with a timely exchange sacrifice and soon started chasing Hamlet’s king across the board. Hamlet returned material and ended up two pawns down in a double minor piece ending. After 43 moves we reached the following position:
How should white proceed? Accept the invitation to enter an opposite colored bishop ending or keep the pair of bishops? Should the white king go for the queenside pawns or should he stay centralized and defend? Difficult questions and with less than 2 minutes on the clock Hamlet went astray.
Gerald Ruiz sacrificed his queenside pawns to install a powerful knight on d3. Soon afterwards his heavy pieces used the open files and forced John Wright’s resignation. Next round Gerald has the chance to catch up with Larry by beating him. I’m sure we will be treated to an exciting battle.
Kyan Hsu played a nice attacking game against Arturo Armagnac and was rewarded with the full point. He too can catch up with Larry if he beats Lisa Willis in the last round.
Randy Hough answered Chris Stychinsky’s with the Caro Kann and got a very promising position. After white’s 14. Qd2 black had to made a decision on how to continue.
Black is better, but what is the right plan? Randy decided to release the tension in the center and play e4. The ensuing simplifications left white’s remaining pieces in very active positions and Chris’ attack was decisive. Randy’s last move was a mouse slip but this didn’t have an impact on the result. As far as mouse slips are concerned, Randy is in good company
Lisa Willis tried her luck with a Hedgehog against Artem Aleksenko. Hedgehog’s are cute little critters, but you can get hurt when you try to go after them. Artem must have regretted throwing his e and f pawns at black’s position. Lisa made excellent use of the weak dark squares and the weak white king and emerged victorious.
David Faulkner chose a quiet setup against Manu Prasad’s King’s Indian Defense. The position soon resembled a Benoni and black was ok but after some inaccuracies in the middle game it was white who took over and David converted successfully.
Russel Keating played his trademark Jobava London against Patrick van Haeren. Patrick picked a strong setup against this system, but after losing a central pawn Russel had no problems winning the game. In the end Patrick allowed Russel a picturesque checkmate with two knights.
Richard Reid volunteered to be the house player for this round. He had the white pieces against me. After a pretty one-sided battle the game ended in a draw. After my poor opening treatment we arrived at the following position:
I just played 16. … b5. How should white react?
You can play through the games with annotations below.
For this round we decided to award prize money to first and second place as well as to the top two players rated under 1800. The prize money is: $60, $40, $40, and $30. Ties will be broken in a 2h arena blitz tournament on December 4th. The games will be G6+1. More details will be posted after the last round is concluded.
It took some effort, but we managed to get back to an even score after our win over Billiards’s Chess Club in Round 3. We had faced a very strong SoCal rival, LA Fortress in Round 1, which we lost, but then drew our Round 2 match against the Boyleston Chess Club of Boston. Our biggest problem had been in the Blitz portion for the matches–which count the same as the Rapid. The 3 minute with 2 second increment t/c had been brutal. After winning the Rapid section against Boyleston, we only managed one draw out of 10 games in the Blitz section. And against basically the same players we had just beat!
So Co-Team Admin Laura Nyström put out an APB for Blitz help (remember you can play in only one section if you prefer). We also had a later 4:00 pm start time, which might have helped as we had our biggest turnout with seven players. Unfortunately not everyone got a game as the other team did not have as many players, so sorry to those that were affected. But we did have some new faces in the Blitz section, including NM and Club Treasurer Axel Müller, Chris “Dr. Nimzo” Stychinsky, and Arturo Armagnac.
After winning the Rapid Section 5-3, it looked like we were in for our usual heartache in the Blitz. We were down a full point after the first set of games. But then Axel, Chris, and Arturo combined to score 3 out of 4 points in the second set of games and the comeback was complete! Axel won both his blitz games on Board 1 and Arturo did a great job on Board 4 with a win and a draw. Your reporter declined to play the blitz section and is glad he did!
But, like all team matches, every win or draw is critical, so kudos to all. A couple of games from the Rapid Section of Round 3 that caught my attention were Capatal 2’s nice handling of the Torre Attack:
Also take a look at Richard “Rippapawnoff’” Reid’s 83-move win with the French Defense. Who knew you could play this many moves in a 15 minute game!
You can check out the Round 3 games and all the matches from Season 2 below. If you like the later start time please let us know in the comments and we will do our best to work it out with our future opponents. Hope we see many of you back for Round 4 this Saturday!
