Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Getting Old Sucks

A total of 22 players showed up to play in the final round of Tuesday Night Action 30. In the top section, Daniel Cremisi(2266) proceeded to take down Pradhy Kothapalli(1839) in order to finish in clear first place with a score of 4 points. Board two featured the battle for second place between Patrick McCartney(2076) and Mark Biernacki(2084), and this is our feature game this week. Both sides make multiple errors in the opening, each side having their chances to get the advantage. As the pieces get traded down and a Rook and Pawn ending is reached. While Rook and Pawn endings have been one of my strengths in the past, but with White being Black's senior by 15 to 20 years, it feels like the number of errors being made in simple positions have been on the rise lately, and this game is no different. White starts off by making the wrong move on move 38, and then proceeds to make life very easy for Black on move by falling for elementary tactics beginning with move 42. It might be too late at that point after White's error on move 38, but there were many ways to make it more difficult for Black to force through the win. But alas, a series of endgame errors by his opponent lead to a second place finish for Biernacki.

The game can be viewed below:

Other winners in the top section include Michael Uwakwe(2031), Dominique Myers(2137), and Adam Clontz(1922).

In the lower section, Daniel Boisvert(1068) took clear first with 4 points by defeating Harshitha Jasti(800) while Andrew Jiang(1498) took clear second in his win over Donald Johnson(1343). Other winners include Ali Shirzad(1674), Richard Trela(989), and Debs Pedigo(1295), while Rishi Jasti(758) and Antonio Lemaisonett(1015) declared peace.

The complete cross table can be viewed here.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Simple Chess: Banter Blitz Against IM Lawrence Trent

Tonight I put my hat in the ring to play against IM Lawrence Trent during their 72 hour banter blitz special event on chess24. I didn't expect to get picked. Luckily for me IM Lawrence played the French Defense as white and I was able to get into familiar positions. However, since it had been awhile since I faced the French I took too much time in the opening and middle game. I ended up blundering a piece in the endgame in time trouble. Here is the game:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 14)
[Event "chess24 online game | blitz"] [Site ""] [Date "2017.03.28"] [Round "?"] [White "Banterthon"] [Black "dblackw2"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C06"] [WhiteElo "2675"] [BlackElo "1821"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] [WhiteTeam "de"] [BlackTeam "us"] [TimeControl "300"] [WhiteClock "0:01:00"] [BlackClock "0:00:06"] 1. d4 e6 2. e4 {[%emt 0:00:02]} d5 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 3. Nd2 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Nf6 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 4. e5 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Nfd7 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 5. Ngf3 {[%emt 0: 00:01]} c5 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 6. c3 {[%emt 0:00:00]} Nc6 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 7. Bd3 {[%emt 0:00:00]} cxd4 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 8. cxd4 {[%emt 0:00:01]} f6 {[%emt 0:00: 03]} 9. exf6 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Nxf6 {[%emt 0:00:00]} 10. O-O {[%emt 0:00:01]} Bd6 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 11. Re1 {[%emt 0:00:02]} O-O {[%emt 0:00:06]} 12. Nf1 { [%emt 0:00:02]} Qc7 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 13. Ng3 {[%emt 0:00:14]} h6 {[%emt 0:00: 41]} 14. Bd2 {[%emt 0:00:18]} Bd7 {[%emt 0:00:55]} 15. Rc1 {[%emt 0:00:05]} Qb6 {[%emt 0:00:13]} 16. Bc3 {[%emt 0:00:11]} Rac8 {[%emt 0:00:18]} 17. Rc2 { [%emt 0:00:15]} Nb4 {[%emt 0:00:09]} 18. Bxb4 {[%emt 0:00:39]} Bxb4 {[%emt 0: 00:00]} 19. Ree2 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Rxc2 {[%emt 0:00:15]} 20. Rxc2 {[%emt 0:00: 07]} Rc8 {[%emt 0:00:07]} 21. Rxc8+ {[%emt 0:00:05]} Bxc8 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 22. Qc2 {[%emt 0:00:26]} Qc6 {[%emt 0:00:15]} 23. Ne5 {[%emt 0:00:18]} Qxc2 { [%emt 0:00:10]} 24. Bxc2 {[%emt 0:00:00]} Nd7 {[%emt 0:00:18]} 25. f4 {[%emt 0: 00:28]} Bd2 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 26. Ne2 {[%emt 0:00:05]} Be3+ {[%emt 0:00:06]} 27. Kf1 {[%emt 0:00:00]} Nxe5 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 28. fxe5 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Bd7 { [%emt 0:00:04]} 29. Bd3 {[%emt 0:00:01]} g5 {[%emt 0:00:12]} 30. g3 {[%emt 0: 00:02]} b6 {[%emt 0:00:08]} 31. h3 {[%emt 0:00:02]} Kg7 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 32. Kg2 {[%emt 0:00:05]} Be8 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 33. Kf3 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Bg6 { [%emt 0:00:03]} 34. Bxg6 {[%emt 0:00:02]} Kxg6 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 35. Kxe3 { [%emt 0:00:01]} Kf5 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 36. g4+ {[%emt 0:00:01]} Kg6 {[%emt 0:00: 01]} 37. Ng3 {[%emt 0:00:01]} a6 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 38. a4 {[%emt 0:00:03]} a5 { [%emt 0:00:01]} 39. b3 {[%emt 0:00:00]} Kg7 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 40. Nh5+ {[%emt 0: 00:02]} Kg6 {[%emt 0:00:00]} 41. Nf6 {[%emt 0:00:00]} Kf7 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 42. Nd7 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Ke7 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 43. Nxb6 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Kd8 { [%emt 0:00:01]} 44. Nc4 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Kc7 {[%emt 0:00:00]} 45. Nxa5 { [%emt 0:00:02]} 1-0

