Shakmaty Bereolos - The Official Chess Site of Peter Bereolos

9/19/07 - USCL Live Blog: San Francisco vs. Tennessee

I'll once again be providing live blogging of the Tennessee Tempo's weekly USCL match. The match starts at 8:30PM EST and my comments will be at this link.

9/21/07 - 2007 Colias Memorial - Round 3

I finally got White in Round 3 versus Pete Karagianis. 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. cxd5 exd5 7. e3 Be7 8. Qc2 O-O 9. Bd3 Re8 10. h3 Nf8 11. O-O Ne4 12. Bf4 Ng5 13. Nxg5 Another approach is 13. Bxg5 Bxg5 14. b4 White often exchanges the dark-squared bishop for the knight in this variation in order to achieve b4 without preparation, but usually the exchange takes place on f6, not g5. 13... Bxg5 14. Bh2 Be7 with a draw offer, which for reasons I mentioned earlier, I declined. 15. Rab1 a5 16. a3 Be6 17. b4 axb4 18. axb4 Bd6 A thematic idea is 18... Rc8 intending to meet 19. b5 with 19... c5 but instead, 19. Na4, probably keeps White's opening advantage. However, I thought another thematic idea, 18... b5, was a better move. The black knight is in a good spot to reach c4 and White has to be a bit careful about his b-pawn. Finally, it doesn't look like White has anything special after 19. e4 dxe4 20. Bxe4 Qd7 19. Bxd6 Qxd6 20. b5 Rec8 20... c5 21. dxc5 Qxc5 22. Ne2 and the isolated d5 pawn gives White a small edge. 21. bxc6 Rxc6?!

Pete's not the type of player who is content to try and passively defend the position after 21... bxc6 22. Na4, but Black doesn't quite get enough here. 22. Rxb7 Rac8 23. Rb3 I also considered 23. Nb5 Qd8 24. Qb2 but thought that my pieces were on somewhat awkward squares. 23... Qc7 24. Rc1 Nd7? Afterwards we determined that his best try was to try to start aiming some pieces at the White king starting with 24... Qe7 25. Qb2? Mutual hallucination, I guess. Somehow, I thought his knight would arrive on a4 if I took on h7. Perhaps we both overlooked that after 25. Bxh7+ Black has to move his king so 25... Kh8 26. Bd3 Nb6 27. Bb5 and Black doesn't have much of anything for his two pawns. 25... Nb6 26. Bb5 Nc4 27. Qa2 Rd6 27... Rb6 28. Bxc4 Qxc4 29. Rxb6 Qxa2 30. Nxa2 and everything is covered. 28. Ne2 g5 29. Rbc3 Qb6 30. Bxc4 dxc4 31. e4 Rxd4 desperation, but there really wasn't a good way of meeting d5 32. Nxd4 Qxd4

It's pretty much a technical win for White now. On top of that, he was down to 2 minutes already. I just took a very patient approach. He probably played on much further than normal just out of the momentum of trying to make moves to beat the clock, but he eventually ran out of time even with the 30 second increment. 33. Qe2 Rc5 34. Qe3 Qe5 35. Rd1 Rb5 36. Qd4 Kg7 37. Qxe5+ Rxe5 38. f3 Rb5 39. Rd2 Kf6 40. Kf2 Ke5 41. Ke3 Rb1 42. Ra3 Rb5 43. h4 h6 43... gxh4 44. f4+ Kf6 45. f5 Bc8 46. Rc3 Rc5 47. Kd4 44. hxg5 hxg5 45. g3 Kf6 46. f4 gxf4+ 47. gxf4 Rh5 48. Kd4 Rh4 49. Rf2 49. f5 Bxf5 49... Rg4 50. Ra7 Kg7 51. Rc7 Rg3 52. f5 Rd3+ 53. Ke5 Bd7 54. Rg2+ Kf8 55. Rxc4 Ra3 56. Rb4 Ra5+ 57. Kd6 [1:0]

