Final Four

Webster University winning the President's Cup the first time in history! (photo from http://susanpolgar.blogspot.com/)

Webster University is the new college chess champion! This weekend the chess season came to an end in Rockville, Maryland, when the best four college teams competed against each other in order to find who is the best. The four teams were University of Texas, Dallas, Webster University, University of Illinois and ourselves. Webster University won convincingly, beating every other team and losing not a single game! We were actually closest to at least tie against them, but let's go one by one.

First round we played against UTD, the long-time rival of UMBC, who had defeated us in the Pan American tournament. I played against GM Julio Sadorra and got a decent position out of the opening. In time scramble things got a little bit wild, but I could seal the deal:

Huschenbeth - Sadorra Final Four

White to move

I was slightly shocked, when my opponent instead of retaking the piece on d5, just moved his rook to g8. But then I spotted the killer move 28.Bh4 and it was soon all over: Nxd5 29.c4! Be3+ 30.Kh1 Rg6 (if Qxe6, then cxd5 Qxd5 Bxf6+ and so on) 31.Nf8 1-0

Unfortunately, I was the only one to win a game and we lost the match 1-3. By the way, a nice summary of all rounds and the UMBC games can be read at Joel DeWyer's blog, who was also helping to produce this cool little video as an advertisement for the chess team. Check it out :)

First draw against a 2700+ guy!

In the next round, I would have my personal highlight: Playing against the third 2700-guy in my chess career, Wesley So. I don't know why the Webster Team put him on board 2, but I was delighted to play against him. Looking over the game afterwards with the computer, I have to say, I am amazed that I did not lose. I played pathetically and it is a miracle that I got away with it :) This was the position after 9 moves:

So - Huschenbeth Final Four

White to move

Unaware of any problems, I played my queen to c7, when my opponent responded 10.c5! Ouchh. Suddenly my bishop is getting in trouble, White is just threatening a3 followed by b4. I played 10...d6 and thought that it is not that bad yet. Well, amazingly, we both missed 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Qxd6! Qxd6 13.Bxd6 13.Bxc6 and White is just a whole pawn up. So continued with 11.cxd6 Bxd6 12.Nxc6 bxc6, which is also pretty good for White. Throughout the game I was only making sure that I had more time on the clock than he did, so I would at least not have a bad position AND bad time. Somehow I reached an endgame, which was very close to draw, when I blundered again. But with about 1 minute on each clock, So went for a rook endgame with 3 (!) extra pawns, which surprisingly appears to be a draw:

White to move

In this position, So accidentally repeated the position three times by playing 56.Kg3 Rg1+ 57.Kf4 Rh1 58.Ke3 Rh2 59.Kf4 and I was more than eager to claim the draw. But it seems, that the position is a draw anyway, because White's rook is too passive. Best try is 57.Kh2, then Rg5 58.f6 Rg8 59.Kh3 (Rg6 Rh8!) Rg1 60.Rg6 Rh1+ 61.Kg4 and now Ra1! and Black is holding on. Still, White could have made me suffer for a long time, so I was lucky to get the draw the easy way.

We lost the match with 1.5-2.5, Giorgi and Sabina drew as well, while Nazi lost her game against Ray Robson. Sabina was very close to winning her game against GM Leon Hoyos, but unfortunately she could not convert the advantage into a whole point. In the last round we played against the underdog of the tournament, the team from Illinois. The average rating difference of 300 between us and them would have suggested an easy going round, but this was not the case. I could win my game with Black, but Sabina lost hers on board three. With Adithya and Giorgi still playing, it was not clear for some time what the end result would be. Eventually Giorgi drew his game and Adithya somehow managed to trick his opponent in a queen endgame and made the final point for a 2.5-1.5 victory.

Round 3, Illinois - UMBC

In the other match Webster beat UTD with 3-1 and took the crown of college chess, congratulations! We ended up in the third place, leaving Illinois behind us and consequently, having UTD in front of us. All results and the pairings can be seen here.

I am now back at UMBC and have to catch up with my homework... Later!