Monday, January 22, 2018

Game Analysis: You Can't Win Them All

Hello again. For those of you that have been following my posts since the summer will know what my take is on the French Tarrasch. White gets zero advantage! I have shown extensive analysis on it in two articles. The games from the New Hampshire Open back in July, specifically round 2, and in the third of the seven articles on the French Defense in September. You have also seen a number of games where I have blasted the Tarrasch, and particularly the 4.exd5 with 5...Nf6 line, which I started playing in October 2016. Since October 2016, I've had 15 encounters as Black in the French Tarrasch, and the game you are about to see is only the second time that Black has lost. The first time came in the other line with 4.Ngf3, which is analyzed extensively in the September article, and actually came about from the 3...Be7 line, but it directly transposed to the line recommended in that article after 7 moves. The game you are about to see is the first time I have ever lost after 4.exd5 since taking up the 5...Nf6 line rather than the older 5...Nc6 line that I played previously, which I've lost to many times (we won't talk about that!).

The game we are going to look at is actually very instructive for French devotees as it illustrates some of the pitfalls that Black can fall into. White actually played the game fairly well, and while there were times where Black may have been able to claim a very very slight advantage, there was never a time in the game that Black could ever lay claim that he was winning. That said, the game remained totally balanced with the exception of one point in the middle game where Black makes a very educational blunder, and gave White the opportunity to lay claim to a significant advantage, and after White fails to do so and counters with a mistake of his own, we reach a very instructional endgame where Black first realizes that there are two results in the game, draw or loss, and plays for the draw, and does so brilliantly until one move very late in the game with both sides in time trouble that does him in, and White goes on to victory.

For those of you that haven't seen the previous articles surveying the French Tarrasch and games I've posted where Black won in the Tarrasch, I have included the links at the bottom of the article. Also, for those of you that feel depressed after looking at this game, going back to the wins I've posted will cheer you right back up! :-)

But until then, let's see what happened here that put Black in his misery.

Reverse Angle 80, Round 2
W: Henry Hopson (1891)
B: Patrick McCartney (2080)
French Tarrasch

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Ngf3 Nf6 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 8.O-O Be7 9.dxc5 Nxc5 10.Nb3 Nce4

For further explanation of the opening moves, see the first two articles from the links at the bottom.


A slightly unusual move but could sometimes transpose into the second most popular line, which is 11.Nbd4. The most common is 11.Nfd4, leaving the other knight on b3 to cover c5 and threaten to corral the bishop with Nf5. Black will usually counter this with 11...Qd7, to prevent Nf5 at least temporarily, and also to give the bishop the d8-square if it doesn't want to trade itself off for a White knight.

Now, after the move played in the game, we enter a stage where both sides are making decent moves. There may be a few cases where there are other options that are equally good, but neither side makes any spectacular moves or commits any blunders, and the position remains level for quite a while.

11...O-O 12.Nbd4 Bc5 13.h3 Rc8 14.Be3 Nd6 15.Nc2 Nc4 16.Bxc5 Rxc5 17.Qd4 Qc7 18.Rab1 Re8 19.Rfe1 Re4 20.Qd3 h6

This move is better than 20...g6 as it weakens fewer squares, but temporarily, it doesn't not solve the back rank issue because of the specific location of the White queen.


We reach a critical position in which White has a very concealed threat. Do you see it?


Black must eliminate the Knight with 21...Nxe3, after which the position remains equal. The move played in the game doesn't resolve the threat.


This move is fairly easy to see. The concealed threat comes if Black takes the pawn on a2.


This exchange sacrifice is necessary. 22...Rxa2?? loses to 23.Nxd5 Rxe1+ (or 23...Nxd5 24.Rxe4 +-) 24.Rxe1 Nb2 (24...Nxd5?? allows 25.Re8 Mate!) 25.Qb1 Qc4 26.Re4 and Black's position would be in ruins.


White's advantage is gone after this move. Instead, 23.Rxe3 Rxa2 24.Re2 and White has a big advantage.

23...Rxa2 24.Re2 Rxe2 25.Qxe2 Ne4 26.Qd3 Qb6?!

Stronger is 26...Qg3 where it could even be argued that Black has a very slight advantage. After a move like 27.Qe2 (other moves aren't any better), the position after 27...Nxc3 28.Qe1 Qxe1+ 28.Rxe1 Kf8, the position is still technically equal, but things have gotten really ugly for White compared to seven moves prior.

27.Re1 Qe6 28.Nd4 Qe5 29.Ne2 g5 30.Qd4 Qxd4


Instead, 31.cxd4 is stronger. After 31...Nxe3 32.b5 a6 33.bxa6 bxa6 34.Ra1 h5 35.Rxa6 Kg7 36.Rb6 f5 37.Nc1 h4 38.Nd3 g4 39.Ne5 gxh3 40.gxh3 f4 41.Rg6+ Kh7, White has the advantage.

After the move played, Black must realize a number of factors in the position:
  • First and foremost, Black does not having winning chances barring a total collapse by White. Even a series of inferior moves by White won't be enough for Black to win. His goal must be to draw.
  • When you are the one with the minor piece in a minor piece vs rook imbalance, you must play actively, especially when down in material. A fortress approach is not going to work here.
  • Don't be afraid to lose another pawn if you can eliminate all the pawns. King and rook versus king and knight is a theoretical draw.

The next series of moves we see Black predominantly responding to White's threats, and when there is no threat, Black makes an active move.

31...f5 32.Kh2 f4 33.Rf1 Ne3 34.Ra1 a6 35.Ra5 Kf7 36.b5 axb5 37.Rxb5 Nd6 38.Rb6 Ke6 39.Nc1 Nec4 40.Rb4 Kf5 41.Nd3 b6 42.Nf2 h5 43.g4+ fxg3+ 44.Kxg3 Ne4+ 45.Nxe4 Kxe4 46.Rb5

We reach another critical position for Black. It first appears as though Black is in zugzwang where any move drops a pawn. However, there is one right move, one other move that might arguably survive for Black, and a bunch of wrong moves.


Perhaps 46...Nd2 would also work for tactical reasons. For example, 47.Kg2 g4 48.h4 Nf3 49.Kg3 Ng1 50.Rxb6 Ne2+ 51.Kf2 Nxc3 52.Rh6 Kxd4 53.Rxh5 Ke4 54.Rg5 Kf4 55.Ke1 and 47.Rxb6 Kd3 48.Rh6 Kxc3 49.Rxh5 Kxd4 both appear to be survivable for Black, but the game move is easier, especially compared to the 47.Kg2 line given that the Black king is cut off from the White pawn.

That said, other moves lose. For example, 46...Kd3 47.Rxd5 h4+ 48.Kf2 Kxc3 49.Rxg5 Kxd4 50.Rh5 and White is winning.

47.hxg4 hxg4 48.Kxg4 Kd3 49.Kf4 Kxc3 50.Rxd5 b5 51.Ke4


This move loses on the spot! The way to draw is via 51...Nd2+ and after 52.Ke3 or 52.Ke5, Black will return the Knight to c4 via 52...Nc4+. If White continues to toggle between the e5, e4, and e3 squares, a perpetual check will occur. The moment that White leaves these three squares, Black will push the b-pawn to b4 and the game would be a draw. Instead, the upcoming pin by the Rook combined with the location of the White King does Black in.

52.Rc5! Kb3

This is one of the problems with doing this while the White King is on e4. Black doesn't have the d3-square to put the King on, and going to b3 blocks the Black pawn and fatally slows down the advancement of the Black pawn on b4.

53.d5 Nb6 54.Kd3 Ka2 55.Rb5 Nxd5 56.Rxd5 b3 57.Rb5 b2 58.Kc2 1-0

This was a painful game for fans of the French Defense, but it also shows some critical pitfalls that Black must look out for. For those of you that have not previously seen my other articles on the French Tarrasch, the links below will take you there. Black does win all four games across the three articles.

The New Hampshire Open (Specifically Round 2)
Opening Preparation: The French Defense, Tarrasch Variation
Game Analysis: NC Closed Championship - Round 3

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Reverse Angle 80

 Author: Grant Oen

The 80th Reverse Angle Tournament hosted 62 players.  They were playing for $850 in guaranteed prizes in three sections: Top, Under 1800, and Under 1400.

Top Section
In the Top section, the top seeds were Daniel "just woke up" Cremisi (2379), Klaus "the legend" Pohl (2200), and Mark "NM" Biernacki (2187), who were joined by 7 other experts in a 21 player field.  Cremisi won the section with 3-0, receiving $175 for his efforts.  Neo Zhu (2170) and Alain Morais (2117) tied for second with 2.5/3, earning $37.50 each.  Jeremy Chen (1910) won the U2000 prize, good for $50.