The other two games in my section only lasted a combined 40 moves, but both were decisive! Strunk kept pace with me when Menon had an opening disaster. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nf3 g6 7. Bg5 Bg7 7... h6 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 Nh5 is a more forcing way to play. The inclusion of e3 gives White some extra options because his bishop can go to b5. On the other hand, Black has freed f8 for his king, so checks on b5 or a4 shouldn't be as troubling. 8. e3 h6 9. Bh4 g5 10. Bg3 Nh5 11. Qa4+ Bd7?! Normal is 11... Kf8 12. Qe4+ Qe7 13. Nb5 A considerable improvement on 13. Qxe7+ 1/2-1/2, Czerwonski-Twardon Poland 1987 13... Bxb5 13... Qxe4 14. Nxd6+; 13... Nxg3 14. Nc7+ Kd8 15. Qxe7+ Kxe7 16. hxg3 14. Bxb5+ Kf8? Now this move has a big hole to it 14... Nd7 15. Bxd7+ Kxd7 16. Qg4+ is also problematic, so the awkward 14... Kd8 looks like the only move 15. Bxd6

15...Nc6? After a long think a shocked Gopal parted with the lady, not finding 15... Bc3+ 16. bxc3 Qxd6 giving his king an escape square on g7. However, his position would still be a total mess. It's interesting that in both of his games he didn't give up his dark-squared bishop on c3, clearly he already has the frame of mind of a Kings Indian/Benoni player of not parting with the dark squared bishop! 16. Bxe7+ Nxe7 17. d6 Nc6 18. Bxc6 bxc6 19. Qxc6 Rd8 20. O-O [1:0]

Burgess got on the scoreboard with a quick win with Black over Tennant. 1. c4!? I've always known Tennant as a 1. d4 player, I'm not sure why he changed up here. Perhaps he thought that since Jon plays closed systems against the Sicilian that he would respond 1...e5 and he had something prepared there. 1... c6 2. b3 d5 3. Bb2 Bf5 4. d3 e6 5. g3 Perhaps the double fianchetto is too slow against Black's formation. It looks like Adgestein is the only GM to ever reach this position. His choice was 5. Qc2 5... Nf6 6. Bg2 Bc5 Classic development, targeting the f2 square. 7. Nf3?! I guess he has to play something like 7. d4 Bb4+ 8. Nd2 but this already seems comfortable for Black. 7... dxc4

only 7 moves in, but White doesn't seem to have a good answer to the first capture! 8. dxc4 8. bxc4 Qb6 The attempt to squirm also seems to fail: 8. e4 Bg4 9. bxc4 Bxf2+ (9... Qb6 10. Qd2) 10. Kxf2 Qb6+ 11. Bd4 Bxf3 12. Bxb6 Bxd1 13. Bxa7 Ng4+ 14. Ke1 Rxa7 15. Kxd1 Nf2+ -/+ 8... Qxd1+ 9. Kxd1 Bxf2 10. Rf1 Ng4 11. e4 Bxe4 12. Ke2 Bc5 13. Nbd2 Bg6 14. Bxg7 Rg8 15. Bd4 Bxd4 16. Nxd4 Nxh2 17. Rh1 Ng4 18. Ne4 Ke7 19. Nc5 e5 20. Nf3 b6 [0:1]

After 3 Rounds in this section: Bereolos, Strunk 2.5; Karagianis 1.5; Tennant, Burgess 1; Menon 0.5

In the other section, Wallach gained the clear lead with a win against Weber, while Caveney-McEntee ended in a draw. I thought White might be able to press on at the end after 42...h4 [½:½]

Not, 43. Bxh4? Be3+, but taking the e-pawn could be dangerous for Black 43. Bf7+ Kh8 44. Bxe6 and White has two bishops and both of Black's remaining pawns are potentially weak.

