Written by: Jonathan Rasberry
171 players cast their shadows on the University of South Alabama to compete in Sunday's Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championship (ASSCC) individual day. The feeling at the beginning of the day was that there were no clear favorites to win either the K-12 or K-8 sections; it would be a dogfight for top honors.
After the dust settled, Ben Chen from Florida won the high school section with a perfect score of 4/4. However, as non-Alabamians were not allowed to win trophies or titles, both went to co-runner-up Kapil Nathan with near-perfect 3.5/4.
In the jr. high section, based on ratings the toughest of all sections with six players bosting of a rating over 1500, Om Badhe of Madison, AL finished with a perfect 4/4 to win top honors. Om will now most probably be given an invite to the Barber K-8 national tournament to represent Alabama! Best of luck Om!
In the younger sections, Geon Park dominated the K-6 championships by winning with a 4.5/5, only taking a draw in the last round when that was all needed to win. Primary champion (K-3) Aaditya Saxena also dominated his section with a perfect 5/5 finishing a point ahead of anyone else! Congrats guys!
Game of the Day
"How to win a Section" ft. Geon
Geon Park played great chess to win the K-6 elementary championships. He submitted his favorite game and I think it is deserving of the game of the day! Let's see how Geon won his 2nd round game against Steven Pan.
Park, Geon (1359) vs. Pan, Steven (1150)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Nxd2 d6!? (d5 is more principled) 9.0-0 0-0 10.Qc2 Re8 11.Re1 Bg4 12.h3 Bh5 13.Bb5 Qd7? 14.d5! Nb4 15.Bxd7?
This and black's 13...Qd7 is a blunder because of very complicated reasons. The point that both players missed is after 14...Nb4 white should play 15.Qc4! c6 16.Ba4!! With the point being both 16...b5 17.Qxb4 bxa5 18.Qxa5 and the incredible 16...Na6 17.dxc6 Qc7 18.cxb7! Qxc4 19.Bxe8!! win material. There is no excuse for black missing this though. Black should never willingly put himself in a pin like that, he was asking for trouble!
15...Nxc2 16.Bxe8 Nxe1?? (Rxe8 keeps the f7-pawn and the rooks are still forked) 17.Bxf7+! Kxf7 18.Rxe1 Re8 19.Ng5+! Kg8 20.Ne6
Geon correctly finds the best place for his knight. The outpost on e6 is devastating as we shall soon see. Geon also correctly finds how to best include all the rest of his pieces. When he uses all of his pieces like he does, black is totally helpless because of his static (not going away) disadvantages. Geon realized that the knight on e6 could be challenged, so he brought another knight to its defense, and put his rook on the c-file to pressure an acute weakness. Finally, he begins to gain space while black is totally occupied in defending his weaknesses. With a few exceptions of weird moves by Geon as noted below, the improvement to winning is easy.
20...Re7 21.Rc1 Ne8 22.Nb3! Bf7 23.Nbd4 (solidifying e6) 23...h6 24.f4 (time to gain another imbalance advantage, space!) 24...g6 25.f5 a6 26.g4 Kh7 27.Kg2 g5 28.Rf1 Kg8 29.Kg3!? (29.f6! Rd7 30.Nf5!! Nxf6 31.Nxh6 Kh8 [forced] 32.Rxf6 winning)29...Nf6 30.Kf3 Be8 31.Rc1!
With this final blow, black's defenses come apart. There is now no longer a way to defend c7, once that falls, others to will shortly. The king will also be feeling a lot of pressure. From this moment on, the win is trivial. The computer gives all the top moves 4+ pawn advantage for white.
31...c6 32.dxc6 bxc6 33.Nxc6 Rb7 34.b3 Rb6 35.Ne7+ Kh8 36.Rc8! Rb7 37.Nd5 Kh7?? 38.Nxf6+ Kh8 39.Rxe8#
Geon is (and has been) showing phenomenal positional talents. Hopefully, this win and tournament victory will boost his confidence and help bring his game to the next level! Great game Geon!
Game of Note
The younger, the stronger?
Samsara Rajbhanadari (469) had a solid day at the office Sunday in the K-3 section. She finished with 3/5 and gained 22 rating points. However, what caught my eye was her amazing singularity of mind when she was winning in this position.
There is no doubt about it, white is totally lost. However, as so often the case with young, inexperienced players, they allow their opponent to slip back in the position with frivolous plans and unguided steps. This lack of focus allows their opponents too often to come back and escape. Not so with Samsara (playing black). When you are winning (listen all levels you CAN learn from her!) play just as brutally as if you were behind scraping for a draw. If you have a singular focus of MATING rather than winning material and playing around, you will stop losing winning positions. In her third round game, Samsara here realized that she had the mating idea of 1...Qf2+ 2.Kd1 Qxf1#. However, there is one issue, the knight is in the way. First, she must get rid of the knight, then she can finish white off.
She first played 1...Nc6. The idea is to, if allowed, bring the knight in the game via Ne5 and Nf3. White replied with 2.b5. Now is the chance she told me! She played 2...Bc5!! Now the knight (defending mate) is attacked! 3.bxc6?? missed the idea and Samsara pounced with 3...Bxe3! She wasn't worried about her knight and wasn't worried about cxb7, she wanted mate! 4.dxe3?? Qf2+ 5.Kd1 Qxf1#. Great game Samsara!
K-12 High School Top 5 (on tie-breaks)
K-8 Jr. High Top 5 (on tie-breaks)
K-6 Elementary Top 5 (on tie-breaks)
K-3 Primary Top 5 (on tie-breaks)
For the team results: click here
If you enjoyed this and want to stay up-to-date on all the latest tournament results, do subscribe! It will help me keep bringing these reports to everyone! RasberryChess also posts blogs on chess strategies, masters' games, and analyzes some game submissions by readers!