Under 1800
The Under 1800 section featured 27 players, with top seeds Ali Shirzad (1779), Lendel Robinson (1734), and Danny Cropper (1695).  Andrew "medium rare" Chen (1673) and Jaiden Chuang (1644) each scored a perfect 3-0, receiving $112.50 each.  Kiru Mendez (1540), Nikhil "can I call my dad" Kamisetty (1342), and Arjun Rawal (1328) split the Under 1600 prize, receiving $17 each.

Under 1400
The Under 1400 section was the smallest of the day, with 14 players.  Bhavani Dhulipalla (1343) performed a clean sweep of the section, earning $150.  Pranav Swarna (1367), Saanchi "always texting" Sampath (1326), Adam Lipshay (1271), Rolando Dorbecker (1263), and Matthew Mecia (1127) each scored 2/3.  Mecia earned $50 for the U1200 prize, while the other four players received $19 each.

Upsets - 150 points or more
Under 1800, Round 3 - Nikhil Kamisetty (1342) def. Michael Tedder (1673) - 331 points
Top Section, Round 1 - Jeremy Chen (1910) def. Klaus Pohl (2200) - 290 points
Under 1800, Round 3 - Paige Cook (1340) def. Bradley Juoperri (1476) - 279 points
Top Section, Round 3 - Jeremy Chen (1910) def. George Hechtel (2158) - 248 points
Under 1800, Round 1 - Andrew Lord (1436) def. Michael Tedder (1673) - 237 points
Under 1400, Round 2 - Matthew Mecia (1127) def. Mahesh Padhi (1336) - 209 points
Under 1800, Round 1 - Donald Johnson (1505) def. Danny Cropper (1695) - 190 points
Top Section, Round 2 - Henry Hopson (1891) def. Patrick McCartney (2080) - 189 points
Under 1400, Round 1 - Sarvajith Nalaneelan (1037) def. Dan Boisvert (1218) - 181 points
Under 1800, Round 2 - Nikhil Kamisetty (1342) def. Rithvik Prakki (1523) - 181 points
Under 1400, Round 1 - Noah Sari (1200) def. Pranav Swarna (1367) - 167 points


Until next time,

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Norms and Titles Earned at CCCSA Norm Events & Stats

The Charlotte Chess Center has organized 14 GM/IM Norm Invitational events.  Below find the FIDE titles and norms achieved at these events, statistics, and a schedule of future tournaments.

33 norms achieved (12 GM, 18 IM, 2 WGM, 1 WIM)
14 titles achieved (6 GM, 3 IM, 1 WIM, 4 FM)

1. March 2016
  • Alexander Velikanov (Wisconsin) earned his final IM norm
  • Michael Brown (California) earned his second IM norm
  • Safal Bora (Michigan) earned his first GM norm
  • Matthew Larson (Missouri) earned the FM title by rating

  • Gauri Shankar (India) earned his fifth IM norm
  • John Ludwig (Florida) earned his first IM norm
  • Tianqi Wang (North Carolina) earned his first IM norm
  • Benjamin Moon (Georgia) earned the FM title by rating

  • Andrew Tang (Minnesota) earned his final GM norm
  • Raja Panjwani (Canada) earned his second GM norm

  • Wesley Wang (New York) earned the FM title by rating
  • Kevin Wang (Maryland) earned his 5th IM norm and the IM title by rating
  • John Burke (New Jersey) earned his final GM norm
  • Jennifer Yu (Virginia) earned her second IM norm and her second WGM norm

5. March/April 2018
  • No norms achieved

6. June 2018
  • Steven Zierk (California) earned his final GM norm
  • Kassa Korley (Denmark) earned his first GM norm
  • Yoon-Young Kim (Connecticut) earned his first IM norm
  • Brandon Jacobson (New Jersey) earned his first IM norm
  • Carissa Yip (Massachusetts) earned her first IM norm, first WGM norm, and her final WIM norm

  • Tianqi Wang (North Carolina) earned his final IM norm

8. November 2018
  • Nicolas Checa (New York) earned his final GM norm

9. January 2019
  • Aaron Jacobson (New York) earned his first IM norm
  • Michael Brown (California) earned his final GM norm

10. March 2019
  • No norms achieved

  • Aydin Turgut (Indiana) earned the FM title by rating and his first IM norm

12. November /December 2019
  • Omer Reshef (Israel) earned his first GM norm
  • Eyal Grinberg (Israel) earned his first GM norm
  • Jennifer Yu (Virginia) earned her fourth IM norm
  • Christopher Shen (Ohio) earned his first IM norm

13. December 2019

  • John Ludwig (Florida) earned his final IM norm

  • Brandon Jacobson (New Jersey) earned his final GM norm
  • Aaron Grabinsky (Missouri) earned his IM title and first GM norm
  • Shunkai Peng (Oregon) earned his fourth IM norm

14. January 16 - 20, 2020

  • Carissa Yip (Massachusetts) earned her fourth IM norm

15. August 19-23 or 19-24, 2020

International Arbiter (IA), FIDE Arbiter (FA), and International Organizer (IO) norms have been awarded to: IA/IO Anand Dommalapati, IA/IO Grant Oen, IA Korey Kormick, IA Rudy Abate, FA Mike Hoffpauir, FA Martha Underwood, FA Peter Giannatos, FA Maya McGreen, Walter High, William Nash, and GP Sinha.

Future Schedule
- August 19 - 23/24, 2020
- November 25 - 29, 2020 (Thanksgiving)

Number of Norm Events played - 134 unique players have played in a CCCSA norm invitational event:

14 - FM Gauri Shankar

12 - IM Roberto Martin Del Campo, IM Kassa Korley

11 -  GM Brandon Jacobson

10 - GM Tanguy Ringoir

8 - FM Aaron Jacobson, NM Tianqi Wang

6 - IM Angelo Young, IM Kevin Wang, IM John Ludwig, NM Richard Francisco

5 - GM Michael Brown, GM Steven Zierk, GM Alonso Zapata, GM Angel Arribas Lopez, IM Alex Ostrovskiy, IM Sahil Sinha, FM Benjamin Moon

4 - GM Magesh Panchanathan, GM David Berczes, GM Titas Stremavicius, IM Christopher Yoo, IM Alex Kalikshteyn, IM Alexey Diulger, IM Andrew Hong, IM Abhimanyu Mishra, WGM Jennifer Yu, FM Robby Adamson

3 - GM Andrey Gorovets, GM Ashwin Jayaram, GM Nicolas Checa, IM Vishnuvardhan Arjun, IM Rohan Ahuja, IM John Bartholomew, IM Denys Shmelov, IM Farai Mandizha, IM Felix Ynojosa Aponte, FM Wesley Wang, FM Nikhil Kumar, FM Seth Homa, FM Jacob Furfine, NM Alex Kolay

2 - GM Alder Escobar Forero, GM Denes Boros, GM Vladimir Belous, GM Mark Paragua, IM Advait Patel, IM Bryce Tiglon, IM David Brodsky, IM David Vigorito, IM Hans Niemann, IM Safal Bora, IM Zurab Javakhadze, IM Joel Banawa, IM Alexander Katz, IM Annie Wang, IM Levan Bregadze, IM Carissa Yip, FM Alexander Velikanov, FM Arvind Jayaraman, FM Malaku Lorne, FM Christopher Shen, WIM Thalia Cervantes Landeiro, NM Aaron Balleisen

1 - GM Alex Fishbein, GM Aman Hambleton, GM Andrew Tang, GM Denis Kadric, GM Gergely Antal, GM John Burke, GM Niclas Huschenbeth, GM Nikola Nestorovic, GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, GM Djurabek Khamrakulov, GM Andrey Stukopin, GM Karen Grigoryan, GM Carlos Hevia Alejano, GM Karthik Venkataraman, GM Hedinn Steingrimsson, GM Valentin Yotov, IM Alejandro Montalvo, IM Craig Hilby, IM Daniel Gurevich, IM Dean Ippolito, IM Justin Sarkar, IM Sanjay Ghatti, IM Arthur Guo, IM Leonardo Valdes Romero, IM Matthew Larson, IM Michael Kleinman, IM Michael Lee, IM Philip Wang, IM Raja Panjwani, IM Vignesh Panchanatham, IM Martin Lokander, IM Edward Song, IM Omer Reshef, IM Eyal Grinberg, IM Eylon Nakar, IM Kacper Drozdowski, IM Praveen Balakrishnan, IM Justin Wang, IM Nikolay Andrianov, IM Cameron Wheeler, FM Eugene Yanayt, FM Ezra Chambers, FM Ali Morshedi, FM Balaji Daggupati, FM Eliot Soo-Burrowes, FM Gary Ng, FM Josiah Stearman, FM Justin Paul, FM Justus Williams, FM Yoon-Young Kim, FM Yuanchen Zhang, FM Andy Huang, FM Aravind Kumar, FM Jason Wang, FM Aydin Turgut, FM Vincent Tsay, FM Liran Zhou, FM Mark Plotkin, FM Jason Liang, FM Eric Yuhan Li, WIM Ewa Harazinska, WIM Ashritha Eswaran, WFM Uyanga Byambaa, NM Siddharth Banik, NM James Canty, NM Mika Brattain,  NM Karthik Rangarajan, NM Kapish Potula, NM Dominique Myers