Dean kept pace with Black, by handing Chow his only loss of the tournament when Albert overstepped the time limit in a fairly even ending. The opening was of some theoretical interest, I know Chow was impressed by Dean's novelty in a position that scores very well for White in the database. 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. Qc2 Re8+ 9. Ne2 g6 10. h4 Be6 The idea Jim plays in this game isn't totally new. Compare it to 10... f5 11. h5 Qf6 12. hxg6 fxg6 13. Qb3+ Kh8 14. Bg5 Qg7 15. O-O-O Sznapik- Plachetka Slovakia 1983 which Gallagher evaluates as slightly better for White. I noticed a few games in the database with another Hoosier, Nick Adams, as Black. I thought that was interesting, I don't know if Jim and Nick work together though. 11. h5 f5 12. hxg6 fxg6 13. Bh6 Qf6

The new move. Here is an example of a disaster in this line 13... Nd7 14. g4 Bd5 15. O-O-O Bxh1 16. Rxh1 Bf8 17. Bd2 fxg4 18. Qb3+ Kg7 19. Rxh7+ Kxh7 20. Qf7+ Kh8 21. Nf4 1-0, Kudrin-King England 1988. After the text, White might still have a small edge as it is very similar to the Sznapik game above, but it didn't seem like Chow managed to present Dean with any difficult problems.

In this section, after 3 rounds: Wallach 2.5; McEntee, Dean 2; Chow, Caveney 1; Weber 0.5.

9/19/07 - Tennessee vs. Miami

I received some good comments on last week's experiment, so I'm going to try it again for tonights match against the Miami Sharks. The match starts at 8PM EST and my comments will be at this link.

9/12/07 - Special Live Event

Tonight I'm going to try some live blogging of the Seattle Sluggers versus Tennessee Tempo match in the USCL. The match starts at 9PM EST, I'll start a bit before then at this link.

9/11/07 - 2007 Colias Memorial, Round 2

I had the lowest pairing number in my group, so I played Black again in Round 2, this time versus Gopal Menon. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 The Modern Archangel was my special preparation for the tournament. It worked out OK since he said he mainly prepared for the Closed Defense, but he had also taken up this line as Black recently so he was familiar with the lines. 7. a4 Rb8 8. c3 O-O!? A recent sharp attempt instead of the more solid 8... d6 9. d4 Bb6 10. dxe5 Ng4 11. Bf4 Qe7

I knew the main move was 11... Qe8 but at the board, the text looked more natural and I didn't see any reason it should be bad. 12. axb5 axb5 13. Qe2 The only way I saw for White to take advantage of my 11th move was to go on a pawn hunt with his queen 13. Qd5 (with the Black queen on e8, this could also be met by 13...Ne7 and 14...Ng6) 13... Bb7 14. Qxb5 Ba8 when I felt Black had compensation for his material. Indeed, this occurred in the game Smirin-Kamsky 2005 FIDE World Cup, which quickly ended in a draw after 15. Qc4 Ncxe5 16. Bxe5 Nxe5 17. Nxe5 Qxe5 18. Nd2 Kh8 19. Nf3 Qf4 20. Rae1 Rbe8 ½-1/2 13... Ngxe5 I thought this capture was a little more accurate than 13... Ncxe5 which gives him the option of 14. Nd4 14. Nbd2 d6 15. h3 Be6 16. Bc2 Rfe8 17. Rfe1 Qf6 18. Be3 Nxf3+ 19. Nxf3 Bxe3 I didn't really like having to make this exchange, but Bg5 was annoying in many variations 20. Qxe3 b4 21. Ba4 Bd7 22. Nd4 Nxd4 23. Qxd4 23. Bxd7 Nc2 is good for Black since after 24. Qd2 Nxe1 25. Bxe8 he can play either 25... Nf3+ or even better 25... Nxg2 exposing White's king 23... Qxd4 24. cxd4 Bxa4 25. Rxa4 c5 26. dxc5 dxc5 27. Rc1 Rxe4 Black can maintain his queenside pawn majority with 27... Rb5 but because of the weak back rank, White has time to activate his king 28. f3 Rd8 29. Kf2 g6 30. Ke3 and White is better. After the text Black has a tactic that lands him the better position.