If you skip to 3:20:00 then you can see IM Lawrence comment while playing me. He mainly talks about the US Championships coming up though.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right

Twenty-Six players took part in Round 4 of Tuesday Night Action 31. There was not a single draw. Every game was done early. No games were submitted. This might give one the idea that the quality of play this week was not very high, and many blow-outs likely occurred. As for the top board, neither player has much to write home about. In a Nimzo-Indian Defense between Patrick McCartney(2131) and Daniel Cremisi(2304), Black makes the first error on move 4. White played an aggressive line where Black needs to take quick action against White's center, and instead, he fails to do so, and White gets the early advantage, just to then throw it away with a horrible pawn trade, and Black proceeds to take advantage and eventually wins. A classic case of "he who makes the second-to-last error wins".

The game can be viewed below.

The win gives Cremisi the lead in the top section with a score of 3. Other winners in the top section include Mark Biernacki(2117), Vishnu Vanapalli(1975), Luke Harris(1675), Michael Uwakwe(2039), and Robert Callahan(1884).

In the lower section, Daniel Boisvert(1089) reclaimed the lead with a win over Corey Frazier(1404). Other winners include Andrew Jiang(1483), Aditya Vatakattu(1062), Sampath Kumar(1448), Richard Trela(1092), Sanjit Pilli(898), and Scott James(629).

The current cross table can be reviewed here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Marnzell Hand 1955 - 2017

Author: FM Peter Giannatos

Marnzell Hand with IM John Bartholomew

It is with great regret I bring you the passing of Marnzell Hand.

Marnzell was a frequent guest at the CCCSA, he would even call it his second home.
To us, Marnzell was part of the CCCSA family not just a chess player.

Marnzell, Ms. Brenda Hill, and GM John Fedorowicz Having a Chat

Marnzell was appeared to be a very serious, but in fact was a friendly, caring and extremely funny man who filled the room with laughter, some his, some ours.

Marnzell frequently played weeknight and weekend events at the club. Almost every local player has played either a casual game or tournament game against Marnzell.
Marnzell playing a casual game against Mike Eberhardinger

Marnzell was always willing to play. He had no problem with playing anyone. Unlike some adults he did not mind playing the "kids".

Marnzell against the young Adharsh Rajagopal

I am deeply saddened by the passing of Marnzell. 

Marnzell was a friend, a fellow competitor and most importantly a member of our chess family. 

Peter Giannatos

P.S. - The Charlotte Chess Center plans to organize a blitz tournament in April in Marnzell's name. 100% of the entry fee's will be given back in prizes.

Below are a few more pictures of Marnzell at the Charlotte Chess Center:

Marnzell writing his opponents move while pondering the position

Marnzell considering his options

Marnzell facing off against Karen Boyd - Finegold

IM Kassa Korley with Marnzell

Thinking of the possibilities in the opening

Sampath "Sam" Kumar v. Marnzell

Marnzell playing next to top junior Andrew Chen

Sunday, March 19, 2017

CCCSA Norm Invitational! March 29 - April 2, 2017

Author: Grant Oen, CCCSA Assistant Director

The Charlotte Chess Center has a history of bringing great chess events to Charlotte.  In his recent blog post, Peter Giannatos catalogued the impressive stats of our one-day events, including the Reverse Angle series and monthly scholastic tournaments.  In addition to these tournaments, CCCSA has a few annual high profile events which attract strong players to the Charlotte chess scene.

The CCCSA Norm Invitational is the most prestigious of these events.  This annual invitational allows talented players to compete for their title norms (IM, GM) in a closed, round robin format.  Unlike the uncertain fields of an open event like the World Open, in an invitational event, the organizers have full control over the playing fields, ensuring that all of FIDE’s strict norm requirements will be upheld, and each player will know their complete pairings two weeks before the event, allowing for specific preparation, a rare occurrence in normal American tournaments.

In our first invitational in 2016, FM Alex Velikanov earned his final IM norm, IM Michael Brown earned his second IM norm (and will return this year as an IM in the GM norm group), and IM Safal Bora earned a GM norm.

This year’s event is very special, as we have many notable names and 3 sections for a total of 30 players.  Most round robin events have only 1 or 2 groups, but our decision to add a third group for more norm chances seemed like a great idea, and we are glad to perhaps be the first American organizers to do this in a while.  We are also excited to offer international round robin experience to our local players from North Carolina (2 players) and Georgia (6 players), who, aside from Walter High's US Masters Tournament in Greensboro, often have to travel far for such opportunities.  Please read our player bios below!

