Shakmaty Bereolos - The Official Chess Site of Peter Bereolos

4/30/06 - Tennessee Tempo

Catching up on some more old news, Tennessee's entry into the US Chess League now has a name and a logo.

Tennessee Tempo logo

The name, Tennesse Tempo, one of my suggestions, got selected based on the alliteration, the chess terminology, and the tribute to the state's musical heritage. We will be playing in the Western Division with the other expansion team, the Seattle Sluggers (another alliteration with a reference to the unique scoring slugfest tournaments in Seattle), as well as Dallas, San Francisco, and last year's runner up. Perhaps, the East/West designation will get changed at some point since it looks odd to have Miami in the West. Maybe the Fischer and Morphy divisions?

The schedule still hasn't been released, I think they are looking at a late August or early September start. I'll post again when I have more details.

4/29/06 - April 2006 FIDE Rating List

The FIDE rating list released this month was very historic. For the first time in over 20 years there is a new name at the top. It has been a year since Garry Kasparov announced his retirement. He remained inactive for the year, so was removed from the list. The top 10 in the world now look like this.

1. Veselin Topalov (2804) - The FIDE champion won at Wijk aan Zee to cement his place at the top.
2. Vishy Anand (2803) - The Indian superstar was the co-winner with Topalov at Wijk aan Zee and becomes only the 4th player to cross the 2800 mark.
3. Levon Aronian (2756) - The reigning FIDE World Cup (KO) champion. He made his Linares debut last month and won it!
4. Peter Svidler (2743) - Solidly in the top 10 for the past 3 years
5. Peter Leko (2738) - Former world championship challenger, needs to show he can break into the top 3.
6. Ruslan Ponomariov (2738) - Former FIDE champ is back in the top 10 after a couple of years in the 15-20 range and he's still just in his early 20s.
7. Vassily Ivanchuk (2731) - Seems to again be solidly back in the top 10.
8. Alexander Morozevich (2730) - Excels in the opens, but still needs to put a big supertournament win under his belt.
9. Vladimir Kramnik (2729) - The slide continues for the classical World Champion. Hopefully, his health problems are behind him and we will see a great Topalov-Kramnik reunification match later this year.
10. Boris Gelfand (2727) - He's been hanging around the 10-20 range the past 5 or so years, perhaps the return of candidates matches will inspire him to his former levels.

There was a little bit of change on the US list. The top 5 shuffled a little bit. Gata Kamsky (2671) dropped some points, but maintained the top spot. Former US Champion Hikaru Nakamura (2664) is now close behind in second. The current champion Alexander Onischuk (2650) is in the third spot, although the Championship has not yet been rated. Ildar Ibragimov (2637) gained a couple of points to move clear of idle Yasser Seirawan (2635). Jaan Ehlvest (2607) changed his country from Estonia to the US, and now occupies the 6th spot. The rest of the top 10 are familiar names: Alexander Shabalov (2605), Gregory Kaidanov (2603), Alexander Ivanov (2588), and Alexander Goldin (2587).

This year, the Land of the Sky tournament was FIDE rated for the first time. I ended up dropping 3 points, to 2303. My first round opponent, Robert Cunningham, did not have a FIDE rating, so I didn't pick up anything for that win. Despite the drop, I moved up a few places to #156 on the US list.

4/23/06 - FIDE Chess in Chicago

Last week I played in my strongest event ever, the B Group of the Spring North American FIDE Invitational. I was originally contacted as an alternate to the C Group, but when a slot came open in the B Group, I was asked if I wanted to play with the big boys. I welcomed the chance to see what I could do against a very strong field in this Category VII event (my previous strongest tournament was last year's Category III Colias Memorial).

Although I was the big underdog in the group, outrated by 50 or more points against every opponent, I thought I played pretty well. Unfortunately, it did not translate to many points on the crosstable as I finished with only 2 out of 9. Most of my problems came as a result of time pressure. This was my first time playing under the FIDE time control of G/90 with a 30 second increment. I think I made a big mistake in not playing any training games with this time control before the event. Time pressure with this time control is a quite different sensation than normal. With more traditional time controls you have maybe a 5 or 10 minute phase where everything is extremely tense and then it is over. With the FIDE time control this phase can last a half an hour or more. It is quite nerve racking and even if you play some quick moves and build your time up by a couple of minutes the adrelaline is still pumping and you can't really leave the board to try to calm yourself. In most of my losses, I eventually self destructed when my time got low.

Other than my score, it was a really great tournament. A quiet, well-lit playing hall and plenty of time between rounds such that playing two rounds most days was not a burden. There were a couple of other firsts for me in this tournament. It was played under the "Sofia rules" so there were no draws by agreement before move 30. This wasn't a factor in my games as all my opponents weren't looking to play short draws against me. Anyway, I don't think that the short draw has much of a place in modern chess, so I forseen that rule becoming more of the norm. We also used the MonRoi device for recording moves. I think this is mostly for the benefit of spectators as they can follow the game in real time. I didn't have any significant problems with it (it wasn't recording for me a the start of one round, but a quick recalibration took care of that) although some of the other players had various issues.