28. Rxc5 g6 Later in the game, I was wishing I had played 28... h6 so that I could immediately play g7-g5 without having to prepare it with h6, but it wasn't really feasible since the f5 square needed to be covered, for example 29. Ra7 Re1+ 30. Kh2 Re2 31. Rf5 f6 32. b3 Rb2 33. Rf3 and White is holding. 29. Rc7 The tactical point is 29. Rc2 b3! but this may be the first of several minor inaccuracies that almost land White in trouble. Here a small improvement was 29. Ra7 keeping control of the 5th rank so on 29... Re1+ 30. Kh2 Re2 31. f3 Black doesn't have Rb5 as he has in the game. 29... Re1+ 30. Kh2 Re2 31. Kg3 This move allows Black additional possibilities, so I initially thought that 31. f3 was more accurate since White will be forced to play this anyway. However, after 31... Rb5 it looks like he must play 32. h4 (since 32. Raa7 runs into 32... Rg5 when White doesn't have time for 33. Rxf7 Rexg2+ 34. Kh1 Rg1+ 35. Kh2 R5g2#) 32... Rxb2 33. Raa7 Rf5 34. Kg3 which is the same position as the game except that White has substituted h4 for Rcb7. This should be in Black's favor although it is difficult to tell if he has anything better than 34... h5 35. Rcb7 transposing to the game. The engine comes up with an alternative defensive idea 31. Raa7!? Rxf2 32. Kg3 Rf5 (32... Rxb2 33. Rxf7) 33. Rab7 but Black still might be able to push a little longer with 33... Rd8 34. Rxb4 Rd3+ 31... Rb5 White's last move allowed the possibility 31... Rxb2 32. Raa7 Rb3+ 33. Kf4 Ra3 34. Rxf7 Rxa7 35. Rxa7 b3 36. Ra1 which may give Black some winning chances. 32. Raa7 Rf5 33. f3 Rxb2 34. Rcb7 Rg5+ 35. Kf4 Rf5+ 36. Kg3 h5 This was the position where I wished I had h6 instead of g6. I wanted to secure the f4 square for my rook, but the extra tempo lets him defend with 36... h6 37. h4 g5 38. hxg5 hxg5 39. Kg4 37. h4

37...b3?! The last chance to keep the game alive was 37... g5 38. hxg5 Rxg5+ and White must be careful about his king getting stuck on the edge of the board, for example 39. Kh4 Rbxg2 (39... Rgxg2 40. Rxf7 Rb1 is also interesting ) 40. Rxf7 Rg6 41. Kxh5 R2g5+ 42. Kh4 Rg1 43. Kh5 R6g5+ 44. Kh4 R5g2 45. Kh3 Rg6 46. Kh2 R1g5 and Black wins 38. Ra3 g5 39. Raxb3 gxh4+ 40. Kh3 Rc2 41. R7b5 Rcc5 [½:½]

After a difficult battle with one junior in the first round, Tennant went down to the other junior in Round 2, with Black against Strunk in a game where it looks like Black may have exchanged the wrong set of minor pieces in the opening. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 O-O 5. Be2 d6 6. Nf3 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Bg5 this move is much less popular than 9. Ne1, 9. b4 and 9. Nd2, but White scores about the same as those lines and Black may not be as well prepared for it. 9...Nh5 a natural response since White didn't move Nf3 to prevent it 10. Ne1 Nf4 11. Nd3