A Group (GM Norm = 6.5/9) - Pairings

GM Tanguy Ringoir (Belgium, FIDE 2518, USCF 2575) returns to Charlotte a year after the first CCCSA GM Norm Invitational in March 2016, where he scored an undefeated 5/9 (1 win, 8 draws), perhaps in the complete opposite style of his student, Dominique Myers.  He is the captain of the UMBC Chess Team, who have scored well on the national collegiate stage.  Ringoir has competed at the highest levels of chess in his native Belgium, winning the National Championship three times and representing his country twice at the Chess Olympiad. 

GM Tanguy Ringoir, the top seed this year

GM Alex Fishbein (New Jersey USA, FIDE 2481, USCF 2544) is an American Grandmaster who has played in four US Championships, has written chess books, and had a career in finance.  He has won many American tournaments, including the inaugural Denker Tournament of High School Champions and the World Open.  Some of his notable results in his chess career include wins over Shirov, Mamedov, Gulko, and Smirin.

GM Alonso Zapata (Atlanta GA and Colombia, FIDE 2426, USCF 2518) is a 7-time Colombian Champion who now resides in Atlanta, where he coaches strong students and plays tournaments.  He is a former World Top 50 player, and finished second in the 1977 World Junior Championship behind Yusupov.  He has defeated Nakamura, Anand (in 6 moves!), Smyslov, and Ljubojevic.  In addition to playing for the Atlanta Kings in the PRO Chess League, Zapata has won many events in Georgia and North Carolina, including the 2014 and 2016 Georgia State Championships and the CCCSA Southeastern FIDE Championship in December.

GM Zapata in his game vs FM Giannatos, CCCSA Dec 2016

IM Michael Brown (California USA, FIDE 2478, USCF 2567) is an IM from California who currently studies at Brigham Young University.  He has impressive wins over strong GMs such as Yu Yangyi (2750 FIDE), Izoria, and Zherebukh.  Brown scored his second IM norm at the 2016 CCCSA Norm event, and quickly acquired the IM title later that year, and will be searching for his first GM norm at this year’s event.  Here is his interview from the 2016 event.

IM Daniel Gurevich (Atlanta GA, FIDE 2465, USCF 2541) is an IM from Atlanta currently studying at Georgia Tech under a Gold Presidential Scholarship.  He has won three national championships, and maintains a column in USCF’s Chess Life for Kids Magazine.  His best GM scalps include wins over Robson, Nyzhnyk, and Shabalov.  Fluent in English, Spanish, and Russian, Gurevich scored all of his IM norms in Spain during summer 2015, and has since increased his FIDE rating to over 2450.  A talented teenager, he has played for the Atlanta Kings PRO Chess League team, and was the 2015 Georgia State Champion.

IM John Bartholomew (Minnesota USA, FIDE 2453, USCF 2529) is well known internationally for his Youtube channel (35,000 subscribers and 7.5 million views!).  A former member of the UT Dallas chess team and a CCCSA Summer camp coach, Bartholomew’s first GM norm came from a similar Round Robin event in Saint Louis in 2013, where he won the section with 6.5/9.  He will need the same score to notch his second GM norm in this event.

The late Marnzell Hand with IM John Bartholomew, 2016

IM Aman Hambleton (Montreal CAN, FIDE 2441, USCF 2526) is a Canadian IM and one of the Chessbrahs along with GM Eric Hansen.  Although from Montreal, Hambleton is no stranger to American tournaments, having played in the World Open, SPICE Cup, Millionaire Chess, and Round Robins in Saint Louis.  He has crossed 2500 FIDE in the past and has one GM norm, meaning that he will be looking for one of his two remaining GM norms at this event. 

Cartoon IM Aman Hambleton (left) !

FM Alex Kaliksteyn (New York USA, FIDE 2453, USCF 2524) is an American FM who recently scored an IM Norm at the Southwest Class Championships in Texas.  He has defeated GMs such as Adhiban, Belous, Macieja, and Shabalov.  Kaliksteyn is eligible for both a GM (6.5/9) and IM norm (5/9) in this section.

FM Nikhil Kumar (Florida USA, FIDE 2444, USCF 2390) is the only player on this list who has a world title under his belt, having won the World Cadet U12 Championship in Batumi, Georgia in September 2016, where he defeated the similarly prodigious IM Praggnanadhaa on the way to the Gold Medal.  Kumar has bolstered his world title with other recent successes, including a first place finish at the 2016 National Chess Congress and his first IM norm at the North American Open in December, as well as strong results in the PRO Chess League.  Kumar can score both a GM (6.5/9) and/or IM norm (5/9).

World U12 Champion, FM Nikhil Kumar

FM Gauri Shankar (Chicago USA and India, FIDE 2320, USCF 2411) from India has several IM norms, including one from the 2015 US Masters, and needs to achieve a 2400 FIDE rating to earn the title.  He has draws against strong American GMs like Kamsky, Naroditsky, Kaidanov, Sevian, Xiong, and Lenderman.  He will seek to earn his first GM norm and improve his rating towards the 2400 mark.  Here is his interview from the 2016 event.