35 Federations from North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia have been represented: Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Israel, Jamaica, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

21 states have been represented: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Norm Event Stats

Most events played:
  • FM Gauri Shankar: 14
  • IM Roberto Martin Del Campo, IM Kassa Korley: 12
  • GM Brandon Jacobson: 11
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir: 10
  • FM Aaron Jacobson, NM Tianqi Wang: 8

Most events won:
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir, GM Michael Brown, GM David Berczes, GM Titas Stremavicius, IM John Ludwig: 2
  • GM Denis Kadric, GM John Michael Burke, GM Andrew Tang, GM Niclas Huschenbeth, GM Nicolas Checa, GM Steven Zierk, GM Angel Arribas Lopez, GM Vladimir Belous, GM Carlos Hevia Alejano, GM Alonso Zapata, GM Karen Grigoryan, GM Karthik Venkataraman, GM Mark Paragua, IM Safal Bora, IM Hans Niemann, IM Alex Ostrovskiy, IM Felix Ynojosa Aponte, IM Kevin Wang, IM Roberto Martin Del Campo, IM Rohan Ahuja, IM Christopher Yoo, IM John Bartholomew, IM Kassa Korley, IM Raja Panjwani, IM Omer Reshef, IM Eyal Grinberg, IM Carissa Yip, WGM Jennifer Yu, FM Gauri Shankar, FM Alexander Velikanov, FM Yoon-Young Kim, FM Aydin Turgut, FM Christopher Shen, NM Tianqi Wang: 1

Highest cumulative average opponent rating:
  • FM Justus Williams: 2461
  • GM Andrey Stukopin: 2458
  • IM Denys Shmelov, NM Mika Brattain: 2455
  • IM Kevin Wang, IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy: 2450
  • IM Farai Mandizha, IM Philip Wang, GM Aman Hambleton: 2449

Highest cumulative performance rating:
  • GM Niclas Huschenbeth: 2649
  • IM Raja Panjwani: 2609
  • IM Omer Reshef: 2605
  • GM Denis Kadric: 2604
  • GM John Michael Burke, IM Eyal Grinberg: 2603

Most wins against GMs:
  • IM Kassa Korley: 5
  • GM Michael Brown, GM Brandon Jacobson: 4
  • GM Steven Zierk, IM Alexander Katz, IM Denys Shmelov, IM Kevin Wang: 3
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir, GM John Michael Burke, IM Advait Patel, IM Philip Wang, IM Bryce Tiglon, IM Andrew Hong, WGM Jennifer Yu: 2
  • GM Denis Kadric, GM Andrew Tang, GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, GM Gergely Antal, GM Nicolas Checa, GM Andrey Gorovets, GM Alexander Fishbein, GM Vladimir Belous, GM Alonso Zapata, GM Magesh Panchanathan, GM Karen Grigoryan, GM David Berczes, GM Mark Paragua, GM Hedinn Steingrimsson, IM Safal Bora, IM Raja Panjwani, IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy, IM John Bartholomew, IM Farai Mandizha, IM Joel Banawa, IM Dean Ippolito, IM Daniel Gurevich, IM Craig Hilby, IM Vignesh Panchanatham, IM Roberto Martin Del Campo, IM Omer Reshef, IM Eyal Grinberg: 1

Most points against GMs:
  • IM Kassa Korley: 15.5
  • GM Brandon Jacobson: 12.5
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir: 11
  • GM Michael Brown: 9
  • IM Kevin Wang: 8

Highest % score against GMs:
  • GM John Michael Burke, WGM Jennifer Yu: 83.33%
  • GM Denis Kadric, GM Karen Grigoryan, GM Hedinn Steingrimsson, IM Alexander Katz: 75%
  • GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, GM Andrew Tang, GM Gergely Antal, IM Advait Patel, IM Daniel Gurevich, IM Philip Wang, IM Raja Panjwani, IM Omer Reshef: 66.67%
  • GM Vladimir Belous, GM Mark Paragua: 62.50%
  • IM Denys Shmelov: 61.11%

Highest plus score against GMs:
  • GM Michael Brown, IM Alex Katz: +3
  • GM John Michael Burke, GM Tanguy Ringoir, IM Denys Shmelov, IM Advait Patel: +2
  • GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, GM David Berczes, GM Vladimir Belous, GM Magesh Panchanathan, GM Karen Grigoryan, GM Denis Kadric, GM Gergely Antal, GM Andrew Tang, IM Daniel Gurevich, IM Raja Panjwani, IM Bryce Tiglon, IM Philip Wang, IM Omer Reshef, WGM Jennifer Yu: +1

Highest % wins against GMs:
  • GM John Michael Burke, IM Philip Wang: 66.67%
  • GM Denis Kadric, GM Karen Grigoryan, GM Alexander Fishbein, GM Hedinn Steingrimsson, IM Alexander Katz: 50%
  • GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, GM Andrew Tang, GM Gergely Antal, IM Safal Bora, IM Denys Shmelov, IM Daniel Gurevich, IM Raja Panjwani, IM Bryce Tiglon, IM Dean Ippolito, IM Advait Patel, IM Craig Hilby, IM Andrew Hong, IM Omer Reshef, IM Eyal Grinberg, IM Praveen Balakrishnan: 33.33%
  • GM Michael Brown: 26.67%
  • GM Vladimir Belous, IM Vignesh Panchanatham, IM Roberto Martin Del Campo: 25%

Longest Win Streak:
  • GM Brandon Jacobson, IM Roberto Martin Del Campo, IM Hans Niemann, IM David Brodsky: 5
  • GM Alonso Zapata, IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy, IM Christopher Yoo, IM Eyal Grinberg, IM Kassa Korley, IM Cameron Wheeler, IM Carissa Yip, FM Aydin Turgut, NM Richard Francisco: 4
  • GM Niclas Huschenbeth, GM Denis Kadric, GM Aman Hambleton, GM Steven Zierk, GM Magesh Panchanathan, GM Angel Arribas Lopez, GM Carlos Hevia Alejano, GM Michael Brown, IM Zurab Javakhadze, IM Safal Bora, IM Matthew Larson, IM Kassa Korley, IM Felix Ynojosa Aponte, IM Annie Wang, IM Levan Bregadze, IM John Ludwig, FM Alexander Velikanov, FM Yoon-Young Kim, FM Yuanchen Zhang, FM Gauri Shankar, FM Benjamin Moon, NM Tianqi Wang, NM Zachary Dukic: 3

Longest Draw Streak:
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir: 9
  • GM Alder Escobar Forero, GM Andrey Gorovets, IM Kassa Korley: 8
  • GM Magesh Panchanathan, IM Sahil Sinha, IM Alexander Kalikshteyn: 7
  • GM Angel Arribas Lopez, GM Nicolas Checa, IM Denys Shmelov, IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy, IM Justin Sarkar, IM Nikolay Andrianov: 6
  • GM Ashwin Jayaram, GM Michael Brown, IM Angelo Young, IM David Vigorito, IM Andrew Hong, IM Alexander Katz, IM Vignesh Panchanatham, IM Rohan Ahuja, IM John Ludwig, FM Robby Adamson, FM Gauri Shankar: 5
  • GM Andrey Stukopin, GM Alonso Zapata, GM David Berczes, GM Steven Zierk, GM Valentin Yotov, IM Kevin Wang, IM John Bartholomew, IM Roberto Martin Del Campo, IM Christopher Yoo, IM Felix Ynojosa Aponte, FM Seth Homa, FM Aravind Kumar, NM Benjamin Moon, NM Tianqi Wang, NM Alex Kolay: 4

Longest Undefeated Streak:
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir: 37 games
  • GM Michael Brown: 28 (current)
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir: 26 (current)
  • FM Gauri Shankar: 21
  • GM Nicolas Checa: 20 (current)
  • GM Andrey Gorovets: 19

Largest cumulative FIDE rating gain:
  • FM Aaron Jacobson: +146.2 points
  • FM Wesley Wang: +92.6
  • FM Aydin Turgut: +92
  • IM Christopher Yoo: +75.94
  • NM Eric Yuhan Li: +71.06

Largest FIDE rating gain in one event:
  • FM Wesley Wang: +96.4 points
  • FM Aydin Turgut: +92
  • NM Eric Yuhan Li: +71.06
  • IM Christopher Yoo: +68
  • IM Vishnuvardhan Arjun: +66.4