11..Nxd3 Is this capture an error? Shirov thinks so, giving it a ?! mark. 11...Nxe2 is the alternative. They both score about the same in my database, but I noticed all the stronger players (for instance, Topalov, Shirov, and Ponomariov) took Be2. It may seem odd since it is a "bad" bishop for White with the pawns fixed on light squares. However, in these types of Kings Indian positions where Black storms the kingside with pawns while White focuses on the queenside, White's light squared bishop is a very important defensive piece. Black may achieve a position with pawns at f4 and g3 versus White pawns at f3/g2/h3 when a White Bf1 often prevents a devastating sacrifice on h3. Furthermore, the Nd3 that gets traded here is not that useful of a piece for White. It helps support c5, but White is usually forcing that through anyway especially since Nh5-f4 means that Black doesn't have a knight on d7 to help hold up this advance. Sometimes White plays Nf2 to help defend against the g4 push, but again Black can normally force this through, and White often prefers f2 for a bishop which can play both offense and defense from there. Finally, the black knight that is getting traded is generally a useful piece for Black. As mentioned earlier it could have gone to d7 to hold up c5, it is often deployed back to e8 to cover the c7 and d6 squares and then often returns to f6 to help enforce g4 and be an additional attacking piece. All these reasons seem to add up to a pleasant game for White after 12. Qxd3 f6 13. Be3 f5 14. f3 f4 15. Bf2 g5 16. c5 and White's queenside play got there much faster than Black's kingside attack and White won in fine style.

Karagianis made it a 3-way tie in the section with a win over Burgess, so the standings after 2 rounds were: Bereolos, Strunk, Karagianis 1.5; Tennant 1; Menon 0.5; Burgess 0

There were some interesting moments in the games in the other section. McEntee won with Black against Weber when Len missed a tactic then completely self-destructed after 12. Rb1?!

12... Ncxe4 13. Nxe4 Nxe4 14. Qxe4 Bf5 15. Qh4? White keeps the damage to a minimum after 15. Bd2 Qxa2 16. Bc4 Bxe4 17. Bxa2 Bxb1 18. Rxb1, but with 2 pawns and a rook for the 2 pieces Black still has a substantial advantage. 15... Bxb1 16. Bh6 Now, 16. Bd2 Qxa2 17. Bc4 Black has simply 17...Qxb2 16... Bf5 17. Ng5 f6 18. Nxh7 desperation, but 18. Bxg7 fxg5 hitting the queen is no better 18...Bxh6 19. Qxh6 Rf7 [0:1]

Surprisingly, Chow didn't win a game in the tournament, losing once and drawing 4 times. I think his best chance for a win was this round against Wallach. It looked like he was on the verge of getting a nice bind after 15. Qf4 when Wallach played an interesting freeing combination

15...f6!? 16. exf6 Bxf6 17. Bxf6 Qf7 18. Ne5 Qxf6 19. Qxf6 Rxf6 20. Nxc6 bxc6 yet another double rook ending, they seemed to be very popular this tournament. I thought White had some chances here since Black has 3 weaknesses, e6, c6, and a6. 21. Rac1 Rb8 22. b3 Rb6 23. Rc5 I thought he would play 23. g3, to prevent Rf4. He may have been worried about 23...a5, but after 24. Rc5 I don't think Black can go 24...a4 giving White a passed a-pawn. 23...Rf8 This seems to passive, I think he should have taken advantage of the opportunity to play actively with 23...Rf4 24. Rfc1 Rc8 25. R1c3 with the idea of a3 and b4. I think this could wait and he could first activate his king with 25. f3 25... Kf7 26. a3 [½:½] Albert was heading towards his usual time pressure at this point and offered the draw. I think White can play on without much risk.

Dean and Caveney played a back and forth game. It looked like Black had a fine position out of the opening when he had a passed d-pawn and White had a crippled kingside, but something went a bit wrong and Dean managed to win the d-pawn and another pawn, but Caveney took refuge in a opposite colored bishop ending after 34...Bxc7