B Group (IM Norm = 6.5/9) - Pairings

IM Zurab Javakhadze (Republic of Georgia, FIDE 2470, USCF 2550) is a member of the strong UT Dallas Chess team and the owner of 4 GM norms – once he crosses 2500 FIDE, he will become a Grandmaster.  He is a strong IM who has travelled much of the American tournament circuit – he dealt GM Alex Shabalov his sole loss in the 2016 US Open, in which Shabalov scored 8/9 and qualified for the 2017 US Championship.  While Javakhadze has dominated many tournaments in Texas, this will be his first tournament in North Carolina.

IM Roberto Martin del Campo (Mexico, FIDE 2392, USCF 2451) is a IM who is ranked as the sixth highest rated player in Mexico.  Del Campo scored the necessary last round win against FM Alex Velikanov in the 2016 CCCSA IM Norm Invitational to tie for first with the latter with 6.5/9.  He played fighting chess in the 2016 event, notching 1 draw and 8 decisive results.  He returns to the IM norm group with a strong FIDE rating of 2392.  He is a strong blitz player, sporting a FIDE blitz rating over 2400.  Here is Roberto's interview from the 2016 event.

IM Roberto Martin del Campo

IM David Vigorito (Massachusetts USA, FIDE 2370, USCF 2458) is an American IM, opening theoretician, and chess author.  He has written detailed opening works on sharp lines such as the Semi-Slav, Slav, Marshall Attack, Nimzo-Indian, Dragon, and Grunfeld.  He has maintained his solid status as a strong IM, with great results in many open tournaments on the East Coast – his wins over American legends such as Browne, de Firmian, Fishbein, Ivanov, Lenderman, Kudrin, and Perelshteyn confirm the quality of Vigorito’s career.  Here is his interview from the 2016 event.

IM David Vigorito from the 2016 Invitational

John Ludwig (Florida USA, FIDE 2397, USCF 2491) is a teenager from Florida who although is technically untitled, is on the verge of crossing 2400 FIDE and 2500 USCF.  He is the #3 player in the country for age 16, while his FIDE rating puts him at #80 for junior U18 in the world.  Ludwig has had great results in tournaments in his native Florida, where he is the sixth highest rated player.  He has defeated GMs Becerra, Mitkov, and Sevillano.  Ludwig will be searching for his first IM norm at this event.

FM David Brodsky (New York USA, FIDE 2330, USCF 2450) is the third highest rated 14 year old in the country.  He tied for first at the 2016 Washington Chess Congress, earning $1800 and a GM norm, despite a FIDE rating of 2277 at the time.  His first IM norm came earlier in 2016, at the New York International.  A talented junior, Brodsky will be searching to achieve his final IM norm in Charlotte.

FM Michael Kleinman (Toronto CAN, FIDE 2289, USCF 2356) is a student at McGill University in Canada.  Kleinman plays for the Montreal Chessbrahs in the PRO Chess League, and is ranked in the top 40 players in Canada.  His last event in the United States was also in North Carolina, namely the 2014 US Masters Championship in Greensboro.  Kleinman has an IM norm from the 2013 Chicago Open, and will be playing for his second IM norm in Charlotte.

Richard Francisco (Atlanta GA, FIDE 2253, USCF 2401) has been one of the strongest players in Atlanta for many years.  He is a very strong player in team competitions – his various accolades and performance for the Atlanta Kings in the US Chess League and PRO Chess League far exceeded expectations when considering his rating.  His PRO Chess League results since January 2017 include wins over GMs Erenburg, Agrest, and Hess.  His best over-the-board scalps include Shabalov, Becerra, Cordova, Krush, Ruifeng Li, and Paragua.  Francisco is also one of the world’s best bughouse players.  He will be playing for his first IM norm.

Senior Master Richard Francisco

WIM Ewa Harazinska (Poland, FIDE 2257, USCF 2289) is a member of the UMBC Chess team.  She represented Poland at the 2014 World U16 Chess Olympiad, scoring a silver medal on her board.  A player with a lot of international experience, Harazinska earned her WIM norms in three different nations (France, Greece, and Poland).  She can earn a WGM (6/9) and/or an IM norm (6.5/9) here in Charlotte.

Tianqi “Steve” Wang (Charlotte NC, FIDE 2215, USCF 2325) is one of our local invitees.  He is currently at both his peak FIDE and USCF ratings.  He is a solid master who ranks fifth in North Carolina, and has scored draws against Moradiabadi, Ivanov, Bartholomew, and Schroer.  In addition to his strong online play (2500+ blitz and bullet ratings on, Wang has a strong local presence, having finished in clear or equal first at the 2015 and 2016 NC Championships, 2013 and 2015 NC Opens, 2015 NC K-12 Championship, and he has represented North Carolina in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions.  He will hope to earn his first IM norm.