Most cumulative points scored:
  • FM Gauri Shankar: 64.5
  • IM Roberto Martin Del Campo: 55.5
  • IM Kassa Korley: 54.5
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir: 53
  • GM Brandon Jacobson: 45

Most cumulative wins:
  • FM Gauri Shankar: 32
  • FM Aaron Jacobson: 30
  • IM Roberto Martin Del Campo: 29
  • GM Brandon Jacobson: 27
  • IM Kassa Korley: 26

Most cumulative draws:
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir: 66
  • FM Gauri Shankar: 65
  • IM Kassa Korley: 57
  • IM Roberto Martin Del Campo: 53
  • NM Tianqi Wang: 39

Biggest cumulative plus score:
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir: +16
  • GM Michael Brown: +14
  • GM Titas Stremavicius: +13
  • FM Aaron Jacobson: +12
  • IM John Ludwig: +10

Highest cumulative % score:
  • GM Niclas Huschenbeth, FM Yoon-Young Kim: 77.78%
  • GM Andrew Tang, GM John Michael Burke, GM Denis Kadric, GM Carlos Hevia Alejano, IM Raja Panjwani, IM Omer Reshef, IM Eyal Grinberg, FM Aydin Turgut: 72.22%
  • IM Safal Bora, IM Carissa Yip: 69.44%
  • GM Titas Stremavicius: 68.06%
  • GM Gergely Antal, GM David Berczes, GM Karen Grigoryan, GM Karthik Venkataraman, IM Felix Ynojosa Aponte, IM Leonardo Valdes Romero, IM Levan Bregadze, NM Zachary Dukic: 66.67%

Highest cumulative % decisive games:
  • IM Matthew Larson, WGM Uyanga Byambaa, NM Karthik Rangarajan, NM Kapish Potula, NM Dominique Myers: 88.89%
  • FM Ezra Paul Chambers: 87.5%
  • FM Nikhil Kumar: 81.48%
  • GM Karen Grigoryan, IM Alejandro Montalvo, IM Philip Wang, IM Arthur Guo, FM Yoon-Young Kim, FM Alexander Velikanov, FM Yuanchan Zhang, FM Eugene Yanayt, FM Justin Paul, FM Ali Morshedi, FM Justus Williams, FM Balaji Daggupati, FM Malaku Lorne, FM Mark Plotkin, NM Zachary Dukic: 77.78%
  • IM Hans Niemann, IM Annie Wang: 72.22%

Highest cumulative % wins:
  • FM Yoon-Young Kim: 66.67%
  • GM Andrew Tang, GM Karen Grigoryan, GM John Michael Burke, GM Carlos Hevia Alejano, GM Niclas Huschenbeth, IM Matthew Larson, IM Eyal Grinberg, FM Aydin Turgut, NM Zachary Dukic: 55.56%
  • IM Safal Bora, IM Hans Niemann, IM Carissa Yip, FM Alexander Velikanov: 50%
  • GM Denis Kadric, GM Gergely Antal, GM Karthik Venkataraman, GM Titas Stremavicius, IM Raja Panjwani, IM Leonardo Valdes Romero, IM Zurab Javakhadze, IM Levan Bregadze, IM Felix Ynojosa Aponte, IM Cameron Wheeler, WGM Jennifer Yu, FM Yuanchen Zhang, FM Eugene Yanayt, FM Aaron Jacobson: 44.44%

Highest cumulative % draws:
  • IM Nikolay Andrianov: 88.89%
  • GM Andrey Stukopin, GM Hedinn Steingrimsson, FM Aravind Kumar: 77.78%
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir: 73.33%
  • IM Rohan Ahuja: 70.37%
  • GM Andrey Gorovets, GM Alder Escobar Forero, GM Djurabek Khamrakulov, GM Magesh Panchanathan, IM Vignesh Panchanatham, IM Justin Sarkar, IM Justin Wang: 66.67%

Lowest cumulative % losses:
  • GM Denis Kadric, GM Niclas Huschenbeth, GM Hedinn Steingrimsson, IM Raja Panjwani, IM Omer Reshef, IM Nikolay Andrianov: 0%
  • GM Tanguy Ringoir: 4.44%
  • GM Michael Brown: 6.67%
  • GM Titas Stremavicius: 8.33%
  • GM Andrey Stukopin, GM Andrey Gorovets, GM Alder Escobar Forero, GM Vladimir Belous, GM Gergely Antal, GM Andrew Tang, GM Djurabek Khamrakulov, GM John Michael Burke, GM Carlos Hevia Alejano, GM Karthik Venkataraman, IM Vignesh Panchanatham, IM Alexander Katz, IM Felix Ynojosa Aponte, IM Levan Bregadze, IM Leonardo Valdes Romero, IM Eyal Grinberg, IM Safal Bora, IM Cameron Wheeler, IM Carissa Yip, IM John Ludwig, FM Aravind Kumar, FM Yoon-Young Kim, FM Aydin Turgut, NM Eric Yuhan Li: 11.11%

Longest games:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Opening Preparation: Classical King's Indian - The Critical Piece!

Happy New Year everyone! We will be starting 2018 with an article on the Classical King's Indian, and more specifically, talking about one critical piece that means the world to Black.

When we first learn the game of chess, we are taught that each piece has its own "value" attached to it. Giving the pawn a value of 1, the knight and bishop are designated a value of 3, the rook is given the value of 5, the queen a value of 9, and the king is not assigned a value because the king is your life.

Well, what you are about to see here is that in certain cases, you can throw these numerical values right out the window, and in this case, we are going to talk about the re-evaluation of the Black pieces in the Classical King's Indian. This is not a complete survey of the Classical King's Indian, and the line we will be looking at is considered one of the most popular lines in modern theory. We will start by discussing the value of Black's pieces, and then I will show you two games. One played between a couple of 2400 players, and another between a couple of experts, showing some of the typical errors made at lower levels of play, but it still illustrates the value of Black's pieces in this line.

The line we will be talking about comes after the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.O-O Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Be3 f5 11.f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5 13.a4, which leads to the following position:

So now what we need to do is evaluate each piece of Black's. The center is completely blocked, and it is fairly clear what each side wants to do. White has all of his pieces pointing toward the queenside, and his major break is with the c-pawn to c5. If he achieves this and trades on d6, Black will have a clear weakness on d6. Black, on the other hand, will be looking to continue to advance his kingside and attack the White king. The major break is with the move ...g4. It is very rare that White will want to take the pawn on g4 as it will severely weaken e4 and allow Black to advance the f-pawn if tactical possibilities exist. This will often lead to Black being able to play ...g3, after which White will have to decide between trading on g3, which might win him a pawn in some cases, but will strip a good amount of the cover on the White king. The other option is to advance h3, attempting to block the entire position. So given these facts, let's look at the Black pieces and evaluate their importance.

First, with the fact that Black is going for the White king, the queen plays a vital role in Black's attack.

Next, the King's rook can often play a vital role. If White takes the pawn on g4, then the rook can contribute to a successful ...f3 push by Black. It can also shift itself to g7 or h7 if White opens lines up, such as in the lines when he plays hxg3 instead of h3.

With the closed nature of the position, the knights can play a vital role in getting to the White king as they don't need open lines to become useful.

The remaining Black pieces on the board are the ones whose value does not match that of normal principles. For example, the Rook on a8 plays almost no role at all in this position. Many of the other Black pieces sit for a long time on the back rank, leaving the rook on a8 blocked in by his own pieces, starting at other Black pieces and pawns sitting right in his way.

The bishops are the key here for Black. Both bishops appear to do very little given the nature of the position. That said, first let's look at the dark-squared bishop. It is clearly a bad bishop with all of Black's pawns also sitting on dark squares, and while it doesn't do much in the first game we will look at, it can very often play a vital role in covering the d6 weakness, where Black advances the rook to f7 and moves the bishop down to f8 to cover d6. Not always a necessary move, but better to have it and not need it than the other way around.

This takes us to the most critical piece on the board for Black. The light-squared bishop. This piece is so valuable to Black that he will often be willing to give up the a8-rook just to preserve the light-squared bishop. Now you might be asking yourself "What makes this piece so important?" Well, we discussed prior that Black will often play ...g4 and ...g3, and that White can answer that with h3, completely blocking the position. Black needs his queen and knights to get at the White king, and it would be almost impossible for a Black rook to get to any of the White pawns on the kingside to break the barrier. That is where the light-squared bishop comes into play. It must be timed right, but the main way for Black to break through at the White king is via the sacrifice of the light-squared bishop on h3. If this piece is traded off, then the decision for White is extremely simple when Black tries to break with his pawns. Close the position with h3! With this bishop on the board, White has to be extremely careful about such a breakthrough.