35. Bd5 b6 36. Kg6 If White tries to immediately paralyze Black's queenside, Black has time to set up a blockade 36. b5 Be5 37. Kg6 Ke7 38. Kf5 Kd6 and the White king can't cross the board to get at the a7 pawn. 36... Be5 37. Kf5 Bb2 38. a4 Ke7 39. e5 Again, 39. b5 Kd6 is equal 39... Bc3 39... a5 is a fairly comfortable draw for Black as his bishop will be able to guard the queenside while the king sits on e7.. 40. b5 Now, Black has to be more careful because of the additional weakness at a7. 40...Bb2 41. Ke4 Bc3 42. Bg8 Bb2 43. Kd5 Bc3? I think this is finally the losing move, not move 39. It was essential to stop the invasion of the White king with 43...Kd7 when I haven't found a way for White to win. The king stops penetration on the queenside while the bishop can hold g7 from the long diagonal. 44. e6 Bb2 45. Kc6 Bc3 The last chance to try to create some technical difficulties is the attempt to box in the White king with something like 45... Ba3 46. e4 Bb4 47. Kb7 Kd6 48. Kxa7 Kc7, but White can break free with 49. Ka6 Bc5 50. a5 46. Kb7 Kd6 47. Kxa7 Ba5 48. Kb7 Ke7 49. Kc6 Kd8 50. Kb7 Ke7 51. Kc7 Ke8 52. Bf7+ Ke7 53. h4 Kf8 54. Kd7 Bb4 The bishop finally has to abandon its queenside blockade so now White creates a decisive second passed pawn 55. a5 [1:0]

After two rounds in this section the scores were: McEntee, Wallach 1.5; Dean, Chow 1; Caveney, Weber 0.5.

9/8/07 - Tennessee 2 - New Jersey 2

The Tennessee Tempo scored their first match points of the season Wednesday night in the US Chess League versus the New Jersey Knockouts narrowly missing winning the match after yet another shocking finish. I sat out this week and we went with the only lineup that has ever won a match for the Tempo: Burnett/Andrews/Wheeler/Larson. It's hard to play in the USCL, but it might even be harder to watch your teammates play from a couple hundred miles away, but I stayed for all the ups and downs.

We got pretty decent positions out of the openings. I had mainly helped the Black players prepare. For the second week in a row, Todd's preparation was gone at move 1 with Black against IM Mikhail Zlotnikov on Board 2. Looking over his games in the database, it looked to be a mortal lock that Todd would face 1. c4, and we did a lot of work based on his game with Zlotnikov in the World Open. Instead, it was 1. Nf3, but the opening didn't really present Todd with any problems. However, things took an abrupt turn when Todd went for a kingside pawn storm with 24....g5 and 25...h5 and 26...g4, which left him with not much of an attack and a lot of weaknesses. White quickly infiltrated and Todd had to shed material and went down.

Still, things weren't looking that bad as Jerry had a nice position right from the opening with White on Board 3 against Evan Ju. He also had a about a 15 minute edge on the clock. But he used all that time advantage up and then some while repeating moves. Nd3 on any move starting at 22 was what the crowd was calling for. I didn't get to talk with Jerry afterwards to see what his thoughts were. Perhaps he was a bit worried about Nf6-e4 ideas. There has been a little bit of debate among Tempo fans as to whether or not Jerry should have taken the draw. At this point in the match it was obvious that Todd was going to lose and the other two boards looked about even. Personally, I would have preferred him to play on as the White position is very safe.

We caught a real big break in this match since GM Joel Benjamin sat out on Board 1. We had a lot of confidence that Ron could get the job done with White against IM Dean Ippolito. However, he didn't get much out of the opening and it looked like it was heading for a repetition, when Ippolito surprisingly decided not to repeat moves on move 26. In the rook and knight ending, Ron totally outplayed him, culminating in zugzwang after 46. Nc5.

This began the celebration for Tempo Nation as Gerald had a totally winning rook ending two pawns up with Black against Victor Shen. Our preparation worked out better for this game as Gerald got the variation we predicted, although 10...Be7 seems to score much better than his 10...Nf6. Still, Black never seemed to be in any difficulties, and Gerald outplayed his opponent in the big piece ending. Tempo fans (myself included) started talking some smack, but were silenced by the shocking 77...h2+? allowing White a stalemate trick and turning the won match into a draw.