I'm going to do a pretty thorough dissection of my games, so I probably won't have any analysis posted until next week at the earliest.

4/3/06 - US Masters - Weekend 2

The tournament continued with the 7-day schedule being played during the week. Because the dates of the US Championship got pushed later than originally scheduled, no GMs ended up playing. Only IM Sarkar made the cross country trip after the Championship ended in San Diego during the first weekend of this event. On Friday night I had White against Matthew Fouts and was hoping that I could continue my winning streak. Unfortunately, I got caught in an unfamiliar opening variation and didn't handle it well. I was dead lost after 34. e5 when he gave me a chance

34... a4? Simplest was 34... Rxg7 35. hxg7 Bg8 and the a-pawn soon decides 35. e6 Bxe6 36. Nxe6 a3 37. Rg8+ Kb7 38. Rg4? After playing this I noticed that 38. Rg7 forces him to repeat moves with 38... Kc8 he won shortly after with 38... a2 A very frustrating start to the second weekend.

The next morning I had White against Benjamin Francis. I sort of played this game as if I had nothing to lose. I gambited a pawn in the opening and my development gave me compensation after 14...Qf7

Here, I thought he was unwinding after 15. Qc2 g6 16. b4 (16. Qe2 in order to meet 16... Bf5 with 17. Nxe5 might be possible) 16...Bf5 so I decided on the unbalancing 15. Bxe5!? fxe5 16. Bxh7+ Kh8 17. Rxe5 White probably doesn't have full compensation, but I managed to stir up enough activity that he went for a draw by repetition. The question was if I could play on at the end after 17...Bf5 18. Rae1 Bxh7 19. Rxe7 Qf4 20. Qc3 Qf6 21. Qxf6 Rxf6 22. Rxb7 Nc5 23. Rc7 a5 24. Ree7 Na6 25. Rb7

25. Ra7!? Rxa7 26. Rxa7 c5 27. Ra8+ Bg8 28. b3 deserves attention. It seems like White can slowly improve his knight and king while advancing the kingside pawns. In the meanwhile, it is not clear what Black's plan is. Instead, we just repeated moves 25... Nc5 26. Rbc7 Na6 27. Rb7 Nc5 [½:½]

In the evening round, I had Black against David Harris. I didn't play the opening that greatly, and gave up a pawn. I had compensation in the form of a big center and open files for my rooks after 21...d5

22. Re1 22. g4 e4 followed by e3 and Rh3 gives Black counterplay 22... Qh7 23. g4 Qh3 24. Qxh3 Rxh3 25. g5 25. Bc2 Rg8 picks up the g-pawn 25... fxg5 26. f6 g4 27. Rxe5 g3 28. d4 gxh2 and besides material equality being restored, Black has a monster on h2

I got Black again the next morning against Rusty Potter. I thought that with 4 Blacks out of 7 already, I would get my equalizing White, but he had just had two Blacks in a row. I was fairly happy with how I played this game until afterwards he showed me something that pretty much summed up my tournament. After 20...Kf8

I thought I would have compensation for my pawn after 21. Nxc8 Rxc8, so he instead played the move I expected 21. Bc5?? and I went on to win after 21... Ke8?? 21... Rxf3+ winning his queen was a bit stronger! I guess my excuse was that I had been focused on variations involving ...Rxa3, so I didn't consider moving the rook in the other direction, especially since the tactic in question wasn't available until this move. At least this explained his next move 22. Qd2 instead of the expected 22. Rhd1?? Happily, I was able to shrug this off. I guess winning helps.

In the final round I had White versus Dale Haessel. I had some pressure in a typical Grunfeld ending and he ended up not being able to deal with Delroy after 28. Nd4

28...a6? Covering b5, but e6 was the critical square. It looks like Black is still holding on after 28... Bd5 29. Bb5 Bxa2 30. d7 Ke7. Now, White wins a piece but it isn't totally clear 29. d7 Ke7 30. Ne6 Kxd7 31. Nxg7 b5?! After this White has no problems, instead 31... Ke7 when I was trying to decide between holding the piece awkwardly with 32. f3 Kf7 33. Bh6 or just giving it back for a big endgame plus after 32... Kf7 33. Bxb6 Nc6 34. Nf5 gxf5 35. Bxf5 32. g4 Ke7 33. g5 fxg5 34. Bxg5+ Kf7 35. Bd2 Nc4 36. Bxc4+ bxc4 37. Bc3 Bd5 38. Ke3 [1:0]

Other than my result and hotel room problems, the tournament itself was very well run. Hopefully, there can be more tournaments like this in western North Carolina. Congratulations to Ron Burnett and Bryan Smith who were part of the 5-way tied for first and qualified for the US Championship. It looked like Miles Ardaman was in control of the tournament with 6/7, but lost the last two rounds to fall half a point short. Daniel Ludwig took the title on tiebreaks, but had not paid the extra qualifiers fee to make it to the US Championship. The other two winners were foreigners Giorgi Margvelashvili and Andrey Chumachenko.