IM John Bartholomew analyzing with NM Steve Wang

Kapish Potula (Atlanta GA, FIDE 2075, USCF 2125) is a 14 year old from Atlanta who has played in Charlotte many times.  He is coming off a nice result at the Southwest Class in February, where he drew GM Matamoros, IM Aponte, FM Feinstein, etc on his way to a 60 point FIDE gain.  He is looking to gain much experience and is in the unique position of only needing 6/9 for his first IM norm, while his competitors will need 6.5 points.

C Group (IM Norm = 6.5/9) - Pairings

IM Titas Stremavicius (Lithuania, FIDE 2453, USCF 2504) is another member of the UT Dallas chess team.  An extremely active player in the Texas circuit, he has had successful results against the very strong competition there, including draws with GMs Nyzhnyk, Sevian, Popilski, Holt, Li, Berczes, and Yang.  Stremavicius will join us in Charlotte in his first American tournament outside of Texas/Louisiana.

IM Felix Ynojosa Aponte (Venezuela, FIDE 2378, USCF 2478) is part of the UT Rio Grande Valley chess team.  He once won the Venezuelan Championship four years in a row (2011-2014), and won the U8 Pan-American Championship in 2004.  He represented his native Venezuela at the Chess Olympiad twice, and finished third place in the U12 World Youth Championship.  Aponte has had very strong results in Texas, and will hope to increase his rating in our event.

IM Angelo Young (Chicago IL and Philippines, FIDE 2294, USCF 2384) has had a long career as a Filipino-American IM.  Young has had a very rich career on the tournament circuit, having scored draws against GMs in over 100 games.  Hailing from Chicago, he has also had incredible results against many legends of the American tournament circuit, including wins over Van Wely, Shabalov, Yudasin, Holt, Finegold, Stripunsky, Dzindzichashvili, Fishbein, Benjamin, Ivanov, Fedorowicz, Zapata, Browne, etc.  Young returns to Charlotte after a solid 4.5/9 at the 2016 CCCSA IM Norm Invitational.  Here is his interview from the 2016 event.

IM Angelo Young

Andrew Hong (California USA, FIDE 2378, USCF 2421) is the top 12 year old in the United States and the ninth highest FIDE-rated player in the world under 14.  He earned the Silver Medal and the FIDE Candidate Master (CM) title at the World Cadet U12 Championship in Batumi, Georgia, finishing 1 point behind Nikhil Kumar, who will be playing in our GM norm section!  Hong already has plenty of international experience, having represented USA at various World Cadets, World Youth, North American Junior, and North American Youth Championships in Georgia, Canada, Greece, and Mexico.  He is seeking his first IM norm.

FM Seth Homa (Michigan USA, FIDE 2326, USCF 2411) is the fourth highest rated player in Michigan.  His peak ratings of 2486 USCF and 2383 FIDE, combined with his two IM norms from American tournaments, show that he is a serious contender for the IM title.  He will need to improve upon his 4.5/9 at the 2016 CCCSA IM Norm Invitational to earn his final IM norm.  Here is Seth's interview from the 2016 event.

FM Seth Homa, from the 2016 Invitational

FM Edward Song (Michigan USA, FIDE 2285, USCF 2394) is the sixth highest rated 17 year old in the country.  A talented junior, Song has had solid results, earning draws against GMs Kamsky, Avrukh, Erenburg, and Holt.  Song earned the Silver medal at the 2014 North American Junior Championship, after which he earned the FM title and his first IM norm.

Sanjay Ghatti (Atlanta GA, FIDE 2276, USCF 2331) from Atlanta is a student of GM Alonso Zapata, and one of the top juniors in Atlanta.  His rating has improved by quite a bit since he became a National Master after his 5/5 victory at the 2014 Ron Simpson Memorial, which included a win over GM Maurice Ashley.  Ghatti tied for first with GM Akobian at the very strong 2014 Castle Grand Prix in Atlanta, ahead of many GMs.  He is hoping to earn his first IM norm.

FM Yuanchen Zhang (Canada, FIDE 2268, USCF 2402) from Canada has been a FIDE Master since 2013.  Zhang is a two-time Canadian U10 Champion and the 2013 North American U12 Champion.  He is currently the second highest rated player under 16 in Canada.  He is no stranger to American tournaments, as he sports a USCF rating over 2400, and has drawn many 2500-2600 GMs.  He is searching for his first IM norm.

Benjamin Moon (Atlanta GA, FIDE 2254, USCF 2328) is a several time USCF national champion.  He is a chess instructor for the Georgia Chess Institute in Atlanta, and a student at Georgia State University.  Moon’s recent results from North Carolina include an even score at the 2016 US Masters, including draws against two 2500-2600 IMs.  He is playing in his first round robin and will hope for an IM norm.

NM Ben "JustKid" Moon, many time National Scholastic Champion!

Aaron Balleisen (Durham NC, FIDE 2196, USCF 2300) is another local North Carolina player with plenty of local success.  He won the recent Ron Simpson Memorial Tournament (with 5/5), the 2016 K-12 NC Championship, the 2015 NC State Championship, and has represented North Carolina at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions.  Balleisen has a solid record against GMs, having drawn 2600+ GM Moradiabadi twice in addition to GM Tarjan.  Balleisen will attend Princeton University later this year.  This is his first invitation to an elite event, where he will hope to score his first IM norm.