Disaster struck early on boards 1 and 4. Larry Stevens showed his deep understanding of the French. The subtle 8. Bd3 gave him a great position against John Hale, a lifetime French player. John erred a few moves later and the game was over. Chris Stychinsky got steamrolled by Gerald Ruiz Morra gambit:
Chris just played 6 … Nf6. How does Gerald punish him?
Hamlet Tovmasyan found himself in a difficult position against me. The opening clearly didn’t go his way. But he defended tenaciously and we reached the following position:
How should black proceed?
Artem Aleksenko and Arturo Armagnac fought a battle with many ups and downs. But it was Artem who made the last mistake
Black has a huge advantage, how can he finish the game?
Russel played a fantastic game against Lisa but stumbled just before forcing Lisa to resign.
Kyan Hsu mounted a ferocious attack against Manu Prasad weakened dark squares and delivered a picturesque checkmate.
David Faulkner and Patrick van Haeren chose the queen’s gambit accepted as their battle ground. David didn’t allow much counterplay by skillfully exploited black’s queenside weaknesses.
Randy Hough and John Wright had one of their ongoing discussions in the exchange Slav which ended in John’s favor this time.
Here are the games with some annotations. Feel free to comment.
Standings and pairings for round 4 can be found here:
John Hale and Larry Stevens took the lead after winning their round two games. Gerald Ruiz unleashed a ferocious attack against John Hale’s king and chased him all across the board but with Gerald’s time running low John was able to get in a tactical shot that reversed the course of the game. Against Arturo Armagnac Larry opted for a romantic version of the King’s Gambit with 3. Bc4 and soon he got a dream position, total central control, the bishop pair and no queens to harass the misplaced white king. Arturo made good use of his two knights to launch a counter attack which Larry was able to fend off. Eventually, the players reached an equal knight ending that was a bit easier to play for white and eventually Larry reached a winning pawn ending.
Chris Stychinsky knew that my protected passed pawn was not enough for me to win the pawn ending with a couple of accurate moves he shut my king out and soon afterwards we had a threefold repetition.
Hamlet Tovmasyan sacrificed an exchange early in his game against Randy Hough. Eventually, his pair of bishops and an advanced passed d-pawn proofed to be sufficient compensation. Randy acknowledged this and returned the exchange for the d-pawn to reach a dead-drawn rook and minor piece ending. The evaluation didn’t change after the minor pieces came off. But after trading the rooks Randy was suddenly lost.
Feeling that he didn’t deserve the full point Hamlet played 67. Kf5 to draw the game.
Patrick van Haeren got a great position against Artem Aleksenko’s Alekhine Defense. But after winning the e4 pawn Artem was able to throw all his pieces against Patrick’s castled king and eventually broke through.
Stanley Zezotarski kindly agreed to play Manu Prasad as the house player. Stanley opted for a King’s Indian Attack setup against the Manu’s Pirc Defense. Manu eventually won the e4 pawn at the cost of piece coordination. In the ensuing struggle to reactivate his pieces Manu missed a tactical shot and resigned soon afterwards.
Kyan Hsu played the somewhate offbeat 2. b3 variation against David Faulkner’s Sicilian. But after a dozen moves we reached a relatively normal looking Sicilian position. Kyan was able to tempt David to weaken the d5 square. Kyan used this square as the launchpad for his irresistible attack.
Here are the games with some annotations:
As usual, the pairings for the next round can be found here:
First round match starts this Saturday, November 7, at 10:00 a.m. PST, against LA Fortress. There is an important change from Season 1: There are now two segments to the match, a Rapid 15/2 time control and a Blitz 3/2 time control. You can play in both or just one if you prefer. The Blitz match will start at 11:15, following the conclusion of the Rapid segment. Both segments count the same for total score. So, if the Rapid is a tie, then the Blitz could decide, and vice-versa. We are expecting about six players on the LA Fortess side. Registration for each segment starts one hour before the start of that segment. Again, you can join in for the Rapid, Blitz or BOTH segments. Hope to see many of you join us!
The first round of the Steinitz Open is in the books and the rating favorites prevailed. Russel and Kyan each came in striking distance of an upset. They outplayed their higher rated opponents but stumbled in their endgames. Gerald reminded everyone why his Lichess username is Gambit_Guy by winning a very nice Morra Gambit game.
Below are the games with some annotation.
The second round Hamlet Tovmasyan and John Hale will join us. The games start Friday, November 6th at 7.10pm.