NOTE: More results to follow.
Close to 150 individuals, each associating themselves with a school team or a chess club, descended on the University of South Alabama to compete in the Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championships (ASSCC) team day, Saturday, March 24, 2018.
Each team or club is made up of four players (and sometimes alternates) who play against four players from an opposing team or club. If a team scores less than two points on the four boards, it loses the match and is given a zero (0) for the round. If the team scores two, it receives half a point (1/2) and if more than two, the team receives the full point (1). The team with the most points wins the section. If a tie on team points was the final result, then the first tie-breaker goes to the number of individual points each team received per round. a 3-1 score gives the team the full team point, but a 4-0 weighs heavier if tie-breaks are needed.
There were, in total, about two dozen of these team/clubs in eight grade sections four for teams, and four for clubs: K-3, K-6, K-9, and K-12. Details of the final standings are below.
Just because teams were the focus today, doesn't mean some individuals did not shine Saturday! Here are a few interesting moments from the day.
Game of the Day:
Liu, Cynthia (746) vs. Wang, Constance (1458)
If one thing was apparent from the tournament, Ms. Liu does not deserve a rating so low as 746. Liu had a great day. Her best result came at the expense of Constance Wang in round three. Both sides had chances, both sides took some and left others. In the end, it was the one who found her targets better who came out victorious.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bc5 5.d3 h6 6.0-0 d6 7.h3 0-0 8.Nh4?
This move is a bit suspect. Black can win a pawn with a nice discovery after 8...Nxe4! 9.Nxe4 Qxh4 10.Nxc5 dxc5. This line does allow white to win the bishop pair (good in open games) and double black's pawns. However, I don't believe the compensation is enough.
8...Nd4!? (still good) 9.Be3 Qe7?? 10.Bxd4 Bxd4?? (Same reason as Qe7) 11.Qf3? (missing the tactic...) Bd7? 12.Ng6!!
Simply awesome! Finally, Liu spots the tactic and nestles her steed right up next to the black pawns safe from all harm. How is this possible? All the knight needs to do is thank the Bishop perched on c4, pinning the pawn on f7 down to the king. This sudden invasion takes black by surprise, and as such, must concede some material.
12...Qe8 13.Nxf8 Qxf8 14. Qg3!? Nh5! 15.Qf3 Nf4 16.Rab1 Qe7 17.Nd5 Qg5 18.Nxf4! (trading when ahead) 18...exf4! (avoid trading queens) 19.c3 Bb6 20.d4! (beautiful center!) 20...Rf8!? 21.Rbe1 Bc6 22.d5?
This is a serious positional error. Black's dark square bishop clearly loves the move, the light square bishop probably can move to d7 to enjoy life on a clutter-free diagonal pointing at h3, and the light-square bishop from white now no longer pins the f7 pawn, which allows the rook to join the battle after a prudent f7-f5 and the e5 square is a whole for white to deal with now. The moral of the story is simple: a great habit to get into is to ask how each piece views a given move. If the move hurts your pieces more than your opponent's, DO NOT MAKE IT!!
22...Bd7 23.Re2 Re8 24.Bb3 Bb5 25.c4 Bd7 26.Bc2 Bc5 27.Qd3 Re5 28.a3 a6? (a5! stops the b4 expansion) 29.b4! Ba7 30. Qc3? Qh5.
Out of nowhere comes a miracle for black! Black has pressure against white's kingside, and it can manifest itself through 31...Qg3!! 32.Qxg3 (if 32.Qb2 f3!! with pins all over the place) 32...fxg3 33.Bd3 gxf2 with the world's most annoying pawn. White would have a hard time winning that.
31.Rd2 Rg5 32.Rd3? Qh4?? (Qg6 pins and wins, 33.Kh1 Rxg2 34.Qd2 Qxe4) 33.c5?? Bb5! (Constance is back in it!) 34.Rf3 Bxf1?
Surprisingly this is a serious error. The move 34...Rxg2+!! 35.Kxg2 Qg5+ 36.Kh2 Bxf1 with mate threats; the game is over for white. The problem with "just" winning back the exchange is the fact that white's pawn structure is totally superior, and the resulting position is seriously difficult for black as you will soon see.
35.Kxf1 Re5? 36.Qd2? (both missed 36.cxd6 cxd6 37.Qc8+ and everything falls) 37...Qg5 38.Qe3?? Qe7?? (why not 38...cxb4! 39.Qxa7? Qxf4!) 39.Qg3 Rg5 40.Rg4 Rxg4 41.Qxg4 Qxb4!? (Dangerous as it allows Qc8+) 43.e5??
This move is a serious mistake, the endgame is much better for black up a pawn with a bunch of passers on the queenside. However, because black must have been afraid of the bishop of opposite color, drawish nature of the endgame, being up a pawn naturally wanted to push on. However, her king is a bit vulnerable now as was exploited shortly.