The average rating across the event is 2432 USCF and 2355 FIDE.  Out of all 30 players, there are 3 GMs, 10 IMs, 1 WIM, 8 FMs, and 7 other masters.  It is not often the case that Peter, Dominique, and I bring down the average rating of people in the chess center!

12 States Represented – Maryland, New Jersey, California, Georgia, Minnesota, New York, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Illinois.

10 Foreign Federations Represented – Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Georgia, Mexico, Poland, Lithuania, Venezuela, India, Philippines.

9 Universities Represented – universities that our players are currently enrolled at: University of Maryland Baltimore County, Brigham Young University, Georgia Tech, University of Texas at Dallas, McGill University, NC State University, University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, Georgia State University, and Princeton University.

Here is the link to tournament information.  The event takes place Wednesday, March 29 through Sunday, April 2.  Spectators are welcome throughout the event - members may visit for free, while non-members may purchase a $10 day pass.

There will be plenty of analysis, blitz, and chances to meet some famous chess masters – come by and check it out!  For those that can’t make it, we will be posting game PGNs online after games conclude, in addition to pairings and standings online on Chessstream.  We will also have player interviews, videos, games, ... it will be an awesome event!

Hope to see you at the Charlotte Chess Center, March 29 – April 2!


Reverse Angle 70

Author: Grant Oen, CCCSA Assistant Director

The 70th edition of CCCSA's Reverse Angle tournament was played on Saturday, March 18.  There were 59 players in three sections (Top, Under 1800, and Under 1400) who were playing for a guaranteed $850 prize fund.

Top Section

In the Top section, NMs Elias Oussedik (2259), Klaus Pohl (2217), and Dominique Myers (2093) were joined by 6 experts and 10 Class A players for a total of 19 players.  The tournament welcomed the return of Alain "the Jamaican Terror" Morais (2118) whose last event was CCCSA's Tuesday Night Action 6 tournament in September 2014!  This section also brought Jacob Parrish (1963) back to tournament play, as his last event was in 2010.

It turned out to be a good day for Klaus and Alain, as they tied for first place with 2.5/3 after drawing their mutual game in round 3.  Their score was matched by Adam Clontz (1858), who defeated Mark Biernacki (2085) on his way to 2.5.  Mark had upset NM Oussedik in the second round, but was not able to hold on against Clontz.  Clontz had drawn with Michael Uwakwe (2021) in Round 1 and defeated Pradhyumna Kothapalli (1839) in Round 2.  Pohl, Morais, and Clontz each earned $100 for their threeway tie for first place.

Here is the round 2 encounter between Mark Biernacki and Elias Oussedik:

Under 1800 Section

In the Under 1800 section, there were 20 players competing for a $275 prize fund in their very competitive section.  Carson Cook (1711) and Danny Cropper (1601) defeated Andrew Zeng (1490) and Andrew "Doritos" Chen (1626) on their way to perfect 3/3 scores to earn $112.50 each.  Luke Harris (1586) won the U1600 class prize with 2.5/3, good for $50.

Under 1400 Section

In the Under 1400 section, there were 20 players.  In the end, Donald Johnson (1313) and Nishanth Gaddam (1185) swept the field with 3/3, each earning $112.50.  Mahesh Padhi (1021) and Brian Miller (995) earned $25 for their split of the U1200 prize with 2.5/3.

CCCSA's next tournament is an Unrated Scholastic on March 25, followed by a very special event, our 2017 GM/IM Norm Invitational, March 29 - April 2.  Reverse Angle 71 is on April 15.

See RA 70 USCF-rated Results here

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The View from 1000: "The Best Move You Can in the Most Reasonable Amount of Time"

The View from 1000

... is Cloudy

I haven't had many opportunities to play a much higher-rated opponent, so I was excited to have that opportunity last Tuesday. And Marnzell is a great guy to boot! 

During the game, I developed two distinct but inter-related problems: time trouble and frantic thinking. (I'm sure there were more problems than those, but those are what I'll focus on.) I'll deal with the latter in a follow-up post so I can say something about "The Post-Beginner's Mind." But I'll deal with the former in this post just to see how my time trouble contributed to my frantic thinking. I should say that by 'time trouble', I mean 'time trouble for me'. I have little experience playing faster games, so I quickly become uncomfortable as soon as I realize that I'm taking an unusual amount of time on the clock. Please post any comments or suggestions. I know I'll learn all of them.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Long Range Outlook

A total of 28 players took part in round 3 of Tuesday Night Action 31. The top section saw a 4-way tie going into round 3 with a score of 1.5. The first of those two games is our feature game of the week between Pradhy Kothapalli(1870) and Patrick McCartney(2131) which featured an insipid line of the Caro-Kann Defense that played more like a poor man's Van Geet opening. Black was equal as early as move 3. The position remained that way until Black makes a fairly major error on move 23. A critical exchange sacrifice by Black occurs on move 29, and White proceeds to hold a clear, if not winning advantage for roughly the next two dozen moves. Black spends a lot of time and energy trying to force the Queen into White's camp, attempting to defend his inferior position by counter-attacking White's King. After White's 55th move, Black uses the entire board to figure out a sequence of "long distance" moves by a "long range" piece, namely the Black Queen, such that she does find her way into White's camp. He proceeds to win another pawn, but unfortunately, it wasn't enough as Black's pawns were fixated on the color of his Bishop, making a light-squared blockade pretty easy to achieve, and the game ended in a draw, placing both players a half point behind the leader.