Still, this was a big positive for us. As usual, we were a big rating underdog, and this time the shocking finish only resulted in a draw instead of a loss. I think this is the first time in Tempo history that we are out of last in our division and most of the polls and power rankings out there have moved us up to 10th. We've got another tough match this week against Seattle, a team that gave us a lot of problems last season. Look for games starting around 9 PM EST Wednesday on ICC.

9/3/07 - Exhausted

I'm spending the Labor Day holiday recovering from the past few days which I spent mostly driving and playing chess. Wednesday was opening night for the Tennessee Tempo in the US Chess League. I unfortunately learned that my playing time with the Tempo this season is going to be extremely limited. I started a new job about 3 weeks ago and am now working four 10-hour days each week. My normal work schedule is 7AM to 6PM. Even leaving early, this makes it extremely difficult for me to make it from my job in Oak Ridge to the Nashville Chess Center in time for 8PM matches. I'm working further north and further east than I did last season so it takes me 20-25 minutes just to get to the interstate. Then, even pushing it, it's another 2+ hours to the chess center. That doesn't include dinner anywhere on route. I left my office about 10 after 5 on Wednesday and made a 10 minute stop for McDonalds and gas and still didn't manage to make it on time. Fortunately, the match started about 10 minutes late, so I didn't lose any clock time. But that is really no way to try to play chess of any sort of quality. It was hard enough last season driving such a distance and playing, but at least I could leave around 4, giving me time to have a reasonable meal and have some time before the match to try to clear my head. There's also the problem on the flip side of driving back afterwards. I got home at 2AM and had to turn around and get up for work the next day at 6AM, not a pace I can keep up. I'm going to try to see if I can free some time in my schedule to play, and perhaps we can come up with creative solutions like playing a match or two at USCF Headquarters in Crossville, but for the time being I'm relegated to helping my teammates prepare and blogging.

After that long introduction, there was some chess played. Our match with the Dallas Destiny actually went pretty well for a long time. But in the end we were snake-bitten again, and lost 3-1. Under the circumstances, I ended up playing a pretty reasonable game against IM Stopa on Board 3. However, my opponent played quite well, and even got consideration for Game of the Week. I'll give that game more coverage in my catch up in the days to come, but for now you can check out the light comments of Dallas Team captain IM John Bartholomew. Although, I haven't had a detailed look at things yet myself, I think he hit on all the points that I struggled at. Todd took on Bartholomew on Board 2. This was the quietest game of the match and it never looked like either player was ever in much danger. Down 1.5-0.5 we weren't discouraged though. Jerry got a tremendous position right out of the opening versus WFM Zorigt and Tempo fans were chalking that one up. Meanwhile, Ron had reached a queen and rook ending in mutual time pressure on Board 1 versus IM Kuljasevic that we were optimistic that he could hold and maybe even win. Suddenly, Ron made a horrendous blunder hanging his rook. That sucked the air out of the chess center. It had to be hard for Jerry to continue after seeing that. His opponent had been putting up dogged resistance and after Ron lost, another mutual time pressure situation saw Jerry's opponent almost reverse the result before finally ending in a draw. You can see some photos and further comments on the official team blog.

After recovering on my sleep Thursday night, I headed to Clarksville on Friday for the Tennessee Open. I intended to arrive with plenty of time in advance of the Friday night round. However, a series of mishaps had me arriving only 40 minutes before the round. Not learning my lesson from Wednesday, I elected to still play that night instead of playing 3 games on Saturday. For the second year in a row, Paul Smith nicked me for a draw in the opening round, but this time I really should have lost. I recovered to win my next 3 and then had a short draw with Todd in the final round which, when all of the players who could catch us only drew, made us co-Champions. This made for a pleasant drive back to Knoxville (a mere 3.5 hours). I got to sleep late today and will likely start looking at my backlog of web material later this evening. Look for more coverage of this event in the coming days.