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Monday, August 22, 2011

2011 AY U1800 section

Guest blogger Leslie Mundwiler has compiled (and also entered most of the games) of the U1800 section and provides a round by round review below:


A nice thing about chess is that game scores can tell you a lot about what went on in a tournament. Judging from the scores, there was certainly an interesting dynamic in the Under 1800 section of the 2011 Abe Yanofsky Memorial. At the outset there seemed to be at least half a dozen players who could compete for the top prize. The sizeable group of probable contenders for first place might also indicate that first would likely be shared and that 4 points out of 5 games might be enough to win. Things did not turn out that way.

The key game in the opening round on Friday evening, August 5th, was Milward-Trinidad, 0-1. This already served notice that, among the lower-rated players, there was yet another candidate for first. Dave Milward (1746)would have been my pick for "most likely to succeed" in this event, and perhaps he succumbed in the initial round because, in spite of the 1570 rating, his opponent was unexpectedly playing smart, resourceful chess from the get-go. The loss didn't mean that Dave was entirely out of it, although he seemed to sag a bit in round two. He would get a shot in the last round, and on the way there, he had the satisfaction of playing spoiler among the other contenders.

Unlike Milward, the other 1700 players had been more or less inactive in recent rated events. Roy Proulx (1705) took most of the five rounds to hit his stride and had the bad luck to encounter Kris Trinidad in round two, when the rust was still showing; that and a draw with John Remillard (1574) in round three effectively took Proulx out of contention. Tomas Manicdao (1710) was experiencing the same sort of problem--the problem of "playing into form" during a tournament--but had the good fortune to face weaker opposition in the first two rounds. Even a piece up versus Bruce Leaden (1502) in round one, Tomas seemed on the verge of skating into trouble; he was a much different player by tournament's end. Ryne Swift's tournament adventure began, like Tomas's, versus weaker opposition. Although Ryne (1768) had the benefit of Dave Ross's chess camp in early August, the rust hadn't completely disappeared by the weekend of the Yanofsky.

Besides Ryne, Tomas, and Kris, the end of round two saw Gary Campbell (1698) and Theo Wolchock (1683) also with perfect scores. There were still these five contenders and the comeback threat of Dave Milward; there was a long way to go.

Third round was pivotal, with some big changes. One of the most entertaining games of the event was Kris Trinidad's escape from the clutches Chuck Mousseau's Smith-Morra Gambit. Kris's win against a player who, at 1768, was (with Ryne Swift )highest rated in the event clearly established him as a candidate for top spot. But, glorious as this was for Kris, the MCA should ask itself some questions about this pairing. Chuck was a substitute, who would only play this one game in the Under 1800 section. If Kris had played one of the other contenders in round three, the event might have had a very different outcome. Also to be considered: what if Kris had lost to a "non-combatant" for first, who would play none of his competition?

Another critical third-round game was Campbell-Swift, with Gary achieving a classical attack in what is nowadays labeled the QGD/Semi-Slav. Gary was up a pawn and position in the middlegame when he hung a R, but he finished the event with two more wins, putting himself within reach of a share of first if 4 points proved to be enough. Ryne recovered from this fumble and "bit of luck" with a determined push in the last rounds.

Wolchock-Manicdao was also critical in the middle round. Theo built a fine positional advantage through move 27, only to have the thing crumble when he allowed the BQ to reach f3. The game was testimony to Tomas's resilience as a defender. Theo didn't come back from this disappointment, losing his next two games.

In round four Dave Milward was back--"He's back!"--with a win over Tomas Manicdao. They were now, with Gary Campbell, at 3 points, and the value of that would be determined by the really big game of the round, Swift-Trinidad. A win by either of these two would make the chances of the other three dependent upon the tournament leader's losing in round five; and, of course, either Ryne or Kris would be out of contention. Ryne showed a sound sense of tournament strategy by controlling the play, rather than by pressing for a win here. To this stage, Kris's play had been as sharp as anyone's and only a solid positional approach was likely to keep the balance. The players reached an ending with a B and 7 Ps each and concluded a draw.

In the fifth round the key games for determining first place were Trinidad-Manicdao and Milward-Swift, both hard-fought, interesting contests. Tomas picked up pawns here and there and had the endgame in hand, if the endgame could be reached; but the issue was in doubt for Black for a long while. The Milward-Swift game was even more closely fought, coming down to a B vs. N ending, with Black enjoying a convertible Q-side majority and the better K position. It was the best game of the tournament and showed that Ryne was in peak form to take sole possession of first, 4.5/5 points.

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