The game can be viewed below:

This opened up the door for Grant Oen(2147) and Aditya Shivapooja(1767) to take the lead, and the former prevailed to lead all scores with 2 1/2 after three rounds. Joining Patrick and Pradhy for second place and a half point behind the leader is DJ Cremisi(2304) following his victory over Dominique Myers(2117). Other winners in the top section include Mark Biernacki and Vishnu Vanapalli(1975) while Adharsh Rajagopal(1801) and David Blackwelder(1724) declared peace.

In the bottom section, the lead has changed hands as Corey Frazier(1404) took down Joseph Little(1527) to now lead with 2 1/2 while the previous leader that came in with a perfect score, Daniel Boisvert(1089) fell prey to Marnzell Hand(1600). All of the other games in the section were also decisive and included victories by David Richards(1641), Ali Shirzad(1650), Hassan Hashemloo(1307), Aarush Chugh(1307), Rishi Jasti(766), and Akshay Rajagopal(623).

The current cross table can be viewed here.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Woman Does All the Dirty Work

A total of 20 players showed up to take part in round 2 of Tuesday Night Action 31. At the top board, Patrick McCartney(2131) took on Grant Oen(2147) in the Leningrad Variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defense. The first 11 moves by each player follows book lines. Then, for some reason, White, despite knowing while thinking about the previous move that if Black continued with 11...c4 that he could not take on c4 with the Bishop, proceeds to blunder after a brief lapse and takes the poisoned pawn, which cost him a piece. Then White got his act together and decided "I don't need no stinkin' Bishop!" He proceeds to send his Queen on a very long tour where she basically does all the dirty work, and after a couple of slightly inferior moves in the form of "right idea, wrong order", White's Queen scoops up the b-pawn. A couple of moves later, a blunder by Black gives White the a-pawn, and in the process, the Queen proceeds to fork 3 pieces at once, and only two of the three can be saved, and so she scoops up the Bishop during her mission. After she does all that, which now gave White a material advantage, Black snags one pawn back, and White has to make a very critical decision on move 29. With 11 minutes left to Black's 41 minutes, he can grab the Knight, which Black will win back, and head into a pawn up drawn endgame as all of White's pawns would be split, or he can play 29.Rf4 and go into a very complicated and messy position where White has to find an only move on move 30 and Black then has to find an entire sequence of only moves in order to reach a position that is a small advantage for White. Whether it's enough to win or not is unclear. That said, White spent 6 of his precious 11 minutes to try to figure out whether he could win with the Rook move, and given the level of complications involved, he instead decided to take the Knight and head into a drawn endgame. It gets down to a Rook and two Pawns each, and Black proceeds to continue with his feeble attempt to win over the course of his final 48 moves in the game, but despite his time trouble, White is able to get it down to just the Kings on move 88, and the game ultimately ended in a draw.

The game can be viewed below.

This puts both players in a tie for first place with 1.5 out of 2.

Elsewhere in the top section, Pradhy Kothapalli(1870) and Aditya Shivapooja(1767) also proceeded to draw and claim their share in the four-way tie for first place with a point and a half. Daniel Cremisi(2304) took down Mark Biernacki(2117), Annastas Wyzwany(1798) defeated Vishnu Vanapalli(1975), and Luke Harris(1641) downed David Richards(1641), each of which trailing the leaders by half a point.

In the lower section, Daniel Boisvert(1089) takes the lead all by himself by defeating Aditya Vadakattua(1062). To claim second place to himself, Corey Frazier(1404) took down Richard Trela(1092). Other winners include Kiru Mendez(1640), Ivan Manchev(1528), and Mahesh Padhi(1021).

The current crosstable can be viewed here.

Friday, March 3, 2017

It's Our Birthday! 3 Years of Progress in Chess...

Author: FM Peter Giannatos

It seems like yesterday when Dominique Myers and I were eating at Panera Bread drawing up our "big plan" to open up a Chess Center on a recycled napkin. (Circa 2010) Many chess players dream of opening a Center for chess, but for few it actually becomes a reality.

Fast forward to 2013: Gary Newsom and I were 7 years into a great new chess initiative in Charlotte called the Queen City Chess Association. The QCCA met at the Asian Herald Library once a week and was the home to chess players of all age, gender, ethnicity and skill. During that time we had built the strongest bonds with the most honorable members of the chess community. These bonds allowed us to raise enough funds to start Charlotte's very own Chess Center.

In December of 2013, with one semester left in undergrad at UNCC, I really began to think that a Chess Center could become a serious reality. I asked a few of our most loyal members what they thought about the vision of a dedicated place to play chess with an emphasis on growing all areas of the game (scholastic -adults, beginner - advanced). They greatly supported the idea!