So to summerize:
  • Black's queen, f8-rook, and both knights maintain their normal value for a closed position.
  • Black's a8-rook has very little value in this variation unless the game reaches an endgame.
  • Black's dark-squared bishop can play a very vital defensive role in certain circumstances, but otherwise is usually staring at his own pawns.
  • Black's light-squared bishop plays the most vital role in Black's entire attack, and this piece can easily be viewed as more valuable than a rook, and often times the a8-rook will sacrifice itself simply to preserve the bishop on c8.

Let's take a look at a couple of games.

W: Marcin Dziuba (2460)
B: Jakub Czakon (2461)
Koszalin, 2005

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.O-O Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Be3 f5 11.f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5 13.a4 a5

This is considered the main response from Black, looking to hinder White's queenside expansion. The other main alternative is to ignore White's operations on the Queenside and play 13...Ng6, more in the spirit of the King's Indian, after which 14.a5 Rf7 leads to two options for White. He can play the immediate 15.c5, which sacrifices a pawn after 15...Nxc5 16.Bxc5 dxc5, but breaks up the Black pawn chain and White figures the acceleration in his attack along with the shattered Black pawn structure compensates for the pawn lost. The alternative option is the safer, though slower, 15.b4, setting up 16.c5. In the second game, we will be looking at a less than ideal defense by Black where he ignores the White queenside, but given how complicated an opening the King's Indian Defense is, at the amateur level, such error end up being far less than fatal. At the GM level, White would probably have won the next game.

14.Nd3 b6

Continuing to try to hinder White's expansion on the queenside.

15.b4 axb4

White has a major decision to make here. The best option is probably to take the pawn immediately with the knight. That said, also tempting is the move played in the game.


White's idea is simple. He figures that it would be better if he could take the b-pawn with his bishop instead of with his knight so that the bishop and the knight both eye c5 and White may be able to weaken Black's queenside enough to make this breakthrough possible. That said, there is a major downside to this. Playing the knight to b5 early on like this makes the move ...g4 easier to achieve, especially after the knight on d7 returns to f6, as if White takes on g4, the e4-pawn would be hanging with the knight no longer on c3. This often saves Black time as he doesn't have to play ...h5 to prepare the ...g4 push.


Black takes advantage of White's early knight hop and plays this move to prepare the ...g4 break.


White continues to go after the b-pawn with the bishop.


Black pounces on the opportunity!

18.Bxb4 g3

And now we see another downside to using the bishop to recapture on b4 instead of the knight. Black is able to play this move without it even costing him a pawn, which makes trading pawns on g3 even less appetizing than it would if White still had his bishop on e1 where he could at least gain a pawn for his suffering of the opening of his king.


And so White closes the kingside, or so he thinks!


Remember how we said that the light-squared bishop is Black's most critical piece on the board? Here we see this critical piece do his thing. This is the only way for Black to pry open the White king if White is unwilling to do it voluntarily.


White has no other choice. Not taking the bishop basically admits defeat and gives Black a critical pawn for nothing.


Immediately hitting on the weakness at h3.


This is White's best move, guarding via the second rank. Note that 21.Kg2 doesn't work. After 21...Ng6 22.Rh1 Nh4+ 23.Kg1 Nxe4! 24.fxe4 f3 and now both 25.Bxf3 Rxf3 26.Ne1 Qf7 27.Nxf3 Nxf3+ and 25.Bd2 f2+ 26.Nxf2 Rxf2 27.Rh2 gxh2+ 28.Kxf2 Qxh3 29.Qh1 Rf8+ 30.Ke1 Qg2 31.Bf3 Nxf3+ are winning for Black.


The knight is possibly headed for h4, taking the g2-square away from the White queen, should White move the bishop. It is not time for Black to take on h3 yet. After 21...Qxh3? 22.Bd1 Ng6 23.Qg2 Qh6 24.Nxc7 Nh4 25.Qd2, White has lined up the queen against Black's queen to avoid ideas of ...Nxe4 and ...f3 by Black as the Queens would come off. After 25...g2 26.Re1 Nxf3+ 27.Bxf3 Qh1+ 28.Kf2 Qh4+ 29.Ke2 Nxe4 30.Bxe4 f3+ 31.Kd1 f2 32.Bxg2 fxe1=Q+ 33.Nxe1 Qg4+ 34.Bf3 Rxf3 35.Nxf3 Rf8 36.Ra3 Rxf3 37.Rxf3 Qxf3+ 38.Kc2 and White is winning. Persson - Calzolari, correspondence 1998.


This move loses. Other moves are not much of an improvement, but the do make matters harder for Black and open him up to making a mistake. For example, after 22.Rfb1, the move 22...Nh4 is inferior due to 23.Ne1 with advantage to White. Instead, 23...Qxh3 23.Bf1 Qh5 24.Ne1 Nxe4! 25.fxe4 f3 26.Nxf3 Rxf3 27.Qg2 Nf4 28.Qh1 Qg4 29.Rb2 Rf8 30.Nxc7 Rf2 is winning for Black.

22...Nh4 23.Ne1 Qxh3

The White rook still being on f1 makes a major difference!

24.Nxc7 Nh5 25.Nxa8 g2 26.Nxg2 Ng3 0-1

There is no way for White to save himself. For example, the knight on h4 is poison as 27.Nxh4?? Qh1+ 28.Kf2 Qxf1 is mate while other moves lose way too much material.

In the second game, we will see a battle between two experts, and while Black also wins this game, there are a number of errors by both sides. That said, this game also illustrates how critical the bishop is on c8, and while White had his chances to win, the position was so complicated that he couldn't find his way through the minefield.

W: Nikita Panasenko (2018)
B: Patrick McCartney (2084)
Boris Kogan Memorial, Round 4, 2017

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.O-O Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Be3 f5 11.f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5 13.a4

So we start with the same position shown in the first diagram of the article.


Black decides to go for direct kingside operations. That said, this move is inferior to 13...Ng6 as it gives White the ability to play c5 without sacrificing a pawn. Black should hold off on this move for as long as possible as long as he can continue to make progress with other moves, or until White plays his knight to b5 to set up the ...g4 push, as seen in the previous game.


Better would be to play 14.a5 or 14.c5, the latter taking advantage of Black's slight miscue.


And once again another inferior move by Black. Better is 14...a6, kicking the knight back as 15.Na7 Bd7 (remember, this piece is critical for Black, he absolutely cannot allow White to trade his knight for it) leaves the knight trapped on a7. Normally, the move ...h5 encourages Nb5 by White, figuring Black has already spent the extra move to get in g4, and so moving the knight to b5 doesn't allow Black to gain time. So with White playing Nb5 too early, why would Black want to play the move that dictates White to play the move he just played?

15.Nxa7 Rxa7

As mentioned prior, this is Black's piece of least value, and it brings the Bishop into an inactive place on a7, and White must also watch out for the bishop getting trapped after a ...b6 push by Black. At the moment, it wouldn't trap the bishop as White can play the simple a5, but it is something that must be watched at all times. All of that said, this move is probably a bit over-zealous and Black should probably play the simple 15...Bd7. Computers will of course say that White has this huge advantage because he is up a pawn, but his pieces are scattered, and Black does have some compensation, even after not playing the best moves on moves 13 and 14.

16.Bxa7 g4 17.c5 g3 18.h3 Ng6 19.Nd3

Better was 19.Bb5. Now Black has the opportunity to completely equalize, and he starts out correctly.

19...Bxh3! 20.gxh3

20.cxd6 was the lesser evil.

20...Qd7 21.Nf2


The only move for Black is 21...Ra8!, and after 22.cxd6 Qxd6! (22...Rxa7? 23.dxc7 with advantage to White) 23.Qc2 Rxa7 24.Nd3, the position is level.


White should drive the Black queen off the diagonal of the h3-pawn with 22.cxd6 cxd6 23.Bb5 and if 23...Qc8, then 24.Rc1! with advantage to White.

22...Qc8 23.Qb3 b6 24.a5 gxf2?

Better was 24...Nh7 25.axb6 Ng5 26.Qc2 gxf2+ 27.Rxf2 Nh3+ 28.Kf1 Nxf2 29.Kxf2 Qh3 with a mess.

One move here wins for White. Can you find it?


Of all the legitimate moves, this is the worst one for White!

Black is slightly better after 25.Rxf2 Qxh3 26.Ra3 Ng4 27.fxg4 f3 28.Bxf3 Rxf3 29.Qxf3 Nxf3+ 30.Rfxf3 Qxg4+ 31.Rg3 Qxe4 32.axb6 Qb1+ 33.Kh2 Qxb2+ 34.Kh1 Qc1+ 35.Kh2 Qd2+ 36.Rg2 Qf4+ 37.Kh3 Qc1 38.Rag3 Qh1+ 39.Rh2.

