National Chess Congress

                        Me at a chess board, it's been a while!

I know, it is a slightly odd name but that was the tournament I played over the last weekend at Philadelphia. I actually played it last year, too, but it did not go that well, so I was too lazy to write about it. This year things are different :)

From last Thursday on, it was Thanksgiving Holidays here in the U.S., something we don't really celebrate in Germany. That gave me the chance, after a long time, to compete in a tournament again. Pretty much the whole UMBC chess team went up to Philly on Friday morning and the days from Friday to Sunday can be very easily described. This is what we did: Eat, play chess, sleep.

The tournament did not start well for me, I drew with Black against a talented young player. Then, I was paired against, what I thought another youngster, but when I actually looked him up after the game, it turned out that he is one year older than me! Anyway, I could win this game. The next day I played with the Black pieces a complicated game:

Mabe - Huschenbeth National Chess Congress

Black to move

I am an exchange up, but things are not that simple, because of the two strong White pawns on c4 and d5. However, I could have won here immediately, but missed it. Can you spot, what I couldn't? Solution at the end of the article.

I won the game later in mutual time trouble. In the next round I played an IM and even though I was a pawn up in an endgame, I could not really get anywhere - draw. Now in round 5 I played with Black against another strong talent. I sacrificed a pawn for active play, but I did not really have more than sufficient compensation. Then, the critical moment of the game:

Chandra - Huschenbeth National Chess Congress

White to move

The position looks quite scary for White, but everything is still okay. I was expecting 39.g5 and had planned g6, but after 40.fxg6+ Kxg6 41.h4 White is fine. But my opponent played 39.Kf1 and suddenly it is lost: 39...Rxe2 40.Qxe2 (40.Rxe2 Re3 does not look good for White either) Qf4+ 41.Qf2 (if the king moves, then Rd2) Rxe1+ 42.Kxe1 (see next diagram)

42...Qc1+ This is the point. Now all the White pawns are falling prey to the queen. 43.Ke2 Qxc2+ 44.Kf1 Qxb3. I could win shortly after.

So, at this point I had 4 points out of 5. There were several other players with 4 and one with 4.5. It was absolutely clear that only a win would lead me somewhere. I played against GM Mikheil Kekelidze and it was a pretty exciting game:

As it turned out, my teammate Levan Bregadze also won, because his opponent wanted to win so desperately that he pushed too much in a dead draw position. The player with 4.5 points before the round was Magesh Panchanathan, but he drew against Sergej Erenburg, so us three all had 5 points and shared the first place, with Levan having the best tiebreak.

The winners in order: Top right, Levan Bregadze, Magesh Panchanathan, me. Next to me my teammate Sabina Foisor

The standings of the tournament can be seen here

I am actually not that satisfied with my play in the tournament. My goal is always to play against stronger opponents and I didn't play any in this competition. However, of course I am satisfied with my overall result. It is kind of funny that I shared for first place without playing at the top two boards a single time. The tournament is simply too short. Erenburg for example, who won the tournament last year, played on the top boards the whole time, but ended up on the fourth place.

Now I have to concentrate on my finals in school and then the next tournament will be at the end of December, the Pan-American Championships.

Solution to Mabe - Huschenbeth: 23...Re8 24.Bxd4 Rxe2+! (I missed this move, shame on me) 25.Qxe2 (Kxe2 Qf3+ followed by Re8+) Qxc1+ 26.Kf2 Be4 and Black is clearly winning.