Our initial fundraising goal was $10,000 to start a very basic Chess Center. There was so much support that that number ended up tripling to $30,000!! Absolutely amazing!

I am forever thankful to the following "original" donors who helped start what will be the absolute future of chess in Charlotte for decades to come!

You can read more about our story on our website...
Now let's get on to how chess has evolved since then!

Our Unique Accomplishments Since Opening
  • Organized a GM/IM Norm Invitational where players vied for their Grandmaster and International Master titles.
  • MEGA Master Summer Camps Featuring the Nations Top Instructors (Grandmasters and International Masters) as well as our top local instructors (FM Peter Giannatos and NM Dominique Myers).
  • Southeastern FIDE Championship - A Unique Event that features the Southeast's top players, held right here at the CCCSA.
  • Our students and adults had the opportunity to work with GM Ben Finegold for 2 quarters in 2015 and 2016 when he served as our Grandmaster-in-Residence.
What We Are All About

Other chess clubs promote ideas such as "adult only" or restrictive rules against players under a certain age. Here at the CCCSA we include everyone in the mix. All ages, genders, ethnicities, and skill levels are always welcome to join us at the Charlotte Chess Center!

Do not forget that the CCCSA offers the most professional environment for tournament play. A quiet playing hall (made specifically for chess) with padded chairs and wood tables. Clocks, sets, score-sheets, and pens always provided. We take our job seriously, therefore we always have a non-playing tournament director present to handle any disputes that should arise.

Let's not forget our open library of over 700 chess books and DVD's.

It is no surprise that our weeknight and weekend tournaments greatly exceed the other options!

Contrary to rumor, our club offers great age diversity. Come by anytime and see for yourself!

World Under 10 Girls Champion Rochelle Wu (2136) v Life Master Klaus Pohl (2200)

Tournament Attendance

So you think a higher number of tournaments would dilute the attendance? Think again! I will let the numbers do the talking!

Open Events (adults and youth allowed to participate) Attendance in 2014:
Tournament Frequency Average Attendance
Reverse Angle 10 51.4
G/60 Action 2 34.5
Tuesday Night Action 9 51.4

Open Events (adults and youth allowed to participate) Attendance in 2015:
Tournament Frequency Average Attendance
Reverse Angle 12 53.9
G/60 Action 3 34.7
Tuesday Night Action 9

Open Events (adults and youth allowed to participate) Attendance in 2016:
Tournament Frequency Average Attendance
Reverse Angle 11 55.3
G/60 Action 6 41.5
Tuesday Night Action 10

Scholastic Events (Youth Only) Attendance in 2014:
Tournament Frequency Average Attendance
Rated Scholastic 2 34.5
Unrated Scholastic 0 0

Scholastic Events (Youth Only) Attendance in 2015:
Tournament Frequency Average Attendance
Rated Scholastic 3 35.7
Unrated Scholastic 4 33.1

Scholastic Events (Youth Only) Attendance in 2016:
Tournament Frequency Average Attendance
Rated Scholastic 7 45.4
Unrated Scholastic 8

I greatly appreciate our most loyal members and supporters. Without you the dream of a more professional, inclusive environment for chess would not have been possible.

Cheers to another great year of growth,

FM Peter Giannatos

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Chess is Like the Stock Market

Twenty players took part in round 1 of Tuesday Night Action 31. The top couple of boards show how much chess has in common with the stock market. How do you succeed in making money in the stock market? You make the right trades! Certain trades will make you rich while other trades will put you broke. On the top board, Grant Oen(2147) took on Dominique Myers(2117) where the latter fell victim mainly because he refused to make the proper trades that he needed to make. White offered Black a number of opportunities to equalize, and Black wanted nothing to do with it, proceeded to be down two pawns by move 36, and that was enough to ultimately cost him the game.

This game, along with complete analysis, can be viewed below.

Meanwhile, on board 2, Vishnu Vanapalli(1975) took on Patrick McCartney(2131) in a rematch from two weeks ago. Once again, it was a French Defense, Open Tarrasch variation. Black equalizes quickly and then proceeds to make a number of key trades to win the game. He starts off by swapping pawns that force White to make a critical decision. Does he split his pawns, making his queenside pawns weak? Or does he keep the pawns intact at the cost of dropping his Bishop in an open position for the Black Knight? He decided to relinquish the Bishop, and one more trade by Black on e1 followed by manouvering his Queen forced White to relinquish a pawn, and eventually the game.

This game can be viewed below.

Elsewhere in the top section, Pradhy Kothapalli(1870) took down David Blackwelder(1724) while Aditya Shivapooja(1767) did the same thing to Luke Harris(1675).

In the lower section, a 5-way tie for the lead with a score of 1 after 1 round was achieved by David Richards(1641), Andrew Jiang(1483), Monish Behera(1251), Daniel Boisvert(1089), and Aditya Vadakattu(1062), while Sampath Kumar(1448) and Corey Frazier(1404) declared peace.

All results can be viewed here.