However, 25.Kh2!! is winning for White after 25...Nh7 26.Rxf2 Ng5 27.Bf1 b5 28.Qxb5 Ngxf3+ 29.Kh1 Ng5 30.Ra4 Qe8 31.Qd3 Qg6 32.Rc2 Nhf3 33.Bf2 Nd4 34.a6 Nxc2 35.Qxc2 Nf3 36.a7 +-.

25...Qxh3 26.Ke1

White tries to run, but Black is about to come breaking through so quickly that White won't even know what hit him, and his position is instantly about to fall apart like a house of cards!


Taking advantage of the pin on the pawn to the White queen.

27.Kd1 Nf5

And now with the e4-pawn gone, Black uses the f5-square to create fatal threats on both d4 and e3.

28.Kc1 Nd4!

The unfortunate location of the White king allows Black to follow up one knight fork with another, leading to what will be a material advantage for Black after the daring sacrifice of a rook and pawn for the knight and the misplacement of the White bishop.

29.Qd1 Nxe2+ 30.Qxe2 Ng3 31.Qf2 Qxf1+ 32.Qxf1 Nxf1 33.axb6 cxb6 34.Bxb6 Ne3 35.Bxe3 fxe3 36.Ra4

The dust has settled and Black is up a full piece. The only thing left to do is stop White's queenside passers and the full point is his.

36...Bf6 37.c7

Or 37.Kc2 Bd8 38.Ra7 h4! 39.c7 Be7 40.Rb7 h3 41.Rb8 h2 42.Rxf8+ Bxf8 43.c8=Q h1=Q and now 44.Qe6+ or 44.Qg4+ will both be answered by 44...Kh8 and White will soon run out of checks and Black is still winning.

37...Rc8 38.Rc4 h4 39.Kd1 h3

The advancement of the h-pawn deflects the White rook and his only trump, the advanced c-pawn, will be removed and the rest of Black's task is simple.

40.Rg4+ Kf7 41.Rg3 Rxc7 42.Rxh3 Rc5 43.Ke2 Bg5 44.Rh1 Rxd5 0-1

So we saw two games where Black's light-squared bishop played the vital role of sacrificing itself on h3 and the a8-rook doing little to nothing, just going to show that the numerical values assigned to specific pieces can be thrown right out the window once you reach advanced levels. The fact that Black won both via very strong play in the first game, and via a game loaded with errors in the second game shows the extreme level of complications in this line, especially at the amateur level.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Praggnanandhaa headlines Winter 2018 GM/IM Norm Invitational

Author: Grant Oen, CCCSA Assistant Director

The fourth of Charlotte Chess Center's GM/IM Norm Invitationals will take place during Martin Luther King weekend, January 11-15, 2018.  In the first three CCCSA GM/IM norm events, our events have produced 8 FIDE title norms and two FM titles:

  • Andrew Tang (Minnesota) - earned final GM norm, Thanksgiving 2017
  • Raja Panjwani (Canada) - earned GM norm, Thanksgiving 2017
  • Safal Bora (Michigan) - earned GM Norm, March 2016
  • Alexander Velikanov (Wisconsin) - earned final IM norm, March 2016
  • Michael Brown (California) - earned IM norm, March 2016
  • John Ludwig (Florida) - earned IM norm, March 2017
  • Gauri Shankar (Illinois) - earned IM norm, March 2017
  • Steve Wang (Charlotte, NC) - earned IM norm, March 2017
  • Matt Larson (Missouri) - earned FM title based on rating, March 2016
  • Ben Moon (Georgia) - earned FM title based on rating, March 2017

IM Praggnanandhaa (India, FIDE 2515, USCF 2619) is from Chennai, India (the same hometown as World Champion Vishy Anand).  Pragg has had immense success on the world stage, as he was the Under 8 World Champion, Under 10 World Champion, Under 12 Asian Continental Champion, and last year, broke Sergey Karjakin's record to become the youngest IM in the world at 10 years, 10 months.  He earned his first GM norm in November at the World Junior Championship, and can still break the world record for the youngest grandmaster.

His 18 move miniature over GM Axel Bachmann (2645) in 2016 showed his dynamic prowess - he also has wins over 2600+ GMs Howell, Vajda, Jones, and Grigoryan.  This will be Pragg's second tournament in the United States, after competing in the "Match of the Millennials" in Saint Louis earlier this year, and he will hope to earn his second GM norm on his quest to become the youngest GM ever.

Famous Indian IM Praggnanadhaa with World Champion Vishy Anand

GM Magesh Panchanathan (India, FIDE 2486, USCF 2559) is from Madurai, India and currently teaches chess in New Jersey.  He has won the World Open, DC International, Asian Junior Championship, and the Philadelphia Open.  He has defeated many strong GMs, including Sethuraman, Iturrizaga, Mamedov, Akobian, Ehlvest, Shabalov, and Jeffery Xiong.  Magesh graduated from UT Dallas, where he was part of the strong chess program there.  This will be his second time at the Charlotte Chess Center, having been a coach for our Mega Master summer camps.

GM Angel Arribas Lopez (Spain, FIDE 2483, USCF 2563) is a Spanish grandmaster who currently attends UT Dallas, studying Computer Software.  He is a many time Spanish youth chess champion, and is a contributor for the Chess24 platform.  This will be Angel's first visit to the Charlotte Chess Center.

GM Alder Escobar Forero (Colombia, FIDE 2482, USCF 2576) is a Colombian grandmaster who has represented his country at four Chess Olympiads.  He is the second highest rated player in Colombia, and was the 2007 Colombian Champion.  He has drawn former World Championship contender Gata Kamsky, in addition to strong GMs Ni Hua, Jorge Cori, Yuniesky Quesada, and Daniel Naroditsky.

IM John Bartholomew (Minnesota USA, FIDE 2459, USCF 2541) is famous for his work with Chessable and his Youtube Channel, which has 11 million views and almost 50,000 subscribers.  John is a frequent guest at the Charlotte Chess Center - this will be his second CCCSA GM norm invitational, and he has coached at many of our Mega Master summer camps.  He has one GM norm, and will hope to earn his second in January, having scored 4.5/9 in our March 2017 event.

IM (Internet Master) John Bartholomew will return to CCCSA

IM Alexander Kalikshteyn (New York USA, FIDE 2425, USCF 2498) is a former training partner of World Championship contender GM Gata Kamsky.  He has defeated strong GMs such as Baskaran Adhiban, Vladimir Belous, Bartlomiej Macieja, Suat Atalik, and Alex Shabalov.  This will be Alexander's second norm event in Charlotte - he earned 3.5/9 at our March 2017 GM norm event.

IM Denys Shmelov (Ukraine, FIDE 2420, USCF 2518) is a Ukrainian IM who works as a life insurance actuary in Boston, where he is the 7th highest rated player in Massachusetts.  He has one GM norm, and has defeated many GMs including Alex Lenderman and Sergey Erenburg.

IM David Brodsky (New York, FIDE 2405, USCF 2508) is the fourth highest rated 15-year-old in the country and the 48th highest rated player under 16 in the world.  He has won against Alex Shimanov, Larry Christiansen, and Mark Paragua.  In addition to writing for ChessSummit, David has earned one GM norm from his victory at the 2017 Philadelphia Open, and is currently at his peak rating, being over 2400 FIDE and 2500 USCF.  David scored 6/9, including five straight wins in rounds 5-9 at our March 2017 IM norm event, when he was "only" an FM.

IM Kassa Korley (Denmark, FIDE 2387, USCF 2482) is an IM from New York who earned all of his IM norms in a 3 week span in the summer of 2014.  A Duke University graduate, he maintains a Youtube channel.  He won CCCSA's Southeastern FIDE Championship in 2015 with 5/5, and has taught various summer camps at the Charlotte Chess Center.  In November, he defeated World #98 GM Aleksey Dreev (2653). Kassa was once the youngest African-American National Master, and will now seek his first GM norm in Charlotte.

New York's IM Kassa Korley will seek his first GM norm

FM Kevin Wang (Maryland USA, FIDE 2380, USCF 2458) is a FIDE Master with four IM norms, thus needing only 20 rating points to earn his IM title.  He earned his IM norms at the 2013, 2014, and 2016 World Opens, and has represented Maryland at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions.  A student at the University of Chicago, Kevin will return to Charlotte for his second norm event, having scored a solid 4/9 in our November GM norm event.

GM Andrey Gorovets (Belarus, FIDE 2517, USCF 2605) is a strong Grandmaster who competes for the chess team at UT Rio Grande Valley.  He became a GM in November, having earned his GM norms in Texas and Pennsylvania.  He has defeated GMs McShane, Zherebukh, Sadorra, Robson, Jianchao Zhou, Huschenbeth, and is the ninth highest rated player in Belarus.