4/1/06 - US Masters - Weekend 1

My first blunder of the tournament came before I played a single move. I didn't look at the tournament schedule very carefully. If I had, I would have noticed that the first round didn't begin until 1 PM on Saturday and would have slept at home in Knoxville on Friday night. Instead, I ended up in a room on the outer building that overlooked the interstate. It didn't seem so bad in the evening, just a steady hum of traffic. When I finally went to bed, however, it was not a good situation. Every few minutes a truck would come thundering past, breaking the silence. It was like a Chinese water torture waiting for the next one to come. Around 7:30, I went to the front desk to see if I could change rooms, but they said nothing was available until 11. I considered not even bothering with the tournament, but ended up making the decision to play.

I had Black against Tony Cao in round 1. We reached a roughly equal ending after 28. Ra4

Black's broken pawn structure on the kingside is balanced by the weakness on a5. I decided to keep my bishop trained on that pawn, but it was a serious error 28...Bc3? b6 was the square that needed attention. The game is roughly equal after 28... Bc5 29. Rc1 Rb5 30. Rac4 Ba3. Instead, White had a large advantage after 29. Rb6 I didn't put up much resistance after this, my brain just wasn't working. For example, I can't explain why later after 42. Rf5

I gave up another pawn with 42...Rb3 When 42... Be7 would at least make him do some work to earn the point. I was so out of it that I played on until mate, because I didn't see that I was being mated on the move.

Between rounds I managed to get my room changed and caught a short nap. When I arrived for round 2, I saw that I had been paired as Black against Jeffrey Kidd. I questioned the colors since I thought that as the higher rated player, I should get my due White. TD Kevin Hyde took a look at it and didn't understand why the computer had paired as it did, so he switched the colors and gave me White. However, he later investigated the reason and found that there was an optional pairing system where in minus score groups the lower rated player gets his due color. Furthermore, use of this variation was listed on the tournament flier, but seemed to screw up my pairing for the entire tournament. This is one thing I would fix in the rule book. I think there are too many variations and that gives the TDs way too much latitude in making pairings. The "Swiss System" should have a very specific definition which would eliminate player complaints. Anyway, in the game, I had an initiative out of the opening, but it eventually dissipated to an equal position. I declined since I saw ways to keep improving my position. My persistence should have been rewarded when he cracked with 39...Nc5?

I was getting pretty low on time at this point and for some reason couldn't calculate the simple 40. Qg8 Nxe4 41. Qxh7+ Kd6 42. Qxc7+ Kxc7 43. fxe4+- since White makes a passed h-pawn. Instead after the passive 40. Ng3? I wound up in a lost knight ending after 40... Qd8 41. Qc4 Qc8 42. h5 Qe6 43. Qc2 Qb3 44. Qxb3 Nxb3

I got some sleep that night, and in the morning round I was Black against Patrick Tae. While I've played a lot of blitz with him at the Knoxville Chess Club, this was our first serious game. We reached a pretty chaotic middlegame position after 21. Rxc7

21...Nf5 With duel ideas of ...Ne3 and ...Qe5, but 21... Rae8 looks stronger, trying to invade on e2 and meeting 22. Rf2 with 22...Qe5 hitting c7 and e1. 22. Rg1 Better was 22. Qc1 Rae8 23. Ng2 (23. Rf2 Qd6) and it isn't clear that Black has anything better than a draw with 23... Re2 24. Re1 Rxg2+ 25. Kxg2 Nh4+= 22... Qxb2+ 23. Rg2 Qe5 24. Rd7 24. Rxb7 Ne3 is similar. Again, 24. Qc1 looks to be stronger. 24... Ne3 25. Rxd5 On 25. Re2 Black keeps the edge with 25...Rae8, not 25... Nf1+?! 26. Kg1 Qxg3+? (26... Ne3) 27. Rg2!+- (27. Kxf1? Qxh3+)) 25... Nxd5 26. Qxd5 Qxd5 Avoiding the transparent 26... Qxe1?? 27. Qd4+, I won the ending without difficulties.

In the evening round, I had Black against Klaus Pohl. This time the negative score group being paired as advertised. He didn't play very ambitiously in the opening and the position was about equal after 20... Rc8

21. Qe7?! 21. exf5 was about equal, now his bishops get in a bit of a fix. 21... f4 22. Qxd7 Bxd7 23. Be7 Now the light-squared bishop gets stuffed, but something like 23. gxf4 exf4 24. f3 to make an escape route for the dark-squared bishop doesn't look pretty either 23...Rf7 24. Bb4 f3 and the bishop never got in the game.

Before I drove back to Knoxville, I made sure my reservation for the following weekend was for an interior room.