43...Qc5?? 44.Qc8+! Qf8 45.Bh7+! 1-0
This back-and-forth game could easily have been won by either player. However, white's slightly stronger grasp on the tactics won her the game. Black had plenty of positional (and tactical) ways of coming back, but they were mostly missed. I think this goes to show how important fighting chess is. Chess games are rarely beautiful oil paintings but more often street fights where each side fights for something, and will not give up until that is achieved. Black lacked targets (as evidenced by missing 32..Qg6 winning the g2-pawn) and because of the aimless play, the fighter with better tactics pulled off the improbable upset.
Other Games of Note:
You uncastled? Sorry, I'm going to have to beat you!
One of the first things people are taught when starting out in chess is to castle the king to safety EARLY! For whatever reason, however, way too many people forget this great commandment. So often this lack of prudence can be clinically dealt with. Let's let DAVID K demonstrate how to do this.
For less than a piece, White has a serious developmental advantage. If he can seize the initiative (rule #3), with the black king in the center, the game can be decided in David's favor. 1.e5!! Attacking rule #1: open lines to the king to attack ON. 1...Nh5!? 2.Nd5! Attacking rule #2: bring the pieces into the game to attack WITH. 2...Qd7 3.Rad1! Attacking rule #3: seize the initiative (make threats that one has to defend thus immobilizing constructive development) to attack A PARALYZED TARGET! 3...0-0? 4.Nf6+. He tried running away, but the threat to the queen wins material back! 4...Nxf6 5.Rxd7 Nxd7 6.Qxb7 Nc5?? 7.Qxc6. Klimjack went on to win. A more prudent 6...Nce5 might have saved the day (two pieces and a rook for a queen and pawns), but it would still be difficult. The moral of the story is CASTLE!!!
A Broken Record, let one of the best explain!
The top board for Bob Jones high school (A.K.A. the K-12 Team champions...), Michael Guthrie (A.K.A. this guy has to be good then), found himself in a very similar situation to Mr. Klimjack with his opponent uncastled. Let's let him take us through this three rule process for a successful attack. 1. f4! (Rule#1) White hopes to soon employ his rook on the f-file for some kingside-bashing sooner rather than later. The text also pries open the center. 1...f6?? To call this a blunder in a terrible position isn't really an understatement. Other moves could have been tried, all with bad results, but this was one of his worst options. 2.Qh5! (see rule #2) 2...g6. This is just as bad as all the rest. Ke7 could have been met with 3.Nd6!!! Kxd6 (3...Qxd6 5.Nf5 wins the house) 4.Nf5+ Ke6 5.Qe8+ Be7 6.Nxg7 and Qxa8 and nobody is left for black. 3.Nxg6 (the rest follow rule #3, take the initiative) 3...Rg8 4.N(g)xe5+ Kd8 5.Nxc6 Qxc6 6.e5! and the a8-rook falls with a continued attack. Hmm. I wonder what the moral of the story is...CASTLE? =)
Top Two Play it Safe
If the "game" rating is a combination of the two players' rating, then the highest game rating from the tournament would have been Sarvagna Velidandla (1735) vs. Will Fox (1910). The game is related with little detail as it was a quite even struggle throughout. The couple points of interest are annotated for those curious about the top game.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Bf4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.Be2 Bd6 9.Bg5!? (Bxd6 is more normal) 0-0 10.0-0 a6 11.Rc1 h6 12.Bh4 Rc9 13.a3 Be7 14.Bd3 Bxd3 15.Qxd3 Nd7 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.b4 b5 18.Nd2 Nb6 (Both steeds heading to their respective outposts) 19.Nb3 Nc4 20.Nc5 Nxa3?? So this is the only really serious positional mistake made by black. The reason why this move is a stinker is because it opens up the a-file for white's sole use. Left up to his tricks long enough, white will collect a6 pawn. I suspect Fox wanted to capitalize on the weakness of b4 later. However, if played properly (which it was not), the b4 pawn should stay safely defended by the brutal knight on c5. 21.Nxd5! exd5 22.Qxa3 Ra8 23.Ra1 Rfc8 24.Qb3 Qd6 25.Rxa6?? Positional blunder followed by positional blunder. If I were coaching the white player, I would ask her where she thought that a-pawn was going? After 25.Ra3 a5?? 26.bxa5 Nxa5 hangs the b5-pawn. If the a-pawn isn't going anywhere, white shouldn't release the pressure on black so easily. Ra3 followed by Ra1 should be played. Based on the tactics that will arise, before taking on a6, white should retreat his queen to b2 and play h2-h3. He will then be gifted the pawn pro-bono. Now with the series of trades taking place, the game quietly fades off into a drawish abyss. 25...Rxa6 26.Nxa6 Nxd4! 27.exd4 Qxa6 28.Qxd5 Qa4 29.Qb7 Rc4(!) 30.d5 Qxb4 31.d6!? Qxd6 32.Qxb5 Qd4. 1/2-1/2
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