IM John Burke (New Jersey USA, FIDE 2514, USCF 2594) is a very strong IM from New Jersey who was rated 2603 FIDE in 2015.  John is the third highest rated 16-year-old in the country, and ninth highest rated 16-year-old in the world.  He has 2 GM norms and the necessary 2500 rating, and so will seek to earn his final norm in Charlotte.

The young IM John Burke will seek his final norm

GM Denis Kadric (Bosnia & Herzegovina, FIDE 2502, USCF 2578) is the fourth highest rated player from Bosnia & Herzegovina, having represented his country at the 2012 and 2014 Chess Olympiads.  He is a student at UT Dallas, and this will be his first visit to the Charlotte Chess Center.

IM Djurabek Khamrakulov (Uzbekistan, FIDE 2498, USCF 2594) is a very strong Uzbekistani International Master with 2 GM norms.  He is a three time national Uzbek champion.

IM Steven Zierk (California USA, FIDE 2494, USCF 2562) is a 24-year-old IM with two GM norms.  He was the 2010 World U18 Champion, and has two GM norms and a 2500 rating, so he will be playing to complete his GM title.

IM Steven Zierk, a former World Under 18 Champion

GM Alonso Zapata (Colombia USA), FIDE 2422, USCF 2497) has competed in Charlotte many times, having won the 2016 Southeastern FIDE Championship and having competed in two previous CCCSA GM Invitationals.  Alonso is a former World top-50 player, and has competed many times for the Colombian team at the Chess Olympiad.

IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (New York USA, FIDE 2391, USCF 2498) is a 21-year-old IM from New York rated nearly 2400 FIDE and 2500 USCF.  He is the 87th highest rated player in the United States, and coaches the powerhouse I.S. 318 chess program in NYC.  He has many state and national titles, including three New York State Championship titles.  Alex was a long-time member of the All-American team, and has represented the United States at World Youth Championships on three different continents.  He strongest wins are against GMs Pentala Harikrishna, Jeffery Xiong, Alex Lenderman, Vadim Milov.  Alex will seek his first GM norm in Charlotte.

IM Bryce Tiglon (Washington USA, FIDE 2385, USCF 2453) is the current North American U18 Champion at 16 years old.  He has one GM norm, and competed in our Thanksgiving norm tournament.

FM Brandon Jacobson (New Jersey USA, FIDE 2376, USCF 2458) is the second youngest player rated 14-years old or younger in the USA by FIDE rating.  Brandon can earn either a GM or IM norm in this section.

FM Gauri Shankar (India, FIDE 2345, USCF 2432) has five IM norms and thus is seeking a GM norm and some valuable ratings points in this section.  Now teaching chess in Chicago, Gauri is a CCCSA Norm Invitational "lifer," having competed in all four of our norms events since 2016.

IM Titas Stremavicius (Lithuania, FIDE 2432, USCF 2513) also competes for the UT Dallas chess team.  He competed in the March 2017 CCCSA IM Invitational, where he finished in third place with 5.5/9.

IM Titas Stremavicius

IM Alejandro Montalvo Rosario (Puerto Rico, FIDE 2183, USCF 2237) is an International Master from Puerto Rico, where he is the 19th highest rated player.  He has represented his country in eight Chess Olympiads since 1996, and teaches chess in New York.

FM Jennifer Yu (Virginia USA, FIDE 2355, USCF 2402) is a chess player of many titles - she is a FIDE Master, Women's International Master, USCF Life Master, USCF Senior Master, and a World U12 Girls Champion.  At fifteen years old, she is the third highest rated girl under 16 in the world by FIDE rating, an the highest rated girl under 21 by USCF rating.  In November, Jennifer scored a bronze medal and an IM norm at the World Girls Under 20 Championship in Italy.  She can earn an IM and/or WGM norm at this event.

FM and WIM Jennifer Yu will play for an IM norm

FM Andrew Hong (California USA, FIDE 2327, USCF 2430) is a very strong 13-year-old from California.  He represented the United States in the "Match of the Millenials," and earned the CM Title at the 2016 World U12 Championship and the FM Title at the 2017 North American Youth Championship.  Andrew competed at our March IM norm event, where he scored a solid 4.5/9.

Benjamin Moon (Georgia USA, FIDE 2317, USCF 2385) is a 19-year-old chess coach from Atlanta, Georgia.  He has won many National Scholastic titles, and is a frequent player in CCCSA tournaments.  A student at Georgia State University, Ben scored 6/9 in the March 2017 IM norm event, and 4.5/9 in the November 2017 IM norm event, and is hunting his first IM norm.

FM Aaron Jacobson (New Jersey USA, FIDE 2282, USCF 2349) is the older brother of Brandon Jacobson, who is playing in the GM group.  Aaron currently studies at Columbia University, and competes on their chess team.

IM Angelo Young (Phillipines, FIDE 2273, USCF 2318) is another CCCSA Norm Invitational "lifer," as he competed in all four of our Norm Invitationals.  Now living and teaching chess in Chicago, Angelo has defeated many strong GMs on the American tournament circuit, including Van Wely, Shabalov, Yudasin, Dzindzichashvili, and Benjamin.  Angelo won the U2300 FIDE prize at the 2017 World Open, and is well-known in Charlotte for being a blitz menace to our "home grown" Dominique Myers.

IM Angelo "Angey" Young - a CCCSA IM Invitational "Lifer"

FM Gary Ng (Canada, FIDE 2272, USCF 2282) is a chess player from Alberta, Canada who is rated in the top 35 nationally by FIDE rating.  He has drawn with GMs Julio Becerra, Eric Hansen, Leonid Kritz, and will compete in Charlotte for the first time.

Tianqi Wang (Charlotte, NC USA, FIDE 2276, USCF 2360) is a strong local master who earned his first IM norm at the March 2017 IM norm Invitational.  He recently finished clear second at CCCSA's Southeastern FIDE Championship behind GM Elshan Moradiabadi, and has won basically every major tournament in North Carolina.  He will seek to improve his rating towards the FM level and to earn his second IM norm.

Tianqi Wang (r) hopes to copy his success from last March

Wesley Wang (New Jersey USA, FIDE 2226, USCF 2332) has represented the United States at World Youth Championships and the 2016 K-8 National Co-Champion.  He earned the CM title at the 2016 North American U12 Championship, and is the tenth highest rated player under 14 by FIDE rating.

In the 30 player field, there are six GMs, fourteen IMs, seven FMs, and three other masters, all over 2300.  There are 13 federations represented - India, Spain, Colombia, United States, Ukraine, Denmark, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Zambia, Canada, and the Philippines.

IMs John Burke, Djurabek Khamrakulov, and Steven Zierk are looking for their final GMs norms to complete the title.   The average FIDE rating of all participants is 2400 FIDE and 2480 USCF.

Official Website
Games and Standings

We hope you will join us next week - CCCSA members may spectate for free!


Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year from CCCSA!

Author: Grant Oen, CCCSA Assistant Director

The Charlotte Chess Center would like to wish everyone a happy new year.  In this blog, I'd like to recap the highlights of 2017 and preview some of the new things coming in 2018!

This blog is exactly one year old.  Our contributors Peter Giannatos, Grant Oen, Dominique Myers, Mark Biernacki, David Blackwelder, Patrick McCartney, Dan Boisvert, Gary Newsom, Aaron Balleisen, Davide Nastasio, and Robin Cunningham have written over 100 blog posts, and we are looking forward to providing even better free content this year.

Congratulations to CCCSA members who achieved the following milestones in 2017:

Peter Giannatos – earned the FIDE Master title in February and was recently featured in a great Charlotte Five article by CCCSA member Randy Wheeless

Daniel Cremisi – Achieved peak USCF rating of 2379 and became the National 12th Grade Champion in December

Tianqi Wang – Achieved peak USCF rating of 2381 and FIDE rating of 2287 and earned first IM norm at CCCSA IM norm invitational in March

Gary Newsom – Became North Carolina Senior Co-champion

Mark Biernacki – Became National Master in September and North Carolina State Champion in November

Alex Tong – Became North Carolina Open Champion in August

Vishnu Vanapalli – Became Expert in November at 10 years old

Newly crowned expert Vishnu Vanapall vs CCCSA's Dominique Myers

Pradhyumna Kothapalli – Became Expert and the North Carolina Class A Champion in November at 12 years old

Klaus Pohl - Maintained #1 rating spot (2200) as top CCCSA Senior in 2017

Jeff Prainito – Went from unrated in October to 1641 in December by playing Tuesday Night Action, and became the North Carolina Class D Champion in November

Noah Sari – Became North Carolina Class E Champion in November

Arjun Rawal – Became North Carolina K-3 Champion in March

Debs Pedigo - Became North Carolina Chess Association's Secretary in November

Grant Oen - Became the youngest FIDE Arbiter in the United States in August

Chacha Dejava - developed Chessstream into an even better website, helped us with putting live games and results online for CCCSA's GM/IM Norm Invitationals, Southeastern FIDE Championship, NC Closed Championship, Carolinas Classic, etc.  Chacha is also helping us organized the NC K-12 Championship in February.

Joshua Mu, Randy Wheeless, Amelia Wheeless, and Colette Wheeless - returned to chess in 2017!

Congratulations to CCCSA regulars or special guests who achieved the following milestones in 2017:

GM Elshan Moradiabadi – won the Carolinas Classic in June, Southeastern FIDE Championship in December, and 2017 US Chess Grand Prix circuit

GM Elshan Moradiabadi vs Benjamin Snodgrass, December 2017 Southeastern FIDE

GM Andrew Tang – earned final GM norm and GM title at CCCSA GM norm invitational in November

Peter Giannatos and Andrew Tang after earning his final GM Norm

IM Raja Panjwani – earned GM norm at CCCSA GM norm invitational in November

Chess Twins Raja Panjwani and Peter Giannatos

FM Gauri Shankar – earned IM norm at CCCSA IM norm invitational in March

John Ludwig – earned IM norm at CCCSA IM norm invitational in March

Benjamin Moon – earned FM rating at CCCSA IM norm invitational in March and won the “End of Summer” Blitz tournament ahead of IM John Bartholomew

Emmanuel Carter – Became North Carolina K-12 Champion in March

Rochelle Wu – former World Cadet Champion, became National Master in November at eleven years old

Sijing Wu – Won the largest Reverse Angle in history (Reverse Angle 68) in January and won clear first in an 80 player field.

Other special guests to the chess center in 2017 included: GM Alex Shabalov, GM Tanguy Ringoir, GM Denes Boros, GM Alex Fishbein, GM Alonso Zapata, GM Eric Hansen, GM Ben Finegold, GM Aman Hambleton, IM Michael Brown, IM Nicolas Checa, IM Daniel Gurevich, IM John Bartholomew, IM Zurab Javakhadze, IM Titas Stremavicius, IM Farai Mandizha, IM David Brodsky, IM Alexander Kalikshteyn, IM Michael Lee, IM Safal Bora, IM Felix Ynojosa, IM Bryce Tiglon, IM David Vigorito, IM Roberto Martin del Campo, IM Michael Kleinman, IM Angelo Young, FM Kevin Wang, FM Andrew Hong, FM Edward Song, WGM Sabina Foisor, FM Yuanchen Zhang, FM Seth Homa, FM Jacob Furfine, FM Sahil Sinha, FM Sanjay Ghatti, FM Akshita Gorti, WIM Ewa Harazinska, FM Nikhil Kumar, FM Eliot Soo-Burrowes, FM Christopher Yoo, FIDE Arbiter Anand Dommalapati, International Arbiter Thad Rogers, International Arbiter Rudy Abate, US Chess President Mike Hoffpauir, and US Chess Executive Director Carol Meyer.

Thanksgiving 2017 GM, IM, and Junior Invitationals

Over 600 unique people played at least one rated CCCSA event in 2017.

Congratulations to the following players who won at least 3 CCCSA tournaments in 2017:
Daniel Cremisi – 14 titles
Dominique Myers – 8 titles
Carson Cook, Donald Johnson – 7 titles
Danny Cropper, Luke Harris, Andrew Chen – 4 titles
Elias Oussedik, Tianqi Wang, Vishnu Vanapalli, Patrick McCartney, David Blackwelder, Sulia Mason – 3 titles

A special thank you to the following players who played at least 15 CCCSA events in 2017:
Aditya Shivapooja – 35
Luke Harris – 34
Vishnu Vanapalli – 32
Adharsh Rajagopal, Aarush Chugh – 31
Dominique Myers, Pradhyumna Kothapalli – 29
David Richards, Akshay Rajagopal – 28
Rithvik Prakki – 27
Donald Johnson, Hassan Hashemloo, Arjun Rawal – 24
Sulia Mason, Ali Shirazad, Andrew Chen, Debs Pedigo – 22
Daniel Cremisi, Richard Trela – 21
Carson Cook, Kiru Mendez, Danny Cropper, Pranav Swarna – 20
Paige Cook, Sanjit Pilli, Rishi Jasti – 19
Patrick McCartney, Mahesh Padhi, Nikhil Kamisetty, Raamcharan Puttagunta – 18
Advait Karthik, Saanchi Sampath, Dan Boisvert – 17
Mark Biernacki, Ian MacNair, Nishanth Gaddam – 16
Xiaodong Jin, Andrew Jiang, David Blackwelder – 15

In March, our good friend and longtime CCCSA member Marnzell Hand passed away.  We hold a Marnzell Hand Blitz Tournament each spring to remember Marnzell – the 2017 edition was won by Peter Giannatos and Elias Oussedik.

Marnzell Hand (1955-2017) at CCCSA with John Bartholomew

In 2017, CCCSA hosted players from 22 states (Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington) and 17 countries (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Georgia, Hungary, India, Iran, Jamaica, Lithuania, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Romania, United States, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe).

CCCSA organized about 60 tournaments in 2017, including 12 Reverse Angle Tournaments, 9 Tuesday Night Action Tournaments, 8 Unrated Scholastics, 6 Rated Scholastics, 5 Blitz Tournaments, 5 G/60 Actions, 5 Championship events – Carolinas Classic, GM/IM/Junior Invitationals, Southeastern FIDE, and a few miscellaneous events – Junior Masters Chess Club, Border Battle, Club matches, etc.

Our rated and unrated scholastic events are larger and stronger each year

Our GM/IM Norm Invitationals produced 5 norms in 2017 alone, and we will be holding more of these in 2018, including such players as Praggnanandhaa, who can still break the world record for the youngest GM.  The 2017 North Carolina Closed Championship organized by CCCSA at the Hilton University Charlotte was the largest state championship in North Carolina history with 125 players and an increased prize fund of $5,000.

Famous Indian IM Praggnanandhaa will be playing at CCCSA in January!

What’s new for 2018!

As CCCSA Founder Peter Giannatos mentioned in a blog on our third birthday last March, the Charlotte Chess Center is always expanding.  Each year we have more members, higher attendance at tournaments, camps, classes, school programs, and more employees: I joined the team as the Assistant Director in 2016, and Alex Velasquez joined us in 2017.

In 2018, we are welcoming two new staff members who are already familiar faces at the chess center: Mark Biernacki and Dan Boisvert.

Mark is a National Master who is the reigning state chess champion who plays in many of our events.  He will now be teaching full-time in schools and classes for CCCSA.

Mark Biernacki

Dr. Daniel Boisvert is a professor at UNC Charlotte and CCCSA member and contributor.  Dan will join our team in a part-time administrative role.

Dan Boisvert

Look for bios coming to the website soon – CCCSA is happy to welcome Mark and Dan!

In 2018, in addition to our regular schedule of events, we will be continuing with our First Thursday Blitz events, and add a Third Thursday Rapid (G/25) Tournament.  We will also host the 2018 NC K-12 State Championship at the Hilton University Charlotte, and will continue with our large championship events such as the Carolinas Classic, Southeastern FIDE Championship, and five GM/IM Norm Invitationals.

Our first meeting back is the first round of Tuesday Night Action, Round 1, tonight, January 2!  Tuesday Night Action is always free to CCCSA members and includes a lecture by Peter Giannatos at 6:45 and a long (G/75, inc/15) rated game at 7:30.  We have recently added prizes in all three sections (Top, Under 1700, and Under 1300)!  TNA is the best attended weekly meeting in the Southeast, with over 50 players competing in each five week cycle.

We also have a blitz tournament this Thursday and a Rated Scholastic tournament on Saturday.  See our calendar for a complete listing.

Here is our weekly schedule:
Monday - closed
Tuesday - tournament tips master lecture 6:45pm, Tuesday Night Action 7:30pm
Wednesdays - closed
Thursday - Blitz Tourney first Thursday 7pm, Rapid Tourney third Thursday, otherwise closed
Fridays - master lecture 7pm, Friday night casual play 6pm-11pm
Saturday - check tournament schedule

Sunday - Kids Classes - open 12:00-6:00pm

Tuesday night and Friday night activities are free for members, who also receive discounts on all of our tournaments, classes, camps, and merchandise.  CCCSA membership is a great deal even if you only do some activities, and is an affordable way to support local chess.

Our next GM/IM Norm Invitational, January 11-15, will feature a thirty player field with 6 GMs, 14 IMs, 7 FMs, and 3 masters all rated over 2300.  IMs Praggnanadhaa and John Bartholomew are amongst the 21 players who will be seeking their FIDE title norms.  This is the first of five such invitationals in 2018, which have produced 8 norms and 3 titles in the first three events alone.

The Charlotte Chess Center wishes everyone a great 2018!  We have many great things planned, and with more events, members, and employees each year, we are sure that 2018 will be our best yet!